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.