Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Won't Someone Think of the Troops!?

I've been busy with exams lately, so I've been sitting on several things I hope to blog at some point, but I just couldn't let this one pass by. Last night Newshour had a feature on the Iraq war funding bill (you can watch it here). The story featured a moderated discussion between activists Jon Solz and Melanie Morgan. It pretty much encapsulates the entire war funding discussion in its complete absurdity (really, it's surreal, you have to watch it). It called to mind this astute post from a month ago by the Cunning Realist noting that:
Normally, U.S. troops support and serve as instruments of U.S. policy, not the other way around. Of course these aren't normal times. Now, national policy in Iraq and elsewhere is fixed around "supporting the troops" -- who are no longer the means to an end, but an end in themselves in our budding "troopocracy."
The degree to which "the troops" have become a political football is fairly sickening. There is a name for a government where the army runs the show and generals call the shots: dictatorship. Here in the US we have a republic where elected civilians give the army its marching orders. Political leadership does not end when war begins. There exists no act more fully and completely political than war. And there is no greater need for democratic political leadership than in a time of war. Did Abraham Lincoln listen to his generals and support the troops? No, he fired the generals one after another, because he was the head of state and they weren't doing the job he needed them to do to effect his political objectives. Why bother with elected officials if they are too busy worshiping the troops to make sound policy decisions? And to the extent that our elected government owes a responsibility to our military, I should think that the responsibility starts and ends with this: to make smartest and most rational possible decisions regarding the use of military force in the service of our national good. And you can't do that when the entire political debate revolves around who most loves the troops...

1 comment:

Ryan said...

A very astute observation, Joe. I think supporting the troops originally did mean making responsible decisions about where we send them. Now, sadly, they are just another tool for political gain. It seems that so many politicians are more concerned about their position of power than they are about the welfare of their country.