Opinion of The Troops

In the midst of our current national debate about the Iraq war, we periodically hear from members of the military and/or their families who support the current campaign. The message goes something like this: "We're doing great things over there. You don't see it in the media. We can win, just give us more time!"

The can-do spirit of the American soldier is wonderful. It enables our military to accomplish amazing things. On the other, the mere fact that the troops want to do a certain thing does not mean they should do that thing. Whether it is a thing worth doing is for our national leaders to decide.

In the United States the leaders are, ultimately, the voters. If opinion polls are to be believed, most voters want our occupation of Iraq to end sooner rather than later. Slowly but surely this desire is being reflected by our elected representatives in Congress, which is, in turn, gradually convincing the president to move in the same direction. If you don't like this, then what you are really saying is that you don't like democracy, which is what our military exists to defend.

This is from Jeff Huber, retired U.S. Navy commander:

Ultimately, it is moot to discuss what the troops think or how they feel about a particular war they happen to be fighting because it doesn't matter what they think or feel about it. America doesn't exist to support its military. The military exists to support America. We should not engage in warfare for the sake of keeping the troops happy any more than we should avoid wars that the troops don't want to fight. The opinions of the troops--from buck private to four-star general--carry no more validity than the opinion of any civilian citizen. MORE

Advocating an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq does not mean one doesn't support the troops. As dedicated and heroic as they are, it is not the job of soldiers to decide when, where, and under what conditions the nation goes to war. Of course, soldiers are also voters so they have a say in the matter, as do their families. At this point, it appears they are being outvoted. Or maybe, weary of repeated deployments with no end in sight, the soldiers are ready to retreat. It doesn't really matter either way. That decision is "above their pay grade," as we used to say.

To those troops who want to continue the fight: you have fought valiantly in a war which we should never have entered. You've done your best and we can ask no more. Your nation needs you alive for other, more important missions. Enough of you have died. It is time to come home.

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