Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Friday, April 13, 2007


Can you support the troops but not the mission?

I often hear anti-war types say that they "support the troops but not the mission." Quite frankly, I don't understand this position. It's as though they're trying to have it both ways and, in the process, are not being open and honest about what they believe.

If you don't support the mission, then how are you supporting the troops in that mission? I have no problem with people saying they don't support military missions. But then don't turn around and say you support the people willingly and bravely fighting in that mission.

I don't think that people opposed to military engagements are necessarily against our troops, although I believe many of them are probably anti-military. But if you're going to champion a position against the mission, don't try to have it both ways. Don't try to hedge your bets.

You don't like the mission. You don't like the fact that our troops are engaged in that mission. You want to see those troops come home from that mission. As long as they are there, you disagree with what they are doing. How that is an example of supporting the troops, I don't know.

Furthermore, the troops are overwhelmingly in support of the mission. They openly admit hating Jack Layton and loving Stephen Harper. So, why would they believe that you support them if you don't support what they're doing?

I guess what I'm saying is that don't try to have it both ways. Being against the mission doesn't mean you hate our soldiers. It just means you don't support what they're doing. I would think the anti-war types would be proud to say such. Instead, they hide behind some apparent support for troops with the view that they're somehow being consistent in their views. I don't think they are.

If you feel that the troops are not intelligent, sane, responsible adults, which they clearly aren't or why would they be in the army in the first place, then you show support for them by taking them out of harm's way, rather than by just letting them get on with doing what they want to be doing. Think of how a parent deals with a young child who wants to do something dangerous, and you will understand the anti-war crowd.


The troops are not the mission; that's what you need to understand. The troops are brave men and women who have volunteered their lives to their country. It is their service that we respect -- their willingness to put their lives at risk for whatever mission our elected representatives choose for them, be it fighting terrorist groups in Afghanistan, or rescuing individuals caught in various natural disasters here at home.

The mission is entirely separate. Most people support calling out the army to lend assistance in dealing with natural disasters at home. Some people think that we shouldn't be committing our forces outside our borders. Some other people think that the goals set forward in certain missions, like the mission in Afghanistan, are improperly planned, insufficiently supported, or otherwise can't be met.

What doesn't change is the fundamental respect the overwhelming majority of Canadians, regardless of their opinions on Afghanistan, have for the sacrifices that our troops have chosen to take on.

Now do you understand how it is possible to support the troops and not the mission? And I should point out, I support the mission.


This comment has been removed by the author.


Let's try this again without the typos...

It has happened too often that people who attack those who question our presence in Afghanistan, or the United States' presence in Iraq, say "you are against the troops", "you hate the troops" or "you don't support the troops" interchangeably.

You say, "being against the mission doesn't mean you hate our soldiers", and that's fine and good, but over the past six years, many haven't shown your nuance. "Support the mission - or you don't support the troops" has been used as a club too often to beat those who ask legitimate questions over our intentions in the Middle East. It's intellectual laziness on the part of these individuals -- an attempt to avoid the questions by casting aspersions on those who oppose them.

This isn't to say that many in the anti-war crowd haven't given as much as they've got, but two wrongs don't make a right, and all that.


James, you're responding to my question by citing those who engage in the same kind of thinking on the opposite side. In other words, you're not responding to my question.

If it's wrong to question the patriotism of those who don't support the mission, is it still right to say you support the troops there even though you don't support what they're doing?

Again, I don't get. If you don't support the mission, say so. But don't hide behind some vague and general support for the troops.

Yes, everybody says they love the troops, even though I don't believe some of the people that say that. But if you don't support the mission, you really don't support the troops over there, right?


James, I responded to your second post while forgetting about your first. Let me address that one.

In essence, you're saying that people can support the troops in general without supporting the mission.

What I'm saying is that you're not supporting the troops in Afghanistan by not supporting the mission. There's nothing wrong with that, but you're not supporting those troops.

For example, the NDP slogan is support the troops, bring them home. That's not supporting the troops on the mission. It's trying to have it both ways. I think it's being somewhat dishonest and insincere about one's position.

Anti-war types like to brag about being courageous and brave with their positions. But I think this is an example of the opposite. They're hiding behind our troop, in a way. They're hedging their bets, instead of being straight with us about where they stand.


Let me make another point.

I know that you, James, support the mission. So this isn't directed at you.

However, generally speaking, if you don't support this mission, just what kind of military mission do you support? Only peacekeeping?

This isn't what they're trained for solely. This isn't our history.

The invasion of Afghanistan had widespread international support. It's sanctioned by the UN. It is multi-lateral. It's everything Iraq isn't, yet people still say we should pull out. They don't say we should make it better, they say we should go back to the relatively safe streets of Kabul.

In a sense, if you don't support this military mission, you don't support any military missions. And if you don't support any military missions, do you really support the troops, at least in the way they're currently constituted, trained, and indoctrinated?


The mission and the troops are separate. But when the troops themselves think they are succeeding, think the mission is worthwhile, and want to be allowed to continue it, then supporting the troops without supporting the mission seems difficult. You have to say to the soldiers: "I support you, but you are wrong". Or even "I support you, but I oppose you". What does that actually mean?


I don't understand how the troops and the mission are separate. They're not the same thing, of course, but they're not mutually exclusive concepts either, in my mind.


They are separate in the sense that, if the troops felt that they were wasting their lives to no purpose, supporting the troops would require opposing the mission. I don't think that is the case now, in Afghanistan.


How would a Canadian soldier in the field respond to the 'oppose the mission versus support the troops' sophistry? How would they interpret this 'civilian' logic ?


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