Don’t Support the Troops
Joel Stein makes a rather bizarre argument in his L.A. Times column today entitled “Warriors And Wusses”: If you oppose the war, you shouldn’t support the troops fighting it.
I don’t support our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.
But I’m not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken Ã¢€” and they’re wussy by definition. It’s as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn’t to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.
After we’ve decided that we made a mistake, we don’t want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood.
But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they’re following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff’s pet name for the House of Representatives.
I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I’m tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.
But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it’s Vietnam.
Now, on the one hand, Stein has a point. One’s support of the troops certainly does not have to extend to support of what they are doing. And in a volunteer military, those who fight in our wars are making moral choices.
Still, to hold them blameworthy for following the legal orders of the president is rather bizarre. Our soldiers were sent to Iraq by the president pursuant to an overwhelming authorization of force by the Congress. At that point, they have a duty to go off to war regardless of whether they like it. It would be untenable to put the country in a position where it is paying for warriors that it relies on in times of crisis and then give those warriors the ability to opt out at the moment when they are needed.
Further, once soldiers are on the ground, they have an obligation to “pull the trigger” to defend themselves, their comrades-in-arms, and innocent civilians. Failing to exercise that duty would be absolutely unconscionable.
Mark Moore wonders whether Stein “celebrates every time one of our young men and women is shot to death or blown to bits?”
Michelle Malkin thinks Stein a candidate for the list of “most loathsome people in America.”
McQ believes Stein takes “the only honest position” those who oppose the war on moral (as opposed to strategic) grounds can.
Ace feels vindicated in his longstanding belief that “those who scream the loudest about how they just want to bring our troops home aren’t animated much by that at all.”
Rusty Shackleford argues, “This is why the antiwar position is unpatriotic. This is America’s war, and to be against it is to be against America. There is a time to be against a war, and that time is before the war begins. Strategies for victory are legitimate debate, but as long as troops are on the ground then that is where debate should end.”