Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Supporting the troops, not supporting the war ... again
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Commenter Tom Scott sent me a link to which I had a visceral reaction (Fess up Tom, you knew it would). So I sat on it for a day. Cooling off periods are good. And besides, it's a letter to the editor.

I also realized that the guy writing the letter pretty much answered the question I'd asked of some for quite some time: if you don't support the mission, how can you support the troops?

Well this person doesn't:
I'm a military combat veteran and critic of our government's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I don't support the troops. I'll protest in the streets to end the war, and when the troops come home, I'll do what I can to see that they get the benefits and treatment they need and deserve. That's my contribution to the troops.

Many people "oppose the war but support the troops." Rotten war, brave soldiers. I don't buy this at all. Although little Johnny or Judy might have once been that nice kid next door, he or she may now be engaged in massacres and atrocities.
To begin with, and something I realized during my cool down period, this person is completely outside the mainstream of most on both the left and right. While there is a significant anti-war faction on the left, they're almost universally against only the Iraq war. Afghanistan, for most, was an expected and mostly supported military action as it was directly linked to 9/11. And that link is key to that faction's support of any military action.

The thing I reacted viscerally too was the second paragraph where this person makes the logical leap that since some atrocities are alleged that all of our troops must be routinely participating in them. Shades of Kerry and his Senate testimony.

It goes on and on and on. What I found to be so offensive is the unsupported assumptions which the writer uses to justify his point:
"The troops" are waging war against a civilian population, making little or no attempt to distinguish between "insurgents" and "collateral" innocents in the vicinity. When faced with frequent sniping, mines, ambushes and treachery by supposed local "allies," even the best-trained occupation armies soon become brutal, sadistic, cynical and demoralized.

Torture and atrocities happen in all wars, on both sides. None are right, but America has to accept the fact that when little Johnny or Judy enlists in one of the branches of service, he becomes a hired killer.
The unsupported global assumptions and characterizations which he uses to damn the whole are simply mind numbing. There is certainly a kernel of truth to be found in some of the words. But there is also a lot left out, obviously on purpose. If included they would mitigate and neutralize the writer's premise ... that "Johnny and Judy" as he likes to call them, are trained but uncaring, brutal, sadistic, cynical and demoralized hired killers. Why not just call them "baby killers" and be done with it?

What he does to reach those conclusions is completely disregard the professional leadership who are there to ensure precisely what he charges are the exception and not the rule. In fact, he must lump them in with the whole to enable him to reach his conclusions. The leaders are as bad as "Johnny and Judy". Again, echoes of distant Senate testimony.

From that point of view, it is a sad letter. Its value is found in its extreme views and its straight forward rendering of them. It is, I think, indicative of the true but hidden feelings among some who mouth the platitude of 'supporting the troops but not supporting the war'. They simply haven't the courage to say so and suffer the consequences of actually admitting them, or they've actually deluded themselves into thinking the stance is logically consistent and they can have it both ways.

While I absolutely and completely reject this person's premises and argument, he at least is putting forward what I consider a logically consistent point of view concerning the troops and their mission, no matter how misguided, misinformed and wrongheaded his reasoning for doing so. The one thing he and I agree on is the troops and their mission are indistinguishable and, in my opinion, you can't support the instrument of the mission and not the mission itself. It is logically inconsistent.

If you don't support the mission, it is reasonable to believe you want it to fail or to be abandoned. On the other hand, the troops are completely focused on the success of the mission you want to fail. Support connotes many things, but chief among them a desire for success for that which you support. You don't support your local baseball team by cheering for them to fail. You don't support the players while wishing for the team to lose. It is a logically inconsistent stance.

So I remain puzzled by those who claim they want the troops to succeed (support) but the mission to fail. Say what you will about the letter writer on the whole, he at least seems to deal honestly with that question.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I have to wonder if his own combat experience didn’t find him doing things he couldn’t justify in the light of day. Maybe he was the "Johnny" of his own vision and now he’s seeking to expiate his sin by claiming "they all do it...(we all did it), it’s not their fault, they are forced to do it by circumstance, their training, and their mission.".

Maybe not, but hey, if he can grossly generalize and turn all our troops into John Kerry’s "Jenghis Khan" army, I can grossly generalize and wonder if he was once part of that version of the army as well.

Okay, I realize that’s unfounded allegation, and I withdraw the statement (the jury will please disregard the last two paragraphs).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
As you say, at least his little fantasy world is internally consistent. Better than many of his compatriots manage.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
McQ:

How’s this? One can hope that the mission succeeds, but believe that it will not. Assuming that the Iraq mission is to establish a stable democracy, I am all for it. I just do not believe that we will succeed. In fact, I am becoming increasingly convinced that our presence is, on balance, counterproductive. Nonetheless, I hope that I am wrong. I hope that the mission succeeds. But I think that the objective evidence strongly suggests (unsurprisingly, but that’s another matter), that Iraq is disintegrating into civil war.

Yes, I support our troops; I wish them all safety. And I will demand, if necessary, that they be treated with respect when they return home, regardless of the course of the conflict. One can support the troops by admiring their courage and sacrifice and by crediting their willingness to serve their country and do their duty without believing that their mission will succeed. If the troops have been tasked with the impossible, which I think they have, that fault lies with the civilian leadership, not the soldiers.

