Friday, March 11, 2005

Supporting the troops = Supporting the mission?

Brain Shavings makes an interesting argument. He quotes a lefty who feels the need to steal yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons off of cars when he sees them out of guilt for our country sending them to die in a war he does not support. Besides the idiotic sentiment that the guy displays, it puts in stark contrast the differing propositions of supporting the troops vs. supporting the war.

I feel that to truly support our troops, one must support the mission. That is not to say you have to agree to the premise behind the war, or how it is prosecuted. But you ought to support the idea that the best way to support the troops is to advocate for swift victory, so our troops can come home, and our country's national interests are not imperiled. And not much is more damaging to our interests than defeat. Defeat brings on many more problems than even a poorly-thought out war might. One of the factors that led to 9/11 was our habit of pulling out when things got tough; Beirut in 1983, Somalia in 1993, etc. (as bin Laden himself stated). Additionally, morale is one of the single most decisive factors in war, and when the troops hear that the home front doesn't support what they are dying for (like when Sen. Kerry said the war was a "mistake"), then protestations that they "still support the troops" ring hollow.

When President Clinton started the war against Serbia over Kosovo, I was against it. As an intelligence officer supporting Gen. Wesley Clark prior to the war, I was apprehensive as to the justification for going to war on behalf of what was listed at the time as a terrorist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army, as well as the fact that Serbia posed no threat to the U.S. (nor were they threatening their neighbors). But once the war started, I supported doing whatever was needed to win. I was much more worried about Clinton's vow not to send in ground troops, right from the start of the war, than by the war itself. It seemed incredulous that we would tell the enemy that we would refrain from using everything we had to win. This led Milosevic to wait out our air strikes, which Clinton and NATO thought would win the war in a few days. After several weeks, Milosevic finally backed down, and we were lucky to have "won" despite our stated position that we would not do everything we could to win.

There is no substitute for victory, and wishing for anything less once the bullets start flying cannot be construed as supportive of our troops. There is plenty of time after the war to debate the merits.

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