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Remarks by LTC (Ret) Steve Russell at the Oklahoma Victory Ralley

Sat February 17, 2007


America is a great nation of 300 million souls with great capacity, great resources, and great ingenuity.  Do we honestly think then, that our nation can be held hostage by ten thousand insurgents equipped with little more than 'man-dresses' and flip-flops? (laughter, long applause)

What shall we say?  What more can we give to our nation than the type of sacrifice we have already given?  What words can we the soldiers use to convince Americans at home that the biggest mistakes being made in this war are on the home front, not the battlefront?  What will be the value of temporary civilian comforts and the illusion of national safety when a giant shadow of Islamic terrorism is casting itself onto our shores?  What will be the meaning of the rhetoric and the political debate when we sift through the rubble of a workplace, a shopping mall or public transit—digging out American bodies targeted for no other reason than because of our way of life and who we are as a people?  It is a scene that Oklahomans understand first hand and one that every soldier who has witnessed it abroad will fight with all his might to keep away—but we never thought that our own people would betray our efforts.

We are told by our politicians and opponents of this war that their actions to cut our troops, pull funding and portray the war as a hopeless endeavor are not meant for us but are intended to be a strong message to the president.  That is like someone coming up to you at work, slugging you in the gut and saying, “ Oh, that was not meant for you.  I like you.  That was meant for your boss.”  (laughter)  If this is the kind of support that opponents of our efforts overseas offer, we reject it!  We despise it! (shouts, applause)  It rubs against the grain of everything inside us as solders and defenders of America.

War is an ugly and unpredictable business.  In its prosecution, nations will make mistakes.  There is a distinction in what kinds of mistakes can be made.  Mistakes that are made in the pursuit of right while facing our enemies should find understanding followed by resolve.  American History is replete with examples of victory secured over evil despite early setbacks.  But mistakes that are based on the ‘safety-first’ and ‘peace at any cost’ principle—mistakes of turning away from our enemies; these deserve our highest rebuke and acid consideration!  (shouts, applause)  We can ill afford at this critical hour in our national struggle as Americans to act and decide based merely on how we ‘feel’ about this war.

Nothing can be more dangerous to a nation than to wage war by Gallup Poll.  Surveys and opinions obscure the foundation of what is morally right and build a house that cannot stand.  Conviction becomes convoluted.  Truth begins to twist.  Courage starts to crumble.  Such double-minded waging of war gives strength to our enemies, provides ridicule for our neighbors and lays shame on our own citizens.  It also invites future disaster upon our shores.

Mike Carmack

We must never, ever be apologetic for taking a stand against evil.  (applause)  Lest we forget, the enemy that attacked us on 9/11 and the enemy WE attacked in Iraq has a very different view of what America should be in this world—if we should exist at all.

So what is their beef?  Why do they hate us?  What makes us right and them wrong?  These are the kinds of questions that well-meaning Americans have asked in pursuit of answers to our current war in Iraq and the war on terror.  While the questions are worth asking, they miss the main point.  If thugs and miscreants overran our neighborhood, we would not call for a homeowners meeting to better understand the criminal viewpoint in the hopes that more accommodation would cause them to leave our neighborhood alone.  (laughter)  Instead, we would demand better police protection.  We might even ask for additional temporary patrols.  This would increase the risk to the police, but we would readily understand the increased risk to our law enforcers and they would gladly shoulder it to protect the innocent.  We would take a stand to defend our homes.  So why not our nation? (applause)

America has become apologetic for taking up arms against the trans-national thugs who committed mass murder on our own soil and against international thugs that threatened the stability of an entire region of the world.  Some believe we should now measure truth with a rubber ruler, stretched to any convenient viewpoint or situation.  The conscience of every freedom-loving American however shouts above the din and still reminds us what is good and what is bad.  There are major differences between what is good and right about the American way of life and why it is bad if we do not defend it.

Let us look at the differences between what our country stands for and what the enemies of our nation stand for.  Americans seek peace and justice.  We go through great expense and pains to protect the innocent.  We even shroud the accused in innocence until proven guilty.  Our enemies seek jihad and enslavement of innocents.  They take no precaution to protect innocent lives, willing even to blow up children if it achieves their goals.  I know.  I have witnessed it firsthand.  Their plots and plans center around the infliction of suffering and misery on innocents to achieve their goals.  This is the taproot of terrorism.

Americans investigate and uncover instances of injustice within our own institutions, whether they are military or governmental.  America exposes the wayward soldier or politician that has abused his authority, holding them to account, and most often it is not an outside agency making such discovery.  Our enemies revel in the use of unjust means to seek to destroy the widespread trust in public institutions through the systematic spread of fear and terror.  And when the government or military attempt to uphold justice, officials in charge are targeted and brutally murdered along with their families.  I know.  I have witnessed it firsthand.

America believes in a world that respects individual freedom.  It accommodates other lines of thinking without giving up what makes us American.  Our enemies hold no such views.  They brutalize and restrict freedoms at every turn.  They force individuals to conform to a narrow view or face the threat of death. 

Americans extend tolerance to others, even when they know that such tolerance can get out of hand if abused.  Our enemies put tolerance to the sword, condemning everything but their narrow beliefs as worthy of death and destruction.

In view of these differences, the last thing we need to do is to ‘put ourselves in the enemies shoes to better understand them.’  We must face our enemies and make no apologies when we defend our freedoms!  (applause)   Americans can be accommodating, but we can never accommodate evil on the premise that we are no better than anyone else.  The American way of life IS better than that of our enemies.  (applause)  If it were not so, there would be nothing left in our nation worth defending. (applause)

If our enemies choose to hate us, that is their option.  But it can never be our option to sacrifice what makes us magnanimous and free in the vain intellectual hope that our enemies will somehow like us if we do.  As C.S. Lewis aptly observed, such pacifistic notions can only lead to “taking a straight road to a world in which there will be no more pacifists.”  They will be dead at the hands of those to which they extended undeserved rights, liberties and kindness.  We must recognize and make no apologies for these types of differences between the American way of life and the oppressive existence of misguided Islamic terrorists.  We cannot retreat.  We cannot lose our stomach—or our spine.   (applause)  A ‘New Direction’ must never advance in the same direction as our enemies.  (applause)  Wars are not won by evacuations.  Peace is not secured by lack of commitment.  Freedom does not favor the quitter.  (applause)

Some day, when our children shall ask, “What did you do to win this American way of life for us, to stand against this brand of Islamic hatred and terrorism, and to restore our respect in the world?” one will say, “I was a soldier”; another will say: “I was a Marine” another “I defended the air and the sea”; a fourth will say “I served in that small segment of society that made the weapons and tools you used.”  And you, the American citizen, in your turn will say, with equal pride and with equal right: “I took a stand on the home front when our nation tried to quit!”  God Bless you and God Bless America.   (long, cheering, standing applause)


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