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"I support the troops, but not the war."

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Now that my blog has become a favorite destination by those who consider themselves "patriots" and view me as a "hippie" I thought I would throw this questions out to my readers:

Can someone support the troops and not the war?

It is a query that has been pondered on and debated I am sure for centuries (at least from the beginning of freedom of speech or even before then in dark private rooms and in the offices of pamphleteers).

If you Google the phrase you are taken to many sites where it is hotly debated. There are those who think it is a falsehood. You can not support the troops and then not the war. And others that posit that you can indeed hold this position. Here are a few of the more interesting links and quotes on the matter:

From The Weekly Standard:

With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable. How can you say with a straight face that you support the troops while advancing legislation that would undercut their mission and strengthen their enemies?

You can't. So those on the cutting edge of progressive opinion are beginning to give up on even pretending to support the troops. Instead, they now slander the troops.

From The LA Times:

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

From CommonDreams.org:

This is an understandable impulse. As patriots, we want our country to win the wars that we fight. As Americans, we want our soldiers--young men and women who risk too much for too little pay--to come home in one piece. But supporting our troops while they're fighting an immoral and illegal war is misguided and wrong.

From LewRockwell:

It’s easy for libertarians to dislike politicians, but not so easy for them to dislike GI Joe. We hold brutal killers like John Wesley Hardin or Charles Manson in the lowest regard, but the difference between these killers and military troops is semantic and symbolic. It’s time to address the issue of the troops with the brutality it richly deserves. It’s time to deconstruct the myth of the glorious military adventure. It’s long past time we shame people who think about military service. Perhaps then fewer young people will throw their lives away. "Kill the head and the body will die" is a truism that many libertarians no doubt use to justify their attitudes towards the troops. But the supply of troops and the attitudes regarding them is also a key. Shame people into refusing to join and the supply of cannon fodder will atrophy to the point where foreign adventures will not be possible without a draft. Will the populace accept a draft?

From A Bountiful Life:

You cannot support me and not the war. I am the war.

From Dissident Voice:

Our military is engaged in war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the more than 100 other countries where we maintain a military presence. We instigated wars of aggression against two nations whose governments did not attack us, nor did they pose any threat to us. Our forces have destroyed untold billions of dollars worth of civilian infrastructure and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. As American citizens our jingoistic support of the military in such endeavors has enabled this abusive behavior.

From BloggerNews.net:

I don’t buy it. It is like saying that you “support” your hometown baseball team, but you don’t want them to win the game tonight. How can you root for the team, but hope they lose?

From Quazen:

I hear the phrase, “I support the troops, but not the war.” all of the time. Did it ever occur to anyone how absurd that is? That is the same as saying, “Pat Tillman died for no reason, but I support that he did it.” (By the way, Pat Tillman and all of the armed forces members that have lost their lives are heroes. ) it still breaks my heart to hear; “I’m glad you made it back safely, but that war is stupid.” Here is some advise; do not say that to a veteran. How do you think that a World War 2 vet would react if you said that to him?

From Young America:

Don't worry it's not me who believes in this statement. However I have heard many people say this over and over again. The problem is that this statement is hypocritical. When someone says they support someone how can they not support the cause for which they are fighting. Hypothetically speaking, if I was a gay and wanted to get married, and you are my friend (not my lover), but you don't support gay marraige, why the hell would you support me? It's ironic and hypocritical and I thought that you should know that. I never want to hear that damn phrase again. Also on a more humorous note, someone messaged me on myspace telling me that "the presedent is stupid." What I find ironic is that the person who sent me the message could not even spell president correctly.

From jktarot.com

In other words, the war critics say, it is certainly possible to be FOR the troops, in the sense of being sympathetic with their plight of being ordered into a dangerous place, while still being opposed to what they’ve been ordered to do there. The problem with that view is that it ignores a basic premise of the duty of any soldier—to carry out his orders even if he should disagree with the political wisdom of them. Thus, if one thinks the policy of this war is bad, for example in that it has resulted in many Iraqi citizens, of all ages, losing their lives at the hands of the US military, and if on the other hand it would have been possible to spare some of those Iraqis by having some American soldiers die instead, how does one truthfully or consistently maintain that he supports the troops but not what they do?

