Friday, February 16, 2007

Misrrepresenting Support

A United States House of Representatives, under the leadership of Democrat Nancy Pelosi, has recently shot down the proposal of President Bush for an increase in the number of troops in Iraq, as well as increasing military spending in Iraq with an additional $93 million. So far, 3,100 American servicemen have been killed in the continuing conflict. For the full story, click here.

One of the main criticisms for any sort of measure that stems the finances or number of American troops in Iraq is the commonly quoted "Support the troops!". Americans romanticize their warriors. They portray them as heroes, away from home, fighting for ideals across the seas. The servicemen and servicewomen are seen as "citizen-soldiers", kids from next door who went to church and joined up so they could get money for college. These are kids from Anytown America, serving their country.

However, the idea behind "Support the Troops!" is that if America supports the troops, it should also support the war that the troops are fighting. This is a dangerous misconception, and a very forced linkage of two different concepts.

Because what soldier really wants to go to war? Philip Caputo, in his personal account as a young lieutenant in Vietnam, wrote "Anyone who understands the reality of war will do anything to keep from going to war." What is this reality? It's a reality of uncertainty, of being faced with violent death or mutilation every day. It's the reality of seeing human suffering up close and personal. It's the reality of watching friends die, of seeing things that no one back home will understand. War is not something that people look forward to. The best thing for a soldier, is to go home in one piece, knowing that they've done their best, and that they're country is proud of them.

No one says the men and women serving America in Iraq have done less than their best; they're bleeding and dying over there. We've lost 3,100 brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters in Iraq. To the American people, the price is paid. But to the politicians, to the decision makers, it's not enough.

The reality of the decision to stay or pull-out of Iraq is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation. Eventually, the Americans will have to pull out, and Iraq will have to find its own equilibrium in the post-Saddam world. The question is how many more Americans have to die.

I like to liken the situation in Iraq as being a pendelum that has been released into space. Before it was released, it was stable and predictable, held in the iron grip of Saddam. The problem was that this iron grip did not allow for any sort of change, positive or negative. However, upon removing that hold, the pendelum swung into open space, and it has to settle into a new sort of balance. Right now, America or not, Iraq will be unstable, and America hasn't the strength (or the unethical/barbaric power) to control Iraq the way Saddam did.

Get the troops out, leave the Iraqis to settle their own problems. America decided to force change in Iraq; they got it. The real way to support the troops is to bring them home.

-the 9th_wanderer

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