In a new comment on an old posting, Blubonnet wrote:
You are wrong to assume that supporting our troops has to mean supporting the war!!!
The old article was An honest liberal, referring to Joel Stein’s article in The Los Angeles Times:
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 â€” 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.
Dear Senator Levin,
You wrote, in your recent correspondence, that you told the servicemen and women in Iraq “that Congress and the American people are proud of them and back them one hundred percent…” Since you presume to be speak for not only your constituents, such as myself, but for the American people in general, I think it is incumbent upon you to explain what it means to be “proud” of the troops in Iraq, and what it means to “back them one hundred percent.”
Is not to say that one is “proud” of the soldiers also to say that one is proud of what they have accomplished? In this case, what has been accomplished is a war of aggression, defined as “the supreme international crime” at Nuremberg. Are Americans proud of this? Should they be proud of this? Are we to “back” this “one hundred percent”? Should we? Why should Americans be “proud” of soldiers who participate voluntarily and willingly in a war of aggression? Why should we “back” such a crime “one hundred percent”? What is there to be “proud” of in that? What is there to be “proud” of about a heinous international crime containing within itself numerous lesser war crimes? Shall we be “proud” of the estimated 600,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of this crime? Shall we “back” this violence “one hundred percent”? Shall we be “proud” of the chaos Iraq has been thrown into as a result of this crime? Should we “back” it “one hundred percent”? Or perhaps we should be “proud” of these soldiers because they obey orders?
Mr Hammond goes on to claim that he supported the troops right up until the invasion, by attempting to sway public opinion in a manner to stop the invasion in the first place.
Another principle enshrined at Nuremberg is that “individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state…. The true test…is not the existence of the order, but whether moral choice was in fact possible.”
I, for one, am proud of those members of our armed services who have courageously stood up and refused, saying, “I will not fight an unjust war predicated upon lies and deceptions.” Among those who have gone to Iraq, I am proud of those who have spoken out against crimes and abuses they have seen there. I am proud of those who used their position to prevent or mitigate further atrocities and further violence, rather than willfully escalating them or doing nothing; men like Joseph M. Darby, who acted with the modicum of decency and morality necessary to report the abuses he witnessed at Abu Ghraib to his superiors in order to try to put an end to it.
Mr Hammond apparently believes that our soldiers are all guilty of war crimes, by the very act of participating in the war. He seems to be unaware that the Nuremburg trials did not indict or convict common Wehrmacht soldiers for fighting in the war; Nuremburg was reserved for the captured leaders of the Third Reich.
But one wonders what he would have our soldiers do? The invasion was ordered, properly in my view, by the elected civilian leadership of the United States. That Mr Hammond disagreed with that decision is his right, but one wonders what he can want now, save a military coup d’etat against the civilian leadership with which he disagrees.
George Bush will be president of the United States until noon on January 20, 2009, at which time his term will have ended and he will lawfully and peacefully surrender power to his duly elected successor. I’m sorry* that Mr Hammond does not like that timetable, but that’s life; get over it.
But Messrs Stein and Hammond have come to grips with one important point: to support the troops is to wish to see them successful, because it is only by success that they secure their safety. To wish that their mission fails is to wish greater death among them, more wounds and debilitating injuries.
Let’s put it bluntly: success in combat is achieved by killing the enemy; failure in combat means that your own troops have been killed. Supporting the troops means that you must support their mission; these things are inseparable.
The mission in Iraq was to remove the Ba’ath Party regime, disarm the Iraqi military, and establish freedom and a stable democracy there. The first two missions have been accomplished; the third is proving more difficult than we had hoped. When Mr Hammond says that he opposed the war, when Mr Stein said that he opposed the mission, they said, in effect, that they wanted to see Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime stay in power, that they wanted to see the Iraqi military retain its weaponry, and that they do not want to see freedom and democracy come to Iraq.
That last part is the most important. Regardless of what anyone thinks of it, the invasion happened, and cannot be undone. Saddam Hussein is in jail, and the other Ba’ath Party leaders are for the very most part either in jail or in Hell. The Iraqi military has been disarmed and is no threat to any of its neighbors. First two parts are Mission Accomplished. These are good things, even if Messrs Hammond and Stein do not approve of how they were accomplished.
Which brings us to what is left to be accomplished: bringing real freedom and democracy to Iraq. We’ve made some progress and we’ve seen some setbacks there, but to be opposed to our mission in Iraq is, at this point, to oppose freedom and democracy for the people of Iraq. Do Messrs Hammond and Stein prefer the alternatives, of slavery and dictatorship? If one opposes freedom and democracy, what else is there?
It is one thing for people to oppose President Bush and the methods he attempts to use to achieve our country’s goals. One can easily say that he supports the idea of freedom for everyone but that he does not think an invasion of Iraq will either produce such, or can produce such at an acceptable cost. But once the mission has been undertaken, that option closes: the war is joined, whether successfully or not, and to oppose the war and the mission of the troops at this point is to support their defeat in the field and the success of tyranny.
*- No, that’s a lie; I’m not at all sorry that Mr Hammond doesn’t like it.
Cross posted (and promoted to the front page) on Red State.