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JOEL STEIN: Warriors & wusses

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    Warriors and wusses By JOEL STEIN January 24, 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2007
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      Warriors and wusses
      January 24, 2006

      I don't support our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion
      to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put
      bumper stickers on his car.

      Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to
      urinate on.

      I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for
      anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up
      for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.

      And I've got no problem with other people -- the ones who were for the
      Iraq war -- supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a
      good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic
      magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money
      off of.

      But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you
      support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have
      ever taken -- and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one
      lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts
      with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade

      Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them
      overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them
      there -- and who might one day want to send them somewhere else. Trust
      me, a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate isn't going to pick up on
      the subtleties of a parade for just service in an unjust war. He's
      going to be looking for funnel cake.

      Besides, those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops.
      They need body armor, shorter stays and a USO show by the cast of
      "Laguna Beach."

      The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel
      for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no
      sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day. Though
      there should be a ribbon for that.

      I understand the guilt. We know we're sending recruits to do our dirty
      work, and we want to seem grateful.

      After we've decided that we made a mistake, we don't want to blame the
      soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who
      were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who
      failed to object to a war we barely understood.

      But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that
      people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're
      following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral
      choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their
      morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by
      the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of

      I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country,
      especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get
      mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only
      imagine how they feel.

      But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know
      you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada.
      So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American
      imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to
      fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

      And sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, you get to just hang
      out in Germany.

      I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did
      well in school and hasn't so much as served on jury duty for his
      country. But it's really not that easy to say because anyone remotely
      affiliated with the military could easily beat me up, and I'm listed
      in the phone book.

      I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did
      after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for
      doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that
      we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions,
      mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

      Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.



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