A View of the Protests

I took the opportunity with some friends of mine Saturday to get a first hand look at the sights and sounds of the anti- and pro-war protests on the National Mall. I wanted to see and hear what people had to say about a war I'll experience first hand over the next 18 months.

What I heard were shouting matches between people who hated each other, what I saw were a confusing mix of protests -- many of which were piggy backed on the anti-war theme but had no relation at all to war issues.

The anti-war protesters were out in great numbers, climbing on rooftops and light poles. The pro-war protesters seemed consist of a couple hundred people on one block in front of the FBI building. My friends and I happened to arrive just as anti-war protesters marched past their opponents, so we watched for a few minutes.

We saw several exchanges of hateful messages from both sides. Police officers lined the street creating a barrier between the two groups. I decided I wanted to get some photos of the altercations so I slipped between the two groups. It was interesting to be in the middle, where people from both sides thought I was on the other side.

I wondered what an event like this must cost. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of law enforcement officers from several different elements of local and federal agencies. Mounted police, SWAT teams, FBI agents, etc., just so Americans could have a venue to express their disdain with our leaders.

By Bert Stover |  September 27, 2005; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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"Just so Ameicans could have a venue to express their disdain with our leaders"??? So how much did it cost to have an OPTIONAL war? How much did it cost to give Halliburton and KBR no-bid contracts because, apparently, they are the only ones Dick Cheney knows who can serve food?

While you're at it, how much does it cost to have elections and due process in courts?

Bush said being a dictator would be easier. Well, it would be cheaper, too. Cheaper than allowing protests, cheaper than citizen rights such as a fair trial, cheaper than thinking.

If you're worried about costs, I suggest you look at the administration whose fiscal policy will burden not only your kids, but your grandchildren. Look at the president who alienated America's allies. Look at the president who blew it in Afghanistan, Iraq, AND New Orleans.

Posted by: Chris Estes | September 27, 2005 08:51 AM

your only question is "i wondered what an event like this must cost"???

didnt you wonder about the war itself and how it makes your citizens react.... especially those with kids in the war? did you even stop to think for a minute about the meaning and precipitants of the war?

perhaps you will when you're smack dab in the middle of it. AS someone who oppses the war, i wish you a safe and speedy return, but please be aware most of the world thinks you will be a participant in a massive crime

Posted by: david | September 27, 2005 09:04 AM

Other than the Army, for whom and to whom is Mr. Stover's 9/24 report directed?

It never struck me that a demonstration was a particularly good place to "learn" about any issue. It has always been my understanding that demonstrations, unlike debates were held for advocating or opposing a particular point of view.

Compared to what is cost important? A normal, non-demonstration late summer, or early fall day, on the mall? The cost of maintaining one batallion in the "green zone" or the forces required to run Abu Gharib for one day? the cost of the president's security detail and support services and people for 5 weeks at Crawford TX? Certainly not the right of the citizenry to peacefully petition for redress of their grievances!

Finally, who is Mr. Stover's patron that permitted him to use so much space for content of such little substance?

Posted by: jwalsip | September 27, 2005 09:10 AM

What an unreflective and unhelpful observation. As a daughter of a career military father, I had hoped for an intelligent analysis of what it means to be an active participant in a military engagement that the general populace increasingly finds morally abhorrent. I would like Mr. Stover to meet a student of mine, an Army sniper who served 13 months in Iraq before returning home to pursue his education. His view of the U.S. involvement in the war is tempered by experience and and a resolute patriotism that goes far beyond the superficial musings of Mr. Stover. Good luck Mr. Stover, you have a lot to learn, and I sincerely hope you come back healthy and whole.

Posted by: Becks | September 27, 2005 09:30 AM

I get the impression that Mr. Stover spent darn little time collecting his very "insightful" observations. I too observed, and I also took pictures. But I didn't stop at just one spot along the route and cherry-pick an impression. I spent hours on the route and on the mall. I walked for awhile. I also sat for awhile and watched the march flow past me. I listened. I thought.

I hadn't been to a protest march since the early 70s. A couple of weeks ago I walked in DoD's carefully orchestrated march. There was quite a difference between the two, and looking at the crowds, I think I know which one better represented America.

I am a retired military officer who was working on homeland security years before it became the catch phrase of the decade. Perhaps that is why I'm more disappointed than many people in the lies and deceit that frame this administration's approach to Iraq. I certainly know that relationship between Iraq and 9/11 is essentially nonexistent. And I worry that a withdrawal will plunge the region into chaos, but am equally worried that the current policies are also plunging the region into chaos.

Mr. Stover didn't do a very good for himself on Saturday. But I suspect he'll do a much better job over there. And I pray for his safe return so that we can pick up this conversation again.

Posted by: LJ | September 27, 2005 09:31 AM

Bert, I'm taking a different view than these posted criticisms from your countrymen. I respect your questioning the cost of the security. While the radical right and left use every opportunity to further their viewpoint - often by ridiculous use of imagery and name calling - there are many of us who just do not give a crap for their theatrics and rabid emotionalism. Our time is taken up by work, taking care of family, giving to charities, etc. to spend any time (and money, which would have made a nice contribution to the hurricane victims) to go to the national capital and participate in the ridiculous side shows (where do they get these costumes?) as I evidenced on tv. The cost are the $ the taxpayer has to pay, time the police could spend with their families, and the patience of regular citizens worn thin by the radical's sorry and pitiful venting.

Posted by: Gerry Fluharty | September 27, 2005 09:40 AM

Dear Bert: If perhaps you'd taken time to converse with a few protesters, you'd have a better idea than "a hateful message" or shouting match. Most of the people who decided to march last weekend did not believe in the war before it began, tried to get their message across by writing and calling their political representatives and the White House and NOTHING HAPPENED! All normal avenues to communicate with the present administration accomplished nothing. It was as if there's a giant glass dome over this White House and Congress preventing ordinary citizens' concerns being heard. That's the degree of frustration that culminated in this march last weekend. More than half the country now believes the war was started on false and misleading information. What other avenue could citizens use? We've been ignored for years by this White House.

Posted by: Violet | September 27, 2005 10:08 AM

Post by Gerry Fluharty ends with a comment on the "radical's sorry and pitiful venting"

The right wing is trying every trick to stop the outbreak of a peace movement. As Arianna Huffington says, it is hard to marginalize a majority.

In a year from now it will be interesting to see if Cindy Sheehan's protest did indeed lead to a large anti-war movement that will lead to election losses for Republicans in 2006 because of the war which has been such a failure.

Posted by: Don Utter | September 27, 2005 10:10 AM

"It was interesting to be in the middle, where people from both sides thought I was on the other side."

Interesting in what way, Mr. Stover? What thoughts and feelings occurred to you as you stood in the middle ground between these opposing camps? How did they relate to the fact that you're about to ship out overseas, at the risk of your own life, to perhaps take the lives of other human beings at the service of our political leaders? What exactly is the 'cause' that you're prepared to kill, and perhaps to die for? Surely you must be wondering. You're not going to be able to stay on the fence for very much longer.

Life is full of confusing and uncertain choices. We can be guided by what other people insist is right, or we can listen to our quiet inner voice.

May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, and live joyously.

Posted by: BZ | September 27, 2005 10:13 AM

I think you've expressed a legitimate view of the protests. You should remember, though, that if it weren't for our right as Americans to publicly express our "disdain with our leaders," the American soldiers in Iraq would truly be fighting for nothing at all (whatever they may be fighting for now). The cost of the security is thus definitely worth it.

Posted by: DBG | September 27, 2005 10:13 AM

It's interesting to read Mr. Stover's comments in relation to the Media Notes column. In the MNC, the point is made that crowd estimates are a function of one's political bias. Mr. Storver, who apparantly sympathizes with the pro-war demonstrators, estimated their number at about 200. Somebody needs to tell this kid to get with the program.

Posted by: Dave | September 27, 2005 10:17 AM

Stay safe and best of luck to you during your deployment. Did you sign something like this when you enlisted in the Guard?

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will 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; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962)."

Amendment I of the US Constitution states - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

So maybe you should reexamine your commitments.

Posted by: joejoejoe | September 27, 2005 10:19 AM

Cindy Sheehan's pathetic need for attention and male attention cost us billions. The socialist leaders of the protest, who support dictators around the world, like to see soldiers die. They are actually glorifying the insurgents who killed Casey Sheehan. So it is my right to say those idiots in D.C. are criminal lunatics. They are not noble, they want to see the US lose, and see our soldiers die.

Posted by: Karen | September 27, 2005 10:37 AM

Without protest, there's no change. That's why you're a U.S. citizen and not British. When you come back from your tour of duty, give us a follow-up report.

Posted by: Chuck | September 27, 2005 10:43 AM

Having just returned from Iraq it was interesting to view the reactions of the soldiers in Iraq as Cindy Sheehan conducted her Texas vigil. Many of them were furious with her actions and many wrote their own families to act in no such manner should they become casualties. It's also interesting to see that these young servicemembers also understand the importance of a stable middle east. They are focused on their mission and believe they are doing something good for the nation and for their own children. We as a nation still have the problem of radical fundamental Islam no matter which side of this conflict a person supports. Some one should articulate to me how we resolve this issue - and I know first hand, that just leaving the middle east is not the answer.

Posted by: WS | September 27, 2005 10:53 AM

To the question of how much did this event cost? I can only answer ALOT less than a day of war in Iraq.

Posted by: Mark Esposito | September 27, 2005 10:54 AM

People on all sides of this issue have a right to protest, and as Americans we should support that right.

The bigger issue here is what any of this matters. Once a war is launched, there are no "do-overs". The sad fact is that Americans fell for the lies and embraced this war. Now there's no going back, no quick solutions, no easy out. For the next several decades American troops are going to be occupying Iraq, killing and dying for no clear reason. Can't leave and can't win.

The lesson here is that choices have consequences. The American people will have to accept responsibility for this like grownups, and sacrifice the blood and treasure it requires to stabilize the region.

Let's be more careful next time folks.

Posted by: an observer | September 27, 2005 10:58 AM

The cost of expressing our disdain of our leaders? The cost of not being allowed to express this "disdain" would be incalculable; it would be our Freedom! We are Americans, all of us... What does this mean? Among other precious things, it means we have the Right to protest the policies and actions taken by our elected leadership on our behalf.
I mourn the death and life changing injury, both physical and psychic, of every soldier - and civilian - in Iraq. I am unable to escape the conclusion that this war was and remains the Choice of the Bush administration. I don't believe that this war has made the US or the world "safer," as Mr. Bush continually asserts, nor do I think that the terrible, tragic "cost" in lives and our national treasure is or will be "worth it," another assertion of Mr. Bush's.
My heart goes out to you. I hope that your personal "cost" in obeying the orders of our incompetent and disingenuous policy in Iraq doesn't prove to be too great to bear.

Posted by: Sean Kirk | September 27, 2005 11:02 AM

Here's what we focus on as observers: The constitutional elections in Iraq are coming up in mid October. If they are successful then the new Iraq government gets seated before the year is out. Then I would be willing to bet that our military puts a full court press on and starts getting out of there in 2006. That's the strategic objective at this point as far as I can tell.

Posted by: WS | September 27, 2005 11:02 AM

Maybe a lot of you are missing the point the young officer was trying to make. He doesn't appear to be against the right to protest. He only points out that in this country, which some so vehmently condemn for reasons I swear I cannot fathom, there is an absolute right to peaceably and lawfully assemble regardless of cost. There may be room to nitpick there, but historically this country has been a beacon. The other point is that this nation is a democracy in which the majority rules (the 2000 election is over so don't bother screeching). To some extent the minority has to suck it up and wait for their turn at the next election and try to pursuade a deciding number of citizens to their point of view. Conducting lawless protest makes the statement that democracy is irrelevant and that the views of self-described elites who, of course, know better than the rest of us, trump the will of the people.

