Antiwar and Pro-Troops? No way.

For some, the phrase “support our troops” is merely a euphemism for: support the policies that put the troops there in the first place. For others—including many activists—the mantra is a safe way to avoid taking an unqualified, uncompromising stand against this war (and all war). Many who identify themselves as “anti-war” still vigorously defend the troops…no questions asked.

The excuse making typically falls into two broad categories. The first being: “Our troops are just following orders.”

A simple Web search will find many reasons why this concept has no legal basis. For example, Principle IV of Nuremberg Tribunal (1950) states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

Besides this, it can be easily posited that “only following orders” also has no moral footing. Of course, the facile example would be Nazi Germany. But surely every suicide bomber is merely following orders as are those detonating IEDs in Iraq. The Left praised Vietnam era draftees who fled to Canada. Yet, today’s volunteer warriors are given a free pass because they didn’t give the orders in an illegal war and occupation. This is not only illegal and immoral; it also lacks any radical credibility. Somehow, individuals and groups can stand tall against war and military intervention but refuse to shine a light on those who choose (and get paid) to fight. Nowhere else in the realm of activism does such a paradox exist.

Consider the animal rights activists struggling to end the morally indefensible and scientifically fraudulent enterprise of animal experimentation. Can they expose the corporations and academic institutions but somehow “support” the actual scientists performing the lab experiments? Surely, they are “just doing their job” and “following orders.”

How about those fighting to end unfair labor practices? Is it acceptable to call out the CEOs of Nike & The Gap but hang yellow ribbons for those who handle day-to-day operations of a sweatshop in, say, Vietnam? These men and women are just as “stuck in a bad situation” as any grunt in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The second excuse usually sounds like this: “It’s a poverty draft. These poor souls have to enlist because they any economic options.” America is certainly an unjust economic society and this would be a compelling argument…if it were true. A 2006 New York Times op-ed highlighted a study by Tim Kane and Mackenzie Eaglen that “analyzed demographic data on every single enlistee, not just a sample, and found that in terms of education, last year’s recruits were just as qualified as those of any recent year, and maybe the best ever. Over all, wartime recruits since 1999 are in many respects comparable to the youth population on the whole, except that they are on average a bit wealthier, much more likely to have graduated from high school and more rural than their civilian peers.” They also found that youths “from wealthy American ZIP codes are volunteering in ever higher numbers” while “enlistees from the poorest fifth of American neighborhoods fell nearly a full percentage point over the last two years, to 13.7 percent. In 1999, that number was exactly 18 percent.”

So, are some of the soldiers in Iraq there primarily for economic reasons? Sure. Did others sign up for a chance to shoot some “ragheads”? Probably. After factoring out these two relatively small groups and rejecting the illegal, immoral, and reactionary “only following orders” defense, I ask this of anti-war activists: Exactly how are the men and women who willingly signed up to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan immune from any and all scrutiny and/or blame?

After all, what do you think “our troops” are doing? “We know that 99.9% of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner,” says Donald Rumsfeld. “We also know that in conflicts things that shouldn’t happen do happen.”

If only 1/10 of 1% of US soldiers make “things happen that shouldn’t happen,” what are the rest doing to make us stand and sing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium? How do we define exemplary manner?

By Rumsfeld’s reckoning (and the standard company line of most every politician, pundit, and peon) “exemplary” includes (among other things) the use of Daisy Cutters, cluster bombs, napalm, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, and the launching cruise missiles into crowded cities.

“Things that shouldn’t happen do happen,” Rumsfeld explains. But what about all the stuff that this society accepts “should” happen? Why would anyone besides a sadist feel compelled to support that unconditionally?

There are two powerful myths/ironies propping up the “support the troops” premise. The first involves what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve received over the years that read something like this: “While you sit at home in your luxurious apartment, making money off your writing (insert laugh track here), those brave men and women are putting their asses on the line to fight for your freedom to write your anti-American garbage.

I say: Bullshit.

