NBC News ran this rather frank interview with American troops in Iraq on how they deal with the criticism of the war:
They’re right — the “dissent” over the war with Iraq cannot be made without consideration that it actively makes the jobs of our troops harder. The argument that “dissent” is automatically “patriotic” is simply false. If one were to say “Al-Qaeda should win and America should be destroyed” that would certainly be a dissenting view, but only a fool would call it patriotism.
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?
Anyone who wants to argue that such a view is even remotely patriotic under any rational definition of the word is debasing the meaning of the word into uselessness.
Those who do not support this war cannot support the mission of our troops, are undermining their morale, and are emboldening the enemy. Those are inescapable conclusions that cannot be brushed aside. That doesn’t mean that they can’t argue that the greater good is still being served, but the notion that an antiwar position is at all compatible with full support of the troops is intellectually dishonest.
It’s like saying that one supports the marriage of two friends while actively telling one of the partners to divorce the other. If we want to argue that the mission in Iraq is impossible that failure is inevitable, we’re saying that our troops cannot do the job they were assigned to do. Our troops think Iraq is a winnable conflict — and they’re the ones dodging IEDs and enemy gunfire. If they can support the war under those incredibly trying circumstances either they are hopelessly gullible or far braver than the American body politic. (The antiwar crowd subtly and not-so-subtly intimates the former — witness John Kerry’s statement about being “stuck in Iraq.”)
I maintain it’s the latter. Our troops know the stakes, they have the most involvement in this conflict, and they see things a hell of a lot clearer from the ground in Iraq than we do through the lens of a media that is not neutral on this issue. When political “courage” constitutes saying what’s popular it is clear that one US soldier has more bravery than nearly the entire Congress put together.
The soldier interviewed by NBC is right — if we’re going to support the troops, we can’t divorce ourselves from supporting the mission. We can’t say we support our brave men and women fighting this war while cutting off their reinforcements and constantly impugning their ability and spitting on their mission.