Wednesday, February 23, 2005

t r u t h o u t || Supporting the Troops

Lifted from William Pitt's fyi blog. Normally I don't do this, but given that my blog's primary and only theme is the troops, I am taking creative license.

Supporting the Troops

By WilliamPitt,

Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 at 08:09:27 PM EST :: Iraq ::
A blogger named Mike on a page titled 'Cold Fury' has delivered the seven millionth iteration of the old chestnut about liberals hating and disrespecting U.S. soldiers. His impetus for doing so came from a New York Post story that describes troops receiving less-than-fully-supportive letters from schoolchildren. Some of the comments in those letters:

One Muslim boy wrote: "Even thoe (sic) you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?" His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: "I know your (sic) trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."

Interestingly, the Cold Fury page does not bother to actually quote any of the letters themselves, but only relates the reaction of the soldier who received them. Right out of the gate, there is a degree of intellectual dishonesty here. The young Brooklyn letter-writer above clearly states the soldier is defending our country, but dares to ask why civilians are dying and why mosques are destroyed. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's a fair question, and from the mouths of babes to boot.

The larger issue here, however, isn't about kids asking soldiers about dead civilians and smashed mosques. It's about yet another conservative writer wrapping himself in the flag while denouncing his political opposites for failing to 'support the troops.' This nonsense has gone on long enough.

I received a letter last year from a woman named Jane. It read:

"Dear Mr. Pitt, I must share with you the obituary I wrote for my son, Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who was killed July 24 near Mosul. I often think of the contributions my intelligent, sensitive wonderful son could have made. He had so much potential. He told us that when he came back from Iraq he wanted to help people. He said he had seen so much hatred and death that the only way to live his life was through aid to others. Look at what we've lost. The loss is not just mine, it's the world's loss. Evan will always be alive in my heart. He and all the other victims of this heinous action in Iraq must be more than mere numbers emerging from the Pentagon's daily tally. His death is a crime against humanity and the fault lies with the war criminals who inhabit our White House. Please share his story so that he may come alive to your readers."

Jane here got her son back from Iraq in a transfer tube, and has only a folded American flag to remember him by. Her son Evan went over to Iraq to help locate and destroy 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent (500 tons equalling 1,000,000 pounds), 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs and uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapons program. In other words, he went looking for the stuff described on this White House web page, a page that correlates exactly with Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

Evan Ashcraft died in the process, along with 1,484 of his brothers and sisters in arms in Iraq. He and they died without finding any of the material used to frighten this nation into war. The material remains unfound to this day, and 1,484 American families are left to suffer the hole in their lives and wonder why it need be there at all.

How can it be considered 'supporting the troops' to ignore this harsh reality, to stick your head in the stand and allow matters to continue as they have to date? I would venture that nothing in Mike's or any other conservative's ranting about 'supporting the troops' has anything to do with the troops themselves, but has only to do with supporting their side of the tribal warfare that American politics has turned into. It is verboten to admit that your political tribe has made a bad step, so the alternative appears to be a shriek of nationalist nonsense that covers up the hard fact that you have helped cheerlead a lot of men and women to their deaths.

Are there liberals who have said bad things about American soldiers? Of course; being a bastard is and has always been a non-denominational affair. My father volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1969. His call to the freedom bird came while he was still out in the field. He arrived at Dulles Airport to meet my mother still dressed in his bush greens, still wearing the moustache, with the mud of Vietnam still under his fingernails and stuck inside the waffle of his boot sole.

A few days earlier, he had come across a beautiful old French rifle. It was given to him by a Vietnamese friend, a former teacher with three children who had been conscripted permanently into the military. My father managed to bring this rifle home with him, and sent it on the flight in the baggage hold along with his duffel.

My father and my mother stood waiting at the baggage claim for his things to come down. The people there - and this was 1970, remember - backed away from him as if he was radioactive. They knew where he had just come from. If the greens were not a giveaway, the standard issue muddy tan he and all the vets wore upon return from Vietnam was. When the rifle came down the belt, not in a package or a box, just laying there in all its reality, the crowd was appalled and horrified. My mother and father looked at each other and wondered what these people were thinking. What did they think was happening over there? What did they think it is that soldiers do? Did they even begin to understand this war, and what it meant, what it was doing to American soldiers, to the Vietnamese soldiers like my father's friend, and to the civilians caught in the crossfire?

