The Separation of War and Troops

I am astounded that otherwise intelligent people are unable to separate the Iraq (and Pakistan) war from the people who are fighting that war. The two are not of a piece. The war was started, and is being prosecuted, for political purposes, as are all wars. You may choose to agree with those purposes or not. In either case, the war is being fought by young women and men who are there because it is their duty to be there. They don’t have the option of choosing whether or not to believe in the politics of the war.

For that ever-dwindling minority that believes that the War in Iraq is a good thing, the decision of whether or not to support the troops is an easy one. If you are an American that supports the war itself, you would look a little silly supporting the other side, which is the only other real option.

For that ever-growing majority that thinks we should bring our troops home in the shortest possible time, I suppose that there is a logical choice to be made. If you do not support the war, I suppose that you could extend that non-support to the troops, as well. It would never occur to me to take that step, but there is probably some tiny number of people who do take it. I could only hope to reason with them.

The troops that we have in Iraq and Pakistan are not just “soldiers” and “marines.” They are also somebody’s son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, or best friend. They are there because they were ordered to go there. Nobody asked them if they wanted to go or not. Good soldiers know what they signed up for and will fight when ordered to fight. Those soldiers, marines, and sailors deserve every ounce of support that we can give them.

I have heard from a lot of serving military personnel that feel we are needlessly exposing our soldiers to death and injury in a place where we have no business, and who privately express that feeling in the strongest possible terms. I don’t know whether they are the majority or the minority of those that serve in our military. I do know that, to a man, they would go back to Iraq again the minute that the orders came. That’s what you do when you are a soldier.

I have noticed, however, that a lot of the die-hard supporters of the war in Iraq and Pakistan automatically feel that people who are against the war are anti-military. I have no idea what sort of flawed logic they use to reach that conclusion. I have never met anyone who is against our soldiers on a personal level, although I’m sure that a few such people exist.

I, personally, am against the War On Terror, including the “war” being waged today in Iraq and Pakistan. That is not the sort of war that is required to combat terrorism. My reasoning is simple: the real, dangerous terrorists refuse to come out in the open so that our Marines can shoot them. The dangerous ones are right now sitting at kitchen tables in Paris, Beirut, Addis Ababa, and Cleveland. Intelligence and law enforcement organizations are much more effective in combating true terrorism than are armored divisions.

So I would ask those who continue to support the war to stop hiding behind the defense that those of us who do not support the war also do not support the soldiers that are fighting it. Almost all of us do support our soldiers. We wish the troops long life and godspeed. We just don’t support the politics or the politicians that are keeping them there. In fact, by supporting those politicians, the supporters of the war are the ones that continue to place our loved ones needlessly in harms way.


The Separation of War and Troops — 2 Comments

  1. These days, I’m in a negative mood about many issues happening in the world, and one of them is war(s) in general. We were thought war is a (very) bad thing when we are a children. My country is a neighbour of the Iraq where this war is going on. In my lifetime, I witnessed two wars between the same countries. It is hurting so badly to see children dies in a conflict between specifically two person, not exactly two country. I agree what you wrote and what I see from my point of view is this so-called attempt to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq resulted just bringing death and chaos in the land (just how many casulties are there on both sides?). I really hope this aggressive attitude of politics would end some day in near feature.

    “The dangerous ones are right now sitting at kitchen tables in Paris, Beirut, Addis Ababa, and Cleveland.”

    I can’t agree more.

  2. Ena, it is a sad fact that war manufactures little else but dead people on all sides. I have never understood how that could possibly be a good thing. Many Americans are upset about the U.S. troops that have been killed in Iraq and Pakistan. Since I feel we have no business there, and are doing no good, I am upset about both the deaths themselves and the horrible waste they are.

    But what many Americans fail to understand is that the number of deaths among troops on both sides is tiny when compared to the civilian deaths that the war (those first few weeks could be called “war”) caused. Worse, they do not understand the civilian deaths that our continued occupation is causing are many times greater than all the others combined. Worst of all, they don’t understand that this new bloodshed is just the thin top layer of decades of military and civilian deaths in the region. The death and injury toll on the region is heartbreaking.

    There are huge problems of all kinds in the Middle East. The fundamentalist religious fury is a huge issue, and probably the base of much of the difficulty. The secular struggles between clans and warlords is almost as bad. Even without a Western military presence, the Middle East has huge problems to overcome. The U.S. occupation is just making things worse.

    Thank you so much, Ena, for sharing your views with us.

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