Take it from a long-time Red Sox fan, McQ: One can root like hell for the home team, and still anticipate that disaster is coming. (Or, better yet, ask a Cubs’ fan.) That surely doesn’t mean that one hopes the players fail, or get hurt, and it doesn’t mean you are want the team to lose, either. But, reality does have a way of intruding.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
One can root like hell for the home team, and still anticipate that disaster is coming.
You may anticipate away, but unless you’re actively rooting for failure or are not supporting them winning, the examples aren’t analogous.

Anticipating a loss isn’t the same as not wanting them to win.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
One can hope that the mission succeeds, but believe that it will not.
The war is far from over, but it seems you had already decided that it will be a disaster a long time ago.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
You may anticipate away, but unless you’re actively rooting for failure or are not supporting them winning, the examples aren’t analogous. Anticipating a loss isn’t the same as not wanting them to win.
My point exactly. It is a false dichotomy to suggest (and forgive if this is not what you intended) that there are just two classes of Americans when it comes to the Iraq War: 1) those who support the mission and the troops; and 2) those who don’t. Another group, to which I belong, hopes that we will win, but sees the evidence suggesting otherwise. Indeed, I would guess — and that’s all it is, a guess — that the size of this group dwarfs the size of the group that actually wants the U.S. to lose. Sometimes, these distinctions can get blurred in the heat of rhetoric, especially when people are dying.



 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
It is a false dichotomy to suggest (and forgive if this is not what you intended) that there are just two classes of Americans when it comes to the Iraq.
Actually it’s not a false dichotomy at all. There are only two choices, David. It’s kind of like pregnancy, you either are or you aren’t. You either support both the mission and the troops or you don’t, in terms of logical consistency. And that is the context in which the argument was presented.

Anticipating a loss isn’t the same as rooting for a loss, as I point out. But it also isn’t a third "choice". It is more of a condition of one or the other (or both, it certainly not being inconceivable that one might hope the troops succeed in their mission but anticipating it won’t happen).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The war is far from over, but it seems you had already decided that it will be a disaster a long time ago.
Predicting and deciding are totally different things. I am not The Decider; merely an interested observor. Should things turn around in Iraq, I will be very pleasantly surprised and more than willing to admit that I was wrong in predicting otherwise. Now, as to whether that would provide an acceptable, albeit ex post facto, rationale for the war . . . that’s another matter altogether. My view is clear: the Iraq War was a mistake. A terrible mistake for which this nation willl pay huge costs for a very long time. Once again, however, that is my opinion and my prediction. Time will tell. And again, I hope that I am wrong.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
"The one thing he and I agree on is the troops and their mission are indistinguishable and, in my opinion, you can’t support the instrument of the mission and not the mission itself. It is logically inconsistent. "

What if someone has a mission of killing their neighbor with the gun. If the "mission" (shooting someone) and the "instrument" (gun) are indisinguishable, then it is "logically inconsistent" to say that you can support gun rights but oppose murder.

That, to me is conflating the two. The issue is the misuse of the instrument by the "decider". It is perfectly acceptable, as I do, to say "murder with guns is wrong" and not have to say "guns are wrong". Just as it is, or should be, perfectly acceptable to say "the war in Iraq with our military is wrong" and not have to say "the military is wrong".
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
What if someone has a mission of killing their neighbor with the gun. If the "mission" (shooting someone) and the "instrument" (gun) are indisinguishable, then it is "logically inconsistent" to say that you can support gun rights but oppose murder.
In this case the gun is a tool, not an instrument in the way I’m using the term above.

I’d say that while he had every right to have the gun, he had no right to use it to murder someone.

In this case, the tool cannot be held responsible for acting of its own free will, can it? So the cases aren’t at all analogous.

In the case of the military it is willingly following the orders of the appropriate military authority and doing it’s level best to accomplish the mission set before it. They are an "instrument" of that foreign policy decision who’s job is to make it happen.

A better analogy for you would to have someone plot and order the murder, and then have another carry out the mission (how they did it or with what tool they did so being incidental to the point).

In that case, would you hold the "instrument" (the executor) as responsible as the plotter? If, for instance, the plotter was completely disabled (had no way of accomplishing the mission personally), the person committing the murder would be integral to the success or failure of the murder, wouldn’t they? If they decided not to do it, what could the plotter do?

So do you hold the plotter exclusively responsible for the murder (or the mission)? How do you morally separate him from the person who executed the mission of which you disapprove?

In reality we don’t ... except when we want to have something both ways because it is to our advantage for it to be so. Then we begin to rationalize and equivocate.
The issue is the misuse of the instrument by the "decider". It is perfectly acceptable, as I do, to say "murder with guns is wrong" and not have to say "guns are wrong". Just as it is, or should be, perfectly acceptable to say "the war in Iraq with our military is wrong" and not have to say "the military is wrong".
See above. We’re not talking about a dumb tool here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"We’re not talking about a dumb tool here. "
Yes, but neither are we talking about totally free people either.

A soldier has a duty to follow orders and uphold the constitution & act in an ethical manner. Sometimes these conflict. There are certain orders which are obviously beyond the code of ethics, such as mass killings of unarmed civilians. (Just to be blatantly clear, I’m in no way saying that is what is happening in Iraq. Just using an extreme example that would justify ignoring orders.)

