I Support the Troops

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I Support the Troops (Coming Home)

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski

Listening to Rush the other day, I started thinking, can’t we get rid of that old canard, "we must support the troops," as an argument for war? This old bromide has been around since Vietnam, and in many cases, the same chicken hawks, arm-chair generals and dedicated non-combatants who used it then are using it now. Rush, the best way to support the troops is to be one of them, would you? They could use the respite. So could we, from you.

But Rush, who will never occupy a military body bag, has tossed out this hackneyed cliché. So bear with me while I shift into my left brain mode — warning to ditto heads: this might hurt a bit.

"Support the troops" as a propaganda slogan didn’t make any more sense back in the Sixties than it does now. Those who wanted that pointless war to continue and therefore were willing to tolerate more troops dying were "supporting the troops." Those who wanted the war to end and wanted to save the lives of the troops were not "supporting the troops." Makes you wonder which side was really smoking too much marijuana back then.

Logically, every war falls into one of two categories: wars the nation should fight and wars the nation should not fight. It is understood that in either case, soldiers, sailors and pilots will lose their lives. The problem with wars that should not be fought is that we lose good people for no good purpose or for purposes that actually harm the nation. When this happens, the fault lies solely with those who launch the nation into war: the President and the Congress and their henchmen and handlers. The fault not does not lie with those who expose the scam.

But what about the morale issue? Troops need morale to be sure. Morale is strongly correlated to the citizenry’s overwhelming support of the war. The citizenry overwhelmingly supports wars such as World War II that are a response to an attack or are (really) necessary for the defense of the nation. They will not for long support wars that are dreamed up by tiny elites that seek to use our troops as a private army to advance obscure private agendas. In short, if there is a morale problem, blame those who launched a war for the wrong reasons.

But please don’t shoot the messengers! They seek to correct the warmongers’ errors, save the lives of our troops, and end the war before it does even further harm to the nation. The real villains are those who, like Kissinger, Nixon, Rumsfeld and little Bush, plot to keep us in a war long after its pointlessness is apparent to any high schooler.

Though I suspect the President’s advisers have read von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu and who knows who, I wonder if they have read Emerson recently?:

"The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? . . . A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."

Because we are dealing with little statesmen and not great souls, we are in real danger. We are dealing with men and women who are maniacally cocksure of themselves (even after presiding over and dozing through the worst day in American history); Bush because he is overcompensating for his filial inferiority complex; his handlers because with their nimble minds they have hypnotized themselves into thinking they are infallible. Sorry Charlie, only one person has that portfolio (and he was antiwar).

So, the warmongers who got us into a big mess and whose egos and power lust will not allow us to get out of it, now resort to their old ploy — one that Goering described — that last refuge of a scoundrel: challenging the patriotism of the opponents of war to blind the people into continuing to support an unnecessary war that is killing Americans and stirring up anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. The notion that those who oppose this private war, fought with public lives and dollars, are not supporting the troops, is one more neo con.

Ironically, the administration’s shift from "humility" to hubris in foreign policy may unleash yet another terrifying weapon of mass destruction: "I, Hillary Rodham Clinton, do solemnly swear . . . "

September 23, 2003

James Ostrowski is an attorney practicing in Buffalo, New York. See his website at http://jimostrowski.com.

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