I know before I start that I am getting ready to write something which could alienate me from various groups I am associated with. The upside is, I am only associated with those groups by other people. In other words, other people believe I am a member of, or “belong in”, certain groups based on their perception of who I am. But, who I am changes.
I do not come to a conclusion and sit on it for the rest of my life. Like the bumper sticker that says, “Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Yeah… I don’t live like that. Nothing is ever settled except laws of nature. Gravity, for me, is settled. Religion, politics, party affiliation, racial stereotypes, and all the other neat little categories people place people in, are irrelevant to me. I don’t believe or disbelieve anything simply because it is generally accepted, or popular, or convenient. I seek truth; even inconvenient truth. This is why I changed my religious beliefs, and it’s why I am changing my thoughts on recent military actions.
Actually, it would be more correct to say that I am changing my thoughts on the propaganda campaign.
Let me say first that like any patriotic American, I support the troops. But, I don’t support the troops simply by placing bumper stickers on my car or wearing a tee-shirt. I support the troops by waking up at 3:50 a.m. 5 days a week and going to work as a contractor at the Dept. of the Army. In fact, I have spent the last 8 years supporting the troops or the nation in some form or another in the Intel Community, or as a civilian contractor working for the military.
I support the troops in that I understand that these are brave men and women (for the most part), doing a difficult job at the behest of politicians; many of whom have no prior service or understanding of the undertakings they ask these men and women to perform.
I support the troops in that I believe when anyone has put their lives on the line in service to the nation they deserve all the physical, mental and emotional support we can offer to overcome the condition in which some of them return.
All of that said, I am growing weary of the bullshit we lay down with regard to the troops.
Let’s start with Lee Greenwood. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died to give that right to me.” Well… let’s think about that for a moment.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As we can see, “liberty” or “freedom” as Mr. Greenwood refers to it, is an inalienable right granted us by virtue of our existence, by the being responsible for our existence. No man died to give us that right. Some men did die to ensure we had the opportunity to freely exercise it. Those men died in the Revolutionary War. No one went to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Panama, Libya, Germany, or any other place on this planet to defend my freedom. My freedom does not exist in Iraq, as I am not a citizen of Iraq. My freedom exists in America, where no foreign invader has ever waged war since our founding. Therefore, no United States military operation has EVER been in defense of our freedom.
So stop with the bullshit about how our troops are defending freedom!
Our troops are attempting to institute freedom in places where it did not or does not exist, and that is a laudable goal. But they are not defending or protecting the freedom of United States citizens in the conflicts we have engaged in over the past century.
“You were there for us, we’ll be there for you.” Utter bullshit!
As I stated, we should be there for them because it is the right thing to do for people who have gone to war at the behest of their nation’s leaders. But the truth is, “we” did not send our troops to war, our Presidents did. They were not “there for us” in the strict sense of the phrase. They went where they were ordered to go, which is a soldier’s job. The engaged and killed the enemy, which is a soldier’s job. And they did so on the orders of two men. The majority of us would have preferred to keep our young men and women at home. Especially in light of the fact that we have now pulled out and Islamic extremists have taken over the places so many brave men and women bled and died for in Iraq and Afghanistan. So our feckless leaders have made their sacrifices meaningless.
Our politicians pay lip service to our armed forces, as has been true since at least Roman times. Then they allow things like the VA scandal to take place. They cut benefits and housing allowances. They give grandiose speeches about patriotism, honor and sacrifice; then they undermine the nation, national security, and even the well-being of the very men they just praised.
Military charities have sprung up all over the American landscape, demonstrating the simple truth that our government does not take adequate care of the men and women they send in to harm’s way.
So much of our public discourse these days is propaganda. It’s all smoke and mirrors, designed to divide us, mollify us, neutralize and distract us, and keep our eyes on the beautiful assistant rather than the magician’s hands.
Loving and honoring our brave men and women in uniform involves being honest. Like when a soldier jumps up on a desk hollering “Allahu Akbar!” and opens fire on other soldiers… that’s the act of an Islamic terrorist, not an instance of workplace violence.
It involves voting after gathering all available information, and standing by your vote. Not waffling, equivocating, and denying things that are a matter of public record because of public sentiment. There is something more important than a politician’s image, and that is the lives of the military men and women they send in to harm’s way.
Loving, honoring and respecting our troops means not separating them from their friends and family, and subjecting them to combat from which many return with horrifying injuries, unless it is absolutely necessary. When it has been determined that it is absolutely necessary, then it involves giving them the tools, and the tactics, they require to win the war and return home.
These meaningless words spoken by privileged men in the halls of power as they send young men off to die in their stead, for reasons they will later deny when it is politically convenient, ring hollow. So too the tee-shirts and bumper stickers, designed to create within the populace the feeling that supporting the troops means supporting the war.
I support the troops. I want them to wake up next to their wives and children every morning. I want them to go to Christmas at grandpa’s house. I want them to visit with their parents and play ball with their kids.
I want them to put on their combat gear and pick up their weapons when the true security of the United States is at stake. When they do, I want them to unleash hell on our enemy and utterly eradicate them until there is no further threat.
This is how the United States used to be, before WWII. Before war became a business. Before soldiers became pawns in a grand political chess game. Back when our soldiers fought to preserve the freedom of the European nations from which we came, or in response to an attack on the United States.
Now they ride around from town to town, getting blown up, crippled, maimed, disfigured, and killed in an endless cycle of violence, attempting to bring freedom to a people who are themselves unable or unwilling to fight for or preserve their own freedom. Fighting under rules of engagement that prevent their success. Leaving before the job is done, allowing the enemy to reclaim the places our soldiers died to take.
Singing songs and buying bumper stickers and tee-shirts is a pointless exercise, the purpose of which is to make you feel good.
If you really want to support the troops, vote for responsible leadership.