Supporting and listening to the troops

This phrase, while noble, has been misconstrued as a reason to support the war. Let it be said that one can support the troops while not supporting the war. With that said, for all the people who conflate supporting the troops with supporting the war, I point your attention to a recent poll that showed nearly three quarters (72%) of American troops in Iraq think the United States should leave the country within a year. Isn’t it funny how people argue about the war but don’t take the time to ask the troops how they feel?

Now before you think that this poll was done be some crazy left-wing organization, think again. The poll was conducted by Zogby International and Le Moyne College in Syracuse in NY. And for the record, Zogby has one of the best reputations in the field of opinion polling and is used ad nauseam to predict Presidential elections in the United States. Their reputation aside, the poll interviewed 944 soldiers face-to-face. And while that may seem like a small proportion of the total number of troops there, do know that a vast majority of the polls used study American opinion, poll about 1,000 individuals across the country to make claims on how millions of Americans feel with a high degree of statistical accuracy.

Now if the troops don’t want to be in Iraq for more than a year longer and we know that at the rate we’re going, leaving within a year is a joke, just how are we supporting the troops? And if the troops on the front line don’t want to be there, then does it really matter what the public thinks? I think not. But the larger implication of this poll strongly suggests that having the most up to date technology is not enough to win wars. This is because if the collective will and belief that you are doing something positive is not sustainable, then victory will be extremely difficult to attain. This says nothing of the fact that the Bush administration changes what constitutes victory like they change clothes.

Moreover, the poll that was conducted reflects the notion that the troops, as a whole, do not see the connection between what they are doing and the greater good. “The poll showed that 93 percent of respondents believe that removing weapons of mass destruction was not the reason why the United States was in Iraq; while 85 percent said the U.S. mission was ‘mainly to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks’ — a role that has never been established.” Now let’s start with the idea that WMD was the overarching reason for us invading Iraq (remember Colin Powell’s address to the United Nations?) and that has since proven to be an outright lie. But Saddam’s supposed connection to 9/11 was the most provocative reason that I think many people supported the war.

And I am still trying to figure out how we went from attacking Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to fighting Saddam in Iraq and unfortunately, I think many of the troops are still scratching their heads. But a recent article by Paul Krugman of the New York Times perhaps said it best; “The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam – what’s the difference?”

But a quote from Donald Rumsfeld will go down as the biggest symbol of where American policy changed the world for the worse when he told military commanders on 9/11, “’Judge whether good enough hit S. H. [Saddam Hussein] @ same time – not only UBL [Osama bin Laden],’ read an aide’s handwritten notes about his instructions.” Now I would like to believe that soldiers need to hold on to a singular idea as motivation for fighting a war. Now if 93% of the troops understand the truth about WMD and 85% understand the truth about Saddam’s connection to WMD, what in the world are we doing in Iraq? And this is how we support the troops?

Stay up fam and my prayers go out to American troops and the innocent Afghans and Iraqis that are caught up in this mess.



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