June 2, 2006
I am fortunate enough to receive The Ridgefield Press every few weeks and enjoy keeping abreast of the local issues currently pressing in our small town. I am a U.S. Marine Infantryman currently serving in Fallujah, Iraq, and my mother usually includes The Press in the many care packages she sends me.
Since we have very limited access to telephones, The Ridgefield Press is the primary means by which I receive local news.
Almost every week, I open The Press and find an article or letter to the editors denouncing the coalition effort in Iraq. Invariably, the individuals behind these anti-war letters and rallies mask their political agendas by asserting that they "support the troops but not the war."
People like Vince Giordano, Paul Sutherland and Anne Stubbs are pictured in the April 13 edition of The Press carrying a yellow-ribboned coffin and signs that say "Bring Them Home Now." They read off the names of the dead and claim to "show support for our troops" while urging lawmakers to "bring them home." They believe that the U.S.-led coalition should never have entered Iraq and that the current effort is a never-ending quagmire that has made no progress. They believe that things are progressively getting worse and think that our forces should just pick up and leave.
They do all this under the pretense that they are supporting the troops. However, what they are really doing is using our lives and the issue of our safety and well-being as a means to achieve a political end.
My primary concern is the assertion that these individuals support the troops in Iraq but not our mission. It boggles my mind that this logic is actually utilized on a large scale.
Supporting the troops but not the war is like saying that you support filmmakers but not making films. One cannot claim to support an individual in a given profession but not support what the said profession entails. This is essentially a slap in the face to those in the service.
How protesting the job we are doing in Iraq while demanding our withdrawal constitutes supporting us is beyond me. Furthermore, I am particularly interested in how these people support us, specifically. I have never once received a letter from an individual who claims to "support the troops, not the war." Not a single Marine I know has received anything that could be considered remotely supportive from any of these people or the groups they represent. We have received phone cards, hygiene supplies, food, etc. From members of state and local government, radio stations, schools, private individuals and organizations, but never once from any group claiming to "support the troops, but not the war."I ask again: How can these groups claim to support our troops while telling us that what we are participating in is wrong?
How can they support us if they are essentially saying that our blood and sacrifices have all been given in vain?
How can they support us if they say that our comrades and brothers who have been wounded or killed in action have done so for a hopeless and morally questionable cause?
I reply to the questions I pose with a simple answer: They can't. As a matter of fact, I assert with a considerable degree of confidence that their efforts make our already difficult job even more difficult. I'll go so far as to say that their rallies and protests cost more and more servicemen their lives and limbs every day. I support my assertion with evidence gathered first hand. I see the Iraqi people every day. The protesters do not. I speak with the Iraqi people every day. The protesters do not. I don't sit behind a desk and do paperwork or resupply efforts in the military. I am an Infantry Marine and I walk the sewage-filled streets of this city every single day.
In Fallujah, the people watch Al Jazeerah. However, they also watch CNN. A lot of them fear that the United States will soon cut and run. The people of Iraq see when our country is divided. When they see rallies to "Bring The Troops Home," they see that as a sign that we will end our efforts prematurely.
Furthermore, they know that the insurgents will not end their efforts early. That leads them to the conclusion that when we leave, the insurgents will still be there. Therefore, if they help us, their lives and the lives of their loved ones will be in great jeopardy the minute we leave - if we don't finish the job.
Much that they see on American television leads them to believe that we intend to abandon our efforts before the new Iraqi government is capable of defending itself and its citizens.
The actions of these aforementioned organizations and the heavy media coverage their rallies often generate serves as fuel for the insurgency. Insurgents believe they can drive us out through the idea of "death by a thousand cuts." The longer they persist in their efforts, the more the American public becomes disenchanted with the coalition effort.
The insurgency sees this as a result. These criminals will continue to kill Iraqi civilians, Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army and coalition forces so long as they see that their efforts are alienating the American public from its military.
And for those of you that aren't up to speed with the situation in Iraq, the insurgents attack and kill established public services (such as Iraqi police and Iraqi army) more often than they attack coalition forces. As a matter of fact, an explosive-laden insurgent blew himself up last week outside the Iraqi police station that is attached to our compound.
The insurgents aren't fighting simply to drive America out of Iraq. They are fighting to destroy any semblance of the Iraqi government so that they can impose their will on its people.
Publicly protesting our efforts in Iraq fuels the insurgency. Doing it under the pretext of "supporting our troops" is disgraceful.
Let me now emphasize that I respect an American citizen's right to voice his or her opinion in a public forum. Such a right is granted in the U.S. Constitution.
However, voicing one's opinion in such an irresponsible way is something I do not support. Additionally, using deployed service members as a mask to serve your purely political purpose is downright shameful. If your desire is to protest the war, then protest the war, but don't use me or any reference to our troops as a tool to bolster your purpose.
I'll summarize by saying this: Organizations such as The Ridgefield Coalition to Stop the War do not support our troops. No matter what they say or what is printed on the signs they carry, they effectively do the opposite of support us. They downright hurt us.
Such organizations damage the morale of the men and women in the armed forces and progressively cause them to believe less and less in the mission at hand. The conditions here are difficult as it is. Opening a month-old edition of The Ridgefield Press and reading an article about an anti-war demonstration that uses our troops in an effort to mask its true cause doesn't help.
Please do not feign support while effectively telling us that we are fighting for an unworthy cause. I think I speak for an overwhelming majority of our troops when I ask organizations like The Ridgefield Coalition to Stop the War to discontinue using Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors as a means to serve a political end.
You are neither supporting us nor honoring us. You are doing the exact opposite.
Although this letter is not specifically about Murtha it goes to the heart of what he is doing. When he is shown on TV in the United States accusing our Marines of cold-blooded murder he is also being seen on Arabic television. The enemy is watching him and taking courage from his utterances. They know that if he is successful that they will win. Our troops in the field also hear him and are discouraged. If even their own government seems to be turning against them why should they continue to risk as much as they risk?
If people like Murtha were to wake up one morning and say to themselves, "I shall go forth today and commit treason by giving aid and comfort to the enemy", what would they do differently than they are doing now?
It has been requested that this letter be reposted as widely as possible.