How to Support the Troops: One Soldier’s Perspective

by Joel Poindexter, an Iraq war veteran

(Reprinted from with permission)

Among the principals held by conservatives are limited government, fiscal responsibility, and adherence to the constitution. How any group claims these tenets as principals and yet supports the state’s wars of aggression is beyond my understanding. If “war is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne wrote, then conservatives are the health of war.

Limited governments, if such a thing could exist, cannot wage perpetual war; only a leviathan state can do so. A truly limited government would be unable to expropriate enough money through taxes, borrowing, and printing to fund these foreign conquests. A limited government would also be powerless to conscript an army for its machinations, or coercively retain those already in the ranks. This last item is especially important now, as nearly 100,000 service members have had their enlistment terms involuntarily extended in the past ten years, including the author.

Wars are not fiscally responsible; they come at an incredible cost, both in terms of human life and in treasure. The U.S. government right now is spending trillions of dollars on no less than seven undeclared, open-ended, no-win wars. None of which serve the interests of the people in whose names they are waged.

None of the dozens upon dozens of military engagements the U.S. government has undertaken in the past seven decades has been constitutional. Without exception, each has been a war of aggression. Each was fought at the prerogative of the president, who has behaved more like a King, and who was never meant to have war-making powers.

Many suggest they are not supporting the wars, only the troops. This is patently wrong. Anyone who glorifies “their sacrifice,” necessarily supports the wars these soldiers are fighting in. Likewise, to espouse the false claim that these men and women are “defending freedom” is to endorse current U.S. foreign policy, including the wars.

It is either tragic naïveté or willful deception to assert that these wars are meant to defend freedom. The vast warfare/national security state that has been erected in the past ten years has done nothing to promote freedom here, or abroad. To date, the U.S. government has suspended Habeas Corpus; it has detained many thousands of people and held them without charges in secret prisons all around the world. It violates the sovereignty of other nations and summarily executes their people. It convenes panels in secret, drafting lists of citizens to be hunted and killed without due process, or even so much as the pretense of judicial oversight. Children are not even free from such tyranny. It has callously butchered hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, displaced many millions, and destroyed billions of dollars of private property. Torture, or its equally disgusting euphemism, “enhanced interrogation,” is considered by many to be perfectly acceptable, even virtuous. Of course when they do it to us it is considered barbaric.

It is precisely this moral relativism that perpetuates our problems. By refusing to see the humanity in the people whose lives are destroyed in the name of “freedom” we only ensure that others will be driven to take up arms against us out of retaliation. Vengeance is the single greatest factor in motivating terrorism; not an abstract hatred of our lifestyle. It is shameful that so many in this country hold one American citizen in higher regard than one person from another country. Our value as human beings is not determined by which government claims legal authority over us, nor is it by which arbitrary set of boundaries we are born within. Our value is the same in the eyes of our Creator, and is derived simply from our being His.

The federal government has claimed the right to take nude photos of anyone wishing to travel by airplane in this country, and to unnecessarily subject them to potentially dangerous levels of radiation. Those who object are instead treated to what in any other case would be considered sexual molestation. Not even the disabled, the young, nor the elderly can escape this abuse. Our persons, property and effects are no longer secure from federal agents, as warrants issued upon probable cause are from a bygone era. This is the freedom they are fighting to defend, and which these conservatives support?

I would prefer they actually support the troops. This can only be done by relentlessly fighting to bring them home. And by closing the 900 U.S. bases around the world, ceasing to support corrupt and repressive regimes, and by ending the U.S. Empire and all such intervention. As a veteran twice over from the occupation of Iraq, I can think of no better gift to the men and women of the U.S. military than to bring them home. Somehow a toothbrush and a bottle of shampoo just doesn’t measure up.

Nothing says “I support the troops” more than declaring that from this point forward, none of them will die needlessly, thousands of miles from home, fighting unlawful wars of aggression. That they need not fear horrific injuries, nor have their minds irreparably scarred by the trauma and horrors of warfare. Nothing would be better for their families as well. Oh that they can find peace in the knowledge that their father or mother, brother or sister, husband or wife, son or daughter will no longer have to leave for extended periods of time, fearful they’ll never return.


3 thoughts on “How to Support the Troops: One Soldier’s Perspective

  1. The tragic naivete belongs to Mr Poindexter. This war is not an “unlawful war of aggression” as he suggests, rather, an appropriate response to our nation being under atttack. And his belief that “vengeance is the single greatest factor in motavating terrorism” is a dangerous untruth that is being circulated throughout the nation and need to be uprooted as the lie it is. These type of lies are demotivating and demoralizing the very people that need to understand the truth. There are radical Muslim factions that want every single human being on earth submitted to Allah. And if you are willing to know the truth, Allah is in no way similar to, or the same as, the true God we worship. These terrorist are basing their decisions on a deeply held belief that we are the evil satan that needs to be erradicated, and they are willing to do anything. Menwhile, many of us just want to close the door and forget that they are not going to relent just because we “take the troops home”. I wish it were true. Please get some perspective from ex-terrorist that have received Christ and been radically transformed. Then you begin to have basis for truth to work from .

  2. Cindy, I agree that there are Muslims that want to kill Americans. But the point of this soldier’s argument is that that many miss which came first, the hatred of America or American aggression? Remember that U.S. involvement in the Muslim world was not a result of 9/11. We helped overthrow the government of Iran in 1953, imposed sanctions on Iraq that killed 600,000 children in the 1990s, and strongly took sides with Israel in all international debates over Palestine.

    Osama bin Laden plainly stated that the attacks on 9/11 were motivated by such U.S. action.

    In no way is this saying that the 9/11 attacks were justified or that they should not have been responded to (by going after those involved). But, I do agree with this soldier, that most Americans do not realize how much animosity and hatred has been created by our foreign policy. America must evaluate our blame in this matter as well, rather than simply placing the blame on one side. We cannot keep poking a hornets’ nest and pretend to be shock when the bees are upset.

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