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Soldier Blames Government, Not Public, for Poor Morale

Is public criticism of the war in Iraq hurting morale among the troops there? Here's what one active-duty officer in Iraq told me:

Morale is pretty lousy where I am, but I don't hear guys complaining about the lack of support back home. By "morale," of course, I don't just mean "I feel good." Morale describes how much troops believe in the mission at hand.

Now if the mission at hand is actually to bring democracy to this country, than frankly morale was shot a long time ago. The first time I was down here I heard troops saying that we just needed to bomb this country into oblivian and go home. That's a standard gripe and not entirely serious, but then, it does show that there is a certain lack of faith in the idea of spreading democracy here.

I have actually tried to ask fellow soldiers, "So do you think we're really spreading democracy down here?" That question elicits various responses from blank stares to outright laughter. Not once have I heard a soldier answer in the affirmative.

Morale is poor for a number of reasons, and it's true that support from home plays a role. But it's not the support of the common American people that we are lacking most, but the support of our government leaders who have repeatedly undermined -- and are still undermining -- this war by failing to provide the proper numbers of troops, training, and resources that we need.

So if we're going to dick around instead of treating this mission seriously -- and empty platitudes to "stay the course" don't count as taking the mission seriously -- we might as well go home.


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