There are also orders that are wrong but are not so blatantly and horrifically evil that soldiers can justifiably ignore orders. In order to have a functional military, soldier need to follow orders, even orders they disagree with. Ignoring orders requires extreme circumstances.
"In the case of the military it is willingly following the orders of the appropriate military authority and doing it’s level best to accomplish the mission set before it. They are an "instrument" of that foreign policy decision who’s job is to make it happen."
That is my exact point. A soldier needs to follow orders and accomplish the mission, barring extreme cases. The issue is that the mission that has been set before it is wrong, but no so blatantly wrong as to justify the soldiers ignoring of orders.

Therefore, the duty of the country is to change or cancel that mission, in order to not waste soldiers’ lives.

Of course, we are so far at this point, that its a different cacluation. We can debate that later. My point is that it is very much possible to support the troops and believe the mission they have been ordered to do is wrong.
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
A soldier has a duty to follow orders and uphold the constitution & act in an ethical manner.
He also has the duty and obligation to refuse unlawful and immoral orders, Tito.
There are also orders that are wrong but are not so blatantly and horrifically evil that soldiers can justifiably ignore orders. In order to have a functional military, soldier need to follow orders, even orders they disagree with. Ignoring orders requires extreme circumstances.
Irrelevant. Unlike a gun, the soldier still has a choice. So one can only reasonably conclude that those who follow orders do so willingly.
Therefore, the duty of the country is to change or cancel that mission, in order to not waste soldiers’ lives.
Or it is the duty of the soldiers to "change or cancel the mission" if they feel it to be either immoral or illegal. Again, the fact that they’ve not done so and, given that the vast majority seem to approve of the mission, it appears they find it to be both moral and legal and are, relatively speaking, willing participants.

So we’re back to my analogy. You have the plotters and those that execute. How do you logically support one and not the other when both are pursuing a mission of which you disapprove?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ,

My observation is that the phrase has no literal meaning for many that use it. When the Iraq anti-war movement started, I think Vietnam-era activists either felt guilty for how troops then were treated when they returned, or had learned that such treatment could hurt their cause. For those, the phrase means, "I want the war stopped immediately but I won’t spit on the troops when they come back this time." I don’t think whether or not it is logically consistent is even on the radar.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
McQ:

Following your logic, it appears to be impossible to oppose the war without also "not supporting," i.e., undermining the troops. That is illogical (see above). Worse, it is grievously unfair because it at least suggests that anti-war sentiment is per se unpatriotic. In my opinion, nothing is further from the truth. If I am missing something, please explain to me whether, in your analysis, a patriotic American can be opposed to the war. If so, how?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
The one thing he and I agree on is the troops and their mission are indistinguishable and, in my opinion, you can’t support the instrument of the mission and not the mission itself. It is logically inconsistent.
My brother was once convinced by his friends that he should become addicted to meth. I told him that I didn’t think that this was a good idea, that bad things could result, and he shouldn’t do it. Nevertheless, he ignored my advice and started doing meth with impunity, losing his fiance, job, and house in the process. He eventually quit cold turkey, discovering that he was never really addicted at all. He blamed his failure on me for not supporting his endeavor, consequently not supporting him, and if I had none of the bad things would have happened and he’d be a happily married meth addict with a job and a house.
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Following your logic, it appears to be impossible to oppose the war without also "not supporting," i.e., undermining the troops.
I don’t see how "not supporting" must then mean "undermining". You, as a Bosox fan don’t support the Yankees. That doesn’t mean you actively seek to undermine them. Instead you support your team (idea, issue, stance).
Worse, it is grievously unfair because it at least suggests that anti-war sentiment is per se unpatriotic.
Well if that’s your conclusion, again, I have no idea how that must follow non-support for the troops. But your appeal to unfairness does speak to the psychology of the desire to have it both ways, i.e. come out against the war but declare for the troops. While intellectually inconsistent, it is easier that way.
In my opinion, nothing is further from the truth. If I am missing something, please explain to me whether, in your analysis, a patriotic American can be opposed to the war. If so, how?
By simply saying they’re opposed to it for whatever reason, David. That’s your right as an American. I’m not questioning anyone’s patriotism. I’m simply pointing out that a cherished canard of the anti-war crowd is logically inconsistent. It is you who are turning it into an assumption of "undermining" and a question of patriotism, not me.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Guys, guys, don’t you see the mix-up here?

McQ is saying that you can’t support the troops morally if you believe they are doing an immoral thing, i.e., actively and even enthusiastically prosecuting the war.

The response I’m seeing indicates that some people are morally supporting the troops (insofar as they are doing their job with duty, honor and courage) while not supporting the war on pragmatic grounds (i.e., it’s a shame that we’re probably going to lose, so it’s a meatgrinder for our troops that won’t accomplish anything).

There are three main groups, as I see it, in this country, and McQ is (I think) attacking only one as hypocritical:

1. the people who support the vast vast majority of the troops and the war morally, (consistent)
2. the people who support the troops and generally the lofty goals of the mission, but oppose the war on practical grounds, (also consistent) and
3. the people who believe the mission itself is evil but claim to support the troops who are prosecuting the immoral war (seemingly inconsistent)

Finally, there’s a fairly small fourth group, the radicals, who oppose the war as immoral and also oppose the troops who are believed to virtually all be committing immoral acts in their active and even enthusiastic prosecution of the war. These people virtually all believe that war crimes are far more widespread than reported, that indeed most of the mission is a giant war crime (and an imperialist one at that). McQ thinks these people are at least consistent, but still abominable.

