23 January 2007

The Only Thing I Support Is Peace

I have been thinking about this topic for some time now--and then fortunately this week, I discovered an article that mirrors my own views, and I hope, the feeling of many others.

I am, and have been, extremely uncomfortable with the "I Support the Troops" mantra. I do know several things for sure:

1. I have never supported this illegal and immoral war.
2. I don't want anyone to die in this war (and I don't just mean Americans).
3. I don't support U.S. imperialism and occupation of other nations.
4. This nation has, and still does, commit atrocious war crimes.
5. I really don't give a rat's ass if people think I am unpatriotic.

But many of us on the antiwar left have been perplexed and paralyzed when the "troops" argument is used--which is precisely why it is made by the warmongering Republicans. They know that talking about the troops makes us uneasy. And to make political matters worse, our response has been weak at best.

Well someone on the left finally said what we all should have said long ago. Joe Mowrey's article in Dissident Voice, "Don't Support Our Troops" should be required reading for all of the antiwar left. Mowrey accurately criticizes the antiwar movement for falling into the trap constructed by the Bush thugs. As Mowrey writes,

"At a time when what we need most is frank and honest discussion about the imperialist role the United States plays in the nightmare of global violence and militarization, what we see instead is an effort on the part of the antiwar movement to play politics with language (that would be the feeble "Bring Them Home Now" response). Rather than having the courage to reject platitudes, we attempt to stake out some imagined middle ground of justice and the rule of law."

Mowrey goes on to point out that,

"we have allowed our military to become a criminal element that is rampaging around the globe inflicting death and destruction on innocent populations."

And what of our troops--we do want them home right? And we do support them. Yes, but we also want to stop them from being used as pawns by the military imperialists in the United States. The author concludes his essay by suggesting that we should support and welcome the troops when:

"our military is no longer committing war crimes, when we are in compliance with basic standards of human rights and social justice, then we can break out the bumper stickers and ribbons and say 'Support Our Troops.'"

To all my friends on the antiwar left: If we don't say these type of things, who will? If we worry about being labeled unpatriotic, if we worry about the political implications of our views, if we worry about making enemies--then we will never bring about real change in this corrupt system of ours. If we are going to wring our hands and fret about making someone mad, we might as well stay out of politics. The military bullies have always tried to intimidate and demean peace activists. If we can't even articulate our own views because of "public opinion anxiety" we become part of the problem ourselves--or as Mowrey suggests:

"We can become a model of egalitarian compassion in the world instead of a bloodthirsty juggernaut spewing death and destruction in the wake of its imperialistic ambitions. Until then, every American, as well as our military, are guilty of crimes against peace."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. Henry Kissinger

Never do an enemy a small injury. Niccolo Machiavelli

Kelley Bell said...

Very nice essay. I agree.

However, I do realize, now that we have made the mistake of invading Iraq, we can't just pull out all at once. We need a well planned withdrawl that will minimize the chaos and killing that will appear in the vacume.

But once we are out, I am SOOOO behind the concept of a national dialogue to examine our role as imperialist world police.

I want my country to be a symbol of freedom, not the evil empire.

L.P. said...

I don't necessarily disagree with Buddy's overall post or with Joe Mowry's basic point about U.S. imperialism. And I agree that we on the left have allowed the Bushies to frame the terms and that we don't need to be mealy-mouthed "support the troops" hand-wringers. But please don't forget the heart-wrenching scenes in Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911" of military recruiters PREYING on poor kids of color who see no other future for themselves. Remember that group of African American boys? Every single one of them raised their hands when asked if they had a friend or relative in the military. We need to be conscious that the antiwar left is largely white and middle class (not exclusively, but largely). We should not alienate the very people that we claim to stand with through careless rhetoric that portrays as equally evil the poor Latino kid struggling to get out of the projects and George Bush or Dick Cheney.

L.P.

Anonymous said...

I'm unsure exactly what the *troops argument* is.

I'm guessing that an example would be where I say I don't support putting 20,000 fellow citizens into a place that is shit-in-my-pants dangerous, and my interlocutor replies that this is proof that in actuality I don't support the troops.

If that's the troops argument, I don't think I'm perplexed or paralyzed by it.

The conflating of the two positions (antiwar with antitroop) is total bullshit.

The people who truly don't give a rat's ass about our troops are our self-appointed neo-con masters -- imperialists, neocolonialists, reactionaries (call 'em by their right names) -- who have sent freakin' middle-aged members of the national guard for christ's sake into the euphemistic *harm's way* (i.e., to die or worse) with absolutely no justification -- other than the hidden-from-the-public agendas of uncontestable possession and control of THE most critical of natural resources, and other lesser theft/pillage (e.g., the transfer of hard-earned dollars from current and future generations of U.S taxpayers to Cheney's Halliburton and other private hands and mercenary groups).

It is not parsing or liberal gutlessness to feel empathy for fellow humans, Americans and Iraqi both, who have been mudered and maimed.

The soldiers are not criminals to the extent that they lack criminal intent, criminal motive.

Also, before you begin prosecuting these many poor (literally), limbless, and damaged grunts returning from, and seeing, and yes perhaps committing, all of the god awful HORRORS of war you have to ask the prosecutor's first question: "who benefits (qui bonum)?" "Who is in fact benefiting right this very instant?" I maintain that the real prosectable war criminals are those higher-ups who are in-the-know and who therefore possess legally actionable criminal intent.

The ignorant call this a senseless war. The even-more-ignorant believe it is about WMD or bringing freedom to Iraq. (Pardon me while I throw up.)

This war makes, and has always made, eminent sense for some factions within the ruling class. The real reasons for the war, per Leo Strauss' recommedations, have not been made public -- and will never be admitted to.

It is up to us to elucidate the real reasons behind this adventurism, to make those reasons public, and to hold these motherless bastards to account!

Doctor J said...

Those who say leaving would be wrong are banking on all of us remembering what our mothers told us: two wrongs don't make a right.

Wrong to get in, wrong to leave, that ain't good.

But...

We are in a place that Mom didn't envision. A place where no matter what we do is wrong. It's now a matter of degree.

Two wrongs....getting in was the first one. There is no disputing that. The method is impeachable and the reality of it being wrong is unimpeachable.

Some say getting out is wrong and two wrongs don't make a right.

But staying is wrong too. So we can't leave and we can't stay.

That means deciding which wrong--staying or leaving--is the least wrong.

Staying hasn't worked. Escalating the stay won't work. Staying kills people, economies, friendships, respect and hope.

Leaving may kill people too but it will help economies and friendships, bring respect for the ability to admit an error, and reinvigorate hope.

There are so many options available if we leave. There is only one if we stay.

Which is the lesser of these two wrongs we are forced to choose from?

Leaving.

Sorry Mom but, in this case, one big wrong and one little wrong are less harmful than two big wrongs.

All this begs the obvious question of why we don't impeach and imprison the soulless bastards who committed the first wrong, who stole our options, who kill our sons (and 650,000 Iraqi sons and daughters), who kill respect and hope.

Let's talk about that.....