The looks on those people's faces there said enough. The answer was no. They didn't know, and apparently didn't want to know. Now, thirty three years later, we are back in that same place again, fighting a war few understand that is affecting soldiers and civilians in ways only those soldiers and civilians can truly know. Some liberals have failed to learn the hard lesson of Vietnam - blame not the sword but the hand that weilds it - but most have learned that lesson full well thanks to the experiences of their own fathers and mothers, and never mind what Mike has to say on the subject.

Would it been better for the teacher of that Brooklyn class to check those letter to make sure their content was nothing but supportive? Perhaps. Yet it is always the children who seem to ask the hardest and most necessary questions, and if they don't question aloud why so many civilians and holy sites have been erased in places like Fallujah, no one else will. Certainly the news media can't be counted on; I can number on one hand the times mention of those missing weapons of mass destruction have been referenced in the public discussion. It's about 'liberty' now, and never mind that Rumsfeld pal and Iranian spy Ahmad Chalabi came within an ace of running the place.

Somehow, having a kid from Brooklyn put the question forward is appropriate. The New York Daily News has published a disturbing report on the hapenings in that burg:

Defense attorneys call it Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib. On the ninth floor of the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, terrorism suspects swept off the streets after the Sept. 11 attacks were repeatedly stripped naked and frequently were physically abused, the Justice Department's inspector general has found.

The detainees - none of whom were ultimately charged with anything related to terrorism - alleged in sworn affidavits and in interviews with Justice Department officials that correction officers: Humiliated them by making fun of - and sometimes painfully squeezing - their genitals; Deprived them of regular sleep for weeks or months; Shackled their hands and feet before smashing them repeatedly face-first into concrete walls - within sight of the Statue of Liberty; Forced them in winter to stand outdoors at dawn while dressed in light cotton prison garb and no shoes, sometimes for hours.

"In December, they left me outside for more than four hours (wearing) only a jumpsuit and a light prison coat," Ahmed Khalifa, an Egyptian, told the Daily News. "I asked them to let me inside. They were laughing and pointing to me. When I finally got back inside, I felt like I had frostbite." The Justice Department's inspector general has substantiated some of the prisoners' allegations - and some incidents were captured on videotape. But the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any federal correction officer at MDC.

"I was informed the videos amounted to nothing more than shoving, but no serious injuries," said one Justice Department official, who would speak only on condition he not be identified. But Inspector General Glenn Fine, whose staff reviewed 380 MDC videotapes, reported in 2003 that "These tapes substantiated many of the detainees' allegations." Furthermore, the officers were not just a few bad apples but "a significant percentage of those who had regular contact with the detainees," Fine wrote last March.

The Justice Department currently is reconsidering its rejection of a News Freedom of Information request for the tapes, after the paper filed an appeal. Meanwhile, interviews by The News with 12 ex-detainees - all but one now deported for visa violations - and a review of sworn complaints filed against the Bureau of Prisons adds shocking detail to the earlier findings of what occurred at MDC. The picture that emerges mirrors some of the abuses the International Committee of the Red Cross denounced recently as "tantamount to torture" when inflicted by U.S. military authorities on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This isn't talking about Abu Ghraib or Baghram or Guantanamo. This is Brooklyn, in the good old U.S. of A., in the town of that kid who dared ask a soldier a hard question about his job. Something has gone badly wrong with the way this administration is pursuing its 'War on Terror' policies, and bellowing about supporting the troops can't cover it up anymore.

When we invade a nation on false pretenses, something has gone wrong. When an American administration frightens its own people into supporting an unnecessary war with images of mushroom clouds and poison gas, something has gone wrong. When that war is unfurled with too few troops, too little money and not enough international support, something has gone wrong. When we 'go small' into that war to avoid offending neighboring Saudi Arabia, something has gone wrong. When the soldiers are not given the necessary armor, something has gone wrong. When the rhetoric about Iraq being a bastion of terrorists is proven false, but the invasion itself helps create that bastion of terrorism, something has gone wrong. When we get into the international torture business, and bring that torture home to our own soil, something has gone wrong. When seemingly smart people cannot see the forest for the trees in this matter, something has gone wrong. When our national media establishment refuses to discuss these matters, something has gone wrong.

Mike and his friends would do well to leave the 'Liberals don't support the troops' rhetoric at the door. It's divisive, misleading, flat wrong and bluntly insulting. The mother of Evan Ashcraft supports the troops, thinks the war is wrong, and wants the troops brought home. Her feelings are shared by millions.

