Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Does “support the troops” include “support the troops’ mission”?

So argues Ted Rall, citing Alexander Coburn’s latest column in The Nation, among other things. He calls this the Achilles heel of the antiwar left, at least those who don’t face up to this logical conundrum, and I believe he had at least some degree of a point.

That’s why I have never favored the “I support the troops” me-too-ism of some antiwar people. Even if immediately qualified with a statement such as “I support getting them home,” it still seems a no-win proposition. It’s arguing on war supporters’ turf.

Antiwar people should simply insist, when conservatives try to go down that road, that it’s not a discussion about “supporting the troops” but rather one about “supporting the war.”

Beyond that, Rall says that if one believes the war is illegal, then one should support the right of Iraqis under international law to resist an illegal occupation. It’s easy to see how that collides head-on with “support the troops.”

Rall gets blunt:

Since war is a zero-sum game, it's our guys or theirs. “Support the troops by bringing them home” is an empty slogan that belies reality. With both political parties supporting the war, U.S. troops are not going to come home any time soon. As Gelderloos writes: “The approach of the U.S. antiwar movement in relation to the Iraqi resistance does not merely qualify as bad strategy; it reveals a total lack of strategy, and it is something we need to fix.” It also exposes an ugly truth about antiwar lefties. They don't believe in national self-determination any more than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

He’s right, and don’t expect “antiwar” Democratic leadership like Nancy and Harry to step up to the plate of reality any time soon.

(Sidebar: Rall notes that, contrary to the later historical repainting, there wasn’t any such thing as the French Resistance with capital letter during WWII; rather various resistances, like in Iraq, who sometimes fought each other as well as the Germans.

Cross posted at SocraticGadfly and Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.