Saturday, January 18, 2003

Clear Eyed Realism

Stephen Den Beste overwhelms the imagination with his detailing of US naval capabilities and the deployment underway to the Persian Gulf. As nothing more than a casual observer of military affairs and expenditures, I’m stunned by the resources we find ourselves with. During times of peace and contentment, much of this seems excessive. But suddenly, faced with the real and growing dangers menacing us at this moment in history, it’s clear this unassailable sledgehammer is exactly what we need. I have to say I’m grateful for the wisdom and foresight of those responsible for the creation of this force over the past few decades. Those oft maligned, clear-eyed realists who took the responsibility to face the unpleasant truths of life, while the rest of us were allowed the luxury of not paying attention in our unfettered pursuit happiness.

Den Beste also captures the same feelings I have about the coming hostilities. Grateful for the overwhelming resources we have at our disposal, confident that our cause is just and necessary, supportive of the troops we’re sending off to do the dirty work, yet also terribly worried about them all:

They're really going to start fighting, and soon. And as is always the case for me in the days before combat begins, I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have been advocating this war all along. I still do. We must fight it. We cannot wait any longer.

But there are a lot of good people in those ships, who are going to put themselves into harm's way for the rest of us, and I know that some of them won't come back. I'm terribly afraid for them. I know they'll fight well. I am absolutely certain that they'll prevail. I know that none of them are eager for combat, but they're all ready for it, and they're as prepared as it is possible for them to be. They are tough and they are confident and they will do what they need to do.

And I know that they're fighting in a good cause, and I have no doubts about the decision to send them. But all we can do, here on the home front, is to sweat it out and hope for the best (and pray if you got 'em).

When you read the headlines, as combat begins and as the war develops, remember that we're not moving counters around on a map. It's not a real-life replay of the SuperBowl. The people who fall down don't get back up. They're real people fighting for us; they're our neighbors and our friends; our sons and daughters and cousins; some of them are mothers and fathers. The Iraqis will be shooting real bullets at them. This is no sporting event. It's deeply serious and horribly ugly and incredibly dangerous.

We must fight and we must win, and we will. But we will pay a high price to do so, and we must remember the price, and remember those who pay it, and know that victory is always dearly bought, even if there's only one casualty.

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