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Letter - I'm sick of political partisans telling me I don't support troops

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DETROIT LAKES - After reading the Letter to the Editor from the representative of "Vets for Victory" in the Sunday paper, I decided to look up "Iraq War veterans groups" on the Internet. What I found was that there seemed to be an equal number of groups on both sides of the issue. Their views varied from calling for immediate withdrawal to staying until we achieve absolute victory. What I took from this, is that the views of veterans seem to mirror that of the general public and that no one group speaks for all veterans.

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I came to the conclusion that this is an election year and that most groups, whether veteran or civilian are trying to push a particular political agenda. The main message this letter was trying to push was a continuation of the Iraq policy that has been the cornerstone of the Bush administration.

The U.S. Constitution makes it quite clear that decisions concerning war are the exclusive prerogative of the federal government. The states can pass all the proclamations they want and it will have little or no legal affect on decisions concerning war. I would guess that the reason Oklahoma and Vermont were able to pass these resolutions was that the opposition sees them as having little political value and they preferred to use their limited resources elsewhere.

I did become concerned about several statements in this letter that seemed to be included in this group's overall position of "Supporting the Troops."

1) The writer appeared to support the actions of the Blackwater mercenaries who killed 14 innocent Iraqis in an attempt to maintain their perfect record of escorting dignitaries. It was not the media that condemned this massacre but the FBI of the United States. To lump these hired guns in with our well trained American soldiers is a slap in the face to those who know the difference between right and wrong. Soldiers have chosen to serve our country from a sense of duty to the United States, not for the huge sums of money paid by corporations that profit from war.

2) The writer appears to be ridiculing those soldiers that have returned from extended combat tours with mental health issues and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He refers to them as "maladjusted beings of pity." PSTD is a well documented issue that has made life difficult for many returning Vets. It makes me wonder if this organization has any concern for what happens to our soldiers after they return home.

3) The writer refers to the Bi-Partisan Iraq Study group which was requested by George Bush as pessimistic. In fact, this study called for opening dialogue with Iran and Syria as a precursor to reducing our troops. He seems to be dismissing any attempt at diplomacy in favor of an all out military victory over the "Axis of Evil." It concerns me that he has not defined "victory." It is important to know this since this term has been redefined by the Bush administration several times since he landed on that aircraft carrier and declared "victory."

Many people consider the capture of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of WMD's as the results we were originally seeking. Almost all of our legislative representatives on both sides of the aisle are calling for diplomacy, realizing that the expense to the US in both lives and resources is more than we can continue to sustain.

I am only speaking for myself but I am getting sick and tired of being told by partisan political groups that I am not supporting the troops if I don't do things their way. They fire off terms like "abandonment," "defeat," "victory," "patriotism" and "morality" as if there is only one definition and it is their right to define it. This is propaganda, pure and simple. They try to tell you they are being oppressed by the media even though they have several outlets that publish their positions on a regular basis. The main problem these groups have right now is that very few people agree with them anymore.

The propaganda I have been listening to is in the form of numbers: 150,000 is the number of Iraqis that have been killed since the US invasion; 2,000,000 is the number of Iraqis that have been displaced and become refugees; 3,940 is the number of American soldiers that have died; 28,938 is the number of American soldiers that have been wounded; 200,000 is the number of American veterans that are homeless; $ 1 trillion is the number of borrowed dollars that it will cost to fight a ten year war; 0 is the number of Iraqis that were involved in the 9-11 attacks; 0 is the number of Civil wars that were being fought in Iraq prior to 2003; 0 is the number of Al-Qaeda bases in Iraq prior to 2003; 0 is the number of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were in Iraq prior to 2003; 935 is the number of statements made by the Bush Administration about WMD and Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to 2003 that have proven to be untruthful.

In a democracy, there is a clear division between the military and the administration of the country. The military is ultimately commanded by a civilian. This was determined as necessary by our founding fathers to prevent a military takeover of the government and a resulting dictatorship. This means that the decisions of "why," "if" and "when" we fight a war are civilian and legislative decisions. If a decision is made to end a war, it is because of political reasons and not because we don't support our troops. We provide support for our troops by allowing them to use their expertise to determine "how," "where" and by "what means" the war will be fought. When these decisions are made we back them up and provide for their needs. I believe that the people of this country (even those that disagree with the politics) have done an admirable job of supporting our troops and should take pride in that fact. I also believe that any group that has chosen to become involved in the "if" and "when" of fighting a war has stepped into the civilian arena and their motives are open to the same scrutiny as anyone else. Knowing "how" to fight a war does not necessarily make you an expert on "why" we are fighting a war.

-- Donald Johnson, Detroit Lakes

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