Military Morale and the War of Words
Bruce McQuain cites the opinion of Marine Corps Cpl. David Goldich as further evidence of his own belief that negative commentary about the war by politicians, pundits, and retired generals hurts the morale of soldiers fighting the war.
My own experience, as I’ve noted previously (see, for example, my December 2005 TCS piece “Does Criticism of the War Undermine Troop Morale?“) runs counter to Goldich’s. Simply put, soldiers engaged in the war tend to have only the most vague sense of what’s happening outside their fields of fire.
But let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that Goldich is right.
While we obviously don’t want to make the conditions for those we’ve ordered into harm’s way even more arduous, surely we don’t want to sacrifice our most fundamental rights. Whether or not “healthy debate” harms troop morale, it’s still vital to democratic governance, right?
The alternative thesis would seem to be that, once we’ve started a military engagement, no dissent from the president’s policy decisions is permissible. Presumably, that would even extend to election season, right? After all, there’s no time when dissent would get more media attention. So political candidates would be required to pretend that we’re not at war or that any extant policy is therefore peachy keen and we should absolutely “stay the course” so that we might “support the troops”?
Isn’t that paying too high a price to avoid hurt feelings?
Image source: Village Voice via Google Images.