Posted by: Steve | September 27, 2005 11:08 AM

I was there with my two daughters. I saw many, many military veterans from different eras protesting against this war. The military is being misused and abused in this wrongheaded war that was sold on false premises. The chief sales force was the media, which beat the drums of war and acted as cheerleaders for the Bush administration. The media failed us by not questioning Bush's real motives, because to do so would have been seen as unpatriotic. I heard an Iraq vet tell how his vehicle lacked armor and how his unit was told to attach plywood to it and paint the plywood green so it would look like metal. Paint and plywood don't fool roadside bombs and Donald Rumsfeld doesn't really support the troops.

Posted by: realist | September 27, 2005 11:25 AM

The "cost" of protest is the price of war.

Posted by: Patrick | September 27, 2005 11:32 AM

regarding the armoring - I would offer that there is now no excuse for anyone to be in a vehicle that is not properly armored. I would also offer that in the early stages of this war we indeed did not have the armored vehicles and so people improvised. As with any conflict, we as a nation and as a fighting force, adjusted, and now have the armored vehicles desired. If anyone is riding in harms way without armor then it is a failure of military leadership.

Posted by: WS | September 27, 2005 11:38 AM

1st, we can all pray this young man returns home from Bushs' War On Iraq. Then we must ask these questions. 1. Why do Americans assume "GOD" is on our side, and only our side? 2.Why did the administration lie, and continue to lie , to us about IRAQ/9.11? 3. Have you asked your legislators why their childen are not in service to our country? 4. We were told a year ago Iraq troups were being trained to replace Americans; @ what point will they have enough, if ever? 5. Can a true Democracy be forced on a culture?

Posted by: duncan | September 27, 2005 11:47 AM

The main problem is in the american psyche that believes that everybody wants to be like us. That the only freedom is our style of freedom,and our style of society.we tend to believe that we know better,that we are better than other countries and consequently when things don't go our way we react like spoiled children.When we realize that there are more than 200 diferent countries and cultures in the war, that we are not as important as we believe we are and let the politicians know, things will begin to change.One thing is being patriotic, another is to think that everybody else in the world wants to be like us.

Posted by: Miguel | September 27, 2005 12:01 PM

Gandhi was also in a pathetic need for attention.

How much did Mandela's incarceration cost the impoverished black people of South Africa?

Martin Luther King's supporters shouted hate-filled slogans at the American authorities.

'First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. And then you win.' MKGandhi

Posted by: bystander | September 27, 2005 12:07 PM

Don't worry about the costs, Bert -- the government is saving tons of money by massive cuts to the Veterans Adminstration budget. In the event you get blown to confetti in Iraq, don't expect the quality of medical care that Cheney got for his wobbly knees.

From an editorial standpoint, I am interested in knowing just who is writing Bert's blog. I smell a military censor at work here, especially with the amazing notion of questioning the cost of allowing people to exercise their constitutional right to protest. Enlisted men don't think that way.

Posted by: E. Etage | September 27, 2005 12:18 PM

What truly puzzles me is how so many Americans can support a war in which only the less well-off citizens are serving in combat areas. The children of priveledge ( Cheney; Bush; congresspersons, with one exception) avoid the war and remain safe at home in schools or work. If all young people without regard for position in life would be made to serve in combat you can well imagine just how quickly this war would end. The current administration claims otherwise, but the major burden of all actions to date has fallen on those among us less able to champion a cause before the 'elite' congresspersons.

Posted by: Joe | September 27, 2005 12:20 PM

The world view US as a superpower is because we are the richest country. The money support the education, support the all kinds of research so she can develope all kinds of technologies to bloom the ecnomy. So the US citizen will live in a better life generation by generation. But this war have blown this dream away, remember, when America is struggle in this war,the poor country like India and China is catching up with us. This war is dragging us down when other county is rising up. I don't think we should withdaw troops right now, this is not mean that I support the war,but because we have no choice. We need to get out this muddy war as soon as possible, this is the thought I get from this anti-war protest.

Posted by: Wendy | September 27, 2005 12:20 PM

Mr. Stover states "My friends and I happened to arrive just as anti-war protesters marched past their opponents, so we watched for a few minutes." Was there any time of the day that the anti-war protesters were not marching past the war supporters? The march lasted all day! Was this statement an honest mistake on Mr. Stover's part or an attempt to make the march appear smaller than it actually was?

Posted by: Ed B. | September 27, 2005 12:32 PM

Mr. Stover,
First let me say I wish you well and pray for your safe return from harms way. Please accept my sincere thanks for the sacrifice you are making on behalf of the nation.
I was in Washington DC on Saturday. I traveled on a bus for 24 hours to be there. I spent 12 hours in the city, participated in the march and got back on the bus for another 24 hour ride home. It was a long weekend and at 42 I am tired and sore as a result, but I would do it again if given the chance.
I know that not everyone feels, as I do, that this war is wrong. I do not expect to change minds by speaking out. I am sorry you witnessed a hateful exchange. What I witnessed was a large group of concerned and passionate citizens voicing their disappointment in the current administrations policies. I also witnessed some in the crowd who taunted and decried the officers doing their duty in and around the Whitehouse. I was offended by their attack of those young men and women and told the individuals as much. My intent and the intent of the people I traveled with (8 buses filled with 375 citizens) was to say to the President, his administration and the rest of the world that we feel he has taken this nation down the wrong path. That we want him to look again at finding another way to achieve the same ends in Iraq and we want him to look now rather than later. 1800 plus Americans have given their lives in pursuit of freedom for the Iraqi people. I have no desire to belittle or minimize that reality. I simply don't want to see still more die. I truly believe there is another way and I feel we have a responsibility to find it.

Posted by: KO in Minneapolis | September 27, 2005 12:34 PM

With every military action there are studies done within the Pentagon to determine the likely number of casualties and decisions are made by our leaders based on what they deem to be an acceptable number. This particular military action was presented to the American public as a reasonable endeavor under what has turned out to be a series of false premises. Many of the protesters believe the actual reasons were continued control of a geographic area critical to world oil production and the enrichment of the US military-industrial complex. Although our troop's effort in Iraq may be seen as defending the "American Way" by furthering these goals they are most certainly not defending liberty or any other noble platitude and are not making the world safer. Does it give Mr. Stover pause to know that to his life, to the lives of his comrades and to the lives of many innocents has been affixed such a cheap price tag? God bless us all.

Posted by: Tom | September 27, 2005 12:40 PM

I appreciate Mr. Stover for taking the time to draw attention to this topic. I don't get the sense that his post was very much ideologically slanted one way or the other. Even if he were one to conflate his political stance with patriotism, which too many on both ends of the spectrum do, he isn't in a position where he is able to make political statements, and certainly not under the aegis of his official capacaty.

On a personal note, I'm grateful for Mr. Stover taking the time to draw our attention to the protests. I was one of millions worldwide who protested our initial invasion of Iraq, and I'm not at all happy to see that my misgivings then were justified. This administration is among the most corrupt, inept, and evasive we as an American people have ever seen, and it sorely needs to be held accountable for the missteps, miscalculations, and blatant misleading that have happened under its watch. Where does the buck stop, Mr. President? Accountability must go to the highest level, and if we don't hold him and others accountable, who will?

But Bush is a lame duck president, and he will never face judgement by the voting populace again. What we need to do, as Americans, is make sure our voice is heard in the dozens of congressional elections that will take place across the country next year. Don't bicker or pick fights -- create coalitions, build bridges. Most people in this country are unhappy with how things are going in Iraq, and with how it was (un)planned by those in charge now. Whether you are of the opinion that the U.S. should withdraw everyone immediately, or you think we should at least have definable goals leading towards an exit, find ways to work together. I was adamantly against the war from the outset, as Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and I think it's been mismanaged abominably all along, to the detriment of our troops and the average Iraqi citizen, but I don't support immediate withdrawal, even though I very much sympathize with the sentiments of those who do. But we've got much more in common than our differences, and one big one is our interest in getting the congressionals who rubber stamped this administration out of office.

Posted by: CRD | September 27, 2005 12:40 PM

The cost of not allowing protests due to the cost involved would be our freedom.
You're an idiot, Mr. Stover.

Posted by: JC in Falls Church | September 27, 2005 12:51 PM

I just wanted to comment that our army is an all voluneter army. The soldiers that are prostesting and their parents knew that when they signed up and took the bonus money. They also knew that there was a chance that their lives would be in danger at some point during their enlistment.

Posted by: GLC212 | September 27, 2005 12:52 PM

Bush is right when he says that pulling out will leave Iraq in chaos. Iraq is fated for chaos whether we stay or not. Our staying can slow the descent but we cannot, no matter how hard we try, halt that descent. Just like the how we survived the loss of Vietnam and show how discredited the 'domino theory' was, we'll muddle through as Iraq fragments into loosely confederated Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni regions. We should cut our losses and get out.

Posted by: S | September 27, 2005 12:54 PM

What does Mr. Stover think of excluding the White House sidewalk from our freedom to peacefully assemble and protest? Also, what about the fact that the first one to be arrested on Monday was the mother of a soldier killed "defending our freedoms"?

Posted by: Peter Larson | September 27, 2005 12:56 PM

I was among 15,000 people who assembled and marched in San Francisco on September 24th.

Although there were many specific protests involved, the major thrust of the demonstration was to end U.S. military and intelligence agency interference in foreign governments.

I saw no pro-war demonstrators, no angry exchanges, just people from ages 1 to 81 expressing their frustration with a President and Congress which refuse to face the facts -- this war is illegal, immoral and not supported by the American people.

Posted by: Joe Pratt | September 27, 2005 01:04 PM

Sounds to me like Mr Stover (and the rest of us, better known as chickenhawks) is more at risk from the anti-war movement than anything he might encounter in Iraq - I am British but of Indian origin (where I was born) and do not understand the virulence and the point of this anti-war marching.

There was an election in November last year where the American people re-elected George W Bush and so how can all these people claim that they had no opportunity to change governmental policies - you, as we over here, live in a democracy - majority rules, simple as that - if you don't like it, try convincing the other side with the validity of your arguments and if you trust the judgement of your fellow citizens, you should respect their decisions. If you don't trust or respect them, leave the country. Given the overwhelming liberal bias of the major US media (remember Dan Rather?), convincing folks should have been easy but that didn't happen either did it?

Perhaps it's because amongst all this vitriol and hate spewed by the Angry Left there isn't a shred of rational thought, Paul Krugman has been exposed for several misleading statements he's made with respect to the 2000 and 2004 elections - so just get with it, you can't keep not letting the facts get in the way of a good story without getting caught out.

If you want a bit more of the reality about what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan check out the Op-Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal and look for the diaries from a guy called Arthur Chrenkoff (I think), an Australian who has tried to look beyond the 'newsworthy' stream of bad news that is the only stuff broadcast by major media. And if you want to know the reason why there was regime change in Iraq, well Mr Hussein has a somewhat chequered history of invading neighbours with his armies raping and pillaging, committing genocide against his fellow Iraqis, amassing WMD to use against his neighbours, Israel and anybody else his nuttiness could think of, searching for weapons grade nuclear material and harbouring known terrorists - these are irrefutable facts.

Containment and appeasement are 2 sides of the same coin and history has shown that confrontation of evil-doers is the only way to defeat that evil. If you refuse to learn from history you are doomed to repeat it and I for one and glad that GWB is not that stupid.

Posted by: SKS | September 27, 2005 01:04 PM

The value of Mr. Stover's "observations" lies in the (mostly) concise and intelligent responses to them posted on this site. GLC212, who waves the "oh, but they volunteered" flag, overlooks or ignores the fact that 1) this was an unnecessary, optional war that no one enlisting could have expected to fight; and 2)as Joe writes, "What truly puzzles me is how so many Americans can support a war in which only the less well-off citizens are serving in combat areas."

It's not the rich, or the children of legislators, who are dying in Bush's ill-conceived, dangerous war of occupation. The rich don't need to enlist in the military, and if they do, they can avoid combat. Just look at our illustrious Commander in Chief, who ducked Vietnam and went AWOL from the National Guard.

