The decision to put oneself in a perilous position for defense of country is an honorable one; its virtues are almost self-evident. Such a choice requires, among other things, selflessness, courage, and an unflinching sense of responsibility. Those non-serving citizens among us (myself included) make a calculatedly feckless position: we know that certain things need to be done, but we don’t want to do them.
Such men and women that voluntarily serve, thus, deserve our admiration. But our notions of how to “support” them are entirely wrong, having been intentionally co-opted by an immoral ruling elite.
This weekend we will perform well-practiced rituals: we’ll wave American flags, thank the troops for their service, and honor them in ceremonies. Is this truly the support they deserve? Not if your notion of support has anything to do with troops’ actual well-being or livelihood.
Since World War II every war America has involved itself in has fundamentally been a war of choice. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq part I and II, Afghanistan, and all the smaller actions in-between were in no way vital to the survival of the republic. Foreign policy elites worked with Congressional policymakers to sell the public various rationales for why sacrificing the lives of our brothers and sisters was necessary.
It is impossible to determine whether such policymakers thought they were acting in the country’s best interest. What is undeniable is that, removed from danger themselves, they failed to properly balance the extremely high cost of action against the largely-theoretical, often completely bogus benefits. Said another way: in all wars we know that people will undergo indescribable physical and emotional pain, and that all too many will perish. Conversely, we certainly do not know if preventing a unified Communist Korea or Vietnam, denying a Baathist dictator access to oil, or occupying a territory tangentially linked to Osama bin Laden will better the country’s long-term global position.
So how do we really support the troops? We demand that our government only sends them into harm’s way for issues undeniably and directly related to the survival of our country. There are cases when military might must be used; these cases are few and far between, but should nonetheless be met with massive force. But however tragic, if actions in another country won’t cripple our ability to run affairs here at home, then they are not worth fighting for.
I support the troops by wanting to keep them home, and alive.