Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Do I have to Support This Troop?

Doug Stanhope has a bit on his new DVD about supporting the troops. He thinks the idea is silly, that you should only support people individually rather than in groups because the group may well include people who don’t deserve support. An email that Andrew Sullivan received perhaps supports his point. Sullivan was critical of the military for allowing a tank crew in Iraq to write the words “New Testament” on the side of the tank’s turret. Not only did they allow it, they put a picture of it on the DOD website for the whole world to see. Sullivan’s criticism was accurate. At a time when the last thing we need is to inflame religious tensions, especially in Iraq, sending such messages is incredibly stupid and there must be someone in the Pentagon with the minimal talent for diplomacy necessary to see that. But here is the email he received from a solder in Iraq:

“I would hope to see you over here in theater running your pie-hole about your calls to remove Marines from their post for the ‘New Testament’ inscription on the main battle tank. You would be buried with your insurgent ‘friends’ that you support, through your criticism of our men and women dying for this mission with a bulldozer.

For your safety, I would not even be around soldiers, airmen, or marines. Treason is a high crime and misdemeanor and the price is quite high. Your actions border on treason. You could not survive the long days, enemy in-direct and direct fire, and high demands that our soldiers today execute in 100 degree weather. You would have to have a rucksack full of Vagisil for your clam pal to make it a week here. Most of us are Christians and will continue to support our faith in any way we see fit. Do the right thing: support us or STFU !!!!!!!!!!”

I’m with Stanhope on this one. I don’t support that troop. That troop is an asshole.


  1. #1 decrepitoldfool
    May 30, 2005

    Frankly if I’d been sent halfway around the world to some forsaken hellhole I’d be a little testy about restrictions on my personal expression, too. Soldiers have been painting stuff like on bombs and barrels for a long time – it helps them hold up morale.

    Having said that, I wish that soldier would reconsider – if I were his CO I would urge him to do so – because it’s bad marketing. We’re not just there to kill people, we’re there to sell an idea, and (as you said) doing a piss-poor job of it.

    I feel the same way about the Koran-down-the-toilet thing. Although you can’t flush a book (unless your toilet is a LOT better than mine!) I’d bet dinner and tickets something like it did happen. I have no use for the Koran, but again, it’s bad marketing. We Americans, of all people, should understand the importance of making the sale.

  2. #2 Steve Reuland
    May 30, 2005

    “Treason is a high crime and misdemeanor…”

    I had no idea that treason was a misdemeanor.

  3. #3 Enigma
    May 30, 2005

    Something like that message is a moral booster, however, if I were that tank’s commander, I’d have had my men pick a diffrent message.

    That said, this particular troop is an asshole, and furthermore ignorant of the meaning of the word treason. I’d love to see him take a similar attitude with his CO, but I can understand the way he feels about criticism from civilians. It’s not what was said, it’s who said it. Dosen’t make it right, but it makes it more understandable.

  4. #4 Grumpy
    May 30, 2005

    “Your actions border on treason.”

    Perhaps a constituent of Rep. Spencer Bachus. Sure looks like treason has a very wide border.

    FWIW, even Hasan Akbar wasn’t charged with treason, and he *killed* two fellow soldiers in Kuwait. He already faces the death penalty; imagine how much worse if he had said to the officers he killed, “Maybe you shouldn’t write that there, because it might offend somebody.”

  5. #5 spyder
    May 30, 2005

    As for the misdemeanor of treason, the Constitution is fairly definitive:
    Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

    As for the labelling of a tank, it seems to me that the act itself is in opposition to the Administrations own policies of creating a more positive relationship with the Muslim world. Yesterday for example: State Department official, Paul Simons, said that the ”internal deliberative process” was conceived to encompass everything from further crackdowns on terrorist financing networks to policies aimed at curbing the teaching of holy war against the West and other ”tools with respect to the global war on terrorism.”

    Unless killing people(and that includes children in buildings like Fallujah when it was blown to bits by tanks and artillery) with the Ten Commandments is part of the “curbing the teaching of holy war” then i suspect that issues of morale and historical past are not valid as reasons to create more problems than they solve.

  6. #6 Calling All Toasters
    May 31, 2005

    I’m reminded of a great article in the Onion (title paraphrased): “Local Man Supports the Troops He Doesn’t Know.”

  7. #7 NickM
    May 31, 2005

    There is something satisfying about Sully having flung back in his face the same term – treason – that he was so eager to fling at anyone who questioned the war. Now, hopefully, he’s starting to see where such loose application of that word gets us – everyone who doesn’t support every stupid thing a “troop” does can be attacked as a traitor and told to shut up or pay the consequences.

  8. #8 spyder
    May 31, 2005

    I realized this morning after seeing the actual picture posted at TomPaine.com, that there is something uniquely ironic here. Isn’t in the New Testament where it says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” I guess this is a reiteration of “Bring It On!”

  9. #9 Patrick
    May 31, 2005

    Joe Carter, former Marine and author of The Evangelical Outpost, was more upset about it than I was. He pointed out to me that one of the 14 core leadership traits of a Marine should be “Tact”, defined as:

    “Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm. ”


    Looks like that Marine needs to do some push-ups.

  10. #10 Gryph
    May 31, 2005

    On the other hand, if an asshole is willing to die for his country, protecting us sitting here at home in a cushy chair, well then yes, we do have to support him. But that doesn’t mean not holding him to account. After all, as Team America puts it, we are supposed to be dicks, not assholes.

  11. #11 KeithB
    June 1, 2005

    Did anyone else here the NPR story a few weeks ago following the squad on PR duty?

    1. They were passing out US-printed newspapers. One man it seems was tearing them up as soon as the soldiers left. The soldiers came back and cussed him out for tearing up the papers. Uh, didn’t we “free” Iraq for free expression?

    2. They comandeered a private hose to do some surveillance. They threatened to kill – though he specifically kept that from being translated -the inhabitants if they did not do what they said. (The family was held prisoner in their own house for several hours.)

    And this was in front of an embedded reporter!

  12. #12 carpundit
    June 2, 2005

    My first thought: I’m glad the asshole is in Iraq, and not, say, Massachusetts.

    I’m sure the demographics of the Marine Corps line-up quite nicely with the demographics of Christian Conservatives, and some of the troops probably do think they’re fighting a Holy War.

    Here’s the thing: the other side thinks it’s a Holy War. Maybe they’re not wrong.

New comments have been disabled.