Posted by: kim | September 27, 2005 01:10 PM

Having read all of the prior verbiage, it seems to lead me to the conclusion that "man's inhumanity to man" is no business of the United States or any other so-called civilized nation. Just let tyrants 'do thir thing to whoever they be and in any manner they choose since in the final analyses,the only conclusion to which I can arrive from all of the preceeding is that "We dare not be our brothers keeper!; no matter who so charged us. Can't help but reflect upon the '30's and early '40's in Europe! I guess as Wordsworth said: "The world is too much with us...."!

Posted by: Jim Girzone | September 27, 2005 01:15 PM

I can't help but to find it amusing(other words come to mind too) that so many of the pro-war fanatics blame soldiers deaths on the anti-war movement; that the protesters are helping the "insurgency" is absurd to say the least. There wouldn't even be an insurgency if we weren't there in first place. Shouldn't that be obvious enough though? Guess not! Oh yeah, Iraqis are dying everyday too but they're not Americans so nevermind.

Posted by: elevate me later | September 27, 2005 01:18 PM

I've often wondered how much one of Bush's photo ops costs. I wasn't at the protest, but it the anti-war protest wasn't informed, perhaps you can enlighten me. I've heard we won't leave Iraq until the job is finished. I'm just a little fuzzy on what the job is. It started, after all, as a hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by: Sara Bellum | September 27, 2005 01:22 PM

This sophomoric exercise would not have passed for an opinion in a high school civics class. Why did the Post bother to publish it?

Posted by: Joe Konn | September 27, 2005 01:23 PM

Recall the reaction to the Dixie Chicks when early in the "war" they came out against it. Such extreme and false patriotism is scary. The current protests of the policies of the President are well placed. I do not detect a lack of support for the troops by the protesters.

Posted by: Paul | September 27, 2005 01:23 PM

I think the debate over the cost of a protest is a little strange.

If our leaders actually listened to us when we wrote them letters, sent them email, held town hall meetings, and called their offices... we wouldn't have to flood the streets. Since our leaders opted out of debate before the war... we are stuck debating it now, when it is messy, risky, and wasteful. But that's what you get when you let the "look before you leap" crowd run Washington. For them it is an exciting game of chess... and we cover the tab.

If the public airwaves allowed for fair representation for both sides... both pro and anti war BEFORE the war started...

We'd have saved lots of money in Iraq AND we'd save money on protests.

Good luck and God bless you in Iraq. Never forget that you are a special creature made in the image and likeness of God, and you will walk amongst other equally loved creatures created in the image and likeness of God! May you come back safe in mind, body and soul!

Posted by: BigTobacco | September 27, 2005 01:23 PM

The war in Iraq is wrong. It is costly in human lives and takes away from what should our first objective, finding and punishing osama bin laden. What is hateful about that? I would support the war in Iraq if Cheney's daughters were there instead of in their cushy offices at their jobs and agencies created for them by their father. I would support the war if DeLay's kids were there, if other congressmen's kids were there. I believe if you're going to talk the talk, then you should walk the walk. Cindy Sheehan's son walked the walk. She has every right to protest this unwarranted war. The ones I feel sorry for are those who cling to the belief that their loved ones died for a worthy cause. Five years from now, when G W is no longer around and we have declared victory and gotten out of Iraq, these same parents will be left to ponder the death of their sons or daughters. I feel for them, truly.

Posted by: abuela | September 27, 2005 01:32 PM

SKS -- the rationalization for heading into this war was WMD & a fictitious "link" to 9/11. Both were in question before the US troops were sent over to Iraq.

Indeed I think that everyone would agree that Hussein was a pretty bad guy and could stand to be removed. With that said, would you support a US government removal of another head of state? -- Who's next? -- The initial pretext of this war is correct, now to justify it as "well Hussein was evil" is wrong. This is why many of us think the war is illegal.

Who is this administration going after next? -- a regime whose human rights issues are questionable? -- That would open up the door to several countries in Africa, China, not to mention the other countries in the axis of evil....

What's next? The administration tried to ignore the rest of the world when it transitioned 5 years ago, now international issues have forced themselves on the US.

I just don't think this administration has many scholars of war. Quite frankly, if they were as well read as they claim, they would have known not to paint a rosy picture (aka Vietnam), and to more fully engage in a FULL & OPEN dialogue with other international parties, rather than an isolationist strategy (see WWI & WWII for consequences).

and you cannot ignore cultural and social issues -- no matter how hand-picked the administration and it's many Bush following members try to surround itself. (See Karen Hughes recent trip to Egypt.)

Now we are indeed in a pickle. If we were to pull out within the next 6 months, our country would be responsible for a civil war in Iraq. However, Iraqi's are increasingly resenting the US presence there. (recent statistice put the foreing insurgents at 4-10% of total "insurgents")
Put yourself in their position: before at least there was reasonably clean running water, and electricity that you could rely on.

Now these people cannot even go to the market or school without worrying that they will be blown away. I'd be more than a little PO'd to if there were an occupying force in the US -- wouldn't you?

So, I ask you, WHO will this administration go after next? -- the answer is no one. Because we are relying on foreign countries to finance this war, and they will now dictate our foreign policy. Our military is stretched to thin -- because there are those who wave the stars and stripes, are in the well-to-do range that support the war, but will discourage their children from enlisting because - "well they can get a better job."

I am sad.

Posted by: Looking at both sides | September 27, 2005 01:39 PM

It takes less money to run a protest than it does to run an ill-conceived war.

Posted by: Steve | September 27, 2005 01:45 PM

You gotta love the Post's "fair and balanced" news coverage...let's see, we have an active duty National Guard soldier cover the anti-war protests and how about Ken Lay as a guest columnist on Bill Frist's insider trading? Gee, I wonder if they could Brownie to write about what went wrong at FEMA...when he finishes with his paid job of course.

Posted by: Rich | September 27, 2005 02:09 PM

Patriots in this country have always disagreed with the ruling governments. How do you think the Revolutionary War was won? Patriotism is not just a condition of agreeing with an elected official, especially one that has misled the nation on a number of important issues. Our number one elected official (GWB) and his entire administration have worked diligently (and it is "hard work," to quote him) to keep the so-called wave of patriotism going. Now, with 60 percent of the nation against him and the war he brought to us, it probably is even harder work.

Patriotism that is empty phrases such as "we are fighting the war there, rather than here," or "protests only endanger our troops," are all we can expect from this administration. They have, however, instilled the fear in some of the troops and their families that if we protesters say the operations in Iraq are needless then they have died and been gravely injured in vain. Not necessarily. Those troops were volunteers and they believed that it was necessary for us to invade Iraq (pick any of the serially offered reasons). They truly believe or at first believed that they are doing good. They have to believe it...otherwise many of them cannot handle the disappointment of being a force for evil, and helping the blatent acquisition of oil and wealth for this administration.

This doesn't diminish the support of the troops from 100 percent of the American people. We realize that they have to obey orders. They have no choice. But that doesn't keep me and millions of others from disagreeing with their inept commander-in-chief. He got us into this mess, and we, the people, must get us out of it. The method? Protests, followed by an increased attention to voting (and counting of those votes), with a focus on turning over the Congress to those who truly oppose this unethical war, and its obscene costs.

Posted by: Arminda | September 27, 2005 02:10 PM

There certainly were heated exchanges between pro- and anti-war participants, but the circumstances did not lend themselves to a more civilized discussion. Perhaps it would be good for the pro-war side to know that many of us who marched do in fact support our troops, and admire those who volunteer to keep this country safe, at risk to their lives. The sad reality is that they were betrayed by their commander-in-chief, who chose to put them in harm's way when this country was not threatened by Iraq. Despite the reports of the UN arms inspectors that no WMDs were present, and the absence of any linkage between Iraq and 9/11, and the predictions of many that we were entering a quagmire, the President chose to invade another country, and inflict war on its people. Now we are paying the consequences. I marched because I believe that we have to pressure our government to do something other than "stay the course." It's time to admit our invasion was a mistake, and to seek ways to withdraw as quickly as possible.

Posted by: George | September 27, 2005 02:26 PM

How does anyone call the liberation of Afghanistan or Iraq a "massive crime?" Or the defense of our nation and our way of life immoral? Or President Bush's response to murdering fascists stupid? If any of the anti-war protesters -- who bend over backwards to claim they're patriots who support our troops while making every effort to strip our nation of the moral right to self defense -- have a better plan to defend our country and the democratic way of life from murdering fanatics who couldn't care less about legal niceties, moral standards, tolerance and compassion, where is their plan? All I ever hear is hatred of Bush, hatred of America's principles in general, and hatred of the very idea of defending this country from overthrow and destruction. Bush has definitely screwed up, but so especially have the troops that protesters repeatedly claim respect, admiration and support for. After all, it's THEIR job to competently execute the President's strategy and in so many ways they blew it. My son has fought in Iraq for 3 tours now. I'm proud of him. He brings the very best American idealism and compassion to a vicious, morally bankrupt part of the world that revels in the death and destruction of everyone they dislike...islamofascists are the practical incarnation of our homegrown liberal America-bashers. The general ignorance, stupidity and lack of foresight of the anti-war crowd is astonishing.

Posted by: chris | September 27, 2005 02:33 PM

There was only one small spot where the pro-war protesters gathered, estimated to be from 200-400 individuals -- unless, of course, the PRO-war protesters were allowed to congregate without the same permits as the over 150,000 (up to 500,000? Where's the WaPo feature and accurate count, MSM?) ANTI-war protesters were required to have.

Mr. Stover, what exactly did you expect to learn from observing an exchange between two passionately opposed sides, replete with heckling?

Did you take time to speak with the multitudes of veterans who were exercising their Constitutional right to protest? How about a discussion with the many Iraq veterans who were peacefully protesting? I'm confident that they, like my nephew, would be more than happy to explain what brought them to their anti-Iraq war decision. They didn't come by their decision lightly, and would provide you with explanations as well as compassion. And they would also tell you how torn they feel when their buddies are continuing to die in this pointless, faux war. Had you spoken with them, you would have received the education you claim you were seeking.

The cost? Well, 1920 American soldiers' lives, over 14,000 injured and countless innocent Iraqi deaths. A demolished American reputation, with an administration that will likely be called before international tribunals for war crimes. The bilking of the American taxpayer to support mercenary Blackwater militia (who will OUTRANK you in Iraq or anywhere else you serve, plus they will be paid much, much more). The decimation of the Veteran's Administration budget so that help for you and your fellow returning soldiers will not be available. A completely polarized nation wedged by a president who had every opportunity to unite. A blazing deficit that you, your children and grandchildren will be paying off beyond your lifetime. The complete loss of American credibility for initiating a preemptive war based on lies. And that's just for starters.

Oh, and possibly $250,000 to $500,000 in overtime for D.C. police officers. That's not even chump change for Halliburton. Is that the cost you care about?

Posted by: JSS | September 27, 2005 02:33 PM

How does anyone call the liberation of Afghanistan or Iraq a "massive crime?" Or the defense of our nation and our way of life immoral? Or President Bush's response to murdering fascists stupid? If any of the anti-war protesters -- who bend over backwards to claim they're patriots who support our troops while making every effort to strip our nation of the moral right to self defense -- have a better plan to defend our country and the democratic way of life from murdering fanatics who couldn't care less about legal niceties, moral standards, tolerance and compassion, where is their plan? All I ever hear is hatred of Bush, hatred of America's principles in general, and hatred of the very idea of defending this country from overthrow and destruction. Bush has definitely screwed up, but so especially have the troops that protesters repeatedly claim respect, admiration and support for. After all, it's THEIR job to competently execute the President's strategy and in so many ways they blew it. My son has fought in Iraq for 3 tours now. I'm proud of him. He brings the very best American idealism and compassion to a vicious, morally bankrupt part of the world that revels in the death and destruction of everyone they dislike...islamofascists are the practical incarnation of our homegrown liberal America-bashers. The general ignorance, stupidity and lack of foresight of the anti-war crowd is astonishing.