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It seems that one of the main arguments against the statement "I support the troops, but not the war" is that you can't support the troops and not their actions. If soldiers are at war, they are acting in the best interest of the military so they can win. Thus, by not supporting the war, you don't support the troops actions, and then it just makes sense that you don't support the troops.

Another argument against the statement is shared on many sites I found. "DO NOT support the troops." The Military Industrial Complex that has taken over the rhyme and reason of when and where we go to war or have a military presence. Which today is just about everywhere on earth. By NOT supporting the troops you are making a statement, although very politically incorrect one, that how America polices the earth is not acceptable. When you don't support the troops you push against the MIC.

Here is my take:

I support those who volunteer for military service. Whether it be for financial assistance, tradition or patriotism, I support anyone's decision to join the military.  I have friends who have and still do serve. How can I not support a friend's decision? I feel terrible for those who feel they must join the military as it is their only viable option for their future. But that is the America we live in. Awesome slogans and commercials. Be all you can be and Army strong or modern version of a knight. But of course the reality is no where near as glory filled and when you return if you are injured, either physically or mentally, you will not receive the care and support you signed up for. Go figure, Advertising Lies.

Here is who I can't support. If you are a member of the military and you justify your actions because they are orders, but those orders are to kill innocent civilians or torture and humiliate prisoners, I can't support you.  If you believe that any actions taken by the United States government are justified because of the "greater good" of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I can't support you. I can't and never will support blind allegiance to anything. That is how we find ourselves justifing atrocities. Do it for America. Do it for your President. Do it for _________.

In the end I know that each of us has their own historical narrative that forms our beliefs and stances on right and wrong. I for one am not part of a military family, nor have I served, so I can not speak for the military.  Nor am I someone who would ever have to, not be willing to be a soldier. I don't believe in most of the actions of the US military. Since we became the world power after WWII, most military action has not been justified, nor necessary. You can name the conflicts, as I am sure some of you will and ask me to defend that statement. But if there is not a clear threat to American security we have no right attacking or occupying another country.

So where does it leave me with the statement "I support the troops, but not the war?"

I guess my stance is "I support Americans, but not American intervention in Iraq." It is not as slogan friendly, but more correct to my position.

We are a country where we have the freedom to be who we are and say what we want, but while we live with this freedom our government funds conflict. And that it is not good for anyone's future, unless you own stock.



February 16, 2008 in BITCHING & SCHEMING | Permalink

Comments

Another interesting angle on this question is:

"US Soldiers who support the troops, but not the war."

Posted by: humidhaney | Feb 16, 2008 2:19:03 PM

"Here is who I can't support. If you are a member of the military and you justify your actions because they are orders, but those orders are to kill innocent civilians or torture and humiliate prisoners, I can't support you."
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I have never been ordered to do any of those things, rather ordered not to do those things at the risk of my own life.
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"We are a country where we have the freedom to be who we are and say what we want, but while we live with this freedom our government funds conflict. And that it is not good for anyone's future, unless you own stock."

--------------

We all own stock - in America and it's freedoms.

If you don't want to protect your stock and continue enjoying those freedoms...... that is on you!

Posted by: Dietrich | Feb 16, 2008 2:48:39 PM

What does it mean to not support the troops? Does withdrawing support increase the risk of their demise? No. By not supporting the troops does this mean you are unpatriotic? Can one be patriotic and not support the troops?

In my ethical schema, I can never support war, ergo, I cannot support troops of any kind.

Posted by: hotspringer | Feb 16, 2008 3:24:01 PM

You know, as much as I disagree with some of the thought in there.. I'm impressed. What I just read seemed original and showed a surprising depth of thought. It was refreshing to read something like that coming from someone who is anti-war. Half of me just wants to let that stand. Congrats on a thought provoking, unemotional, obviously introspective essay.

