During a C-SPAN appearance this morning, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was confronted by a military wife living in Ft. Hood, TX, who called in to criticize him for “pushing the war.”
The woman explained the incredible stress of having her husband deployed in Iraq:
I’m sure when your head hits the pillow you have a luxury of dreaming about anything that your mind will allow you to dream about… I sleep with the phone under the pillow. My kids — if someone rings the doorbell, instead of normal kids they freeze. And they’re in elementary school. You all don’t understand. We are military people but we are people, too. And the stress that we are under is tremendous.
While she spoke, Kristol appeared uncomfortable, looking downward and scratching markings into a piece of paper.
The caller also told Kristol that he was a “liar” for claiming that it’s “mostly the insurgents attacking us,” versus members of the Iraqi population. “They don’t want us there,” she said. “I understand you truly believe what you’re saying but it’s not working. We can’t want it for them more than they want it for themselves.” Watch it:
Kristol offered little in response, using the caller’s criticism of the stress she’s under to advocate for a larger Army. He concluded, “The strains on family life are obviously very real…and I hope we do more to deal with that.”
HOST: You are on the air.
CALLER: Yes, thank you. I do listen to the discussion. I’m a military wife. My husband on the third tour to Iraq. I just want to if I could look Mr. Kristol and people like him from the American Enterprise Institute and the people pushing the war, I’m sure when your head hits the pillow, you know, you have a luxury of dreaming about, you know, anything that your mind will allow you to dream about. I’m waiting — i sleep with the phone under the pillow.
My kids — if someone rings the doorbell, instead of normal kids they freeze. And they’re in elementary school. You all don’t understand. We are military people but we are people, too. And the stress that we are under is tremendous. So I make a proposal before I have to leave the air. If this war is as important as you on the right and the hawks say it is, and if it is truly essential to our vital interest to do this, then institute the draft so we can have a break.
We are at the breaking point. I just had to counsel a friend last night who has had a solid marriage for 14 years because their marriage is falling apart because they’re military and haven’t lived under the same roof together in five years. We’re people. We can’t keep up the stress level. Our children can’t keep up the stress level.
The spouses left behind can’t keep up the stress level and all you all keep saying, you just called my husband and all the troops a liar saying it is mostly the insurgents attacking us. Because when I do get the luxury of speaking to my husband, what I’m hearing is Iraqis let us through the gates, the security forces let us through and 30 minutes after we pass through, they’re laying down IEDs to blow us up if we come back through. They don’t want us there. I understand you truly believe what you’re saying but it’s not working.
We can’t want it for them more than they want it for themselves. Please bring my husband home, the brave troops. We are tired. We’re really tired.
KRISTOL: Well, look. the army some of us that argue — first of all, I respect the service of those who’ve been over there. I just had dinner last night with close friends whose son just came back from Iraq and it is tough duty and now we’re on second and third tours. some of us argued for a long time before 9/11 and very much after 9/11 that the army and marines were too small for the world we are living in. the foreign policy obligations we are likely to have to impose for the all-volunteer military and finally we are increasing the size of the army and the marines and paying a price for that in terms of longer tours and people going back a second and third times and the strains on family life are obviously very real and obviously it’s a tough job over there. so i hope we do more to deal with that.