Posted by: chris | September 27, 2005 02:34 PM


This column was utterly devoid of substance. Your most insightful comment was that the demonstrations were "interesting" but that there was probably a cost associated with expressing our First Amendment rights. If you honestly are troubled by the trivial expense for security at this event, perhaps you should reexamine your own commitment to defending your fellow Americans' freedoms. What price are you willing to pay? If you're troubled by the idea of shelling out daily wages to the police for freedom at home, what are your thoughts on subsidizing freedom abroad in the currency of American lives?

But perhaps more importantly - what is the Washington Post doing by hosting this so-called column on its website? Ninety-five percent of the posts to this piece were better written and more thoughtful than the author's own uninspired yet troubled musings over the cost of political expression. How did the Army get you on the Post's staff?

Posted by: -W- | September 27, 2005 02:36 PM

How does anyone call the liberation of Afghanistan or Iraq a "massive crime?" Or the defense of our nation and our way of life immoral? Or President Bush's response to murdering fascists stupid? If any of the anti-war protesters -- who bend over backwards to claim they're patriots who support our troops while making every effort to strip our nation of the moral right to self defense -- have a better plan to defend our country and the democratic way of life from murdering fanatics who couldn't care less about legal niceties, moral standards, tolerance and compassion, where is their plan? All I ever hear is hatred of Bush, hatred of America's principles in general, and hatred of the very idea of defending this country from overthrow and destruction. Bush has definitely screwed up, but so especially have the troops that protesters repeatedly claim respect, admiration and support for. After all, it's THEIR job to competently execute the President's strategy and in so many ways they blew it. My son has fought in Iraq for 3 tours now. I'm proud of him. He brings the very best American idealism and compassion to a vicious, morally bankrupt part of the world that revels in the death and destruction of everyone they dislike...islamofascists are the practical incarnation of our homegrown liberal America-bashers. The general ignorance, stupidity and lack of foresight of the anti-war crowd is astonishing.

Posted by: chris | September 27, 2005 02:36 PM

I cannot but agree that the rationalisation/pretext of imminent danger was wrong, false if you prefer, but the intent for regime change was and still is correct - I would have favoured a straightforward, 'this is what we're going to do and why' and given that opposition from many (ill-informed and conflicted) quarters was to be expected anyway, the blocking of the second UN resolution was inevitable.

Illegal is a very strong word to use, it implies that there is some law that governs who is allowed to start military actions and who isn't - are people really saying that Mr Hussein had not forsaken his rights under this fictitious law? Under the prevailing laws of the colonies, the American revolutionary war was illegal as was the English civil war - the fact is that there is no man-made law that governs war and certainly none that is natural.

I am asked 'who next?' - well that decision, if relevant, is the job of our political leaders (those that we elect). Of course reality is dictated by limited resources in military terms and the available use of non-military means to effect desirable change - why don't the anti-war movement answer the question, how was the desired regime change going to be brought about with out a war?

Or was it not really desired? I guess a comment complementing the availability of utilities that reminds us of fascist Italy betrays the author's thinking - perhaps he would like to suggest that to the Kurds and the marsh Arabs that Mr Hussein tried to exterminate, Dear Sir, would you like gas through the pipes or as a special deal, down your windpipe?

You are right about your military being stretched, keeping thousands of personnel in Germany is a nonsense and more funding should be made available to the military rather than pork barrel funding which has been shameful under a Republican controlled Congress. The great thing about America's kids is that they generally decide what they want to do and what they don't want to do - why generalise about rich parents preventing their children from joining the military? There are no press gangs rounding up kids in poor neighbourhoods and there isn't a draft so what's the beef? If the argument is that poor kids have no choice, well how about liberals leaving them and their communities alone rather than creating such a disastrous dependency culture?

Being beholden to foreign countries for funding is rather inaccurate - foreigners (and given that a large proportion as Asian central banks, how did they dictate to the US to take this military action?) hold US debt from an investment and economic perspective - they can buy more, hold or sell what they have in the market all of which have significantly greater implications for their own well-being rather than the ability to influence US policy.

There is no pickle, Iraq is a dangerous place, innocent Iraqis are being murdered, brave American and allied servicemen and civilians are being murdered by people who don't want Iraq to experience the freedoms, liberties or scope for happiness that we take for granted - it is a credit to your nation that it has undertaken this immense effort and history will look kindly upon these times and generously on the sacrifices being made - in 5 or 10 years time (which is the proper timescale to take stock of whether the effort was worth it), if the middle east is a much better place to live for all it's citizens much as Germany and Japan were post WWII, the anti-war movement (as the anti-nuclear movement before it) is going to be shown to have got it wrong (yet again).

At least we seem to agree that now is not the time to cut and run - so why don't the anti-war folks do something constructive for Iraq by talking up the prospects for that country, support the troops (allied and Iraqi), help build the infrastructure, tell them that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, that the great American lead coalition will stick by them until the dawn of a bright future and what a wonderful thing is that timeless beauty, Liberty.

Posted by: SKS | September 27, 2005 02:38 PM

"Sounds to me like Mr Stover (and the rest of us, better known as chickenhawks) is more at risk from the anti-war movement than anything he might encounter in Iraq -"

What? At last count, over 2000 "coalition forces" including more than 1800 Americans have been killed in Iraq. At last count, no one has been killed by the anti-war movement. Therefore, Mr. Stover appears to face a great deal more risk in Iraq. However, the point is well taken about the chicken hawks. They prefer to engage the enemy by shooting off their mouths from extremely long distances.

Posted by: RTB | September 27, 2005 02:40 PM

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" -Samuel Johnson-

Posted by: The Drunken Boat | September 27, 2005 02:49 PM

How much will it cost to provide long-term medical care to more than 14,000 severely disabled soldiers? How much will it cost to provide assistance to the families that will now need to depend on some form of public assistance due to loss of life of their main source of income? How much will it cost to provide long-term treatment for PTSD? How much will it cost when the government eventually ponies up to the effects of Depleted Uranium that they are currently are agent-Oranging/Gulf War Syndroming? And most importantly, how much will the non-financial cost be to 1900 families.

Posted by: Larry | September 27, 2005 02:56 PM

From Chris: "How does anyone call the liberation of Afghanistan or Iraq a "massive crime?" Or the defense of our nation and our way of life immoral? Or President Bush's response to murdering fascists stupid?"

Calling the invasion of Iraq "the defense of our nation and our way of life" is an appalling lie. Although a cesspool, Iraq was no danger to us. That's obvious now and it was obvious before the war. The assertion that the slaughter in Iraq is about defending freedom is laughable. The American people are finally getting it, and no more-patriotic-than-thou posturing will suppress the truth.

Posted by: Jim | September 27, 2005 02:59 PM

I have to agree with Joe Konn's comments earlier: "This sophomoric exercise would not have passed for an opinion in a high school civics class. Why did the Post bother to publish it?"

I can understand the original idea of this blog. But it is painfully obvious that the Post is being played for a sucker by the military. Perhaps in the next installment, Bert can identify just who is writing and editing his blog postings. His postings (especially today's) reads like DoD propaganda.

Posted by: E. Etage | September 27, 2005 03:01 PM

In regards to the last post by Chris:

Let me see if I got this right: your son has served three tours in Iraq and you're saying the soldiers deserve some of the blame for this train-wreck that is Iraq?

The torturers and sadists who have destroyed our country's reputation maybe, yes, they should take some of the blame. The men and women who were sent to fight a war to re-elect the President? The men and women who were commanded to risk their lives in an unnecessary conflict that has made this country less respected abroad and less safe at home? Those soldiers deserve the blame for this mess? Your own son hasn't suffered enough?

Regarding freedom in Afghanistan, as mentioned at the beginning of your post: war with Afghanistan was a choice the President made - it was only one of a multitude of choices available. This war, which is still being fought, has brought limited political and religious freedom to the people of Afghanistan, but very little in the way of security. There were, and still are, many less violent ways to bring freedom and consolidate democracy in the area. If America would put 1% of its power behind securing a political solution there instead of a strictly military one both nations would be far better off. There WERE many less violent ways of dealing with the Taliban and with al-Qaeda in the wake of 9/11, and as this week's trial in Spain has proven, legal ways are both more effective and involve far fewer innocent deaths.

It is not the freedom the anti-war movement reviles, it is the brutal methods with which it is sought but rarely achieved. That's why we're celled the "anti-war" movement, not the "anti-freedom" movement. Perhaps this has dispelled some of your confusion.

Posted by: -W- | September 27, 2005 03:02 PM

"At last count, no one has been killed by the anti-war movement."

Right, so giving succour to the enemy does not directly lead to the deaths of coalition forces so that's ok then. The point about chicken hawks was ironic but I guess the Angry Left doesn't get irony - yes, I'm not in the military but when I was making my career decisions as a youth, we were in the phoney peace after the Cold War and even in the UK, the peace dividend meant an alarming cut in defence spending which together with my misplaced favourable opinion of centrist politics meant that I didn't even consider a military career - the real test will come as and when I have children.

I hope to be proud of them whatever they do but if they choose to serve their country (my adopted country) with the prospect of the ultimate sacrifice, I can't imagine greater pride as well as unbelievable heartache and that's why those kids are the finest in both of our countries, they deserve total support in their decision to enlist and in the job that they are doing - their parents deserve blessings from the rest of us whatever our political views.

I'll stop shooting off my mouth RTB and I wish you well.


Posted by: SKS | September 27, 2005 03:08 PM

To Chris, if it's the military that blew it in Iraq, why is Donald Rumsfeld still secretary of defense? Why does Bush keep saying Rumsfeld is doing a great job?

Posted by: sjr | September 27, 2005 03:12 PM

To sjr...the same reason that Brownie was doing a great job! Bush doesn't have a clue as to what kind of jobs his appointees are doing.

Posted by: Arminda | September 27, 2005 03:28 PM

Cost of the protest. Minimal, when it comes to the cost of Bush's Iraqi war. Just a minute or two on the following Iraqi cost meter will cover all of wages for the security forces at the protest. Bush is bleeding the sap out of this nation!


Posted by: john | September 27, 2005 03:48 PM

Americans need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. I don't believe they will like what they see. WHAT IS SEE IF A BUNCH OF IGNORANT TRASH WORRIED ABOUT HOW MUCH INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS COST AND NOT WORRIED ABOUT FREEDOM WHICH THEY ARE GIVING AWAY.

Posted by: KATMAN | September 27, 2005 03:50 PM

Pause to remember the late Don Adams -- a genuinely funny man.

Posted by: E. Etage | September 27, 2005 04:10 PM

Mr. Stover's only point in his essay is to question the cost of security for a peaceful demonstration against a war which was based on demonstrably false pretenses. This question merits no response unless Stover is ready to follow the logical path of his point and propose, with all seriousness, an end to the First Ammendment.
I have some questions for Mr. Stover and I hope he can make time to answer them.

1) Are you equally prepared to put a bullet into the head of an Iraqi child, to hand over an innocent husband and father to a fate of torture and possible death, or to make mistakes which cost innocent lives, as you are to detain or kill a suspected terrorist? Because the duty you seem ready and eager to accept may require you do these things or worse.

2) To rephrase Cindy Sheehan's main question, why are you going to Iraq? Do you truly believe that you will make America, Iraq or the world a safer or better place by serving in this administration's war? If so, how?

3) Have you considered your alternative, i.e. refusal? This would almost certainly result in jail time, though amnesty may come after 2008 (I hope). It is a choice which other soldiers have made with honor and dignity. I invite you to pray over this question if you are religious (I am not), and/or to consult your best conscience, which I belive all people posess.

