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Support Troops, Not Politicians
Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2003

by Charley Reese,

The spineless Democrats are all saying it is now time to support the troops and the commander in chief, meaning President George W. Bush. I disagree. Support the troops, but not Mr. Bush.

Despite the high-sounding title, the commander in chief's role in the war is limited to saying "Go to war" and "Stop the war." He is not a trooper. He is a civilian politician. All the recent presidents have liked to don flight jackets and other military gear, even those who had been draft dodgers, but they have not been the troops. They have suffered no hardships. They have taken no risks. They have lived luxurious lives even a Roman emperor would envy.

The troops are those young men and women in the Iraqi desert, living under miserable conditions and in constant danger while their families at home suffer hardships of loneliness and, often, a financial squeeze. It hasn't been that long since those troops now being praised as "the best-trained, best-equipped" in the world were living on food stamps. Mr. Bush is safely ensconced in the White House or at Camp David, surrounded by personal servants and personal bodyguards. By all means, support the troops, but don't let Mr. Bush off the hook. Don't let him get away with taking credit for their bravery and their sacrifice, as he is trying to do by strutting about, making bellicose, smirky speeches.

There will be no honor in this victory. We have attacked and will defeat a small country that doesn't stand a chance. As you can see, as of this writing, so far the main dangers to our people have been accidents and friendly fire. Our tanks shoot at 5,000 meters; the Iraqis' old Soviet tanks shoot at 2,000 meters. Our field intelligence is out of the space age. We have satellites and predators and U-2s and all-seeing radar. The Iraqis have binoculars. We have more than 1,000 of the world's most sophisticated aircraft. The Iraqis have a few dilapidated MIGs that they haven't even bothered to try to get off the ground.

Only if Saddam Hussein lures us into house-to-house combat in Baghdad are we likely to suffer larger casualties, and if he does, you can blame the generals for that. Their so-called shock-and-awe show proved to be a fireworks display in a rainstorm. The press got a lot of good video as million-dollar missiles destroyed long-empty buildings. If the generals wish to call an empty building a military asset, that's their business. The generals' intelligence concerning how eager Iraqis would be to surrender is obviously faulty. The little port that was supposed to be taken in two to eight hours held out for five days.

As for supporting the troops, the best thing we can do is to inquire if there are military families in our area and see if they need any help. Unsolicited mail and packages, while well-intended, have already jammed the military postal system and might well be interfering with the ability of the troops to get mail from their loved ones. Standing on a street corner waving a flag doesn't help; our young troops don't have color televisions in their tanks and foxholes.

I've never thought much of demonstrations, no matter what the cause. They always seem to me more about the participants' egos and the desire to make a statement than about doing anything positive about the cause they profess to be for or against. Anti-war demonstrations are not going to dissuade Mr. Bush, and pro-war demonstrations aren't going to comfort the troops. Right now, they aren't fighting for Mr. Bush or for any political causes; they are fighting for survival and for their comrades. They've all been inducted into a fraternity that those of us who have not been in combat will be forever barred from joining. They need prayers, not political jawboning.

In the meantime, remember that they are there because of Mr. Bush's failure at diplomacy and because of his obsessive personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush deserves Bronx raspberries, not cheers. He is risking their lives for quite personal reasons that have nothing to do with national security.

© 2003 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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