Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stop using soldiers for political cover

In today's Tracy Press, alert reader Mike Horn blames Democrats for leaving troops in the lurch.

Of course, all of Mr. Horn's arguments could be turned on the president and his refusal to compromise regarding measurable success and accountability. So I guess it's all a matter of how you look at it.

But what's really distressing about Mr. Horn's commentary is that, in its second half, he uses the troops as a political football. He's using soldiers — flesh and blood men and women he ostensibly supports — to advance a policy point and agenda. Namely, that the Iraq war is worth fighting. So are most of the backers of this war.

When politicians and citizens talk about pulling funding for the war in Iraq or pulling out because they think it's the right thing to do policy-wise, war proponents hide behind the men and women in uniform.

The supportive statements sound well and good, but beneath the patriotic invective to support our sacrificing countrymen and -women is the terrible truth that the soldiers are being used by the very people who say they support the soldiers the most.

Example: When a war opponent says staying in Iraq is bad for the country (policy statement), war opponents could reply: "We must stay in Iraq to support the stability of the country, region, and thus advance our interests in a historically volatile region. We need money to fund this important goal." (another policy statement)
Unfortunately, what often comes out is: "War opponents want to leave our troops without the funding they need. They're endangering servicemen and -women in Iraq. We must have the money to give them the tools for the job."

I say, if you believe the war is a good thing for America, Iraq, the Middle East, the World, say so. Please, let's talk about that. There's plenty of room for policy debate on policy merits. But don't use America's finest as cover for a policy agenda. I believe that's a form of disrespect to those in uniform — not to mention a cheap and craven way to look at politics. The troops deserve better than to be used to score points with voters.

I'd say every sane American wants to keep our troops safe, even if there are different ways of accomplishing that. Let's give them their body armor, rations and paychecks, but let's not confuse wanting to take care of their basic needs with making a policy decision about a war.

So let's have a policy debate about Iraq without using soldiers for political cover. We might actually find a solution to this four-year-old conflict.

1 comment:

Erdos56 said...

[ignore if duplicate...some sort of network burp]

Seditious Quisling, eh? Next thing you will be labeled French.

An interesting question to me is whether there is any way to get a conceptual disconnect between the unmitigated disaster of Iraq and the GWOT. In terms of policy, a combination of economic incentives, intelligence activities, military as needed, and sanctions seems prudent stance WRT terrorism. But instead, we have this continued policy debacle in Iraq with no clear exit strategies.

Blown our moral, political and human capital after 9/11, we have, sayeth Yoda. And made the world worse, too.