The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not fighting for my freedom. They are fighting to keep the world safe for petroleum. If anything, since 9/11, our freedom has been slowly eroded and the presence of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan makes it harder for anyone to speak up in dissent. If I were in an airport, and I spoke aloud what I’ve written in this article, I’d likely be detained or arrested.

Irony #2: While most American citizens are manipulated, harassed, coerced, and guilted into hanging yellow ribbons—even if they’re anti-war—from Shays Rebellion in 1787 to Coxey’s Army to the Bonus Army to the Gulf War Syndrome to a quarter-million homeless vets today, generation after generation of US military personnel has suffered a lack of support from their own government (and the corporations that own it). “Our troops” are just as controlled and exploited as the US citizens that worship them.

And one more thing: Let’s stop with the “our troops” charade. You and I may foot the bill, but “we” have no say in what they do. If those truly were “my” men and women, I’d bring them right home and put them to work doing something useful…like turning the Long Island Expressway into the world’s longest organic farm.

Don’t support the troops…inform them.

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.

54 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. D. R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:53am #

    “While you sit at home in your luxurious apartment, making money off your writing (insert laugh track here), those brave men and women are putting their asses on the line to fight for your freedom to write your anti-American garbage.

    I say: Bullshit.”

    I’ve been waiting for someone to come out and say that. It seems that the whole “while you are enjoying the American life (ha!), these men and women are fighting for YOUR freedom! You un-American scum” is the default defense of pro-war assholes who cannot even find a rational and logical reason to explain their support.

    I would also like to comment on the “un-American” label that activists are stuck with. It would seem to me that if we had more “un-American” people aroun, it would be a much better America.

    As you mentioned, it has always been melted into people’s minds that you must support the military in an unpopular. First of all this is a VOLUNTEER army, so these people all volunteered to an organization that has only one real job – murdering people.

    Just for laughs, we can throw in a some good old religious irony: Thou shalt not kill.

    But then again, for Christ-fanatics like those in the White House at the moment, they apparently treat it as they treat the Constitution:

    Use it when it suits them in pursuit of their ends. Otherwise, preach it to others – but ignore it.

  2. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:08am #

    A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over…is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.
    – G. K. Chesterton

    Stay tuned, DR and other good folks. IVAW-WinterSoldier is trying to stream-provide live coverage of Winter Soldier, from Washington DC, as I type. It was supposed to comence(?) at 8:AM EST.

  3. Evie said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:09am #

    One can be anti-war and pro-troops, that is if “pro” means wanting them home, to have the benefits they deserve, and/or the equipment they need when they are “over there.”

    Troops are a reflection of US society. For every creep in uniform tossing a puppy off a cliff, there’s a parent in the US throwing his children off a bridge. For every thug in uniform raping and killing an Iraqi family – there are a dozen civilians at home raping and killing their neighbors.

    The troops are us – like it not, believe it or not. And if anyone has any solid concrete ideas on how to make genuine change in this political and economic system that feeds on war – I’m all ears and ready.

    Easy Over There – In a Chair.


  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:14am #

    No. commence at 9:AM EST. Now only 15 minutes late in California. See

    GL Rowsey

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:35am #

    At 6:40 AM PST, it’s still “404 not found” and holding.

  6. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:36am #

    oops, excuse my 5 minutes anticipation.

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:39am #

    The question, of course, is whether just the computer-monkey jammers are being successful…

    or whether the goons are stomping-beating-kicking-and-arresting IVAW protesters as we wait.

  8. Myles Hoenig said on March 14th, 2008 at 7:07am #

    email: moc.liamgnull@gineoh.selym, not charmcitygreens

  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 7:18am #

    Nice article, Myles. But how do we watch what the f— is going down in Washington, DC?

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 7:39am #

    I want to thank Dissident Vocie for facilitating this little demonstration of how wordy folks are different from action folks.

    So what are “live watching” folks?

    Well, we’re not all Chauncy Gardners. And some of us are really pissed off!

  11. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2008 at 8:09am #

    Bravo, Mickey. Finally someone is calling it like it is. Yours is a contant voice of wisdom.

