Clausewitz said, "War is the continuation of politics by other means". With a US military that reports to civilian leadership, Clausewitz is spot on for the US. Only the Congress has the authorization to delcare war, appoint officers or raise an army as stated in the US Constitution. Only the President has the authorization to direct the military.
This being the case, I find it disingenuous when leaders from either political party obfuscate what should be a discussion about the purpose and direction of military action by focusing instead on the honor and sacrifice of our military. The American military is a professional fighting force that doesn't want thank you. What it does want is clear strategy provided by its civilian leadership. Thank you's don't prevent any more combat deaths; strategy can.
I know that many in our military would have rather had President Bush spend his two minutes on substance during his State of the Union instead of emotionally charged thank yous and vignettes. Long term (10+ years), I believe the US can be better off for having gone into Iraq, but only through execution of a clear strategy.
I'm not making a republican or democrat criticism here ... I'm making a political criticism. Politicians need to step up to their responsibility under the US Constitution and treat the military like what it is ... their instrument for advancing US aims. Not something that should be used to manipulate emotions. If Politicians want to honor the 2200+ military people who have been killed, they can begin to do so by providing clear strategy. Start with Iraq and continue on through the quadrennial defense review ....