Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Senator Hagel on Dissent

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) gave a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. on "U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East." While the entire speech is well worth reading, I want to highlight a brief passage that deals with criticism of the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq. Coming from a conservative senator from the President's own party, it strikes me as a particularly important statement.

The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration's policies.

Vietnam was a national tragedy partly because Members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the Administrations in power until it was too late. Some of us who went through that nightmare have an obligation to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam to not let that happen again. To question your government is not unpatriotic--to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices.

"To question your government is not unpatriotic."

Don't forget it.