I was recently sent a copy of the famous letter from Corpsman Lonnie J. Lewis to his mother regarding anti-war protestation.
Read, it. It's an interesting letter written from the perspective of a young man who obviously took his oath to "defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic" seriously. How we are "defending" our country from a third world dictator who hasn't attacked us is beyond me, but Lewis believes that's what he's doing, so I'll take him at his word. But, what Corpsman Lewis forgot to mention was that he also took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution" which clearly requires Congress to declare war prior to hostilities. The current Administration is clearly in violation of the Constitution in a manner that makes Clinton's lies about sex seem insignificant. Gene Healy said it best:
We've got an administration that repeatedly and brazenly lies to us–not about the president's sex life, but about matters of war and peace. And we've got a president, who–shades of William McKinley–thinks God talks to him and tells him to start wars. I haven't felt this disgusted since Clinton was bombing asprin factories to distract the media from his inability to keep his pants up.
Corpsman Lewis asks "What type of country would we be if we didn't defend the rights and freedoms of others, not because they're Americans, but how about just because they're human?"
We would be a country that took it's Constitutional restraints seriously. Regardless of emotional wants, desires and nationalistic catch-phrases, we simply aren't allowed to topple regimes just because the man in charge is an inhumane monster. If that were the case, we'd be obligated to go after Nigeria, China, Cuba, North Korea, and even a few of our "allies" like Pakistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. All of those nations have horrible records with regard to human rights and suppression of basic civil liberties we Americans are guaranteed via the Bill of Rights.
I support our troops, but I oppose the Administration's reckless use of our military and it's choice to place them in harm's way in an un-Constitutional war. And I'll not shut up about just because some people have decided to confuse nationalism with patriotism.
I'm not alone, no less a patriot than Colonel David Hackworth believes this war is a mistake. In fact, we both signed the letter to President Bush (along with 1000 other veterans, including two Admirals and a General) in opposition to the current war. In a story related to the Corpsman's letter, the grandfather of Lewis expressed the familiar sentiment "It's my country right or wrong. If you don't like it, then get the hell out" as justification for war. Platitudes such as "my country right or wrong" are bold-faced expressions of nationalism, not patriotism. To those paying attention, there is a world of difference.
Update: One item about the Lewis letter that strikes me as odd is his statement "I am a United States soldier." Lewis claims to be a corpsman, which would place him in the medical field in the Navy. No Sailor would ever refer to himself as a "soldier." Every petty officer within a 500 mile radius would be breathing down his neck, assuring him that he definitely was not a "soldier."
Further, it violates everything I know about every corpsman I ever served with to see Lewis advocating war. It's just a tad contradictory to see a medic advocating killing. Call me crazy, but it doesn't fit the profile.
Lastly, and I say this as a former Marine who took the oath on several occasions, Lewis didn't take an oath to "defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic." He took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." There is more than just a subtle difference between the two.
The Lewis letter reads like something written by a PR office not familiar with military protocol, not by a 19 or 20 year-old Navy corpsman.