Protesting the War but Supporting the Troops

  1. I had noticed this topic crop up in a couple of other threads, but did not want to hijack those threads with what is effectively a completely different topic. Before I get into this, I want to qualify what I am about to say. It is not directed at any person, nor is it intended to tell anyone what to do or not do. This is a free country, and you are all free to act as you wish. I simply want to provide more information to those who believe that they can protest the current war, while still supporting our troops. From another thread started by Sharon:

    Originally posted by SharonMH31
    ''I was more shocked than anything else,'' said Redue, 32, who served in the Air Force from 1990 to 1999. ''People apparently don't think you can be for peace and support the troops at the same time. I think questioning policies . . . is the duty of patriots.''
    I agree that it is the duty of patriots to question what they see as unjust actions by our government. But, is protesting in the streets against the war the only way to question? And more to my point, can someone who is in the streets loudly protesting, carrying signs, etc, honestly say they are also supporting our troops? Personally, I don't think so.

    Saying you are supporting the troops does not necessarily mean you are. The acid test of whether you are supporting the troops is whether or not the troops feel support from your actions. I got out of the military in 1993, and most of my contemporaries have since retired or gotten out of the military themselves. Hence, I only have a few friends I know of who are currently deployed for the war against Iraq. But, I do know how those few feel, and it reflects how troops deployed to the Gulf in 1991 felt.

    On our deployment at the time, the circumstances were similar. There were those in favor of the war, and others who were firmly against the war. Some who were against the war wrote letters to elected representatives, wrote letters to editors, and even wrote editorials. They laid out their reasoning clearly, and all of felt that this was "OK." Some troops even agreed with what was written.

    However, most of us felt that once some of these people took to the streets, carrying signs and protesting the war, all support for us ended. Yes, we knew that these protestors were not saying anything against the troops, but by protesting in the streets, which was covered extensively by the media, a different message was being sent to our enemies. They were in effect being told "we support you and your cause. Hang on for as long as you can and we will try to change the political climate." The end result was to stiffen Iraqi resistance to peaceful efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and in effect forcing the troops to remove Iraq by force.

    The few people I know who have deployed feel the same way today. They are facing a dangerous situation, and feel that people back home are telling Saddam to "hang on, we'll get you out of this." These protest marches provide SH with the false notion that most Americans are on his side (not that you are, but that is how he sees it). His resolve and will to fight are strengthened, and we are forced to greater effort to win the war.

    Again, I am directing this post at NO PARTICULAR PERSON, and I am not telling anyone what to think or do. I am telling you if you are going to publically protest the war, and say you support the troops, be aware that "the troops" may not feel that support as clearly as you think you are sending it.

    Kevin McHugh

    Edited to add: We discussed this in 1991, and I remember clearly what a friend of mine said: "Just cause they ain't spitting on us doesn't mean I'm feeling supported."
    Last edit by kmchugh on Mar 12, '03
  2. 152 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    I could not disagree more. How people feel about protestors is there own reaction and does not define what the protestor feels. I can take a statement of yours in any number of ways, but that doesn't mean that I was the one who knew what you felt and intended. And my reaction is not the litmus test for what you meant to convey.

    Many have claimed that the massive protests at home contributed to the end of the Vietnam war. I would think that ending a war that was killing our troops by the thousands was a good thing, even if they didn't feel supported (and were not supported by many).

    There was a support our troops rally in Washington before I moved, and the people there were mixed between those in favor of war, and yes, those who were protesting war. The argument that protesting a war means that you don't support American troops, or are anti-American or unpatriotic are all the same to me: bs. They are as silly as the claim by some protestors that those who support war are unsupportive of troops because they want them to have to fight and die. I find it distasteful when either side tries to gain support for their cause by saying "We are the ones who care about the troops" and implying the other side doesn't. I don't think that's what you are trying to do at all, but I still disagree with you pov respectfully, because it is the basis for such political maneuvering.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Mar 12, '03
  4. by   fergus51
    I should add, I am never happy to hear that troops don't feel supported. It is a regretful situation. I just don't think that changes how people should/can register their disagreement with government policy.

    My grandpa is a very proud vet and believes that those who are willing to fight and die for your freedom to protest are paying a tiny price if they only get their feelings hurt by what protestors say and do (and it's certainly a price that everyone of them is willing to pay, so harping on it isn't necessary). All we can do is try to support them and their families in our own way, whether that be protesting war, going to support our troops rallies, being vocally in favor of war or inviting a lonely wif over for dinner while her husband is deployed.
  5. by   l.rae
    Kevin, l believe any act that decreases the moral of our troops is lacking in support and are right, there are ways to protest the war that do not result in demoralization of the troops..which ultimately is giving aid to S.H., even if in an unintended offhand manner........LR
  6. by   Sleepyeyes
    I dated a Vietnam vet. I was friends with a career Army Vietnam vet (Purple Heart), and a Green Beret who did 2 tours and got a Silver Star (and a child born with such severe deformities from Agent Orange that she died).

