Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I forgot I needed it:
John McCain, please read this op-ed by Emily Miller. It's about her brother, an Army National Guard soldier serving in Iraq, and our responsibility to him and his brethren.

What are you, fellow citizens, willing to do to defend our Constitution? Will you dignify the sacrifices of our soldiers? Will you honor my brother's faith in our system? Will you let my brother or others die to eke out a slightly smaller disaster in Iraq? These are the questions we face in the wake of the Baker-Hamilton report.

My brother is betting his life that you are not going to ask this of him. He has placed his trust in the idea that we will not ask him to die for anything less than the necessary defense of our democracy. Reasonable people may at one time have disagreed about the necessity of the Iraq war, but now that it has become abundantly clear from every quarter that we cannot win, will you be responsible for asking my brother to stay?

McCain's son Jimmy is now a marine, with all the honor joining the Corps confers and implies. Jimmy McCain will surely be part of McCain's preferred "surge" option; and even if the surge never happens, he will probably be sent to Iraq anyway. McCain apparently seeks to separate his thoughts on what to do about the war from his son's fate. In one sense, that is statesmanship: the recognition that one's own sacrifice and the national sacrifice must be distinguishable. But in another sense, it is an exculpation, an inhuman desire to see those serving in Iraq as belonging to someone else. It wouldn't be such an awful thing to see the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq as the most precious national commodity we possess. Instead it would clarify that they cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a decent interval or vainglorious pursuit of an illusory honor.

Senator, see your son as your son, and then see his comrades as your sons as well. Then you might do the courageous thing.

--Spencer Ackerman