So when George W. Bush was President he took us to war against Iraq under false pretenses. He said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It’s not clear how it followed even if you accepted that premise as true that we needed to go to war with Iraq. Nonetheless, what we saw a lot of during that war were signs and people saying “Support Our Troops.” That always made me feel odd. Whoever came up with that slogan was a genius. Why? Because even if you were against the war, like many were, how could you possibly wish ill on our troops? We supported our troops under the assumption that they don’t have a choice in their mission. We assumed that when they sign up to serve our country they must serve in whatever capacity our military leaders dictate. Assuming that to be true, how could one not support them in the sense that, we don’t want them to die in whatever mission they are given, even if it is an ill conceived mission. That said, if you expressed dissent against the war, people liked to assume that you didn’t support our troops, an appalling notion.
Now Barack Obama is President. Now we read a very different story. We don’t see the “support our troops” slogans anymore. What we do see are stories about Jade Helm. Jade Helm is apparently simply a training mission for our troops that is taking place partially in Texas. The federal government is trying to prepare the troops for terrain they are likely to encounter abroad. It seems that suddenly in the context of Jade Helm, we don’t support our troops. Now we fear that Obama is preparing to turn them against us to impose martial law and take over the Texas state government. The notion is absurd. But apparently 39 percent of Texas registered voters believe in this conspiracy theory. See http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/07/12/us/12reuters-usa-military-texas.html And so the question from above reasserts itself in a different context. When you say “support our troops” in this context, it doesn’t quite work the same way as it did with the war in Iraq? Why is that? The Jade Helm conspiracy theorists are not saying support our troops in a mission to take over the states. In fact, the very same troops we were told to support in Iraq are the ones Texas Governor Abbott is monitoring by use of the Texas State Guard. To what end? Is Abbott prepared to go to war against the same troops we were told to support?
So what we are left with then is the conclusion that what mission our troops are embarking upon does matter. We don’t support our troops in just any circumstance or any mission they are given. It’s okay then, to be against the war in Iraq, and say you don’t support the troops in that mission. Just as its okay to say you don’t support the troops in a mission to take over the states.
All of this begs another question. Why are Republicans so gung-ho about going to war under false pretenses? First Iraq and now Jade Helm. Perhaps that’s a question for another article.