    I protested in the streets during Vietnam, and was appalled to see how veterans were treated by supposedly peace-loving people.

    I wasn't trying to destroy troops, like the enemy. I wasn't trying to encourage the enemy, like Jane Fonda.

    I wasn't trying to overthrow my government, like the Yippies.

    I was demonstrating because our government lied to us and didn't give a rat's azz for any of the young men they sent into battle.

    I now have 3 sons and 2 daughters that are potentially draftable, should the draft ever "need" to be reinstated. And you can bet your sweet hiney that I'm going to make double-darned sure we have to fight before I commit myself to agreeing to a war.

    Frankly, I'm just not ok with fighting Iraq at this time. But I haven't demonstrated in the streets about it yet, because I could be wrong.
    Last edit by Sleepyeyes on Mar 12, '03
  7. by   semstr
    Kevin, may I say here: I support human-beings.
  8. by   Ted
    Sorry Kevin,

    Disagree with you. . . .

    Supporting the troops and their welfare. . . apples.

    Supporting GBW and his political regime. . . oranges.
    Disagreeing with GWB and his political regime. . . . oranges.
    Holding GWB & his political regmine accountable for his decisions and motives. . . oranges.

    Fergus51 said it well in her post. Semstr really says it best.

    Last edit by Ted on Mar 12, '03
  9. by   teeituptom
    Howdy ya'll
    from deep in the heart of texas

    Well. ya'll. I will be the dirst to support the troops and what they do. However I can't support the administrations position in this upcoming conflict. And yes I will protest this war. I protested viet nam even though I was sent there. It didnt accomplish anything except to kill and injure thousands of our young, including friends of mine. Do I think this war will accomplish anything significant. I have to say hell no. George W. is trying to correct his fathers mistakes and failings....
    So. yes I protest this war. I will however support our troops.

    doo wah ditty
  10. by   Ted
    Originally posted by l.rae
    Kevin, l believe any act that decreases the moral of our troops is lacking in support and are right, there are ways to protest the war that do not result in demoralization of the troops..which ultimately is giving aid to S.H., even if in an unintended offhand manner........LR
    Couldn't disagree with you more. . . .

    Sounds like emotional and patriotic blackmail to me. "When you support the war effort, you support the lives of the troops and you are patriotic. When you disagree with the current war effort, you don't support the lives of the troops and you're unpatriotic."

    Emotional and patriotic blackmail. . . and it's pathetic.

    I wish to add, at this point, that life is WAAAY more than "Black and White", "Right or Wrong", "Good or Bad". Fortunately or unfortunately, life is way more complicated than what you suggest in this particular post, I.rae.
  11. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by l.rae
    , there are ways to protest the war that do not result in demoralization of the troops..which ultimately is giving aid to S.H., even if in an unintended offhand manner........LR

    SH sees protestors as "his supporters" .. so I don't know if that is the message they want to send.

    I do agree l.rae there are ways to protest without demoralization of the troops.
  12. by   kmchugh
    One point I'd like to make, if I didn't make it clear in the initial post:

    I am questioning NO ONE'S patriotism. I am questioning NO ONE'S right to protest. I am not really questioning anything. I simply wanted to present how protestors who also say they support our troops are perceived by many of the troops. NOTHING ELSE.

    Kevin McHugh
  13. by   pickledpepperRN
    To me it comes down to whether the planned war is self defense or aggresion. We don't know yet.
    We do know that people in this administration have been planning it for years.

    I was concerned about supporting my cousins and friends who went to Viet Nam. I still listen to those who mention 'NAM' every hour. It took years for me to cry.
    Now while day dreaming I imagine how they would look now (who would have a gut, who would be bald), what their wife would be like (I know her "spirit"), would they be grandfathers?, what happened to the woman whose life he would have completed (have I met her?), would he take kids fishing like his Dad did? Would his son earn Eagle Scout? He would have been troop leader for sure if only he had lived and had a son.
    While blowing my nose and wiping tears I wish I had done more to help end that war sooner.
    Some of the protesters and those killed at Kent State, for example, are also heros.
    I know a former army nurse who was "in country" She cannot nurse anymore so she leads group sessions at the VA. Our "little" problems still seem trivial to her after the young American and Vietnamese lives she watched end.
    So no I would rather try to prevent another war (if possible) than just write letters. Better for the Vets to hate me then not exist.