For what it’s worth, I think many people switched from believing the whole thing was immoral to that third group shortly after the war began, noting that they couldn’t do anything to stop the war at that point and also that it’d be pretty rotten to abandon the troops who were in the field. Now that we’re there, most Americans would rather that our mission succeeded.

Those who stayed in the fourth group the whole time are that segment of the Democrat Party who have been responsible for so much of the Party’s pain ever since, y’know, the McCarthy era (heh, Joe and Eugene both).
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
That’s good enough for tonight as far as I’m concerned. Over and out.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
You don’t support your local baseball team by cheering for them to fail.
Of course not. You CAN however support the "team" while believing the strategy of the "manager/coach" is misguided...
 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://www.psychopolitik.com
Of course not. You CAN however support the "team" while believing the strategy of the "manager/coach" is misguided...
Uh, no, you can’t. The manager/coach is as much a part of the team as the players.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Hm. McQ, you wouldn’t say that — given this analogy — a person can cheer wholeheartedly for their team and be frustrated as hell that the coach is pursuing a strategy that isn’t working?

As in, "I want the team to win, but the coach has the team playing zone defense when they really need to go man-to-man. Ugh, he’s going to do real damage to this franchise if he doesn’t change his strategy. These players deserve better."

I think that’s a legitimate position, even if not all who proclaim it are honest about why they hate the "coach."
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
I’m looking at this from a non-American perspective and I would have to say that Tom Scott is 100% correct (and rather brave) in his assertions. This is not an anti-American comment; it is a statement of the obvious. And Mr Scott’s comment would seem perfectly reasonable to thinking people around the world.

When any country puts guns in the hands of immature young men (and women) and then places them in a situation like Iraq, it is inevitable that whatever normal sense of ethical responsibility they may have is under threat.

It is undeniable that many, many Iraqi innocents have died because occupying soldiers blasted away through either careless indifference, poor training or worse. Hyperbole? No, any well-informed person reading quality journalism about the war from non-American sources will know this to be true. How much prominence, I wonder, did U.S. media like Fox give to the complaints of British military in Iraq that Americans were frequently trigger-happy, causing unnecessary deaths? Maybe Johnny and Judy aren’t war criminals but undeniably they have been personally responsible for much death and misery.

Young men, and latterly young women, are the weapons of war but, in the case of the United States and Britain, it’s a fate they choose. I’ve seen no studies but it seems likely that the military in Iraq includes a great many lower socio-economic, low-achieving personnel who joined the army because their poor education and lack of opportunity made that an attractive option, at least until America and Britain went to war.

It seems we do not learn very much from history. Vietnam showed us that many ordinary, decent Americans behaved very badly in Vietnam. Very badly. Just as returning veterans from that war were swept under the carpet, the maimed and mentally damaged young veterans from this war will still be suffering when Iraq and George Bush are footnotes in the history books.

Anyway, bravely-spoken Tom Scott. You are not alone. In fact, outside America you are quite possibly in the majority.
 
Written By: Bernadette
URL: http://
A PS: I have just noted that the comments are not in fact from Mr Scott, to whom I apologize. Otherwise, my comments stand.
 
Written By: Bernadette
URL: http://
Hm. McQ, you wouldn’t say that — given this analogy — a person can cheer wholeheartedly for their team and be frustrated as hell that the coach is pursuing a strategy that isn’t working?
Obviously one can be frustrated or anticipate failure (an example David S used). But the meta point here is we’re talking about a mission and who is involved in accomplishing the mission and how it is inconsistent to support the team, but not the mission.

If the mission is to win baseball games, you can certainly be frustrated by management’s decisions and wish they’d go about things differently, but that doesn’t change the mission or your support of it. And while it may seem rather silly in this example to hope your team loses baseball games, that would be analogous to anti-war position. How does one support the team, an entity dedicated to the mission of winning baseball games, when it doesn’t support the mission of winning them to begin with?

If you support the mission of winning but are frustrated with management, that’s an entirely different issue. This is pointed toward those who don’t support the mission (war) but claim to support the team (troops).
I think that’s a legitimate position, even if not all who proclaim it are honest about why they hate the "coach."
Again, I’ve been very clear about who I am pointing too on this one. From my second paragraph:
if you don’t support the mission, how can you support the troops?
Note I’ve not ask "if your frustrated with the leadership, but support the mission in general, how can you support the troops? I have no problem with those that are. I find that to be a logically consistent position: mission, ok, troops, ok. Next issue: Leadership - frustrated with it.

