“To every Democratic senator who said he or she will support this deal, I ask you to consider: How will you look in the eyes of the mothers and fathers of our soldiers, the hundreds of soldiers, American soldiers, who were murdered in Iraq with Iranian IEDs that came from General Soleimani?” he said. “This deal lifts sanctions on General Soleimani.”
Karen Meredith of Mountain View, California, and Michelle DeFord of Sumpter, Oregon, are in Washington this week to make sure members of Congress do have a chance to look in their eyes and say how they’ll vote.
Both women lost their sons in Iraq in 2004. Meredith’s son, Army 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard, 26, died when an unmanned machine gun mounted on his tank accidentally discharged during combat against members of the Iranian-backed Mahdi army. DeFord’s son, Sgt. David Johnson, 37, lost his life in a roadside bomb (IED) explosion.
But both women also support the Iran deal, with their backing driven in large part by their experiences with the war.
“If we had tried diplomacy, perhaps my son would be alive. War is not the answer to everything,” Meredith told The Huffington Post Thursday, on her way to the Senate to meet with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who recently announced his opposition to the deal.
“That’s why God gave us a voice. You’re supposed to sit down — we’re not all going to agree, but we should be talking,” added DeFord.
Diplomacy hadn’t been tried with Saddam? He had 12 years to comply with 16 + 1 UNSCRs issued against Iraq, starting with the original Cease-Fire Agreement of the First Gulf War. War is most definitely not the answer to everything, with all due respect to these Gold Star moms. Which is why there are honorable people on the opposite side of this debate from the President. I’m sick of the demagoguery and demonizing of those against this deal as “war-mongers”. It’d be as sick as accusing those who are for this deal as being the war-mongers. Those opposed to the deal want to avoid nuclear war. Acknowledge it and have some honesty. I will do the same for those who are for the deal.
And I’m sorry, but having your sons die in war does not promote these parents to brilliant policy-makers and wise generals. It promotes them as useful propaganda tools and props.
This is similar to Iraq Veterans Against the War using their military service as an aegis against criticism and promoting themselves as experts on Middle East policy and the Iraq War. To an extent of their personal experience, they do deserve a listen; but put their experience and opinions into a realistic context and not conflate it for broader than it is worth.
For every Gold Star mom like Cindy Sheehan and every IVAW member, you have those with similar experiences who differ 180 degrees in their opinions on the same issues.
“It didn’t occur to me until just as we sat down in the meeting with the secretary and the president that I had made a promise to my son when I buried him 11 years ago that I would do everything to stop the war so that no other mothers had to go through this,” Meredith said. “This kept my promise to him — that our country will look at diplomacy before they look at war as a solution in our foreign policy.”
Meredith bears no ill will toward the country of Iran, she said, and does not see her son’s death as a reason to oppose the deal.
“We weren’t fighting a country,” she said. “People — a lot of military, particularly — [say], ‘I hate all those people, they killed my son.’ No they didn’t. We were fighting insurgents. Those families want their children to grow up and raise their babies just like we do. So I’m not mad at the Iraqi people. I’m not mad at the Iranian people. That’s not who we were fighting.”