Posted by: james | September 27, 2005 04:53 PM

I have tried and tired but I still can't get how anyone can be pro-war. I am pro troops but I am also anti-war. I bet if you had a chance to talk with MOST of the demonstrators I think that they would agree. I can understand defending your self if some one attacks you but to create bogus information and then declare that we may be attacked in the future and go in and have over 2,000 Americans and allies killed and over 100,000 Iraqis killed makes no sense to me. Can you please kindly explain Pro-War to me?

Posted by: T. Johnson | September 27, 2005 04:54 PM

Engaging in ad hominem attacks on Mr. Stover is misguided. As I noted above, he really doesn't take a side in this debate (quite right, as he is constrained by his active-duty position from doing so), and he's done all of us a service by highlighting the protest. We need to have a national debate on the administration's missteps and misleading in Iraq, and I'm glad that Mr. Stover chose to focus on the protest and create a forum for this much needed debate over the debacle over there.

Many of our troops are dead and many more are maimed because Bush sent them to Iraq. Even if we cast aside valid questions about whether the war was justified or based on false premises, there are equally valid questions about how the administration's decision to run the war on the cheap, depriving our troops of adequate supplies and armor, sending them there without a realistic occupation plan or even articulating a set of reachable goals and an exit strategy, that should and must be answered. Bush and his administration need to be held accountable for much, including our own troops who have died and are continuing to die in vain.

Accountability is the issue here. We are Americans, and our elected officials serve us. They can be recalled, whether through election or through impeachment.

It starts with us, the voters. Get out there and make waves. We've got a year until the next Congressional elections. Build coalitions and work with people on the common ground we share. If your Congressman or Congresswoman or Senator rubber-stamped the current administration's decisions, get them out of office! Demand more.

"We, the People..."

That's what our men and women in the armed forces are fighting for, and that's what the protestors are also fighting for. The buck may stop with the President, but as the President rules only by the will of the people, the buck really stops with none other than us.

You want change, get out there and do something.

Thanks again, Mr. Stover, both for your service to our country, and for your focus on a very important question that impacts us all.

Posted by: CRD | September 27, 2005 05:10 PM

It's amazing how many people here are criticizing Bert for being noncommittal, unreflective, not sympathetic with the left, not sympathetic with the right, whatever. Geez, he's just a citizen relaying his own observations, not a reporter. Leave the poor guy alone. I guess people on both sides are so angry that even if you're a moderate like Bert they consider you to be the enemy (reminds me of Bert standing in the middle and getting yelled at by both sides). Protestors love to jump to conclusions. Especially funny is seeing people getting upset at Bert's question about the costs. It's probably not a criticism at all, just an idle question based on his own awe at the level of security. Maybe he's criticizing the amount of security. Who knows. But activists tend to interpret ambiguous statements in the most negative way possible. The best activists detect all sorts of ulterior motives in those who disagree with them -- how else can they explain away smart people who oppose their viewpoint?

Posted by: Jack | September 27, 2005 05:28 PM

Mr Stover,

I thought your most inciteful take on the anti war movement on Sunday was the cast of disparate left wing frieks who apparently think they are entitled to revise pre war history, make outrageous claims about Bush and otherwise bad mouth America all in the name of patriotism. What a bunch of utter losers. This anti war march just hardened my resolve against these people ever having a say in our foreign policy or governance.

Good luck and God bless.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 05:32 PM

All you liberal left wing nuts are a bunch of cowards who let other people die for your freedoms.

Posted by: Fred | September 27, 2005 05:36 PM

I'll tell you why Mr. Stover is writing for the Washington Post- because he is in the military.Thats why his discursive ramblings are trenchant "insights".
And puleeze, do not take issue with his medicore writing or his disingenuous questions, it will be considered churlish and unpatriotic.
The more interesting question is-why is the quality of the writing, not to mention the thinking, unimportant to the Washington Post?

Posted by: Bonnie | September 27, 2005 05:37 PM

Mr Stellerman,

You reference those who "revise pre war history [and] make outrageous claims about Bush...."

Could you elaborate a bit and share with the group instances of historical revisionism and "outrageous claims" that you take issue with, and perhaps also give us your take on what is the justification for the Iraq war and the deaths of our troops there?

Posted by: C | September 27, 2005 05:48 PM

If anyone interpreted my questions as ad hominem attacks on Mr. Stover, I'm not sure how they got to that conclusion. The questions I asked were sincere and took into account the day-to-day, on-the-ground reality of the war in Iraq, as well as real questions of personal conscience and responsibility. They are questions that most soldiers hopefully ask themselves without prompting from myself or anyone else.
The reality remains that being a soldier, in any war but especially this one, means killing other people, many of them innocent. Who here is prepared to do this for no apparent reason? And no apparent reason seems to underly this war and the continued occupation of Iraq.

CRD's statement "That's what our men and women in the armed forces are fighting for" refers to no clear anticedent. Does he mean congressional representation, our Constitution (both fine things) or what? And how are soldiers in Iraq fighting for any of the positive things CRD mentions? A serious, rational answer would not contain platitudes like Freedom, Democracy, Liberty, etc. Such abused and now-meaningless abstractions do not answer the central question, how does the US war in Iraq or participation in it, serve our country, or anyone in it or outside it? I'm sorry if anyone is offended by my questioning the general value of military service in the Iraq war, but thankfully our Constitution allows me that right.

P.S. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the only decent course of action America can take now is to begin the process of handing over Iraq, in sections if necessary, to third parties who can start over rebuilding Iraq as a single nation or as several. The US has no credibility or legitimacy in Iraq, and so should arrange for someone who might have these qualitues to take over. (The UN, despite its many faults, comes to mind.) I don't support pulling all troops out immediately, as civil war and carnage would result immediately. But the current policy and Iraqi constitution leads either to a second Iran or to civil war a little further down the road, with US troops playing the role of very unfunny Barney Fifes in the middle of it.

Posted by: james | September 27, 2005 05:50 PM

Apparently the rabid emotional status of the anti-war crowd doesn't tolerate anyone who has a moderate observation or who refuses to immediately leap to the kook anti war side.

I am around anti-war types all day and they are so filled with anti Bush lies and propaganda its disgusting. I regularly cringe when I hear Halliburton arranged the war or Bush lied about WMD. Most reasonable people in red state america understand we went to war for the threat of use of WMD and they also realized Bush's intell and that of the world community was wrong. In the end though, WMD or not, Saddam was still a threat that would use WMD at some point, at some time. That is why we went.

You guys are no different from my right wing pro life nuts who really believe liberals want abortions.

The left wing kook fringe is back in America. Not for long though, this time its different, now there is Fox News and talk radio.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 05:54 PM

You reference those who "revise pre war history [and] make outrageous claims about Bush...."

Could you elaborate a bit and share with the group instances of historical revisionism and "outrageous claims" that you take issue with, and perhaps also give us your take on what is the justification for the Iraq war and the deaths of our troops there?

Yes. First of all there is never any justification for death and no one sends soldiers to die. That's just left wing propaganda. If war were simply sending soldiers to die, there would be no war, cause NO ONE would go. It would defeat its purpose pretty quickly. So, please dispense with the propaganda. War is hellish enough on its own, you don't need to make it worse by spewing ridiculous propaganda.

On the issue of revisionist history. Yes the anti war movement is in the process of coordinating a revision of what lead us to vote Bush the authority to go to war.

1) Countrary to the left's propaganda, if this is Bush's war, it is just as much Congress' war as they voted him authority. As Congress is elected directly by the people that make it the people's war.

2) Bush was wrong about WMD being in Iraq. Most normal people understand this and accept it. However the UN weapons inspectors assumed he had WMD, as did the Clinton administration. So its not a Bush original idea that Saddam had WMD. Many have reasoned this. However, there is no disputing the fact that Saddam made post-mortem payments to families of sucicide bombers in the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank and Gaza are not in Iraq. This makes Saddam a supporter of international terrorism.

3) Saddam had demonstrated the courage to use WMD against the Kurds. He killed thousands of them with chemical weapons.

4) Saddam voilated the terms of his surrender after Gulf War I.

The war was not illegal as a matter of fact and as a matter of opinion I believe it is in the best interest of a free middle east and a safer America.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 06:10 PM

The above comments show two Americas in more than the political sense. I note that only a few of the pro-Iraq-war crowd seem to be able to express their views cogently and rationally or even write correct, grammatical English. Is it their overweening anger on display, or have decades of sub-par public education taken their toll?

Posted by: A. Lannus | September 27, 2005 06:21 PM

I guess we're just not as smart as the liberals. Perhaps that's why we keep losing elections.

Posted by: Dellington Munyholder | September 27, 2005 06:33 PM

Dear Brick,

In regards to the "Bush was right all along argument" as posted above. You seem to amazingly somehow still believe that:

1) Before the invasion it was credible to believe that Saddam had WMDs;
2) If Saddam had WMDs, he must have had the delivery systems for them to be used against the US as well; and
3) Saddam possessed the will and determination to use these weapons against the United States.

May I retort.

1) The Bush Administration selectively culled and cherry picked only the intelligence that supported the claim that Iraq possessed WMDs. The State Department Intelligence Agency's own report on the subject came to the exact opposite conclusion. Like most things to come from the State Department, it was ignored by this administration. The Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence noted that evidence not supporting the weapons claim was given little attention. It is inaccurate to say that all of the intelligence was wrong. The intelligence this administration chose to use was wrong.

2) Iraq did not possess WMDs, as many in the intelligence community believed, and it certainly did not posses delivery systems to use such weapons. The near universal agreement on this issue before the war betrays just how little the American people thought through the proposition that "If Saddam has weapons then... he will use them on us!" They forgot the question of "With what missiles/airplanes/submarines..." Read the Duelfer report for a thorough analysis of Iraq's weapons programs and delivery systems to learn just how off the mark the administration's claims were. I can't recommend it strongly enough.

3) The pro-war argument clings to the fallacy that had Saddam possessed weapons, and the capacity to use them on American targets, then he would. That sound logic ignores a little thing called self preservation, which prevents world leaders, and megalomaniacal ones especially, from oh, randomly deciding to kill themselves, which is what an attack on America would have been equivalent to. Saddam was never considered to be a suicide bomber. (This is when you say, "Oh but you know those Arabs, they're all the same.")

Now, those of us who logically thought through the Administration's logic that "If he has weapons... he'll attack us!" were typically against the war.

Those who simply thought, "WMD's hell, say no more" are hopefully now beginning to see the incongruities in their reasoning and another example of why to distrust this Administration.

Last note, I'm sorry, but if you're writing for the goddamn Washington Post I expect you to have something to say. This isn't Craig's List, it's a respected paper. Here is a synopsis of Stover's article: "I watched a protest this weekend. It was loud. Sometimes people got angry. Maybe people should just be quiet instead."

Thank you, DOD Press Corps!

Oh and Brick, I like lamp too.

Posted by: W | September 27, 2005 06:48 PM

why are so few in the "right-wing" camp asking hard questions of the government we all share?

It seems to me that so many of the things that are going on abroad transcend petty domestic politics. Our soldiers dying at the behest of our government affects us all, regardless of party affiliation. Whether you voted for Bush in 2000 or you voted for Gore shouldn't impact your desire to ask "why"?

If the government sincerely thought there were WMDs there, then what was the case that they posed an imminent threat? I mean, sure, no one thought Saddam was a nice guy, but for us to engage in a preemptive war, don't we have to have a credible case not just of a potential threat, or some violation of a UN accord, but of a threat that's actually imminent?

Prior to our invasion of Iraq, there were reasonable questions as to the validity of the WMD claims that were raised to the administration and never answered -- why was that the case?

Why were our troops sent into Iraq in too few numbers to hold down the occupation and quell resistance?

Why were our troops sent into Iraq inadequately supplied and under-armored? That's a disservice to the men and women who volunteered to put their lives on the line for us. Who's answerable for that? If not Bush, then who?

Should we have sent our troops into Iraq to take out Saddam's secular government rather than focus on the Islamic militants of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Where's Osama? Shouldn't he have been brought to justice?