Fine.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
When any country puts guns in the hands of immature young men (and women) and then places them in a situation like Iraq, it is inevitable that whatever normal sense of ethical responsibility they may have is under threat.
Yes, yes, Bernadette ... that’s why armies have officers and NCOs to provide the necessary mature leadership some of the younger folks lack. And we put a lot of training and stock in those individuals. That is why atrocities, at least within the US military, are the exception, and not the rule, whether that’s believed outside the US or not.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Bernadette, I passed this along because I strongly disagreed with it and I thought McQ might also. I wanted to see what type of comments it would generate. I like most of the commenters here as well as the posters.
So since I disagree with the expressed ideas and you endorse them I guess that also means I disagree with your words. However, I do accept your gracious apology. It was error of lesser import.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Thank you Mr Scott. I appreciate your civility even though we may be strongly opposed in belief. I do want to reiterate and emphasize that my comments are not in any way anti-American. Hackles will rise when I observe that many German families were doubtless very supportive of their sons in the early years of WW2. Or Russian families when Soviet troops were engaged in smashing the East German and Hungarian uprisings. Please do not think I am making a direct comparison here! What I am saying is that when the military of any nation is engaged in an oppressive enterprise, one needs to think carefully before offering unconditional support. If we look back to Vietnam - which even Robert S. MacNamara has since conceded was a terrible mistake — I believe we need to question support for soldiers engaged (however unwillingly) in an unjust war. Not because of animus to those soldiers but because such support is read as endorsing the political decisions which placed them there.

I have lived several years in the United States (with many fond memories and considerable admiration) but frankly, like many Europeans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders — people of similar background to nonHispanic/African Americans — I find American notions of patriotism and global paternalism rather distasteful. I do not wish to be disrespectful but it seems the American view of the world is a view seen through a narrow lens and largely a monocultural vision which does not correspond with the realities of the non-American world.

I do admire greatly how the United States has formalised the democratic values passed down from other cultures. I do not admire an unquestioning mindset which regards "our boys" (as they say) as heroic figures and servants of freedom. Nor do I admire an unquestioning mindset which sees all Americans as brutal oppressors. Both concepts are equally nonsense.

The best that can be said, I think, is that large numbers of rather naieve and unsophisticated young men (and women) are being used for the ambitions of their political masters. And that label applies to both sides. As (I hope) a fairly neutral observer, I see much fault with both blinkered patriotism and religious fanaticism. They may differ in degree but they spring from the same source.

I simply offer these views (with which I imagine you strongly disagree) as an alternative opinion from beyond your shores. Thank you for reading this far.
Bernadette
A small PS to Mr McQ: I’ve no wish to score petty points but it is my understanding that noncommissioned officers have been charged in relation to the rape and murder of the young girl in Iraq and the massacre at Haditha. And, if memory serves, the mass murders and rapes at My Lai were overseen by officers ranking as high as major. However, I fully accept that such events are a total aberration but I doubt if the influence of officers restrains frightened or vengeful young soldiers in all situations when, in effect, they are given free rein by their political masters. To be frank, to non-Americans it doesn’t much matter whether these atrocities are aberrations; the fact that they happened is horrific enough.
 
Written By: bernadette
URL: http://
McQ:

I’m back for another round.

I suspect that your conclusion is egregiously mistaken but I want to make sure I am perfectly clear on your position first. This is the query you have repeatedly posed:
if you don’t support the mission, how can you support the troops?
Now that is a seemingly simple question. But since "not supporting" the troops is not, according to you, synonymous with undermining the troops, I’m not sure what you mean when you use the word "support" in this context. So I must ask for a couple of clarifications, should you care to give them.

First, please explain what you mean by the phrase "support[ing] the mission." In addition to explaining what "support" means in this context, please also define "the mission."

Second, please explain what you mean by the phrase "support[ing] the troops."

I do apologize for the linguistic cross-examination (especially so early in the moorning), and if you’re not interested in replying I understand. But I when I follow your reasoning as I presently understand it, I find this conclusion nearly inescapable (even if you don’t come right out and say it): Americans who oppose the Iraq War are unpatriotic. I hope my interpretation is wrong and perhaps your clarifications will disabuse me.

In any event, I do appreciate your willingness to debate this with me.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
I think this debate is hampered by sloppy rhetoric. Please go back and read OrneryWPs first comment, in which he clarifies a taxonomy of support/non-support that establishes quite clearly what is and is not logical in this context.

The short version is this: if you oppose the mission on moral grounds — that is, you believe that the mission is, itself, immoral — than you ought not claim to "support the troops". After all, you believe what they are doing is immoral. But if you oppose the mission on practical, strategic or cost/benefit grounds, then it’s perfectly consistent to say that you "oppose the mission, support the troops".

Nobody is arguing that if you oppose the war for strategic or cost/benefit reasons, then you cannot support the troops. At least, I hope nobody is making that argument, because it would be exceedingly foolish.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
David ... review my last comment to Ornery.

But the meta point here is we’re talking about a mission and who is involved in accomplishing the mission and how it is inconsistent to support the team, but not the mission.

To restate it:

If you do not support the mission, how can you support the troops?

Mission support is key here. If you support the mission, support of those executing the mission is expected. However, if you don’t support the mission, it is logically inconsistent to support the troops charged with accomplishing the mission.

