Whatever your feelings are about the war in Iraq, whether you believe the soldiers are protectors of the free world or merely pawns in the re-election campaign of President Bush, you must support our troops.
The troops are fighting for an ideal. They are fighting to protect the United States and all of its citizens. The troops are fighting for you.
I have always thought that line of thinking “They are fighting for you” was complete nonsense. How is invading Iraq or Afghanistan “fighting for you” or me? Really? Did it keep oil prices down, secure the oil supply, make us safer than our intelligence services would without all the collateral casualties, did it create more jobs and make us more secure domestically or did it protect the lives of the people in these nations or our troops? Let me take those questions one at a time: no, no, no, no, and no.
During the build up to the wars with convenient lies about WMD, aluminum tubes, and bringing democracy back to Iraq, there were the well-placed patriotic messages to “support our troops.” The translation reads, “Don’t question the war” because that does not “support our troops.”
How much do to the people who encouraged us to “support our troops” really support the troops themselves? I am sure the individuals who were convinced by the lies for the war were sincerely in support of our fighting men and women. But what of Congress and the White House, how much did they “support our troops” that they sent off to war? And how much did the patriotically brainwashed, to support the war for fear of not supporting the troops, realize how little Bush and Congress protected our soldiers?
1. First there were the lies that got us into the wars. Those lies were not troop supporting.
2. Second, there was the lack of body armor and armored Humvees at the beginning of the wars. If you are going to send troops into a war against insurgents using improvised explosive devices and other non-tradition weapons, you should provide them with the best equipment available. Otherwise, you do not “support our troops”. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/31/60minutes/main652491.shtml
3. There is a dearth of psychological services for our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16981949
4. Homeless Veteran’s make up 1/3 of all homeless people in the U.S. I guess support for the veteran’s housing needs is not the same thing as support for our troops.
5. Increase in traumatic bran injuries commonly known as concussions and not enough services for returning vets. http://wrair-www.army.mil/images/MilidTBI.pdf
According to a 2010 Rand study, “Fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of the mental health and cognitive needs of U.S. servicemembers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the costs of mental health and cognitive conditions, and the care systems available to deliver treatment.” http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9336/index1.html
So where is the support Congress? Is Haliburton going to help foot the bill for all the injured soldiers after making billions off the war? I didn’t think so.
Heroes and their deeds are used to promote and promulgate war. Stories of American heroism are great propaganda tools. San Juan Hill in Cuba, the Alamo, Remember the Maine, and the Union holding out at Ft. Sumter as long as they did against all odds during the Civil War are just a few examples of reported American heroism that promoted war.
Internationally the stranded and rescued British Army at Dunkirk in 1940 during WWII, the charge of the light brigade (disastrous though it was), Napoleon’s triumphant return from Italy or Egypt, the Spartans who held back the whole Persian army, are just a few of the mythical triumphs of heroes that spurred war, rightly or wrongly. And the Iraq and Afghan wars are no exception to this.
Back in the beginning of the Iraq War and Bush’s propaganda push, there was the convenient rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch. She is blond and young and American, thus she pulled at the media’s heartstrings. She reportedly “fought bravely”, was injured, and then was rescued from a hospital in Iraq from the clutches of a Muslim doctor. It turns out that she was injured in a car accident, she was not fighting for her gun had jammed, and the doctor who was treating her had told the Americans that he was ready to release her before they entered the hospital without meeting resistance in order to “Rescue Jessica.” http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jessica_Lynch
The story of Jessica Lynch was used at the beginning of the war in 2003 to get public support behind the war. The story was big news at the time and it was a rallying cry. As egregious as this lie of heroism was, it cannot match the most shameful use of a soldier’s death, the Pat Tillman story.
Pat Tillman was an up and coming football player for the Arizona Cardinals. He had spent time in Iraq and was set to go to Afghanistan when the Cardinals intervened on his behalf to get him a deferment. But Tillman wanted to honor his word and not abandon his comrades in arms. Thus, he is labeled a hero. But he did not die a hero’s death. He died the death of one who was betrayed by the military and sent into harms way on the whims of a president and his military contracting allies.
On April 2, 2004, the 27-year-old Corporal Tillman was in Afghanistan engaging the enemy when he was killed. The military declared the charismatic Tillman, former football star, a hero who died protecting his fellow servicemen and women from harm and awarded him the Silver Star. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2004-04-30-tillman-silver-star_x.htm What a patriotic story. Even those opposed to the war would have trouble denying this man’s bravery and sacrifice. It turns out that the official story was an outright lie (and yet further evidence we need Wikileaks). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/27/opinion/27fri2.html
The truth is far less heroic. The truth is that while Corporal Tillman was engaging enemy forces, he was killed by at least three bullets from his own regimen, from not so “friendly fire”. But that wasn’t the heroic end the U.S. military needed to for their war efforts. So they were ordered to lie, to the American people and to Tillman’s family. It was only after his funeral that they revealed the truth. For more details on this tragedy, see the film “The Tillman Story”. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_tillman_story/
Heroism is used to cover up the mistakes and lies of a corrupt government. In the case of the United States, it is used to rally people to a war that many people opposed. It also helped quell stories of those opposing the war. A nation of heroes really is a nation in trouble.
On a positive note, the New GI Bill passed to give reduce tuition and other benefits to our returning vets.
Other good anti-war movies
As always, I ask you to write Congress and the White House to end the wars NOW and join local protests against the Iraq and Afghan wars.
CO/ The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500-0004
or phone: (202) 456-1414
Or send note online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Congressional switchboard 800-828-0498
Just ask for the office of your Senator or Representative
Find your Congressperson here:
Check out your local Indymedia center for a protest near you. For Arizona, it’s http://arizona.indymedia.org/