Surrenderlust

I don't know about you, but I'm about ready to pack it in.

I placed my own life on the line in this cause, and know others who have died for it.

The assault on Baghdad on April 7, 2003, was not my first combat action, but that day I went expecting to die and leave my children orphans. I did it because I thought it was worth something. Other young men and women were willing to die, and if I died with them, my wife knew what to tell our kids: "This is how you live your life. Doing the most that you can do. Moving forward. Standing up for what you believe in. Standing with others. Recognizing it can cost you your life."

But America doesn't want this anymore, the pollsters and the opposition pols tell us.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is unilaterally treating with the enemy, providing our enemy an opportunity to divide and conquer. She is doing so in a manner unprecedented in American history. In the past, partisanship didn't always stop at the water's edge, it sometimes waded in. But until now it never took such a humiliating bath as the one we've just witnessed.

We are facing, among our myriad enemies, an old one. And we have just, with a once-stalwart, now-wavering ally's help, reaffirmed the validity of Iran's terrorist policies. Taking hostages apparently will not only go unpunished, it will be rewarded. Propaganda coups, humiliation and the release of a suspected Iranian agent. Fifteen Royal Navy swabs and Royal Marines who were taken without a fight are deemed more important than tens of thousands of combat troops, British and American, fighting and dying every day. Tell me, before I turn my back on this, that Iran has not yet received its final answer in this matter.

Because I'm looking at all this and saying, maybe it is time to pack it in. Forget the phased withdrawal plan, just get out. Iraq and the Middle East be damned. Nothing new about living with genocide, when it's happening at a convenient distance. We managed to pretend as a nation we didn't have Southeast Asia's blood on our hands after we bolted from there. We can do it again.

Iraq may become a base for terrorists who want to attack us. That will be George Bush's fault, and we'll deal with them as we should have all along. As a police problem.

Iran's mad mullahs may come to dominate the Middle East and develop their nuclear weapons, but there's not really much we can do about that. Not without someone getting hurt.

Maybe it's time to pack it in on our pretensions of world leadership entirely.

Let's relinquish the seat on the United Nations Security Council and join the European Union. Europe does so many things so much better than us, anyway. Socialized medicine, cradle-to-grave welfare, maintaining good relations with despotic regimes, avoiding responsibility and being admired for it.

Anyway, Europe will need somewhere to flee to as it crumbles, and our great oceans provide a great illusion of security. EU membership will expedite that. If it opens the third-world floodgates and requires us to honor Sharia law, well, it will take time before those things destroy us the way they are destroying Europe. Not our generation's problem, is it?

It's easy to get discouraged, when all you see looks like failure, and even those you rely on seem to wavering. It's easy to want out.

But I can't quite bring myself to say or believe any of those things. Not when the lives and futures of my children depend on this fight. Not when there are soldiers in the field who are willing to die for them. Not when the future and freedom of millions of people ... even some of those who hate us ... also depend on us as they have for decades.

I can only hope that if my government has stumbled, and that it will pick itself up. The disgust I feel and the desire to just walk away must only be momentary. We are constantly fed the illusion of many choices in America, and people believe this war is one of them. But there really is no choice. It may cost us, but this war against evil men committed to our destruction is what life has presented us, and we must fight it.


Jules Crittenden is an editor and columnist for the Boston Herald.

Crittenden's web page is at Forward Movement.