I've heard many people, just as did many during the Viet Nam war, speak ill of our armed forces engaged abroad. The term "baby killer" was a popular word used by those either too bereft of courage or too duped by the "enlightened" among us to themselves take up arms during the Vietnamese conflict, and the pejoratives for those serving in Iraq have included similar expressions...many of which stem from the thought that this is "the wrong war at the wrong time." When questioned, many I have encountered claim to "support the troops but not the war" which always strikes me as just a wishy-washy way of trying to stay on the right side of every issue. As a veteran I can tell you there is no greater disrespect that can be given a serviceman than to have the citizens he puts his life on the line to protect hurl insults at him or to otherwise diminish his character by calling his service unjust. You cannot support the troops while simultaneously condemning the job they are doing. Unlike previous wars, those in opposition are not staging themselves at airports and bus stations to "greet" the troops with their hateful dissent, which is good. However, they have burned up the internet since 2003 in blogs and articles, and speeches by prominent spokesmen against war have been given publicity by tv and radio outlets. Sadly, most of the benevolence of our troops fails to make headlines. However, our all-volunteer force is comprised of some remarkable human beings and I could not be prouder to have them represent me. Ollie north gave a riveting recall of one young man's heroics which showcases our nation's resolve to be a humane presence in the world.
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. ~Mark Twain
May we never forget those that can before us, those that are there now, and those that will come after us. These men and women are Americans of the first order and deserve every bit of respect that can be given. They earned it with their blood, sweat, and tears.
"When questioned, many I have encountered claim to "support the troops but not the war" which always strikes me as just a wishy-washy way of trying to stay on the right side of every issue."
You can support the selfless service of soldiers without being in support of each iteration of conflict which utilizes them. Governments, who employ soldiers to become the instruments with which wars are engaged, do not always choose to go to war wisely, nor does the nobility of their geo-political ambitions become unquestionable because of the loyalty, dedication and sacrifice of soldiers. One can address that reality without self contradiction. Governments can err in going to war even if soldiers do not in their dedication to their country, and if wars are fought in error it’s not the dedication of a soldier that bears the weight of culpability.
Even those most instrumental in waging wars have expressed grave misgivings about that decision after the fact. I'm thinking of McNamara in particular. Yet there was nothing in his regret about escalating our involvement in Vietnam which expressed a lack of support for the soldiers who fought there. In fact, the sacrifice of so many lives for reasons that he thought in retrospect to be unjustified was the source of his deep regret. History showed the domino theory to be erroneous and McNamara wrote about it in his memoir "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam." One thing it taught him is that we should not go to war injudiciously. A lesson such as that should be a virulent contagion.
Besides a sincere "thank you", I don't know what you could say to someone willing to risk their lives in service to their country. Its one of the most selfless acts a human can commit, and I think I understand your questioning how someone can support the troops but not simultaneously support the job they're doing. Yet how well someone is doing their job, or how noble their sacrifice is in doing it, is not the same as how justified the job is as something to be done.
Yr hen Gymraeg i mi, Hon ydyw iaith teimladau, Ac adlais i guriadau Fy nghalon ydyw hi --- Mynyddog
Time and time again people try to separate the man from the mission. War is not a pretty little fuzzy toy. People die in war. The Viet Nam War was a political war through and through run by politicians for whatever reasons they could dream up at the time that is the reason for the failure that was the Viet Nam War.
The armed forces of the United States were never allowed to do what they were supposed to do. Break things and kill people. A lot of it stemmed from wishy-washy politicians that couldn't stomach the realities of war. The politicians that started the damn war wouldn't follow through on what they started because they didn't want to appear harsh.
This idea that you can separate the mission from the man only creates the confusion that was the VNW. Military thinking does not operate on fuzzy thinking. You develop a strategy, execute the tactics, and achieve victory. End of story. Keep believing that you can and you will see nothing but failure after failure.
It is very true -- the statement about politicians making decisions to go to war and then not "having the stomach" to follow through with what it takes to win the war --they are the damnation of the armed conflict. Recent politicians (namely George W. Bush) pulled the same thing in Fallujah that was pulled in VN...he pulled the troops back when a "politically sensitive" incident occurred (collateral damage termed innocent bystanders). It demoralized the guys fighting and put them in serious danger as they were ordered not to fire back.
I don't know...I kind of feel like once the prez and congress decide to go to war...it's kind of like the first time you give your kid the keys to the car. You hope you've prepared the hell out of them...but you gotta hand over the keys and let them take the wheel. In the same vein, they need to let the commanding officers take the wheel...and stop trying to be a a back-seat driver.
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