I grew up in a very pro-military family. For a long time, I believed that criticizing military action was hateful to the soldiers themselves because it would demoralize troops and strengthen the enemy's morale.
Soldiers facing danger overseas do deserve support. But they also deserve well-thought-out missions. They deserve a public that holds policymakers accountable for their actions. Those of us past fighting age have an absolute responsibility to call bullsh*t where we see it.
We who grew up surrounded by World War II stories were raised with the belief that battles were very clear and that there were hard and fast lines between the "good guys" and the "bad guys."
But that began to change for me in the early 2000s when my best friend came back from her first tour of duty in Iraq. She was in construction and so traveled throughout Iraq and saw many villages and had many, many encounters.
Readers probably remember that liberals were regularly denouncing our efforts in Iraq as Bush's war crimes, while conservatives were insisting that we were liberating the Iraqi people. So naturally, I was curious to hear what my trusted friend had to say. I wanted to know who was right, Fox or CNN.
My friend just shrugged and told me both sides were kind of right and both sides were kind of wrong. It really just depended on each individual village. American leadership was making assumptions about the "Iraqi people" as though they were a homogeneous group, when in reality, ideological battles were occurring at the village level. And who in Washington, D.C., can know the ins and outs of each Iraqi village?
Ukraine is different than Iraq, but not as much as you think.
The Ukrainian situation is different, but not as different as some might think. While Russia certainly was the aggressor, pro-Russian groups have existed within Ukraine for decades. If you read Anne Applebaum's book Red Famine, you will learn how, after deliberately starving the ethnic Ukrainians, Stalin shipped Russians as well as ethnic minorities within the Soviet Union (Kazakhs, for example) into the hollowed-out country to repopulate it. Ukraine, after all, does have the best farmland in the world, and it is not only being used by ethnic Ukrainians.