When you don the uniform of the United States military and raise your hand to take the oath, you are promising to give your life in defense of your home and family. A promise is made in return: The government commanding you and your fellow soldiers will not spend your life to no gain, will not waste your blood in an unnecessary exercise. That promise has been broken, and I can think of no better way to support the troops who made their promise than by pointing out the fact that this government broke its promise.

Support the troops. Bring them home. Alive.

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

- Bob Dylan, 'Masters of War'

Supporting the Troops

Found this post at DailyKos
and am posting for the general interest. Will is mentioned at the end of the post:
More and more deserting U.S military - Harper's tells the tale!
by Chrisblue

Mon Feb 21st, 2005 at 22:08:02 PST

Want out of the military? It's possible you can just leave.
I used to think of that info as sort of a trade secret; I was even wondering how to handle it in this book. Now, Harper's Magazine gives it all away and then some - following nine deserters through the process, and even getting it right about what it says about war.......

Diaries :: Chrisblue's diary ::

"I can't legally advise you to go AWOL," we say to the caller on the G.I. Rights Hotline, using language trained into us by more experienced colleagues. "All I can do is advise you of current Army/Navy/Air Force policy." Then I would tell them that certain bases -- Fort Sill and Fort Knox for the Army, Great Lakes for the Navy, Pendleton for the Marines -- also served as outprocessing centers where people who had been gone a very long time can turn themselves in. to receive a discharge marked with an OTH -- "other than honorable conditions."

We then go on to tell them how to do it: how much time it takes ("Thirty days officially, but I'd give them 45 before you call"), the likely time it would take in the processing center itself, and the hazards of staying out too long -- "If you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop, you can get picked up as an AWOL." I hang up knowing that they might be more likely to choose the AWOL option than go through the frustrating, difficult, and sometimes fruitless process of trying to get an honorable discharge for health or financial reasons, or the excruciating if wonderfully empowering process of becoming a military conscientious objector.

I also know that as much as I value the CO process as most legally and morally justifiable, I'm not the one having to put on a uniform, or drill every day, or flinch every time the call to lunch sounds like the siren that might put me on a plane to Iraq.(Not that the AWOL option is open to people facing actual deployment: once those orders are issued, they face far more serious charges. And anyone reading this with an eye to going AWOL needs to instead call 1-800-FYI-95GI right now, since the specifics of the process change constantly.)

I never judge anyone for making that decision -- to throw away whatever benefits they might have coming to them, and to live with the consequences of an OTH-- because it just hurts too much being in. After I've safely hung up, I blow them a virtual kiss and wish them godspeed.

Every once in a while a former GI calls back, elated, after it's over: "I'm out!" More often, the calls come in when there's trouble, when someone's commanding officer is lazy or angry enough not to make the bureaucratic changes that make it possible.

I used to think of all of the above as sort of a trade secret. I was even wondering how to handle it in this book. Now, Harper's Magazine gives it all away and then some:

The Why and How of Desertion Revealed in March Issue

New York-According to Pentagon estimates, 5,500 U.S. military personnel have deserted since the start of the current conflict in Iraq. The stories of the few who have spoken out publicly against the war are known, but what of those who have quietly returned home? What caused them to go AWOL? What consequences might they face if they are discovered? AWOL IN AMERICA: When Desertion Is the Only Option, which appears in the March issue, presents these young men as they relate their experiences in their own voices. We read about:

Jeremiah Adler, 18, raised by a single mother in a sheltered community in Oregon, who joined the army to find a sense of "macho-ness" only to find his fellow soldiers' zeal for killing to be more testosterone than he had bargained for.
Clay (this name and the following have been changed), 23, who was seduced by a recruiter's promise of big money, then disturbed by the strong desire to kill he felt during training. "I started to see the process within myself, that transition from civilian to mindless killer. It scared me," he tells Dobie.

Matt Burke, who served four years of active duty, then signed up for the Army's Officer's Candidate School. A knee injury got him kicked out of OCS and sent back to regular duty to serve out the rest of his contract, despite the fact that he was told by the recruiter that in such an event, he would be discharged. Burke was court-martialed and served one month in a county jail.

Jason Lane, 19, who is a Marine currently in military custody. Lane fled to the Virginia woods; the final straw in his decision to desert was the 24-hour walking post he was assigned to while suffering from a swollen, infected leg. Dobie accompanied him to Quantico Marine Base when he turned himself in.