Here's what I think:
Why does it matter who can utter the empty slogan "Support the Troops" anyway? As a vet I don't really care at all. I think it's a vapid civilian construct that means very little if anything. If someone came up to me and said "Charles, I can support the troops but not the war," they could have saved a lot of time and just said "I'm anti-war."

I think the whole compulsion by vocal anti-war folks to say they "Support the Troops" is just to alleviate guilt for their actions which they realize can affect the morale of the men and women of the military negatively by:

1.Denying successes in the war and concentrating on the bad.
2.Believing what the troops are doing is immoral and/or illegal.

Basically I think "Support the Troops" is a non-statement. I think that if you are wondering if you support the troops while not supporting the war the issue is between you and yourself. It's cool with me either way, seriously.


But...
"orders are to kill innocent civilians "-humidhaney
...what?!?! What do you think is going on over there, anyway?


"I feel terrible for those who feel they must join the military as it is their only viable option for their future." -humidhaney

FYI these sentiments are elitist and insulting. Most of the military is middle class. 95% of healthy civilians wouldn't even qualify for the Marine Corps anyway. These kinds of statements are heard far more than the proportion of members to whom it applies suggests it should.

"But of course the reality is no where near as glory filled and when you return if you are injured, either physically or mentally, you will not receive the care and support you signed up for. Go figure, Advertising Lies."-humidhaney
Again, from your standpoint this probably sounds reasonable and accurate. Again, say this to a proud vet and he might find it insulting. I'm not going to sit here and deny that I wasn't affected mentally by serving in Iraq. However when I think about my service I don't feel disillusioned. I feel proud. I have made friendships that will last forever. I am worried that I will never again accomplish so much with so little as I did in the military. Leading an infantry squad in combat is the best leadership training in the world and I appreciate the military giving me that opportunity.

"Another interesting angle on this question is:

"US Soldiers who support the troops, but not the war."-humidhaney

All I can say is that I have far too few physical confrontations with these folks.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 3:44:22 PM

The root of all of this just dawned on me. The problem with all of you objectors is that you think the Law of War is the same as the the laws here in America. Do you remember Martial Law being declared during Katrina? Was that wrong? Cause war is Martial Law all the time.

Posted by: Dietrich | Feb 16, 2008 3:49:30 PM

@HOTSPRINGER
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"What does it mean to not support the troops? Does withdrawing support increase the risk of their demise? No.
-------------------------------------------

Well, when non-supportive sentiment is widely broadcasted it can affect public sentiment as a whole. Public sentiment can affect policy. Policy affects the military. Anti military policy affects the troops negatively.

Also, rabid, vocal anti-war protests aren't going to hurt my morale but they may affect someone in the national guard doing it for the college money.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 3:52:30 PM

Supporting the troops that fight your war does not necessarily mean you support the war. The harsh reality is that a military is essential to the survival of our country. Even in times of relative peace, even allies will always look for vulnerabilities to increase their own power.

The definition of world power has changed from military might to economic might. I fear that if we focus too much on extending our military might in theaters that provide us little gain, we will quickly lose power to those who are more savvy with their resources.

While we are expending tremendous energy in the Iraq occupation, Afghanistan is relatively neglected. The EU, China, India, and even Venezuela are profiting from our weakened condition.

Therefore, I cannot as a good American of independent conscious agree with the motive and implementation of the Iraq front. I'm no longer in the military. I cannot speak for present day soldiers, but as a civilian it's my duty and right to express my thoughts and take action to protect this country. Those who wish to stifle my freedom and brand me disloyal for reasonably expressing my rights are tyrants and I encourage all free thinking Americans to oppose them to their fullest capacity. So, yes, Blake. You can support the troops without supporting the war.

