Over the weekend, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed military personnel stationed in Baghdad. She told the troops that everyone — including critics of the administration’s Iraq policy — believes that “the sacrifice and the labor of our men and women here has been honorable.” She called the debate over escalation a sign of a “great democracy.” An excerpt from her speech:
And the final thing I want to say is I know that a lot’s going on in Washington and that you’re hearing it. A lot’s going on because we are a great democracy. And people have their views and they’re going to express them. And some do not think that this was the right war to fight, and others think that we in the Administration haven’t fought this war quite right. By the way, all of them know that the sacrifice and the labor of our men and women here has been honorable.
And so when you hear the criticism of the war or the criticism of the President or of me or of anybody else, I do want you to know that to a person at home, your honor and your sacrifice and your labor is appreciated. People know what you’re doing and it’s appreciated across the board. I don’t care what people think of the policies; it’s appreciated across the board.
Rice’s comments contradict earlier claims from the administration that a debate on Iraq policy would be “detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.” Her words echoed those of Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace, who said the troops understand the “debate’s being carried on by patriotic people who care about them and who care about their mission.”