I haven’t commented on the “sit-in” of Cindy Sheehan because the protest activities of a single citizen, no matter how sympathetic the individual may be and how well-publicized the protest, normally are of no consequence. The anti-war left apparently claims that Sheehan has galvanized it, sort of like Rosa Parks sparked the civil rights movement, but this claim is laughable. I see no evidence that the anti-war left was any less active or shrill before the sit-in. It simply has a new horse to ride for a while.
The apparent absence of WMD when we arrived in Iraq makes it plausible (though I believe unpersuasive) to argue that, in hindsight, we would have been better off not sending our troops there. Millions of Americans, perhaps a majority, believe that. Some of them believe (albeit without justification) that President Bush lied about whether Iraq possessed WMD. The law of averages tells us that the parents of the men and women fighting in Iraq will include many who are unhappy about the war, and some who think Bush lied. If their sons and daughters are injured or killed, they may come to hold these views more fervently.
Under these circumstances, the most interesting thing about the Sheehan protest is that (to my knowledge) this is the first of its kind. It speaks volumes for the fortitude of the families of our troops and our overall national character that, whatever their private views about the war and about Bush, they decline to act as this parent does. Even in Cindy Sheehan’s case, she apparently acted very differently during her meeting with President Bush in the aftermath of her son’s death. And I understand that the rest of the Sheehan family has made a point of repudiating her conduct.
During the 1990s, some analysts wondered whether the United States could fight a war that required a sustained commitment of troops on the ground. If I’m not mistaken, Edward Luttwak, for example, postulated that we might be unable do so because these days parents often have only one or two children, and thus will be unwilling to subject a son or daughter to the risk associated with a sustained and bloody conflict. Others pointed to what they considered cultural decline or softness. The jury may still be out on this question, but so far the evidence from the war in Iraq runs the other way.
JOHN adds: I just got home from my office, and was mentally composing a post on the Cindy Sheehan fiasco in the car. When I arrived, the first thing I did was check Power Line, where I found, with great relief, that Paul had already said it better than I would have. On the off chance that you’ve missed the insanity surrounding the Sheehan debacle, Michelle Malkin has been in the thick of it, and will bring you up to date.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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