Politics & Policy


Does Cindy Sheehan know what her new allies think of her son and his brothers?

As anyone who watches television knows, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, has camped out in Crawford, Texas, demanding that the president meet with her. Of course, as we also know, the president has met with her and her first account of the meeting indicated she was very favorably impressed with the demeanor of the president. For whatever, reason, she has changed her tune.

A coalition of antiwar groups has latched on to Sheehan, calling her the “Rosa parks of the anti-war movement.” She is, of course, the public face the antiwar types need. But she might be interested in what her new pals really think about her son.

In response to my Thursday NRO piece calling into question the utility of much of the criticism of the war, I received a very illuminating e-mail:

Dear Mr. Owens;

You write, “It is hard to conduct military operations when a chorus of eunuchs is describing every action we take as a violation of everything that America stands for, a quagmire in which we are doomed to failure, and a waste of American lives.”

But Mr. Owens, I believe that those three beliefs are true. On what grounds can I be barred from speaking them in public? Because speaking them will undermine American goals in Iraq? Bless you, sir, that’s what I want to do in the first place. I am confident that U.S. forces will be driven from Iraq, and for that reason I am rather enjoying the war.

But doesn’t hoping that American forces are driven from Iraq necessarily mean hoping that Americans soldiers will be killed there? Yes it does. Your soldiers are just a bunch of poor, dumb suckers that have been swindled out of their right to choose between good and evil. Quite a few of them are or will be swindled out of their eyes, legs, arms and lives. I didn’t swindle them. President Bush did. If you’re going to blame me for cheering their misery, what must you do to President Bush, whose policies are the cause of that misery?

Yours sincerely,

(Name withheld)

If Cindy Sheehan wants to be used to advance the interests of the antiwar left, that is her prerogative. But she might want to peruse the blogs that constitute the fever swamps of the Left. There she will find that this is not an isolated case, but that some of her new pals feel nothing but contempt for her son–that indeed they do believe he was a “poor, dumb sucker.”

Mackubin Thomas Owens is an associate dean of academics and a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He is writing a history of U.S. civil-military relations.

Mackubin Thomas Owens is senior national-security fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia, editing its journal Orbis from 2008 to 2020. A Marine Corps infantry veteran of the Vietnam War, he was a professor of national-security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College from 1987 to 2015. He is the author of US Civil–Military Relations after 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain.


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