Democracy is a frail thing. Debate is crucial to its lifeblood, but assertional labeling is the opposite.
Now with the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense we see an assertional labeling campaign passing as reasoned discourse.
Unfortunately, we have seen this before and now we see it again.
The very nasty Anti-Semitism card is being played against Chuck Hagel, that was also played against General Zinni.
As a published strong supporter of Israel I find making that charge contemptuous.
There are fewer than 1/3 of all in theater Vietnam Veterans alive. This is a huge statistical anomaly and both the Honorable Chuck Hagel and General Zinni returned from that distant battlefield fully to earn the right to critique US National Security policy without having their integrity questioned.
Enough is enough; in their youth they answered Plutarch;
“The Spartans do not ask how many the enemies are but where they are “
General Zinni in his own words on “60 Minutes” captures exactly what is happening to Chuck today.
Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as “the neo-conservatives” who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel.
They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
Zinni believes they are political ideologues who hijacked American policy in Iraq.
“I think it’s the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody – everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” says Zinni.
“And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you know, unbelievable that that’s the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn’t criticize who they were. I certainly don’t know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I’m not interested”
Here we go again.
But let us be clear; this is not about Chuck Haigel it is about assertional labeling rather than honorable debate.
The reality is simple: when Zinni and Haegel speak of war and peace they come from a place of honor.
To hide behind assertional labeling is hardly a similar place of honor.
Enough is enough.