Posted by: oscar | Feb 16, 2008 4:04:50 PM

Again, the words "I support the troops" mean nothing unless you explain HOW you support them. What is means to me most of the time is:

"I am anti-war, but not really anti-troop"
Again, what's even the point of saying you support the troops other than not to look like you dislike them for what they do.

I do agree with oscar that it can be done in certain circumstances. You can personally and non-publicy disagree with this particular war as a matter of policy, but support pro-veteran and pro-military legislation or send care packages or something. So under these circumstances I guess you can say it and make sense, if it's important to you.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 4:32:51 PM

So the conclusion we seem to be coming to is one can support those in the military and disagree with the policy that leads us to war and their sacrifice.

Where is everyone else? Chime in.

Posted by: humid | Feb 16, 2008 4:44:31 PM

This issue is pretty clear to me - I support the troops...I support their right to sign up for duty and not be lied to by the executive power that sends them to war under false pretenses…or heavily exaggerated justifications for the war. I support the right of military families to question whether or not this war is justified, even more so because I’ve lost family members to active duty and have seen the effects that this has had on children (who will never know their fathers), wives (now single mothers), and parents (who have had to endure the horrific task of burying their children). I remember on this very forum someone saying that it doesn’t matter why we went to war, that we are at war and so we should just accept it and stop questioning it.

As a citizen whose tax dollars are being spent on this war and whose family members are putting their lives at risk in the name of the US military, hell yes, it matters to me whether or not the decision to go to war with Iraq was justified, hasty, and for the best of the country. And I'm not concerned with whether or not we WIN. What would WINNING mean anyway? Securing democracy in Iraq? If democracy is our interest, I’ve got news for you, we are losing. And we’re certainly not leading by example. As an expert in Latin American history, it's hard to believe that democracy is ever the true justification for military deployment abroad, given the countless examples of the US ousting DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED governments in the region throughout the 20th century, i.e. Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and Allende in Chile in 1973, just to name two obvious examples. Even the biggest supporters of intervening militarily in Latin America in previous decades like Lawrence Eagleburger and George Bush senior have expressed regret over our past actions in the region and admitted that military deployment was more about securing economic interests for a corporate elite with political ties (does United Fruit ring a bell?). And if economic interests are the ticket to what we consider “freedom,” then so be it. Just, uh, please don’t make up some crazy jargonistic, fear-inducing, charade and be honest to the country, and the country’s soldiers, about it.

That brings me to my last point, I think it's important to be clear about the terminology we employ when having these discussions. What exactly do you mean, Dietrich, by “freedoms” and how exactly is this war “protecting those freedoms”?

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 16, 2008 4:46:23 PM

@ Cynthia

By "WINNING" in Iraq, we (at least I) mean accomplishing a withdrawal of our troops and leaving behind a better Iraq than would have been there at this time if we wouldn't have invaded.

The difference between myself and many others is that I completely think that scenario is possible and likely if we continue on our current course. The people who want us to get out now because we shouldn't have gone in don't think that such a victory is possible. The media has more or less given that illusion to the American people. That's the heart of the issue, I think. I understand those who want to get out now only if I think they believe a victory is not possible.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:04:50 PM

What do you mean by a "better Iraq"? Is that a "better Iraq" as defined by the US military, the US government, by Iraqi citizens? Which Iraqi citizens? How can we ever know if Iraq wouldn't have been a "better Iraq" without US "help"?

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 16, 2008 5:08:23 PM

@blake

being hungover is the only way i can justify wasting this entire day. Thanks for the entertainment along the way.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:09:28 PM

Yup. Been an issue that has been eating away at me as of late.