That’s been the only point from the beginning.
But since "not supporting" the troops is not, according to you, synonymous with undermining the troops, I’m not sure what you mean when you use the word "support" in this context.
Maybe a better approach is you explaining why non-support must mean "undermining" since it is your contention. I simply don’t see that it must follow.
But I when I follow your reasoning as I presently understand it, I find this conclusion nearly inescapable (even if you don’t come right out and say it): Americans who oppose the Iraq War are unpatriotic.
Again, I’m at a loss to explain your reasoning, so you’ll have to do it. I simply don’t understand why you feel such opposition must be styled as "unpatriotic".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Jon & McQ:

The problem of "sloppy rehtoric" is the reason why I asked such precise questions. When McQ uses the phrase "not support[ing] the mission" what does that mean? Ornery’s otherwise cogent post is unfortunately unilluminating on this point; when he references "people who believe the mission itself is evil," what does that mean? Nor does Jon’s phraseology provide much clarification, when he alludes to those who "oppose the mission on moral grounds." What do the words "moral" and "evil" mean in the context of opposition to the Iraq War?

Again, I agree with Jon that precise language is important, especially in this potentially infammatory arena. So, for me at least, the critical questions remain those I posed earlier to McQ:
First, please explain what you mean by the phrase "support[ing] the mission." In addition to explaining what "support" means in this context, please also define "the mission."

Second, please explain what you mean by the phrase "support[ing] the troops."
Now, I don’t insist upon beating this poor horse any further and I’m perfectly prepared to let matters sit. The Iraq War, unfortunately, will not be ending anytime soon so I’m certain that clarification will come in time.

Again, thanks for an interesting discussion.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
This is a silly topic, whether one "supports" the troops or not. All emotion.

Here’s a chronology of events in the Iraq war for anyone interested in real issues.
 
Written By: Nicolai Brown
URL: http://www.ameswire.com
"What I am saying is that when the military of any nation is engaged in an oppressive enterprise, one needs to think carefully before offering unconditional support."
You take it for granted the enterprise is oppressive.
"If we look back to Vietnam - which even Robert S. MacNamara has since conceded was a terrible mistake — I believe we need to question support for soldiers engaged (however unwillingly) in an unjust war."
The inability of the left to draw the correct conclusion from the history of the Vietnam conflict is much remarked on. MacNamara was the wrong person to have adminstering the war then, and he is the wrong to person to take for granted in making good judgements about the war now—we should have stayed in Vietnam and supported the South Vietnamese indefinitely.
"I believe we need to question support for soldiers engaged (however unwillingly) in an unjust war."
And unjust war, certainly. The American operations in Iraq are a perfectly justified war by any historic measure—it is the temporary inconvenience to the international community which occaisions the outrage against it, and no matter of principle.

"Not because of animus to those soldiers but because such support is read as endorsing the political decisions which placed them there."
Democratically arrived at political decisions which were perfectly within the jurisdiction of the authorities making the decision. Why the adjective "political", unless you oppose the political structure of constitutionally limited republican democracy which made the decisions?
"I find American notions of patriotism and global paternalism rather distasteful."
As to patriotism, I don’t care how distasteful others in the world may find it to be. Perhaps if their own nations were more organized along principles reflective of the true nature of humanity and the proper relationship between state and man, they would find equal reason to be as proud of their country.

As to the paternalism...if the remainder of the world so governed itself that it caused us only small trouble, you would have no cause to think American "paternalism" existed.
"I do not wish to be disrespectful but it seems the American view of the world is a view seen through a narrow lens and largely a monocultural vision which does not correspond with the realities of the non-American world."
More specifics, please.

"I do admire greatly how the United States has formalised the democratic values passed down from other cultures."
Not merely passed down, but in 1787 developed in their highest state—and sadly, less so since here and never so much abroad.
"I do not admire an unquestioning mindset which regards "our boys" (as they say) as heroic figures and servants of freedom."
Yeah. That’s only what they are 99.99% of the time. The 0.01% makes all the difference.

"Nor do I admire an unquestioning mindset which sees all Americans as brutal oppressors."
But what fraction is a reasonable supposition, Bernadette? From your plaints, I wonder if it isn’t as high a 1 in 10.

"The best that can be said, I think, is that large numbers of rather naieve and unsophisticated young men (and women) are being used for the ambitions of their political masters."
Yep. All 300,000,000 of them.

"And that label applies to both sides."
To which sides do your refer?
"As (I hope) a fairly neutral observer,"
I’m sorry Bernadette, the odds of you actually being a remotely neutral observer appear to be infintesimal.

"I see much fault with both blinkered patriotism and religious fanaticism. They may differ in degree but they spring from the same source."
What source is that?

"I’ve no wish to score petty points but it is my understanding that noncommissioned officers have been charged in relation to the rape and murder of the young girl in Iraq and the massacre at Haditha."
And this becomes common knowledge because they are charged and held responsible for their crimes...

What conclusions should be drawn from that?
"And, if memory serves, the mass murders and rapes at My Lai were overseen by officers ranking as high as major."
And they were stopped by a 24 year old Warrant Officer (very low level officer). What conclusions do you draw from that?
"However, I fully accept that such events are a total aberration but I doubt if the influence of officers restrains frightened or vengeful young soldiers in all situations"
It never has and never will. Human nature is not perfectable. What of it?
"when, in effect, they are given free rein by their political masters."
What "free rein" do you imagine that to be? I seem to remember that there are about 30 military personnel serving sentences ranging to, I think, 15 years because they did not observe the strict boundaries of what you call free rein. In one case, a gaurd merely allowed a dog to come too close to a prisoner.

