Wednesday, December 28, 2005



Supporters of the war in Iraq sometimes claim that it's impossible to support the troops and oppose the war. I disagree.

-- Why, for example, can't parents of soldiers in Iraq feel that the war is unjustified yet at the same time feel compassion for their sons and daughters in harm's way, and pride for their heroism?

-- Citizens can disagree with the reasons we went into Iraq and argue that we should be pursuing alternatives to war, but at the same time let the troops know unambiguously that our hearts are with them.

-- Given that we have men and women stationed in a war zone, we want the best for them, regardless of whether we should be at war.

-- Some who oppose the war have shown their support for the troops by expressing outrage at President Bush's cuts in veteran benefits. Many Americans who oppose the war feel that, partly out of respect for those who risk their lives in this operation, the President should be more forthcoming about our reasons for invading and occupying Iraq.

-- Support for the troops does not equate to agreement with policies that affect them, and with which they had nothing to do. It could be argued that calling for an end to an unnecessary war is the truest form of support for the troops.

-- I don't agree with the assertion that supporting the troops but opposing the war gives a confusing, mixed message to the troops. In my opinion, such a sentiment is condescending. The troops can distinguish between loyalty to them as people and opposition to Bush administration policies. Some soldiers have expressed that same dichotomy; they have reservations about the war, and about how it has been waged, but they approach their jobs with professionalism. I suspect that the "mixed message" charge is not well-thought out, or perhaps it is just divisive rhetoric that, rather disgustingly, employs disingenuous concern for the troops' morale in order to promote an extension of an ill-conceived, ill-planned war that will surely kill many more soldiers and civilians as it plods toward an ill-defined goal.

-- I don't trust the administration when it proclaims its support for the troops. Given that most of the top administration officials architecting and selling the war spent no time in the military, I'm suspicious of their avowed respect for the troops. Using soldiers as backdrops for political speeches, and calling criticism of the war unpatriotic and damaging to troop morale seems to me to be just another shamelessly manipulative ploy to further questionable goals in Iraq that predate 9-11. You get the troops deployed in Iraq under false pretenses, then once they're there, you say "we can't stop now" because it will hurt the troops morale. Such contrived patriotism and use of the troops as political pawns shows contempt not only for the men and women in uniform but for the American people.

Very well said, Gary. It is also quite difficult to trust the administration's support for the troops when they won't give them the proper equipment to keep them safe.
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