Scott Tibbs

Iraq, Ukraine and the patriotism of dissent

By Scott Tibbs, April 3, 2023

Remember "dissent is patriotic?" We heard this a lot after President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq to implement "regime change" in 2003. We have just passed the twentieth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Hillary Clinton's words back then are still true today:
I'm sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans, and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.
Not surprisingly, "dissent is patriotic" stops being true when a Democrat is President. We have seen this a lot over the last year since Russia invaded Ukraine. People who questioned U.S. military aid or cautioned against escalating the conflict have been labeled as apologists for former (current?) KGB thug Vladimir Putin. This is not new: I was smeared and demonized a decade ago when I criticized the targeted assassination of American citizens. Meanwhile, hawkish Republicans argue that Ronald Reagan would not recognize today's Republican Party.

The point of this post is not what the policy toward the Russia/Ukraine war should be, which is a separate issue where people of good faith can disagree. The point is that many on the Left are hypocritical in how they are categorizing those who question our foreign policy. The exact same people who are saying that non-interventionists are "pro-Putin" or "unpatriotic" were objecting to attacks on their own patriotism two decades ago. If your first reaction to criticism of U.S. foreign policy is to attack the patriotism of the other side, you are not acting on good faith.

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