I ask again, what free rein?

You mistake poltical hyperbole for reality.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"What I am saying is that when the military of any nation is engaged in an oppressive enterprise, one needs to think carefully before offering unconditional support."
You take it for granted the enterprise is oppressive.
I am trying to draw a distinction between being coercive and being oppressive.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
This is a silly topic, whether one "supports" the troops or not. All emotion.

Here’s a chronology of events in the Iraq war for anyone interested in real issues.
Thanks so much for straightening us out and for directing us to your sophomoric pseudo-historical timeline. Your contribution is noted. Now, please return to the kids’ table.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
This is a silly topic, whether one "supports" the troops or not. All emotion
(snark) Yes, there weren’t any emotional issues in the time-line as presented.
How Cindy Sheehan is a significant contributor of any stripe to a chronology, as but one example, is beyond me.


On a recap - the original writer of the letter that McQ was commenting on, maintained that he would make his contribution to the troops when they returned, because he didn’t support the mission, partly from the belief that Johnny and Judy, the formerly good kids, are now blind tools for atrocity.
Now, how he intended to support these atrocity committing folks other than to see them sent to prison for ’treatement’ (how do you rehab someone who slaughters innocents?) is an interesting question.

If you believe the mission isn’t moral, you really can’t claim support for the men and women conducting the mission at any level unless you’re willing to concede you support immorality (as you see it) in general. Which logically doesn’t make much sense.

It needs digging deeper for your reasons if you don’t agree with the war, as to why you don’t. As simple examples:
1) you don’t like the administration,
2) You think it needs UN sanction
3) you think the administration is conducting it badly
etc.

Some of those are moral issues, some are disagreements about technique and execution of the mission.
It makes sense you can support the troops and yet disagree about technique and execution of the mission. The inference is, in your opinion the mission is being badly conducted, but the mission is still valid (moral).

It makes no sense to say you support the troops if you think the mission is fundamentally immoral.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I find American notions of patriotism and global paternalism rather distasteful. I do not wish to be disrespectful but it seems the American view of the world is a view seen through a narrow lens and largely a monocultural vision which does not correspond with the realities of the non-American world.
Bernadette,

Your take on the American view of the world is correct. I also do not wish to be disrespectful but the honest reason for it is, I believe, that Americans in general, rightly or wrongly, perceive government systems other than America’s and close allies’ to be inferior. That then extends to some degree to other cultures, but not to individual people other than a bewilderment at why those people do not improve their systems. This pride of system is the cause of the patriotism you detect and why America rejects multiculturism. The reality of the American worldview is that the realities of the non-American world are in need of self-improvement.

As I said, I do not intend disrespect or to assign any rightness to America’s view, only to present an honest opinion of why it is the way it is.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
It’s interesting that contributors (immigrants) from all over the world, many within the last 100 years, have developed such a mono-cultural view isn’t it?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Interesting? Not really Looker. From schooldays onward, we are subtly pressured to conform. In day-to-day life in small communities it is quite dangerous to hold views beyond the mainstream.
 
Written By: SarahK
URL: http://
Sarah, your comments resonate with me. My children (born outside the USA) were brought up with inquiring minds and found it quite frightening to encounter huge hostility when they offered views from a different perspective. The most polite comments were along the lines of ’why don’t you go back where you came from’?
 
Written By: Bernadette
URL: http://
Scout, I think your comments are most valid. Sadly, there is little comparison made about the inequities of American democracy (overall a fine institution) and more refined democracies of countries with more sophisticated voting systems. I refer to MMP, STV, etc. which are clearly superior in terms of democratic representation. We rightly reject the notion of a one-party state yet are satisfied with a two-party state where the differences between the two parties are not great. I may also point to the fact that in every other democratic system I am aware of, the leader is not only accountable for his/her conduct of state affairs but can be democratically dismissed and not protected by a fixed term in office. I am reminded of a famously-democratic leader who said "I am the leader of the nation - subject to ten minute’s notice by a vote in caucus" He was, incidentally, leader of possibly the most stable western democracy.
 
Written By: Bernadette
URL: http://
And you think some level of conformity then, is necessarily a bad thing. Odd, again, I don’t recall lasting resentment on my part for having to "conform", but it has been some time since I was in that position. From another angle though, I’m sure that doesn’t take place in other more democratic and stable countries (heavy on the sarcasm please).

I rather like the republic as it is, thank you, and whereas you think it odd we can’t kick "him" out, I find it better that we’re stuck with him or her until their term expires. 4 years. Not so much time, and consider 8 years maximum.
This beats sudden votes of no confidence when the democractic populace suddenly gets in a snit over something. What you’re suggesting is that, for example, after Dec 7, 1941 we should have been able to kick FDR out of the White House because he failed to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
I realize it might tend to make us appear rather schizoid on the international level when we swap the party in control and our foreign policy heads 180 degress from where it was going. That can be annoying for countries that are dealing with us I’m sure. But at least you don’t have to worry that it’s going to happen at the drop of a hat, you can predict it.

Also, there’s nothing to say we MUST have a two party system, that’s simply a facet of it all, it’s not mandated by actual legislation, feel free to create a third party, and if you can convince people of it’s rightness it will grow (United We Stand, election 1992, Ross Perot - third party candidate)
And having been burdened with Europe’s opinion of who WE should elect for President back in 2000 leaves me less than impressed with Europe’s opinion.

