I’m writing today to rebut Frank Caprio’s recent article, “A Way To Support Our Troops.” I rarely disagree with a colleague so vehemently I feel the need to offer a rebuttal, but after several hours of the subject intruding on my thoughts, it was clear I’d need to put pen to paper.
The central premise of Mr. Caprio’s commentary is that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home. Additionally, he believes having troops around the world only feeds the Military-Industrial Complex unnecessarily, filling the pockets of greedy capitalists. Lastly, he says overseas bases are unconstitutional. Mr. Caprio, I strongly suggest you haven’t done enough research.
Cut And Run, A Sad Legacy Of American Might
First, and most obviously, nature truly does abhor a vacuum. Perhaps Frank has forgotten what happened when President Obama yanked our men and women out of Iraq — ISIS. Having spent appreciable blood and treasure bringing stability to Iraq, we cut and ran; effectually, we rolled out the red carpet for any terrorist group ready to take advantage. This is a simplistic version of events, but logical in response to Mr. Caprio’s painfully oversimplified and naive theory. Have we really learned nothing? How many human beings, American, Iraqi, Egyptian, Turkish, etc., paid the ultimate price for Obama’s stupendous gaffe? I distinctly remember the Jordanian Pilot shockingly burned alive in a cage, and other horrific ways to murder since the advent of the Islamic State. Not only did our Commander-in-Chief pull the troops, he announced to the world the exact date he would have the last man out. I’ll never understand how a supposedly brilliant man, Barack Obama, could not foresee the consequences of his decision. To repeat such an act would be sheer stupidity.
The US also pulled the “cut and run” in Vietnam on the eve of victory, leading to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and the deaths of approximately one-quarter of the Cambodian people from starvation, overwork, disease, and genocide. We have blood on our hands for abandoning Cambodia when they needed our support most earnestly. There are long-range complications when abandoning nations we’ve promised to help. Its happened too many times and fostered an atmosphere of hatred and distrust in many places of the world.
Important Military Roles
I’d like to share an anecdote to illustrate my second point. My husband deployed to the De-Militarized Zone in Germany during the Cold War. He and his brothers were there for one reason, and one reason only— to give the surrounding townspeople a short window of time from which to escape should the Soviet-controlled East Germans and Czechs come across the border; they were to hold the line until reinforcements arrived. The soldiers knew it was a suicide mission if the unthinkable happened, yet they trained in all seasons for such an eventuality and stood proudly along the line before the barbed wire and East German gun towers. Our young men and women go all over the world for countless reasons of vital import to our nation.
For all of the places our troops find themselves, the US has never absorbed conquered lands overseas. We’ve protected the people, rebuilt infrastructure, and given nations back to their rightful owners whole. This is an enormous point of pride for our troops, both active and veteran. In terms of security, having outposts in strategic areas across the globe gives our military the ability to respond quickly when and if the need arises. We are part of a global community, and that’s not likely to change. Isolationism didn’t work in the 1930s, rather the policy contributed to the instability that led to WWII; surely the unrest we’re seeing across Europe and Asia, not to mention the hotbeds of radicalism in the Middle East, should give us pause. It would be a grave mistake to bring everyone home and roll up the borders. Remember, America is a Superpower and a force for good in this world. Relinquishing that title would create the ultimate vacuum, leaving global citizens to the mercy of madmen.
No, our troops are not policemen, and should not be used as such; it’s not their mission. However, it is simply false to say that our overseas involvement is illegal or unconstitutional. The Commander-in-Chief has broad authority to use any branch of the military when and if he deems fit. National defense is specifically tasked to the Federal Government in our founding documents. Yes, having a unilateral Declaration of War makes the whole process easier, but it’s not the only way to skin the proverbial cat. War can only be declared against a country, not a terrorist group; because we are not fighting a conventional war in the Middle East, no means exists to officially declare current hostilities war.
The Military Industrial Complex
A long list of household items, food staples, and technological wonders have emerged from these evil corporatists. As terrible as war is, there will always be evil, and it will always require an answer. The silver lining is the inventions and breakthroughs which germinate in the Military Industrial Complex and make each successive new war less bloody and less lethal.
The medical breakthroughs alone are impressive: penicillin, artificial limbs, epi-pens, and ambulances are just a few developments that came directly from military medicine.
Freeze dried foods, canned foods, sliced bread, Cheetos, and M&Ms all had their beginnings in military rations for the troops; after all, an army marches on its stomach.
Duct Tape, Jeeps, microwave ovens, superglue, disposable-blade safety razors, wristwatches, nylon, synthetic rubber tires, feminine hygiene products, and aviator sunglasses originated in military research and development.
Technology would not be what it is today without the military. Computers, the Internet, GPS, digital photography, drones, virtual reality, cell phones, and jet engines— are all military advances we use every day.
One would be naive to think there are not excesses, fraud, and theft woven through the web of red tape and bureaucracy inherent in the various arms of government and their private sector partners. Waste is a hallmark of all government business, with tentacles reaching beyond original plans and intents. Pulling our troops from overseas will not deter misuse. The problem is deep-seated and intrinsic in the overall existing government constructs. What is clear, however, is research and development dollars are not a waste when one considers the lives saved, and also the businesses that have sprung up which drive the US economy.
Understanding Military Deployment
Our country is bitterly divided politically, culturally, and socially; obtaining permission from a Congress split along party lines is nearly impossible. The use of the military falls under the purview of the President and his military advisors for good reason. Most Congressional members aren’t privy to the higher classifications of intelligence available to the Commander-in-Chief and his military advisors. Also, military operations are not politically expedient, making consensus within Congress difficult to achieve.
Additionally, in most areas of the world, our troops are not engaged in combat operations. They protect treaties, provide necessary intelligence, and serve as the best deterrent to aggression from outsiders. Many bases exist overseas as a result of agreements drawn between the Allies after WWII. Our troops know what they’re signing up for, and have volunteered to protect our interests globally. Generally speaking, the military men and women who swear to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, are proud of the work they do, and wouldn’t want it any other way. They prefer to do the job as far away from the United States as possible, quashing trouble long before it reaches US soil.
The troops deserve thanks and gratitude for doing a job the rest of us have no desire to do. Please do support mothers, fathers, spouses, and families of our heroes with a kind word or gesture— they’re serving just as surely as their loved one. Carefully choose leaders who will truly support our military by utilizing them according to the missions they’ve trained for, and with equipment designed to do the job properly.
The idea that supporting the troops means to bring them home and shield them from harm, however, is anathema to the 1% who wear the uniform. Mr. Caprio’s article is an insult to these fine men and women. They are not in need of our protection, but we are wholly dependent on theirs.