Posted by: humidhaney | Feb 16, 2008 5:25:04 PM

@Cynthia
--------------------------------------------
"What do you mean by a "better Iraq"? Is that a "better Iraq" as defined by the US military, the US government, by Iraqi citizens? Which Iraqi citizens? How can we ever know if Iraq wouldn't have been a "better Iraq" without US "help"?"
--------------------------------------------
What I mean by a better Iraq is one that is better by all of those standards. I have seen Iraq three times and have had considerable contact with it's citizens. The changes since 2004 have been amazing. We are trusted now. In Iraqi neighborhoods the citizens no longer fear for their lives like they used to. They are less and less hesitant to point out foreign terrorists. They feel this way because they feel we are winning. They realize that we will not abandon them like in '91, but are committed to helping them form a stable government which will one day tell us to get out. The overall sentiment was always that they may not want us there but they sure as hell don't want us to leave. The Iraqis are now beginning to see a point where we can leave and that's very important.

I don't think I've been brainwashed to believe any of this either. It's an opinion formed by things I have seen. I ask myself:

If they don't appreciate our attempts and have faith in the new system then why would they RISK THEIR LIVES to vote?

If they didn't have confidence and trust in our troops, why would they side with us when there are foreign terrorists in their towns?

And if they didn't believe that the foreign terrorists goals were harmful to their political future, then why would we see neighborhood groups (Shiite AND Sunni) eradicating terrorist cells on their own without our help?

The situation on the ground NOW is better than it was in 2003. i remember talking to an Iraqi at a checkpoint by NAI12 near Haditha. After asking him about a bombing, I apologized for stopping his car and he told me that it was no problem because there were twice as many checkpoints on that same road under Saddam.

Honestly, as long as we can make sure that the Iraqis can take care of themselves without our help against foreign terrorists I think they'll be a lot better off than they were before. Then we can leave. And I think that is very possible. And I have no problem calling that a victory. And I can use the term "winning" without worrying that it may offend people who are against the war.

What people don't tend to concentrate on is why all the foreign fighters are in Iraq to begin with. They are there to stop the formation of a representative form of government in Iraq, pure and simple. An Iraq with a representative form of government (nobody expects a perfect democracy) is a threat to the conventional wisdom of Arab politics. What is frightening to these terrorists is that Iraq may actually be a happier, more productive nation one day, and if we help accomplish that I'd consider it a victory.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:36:23 PM

Yup. Been an issue that has been eating away at me as of late.
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Personally I have friends who have told me that they don't support the troops. They see it like hotspringer. It doesn't effect our friendship because I see it for what it is, a political opinion and not a personal one.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:39:33 PM

The groups like Code Pink with signs that say "We Support the Murder of American Troops"
and who harass the wounded at Walter Reed are a slightly different story, though.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:44:40 PM

I shall now concentrate my efforts on my entry for the weirdest thing on the interweb.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 5:50:48 PM

- Why does it matter who can utter the empty slogan "Support the Troops" anyway? As a vet I don't really care at all. I think it's a vapid civilian construct that means very little if anything.

exactly.

It doesn't fucking matter what you support and what you don't. It doesn't matter what you think. I think you're still under the assumption that you're living in a democracy...I hate to break it to you but you aren't. We are living in a fascist state in which "the people's" opinions mean nothing. Most of us don't fucking know enough to matter anyway...we're spoon fed "partiotic" semantics through the MSM and don't think twice about it.

The fact is, the troops are fighting for Corporate interests...not national security. They may think they are fighting for their country...but they're not....unless you consider Halliburton a branch of government.

Posted by: Dambala | Feb 16, 2008 6:11:15 PM

Wow.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 6:28:28 PM

I was wondering when Dambala would jump into this.

Posted by: humidhaney | Feb 16, 2008 6:28:52 PM

sic Patriotic

Posted by: Dambala | Feb 16, 2008 8:22:02 PM

High five Dambala! Yeah!

Posted by: David | Feb 16, 2008 8:25:55 PM

What are you idiots high fiving? Dambala has pretty much just stepped in a reasonable debate and used his emotion rather than fact to bitch and whine. Show me proof for one of the accusations he just made. God, where do you looney tunes come from?

Posted by: Dietrich | Feb 16, 2008 8:31:18 PM

Yep. The tinfoil hat crew has arrived.

Posted by: Chaz | Feb 16, 2008 8:39:36 PM

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