"AWOL IN AMERICA," the press release goes on to say, "looks at the many reasons why soldiers are willing to risk tough consequences (made even more severe after 9/11) to get away. It explores the psychology of the deserter as well as the psychological war the military must wage on its recruits in order to turn them into killers. It also provides a practical guide to desertion." (italics and bolds mine.) Hot damn. Kathy Dobie has guts, and so does Harper's.

As always, the current issue isn't online, and neither Alternet or Will Pitt has got hold of it and I can't bring myself to violate Dobie's copyright myself. Go buy the issue. And I will feel freer to write that AWOL chapter now.

by Hissyspit on Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 at 09:05:41 PM EST

REALLY long enough!!
This crap about supporting our troops gets me as riled now as it did back during the Vietnam genocide. We have to grow up past our selfish little childish games of world superpower without the moral backing for such a title. The Nuremberg trials REALLY did happen, Virginia. They came away with one clear message for all humanity - every individual is responsible and accountable for his part in bringing about the horrors that humanity HAS to eliminate.. (the second period was to make sure that you noticed that there is a PERIOD) If we are going to bellyache (and we really should do much more than just bellyache) about the horrors we are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or any of the more than 200 places around the world where we have gone to take death in the name of freedom, torture in the name democracy, suffering in the name of some other prostituted ideal; then we have to try to become honest both as individuals and as a nation. We, who would protest against our national genocidal tendencies, have to be sufficiently honest to say that the devil Rumsfeld did not personally shoot the Iraqui children - an American Soldier did. Condi did not personally shoot a wounded man lying in a Baghdad street - an American Soldier did. Bush did not personally electrocute naked Iraquis - American soliders did. And on it goes for what is now probably millions of cases around the world where we have made ourselves justified targets of a vengeful victim of the USA.

I am fully aware that each of the devils in the administration carries PART of the responsibility for each of the millions of human rights violations that the SOLDIERS are carrying out, but the other part of the responsibility IS MOST UNDOUBTEDLY ON THESE SOLDIERS EVERYONE IS PUSHING ME TO SUPPORT!!! They are guilty bastards who have killed, maimed, tortured and obeyed orders from satan's favorite liutenants. They are not as guilty as the administration and the prostitutes in congress only because they did not have a chance to participate in the killing of as many as the administration and congress killed, but they are REALLY guilty!!

No, I do not now nor have I ever supported the American soldier in his increasingly constant role of genocidal killer at the service of the hellborn and the corporations. It is a contradiction in terms to support him and then to wonder what happened to our moral structure. Even if these killers are ordered to torture and make people suffer and they obey those orders, I do not support them, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU SUPPORT THEM???? They are the principal and conscious tool of the devils that are turning our world into the final killing field!! Whatever ratiocination you use to come across telling people to support these killers of children is not rational, it is not normal, it is psychologically sick and so is the entire apparatchic that is trying to make us support them. The American soldier will get support from those few of us holding on to the larger vision of humanity when they come home and grab their bosses (the entire lot from hell starting with bush through their generals and commanding officers) and throw the lot of them in or under the jail - NOTHING LESS WILL DO!! Enough already!! We are as guilty as any of the administration satanists if we support people who carry out the horrors that our nation is now casting on the world as normal daily feed.

by ljmgbp on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 08:04:58 AM EST


How can I support the troops?

Because I am a veteran. Because my father was a Vietnam veteran. Because I understand what a difference it makes to come home and not get spit on.

I am sorry that you are completely unfamiliar with the psychological aspects of being a solider in today's military. I am sorry that you do not understand what it is like to be shot at. I am sorry that you do not understand what it is like to be manipulated by higher ups to perform tasks that you would not normally perform. If for one minute you could ACTUALLY imagine yourself in the boots of one of these young men, then you might begin to understand why it is possible to support the troops.

I refuse to assign moral cupublity to our troops as a blanket statement. Trust me on this issue. I know what it is like to go through a war, to be shot at and to watch your friend die. Until you can even feign empathy for what this does to a person's soul, then you my friend are lacking even the most basic of human virtues.

And thank you for your attempt to nullify, William's fine words. I hope that you do not succeed.

by psyntist on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 10:49:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Way to miss the point completely
Your lack of understanding of the social and economic realities that drive today's common soldier is profound. A large percentage of troops in Iraq are 'green card' soldiers, i.e. they fight to become citizens. Many are soldiers because there are no jobs in their under-educated and financially-wrecked towns.

Blame not the sword, but the hand that weilds it. Maybe someday you'll get it.

by WilliamPitt ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 10:53:48 AM EST http//
[ Parent ]

First of all "support the troops" is just a slogan I don't support simpleminded Bush adminstration sloganeering.