Why have we had to deal with an ever-shifting rationale for the war?

I'm in a red state. I have faith in God, the power of love, and our American ideals of freedom and justice. I don't have faith in the president or any other man -- we're all fallible. It troubles me that we have so many who simply aren't willing to ask hard questions and demand our government be accountable.

Posted by: D | September 27, 2005 06:55 PM

I believe the security detail was there to protect each side from the other. Since the pro side was outnumbered 10 to 1, it could have been very ugly. The cost is all beside the point. The right to assemble and protest is protected in the Constitution. One writer stated that anti-war protesters like to see soldiers die. What an absolute distortion. It is a tactic frequently used by the administration and its supporters. If you oppose the war, you are anti-patriotic, you support terrorism, you aid and abet the enemy. This is a bald faced attempt to marginalize those who do not agree with this administration about this war in Iraq. It avoids the need to have a real debate, one that requires each side to respect the other.

It is true that once a war is started, it takes a long time to stop one. Now that we are in Iraq, it will be a very long time before we are out. The cost in human life will be staggering. What will we achieve in the end? No one, not even President Bush himself really knows. The start of the war was based on false assumptions, and the reasons for this war have morphed into this "save the world from evil dictators" mantra. I guess Iran does not count, nor does North Korea. Then there are our good buddies the Saudies. Funny thing is, Saddam was our good buddy when he was fighting against Iran.

Our foreign policy should be more complex than the simple jingoism peddled by Mr. Bush and company. We need to be careful who we call our friends and consider what our support does to the cititzens of that country. One thing we are not is the world's policeman.

Posted by: David | September 27, 2005 06:58 PM

"UN weapons inspectors assumed he had WMD."


Are you referring to when the UN team was there, consistently finding nothing, or when they were ordered out of the country by an administration fed up with their inability to find non-existent weapons?

Have you read anything by Hans Blix? Have you read the reports written by the inspectors who were there? This isn't Chomsky I'm citing, it's the UN and the reports of our own government. Turn off the Fox, read one of these documents and then tell me that the decision to go to war was a rational one.

Where are you getting your information?

Posted by: W | September 27, 2005 07:01 PM

For all the socialist "peaceniks"
who have never created peace, let the warriors handle peace making. Even the U.N.
can't make peace. In the last 60 years the U.N. has handled The Korean War - still 40 thousand US troops there 55 years later - Truman(D)thing.
And then there is the Balkans with US troops still committed 10 years later - a Clinton(D)thing. Of course the people of Vietnam still are trampled in despotism after the Kerry Fonda connection freed them - a Johnson(D)thing. And, the people of Cuba still suffer after Kennedy(D) got weak kneed over the bay of pigs. The U.N.
also got involved in the first Gulf war
leading Bush to create commitments of
mediocrity, when the warriors could have ended it. And then we spent 12 years spending millions each year for 'No Fly Zones' over Iraq - a Clinton(D) thing. Catching any democratic party trends here? Of course the
'Peaceful Left' has a terrible history of
failure and no peace.

Posted by: Jeff Crocket | September 27, 2005 07:03 PM

1) Saddam had WMD because that's what he used on the Kurds. What he had just before the war is another issue. I believe UN intell was that "he probably has them" but we just don't know and can't find them, oh and we won't solve this peacefully because, well f you we are the anti American UN and we don't like to enforce our resolutions. That's essentially what Hans Blick was saying during the UN resolutions.

2) It doesn't take a lot to deliver a canister of mustard gas. A cargo ship or a charter airplane to central America would do the trick. Then you could pretty much sneak across the boarder like 30 zillion mexicans do. Delivery isn't that hard. A nuke is riskier and harder to deliver but a ship sailing into an port city could do it.

3)If Saddam was intersted in self preservation how do explain his situation now? How do you explain his decision to fight rather than surrender in the face of the US military. Another point is that a surrogate for Saddam could deliver chemical agents to the US and it would be very hard to trace it back to Iraq. But perhaps the most ridiculous thing is to think that the you and the anti war movement would be for roasting 6 million innocent iraqis in a nuclear holocost if it turned out you were wrong about his level of intelligence.

Those who were pro-war from the begginning thought long and hard about this and decided it wasn't worth being wrong about this for US or for innocent citizens who happen to live in terrorist nations.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 07:07 PM

One more thing. I love desk.

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 07:08 PM

Next up:

Brittany Spears blogs on the web for Washington Post on the Virginity and Chastitiy Movement.

Posted by: D | September 27, 2005 07:35 PM

Brick arguing with you is like riding a big furry tractor. But just for the hell of it:
Yes, Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, we sold them to him. Then there was Gulf War 1, inspectors went in and over the next 10 years they did a decent job of destroying those weapons. Yes there was uncertainty about the existence of weapons before the war. That is very different from the slam dunk, smoking gun, mushroom cloud rationale being repeated ad nauseam by the Bushies.

True, delivering a can of mustard gas isn't that hard. However, mustard gas isn't that bad. I mean it, read on. The scare factor surrounding mustard gas is completely overhyped. Exposure to mustard gas in WWI resulted in fatalities of around 1% of cases. Seriously, look it up. It was used as a debilitating agent, not a sure fire way to make your enemies drop dead. From the Council on Foreign Relations: "Mustard gas causes severe blisters and, if inhaled, can also damage the lungs and other organs. It is usually disabling--sometimes gruesomely so--but not fatal." What killed the Kurds was sarin; mustard gas was used to prevent them from escaping. Atropine can protecet against sarin exposure; whether or not our government has that stockpiled in adequate numbers is another question.

Yeah, I don't think we went to war over mustard gas man. Or any other chemical WMD when anyone can do ten times the damage with easy to weaponize fertilizer and a transcript of the McVeigh trial.

The WMD arguement was then, and remains now, bunk.

Posted by: W | September 27, 2005 07:46 PM

its a basic tenet of logic that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. the fact that no WMDs have been found speaks little to whether they were there before the invasion. obviously they had WMDs at somepoint because Saddam used them to kill thoushands of kurds. so the question becomes (if we assume for arguments sake the WMDs are no longer inside Iraq's boarders) when did they get rid of them?? one day before the invasion? if it took us a year to find saddam hussein hiding in a hole imagine how difficult it is to find WMD that were hid or possibly destroyed during our invasion.

why didnt we have more troops in Iraq to begin with? well probably because the more troops you have in Iraq the more of them are targets and possibly die. and we know all the liberals out there use the death toll against the president when ever they can.

its war, people are going to die, its no revelation. 1,900 dead americans is nothing to thumn your nose at but niether is the prospect of an Arab country of 40 million with representative government. or the deposing of a leader who clearly represented a nexus between WMD capability, willingness to use them with impunity and a fundamental disregard for the international community and humanity in general.

on the subject of the somewhat ridiculous discussion thats been started about body armor and humvee armor...if you decide its important and urgent enough to go to war, you go to war, you dont wait around until a year until you have better equipment if you have the most thoroughly and completely equipped army in the world.

and seriously everybody who wants a withdrawl or a withdrawl date (i dont know if anyone on this blog is part of this group) you really are helping the other side, giving them hope, and convincing our more hardened enimies of the very fact that makes them think that we are a big fragile target ripe for being taken down--we cant tolerate even any degree of military casualties.

there is a very good chance that in terms of casualties in exchange for results this war will end up being the most economic war ever.

and lets be honest, when you get down to it the job discription of anyone joining the military includes dying.

Posted by: | September 27, 2005 08:24 PM

Boy liberals sure like to hear themselves talk. You people are all spouting the same long-winded rants. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: mike | September 27, 2005 08:29 PM

Fellow Americans,

I read the piece by Mr. Stover, reporting for duty in a few days for a stint in Iraq. Like everyone here, I hope for his safe return to his family and friends.

I was privileged enough to have been born into the middle class - the most affluent generation in the history of mankind (if we're talking GNP).

Mr. Stover has a pretty good chance for making it back home unscathed. Hopefully, he'll see some positive signs of nation-building and democratization taking root in what was once a pretty secular country on the Koran-frenzied Arab Street.

However, while he's in country, a few of his fellow soldiers won't fare so well and may return home in pieces, if at all. That is a high cost to pay for your country, but it's a sacrifice they chose to make to defend their country against enemies foreign and domestic.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of regular Americans volunteered to fight the good fight to "get" the people responsible for the horrific attacks and make Americans back home "safe."

However, at last count, not one of those hijackers or their backers were Iraqis, but I digress. The fight was to rid the world of terror, which one general opined was like declaring a war on air power - it can't be won.

Saddam was "our" guy when we needed him to send dead Iranian boys back home to Tehran in the Iran-Iraq war. Per the New York Times magazine article on 9/11/05, he served our needs then, utilized our intelligence to deliver gas attacks on the Iranians. Like Noriega, he overstayed his welcome and occupied George I's Kuwaiti pals to help defray some war costs, and got on our hit list.

My point is this, this is the wrong war fought the wrong way against the wrong people. Our best hope is to install another "good" dictator there, like a Mubarak or - he's tanned, rested, and ready - Saddam Hussein to keep the Shiites from putting the House of Saud up in jihadi flames.

The German army had a reasonably easy drive into Stalingrad, but getting out was the trick. Baghdad was not the problem, but the cost of this war and the folly of it are more than enough to cause good Americans to ask "why Iraq?" as even good Germans might have asked "Why Russia?"

We are in Saudi Arabia for the long haul. The al Qaeda leaders use that as a recruiting tool for their jihad. This is another chapter in the bloody history of the crusades. Can we say that anyone has won or lost in that time?

We need to step back and look at where this country is headed. This is 1984 and we will live in code orange for the rest of our insecure lives, with momemntary flashes of code red. While we fight this faceless enemy abroud, we continue to sink into a state unlike the poor and desperate souls of New Orleans - on the wrong end of the political divide and paying the price for our "security" in the continual deferral of the "American Dream."

How can we be secure with the griniding poverty in our own midst? With crumbling levees and a dysfunctional health care system? What is the true cost of security when we must forego needs like education, clean air and water, and social security to pay for it? Who are we defending this country from, and will it be worth defending when all is said and done?

This is a country that in 2005 can't even distinguish between science and fiction (see: intelligent design). We need to distinguish between might and right, and

There are two America's, and it is sad to know that the same base, religious fundamentalism that is hijacking our Republic will exert its same insidious effect in the jihadist's cause on this "democracy" we are imposing in the Middle East. May God help us, indeed.

Posted by: SK | September 27, 2005 08:44 PM

People have been making this WMD argument since the times of Christopher Columbus. Indians had them, used them, and thankfully we had the good sense to conquered those evil savages. That is just the way it is. Its history people.

Posted by: Kip Bladderstone | September 27, 2005 08:55 PM

Rational people, whether they believe that the war was wrong or right, are not now screeching for the immediate withdrawal of troops. Sane people understand that that would certainly lead to more death and destruction to ordinary Iraqis than has occurred thus far. So go ahead and castigate Bush until you are blue in the face, proclaim his supposed stupidity or alleged deception from the mountaintops, if you desire. At the same time, however, perhaps you might think about what future course would be best for Americans, Iraqis, and the rest of the world. If you do so, then maybe in 2006 and 2008 we can have elections and debates ideas for solving these problems instead of shrill fingerpointing and mindless slogans about blood and oil.
But that's the real kicker for the dems isn't it? Actually putting forth ideas. If Kerry had voiced *any* plans or ideas that resonated with Americans, maybe a few thousand more of the 80% of Americans who disapprove of Bush would have voted for him. Think about it--Bush has one of the lowest approval ratings ever but he would probably beat Gore or Kerry again if another election were held tomorrow. This is because any solutions or ideas offered by the left are drowned out by the shrill, simple minded, and elitist nonsense spewed by people like the posters on this message board. I am by no means a Bush supporter, but you people remind me why the majority of regular Americans, though they think Bush failed in most respects, voted him back in in '04. It's because you think you're so much smarter than they are, you mock them if they have faith in something you can't see, you want them to feel guilty for owning a home and a car, you appear to hate capitalism, you talk as if the French are inherently morally superior to Americans, etc. (e.g. SK's blathering, silly nonsense about a "base, religious fundamentalism" that is apparently "hijacking our republic" blah blah blah)

Posted by: Michael | September 27, 2005 09:42 PM

yeah, I went to observe this protest... and there were people... and they said some stuff...then they walked around... that was about it...I'm deep!

