Supporting the Troops
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Now more than any time in history, the majority of Americans are in love with the military. It doesn't seem to matter how many countries the United States has bases in. It doesn't seem to matter how many countries the United States has troops stationed in. It doesn't seem to matter that the United States has had troops in some countries since the end of World War II. It doesn't seem to matter what the reason is for each war or intervention. It doesn't seem to matter how many foreign civilians are killed or injured. It doesn't seem to matter how many billions of dollars are spent by the military. It doesn't seem to matter what the troops are actually doing — Americans generally believe in supporting the troops no matter what.
I don't support the troops. I don't support the troops in this war, and I won't support them in the next one with Iran or any other country.
The typical view of the U.S. military held by the average American is the one expressed by the American Legion:
At this moment, America's finest young men and women are serving in harms way on our behalf in places thousands of miles from our shores. In Iraq, they liberated oppressed people. In Afghanistan, the Philippines, parts of the Middle East and even here at home, they are preventing another Sept. 11. In over 130 countries, the U.S. military is finding and eliminating terrorists committed to destroying our way of life.
This is gibberish. Every sentence contains at least one lie, and the parts that are true (troops thousands of miles away in over 130 countries) are undesirable. These are the people whose patriotic juices flow when they see a bumper sticker that says: "If You Can Read, Thank a Teacher. If You Can Read in English, Thank a Marine." They might even have their own bumper sticker that boldly proclaims: "My Son Is in the Air Force." These are the people who think that I am only able to write what I do because some Americans in the past donned a military uniform and fought the communists in Vietnam. These are the people who think that everything the military does is somehow in defense of our freedoms.
Many Americans, however, are not that gullible. They have a healthy distrust of government. They are not in favor of the U.S. military participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations, nation building, or regime changes. And while some might favor the military being used to assist in humanitarian relief efforts, others would be opposed to any interventions on foreign soil.
It is understandable that those in the former group who hold a glorified view of the military might think that it is treasonous to not support the troops in whatever military or humanitarian endeavor the president sends them on, but it is strange to see those in the latter group likewise say that they support the troops. At the SupportYourTroops website we are even told:
Regardless of your opinions on war or U.S. foreign policy, we hope you take some time to show YOUR troops that you support them.
But why should we? It is ludicrous to say you oppose the war but support the troops. It is the troops that invaded a foreign country. It is the troops that are occupying a foreign country. It is the troops that are dropping the bombs. It is the troops that are throwing the grenades. It is the troops that are launching the missiles. It is the troops that are firing the mortars. It is the troops that are shooting the bullets. It is the troops that are destroying homes and infrastructure. It is the troops that are injuring, maiming, and killing people, including thousands of civilians.
If more Americans who don't support U.S. wars and interventions would also quit expressing support for the troops then perhaps more of the troops would quit participating in these wars and interventions.
But what about the Iraqis? They have killed, injured, or maimed thousands of U.S. soldiers. Of course they have. What do you think we would do to foreign troops that invaded our soil? But did we not remove their oppressive dictator? Indeed we did. But there are some things about removing Saddam Hussein that should be noted. First, wasn't he also an oppressive dictator in the 1980s? Why is it that he was our friend up until the Persian Gulf War? Second, Hussein was a greater "threat" to U.S. interests under the regime of Bush I than he was under Bush II. Why wasn't he taken out in 1991 after we routed his armies? Third, why are U.S. troops still in Iraq three years after they toppled Hussein's regime? What happened to "victory" and "Mission Accomplished?" Fourth, how would Americans feel if another country said that we needed to submit to a regime change? As much as Americans loathe George Bush, they would be outraged. And fifth, whose responsibility was it to remove Saddam Hussein from power? It certainly wasn't the responsibility of the United States. The kind of government they have and the type of leader they have is the sole business of the Iraqi people. If Saddam was so bad, any Iraqi could have put a bullet in his head and gone down in history as a hero. Even Saddam had to sleep at night. Ridding the country of Saddam Hussein was not worth the life of one American. Not one. What comfort it must be to the mother of a dead American soldier to know that although her son is dead and Saddam Hussein is alive, healthy, and eating three meals a day — he has been deposed!
I have been accused by an emotional wreck of a mother of boys in the military of hating American troops fighting in Iraq and wanting them to come home in body bags because I don't support the troops. I have never said or thought anything of the kind. I feel sorry for American troops sent to fight without the proper equipment or training. I feel sorry for American troops sent to fight for bogus reasons. I feel sorry for American troops sent to fight without a clear mission. I feel sorry for American troops sent to fight for a liar in chief.
I especially feel sorry for those U.S. soldiers who now realize that the United States had no business invading Iraq regardless of how quickly the war might have ended or how few casualties we might have suffered. I realize that they feel trapped in a war machine run by a deranged psychotic with no regard for their welfare. But as I have recently expressed, the troops are still responsible for their actions. A man does not throw his morality out the window just because he puts on a uniform, as one of my critics recently suggested.
In spite of everything I have said about not supporting the troops, there are in fact some ways in which I fully support them. I support bringing the troops home — today, not tomorrow or next week or next month — right now. I support providing the troops with gainful employment. I support allowing the troops to be conscientious objectors — the more the better. I support allowing the troops to leave the military — in droves. I support giving the troops medical treatment for their injuries. I support giving the troops mental help for emotional problems related to being in combat.
And when they are all home — from Iraq and everywhere else in the world — I support using the troops to actually patrol our coasts and guard our borders. I support the troops so much that I don't want them sent to fight any more foreign wars.
Support the troops!
October 2, 2006
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. He is also the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. His new book is Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. Visit his website.
Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com