However Demonizing the Troops is not the answer either.It would be disastrous for the anti-war movement

I think the right wing would ABSOULUTELY LOVE anti war types and liberals to start coming out with that line of thinking..It would be much easier for them to demonize the rest of us..Plus if the soldiers start getting blamed it makes it that much easier for the Roves,Cheneys and Wolfowitzes to evade reponsibility for their monstrous crimes. Believe me they LOVE what If you don't believe me check out how the abu ghrab thing played out..
A few low level solders took the fall and the people who were really responsible for the atrocities got promoted.
Throw some ill trained I'll equipped ,unworldy young people fill their heads full of propaganda and throw them into a crazy sitiuation where there seems to be no solid plan or exit strrategy and discipline is going to break down..

Its easy to pass highfalutin' elitist moral judgements when one sitting in the peace and comfort of your cozy den or office or faculty lounge and there are no bombs or guns going off and your friends are not being blasted right before your eyes.
I don't think the writer of that passage has any Idea what kind of pressures these young people are facing. They obviously are not at all familiar with the military or its capacity for coercion.
And don't give me this stuff about how "they volunteered " thats just the elitist Right wing argument turned on its head.. They volunteered to serve their country not to be part of a gigantic boondoogle

by robash141 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]


When you don the uniform of the United States military and raise your hand to take the oath, you are promising to give your life in defense of your home and family. A promise is made in return: The government commanding you and your fellow soldiers will not spend your life to no gain, will not waste your blood in an unnecessary exercise. That promise has been broken, and I can think of no better way to support the troops who made their promise than by pointing out the fact that this government broke its promise.

I would add that when you take your oath, you promise to defend the constitution. I suggest that when the current adminstration has so successfully convinced people that the very meaning of that, our most sacred document, has changed, it becomes increasing difficult for our troops to uphold their pledge. Our constitution does not allow torture, although adminstration lawyers have agured that very case. Our constitution does not allow for a premeptive war, although that is what we did. Our constitution guarntees the seperation of the three branchs and that has been successfully brushed over. I know that the constituion I took my oath to defend was a much different constitution than the one being branished around currently to justify the most horrid actions today.

by psyntist on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 11:04:44 AM EST


Supporting our troops
Sometimes plain language is needed to break out of the box that authority wants us to stay in for THEIR own protection.
The Bush administration is through the Iraq war making a purposeful aquisition of the world's only remaining cheap oil reserve, largely for the benefit of Bush's family & friends, using the US national defence forces to take it and then paying for the whole project with a loan forced on the next american generation ... a process otherwise known as aggravated armed robbery.
It is like a cop robbing a bank using his police gun and paying for it by taking his kids piggybank to get his skimask, get-away etc..
Actually it's worse ... it is like putting his kids in debt for the rest of their lives for his coup ... in my view an unspeakable break of public trust that no one should support -- directly or indirectly. Let's get the remaining boys and girls home. Take the oil out of the hands of the likes of Cheney's Haliburton and put the UN in charge -- do we think Bush would agree to that? Fat chance ... the "autorities" have already started to tap "their" oil in a feeding frenzy.
"Authority that can make us deny our feelings can make us do anything" N. Svendsen
by gingiskahn ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 12:30:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]


How can you not support the troops?
The military has no democratic process. Once you enlist you are by and large at the mercy of the oath you have taken to serve. Sure there are ways out as mentioned, however the majority of our troops are not going to leave. They will stay to finish the job.

Some of them don't agree with the war in Iraq yet there they are day after day putting their lives on the line. Why? Because they believe in their oath and they believe in our country. Right or wrong as far as the decision to go they don't question...they go because they were told they were needed there.

Where would we be without those so willing to serve? Face it without that desire to serve our country with your life possibly being the ultimate price we wouldn't exist.

We can debate should they be there till the cows come home but the cold stark reality is they are there. Some will die there this year, this month, this week, maybe even today.

I know people there right now. Ohio has lost too many of it's sons because of this war. However the blame for that doesn't lie with the soldiers, and it doesn't just lie with George Bush. Congress has gotten a free pass on this issue from most of us. The excuse of well we were given misinformation about the WMD issue isn't a good enough one for me. We went against the UN, Congress supported this. We went in without a clear exit plan, Congress supported this. We went in and spent more money that was stated it would cost, Congress supported this.