Excuse my ignorance, MMP and STV?

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Bernadette what you call more "refined" democracies are in fact at best ridden with unaccountable beauracracies and the conflation of the executive with the legislative power in a parliamentary system leaves the direction of governemnt too directly influenced by hinge parties of low overall support.
"I refer to MMP, STV, etc. which are clearly superior in terms of democratic representation."
Not in practice however. The first past the post voting system may garrantee the 50% - 1 of the electorate is dissatisfied with a balloting result, but it garrantees the direction the government moves in is not more extreme than the 25th centile of the population on any given political axis in even the most extreme cases of political alienation, and practically holds the two major parties hostage to the center of the electorate. There are no multiparty voting systems which can exclude such extremist groups and the Nazis, Greens, or Communists from without simply banning their participation explicitly, bu statute, while a first past the post system makes such derogations of political rights unneccessary, the exclusion of such extremeist is done by the two parties out of uncoerced self interest.
"We rightly reject the notion of a one-party state yet are satisfied with a two-party state where the differences between the two parties are not great."
Exactly. It is an advantage, not a disadvantage that the two parties prospects are tied to the swing voters.
"I may also point to the fact that in every other democratic system I am aware of, the leader is not only accountable for his/her conduct of state affairs but can be democratically dismissed and not protected by a fixed term in office."
The President of the United States can be removed from office by the legislative branch, and dividing the powers of govermnent among branches with contending grants of authority provides built-in cracks in an otherwise monolithic state apparatus. Again, what you call a disadvantage is in fact an advantage.
"He was, incidentally, leader of possibly the most stable western democracy."
Yes, and that one gave us Burkean conservatism. Yeeah!

Seriously though, the fact it is "stable" has more to do with degree to which it has preserved its hierarchal class structure more than anything else. The irrelevant fact it’s been "stable" under those circumstances is supposed to be a compelling plus?

When American emigrants are streaming into Europe, you might have some grounds for assuming America is not, in fact, politically a better expression of human nature.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"bu statute" /= "by statute" TDP
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Thank you Mr Perkins. I’m afraid I don’t know how to produce those natty little boxes (perhaps you could explain?) so I have to bore you with plain text here.
——

I was not talking about removal by impeachment. That requires, quite properly, gross misconduct in office. I was talking about the citizens’ ability to change the nation’s political direction by democratic action without having to wait four years. In practice almost all governments with which I am familiar run their full course but the ability to change is there, if needed.
——
In the systems with which I am familiar the bureaucracies are very much accountable both indirectly through their ministers and directly through regular summons to legislative committees. Similarly, a different system of checks and balances controls executive power.
——

It is incorrect to suggest that multiparty systems offer free rein to extremist groups. All multiparty sustems with which I am familiar do have a threshold requirement that means to get elected political parties must achieve at least 5% of the vote. It’s important to note that this does not guarantee them a role in government but they are represented in parliament.
——-

I disagree that first-past-the-post voting guarantees 50% of the people will always be dissatisfied with the result. It can easily be considerably more than 50%!

——-

Incidentally, you appear to assume that I was referring to the United Kingdom in my comments. I wasn’t! Their system of course has first-past-the-post voting and an unelected upper chamber.

———

On the question of emigration, I believe the overwhelming majority of immigrants are motivated by economic concerns, not politics. Why else would so many people migrate from free and fair democracies to the United States and other strong economies?
———

A note to "Looker" MMP and STV are among a number of alternative democratic voting systems which aim to guarantee that all voters have a voice in parliament, as opposed to winner-takes-all. Your note about Mr Roosevelt is quite apt. In 1940 the British did exactly that and Winston Churchill emerged to take control of the British war effort. Had Mr Roosevelt been a vacillating or pusillanimous war leader, it might well have been an excellent idea to replace him!
————

I’ll just close by saying that I am not criticising the system prevailing in the United States nor lecturing or hectoring about what should take place there. I’m just reacting to the near-universal assumption within the United States that the American brand of democracy is superior to all others.

Bernadette
 
Written By: Bernadette
URL: http://
near-universal assumption within the United States that the American brand of democracy is superior to all others.
It’s what works for us I guess.

I suspect that most of us don’t understand how most of the other governments of the world operate. I realize the rest of the world ends up for obvious reasons, learning a lot about ours (especially over the last 8 years or so).

I don’t presume that it must work for someone else, and in fact, am of the opinion that it will not work for other many, possibly most, other countries.
I don’t want the world turned into an image of the US, and don’t expect it to have a government like ours. What a tediously dull place it would be then.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Written beside a picture of the Statue of Liberty sent via email 9-11….
The most “DANGEROUS” place in the world is between a mother and her child.
Do you not remember what they did to us? Do you think that the men and women are there fighting for no reason? You love making your free speeches and ragging on the military just because you were in Nam. Guess what bucko? So were several other thousand people. Fighting for what we’ve got and not a lot of other countries seem to respect or give their people! FREEDOM!!! FREE SPEACH, even if we have to listen to your CRAP!!

Signed a VERY PROUD United States Air Force WIFE!!
 
Written By: E
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider