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John Wayne's Holster: To Be or Not To Be…For the Troops
John Wayne's Holster
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

To Be or Not To Be…For the Troops

I recently saw this Op-Ed piece in the LA Times called Warriors and Wusses, written by Joel Stein. The thesis of the article is that one can not support the troops if he/she is opposed to the war in Iraq.

As Stein states in the article, he is against the war, and therefore does not support the troops. Stein further explains the rationale underlying his position with the following statement, “Blindly lending support to our soldiers…will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there”. Stein contends that the real reason people who are against the war support the troops is to “ease some of the guilt [they] feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices [themselves]”.

On the surface, it would appear that there are shades of truth in Stein’s thesis. Logic is short-circuited when one simultaneously holds opposing positions on the same issue. How can one be for something that they are against? Obviously they can’t! And that is why Stein is trying to beguile the public into believing that support for the troops is the same as supporting the war. He is trying to create a sense of conflict in your subconscience. It is his attempt to undermine the war - which he is opposed to.

I realize that not everyone shares my position and supports the war in Iraq. That is their right. However, contrary to what Mr. Stein will have you believe, it is not untenable to be opposed to the war while supporting the troops. In reality, the two positions are not contradictory and, in fact, coexist quite well.

Regardless of where one stands on the war, no reasonable person with a trace of humanity wants to see any harm come to either our soldiers or innocent Iraqi civilians. We want our military to complete their mission with minimal casualties and come home safely. Many of us would like to see the Iraqis step up and take a larger role in the conflict so that our soldiers can get home sooner.

That is kind of support that most people opposed to the war have for the troops. And there is nothing contradictory or illogical about that position!

In fact, Mr. Stein doesn't even beleive what he says himself, for he too shows that he supports the troops. Why else would he call for more “body armor and…a USO show by the cast of ‘Laguna Beach’ ”. It seems that his sense of human decency has not been smothered by his ideology or his desire to be accepted by the "left coast crowd". Apparently, his attempt at brainwahing himself was rejected by his subconscience.

So be for the war or be against it, but always be for the troops!

Send the troops a care package.


At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Roy said...

Great post! I read this and wanted to post on but I have been too busy with semester begining. I sort of agree with you but not 100%.
Do you think that the people who believe the war is illegal and immoral can support the troops while saying the war is illegal? Especially for the soldiers who joined after the war. It would seem that if you think the war is immoral and illegal, then you would think anyone joining the military must be immoral. I actually have more respect for that idiot because I know others feel the same way but are just afraid to say it.

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hey Roy

Thanks for the reply.

I heard Joel Stein interviewed by Hugh Hewitt yesterday. You can read the transcript or download the audio file if you are interested.

The interview was a pretty unfair to Stein. Stein admits that the article was not written as well as it could have been. But he is sticking to his thesis. IMO, I think he may have been a little to flippant, which only fueled the anger directed toward him. The flip remarks imply an underlying disrespect of the military.

Regarding your question: Do you think that the people who believe the war is illegal and immoral can support the troops while saying the war is illegal?

I think the answer to that question depends not so much on what people think of the war, but rather, what they think about the moral fiber of the soldiers.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the war is both illegal and immoral. Would that make the soldiers who joined up specifically to fight in the war immoral as well? Generally speaking, I think the blame would be more properly directed at the guys calling the shots –Bush, Cheney, Rummy, etc, and not to the soldiers. On an academic level, one could make the point that soldiers knowingly and freely taking part in an immoral activity would be immoral themselves.

If Stein were making that argument, it would be difficult to find fault with his logic. But Stein is making the more general point that if you disagree with the war, for whatever reason, you should not support the troops. I have a problem with his logic there. For his argument to hold water, one has to assume that the soldiers are participating in a war that they think is immoral. Unless that can be shown, I would have a hard time putting the blame on the soldiers, unless of course they crossed the line of what is considered acceptable conduct in war (torture, rape, etc).

Perhaps it is all semantics, but Stein could have avoided the controversy if he chose his phrases more carefully and wasn't so flip.


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