What magic information did we have that made this whole war happen that the UN didn't see? There was none, it was our own belief in our superiority that we somehow know better than the rest of the world that did this. We demand other countries follow what the UN says, yet we don't. We selectively pick and choose what we will do in agreement with the UN. Look how many times Israel has been sanctioned by the Security Council. We veto every single time, yet when it was reversed and we didn't get what we wanted? Screw you UN we're going in.

This past election no matter how you felt about John Kerry the re-election of George Bush sent the message that a majority of Americans felt that what he did was acceptable. We gave him a mandate that we as Americans don't expect him to follow the UN that he can do whatever he wants and obviously Congress will support him.

We need to change more than the President in 2008. We need to take a good look at Congress and ask ourselves what kind of government do we want. Do we want the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers created? If so we need men and women in Congress willing to do that job. Not yes men that can be bought with the promises of pork.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 12:22:11 PM EST


Let Me Just Mention
In my posting of the information/commentary concerning the Harper's article, I was not directly advocating AWOL outprocessing by soldiers. I advocate full knowledge and disclosure of information to the American public, especially concerning legal rights for soldiers, and I felt this was another aspect of Will's editorial of which to be aware. There are, as said, plenty of soldiers who, despite, usually silent or private opposition to the Bush Administration's military adventurism and jingoism, would not feel it was a moral option. It is a complicated issue, which people like our present leadership in the executive branch, have no ethical problem with manipulating.

These soldiers are my students; and for years, I have had no problem with jokingly and seriously referencing the "brainwashing" processes of the U.S. military, the socialization processes, which, whether necessary or not to produce effective soldiers, are deliberately instituted. Everyone kind of knew what I was talking about, or if they didn't were interested in hearing it discussed. I knew what I was talking about, having grown up in a military family, the son of an officer who went to Vietnam twice, a mother who had to go against her personal tendencies to fit into the "Army Wife" behavioral expectations, a brother who became a career officer, and another who joined up for about 4 years. This discussion of this with the soldiers (there are dependents and non-military in my college classes, as well) became much more complicated after 9/11. Discussion of appropriate issues in the forum of my class such as the burning of the U.S. Flag as political expression, became preganant with patriotic correctness tendencies. Guess what? This social censorship tendency has worn away in the past year or so. Are these people to be seen as ideology and complicity set in stone, or are they complicated human beings caught up in social/economic/psychological processes in many ways beyond their control?

I have many of the 'green-card soldiers' in my classes. Many blacks, persons from lower income positions, young women who wanted to assert themselves in a 'new' world, one in which they believe they can wrest some little power from the patriarchy.

Let me put it this way, when I was a teenager, I craved expression of high ideals concerning and through the art of popular music, but where I lived, I was severely limited in my exposure to alternative music and underground music. I moved away in my 20s and became exposed to all kinds of other possibilities, much of which was not profit-motivated. I was thunderstruck to realize how much was being kept from me - ideas and values and other points of view; other cultural potentials and possibilities. Some of these things were kept from me deliberately, others just situational. Many of these soldiers have never been given to opportunity to consider alternate ways of thinking about the world.

As I said, complicated issues about complicated human beings in complicated situations. The discipline instilled by the military (as well as pressure/threat about loss of position and income make these people some of my best students. I am not letting them off the hook for using Fox News as their primary 'news' source, however, it is instructive to consider the impact of having to become aware of and keep from crossing the "thin green line," which is part of the "brainwashing" culture.

by Hissyspit on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I'm afraid they are bought with much more than just pork.........
Many have likely been caught in compromising situations, and/or SEEMINGLY compromising situations, and from then on are doing as they are told to keep the video from coming out in public. I couldn't, for instance, ever even take the Gary Hart flack to heart, simply because I have had a number of close yet platonic friends through the years, of the opposite gender, who have spent the night, or a week or so in my home; good enough friends that I could roll around on the floor and laugh with too. If someone with an agenda, or of a prejudgingly intolerant mind, walked in at such a time, that person could come away from there with "proof" of "immoral" behaviour. Such a person would have no clue that there was never any "hanky-panky" involved with the scene they had just video'd or photographed. In addition, if this person was serving a dark agenda, the manner in which the 'photographic evidence' would be used would instill in many to whom it was shown the same prejudicial assumptions.

