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Secretary Rumsfeld's recent callous actions towards American servicemen and women fighting in Iraq have one positive aspect: They teach us that supporting the troops and supporting the Iraq war are two different things.
This week, the military newspaper "Stars & Stripes" reported that Secretary Rumsfeld broke with tradition and mailed condolence letters with machine signatures. Many military families were justly angry that the deaths of their sons and daughters did not merit the secretary's personal attention for the 30 seconds a signature would have taken. This demoralizes our troops; it doesn't support them.
Last week Secretary Rumsfeld's initial response to a service member's question about a lack of armor was, "You go to war with the army you have, not the one you might want." An odd comment, considering we had complete control over the timing of our invasion. Our army could have been deployed with the best armor, as well as sufficient language specialists and anything else we needed to win the peace as well as the war. The president, Secretary Rumsfeld and others chose otherwise. Two years and $100 billion in supplemental appropriations later, our soldiers in the field still seem to lack needed equipment. It seems to me that "supporting the troops" means giving them what they need to do the job as best they can. Secretary Rumsfeld has failed to do this.
Mr. Rumsfeld's recent actions seem to show that he supports the Iraq war more than the troops fighting it. This is his right. However, some of us believe that we can support the troops and their needs while believing that our Iraq venture was ill considered from the start.