Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What It Really Means to Support the Troops

What It Really Means to Support the Troops

by Jerome Grossman

I don’t know a single American citizen or a single Member of Congress who does not support and sympathize with the US soldiers in Iraq. They have an impossible task, one for which they have not been adequately trained or prepared.

Each day US soldiers go door-to-door, breaking into homes, searching bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets looking for weapons and young men. Their trigger fingers are alert for the possibility of resistance. The next closet could hold a bomber or an insurgent. The women, children, and old folks are scared as the foreign soldiers rummage through the homes, conducting police work without knowledge of the local language or customs. The terrified inhabitants are unlikely to furnish intelligence about insurgents: if they cooperate with the invaders they will be punished, tomorrow or whenever the occupiers leave.

What a way to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis!

Some National Guardsmen and women are on their third and fourth tours of duty, away from their families and businesses and jobs. They must be thinking of the inequality of sacrifice. They must fear that it is not recognized at home.

To some who support the war, supporting the troops has become a sacred mission in itself, a reason for continuing the war. “Support the troops” is an emotional rallying point intended to stifle debate.

No president or Member of Congress -- Republican or Democrat -- should be making policy in this manner. Asking soldiers to risk their lives requires the clearest threat to all 300 million Americans. The mission must be constantly reevaluated to determine if it is in the national interest, particularly when popular opinion polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake and initiated on a pattern of government lies and misrepresentations.

In Time Magazine on February 19, Joe Klein, a war supporter, analyzed what it really means to support the troops. “Politicians have a sacred mission, too. Their duty is threefold: to be judicious about sending the troops off to war, to give the military everything it needs to complete the mission and, if it appears that mission is futile or compromised, to change or end it.”


The best way to support our troops is to elect a president, a vice president, and a Congress who will not order them to fight an unnecessary and unwinnable war.

Jerome Grossman is the author of “Relentless Liberal” and Chairman emeritus of Council for a Livable World

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