Still, it eventuates in the same problem: too many congresspersons and senators are bought in one way or another, whether self-servingly with pork, or with a sinister form of bribery, or even with simple fear of seeming, or being called, "unpatriotic". This presents a real quandary for "getting the troops home", or just about any other sensible accomplishment (ie., NOT placing torturers and compulsive liars in cabinet positions!)
Still, the best way that we can 'support the troops', SOMEHOW, would be to get them the heck outa that mess that the neoconic through Rove/Bushco have created.
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.-Benjamin Franklin
by G Achin on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]


One would have to wonder whether that less than rational person is trolling to get us reality-based peeps in trouble. The cons would just love to get their hands on that post and splash it all over their own putrid blogs.

by blucat on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:40:08 PM EST

Support the Troops
I believe there is no subject more convoluted nor confusing to the bulk of Americans than "Support the Troops." What a sweeping generality! What does it mean? Praying for their safety and return? Sending protective gear and equipment for their protection that the administration can't seem to furnish in a timely manner? Is it displaying Old Glory in a window, tying a yellow ribbon around a tree, watching CNN and FOX for full coverage of homecoming hugs and kisses?

No. The militant cry of "Support the Troops" has nothing at all to do with the hundreds of thousands of men and women who are being sent into a quagmire of death for which a way out is not an option on the table. "Support the troops" for this administration and for its attendant corporate media who are making out like bandits in Iraq means, quite literally -- support Bush or shut the hell up. "Support the troops" means lower your eyes and don't question the next generation of handicapped Americans who must face the bulk of their lives learning to walk without feet, to dress themselves, brush their teeth, and wipe their asses without hands. The good news is when they return in pieces, our burden is lifted because, for some inexplicable reason, they then must assume the responsibility of supporting themselves

"Support the troops" means never having to see flag-draped coffins shuttled into Dover Air Force Base in the dark of night containing mangled remains of youngsters brutally jerked from our midst for no good reason. It means we are saved the grief of sitting through an endless chain of funeral rites -- all depressingly similar and boring after awhile. It means our commander-in-chief is free to "grieve 'n mourn 'n pray" for our "brave warriors" without ever having to attend a funeral.

Fortunately, our job gets easier by the day because there are fewer "troops" to support. Although we're not supposed to ask, I have to admit that I sneak a peek every day at One week ago (Feb 16), 1,480 American citizens had been slaughtered. Twenty-two of those families who knelt to pray for their children's safety did not know they were already dead. Of all the ghastly things about this deranged assault on a helpless country, this tops the list. Think about it. On Sunday, that number had grown to 1,488, with only 19 families yet to be destroyed. Today, the number is 1,495. And, alas, tonight -- the number of famillies who do not know their loved ones are beng summarily boxed up to ship home is back at 20.

American "troops" are, like Henry Kissinger once infamously declared, "nothing more than pawns on a chessboard." Support for the troops starts at the top, and that's where the responsibility for what those troops do in the field ends; however, neither of these functions appears to be in this administration's job description.

If Americans really supported the "troops" -- they would rise as one, and in a single primal scream they would bring Bush's mad vision to a screeching halt. They would realize that there's more to loyalty than silently waving a red-white-and-blue piece of cloth or plastic while their children are being killed.

And they would support the troops by bringing them home.

by Ishtar on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:27:51 PM EST


my only question would be...
Bring them home then what?

There is no magic time machine where we can not send them. To bring them home before Iraq is stable isn't a feasible option. To do that would make every accomplishment that came from this mess undo itself.

That is what I don't understand from those of you that advocate immediately bringing the troops home. Is there a point where you can leave? Of course but I don't think that point is now. Too many mistakes were made and too much time wasted in the aftermath to create a quick exit.

If the end result of bringing them home now means an even less stable middle east then when we barged in? Is that what you are advocating?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I would really like to know from those of you who state they should come home now what you see as the end result if that happened as far as Iraq and the Middle East.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:15:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Supporting the troops - the Kissinger method
I believe the quote attributed to Kissinger (made in the presence of Alexander Haig) is, [Military men are] "dumb, stupid animals to be used" as pawns for foreign policy. Which pretty much encapsulates this administration's position. The real question is, how do we get that message to the heartland? Because it is unfortunately true that many well-intended but in my mind poorly informed Americans believe supporting the troops really does mean that we should not question why they are in Iraq and why so many civilians are dying.
stillkristi is Kristi Johnson
by stillkristi ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:55:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Supporting the troops
Thank you, Will, for raising this issue. It needed to be raised. I think the only solution is to ask whenever possible what anyone who uses this phrase really means by it. Then some reason might possibly be injected into one's expression of opinion. Peace lovers have been fond of equating "bring them home" as a way of support, but obviously from what we see of opinion on this blog, that is only part of it. It's tough to pin down a bumper sticker, but every other appearance of this phrase ought to bring forth a challenge.
Yours in peace, Synchro
by Synchro ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:45:05 PM EST

