On "Supporting the Troops"
I've been thinking a lot about two things the last week in light of recent events. First, the side discussion we had the other day on supporting the troops but not the war, and second, what I see as an attempt to equate not only our crimes to the crimes of the jihadists, but our methods of waging war with their methods as being one in the same- morally. I think this cartoon says a lot about how the typical soldier or marine feels. Every morning after a good PT session, I go to the chow hall to eat breakfast. I am not alone there, the DFAC serves a wide variety of soldiers from all the 18D and SOCM students, like myself, (which include SF, SEALS, Rangers, Marine Recon, and foreign allies) 7th and 3rd SF group soldiers, and an 82nd Airborne Engineer battalion soldiers. Every morning we have a ritual of tuning the TV to our favorite anchor, Robin Meade, on CNN headline news. And every morning it's always the same as we listen to the latest journalism about the military, and the war. Lots of quiet. Lots of shaking heads, and silent disappointment. Lately, the news has been grim, well actually it's pretty much always grim. Everything from Haditha, and John Murtha, to a certain Senator accusing us of terrorizing "kids and children", to the recent proposals in Congress to completely withdraw, and most recently, my last straw, the mutilation of two of our own by the jihadists.
On supporting the troops and not the war, the logic behind the line of thinking, in my humble opinion, leads only to ultimately not supporting the troops. I'm not saying any support by those who disagree with the war isn't welcome, and absolutely necessary, but it seems to me that eventually it leads to demoralizing the men on the ground, or the guys preparing to take their place, and, even worse, potentially endangering them. How can one support the troops, but not the mission they are on? An editorial I read today linked from today's cartoon asks an interesting question.
"...As war critics mourn three jihadist suicides at Gitmo, we have three dead soldiers who might have met their fate simply because, after Hamandiyah and Haditha, they took too long to determine if their kidnappers were friend or foe. If they'd killed their assailants, would they now also be accused of killing "innocent" civilians?..."
On equating us with the jihadists. A thoughtful, insightful, and brilliant friend of mine O'Cealleigh continued with the moral equivalence discussion on his blog in which he certainly jousted me from my horse in the debate. I couldn't even respond. However, though I couldn't respond at the time I still couldn't disagree more. Bottom line, it is my opinion, that many in our country are attempting to draw a moral equivalence with our soldiers and the jihadists. Was Abu Grahib horrible? Yes. Was it wrong? Yes. If the allegations are true concerning Haditha it too was also horrendous, and wrong. However, if we were to take a look at the way these jihadists treat POW's and the way they wage war then compare it to our doctrines, one thing is for sure. They are, by our Western Standards, savages. But that is still not the point. Why are they worse? Are our hands clean? No, absolutely not. However, if you were to take the Jihadists worldview, their ways of warfare, their culture, and compare it to ours. Is there a difference? I think this is essential in the debate. Everyone hates to try and make "good guys" and "bad guys", but I think it is unavoidable. Jihadists certainly have made up their mind calling us "crusaders" and "infidels". I am still finding it very difficult to articulate what I mean on the moral equivalence debate. Anybody out there got any input? Here is another interesting statement in an article linked along with the cartoon...
"So why is it that My Lai has become a byword for brutality while Hue is a footnote? Why will Menchaca and Tucker be forgotten while incidents like those under investigation — or the grotesque theater of Abu Ghraib — will persist, fester, be written about, analyzed, become vehicles for critiques of U.S. policy, the military, or the whole of American culture? By rights these incidents should demonstrate that we are better than our enemies. We are civilized, they are barbarians. What we are fighting for is objectively superior to what they are fighting for. Our struggle is legitimate, theirs is not. There is no room for moral relativism in this war. Certainly those who view torture and beheading as acts of piety have no problem seeing it as a black and white conflict. And when faced with extremism of this sort, we should take it at face value."
This is certainly drawing the line in the sand. I am with this guy on the moral equivalence issue.
Lastly, it is very difficult for me to watch on CSPAN the arguments on the House and Senate floors concerning withdrawal, and come to the conclusion that the Democratic party supports the troops when the leadership of said party are the same people who not only draw comparisons to Vietnam with Iraq, but are the same people who so grotesquely "protested" (that's really not a good word for the way in which those demonstrations took place) Vietnam. It's difficult for me when I a rooting for Hillary Clinton, of all folks, to change the minds of her fellow party members. The crediblity of their claims just doesn't hold water. This is a shame, because I know we need the Democratic party. National security is the one thing that I think we cannot afford to be divided on. When I read what Al-Zawahiri wrote in a letter to Zarqawi concerning Vietnam where he explains,
"What drives me to broach these matters while we are in the din of war and the challenges of killing and combat?My answer is, firstly: Things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy. Because of that, we must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them. We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us, wherein our lot would be to merely resist their schemes.
I wonder how the Vietnam generation, most of all, could read this and not even consider rethinking their position. Well, for now, Hillary has. In light of yesterday's news of a terrorist cell's plot to hit the Sears Tower, I wonder if we as a people really understand the reasons we are at war. Do we? I sometimes wonder if it would take another attack to get our attention again, I hate to think that may indeed be the case.
Okay, I'm finished. On an unrelated note. I have been slotted for 10th SF Group which is located at Fort Carson, Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Stuttgart, Germany. I am pretty excited to finally know where I'll be, kind of a morale booster. I still do not have a language assignment, as it seems higher up is trying to push me through without going to language school because I speak Italian. I am appealing this on Monday in order to get Arabic. I wouldn't mind getting out of here sooner, but I don't want to get deployed without speaking the language of my area of operation. I am enthusiatic about languages, and I am pretty good at picking them up. I really don't understand why higher up would think Italian will be useful as a defense language, but who am I to question brass? Keep your fingers crossed for me. The Ranting Irishman also got slotted for 10th Group so I am sure we'll both have some good blogging for you from there (one day) when not deployed.
Fast Squirrel, a seasoned SF guy, had an open thread yesterday which went along a related topic to my post today, go check it out.
The Ranting Irishman went off yesterday, be warned though, it is truly a rant.
Shayna needs some folks to join in on her caption contest. (I'll be judging BTW)
Patriotic Cowgirl never ceases to amaze her loyal readers with her vulnerable, and charming style.
Go check these out before the weekend, and don't forget to put a definition in over at Waking Ambrose if you haven't tried already.