27 November 2007

Ben Johnson, How to Support the Troops - Get Educated and Take Action

I've got a better idea for you fellas...

I often find a lot of diatribe on the web about young ambitous folks proclaiming "Supporting the Troops" by performing paltry tasks like slapping a ribbon on their SUVs or justifying their lack of civic action and sacrifice by decrying "...but I support the Troops". Wonkette just absolutely destroys a young college Republican, Ben Johnson, who supports our president's war objectives, but can only find time to send the folks downrange beef jerky. The notoriously ruthless website then goes on by denouncing him as a chickenhawk, suggesting he be highlighted in Operation Yellow Elephant, and even saying we reinstate the draft just for him! I still believe the best civic action is to sign up for the military (like many of us did after 9/11), but if you're concerned about terrorism and don't like wearing a uniform or getting yelled at, I have a solution for you my young, inquisitive friend. There are a lot of great charities out there that provide much needed morale boosts to the troops on the front lines and wounded vets, but I'm here to ask for something more from you, the young men and women of our country, to "support the troops".

The grim reality of terrorism was brought to the forefront of the American mind with the 9/11 attacks. Since then Madrid, London, and Amman have suffered similar atrocious attacks, and Al-Qaeda has killed scores of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is painfully clear that the global terrorist apparatus still retains the ability to strike fear into the general population and undermine the confidence of legitimate governments. How can this have happened? Our military is top-notch, well funded, and took down two regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in a matter of weeks. Yet we still are plagued by the violence wrought by terrorism. On the American homefront our leaders continue to bicker amongst each other over whether Iraq was justified and the entire success or failure of the mission of Iraq has been pinned on the Bush administration. My young friends, we need to put aside the partisan rhetoric and get you educated and engaged on all the mistakes and strategies made in the War on Terror, and we also need to encourage taking an interest in the complex dynamics from the society that creates terrorism.

I am mortified that our young, future leaders have dropped out of any sort of civic engagement to update their facebook page from the latest frat party. I am terrified that many of our young citizens only seek to understand the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan to suit talking points for whatever political party they're interested in (Dems, Republicans, Ron Paul, whatever). The global threat of terrorism is not going to go away anytime soon no matter who is elected and we need solutions.

Secretary of Defense Gates (who I think is doing a WAY better job than the last guy) recently spoke of increasing "soft power" at a speech at KSU.

"What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development," he said. He was particularly scathing about Washington's failure at "communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture."...
..."It is just plain embarrassing that Al-Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the internet than America," he said. In addition, Gates said the United States needed to develop "a permanent, sizeable cadre of immediately deployable experts with disparate skills" to work alongside the military in trouble spots.

This "soft power" Mr. Gates speaks of is essential to making other nations and its people understand that terrorism and extremism is counterproductive and atrocious in our 21st century increasingly globalized society. The young people in America need to take part in this effort if plans to defeat terrorism are to succeed. When I was Ben Johnson's age, 9/11 had just happened and I was confused about what was needed of me. But I understood I had to do something, so I ran off and joined the Navy out of college. I have no regrets about what I did and I continue to serve 5.5 years later, even if I'm "stuck in Iraq". Now we have learned a thing or two about what is effective and what isn't in our strategy to ward off terrorism. Young future leaders of America, I implore you to become educated on how we arrived at our present situation. Ask yourself these fundamental questions: How does a powerful, well-funded, multi-national military still have troubles with an insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan? What sort of culture breeds the allure of terrorist activity? What mistakes did we make in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why is reconstruction and humanitarian assistance so important to prevent terrorism? Can you speak Arabic or Farsi?

Maybe when you find these answers through your own research, you will be able to help out and get in the fight with a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations that tackle these problems everyday. These organizations are currently under-utilized and understaffed, but are the best hope for a prosperous future for mankind. I understand the seduction of luxury from a high-paying job right out of school, but what good is that going to do you when there's no safe nation to enjoy it. Help us fight on all fronts, that's how you can "support the troops".


HeDiedForUs said...

I appreciate your decision to serve in the military and your sacrifice. I have a hard time with exactly what it means to "support the troops". Does this mean that one has to support the war, or the executive arm of our government? I don't think so. How about a yellow ribbon magnet on my Explorer or a flag on the porch of my house in the suburbs. These seemingly empty acts mean little to me, but to those keeping the lamp lit on the homefront, these are constant reminders of their loved ones in harm's way.

LT Nixon said...


I agree that those keeping the "lamps lit" on the homefront are extremely important. Military moms, wives, husbands, friends, and well-wishers are crucial to the morale of the troops in harm's way. However, I'm merely bringing to light that more needs to be done from my generation that witnessed 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities. Thanks for the post!

mochalatte said...

Don't confuse war support and patriotism. While in your opinion, the best way to serve the war is to throw on some boots and kevlar and hit the sand, this is not the only way to serve the country and the greater good. Many flag wavers forget that there are many other facets to a strong and functioning America. While our military has been dominating facetime on the news, those serving the arts, the sciences, education, retail, etc. should all be primetime stars as well because without them, there is no America. You are quick to use the term "chickenhawks" and villify those young people who choose not to put on the uniform, but what if they all did? I appreciate those in the military, but that is just one spoke in the wheel. I wouldn't want to live in a completely militarized America. I don't know that it would even be a country worth fighting for. In my opinion, the best way to serve the country fundamentally is to be a taxpaying consumer. That is the base. After that, develop a personal sense of civic responsibility and carve out a niche where you can work and contribute to some kind of productivity. If you find that you are most productive in the Army, the Navy, or at a kiosk in the Mall of Americas, then you have found your proper place in society contributing to the GDP as well as national security.

LT Nixon said...


I totally agree with you that the military is only "one spoke in the wheel" and I am NOT advocating a militarized society. However that spoke is about to snap under strain because too many people buy into this pacifist mantra of endless consumption of crap they don't need. We need more people joining the fight with either the military or "soft power" resources, or we are going to be in serious trouble. We do not need more guys advocating for the GOP or the Dems or whoever in 2008 as they try to slide into a position of power and cozy life for themselves. Thanks for your comment!