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    A New Patriot

    I understand the American patriot who rallies behind the US, feeling good that there are areas of concern we can all pull together around -- love of country, national defense, exceptionalism. America has a long history of unique, world-changing accomplishments, so it's understandable that patriots are grateful to have been born in a great nation, thus feeling an obligation to maintain American greatness and resist any attempts to unjustly denigrate our country.

    I suppose there has always been a thin line between patriotism and chauvinism. The chauvinistic belief in  the nation's superiority that depends on insistence other nations are inferior is built on an insecurity that perhaps fills some void in the fanatic's personality. But most American patriots are not fanatics -- they don't insist on the inferiority of other countries -- they're simply proud of America's outstanding feats . The problem I see with American patriots, for the most part, is the reluctance to think critically regarding America's faults and misdeeds, thus missing opportunities to grow into a richer more meaningful, fully informed patriotism. Reactionary assaults on Americans who question the military, the Pentagon, the Commander-in-Chief, the Generals, the wars or interventions, create misunderstanding and entrenched positions that are unnecessary. We should all be able to, as adults, discuss America's strengths and weaknesses, understanding that our military/industrial complex can be led astray by lack of scrutiny from a public afraid to appear less than patriotic. The American patriot feels guilty and traitorous asking tough questions or giving harsh criticisms. But the patriots shouldn't feel that way if those being criticized are actually abusing our military.

    It's unrealistic to think that whatever the military does is the right thing to do -- critical thinking doesn't hurt our military. It's our duty to scrutinize our military, our Generals, our Commander in Chief. It's irresponsible to take a blind approach and claim America right or wrong, as if acknowledging military wrong-doing is unpatriotic. Since 9/11 there's been a divide in America between those who want America to come home and stop intervening and failing in mideast countries and those who believe our Generals and Commander in Chief are righteous, and to criticize them is un-American. These Generals and the last two Presidents, Bush and Obama, have kept our soldiers in Afghanistan and other parts of the mideast and northern Africa for a decade, and yet if we leave Afghanistan tomorrow, it'll be worse than it was. Our military is not intended to build nations -- our military is intended to protect our borders from attack.

    Terrorism will likely be with us for decades to come, but we can't continue bombing countries all over that region indefinitely, creating more terrorists than we kill. We have to decide that we've sufficiently answered 9/11, and that we've sent a clear message to terrorists and the countries that harbor them we will not allow attacks on our country, and the next response will be worse. Despite their bluster and periodic attempts to kill Americans, it's not likely that any country in the mideast or N. Africa wants another response that will be greater that the first. Our military can handle terrorist threats as they presently exist without the military presence we 're now maintaining. Although the State builds up the threat to justify their actions, it's obvious that al Qaeda cannot threaten our country in any significant way.

    It's time to come home. It's time for a New Patriot to save our military and insist on ending the war as it's been waged so far. It's time for a change in strategy. Terrorists can cause harm, but they can't threaten the existence of America -- only we can destroy America.

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