Posted by: Chris | September 27, 2005 09:53 PM

They talk about "honor" a lot. Their TV ads show young men slaying mythical dragons, climbing walls of fantasy, standing tall in multicolored uniforms.

But let's be honest - that's not what the military has them do. We train them to kill.

In obedience to those who displayed cowardice during their own time to serve, our servicemen have been directed to invade a nation that did nothing to us.

Yes, they are demonstrating their willingness to face hardship and even death for our country, but are being used, abused for the personal political gain of crooked politicians.

Our kids are killing sons and daughters in another country - people who are defending their land, resisting a foreign invasion and occupation.

Are these the right values? Is this what we want our kids to do with their lives?

In life, few decisions are as important as the ones regarding life and death. Yet we seem to idealize those who abdicate that decision, doing the unchallenged bidding of someone else, perhaps someone with a political axe to grind.

Is that smart? Where is the honor in killing on command?

I am someone who believed that the price of living in a free country was the active defense of it. I enlisted and volunteered for the war of my generation. None of us will ever be the same.

What will happen to those who serve when they realize they, like me, were just suckers, . . fooled, tricked by their own good intentions to do terrible things to others?

There will be a terrible price to pay for this self-righteous violence, far worse than letting our sons and daughters be used for terrible purposes, far more than the tens of thousands of physically, mentally, and morally wounded troops who come home in and out of boxes, more than the billions of dollars wasted.

We have lost our humanity, and any soul we might have had.

Posted by: | September 27, 2005 10:23 PM

My post went out without my name. I, George Kamburoff, wrote the note ending "We have lost our humanity, and any soul we might have had."


Posted by: george kamburoff | September 27, 2005 10:29 PM

You said:

"Our kids are killing sons and daughters in another country - people who are defending their land, resisting a foreign invasion and occupation."

This just shows how nutty liberals have finally become. "defending their land" Its as if the kook fringe of liberalism is now mainstream liberalism. I'm gleeful! I can't wait to watch as you guys implode. Its as if the self destruct sequence has been started... "Liberalism will self destruct in 30 seconds, 29..28..."

Posted by: Brick Stellerman | September 27, 2005 10:39 PM

Brick the Gleeful:

Why aren't you over there killing for peace? When I believed in it, I had the guts to go myself.

By the way, your countdown won't be for liberalism, not now that most Americans have grudgingly seen where we got with the extremist cowards, crooks and nutbags now in government.

The Bush Cabal has defrauded us into war. That's not just an impeachable offense, it is a capital crime, and demands legal redress.

Posted by: george kamburoff | September 27, 2005 11:01 PM

I was in DC on Saturday for the MASSIVE peaceful outpouring of opposition agianst Bush and his War against Iraq.

Brent Stover is concerned about the costs of this event. I was most impressed that there were few police or officials, because the crowd was peaceful. The real issue is the costs of the Iraq War--1,920 deaths of US troops, loss of American credibility, and estimates that the total cost of the war will reach $1 trillion.

Mr. Stover--these are the real issues and the reason more than 300,000 Americans joined together in collective protest against this disastrous war.

Posted by: Judy | September 27, 2005 11:06 PM

we have lost our humanity and our soul we might have had?

well i actually agree in a sense with that last part, the soul "we might have had". im not sure what golden age people think the bush administration and the war in iraq has obliterated. compared to the two biggest wars from the last 70 years (WWII and Vietnam) this war has very few casualties and has a much more reasonable motivation and will have a much more results.

and i think you have to be basically detached from reality to say our soilders have been, "used, abused for the personal political gain of crooked politicians". what personal political gain has any crooked politician gained (or could they have ever hoped to gain) from invading iraq? i think we invaded iraq because people with the power to make such decisions (including congress) decided (perhaps, PERHAPS, wrongly) that it was in our legitimate security interest to do so. obviously if we had not invaded and (for arguments sake) in the interim bin laden and saddam hussien had collaborated to carry out another terrorist attack on american soil, hard core democrats (politicans and non politicians) would be screaming at the top of their lungs about the administration's failure to "CONNECT THE DOTS". people who are predisposed to hate bush railed on him for not connecting the dots before 9/11 and so i guess you only have yourselfs to blame because thats what he did in this case, he CONNECTED THE DOTS. if you were going off after 9/11 that there was enough evidence to mandate anticipating and acting to prevent the attack then you should not be going off now because there were even more dots present in this case.

its funny how liberals act like a few thousands provisional ballots uncounted is the biggest sin in the world but refuse to admit fostering that same right in Iraq (hello they did vote not too long ago) is not a noble cause or not worth the sacrifice.

i dont even support bush but the liberals who come on these blogs are so detached from any semblance of reality i wish you guys had keep your post election promise to move to canada. go warp the fabric of that country.

and come on, seriously, "we're headed towards 1984?" get real people. that just makes americans who say that look ungrateful.

grinding poverty??? compared to how many countries on earth? and by the way in the context of katrina, i doubt all those people who were not able to evacuate had cars before bush became president. if this had happened in the 90's it would have been just as bad. and by the way its a very american idea (and a very hostile one to the environment) that the standard of being poor is whether or not you have a car in order to evacuate in the case of an emergency. so we want to stop global warming because they theoretically could cause more/stronger hurricanes but we also want to give all 300 million americans cars? there no exclusivity there. those policies are totally in step with each other. its easy to think that when your party is not the one who actually has to face the reality of compromises that substantive policy decisions normally require. if and when a true liberal becomes president and tries to fix all the problems in the world in 4 years liberals will learn an important lesson about the value and usefulness of their political ideaology. in all probability it will be the death of new school liberalism. and in about 50 years san francisco style liberalism will look as much of a folly as communism.

Posted by: | September 27, 2005 11:07 PM

I was in DC on Saturday for the MASSIVE peaceful outpouring of opposition agianst Bush and his War against Iraq.

Brent Stover is concerned about the costs of this event. I was most impressed that there were few police or officials, because the crowd was peaceful. The real issue is the costs of the Iraq War--1,920 deaths of US troops, loss of American credibility, and estimates that the total cost of the war will reach $1 trillion.

Mr. Stover--these are the real issues and the reason more than 300,000 Americans joined together in collective protest against this disastrous war.

Posted by: Judy | September 27, 2005 11:07 PM

I was in DC on Saturday for the MASSIVE peaceful outpouring of opposition agianst Bush and his War against Iraq.

Brent Stover is concerned about the costs of this event. I was most impressed that there were few police or officials, because the crowd was peaceful. The real issue is the costs of the Iraq War--1,920 deaths of US troops, loss of American credibility, and estimates that the total cost of the war will reach $1 trillion.

Mr. Stover--these are the real issues and the reason more than 300,000 Americans joined together in collective protest against this disastrous war.

Posted by: Judy Munro-Leighton | September 27, 2005 11:08 PM

These are the type of ideas put forth by liberals -- I love this exchange from Meet the Press because it shows how hapless liberalism has become. Russert asks the brilliant Maureen Dowd what she would advise the administration to do during the second term, and she (as she always, always, always does) rails about Bush and "his daddy's friends." Why? Because liberalism has no ideas.

Mr. Russert: Maureen Dowd, be counterintuitive here. Karl Rove calls you up and said, "Maureen, I've been reading your column for the last couple years. Give us advice. What should we do in the second term?"

Ms. Dowd: Well, I think, you know, given what David said, people have talked about whether the Bushes are racist, and I don't think they're racist, but their problem is about class, because they never have understood that when they have this story arc where they go down to Texas and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, that that is--they think that's a true pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. They didn't accept the fact that they always have Daddy's friends to help them. And until they can see reality, then--you know, Bush's--say he's a good third- or fourth-quarter player, after Katrina. Well, that's not good enough for people who don't have Daddy's friends to help. And until he accepts that about himself, you know, he can't move on, I don't think.
End Quote

Anyone can criticize -- it's the easiest thing in the world. Who has an idea that can actually make something better?

Posted by: Michael | September 27, 2005 11:15 PM

to Mr. Connect the Dots:

Do you STILL think Saddam Hussein had ANYTHING to do with terrorism or 9/11?

He was a bad guy, put into power by the US, provided biological and chemical weapons by Reagan/Bush, and protected by them, even after he had one of his Mirage F-1's put two Exocet missiles into the USS Stark, killing 47 of our navy servicemen.

Reagan/Bush, of course, did nothing, since we were supporting Saddam at the time with the Ames Strain of Anthrax from Fort Detrick, as well as chemical weapons and spy satellite photographs of the battlefield with Iran.

The conservatives have bungled us into an unnecessary war, damaged our international standing, ruined our armed forces, and racked up the biggest BAD DEBT in world history.

And Americans are starting to see it.

Posted by: george kamburoff | September 27, 2005 11:20 PM

You wrote:

"The Bush Cabal has defrauded us into war. That's not just an impeachable offense, it is a capital crime, and demands legal redress."

Punishable by death? Awesome! Those who support the war but haven't or cannot fight are cowards. Terrific! By your insane liberal logic, only those who are fighting the war can authorize/support the war.

I know, I know, Haliburton started the war right. Or it was Dick Cheney's BIG OIL buddies.

If only ALGORE had won.

Posted by: Brick the Gleeful | September 27, 2005 11:25 PM


I don't believe in capital punishment. We'll give Dubya the cell formerly used by John Gotti, another who seemed to share your worldview of might makes right.

The coward label I save for Bush, Cheney, Feith, Libby, Wolfowitz, and the others who are willing to send others to die needlessly, even after failing to themselves serve when we needed them.

These type have no experience with adversity nor possess any personal courage.

But they have lots of contacts and cronies, as we're finding out. That's okay, we can use that space recently freed up in Abu Grahib, (arabic for Alberto Gonzales).

Posted by: george kamburoff | September 27, 2005 11:33 PM


No one sends anyone to die. That's 60's propaganda. If war were about sending kids to die, there would be no war because NO ONE would go. It would defeat its purpose pretty quickly. Leave the propaganda alone, war is hellish enough.

Now if Bush sent Jenna and the other ditzy one or if Bush went himself and killed 32 jordanian militants in Iraq would you change your tune and support keeping the troops? Of course you wouldn't, so don't act like it matters who doesn't go. It only matters to you that anyone is there.

Posted by: Brick the Gleeful | September 27, 2005 11:42 PM

There is no propaganda here. I speak from my life experience.

If aggression is such a noble cause, why did Bush and the rest of the chickenhawks cower from the draft in the 1960's?

If they weren't sent to die, what happened to the 58,000 Americans in the Vietnam war, including some of my buddies? Most were noncombatants (technicians), like me, but died in an ignoble cause, as part of the world's most effective killing machine.

All those who support this act of aggression should be there, or their words have little credibility - only the self-serving musings of a never-was.

Political theories are great for coffeeshops, but when real people start getting killed, it's time to grow up and realize we share this Earth with about 300 other countries. You know, the ones who now hate us.