supporting troops
Excellent take. Support our troops line reminds me of the ¨Love it or leave it¨ shrieks. As a Vietnam era vet, I had a curious return to my Midwest hometown in 1969. As long as I was wearing my uniform, people would buy me drinks, meals, give me rides, etc. etc. until my hair got so sheepishly long I had to stop putting on my dress uniform. So I think a lot of the getting spit on stories are either isolated or an invention of the right wing or I lived in a very benign city. Secondly, although I was never in combat, I had a job processing hundreds of guys who had been under fire. I heard a lot of bravado, but not once did I hear a real soldier say it was fun to shoot someone. More than a few expressed great remorse, even shame for doing so.

by haybale46 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:20:05 PM EST

Support Our Troops
After 9/11 everyone drove around with an American flag on their car, pasted a flag in their front window, wore flag pins on their clothes. Now, almost everywhere I drive, I see yellow ribbon magnets with "Support Our Troops" inscribed on them attached to car trunk lids. Sometimes two, three, four or more on one car.

These people aren't supporting the troops as much as they are supporting WalMart or the magnet manufacturer. Slap a silly magnet on your car and you've done your part. You don't have to think about the lives, just slap on that magnet because if you don't have one, you're not patriotic.

One of my best friends from high school went off on me during the presidential campaign because I supported John Kerry. He went into a diatribe about Kerry being a traitor, supporting the VC, and other propaganda. The clincher was when he said our mutual friends and classmates who died in VietNam would have felt the same.

This patriotic individual was draft age but never went to VietNam nor even served in the military. How dare he criticize John Kerry's service when he knows nothing about war.

I protested the war in VietNam because I felt it was wrong and I'm ready to protest this war if any of us can find the courage to take to the streets again. At age 55 will I have more credibility than I did at 19, more impact? Will I regret I didn't do more like I regret now that I couldn't do more in 1969 so my friends didn't have to die?

I was supporting my friends in 1969 by trying to stop the war so they could come home. I believe the best way to support our troops now is to stop the war so they can come home.

by smokyflyfisher on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 05:28:56 PM EST


guess I'm not patriotic
I don't have one of the cute magnets either. Nor do I believe slapping one on your SUV shows you really support the troops.

To me the concept of support the troops means agree with whatever is realistically necessary to make their jobs safer, easier and create a situation where they can come home as soon as possible.

To not blame individual soliders for the war since they had no control over it. Of course to punish those who break the law or military code as appropriate but not to treat them as if they are murderers or are somehow responsible for the situation in Iraq. To not wish death or injury upon them as some have in the emotion surrounding this.

It doesnt mean I run out in the streets celebrating Iraqi's killed, it means I recognize that these men and women have agreed to serve and for that deserve the same amount of respect as if they were fighting to defend our country.

There is a difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war though the lines do get very close. Supporting the troops means you want them to be given the plan to finish the job and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Supporting the war would mean accepting the reasons for it -- many of us will never be able to do that with good reason. Providing proper equipment to the troops is not supporting the war -- it's maintaining the safety of american soliders. It's acknowledging "Hey I disagree with this war but let's do everything necessary to not only end this, but to keep as many of them safe as possible so we can bring more of them home".

I don't agree with the huge sums of money spent, but that doesn't mean I don't want equipment for our soliders. It means I want Congress and President Bush to responsibly spend those dollars not let them get frittered away due to fraud or mismanagement.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 07:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Support the Troops
I was wondering about that "Support the Troops" plastic, manetic ribbon that adorns a high percentage of American cars.

They cost 3 to five dollars, are made in China, and thereby are about as far from "supporting the troops" as anything imaginable.

Obviously, we want our troops to succeed in their endeavours. Of course we support the troops! But being ordered to support them on a Chinese-made bumper sticker is not an effective way to go about it. If everyone who had bought one (or more) of these lackluster designs had instead sent the money to buy body armour, or Humvee upgrades, it would have shown real support.

I certainly don't support a president who lies so treasonably, if that's what "Support the Troops" really means.


by motamanx on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 09:04:22 PM EST

t r u t h o u t || Supporting the Troops

No comments:

President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


Related Posts with Thumbnails