Support Our Troops, But...

As this Youtube video of a Humvee driving in Baghdad shows, don't blindly assume they're always serving our best interests.

By Simon Jones

As much as I am entirely against the United States' war for oil—er, I mean—mission to bring peace and democracy to Iraq, I support to a degree the notion of “supporting the troops.” Having said that, doesn’t your heart just sink when you see this kind of thing?

Being so far away and entirely unfamiliar with the culture of Iraq, it is, of course, hard for any of us to understand the pressures the soldiers are under. But just ask yourself: How exactly is the United States going to “win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people” when its soldiers are ramming their armored cars into vehicles with families in them, bashing buses full of people, and narrowly missing children running across the road, in incidents that are just chilling to watch?

Granted, part of the reason they drive like this is to limit the risk of attack, which I understand entirely. But put yourself in an Iraqi’s boots for a moment when a big ol’ wagon full of Yanks screams through your streets ramming vehicles, causing the very mayhem they were sent to your country to control.
The soldiers use the excuse that if they’re stationary for any length of time, they invariably come under fire. Then they have to retaliate, making them the “bad guy.” But doesn’t that sound like a "chicken and egg" situation? Someone will shoot at us because they don’t like us, so in order to avoid threats from angry anti-Americans, we ram other road users out of the way wherever we go which… makes people feel angry and anti-American. Hmm?

Now imagine a slightly different version of this video. Lets say, for example, that the soldiers are firemen aboard a fire truck in an American city. Imagine turning on the evening news and seeing them barreling down the street, sirens wailing, as they try to weave their way through busy rush hour traffic. They start to ram vehicles out of the way, many vehicles over and over, some carrying families and children. Do you suppose there might be an outcry?

On the bright side though, I suppose when America is done bringing freedom to Iraq, and when Iraqi “hearts and minds” have finally been won, the Iraqi people will be able to exercise a freedom that you know would be exercised in the United States : Suing somebody for millions of dollars. Long live democracy.


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Simon Jones is a webmaster who lives outside Liverpool, England. Though a Brit, he dislikes European football and loves the Red Sox. He writes a blog called Before I Forget, where a version of this essay originally appeared.


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