Just about everyone seems to state without hesitation that they “support the troops.”
But in the heat of all the flag waving, people never seem to question what that means. What does it mean? Is it really correct that one should always “support the troops,” and it is wrong or immoral to not support them?
Take an extreme hypothetical. Assume the Commander in Chief decided to teach Iran a lesson by ordering US forces to invade the country and rape all women and children they encountered, the Generals followed orders, their subordinates followed orders, their subordinates followed orders, and a few thousand soldiers invaded the country, raping its citizens.
Would everyone jump to state that they support our troops in Iran? Of course not. In fact, even in less extreme circumstances, one often hears people say I support the troops but not their mission. But how reasonable is that? After all, the troops are carrying out the mission. Without them it wouldn’t be accomplished (or failed, in the case of Iraq).
To say I support the troops but not their mission, isn’t that comparable to saying I support street-level drug pushers, but I don’t support the kingpins? I support mules who transport drugs, but I don’t support those who hire them. I support prostitutes, but I don’t support pimps. I support low-level senders of spam emails, but I don’t support the spam kings that set up the lucrative business. I support the guys who stuff annoying crap in my mail box, but I don’t support the companies whose crap they are selling. I support the guys who drive loudspeaker trucks around Taiwan, but I don’t support the politicians they work for.
What’s the difference? The mission only exists because there are troops carrying it out. Is it really possible to oppose the mission and support the troops carrying it out? Is it really wrong to oppose the troops if one opposes the mission? Is it really dishonorable to say I respect the troops as human beings, but I do not support them in their mission.
If supporting the troops means hoping they don’t get blown up and make it back home alive as quickly as possible without contributing further to a screwed up, counter-productive mission, then perhaps that might make sense. But that’s not what it means, is it? Doesn’t supporting the troops connote a certain level of support for their mission?
I’m not saying I do or don’t support the troops. I’d just like for someone to explain to me what it means before I commit one way or the other. Thanks.