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Support the mission or you’re not supporting the troops. Right wing propaganda? Well, not quite

12/28/2007

One of the most common refrains from the so called political Right and moderates of both sides is to say that the troops in a given war must be supported, and to do that, one must wish them success over his opposition to the very mission they are attempting to succeed at. Those are clear dichotomic positions. Which one is the appropriate one to take is a an issue of morality; defined by best national interest, personal ethics, et cetera, but though one might not be obligated to choose one over the other, opposition to the troop’s mission vs. the troops themselves, in most cases, one cannot do both at the same time, but with limited context.

The first obstacle I point out is soldiers, while ultimately individuals, are parts of units, analogously like branches of trees, pats of a whole. While commanders of soldiers want independent thinking when circumstances warrant it, they largely want singular thinking; cohesion of movement and goal. Soldiers, being taught this mode, inherently are supportive of the actions commanded upon them, and natural human competitiveness and drive to succeed adds to the general desire to complete missions.
This inherency of thought (the second obstacle), by teaching and assumed by their free choosing to be part of something with known expectations (dangers of combat, long deployments from loved ones, etc.), also means soldiers contrast with those opposing their mission, the third obstacle:

Most definitions of support are based not in the well being of the individual, but in standing behind their choices. Support by avoidance of risks to persons is better defines protection. That definition is one listed under support, but it’s not the most common type. The most common type is that which places supporters as being in pronounced agreement with those they wish to support, either by accepting the actions of those they try to support, or wishing for the success of the goals of those they try to support. By common definiton, and thus objectively, standing in opposition to the actions they take and the goals they strive to achieve, contrasts with the definition of support.

Putting this all together, what can be seen is the following:
Soldiers are individuals, but are also part of a greater whole and cannot therefore be separated from it and maintain their definition as soldiers, lest they be solely individuals, a status that, if carried to extremes, is inherently dangerous, and presumably not a mindset they would want to have.

Having the mindset of unity, they likely want to succeed at missions they undertake.

Since the common definition of support places an obligation, for many an onus, of respecting the soldiers’ goals, announcing disagreement with said goals which are also part of the very thing which defines soldiers, the military to which they are a part, supporting only their well being over their success is protection of the individual separate to his status, whether that’s as a soldier in an army, or as an actor in a play, and so on.
In summation, one largely cannot both support the soldiers’ health and denounce their mission, as by inherent prefrences of soldiers and dominant definition of support, doing both is virtually impossible. Thus it’s not simple attempt at suppression of dissent, it’s a sound proclamation.

But the interesting thing is that it’s not necessary to do both. The default negative consequence of lost missions doesn’t have to be soldier casualties, referring to those that might result from the immediate quitting of said missions, not the hypothetical negative consequences thereafter. There exists no burden beyond other public opinion for the public to say soldiers must win. It is the right, so long as actions constituting treason and sedition are not followed, of people to put their principles above the success of policies in contrast with those principles, and they aren’t automatically wrong to do it.

I do not support the war in Iraq, which means under intellectual honesty, as I try to lay out above, I cannot claim to support the soldiers fighting in it. I support their survival as individuals, thus I want them to live, but for me to say I support them as soldiers entails me supporting their mission, which as I have tried to show, is just about impossible.

This is likely to be controversial. If you read it and have not become angry, to much so to be able to consider it, thank you for your time.

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