Posted by: | September 27, 2005 11:55 PM

why does everybody talk about how we supported hussein? we didnt put him in power by the way. its not relevant to the discussion of the merits of the war. its like saying if you were convinced your spouse was going to kill you that you shouldnt do anything because, "i married them". that makes no sense. if anything we more than anyone have the burden or diposing him if we (supposedly) helped put him in power.

and DID SADDAM HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH TERRORISM??? offering safe haven to terroism = having something to do with terrorism. because if no attack on the US in the last 4 years has led us to believe anything, its that when people like bin laden are on the run they become much less effective at attaining their goals. the question is (connecting the dots is about making reasonable predicitons remember) was saddam a serious candidate to collaborate in the future with terrorists. and who ever mentioned the fcat that none of the 9/11 terrorists were not from Iraq basically disqualifies themselves from any serious duscussion of terroism and how to deal with it. terroists can come form any country but what is essential for them to attain their goals is the support (safe haven and money) from heads of state. there were documented contacts between bin laden and hussien. did hussein dial the wrong number? what should we assume they were talking about? the Red Sox's chances at winning the pennent?

and as to whether hussien had anything to do with 9/11. obviously he didnt pick up the phone on 9/10 and say, "do this". but that does not mean his support in terms of safe haven and money and giving bin laden the sense that he had a reasonably power world leader covering him was not necesarry and essential to the successful carrying out of 9/11.

the dots were there, bush connected them, just like you were complaining he didnt after 9/11. and in this case many more dots were there to be connected.

Posted by: mr. connect the dots | September 27, 2005 11:56 PM

I don't want this to get too personal, so I will bow out now.

And I don't want to demonize anyone, but Dubya and his wrecking crew make it hard to refrain from such, considering what they have done to our country.

No, I would not support the war even if Dubya or Jenna "killed 32 jordanian militants", or whatever you think is groovy.

Killing for peace isn't a good idea, whether you're an Islamic suicide-bomber, or a member of the Bush administration.

These extremists need and feed on each other. And everyone else suffers.

Posted by: george kamburoff | September 28, 2005 12:05 AM

I can not imagine what hell we would endure if another country chose to fight a war in our country so they wouldn't have to fight at home. If you were an Iraqi would you believe America was fighting to give you peace and democracy when Bush justifies his war with comments like "We're fighting the terrorist there so we don't have to fight them here". It has been my personal belief that Bush wanted this war to settle a grudge against Hussain and to look better than his father. George W. Bush has raped my America. I would imagine that many of the anti-war protesters feel as I do. It's time way past time Bush answered to someone about why we invaded a country that was not bothering us, except he has no credibility left. I hope for your safe return home. You will surely have your own opinon then. respectfully

Posted by: kim | September 28, 2005 12:50 AM

yeah well while there wasnt exactly a war in iraq before we invaded saddam hussien did kill enough innocent citizens to make you think there was a war going on.

why did we invade a country that, as you say, did not bother us? well if you're worried about bush's creditbility you could just ask any number of the senators (john kerry comes to mind) who voted to give bush authority to go to war.

killing for peace isnt a good idea?? worked to free europe from the tightening grip of hitler and nazi germany.

it is so inpossible to concieve of a situation (even if saddam and iraq perhaps dont apply) where a world leader is hell bent on destruction of lives and freedom to the point where not going to war would be worse than going to war.

can people like george who posted above believe that such a situation is even possible? do they deny that such a situation could ever exist?

and sure when people go to war there lives will be forever altered and often completely destroyed in one way or another. but this is the sacrifice that the army potentially requires. and there are things at stake (and more importantly it seemed like there were things at stake before the invasion) that justify making this potential sacrifice of our soilders a reality.

Posted by: | September 28, 2005 02:59 AM

For the earlier comment that Bert was non-commital in his views of the DC protest, please re-read his last paragraph:

"I wondered what an event like this must cost. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of law enforcement officers from several different elements of local and federal agencies. Mounted police, SWAT teams, FBI agents, etc., just so Americans could have a venue to express their disdain with our leaders."

Translated: how dare you waste taxpayers' dollars to find fault with the White House. That doesn't sound very non-commital to me.

On this page, I am less concerned with the Iraq policy (Bush is clearly sticking his fingers in his ears and going "N'yah! N'yah!" to public opinion). What am I concerned about, however, is a patently phony blog which is clearly not being written by a single person. The writing style is wildly inconsistent from day to day (did anyone catch that out-of-place reference to physics in the helicopter anecdote?).

This blog has been pinballing between sappy-stupid musings about looking up old girlfriends and frat buddies to a blatant slam against people who dare to question the military's policies. Curiously absent, considering this is supposedly about the National Guard, are issues which have negatively impacted those in the National Guard, most notably the acute loss of income during an over-extended tour of duty and the blatant lack of training in fighting a guerilla war.

You guys can bash or praise Bush & Co. I am more interested in seeing where this blog is going to head in regard to contents and focus. Personally, I detect a strong piscine aroma coming from Bert's byline.

Posted by: E. Etage | September 28, 2005 09:48 AM

To Mr. Connect the Dots,

I saw a stronger connection between bin Laden and Bush than Saddam and the terrorists. I don't know where you or the President got your proof, as it certainly was debunked by the Plame affair.

If you connect the dots, do you think Mr. Bush will ever locate bin Laden? Isn't he in Pakistan, one of our allies?

When you tout that Mr. Kerry supported the war, be mindful that, like most Americans, we all were lead to believe that Iraq posed a grave danger to the US (btw, Colin Powell has since "regretted" his WMD presentation to the UN). Also, Saddam's military was degraded and boxed in. Now, into the vacuum goes every lunatic fringe group in the middle east, and they will be killing innocents for years to come. Welcome to the Jungle.

The big difference is that Kerry did not manufacture and embellish the WMD/terrorist connection and damage US credibility at home and abroad - that would be the President and his team. However, Kerry did serve in combat and asking men to die for a mistake is a terrible thing, don't you think?

If your contention is that the objective going into Iraq was to quell a Sunni insurgency (hello, mission creep) then this was not a mistake.

If the objective was to instll a democratic Iraq that would ratify a Constitution based on the Shar'ia, then this was not a mistake (truly, the will of the people might be to behead the infidels).

If the jihadists lay down their arms because we stood firm in Iraq, then this was not a mistake.

Let's fight the war in Pakistan and let's get the source of the funding in Syria and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, let's respect the limits of US military firepower and tax revenues in fighting unneccesary wars for dubious gains.

As for Mr Stover, patriotism without contemplation is zealotry. You don't fight for a country, but for it's ideals. What are those ideals? Are they diversity of opinion, or are they unquestioning loyalty and service. Will you be the tool of war, or the tool of peace? You can hold the belief that you are fighting for the protesters, but aren't the protesters also fighting for you?

God speed

Posted by: SK | September 28, 2005 12:50 PM

I'm not sure why you even bothered to observe the pathetic procession of absolute lunatics in Washington last weekend, but thanks for reporting on it.

It sounds like every other A.N.S.W.E.R. protest we have around here every six months or so. Same traveling freakshow, same anti-American, anti-semitic, pro-war (but on the other side), routine.

Seems to me that the Post should investigate the pro-North Korea, pro-Cuba, pro-Milosovich, pro-terrorist organization known as A.N.S.W.E.R., rather than reporting on a recurring, non-event.

Good luck in Iraq - I'm proud to be a Gulf War Vet and you'll find it to be a great experience.

Posted by: CDR Brian | September 28, 2005 04:44 PM

The cost associated with the rally is of no importance. Why? Because it did not "cost" any lives. That cannot be said about Iraq or any war.

Posted by: deros | September 28, 2005 05:56 PM

why isn't there more coverge?
washington wizards power forward Etan Thomas gave a decisive, inspirational speech at this rally. Why does our newspaper not cover it?

it canbe read at www.edgeofsports.com
article by David Zirin

Posted by: see | September 28, 2005 06:47 PM

i noticed nobody mentioned that ,old man bush not only put saddam in power and sold him weapons and gave him millions, but when osama was a "freedom fighter" in afghanistan terrorizing the russians-bush gave him money and weapons. so dumbya is just followin g in his old man's footsteps murdering lots of innocents who happen to be in the way.
and by the way, the true coward is the one that blindly follows an evil leader
and rationalises the murder of thousands to assuage his or her conscience.

Posted by: ultimus gimp | September 28, 2005 09:16 PM

Interesting to see that the left figured out to literally spit on the troops might hurt the election chances of the utterly worthless Democrats they're trying to elect - so now they just do it in annonymous blogs.

Bring back the spitters - at least they were honest.

Posted by: CDR Brian | September 29, 2005 09:07 AM

Here's a good story from an Iraq War Vet to counter the general lunacy here from the "anti-war" left:

Across Iraq, Americans and Iraqis are working together to reclaim the country from Baathists and terrorists. They are building or refurbishing schools, hospitals, roads and sewer systems. "The battle with the terrorists left Fallujah in rubble," says Vold. "But every day, people thanked us. 'We might have to rebuild our house,' they said, 'but you gave us back our city.' "

Do the Washington protesters know about these great strides? Vold can't say. "When I got back from Iraq, I was disappointed -- astounded, really -- to read the news. The media was saying it's all a failure, while we saw successes around us every day."

Posted by: CDR Brian | September 29, 2005 09:09 AM

Bert Stover is not a political expert or a sociologist or a journalist or an economist. Bert Stover is a National Guard officer being deployed to fight in a war that his readers may or may not agree with. If you are looking forward to reading in-depth insights or political commentary, then you are all reading the wrong section of the Washington Post because you are definitely not going to get if from Bert Stover. If you are interested in reading one man's perspectives on the events around him whether you agree with them or not, then these articles do quite nicely. Save your long winded comments for an audience that is interested in hearing them, or read something else.

Posted by: Deuce Wang | September 29, 2005 12:57 PM

Did anyone notice that among the protesters there was a group waving the red/black 26th of July flag representative of the Castro communist revolution. I would bet that their protesting would indeed cost them their lives if they cared to protest in Cuba. They should try it!!

Posted by: Gene | September 29, 2005 10:54 PM

It's true that this article seems to be incomplete. It's the beginning of an article, really, missing it's body and conclusion.

So, for whatever reason this is, it is interesting to see how it has acted like a rorcharch blot for the unhinged passions of the bush opponents who have commented on it.

Posted by: Justin Fleming | September 30, 2005 09:08 AM

You used the word "hate" that alone says you have much to learn.

Posted by: | October 6, 2005 01:30 PM

"I saw a stronger connection between bin Laden and Bush than Saddam and the terrorists."

You're certainly not the only one.

Posted by: C | October 6, 2005 03:45 PM

I wish you Godspeed during your tour of duty.Yes there was a plethora of causes being espoused and there was great disorganization. Democratic movements tend to be untidy. I only regret that you were not present the night before, at around 10 PM, when hundreds of your countrymen joined Veterans for Peace at the Viet Nam Memorial in a candlelight Vigil. I had the singular honor of bearing the Colors at the Apex of the Wall. I was doing my best to remain composed until a group of schoolchildren came by and looked up at me and said : "Thank You Sir." This Viet Vet lost it at that point. Please do not confuse dissent with lack of patriotism. All present loved their country enough to have traveled to DC from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. We also love and support our miltary, which is why we wish to "Bring them home NOW." This illegal war is a violation of the ill concieved "War Powers Act" which needs to be repealed in order to avoid future atrocities such as Iraq. God be with you. Hugh R. Bruce VFP Chapter 34, NYC

Posted by: Hugh R. Bruce CWO1 | October 8, 2005 02:27 PM

Speaking as an Australian citizen I strongly oppose the war in Iraq and the Australian involvement. As many of us know the arms race is alive and well in both your country and ours. My views are better expressed in a song I've penned and recorded. It's called "Gun" and is available for free download at www.kimimber.com If you're sympathetic pass it on to your friends. It may just help to raise te consciousness for future generations.

Posted by: Kim Imber | November 1, 2005 05:36 AM

Bert, i want to let you know there are people out here that are praying you get the chace to come back safe and sound, unlike your buddy who lost his chance some time ago.Take care and make your family and country proud.You are after all ;DOING YOUR JOB ASKED OF YOU BY YOUR COMMANDER & CHIEF. GOD SPEED

Wolf in Cali

Posted by: Wolf Cincotta | November 4, 2005 11:51 AM

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