William Arkin is a man with a rich extreme Left history, so it's no surprise that he has come out with a recent column that is not very supportive of the US military. What is surprising is the language that he used. He took issue with a recent NBC story from Iraq in which many of the troops their expressed frustration with the lack of support from the American public for their duty. Arkin feels this is way out of line, even to the point of referring to American troops as mercenaries. He alluded to the days of Vietnam in the sense that today's troops don't have it nearly as bad as when American troops were being spat upon and called baby killers. America's soldiers are given "decent wages" and an "obscene amount of amenities" in fighting this war, so their criticism of America's public is uncalled for.
Since then, he has issued a shallow, wormy apology, no doubt because he came under fire for his comments (and not because he is actually sorry for making them, this is my opinion based on his military-hating past). But I think these comments say a lot. It's a message we should ALL listen to, especially those who "support" the troops while openly protesting and speaking out against the cause they're dying for.
The fact is that if Arkin were in a dictatorial society, he would be executed for speaking out against the military. I don't think even he would argue against that. So, it's the essence of irony that the very troops he openly criticizes are the ones who are dying to protect the right he abuses in that criticism. But I think we've been down this road before.
I am willing to give Arkin a little more slack than most folks, but only if he is willing to learn from his mistake. You see Arkin, like most other anti-war folks, never served in the military, so they don't really understand the idea behind a "cause". But Arkin did serve in Greenpeace, so let's use that as a metaphor. Suppose I say on this site that I support William Arkin and everyone else who dedicates their time and energy, sacrificing for Greenpeace. Then, I go out with some of my friends, holding pickets and calling for the end of Greenpeace's actions, saying all this "save the baby seals" and "save the whales" is a lost cause, can never be won, will only result in more problems and must come to an end now. Doesn't that send mixed messages? No doubt Mr Arkin wouldn't be feeling supported, right? And, the truth is, if I did this then I'm not supporting those in Greenpeace. The point is, you can't support someone while calling their cause evil and futile. The two simply don't mix. So either you support the troops, and the cause they fight for, or you don't.
The troops don't have a problem with people opposing their cause, they have a problem with them opposing the cause under false pretenses. These people think that saying "I support the troops" gets them off the hook and allows them to protest while still looking patriotic. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. So when 70% of America says they oppose the war, then that's 70% of our population who DOES NOT support our military, and that's about as plain as I can state it. Ask ANY soldier in the field and they will tell you the same. You may take offense at the idea of giving up your "right" to protest, so be it. Giving up that right just may make things that much easier for America's fighters, just may make their cause that much winnable. Consider it a part of the sacrifice we all need to make in order to emerge victorious. And then when the war is over and the troops are back home safe, then the debate can begin - and so can the protests. So, you're not actually giving up your right to protest, you're just postponing it for the sake of those whose lives are on the line. But if that's too much to ask, then fine, go on protesting - but don't for a second say you support the troops.
As a soldier myself, I want to say that we don't want people to bow down to us, kiss our boots, tell us thank you, throw parades for us, etc. What we want is a little respect and understanding. Understand what the soldiers go through, and respect them for doing it. Feeding us this "I support you but not what you do" crap is NOT gonna fly. Protest all you want, but don't dare say that you do it out of support. We know better. Just because you hate Bush doesn't mean its right to aid America's enemies in an attempt to make him look bad - and that's all your "support" is doing.
Mr Arkin can wail against America's soldiers all he wants. He can hate them and print nasty things about them, calling them mercenaries (as though the money is worth it). But, they'll keep dying to protect his freedom of speech, his right to criticize them. Thank God for that.