I Support The Occupation Of , But I Don't Support Our Troops
By James W. Henley
February 23, 2005 | Issue 41•08
The U.S. went to war in Iraq to remove an evil and dangerous political
adversary from power. Now that we have done that, the American troops
must remain in until the country is a fully functioning democracy,
able to spark change throughout the entire . While I find
this obvious, there are still a lot of people in our country who fail
to grasp it. I support Bush-administration foreign-policy goals, but I
stand firmly against the individual men and women on the ground in the
Yes, occupying does require troops, but they are there for one
reason and one reason only: to carry out the orders of the U.S. Defense
Department. As far as their overall importance goes, they are no more
worthy of our consideration than a box of nails. Ribbons and banners in
ostensible "support" of the troops miss the whole point of the
invasion, which is to gain a strategic hold over that volatile and
lucrative geopolitical region.
Need I remind the reader that it is our flag, not the troops, that we
salute? It is our nation-state, not a bunch of 20-year-olds in
parachute pants, that deserves our allegiance. As a patriot and true
American, my heart sings at the thought of the , and the
zealous, calculating measures undertaken by the proud military
bureaucracy of this great superpower. I feel a surge of pride when I
think about our high-tech GBU laser-guided bombs, capable of carrying a
2,000-pound warhead. I tied a ribbon around my tree for the safe return
of our nation's F-16s, because our military aircraft are instrumental
to finishing our work in Iraq. And on the back of my car, I have a
sticker stating my support for the 's ongoing efforts in .
I support the occupation, and the occupation alone, because when we
start to support the troops, we pave the way for irrelevant concerns
about their families back at home. Before you know it, questions about
who is and isn't going to be home in time for Christmas will be
interfering with the crucial decision-making process of our
I'd like to ask those currently trumpeting their support for the troops
a question: Have you ever actually met any of these soldiers in person?
Well, I have, and believe me, they are no more impressive than any
other low-level functionary of a large institution.
In all honesty, my soul swells with pride at the thought of the
military-strategy papers and cost-analysis reports in which the troops
are represented as numerical figures. But, as for the men and
women—well, in almost every respect, they are average. Although they
are no less intelligent than any other American, it is certainly fair
to say they lack the ability to devise the complex strategies and
tactics to manage their own divisions, much less grasp the nuanced
reasons for their deployment.
It is ridiculous that my "heart" is somehow morally or ethically
obliged to "go out" to the troops. In fact, had the troops not been put
to productive labor by the sheer might and institutional authority of
the U.S. military, a good number of them would be sitting around bars,
drinking and gambling. In short, we shouldn't view the troops as
objects of sympathy, because their very contribution to our society is
their ability to carry out simple commands on a battlefield.
Allow me to pursue this from a more personal angle. I have a son in the
military. If I may say so, we've never gotten along particularly well.
Frankly, he's been a bit of a disappointment to his mother and me.
Nevertheless, he is our flesh and blood and always will be, and we wish
him no harm. So I speak from a position of personal experience when I
say that, while I do not wish death for any of the troops, death tolls
should not be our greatest concern. All that matters is the pursuit of
the foreign-policy goals of this great land, the land I love. America.