SUPPORTING THE TROOPS
I hear it from politicians and celebrities on television and the radio. I read it in editorials and op-eds in the newspapers. It is almost a mantra at anti-war protests. People who oppose the war in Iraq, many of them calling the president a liar or making reference to war crimes committed by US military personnel always end their speeches with the same qualifier: "...but I support the troops." Really? Exactly how do you do that? Do you purchase items for them and send them overseas through organizations like the USO? Do you contribute money to organizations like Army Emergency Relief that provide assistance to service members? Or does your "support" just amount to a pledge not to spit on them like some cretins did during the Vietnam War.
While I'm sure that some of these people really mean what they are saying, their pledges of support often come off as lame attempts to avoid challenges to their patriotism, or in the case of entertainers and politicians, to avoid a backlash by servicemembers, their families, friends, and others who are genuinely pro-military (although I'm really curious about why those anti-war people alleging war crimes support the supposed perpetrators of said crimes).
Many of the anti-war crowd consider themselves patriots. While this may be so in some cases, they need to understand the consequences of their actions. Whenever there is an anti-war protest, or a prominent American denounces the war and/or the president, the media in the Arab world gives it extensive coverage. Al Jazeera loves stories about politicians calling on our withdrawal from Iraq or pointing out morale problems in our military. The insurgents see this, and it encourages them to keep up their attacks and to use more brutal methods. The mutilation of the bodies of four contractors killed by insurgents and the recent kidnapping of coalition nation citizens is evidence that the enemy understands the power of the media. Such stories don't help raise the morale of our troops either.
Protestors are unwittingly waging a psychological operations campaign against the very troops they claim to support. They are encouraging the enemy to continue attacking US forces. The anti-war crowd may not want to hear this, but it is the reality of the situation. Then again, many of these folks have a history of not letting reality get in the way of a good argument.