Wall Street Journal
August 11, 2006
Pg. 12

The View From The Chow Hall

By Wade Zirkle and Josh Clark

Joseph Lieberman's primary loss might be a satisfying victory for the partisan extremes, but it is a sharp blow to bipartisan efforts to prevail in a global war that may span generations.

The political gamesmanship is heard by the troops on the front lines. Many in the media tend to portray our warriors as mindless pawns who are unaffected by debates on the home front. This misperception is largely a result of troops unwilling to openly talk politics with the press. But as American servicemen who together served three tours in Iraq, we can attest to the discouragement those in battle endure in the face of a domestic politics that has a seemingly singular focus on controversy and negativism.

Our troops are witness to the 24-hour news cycles, as American television is beamed into the "chow halls." Military base Internet portals also provide access to sound-bites from Washington in real time -- a phenomenon that did not exist in earlier wars. Our troops are watching and they need tempered, constructive leadership on how we will proceed. Ultimately, the wartime politics of partisan destruction is corrosive to troop morale.

Sen. Lieberman made it clear that a nation cannot effectively fight a war by looking in the rearview mirror. Too often it appears we are fighting a war among ourselves instead of against the enemy.

This is all the more reason why Joe Lieberman is needed now as an independent voice to represent America's troops and their interests abroad in the war on terror. This is not to suggest that our troops do not welcome healthy debate about the direction of the war, or serious accountability of our leaders. But supporting our troops, understanding the stakes of the mission, and still constructively questioning military and civilian leadership is a difficult balance to strike -- and one on which Joe Lieberman has repeatedly risen to the occasion. This should be the model. Our national security agenda must never be borne out of divisive domestic campaigns that champion partisan vindictiveness. Semper Fi.

Mr. Zirkle, a Marine who served two deployments to Iraq, is executive director of VetsForFreedom.org. Mr. Clark was a specialist in the Connecticut National Guard who served in Baghdad. Both authors were wounded in action.