Voting To 'Support The Troops'
A valid question: Which candidate and which party should one vote for in order to best support U.S. military personnel?
To answer this question in the negative (not the point of this post but let's get it out of the way): There is a hard-core faction on the left who believe America has too much power and ambition and needs to be cut down to size. They want the U.S. to lose. Therefore they will always advocate to bring the troops home if the troops are in any danger of causing a U.S. victory anywhere, they will describe any U.S. military endeavor as an unmitigated failure, and they will advocate retreat in the face of any enemy. These people will vote for a Democrat if the only other choice is a Republican.
If you think the U.S. has it coming, or if you generally advocate military retreat, or if you happen to BE a terrorist, stop reading right now and go vote for your local Democrat candidate. This is democracy in action. The Democrats certainly won't all represent your wishes, but as a whole they're the only party with the possibility of accomplishing what you'd like to see accomplished.
As one of their biggest supporters wrote yesterday: The Democrats' only plan for Iraq sounds a lot like what most people call 'defeat'. For some in the U.S., that's good enough as long as it brings the troops home.
To answer the question in the positive, the Washington Post just reported on a unique angle: What the troops themselves think we should do in Iraq. In short, the troops believe a U.S. pullout would be 'devastating':
The soldiers declined to discuss the political jousting back home, but they expressed support for the Bush administration's approach to the war, which they described as sticking with a tumultuous situation to give Iraq a chance to stand on its own.
Leading Democrats have argued for a timeline to bring U.S. troops home, because obvious progress has been elusive, especially in Baghdad, and even some Republican lawmakers have recently called for a change in strategy. But soldiers criticized the idea of a precipitate withdrawal, largely because they believe their hard work would go for naught.
Capt. Jim Modlin, 26, of Oceanport, N.J., said he thought the situation in Iraq had improved between his deployment in 2003 and his return this year as a liaison officer to Iraqi security forces with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, based here on FOB Sykes outside Tall Afar. Modlin described himself as more liberal than conservative and said he had already cast his absentee ballot in Texas. He said he believed that U.S. elected officials would lead the military in the right direction, regardless of what happens Tuesday.
"Pulling out now would be as bad or worse than going forward with no changes," Modlin said. "Sectarian violence would be rampant, democracy would cease to exist, and the rule of law would be decimated. It's not 'stay the course,' and it's not 'cut and run' or other political catchphrases. There are people's lives here. There are so many different dynamics that go on here that a simple solution just isn't possible."
(No small wonder, as has happened in the past, some Democrats continue to take a stab at making it difficult for U.S. military personnel to vote.)
The Virginia Senate race serves as a useful barometer of military veterans' position on the question of "supporting the troops." Although running against a decorated Navy veteran, Republican George Allen surprisingly won the endorsement of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition. Although George Allen has staked out the more "conservative" position than Jim Webb on a number of issues, including immigration enforcement and gay marriage, opposition to the Iraq War is Webb's key message and Allen's support of the war has been a chief point of differentiation between the two in the public debate.
After all of the votes from today's elections are analyzed, we should get a clearer picture of what current and former troops view as public 'support.' Leaving aside the recent unfortunate reminder that the Democrats' left wing maintains a low opinion of them, we can see that in the eyes of the troops support for U.S. military personnel cannot be boiled down to pulling out of Iraq.
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