Support the Troops vs. Anti-War

Instapundit· writes about· a “support the troops” rally Near Seattle·. According to Instapundit, the rally was organized “in response to plans by antiwar types to protest the deployment.”

The article suggests only 20 antiwar protesters showed up, which makes a lot of sense. None of the peace movement people that I know and respect would be protesting against American troops. The troops aren’t any more responsible for what’s going on than are General Motor’s assembly line workers for air pollution.

What surprises me is the false dichotomy of “support our troops” vs. “oppose the war” works at all. It strikes me as such a transparent and puerile discourse, yet thousands of people appear to buy into it.

People who oppose military involvement in Iraq, in my experience, do not oppose soldiers at all, and would be the last ones to protest their deployment or return. As many others have noted, the idea of “supporting our troops” is quite consistent with bringing them back home.


  1. Steve Laniel Jan 28

    To play Devil’s advocate here: why not blame the soldiers? Surely we blame soldiers for manifestly unethical actions like My Lai. Surely we gave up the “they were just following orders” argument after World War II. If the war is unjust, aren’t the people carrying it out unjust?

  2. Adam Kessel Jan 28

    The main reason not to blame the soldiers is that it’s politically stupid. It’s quite likely to marginalize the peace movement and alienate people who could be swung either way.

    Second, I believe there is international law to cover when the soldiers might be held accountable, and I would generally go by that standard. I understand also, relatedly, that the new German army has provisions for refusing to follow orders in certain instances. I would perhaps support blaming the soldiers if, e.g., they were ordered to go into hospitals and disconnect life support. They should be held accountable along with their supervisors. But if all the soldiers are doing is being shipped off to Iraq, ostensibly at this point to keep the peace, it is a waste of activist energy to protest them. I think the Bush administration’s Iraq policy is a failure, but this isn’t the crux point of that failure.

    My guess is that any protest was not against the soldiers anyway, but against someone else’s decision to deploy them. But this message isn’t going to get across by showing up with signs as the soldiers board their planes to leave.

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