Supporting our troops as they support us

WJon Farnsworth Whether you agree with the motives or not, the United States finds itself locked into a preventive and quasi-unilateral war against Iraq.

Many students have vocally objected to the administration systematically turning a blind eye to the dwindling public support both domestically and globally for a preventive, unilateral war. Although many citizens detest the administration’s agenda, the obvious fact remains that war is now unavoidable. Nevertheless, just because war has started does not mean protests need to be terminated. After all, citizens have a constitutional right and a patriotic duty to protest when they deem it necessary.

No matter if we as citizens protest or not, we must continue to remain vigilant to the goal of supporting our troops. We must not forget that the men and women in uniform are upholding our constitutional rights, including those of freedom of speech and assembly. As this war is the first our generation has dealt with as adults, we must learn from our parents’ generation and avoid their mistakes with respect to supporting our armed forces. In order to support our troops, the upcoming war protests that will certainly occur must not assume the same mentality Vietnam War protests did.

Doves must not view the armed forces as the enemy. Our armed forces have a job to do and no matter if they like the reasoning behind the war or not, they must do their duty. Furthermore, doves must differentiate between supporting our administration’s agenda versus supporting our troops – at least always being supportive of the latter.

Similarly, hawks must tolerate war protests. As stated above, protesting the war or George W. Bush’s reasoning and supporting our troops are two independently and conditionally unrelated things. Hawks, additionally, must refrain from falling into the trap of labeling dissenters “unpatriotic” (not loving one’s country) or telling them to “get out of the country” if they don’t like things. Many protesters love this country as much as proponents of the war. If called anything, protesters more accurately should be labeled “un-nationalistic” (not supporting the interests of one’s nation and not favoring unilateralism).

An argument could be made that protesting war is the primary way to support our troops, thereby not advocating a position that would put them in harm’s way. Many people protesting the war do so objecting to nationalistic versus patriotic principles. They protest Bush’s unilateral approach, and not because they don’t support U.S. troops or they disagree that Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator. Conversely, just because a person favors Bush ousting Hussein from power, does not necessarily make him or her a nationalist or “Bush’s pawn.”

All citizens need to steadfastly remain supporters of our armed forces despite any ideological differences they might have with the war. Our brave men and women are laying their lives on the line so that we can remain here at college, living a relatively comfortable, peaceful life. “I am serving (in the Marines),” Gustavus Adolphus College senior and active Marine Cpl. Doug Pugh said, “so that others will not have to.” If it weren’t for people like Doug Pugh who have volunteered for the armed forces, many of us would be drafted.

For Doug’s sake and the thousands of other armed forces, I implore you to remain dedicated to supporting our troops no matter if you personally agree with the reasoning for the war or not. Pugh also said, “The armed forces support citizens’ rights to protest.” As this is the case, protesters must reciprocate this support and remain supportive of our troops at all times. Our generation must learn from our parents’ and never lose sight of the fact that our armed forces fight for our freedom of democracy. They have volunteered for their jobs and, no matter if they like the reasoning or not, they must fight.

Let us not lose sight of our goal.

Jon Farnsworth is a former University student and current student at Gustavus Adolphus College. His column originally appeared in the Gustavian Weekly on March 21. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]