Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The War and the Troops 

Joel Stein has written a piece in today's LA Times which has gotten a fairly strong response from Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt, among others. While I agree with them that Stein's patriotism should be questioned, I have to agree with Stein on the thrust of his article. He is calling out the antiwar crowd for trying to carve out a facile and, I think, lame political position - "I am against the war but support the troops." Stein is against the war and admits he is against the troops. He equates the two, I think correctly.

So I don't like Stein, but I think he makes a nice, honest criticism of the antiwar pc troop-empathy fakers.


By Blogger Van Helsing, at Tue Jan 24, 06:43:00 PM:

In a way though, Stein is playing the same game of pretending to support the troops. He is only pretending to not pretend to support them. There's a phony, sanctimonious undertone to the piece, as if fifth-column liberals are the only ones who really support the troops because they're the only ones who care about pensions, shorter deployments, etc.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jan 24, 06:54:00 PM:

van helsing: Yes, he doesn't support them, but he "cares about them." He is beyond pathetic.  

By Blogger Final Historian, at Tue Jan 24, 07:09:00 PM:

Frankly, I have always thought the idea of "supporting the troops" was a little vague myself. Stein has at least exposed some of this vagueness. Yet he is also vague in his turn as well. He doesn't support spitting on the troops, yet doesn't want parades. Seems to me that his articles ducks what he really thinks should be done vis-a-vis the troops, and is mostly a polemic against anti-war types who support the troops. Hardly inspirational or convincing on his part.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Tue Jan 24, 07:16:00 PM:

If you look closely at the tone of what Stein actually wrote, he not only doesn't support the troops, he's actually rather hostile.

It isn't his patriotism I question.

It's his judgment. What's up with this?

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.

That's pretty damned offensive when you get right down to it. I'm sure one of "those thuggish military types" will be paying you a visit soon, sir. You know how violent "those people" can be. It's all they understand.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Jan 24, 09:12:00 PM:

If you think about it, there is a bizarre circularity going on here.

Stein wants to claim courage he does not have, so he erects the straw man argument that he might be beaten up for saying these things. Of course, he would only be beaten up if the insults that he hurls were true. If they aren't true, he is at no risk of being beaten up (at least by soldiers), so his "courage" is entirely fraudulent. He must suspect this last to be true, else he would not have made his absurd point about the ease with which we might locate them.

Of course, he loses twice if somebody who is not in the military beats him up. Then he is both wrong, and beaten up. Hmmm...  

By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Wed Jan 25, 08:47:00 AM:

I found myself at Dictionary.com trying to figure out this word "support". I think that you use the word to mean (1)"to aid the cause, policy, or interests of" the soldiers as they fight to win the War on Terror; (2) "to keep from weakening or failing; strengthen".

I use it to mean (1) "to provide for or maintain, by supplying with money or necessities"; (2) "to aid the cause, policy, or interests of" the soldiers in fighting just wars in just ways.

I support the troops in their efforts to serve their country in a morally confusing situation. I support their efforts to come home alive and to keep their fellow troops alive. I support their efforts to quell terrorism.

However, I believe that the war in Iraq was/is wrong. I believe that the Bush administration's approach has made America less safe and is therefore going to mean more war, more death, and more chaos than we would have had if saner heads had been in government on 9/11.

I'm not sure why we're still having this conversation. If you mean to say that I'm a troop killer or anti-american, then say so. Don't be a wuss about it, CP. I know where I stand, and I know my own patriotism. If you're going to go about casting aspersions on those who are against war and have a deep and abiding compassion for the soldiers involved in the current conflicts, then you'll need to take on some great world leaders like Gandhi, King, and Jesus H. Christ.

You think Jesus would have supported the war? Of course not. Would he have supported the troops? Of course he would have.

I'm glad you're not in charge, CP, but I fear that people like you are.  

By Blogger Sissy Willis, at Wed Jan 25, 11:00:00 AM:

The Joel Kleins of this world know nothing of honor. They think material welfare for vets -- like material welfare for poor civilians -- should be enough:

"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."

Klein's response to Hugh Hewitt's persistent quesioning is telling:

"But what do you mean by honor? That's a word you keep using. I'm not entirely . . . maybe that's my problem , , ,"


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 25, 12:59:00 PM:

I just think the biggest part of the problem is that poor Joel thinks he's being funny. He isn't, but that doesn't stop him from trying. He is trying to be funny about being held up in traffic and getting beat up ... I wouldn't take him seriously at all, and I think you do yourselves a disservice by trying to analyze his comments seriously. He was trying to be funny. He isn't. Ignore him.  

By Blogger Juliette, at Wed Jan 25, 03:44:00 PM:

Great minds think alike!  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Thu Jan 26, 10:08:00 AM:

SH - thank you for trotting out a definition of "support." It is instructive. I have been very clear is articulating my position on the notion of supporting the troops but being antiwar. I think they are irreconcileable. You too have been clear. You think they are. I am not namecalling. I am having a debate. You seem to want to degenerate into namecalling. Go ahead. I mean you called me a nazi. A fascist. Now you are asking me to call you something. Does that make you feel good somehow? I think it diminishes you, and it certainly diminishes your argument. It suggests mayb...just maybe..you don't feel so confident in your argument. Maybe this Joel fellow at the LA Times has a point. Maybe the concepts of antiwar and protroops are irreconcileable.

I would point you to the definitions which you seem comfortable with. This is an important one:

"to aid the cause, policy or interests of"

One that you seem less comfortable with, but which nonetheless fits:


You are, as I have said many times, entitled to be antiwar. I disagree, but have no problem with it. Where I depart, though, is that, in a dmeocratic society, once we have authorized going -- the argument should rest. Furthermore, once there has been a subsequent validating election, the antiwar stuff should also rest -- especially if the antiwar "heckler" wants to argue in self-aggrandizing fashion that they "support the troops". The antiwar heckler does not strengthen the troops. The antiwar heckler does not aid the "cause, policy or interests" of the troops.

The antiwar heckler undrmines the troops. The antiwar heckler is working concertedly against "the cause" of the troops. It is only in classic elitist, "I know better that you" fashion, that an antiwar heckler can say I support the troops because "I know what's good for them."

So it's simple really. And this is where Mr. Joel LA Times guy actually made a point - clumsily, controversially, awkwardly - but in a teenage oops kind of way, articulated a truth with which I kind of agree.

Your faithfully,


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