On not supporting the troops

People are up in arms about Dick Durbin’s “Godwin’s Law” moment. And of course he isn’t comparing our military with the Nazis, because if there is one thing we must do as a society it is support our troops. It is America’s last sacred cow. Anyone who does not support the troops is, by present standards, a traitor.

I do not support the troops. That doesn’t mean that I wish them harm, and it doesn’t mean that, on an individual level, I can’t have respect for many of them. It doesn’t mean I am un-American, or that I am a friend of terrorists. But at this point it is clear that there are more that just a few bad apples, and it is more than just “following orders.” Yes, the buck may ultimately stop at the door to the oval office, but there are soldiers torturing prisoners, and there is neither honor nor glory in that. While many soldiers are fighting honorably in Iraq, we have examples also of acts of cruelty and unecessary violence. I don’t believe that most, or even many, soldiers are behaving inappropriately, but the acts of a few do and should reflect on the whole.

I think that this war has brought shame upon the military, and while we should celebrate them when they do their job, and when they act to defend the United States, no government organization should escape the censure of the American people when they act injustly.

I recognize that the soldier does not choose the battles he or she is sent to, but by volunteering for the military a person does not abdicate responsibility for his or her actions, and indeed takes on collective responsibility for those actions. We need to make clear to American soldiers and sailors that their uniforms bear the stains of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Such scorn is appropriate if for no other reason than to make clear to those who enlist that becoming a soldier means that they may be put into the position of making excuses for torturers.

It is not for me to suspend judgment of those who kill and torture in my name. I recognize that the brunt of my criticism is correctly aimed at those in charge, and that the responsibility ultimately rests in the Commander in Cheif. Nonetheless, there is no honor in carrying out injustice.

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  1. Posted 6/20/2005 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    According to your logic, there would therefore also be stains on all university professors after the likes of Professor Churchill have made comments amounting to treason.
    What also bothers me about the liberal brand of “support” for our troops is that they invariably never come up with viable alternative solutions. Our enemies do not fight us by caressing us with white gloves or by engaging in endless pointless debates on mundane topics. They aim to kill as many Americans as they can and don’t care if they themselves die in the process.
    In the case of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, it is also important to remember that they are smarter than many would like to believe. At least those who recieved training would know how to exploit the weaknesses of their capturers, as evidenced by Al-Quaeda manuals discovered in Manchester (UK). Also, whatever one may think of the means employed by the Bush administration, one thing is abundantly clear: There has been no major terrorist attack on US interests at home or aborad since 9-11, so the federal government must be doing something right. It would be lovely if we could be nice to everyone, but that idea, just like socialism or communism, simply doesn’t work.

  2. Posted 6/21/2005 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I’m really glad to hear/read this.

    I totally agree with you, even if (being a foreigner) I did not know about this debate.


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