    Statement adopted by NYC Veterans Meeting Against War with Iraq
    We have gathered in New York City on November 10, 2002 to declare that as Veterans who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States, we are gravely concerned about the course the Bush administration is forcing on our country and the world.
    We are especially alarmed at their relentless drive for war with Iraq. We believe the cause of world peace and security is best served through the international cooperation and by sending UN inspectors back to Iraq, not by saber rattling and threats of a unilateral US military attack. We are firmly opposed to an invasion of Iraq.
    We also declare that the USA Patriot Act and other "anti-terrorism" measures represent a serious threat to the fundamental civil liberties and freedoms that we swore to protect and defend. We call for a repeal of this legislation, for an end to blanket roundups and detentions targeting Muslim communities and for a restriction on excessive police powers aimed at silencing dissent.
    America's veterans deserve to be treated with justice and dignity but instead more budget cuts at already understaffed VA hospitals have forced many to wait months to receive needed health care. Thousand of disability claims remain pending, sometimes for years, effectively denying veterans treatment and compensation. This shameful situation must end.
    We are patriots who have stood in defense of this country. We have a right and a duty to speak out. We will not remain silent while our rights are undermined and the threat of endless war looms. We are committed to this struggle for peace, justice and freedom and we appeal to our fellow citizens and elected representatives to speak up and act before it is too late.

    No War with Iraq
    No Blood for Oil or Ego
    By Barry Romo, Dave Curry & Joe Miller
    from the forthcoming Fall 2002 issue of The Veteran
    It looks like those courtiers, known as advisers, who want a war with Iraq, have Bush's ear. From his speech before the United Nations in September, it is clear that the boy wants to finish daddy's war from 1990-91 and be a big hero himself. However, in addition to little things like the Constitution and international law stands the reality of a "war too far" in their never-ending war on terrorism.
    The war in Afghanistan is not over. American troops will be there a long time and in great numbers, as in Korea, with no end in sight. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are not eliminated. Afghanistan is supplying 80% of Europe's heroin, and our allies there admit they cannot, or will not, stop it. President Karzai is so weak that he cannot get his own bodyguards and must be guarded by U.S. forces. Our allies are committing war crimes (as exposed by Newsweek). We are killing civilians and making blood enemies in a country that has lots of time for revenge. Finally, that poor country is still not getting the aid promised.
    One would think with all this turmoil, the U.S. government would want to clean up this mess before moving on to other targets, but U.S. forces now are in nearly 150 out of the 189 member states of the United Nations. What other member state has its forces stationed in so many countries? What is the purpose of such an "imperial" stretch?
    We've now expanded into the Islamic former republics of the Soviet Union, anchoring these from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea with U.S. troops. These strategic and oil-rich countries are a side prize to Bush's never-ending war.
    With all the condemnations of Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, you would never guess that he was one of the best friends of both Reagan's and Daddy Bush's administrations. U.S. taxpayers contributed billions of dollars in loans and aid to prop him up. When he invaded Iran we supported him with naval forces in the Persian Gulf, as well as with food and strategic satellite information. Not a word was said when he used poison gas on Iranian forces. Bush/Reagan even said that there was no credible evidence when he massacred Kurds in northern Iraq.
    In fact, in each instance where Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbors and used weapons of mass destruction, he did so as an ally of the United States.
    Of course, like a lot of our former allies - Bin Laden and Noriega to name two - Hussein became our enemy. In his case, he got greedy and wanted all of Kuwait.
    A review of the first Gulf war would take too much space here, so suffice it to say we had the rest of the world on board. Iraq was surrounded by enemies, and the United States and its allies could invade from Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia. and the Gulf. We didn't even have to pay for it. The tab was picked up almost entirely by Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
    This time our fields of maneuver and support are much smaller, and the Iraqi regime knows from Bush's statements that this time it's for keeps. That means that there will be no incentive for restraint on the part of Hussein, if he has weapons of mass destruction. (If he doesn't, what absolute liars and tyrants we will be seen as by the world, sort of like what Saddam was seen as when he invaded Kuwait!) That means more American casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths.
    Add to this the war cost of about $100 billion during these bad economic times; the cost of oil, as it will surely rise with this conflict; and, finally, the effort to hold Iraq together (or not), but with a long term occupying force of U.S. troops and U.S. aid.
    Then there is the Middle East and Israel and the Palestinians. Any invasion of Iraq while the Palestinians are denied basic human and national rights will lead to incredible turmoil throughout the region, no matter what Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle claim. Now, with Israel promising to get in on the action, who knows where it will all end?
    Iran is even making up with Iraq, regardless of the fact that they were invaded and suffered millions of casualties from Saddam's military. Why? Well, Bush's "Axis of Evil," of course! They probably think they may be next. And, why not, with a quarter-million U.S. troops right next door? We should not forget, or take lightly, Bush's pledge to use nuclear weapons first, if he wants to.
  14. by   Q.
    Ask yourselves - if you were sitting on the border of Iraq, knowing that you may pay the ultimate price, feeling 100% sure in your soul that what you were doing was right, was just and were defending America, defending freedom, and knowing that you were going to be giving the people of Iraq the greatest possible gift that you could - freedom - and you got wind of protestors in the streets of America, protesting the war, protesting the very cause that you were fighting for, protesting your very presence there and even protesting and questioning the money it takes to feed, house and clothe you while you're there, - tell me, honestly, what would you feel?
    Last edit by Susy K on Mar 12, '03