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.
I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.
And I've got no problem with other people -- the ones who were for the Iraq war -- supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.
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 -- 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.
Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there -- and who might one day want to send them somewhere else. Trust me, a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate isn't going to pick up on the subtleties of a parade for just service in an unjust war. He's going to be looking for funnel cake.
Right. Because one day we "hawks" may want to send our troops off to another troublesome part of the world to topple oppressive dictators and install democratic governments. What an awful thought.
The screed continues:
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. . . .
I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.
What is wrong with honoring the job our troops have done in Iraq? They went there to defeat a truly evil ruler prone to feeding political dissidents into plastic shredders and ordering rapes as a solution to voters who cast their ballots the wrong way, and defeat him they did. Since that defeat our troops have been engaged in rebuilding roads, sewer systems, schools and hospitals. They have also given Iraqi citizens the opportunity to elect representatives to write a constitution, design a government and then elect people to serve in that government all while protecting these same citizens from monsters who would use terror attacks to prevent democracy from flourishing in the middle easts.
Sure we're doing all of this out of self-interest. After all, the key to protecting our own country from terror threats is to go to the region from whence said terrorism came, topple the rogue terror-sponsoring countries that exist there and install democratic governments of the people in their place. But as self-serving as our objectives in Iraq (and Afghanistan) may be, there is no denying that we are leaving that country in a better state than we found it.
If that doesn't earn our troops - then men and women on the ground who have made the above objectives possible with their blood, sweat and tears - a parade I'm not sure who, in the annals of history, has ever been worthy of one.
Will the war in Iraq make us safer from global terrorism? Has it been worth the expense paid both in tax dollars and American blood? My answer is a resounding "yes" to both questions, but I'll grant that each are valid and worthy of debate. Yet even if your answer is "no" to both questions saying that our troops somehow aren't worthy of a sincere "thank you" for the good they have fought for overseas is ridiculous on its very face.
It is petty and cheap and has no place in our national debate.
You can read more from Rob Port at SayAnythingBlog.com
Update: Joel Stein responds... OK, it's Jim Treacher, but it sure sounds like Stein...