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October 24, 2010

Support Our Troops? I Hope That They Return Safely -- If That Counts

"Mr. Chairman, the price for continuing this war is too high, not only in budgetary terms, but in American lives, Iraqi civilian casualties blamed on America and in the steady increase in the terrorist ranks that this war is provoking around the globe." ~John Conyers, Jr.

The latest release of nearly 400,000 classified Iraq War documents by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism / Wikileaks website indicate that an estimated 60% of Iraqi deaths during the war have been civilian casualties and also expose incidents of prison abuse and torture in Iraqi facilities.   According to the initial, partial analyses provided by a few news organizations, the released data reveals how thousands of civilians were killed by "coalition" (U.S.) forces in unreported events, details prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal, presents claims of widespread torture in Iraqi detention facilities, and explains that as the war progressed, the country descended horrifically into civil war.   

During the Vietnam War, there were rampant anti-war protests across the United States.  Soldiers would return home to anti-war protesters spitting at them and shouts of "baby killer."  In the Vietnam War, many of the soldiers were unwillingly drafted by the government, and still they were treated in such a manner.  The two current wars are fought by all enlisted men and women.  Today, a great many of us claim to be against the war, yet soldiers are glorified and constantly reminded of our (albeit blind) "support."  It's easy to find someone that will say that they are against the Afghanistan and/or Iraq War, and yet it's damn near impossible to get the same person to say that they do not support the troops.  By "supporting our troops," aren't we really supporting the war?  I sure think so.

Let's not let the soldiers off too easy, merely because of the proven psychological willingness of people to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience (see Stanley Milgram's electroshock experiment) and the possibly systemic problems of a formally established incarceration system that lead those in authoritative positions to abuse their authority (see the Stanford Prison experiment).  Many of these soldiers are the individuals committing the heinous acts of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, not only against "enemy combatants," but as the newly released Iraq War files show, against a great percentage of civilians as well.  Yes, I know, civilians are killed in all wars, but does that make it alright?    

Instead of everyone blindly "supporting" the wars that most of us allegedly disagree with, we should take a fuggin stand against it.  I do not "support" our troops when our troops are fighting an unnecessary war and killing innocents in the process.  I wish that they would think about why they are doing what they are doing and for whom, and whether their internal and external motivations are actually sinister.  Internally the motivations are based on violent aspirations and tendencies which are reinforced by (and may originate in) the American television and film media, American society and U.S. foreign politics in general (see Bowling For Columbine).  Externally, they are motivated by a capitalist government wishing to maximize their land holdings and profits, not act as a protectorate as they would like you to believe.   

Across much of Europe, from France, to Ireland and Greece, and even Russia,  citizens have taken to the streets in recent months to protest their governments.  In France, millions of young people have taken to protest merely because of a proposed increase of the retirement age from 60 to 62.  Despite the French stereotypes perpetrated by the American media, one has to respect their willingness to stand up for injustice, even if it's during the World Cup.  It is actually inspiring to see.      

When will Americans finally get the sense to stand up against their own government when they know something is wrong?  What will it take?  What stereotypes are the rest of the world forming about us because of the acts of our government?  The United States has already spent 9 years and put hundreds of billions of dollars into the wars in the Middle East, and there are only signs of expansion in sight.  And the countless deaths?  Have we thwarted the terrorist's cause or merely strengthened it?
Ah fugg it, Dexter is on tonight and my Macbook needs to be plugged in. [<-- Sarcasm hinting to the majority of Americans' obsession with television, commercial products, and other egocentric distractions,  and the possibility that this is why we do nothing even when injustice and immoral acts are everywhere around us.  Yes, I feel that this needed to be explained because most of us are unaware and think that it is okay because we are too "busy"].