    It is amazing that so many in the U$A can be duped into thinking that “we are fighting for our freedom”. Even the Washington elite often tell us that we are fighting to “protect US interests”. – translation is, we are fighting to protect US CORPORATE interests. Those who disagree here need to read “WAR IS A RACKET” – written in the 1930s by the highest ranking US Marine, Gen Smedley Butler. It is available online.

  12. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 9:06am #

    No video yet, but live audio.

  13. D. R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 9:16am #

    I don’t know how I haven’t stumbled upon that short treatise before, Rosemarie. But thanks, it was great.

    That is the kind of talk we need, straight talk – no bullshit.

  14. hp said on March 14th, 2008 at 10:55am #

    Mickey Z, since as usual you omitted the sacrosanct “I” word, I feel compelled to point out the ONLY entity benefiting from this unholy invasion and occupation is Israel.
    Mightily and fluently you have showed us the hypocrisy and greed, lies and distortions we all already know occurs, a daily reminder of the evil of power.
    I see that you are well versed in the “rules’ of Nuremberg Mickey. Perhaps you may find it in your heart to apply them to Gaza some day. You know, in reference to the acts of the IDF troops of the conspiciously absent “I” word. Or should I say storm troopers?
    I won’t hold my breath.

  15. Roy Fischer said on March 14th, 2008 at 11:30am #

    As a scientist who does animal experimentation to develop drugs, I respect your opinion about it, but you’re a shameless hypocrite if you condemn animal experimentation but use pharmaceuticals that have been tested in animals. You should tell your doctor, and carry a card in your wallet to say, that you will not accept any pharmaceuticals that have been tested in animals. Of course in event of life-threatening emergency that will limit you to a few things like aspirin and saline, but it’s better than profiting from animal experimentation, right?

  16. A man better than you. said on March 14th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    Thanks for speaking the truth! We’ve known all along the the left dispises those who provide them with their freedom, but it’s nice for one of you mush mouth cowards to actually put pen to paper and admit it.

    You have free speech because I give you that privledge. Without me, you are nothing. Afraid and alone, cold and lost.

  17. HR said on March 14th, 2008 at 12:04pm #

    We’ve been conned since the Japanese “surprise” attack on our Hawaiian colony in 1941 with the lie that the U.S. was caught with its guard down, yet we had aircraft carriers (safely out of harm’s way on December 7, 1941) and had been manufacturing and supplying war materiel to European allies long before the Pearl Harbor attack. The con has been used to scare us into supporting maintenance of a gigantic military, and acceptance of monstrous spy agencies like NSA and CIA ever since, bolstered by the Communist threat for 45 years after the end of World War II.

    When that threat imploded, as had been expected for decades, there was 5 or 10 minutes worth of serious talk about how the defense industry would convert to production of consumer electronics. Instead, we found ourselves cheering madly as we slaughtered peasants to restore the dictatorship of Kuwait, a former part of Iraq that was lopped off at the whim of the U.K. government in colonial times. Soon after, we cheered the bombing of Serbia as we extended our might to ensure that a civil conflict turned out in a manner more acceptable to the Chamber of Commerce. And so it continues.

    I do not have any idea what support the troops even means. I pay my taxes, which supports them financially, though that support is woefully inadequate for those who are wounded. Beyond that I just don’t know. I do feel sorry for them. They are a bunch of dumb kids for the most part, kids who have been conditioned from birth to believe that our military stands for truth and justice and democracy, kids who were never taught that large standing armies are the biggest threat there is to democracy.

    Many of these kids actually believe they are defending the country, actually preserving the freedoms that used to be guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. And why not? That’s what they learned under state curricula, what they heard from parents, friends, and media all their lives, and what they had reinforced in their minds through military training. In the face of that, it is a little unreasonable to expect them to actually be analytical, to actually look around and see that since they have been engaged in an illegal war, their leaders, including their commander-in-chief, have implemented laws that are rapidly destroying the Bill of Rights, laws that include the “patriot act”, REAL ID, military commissions act, soon-to-be-enacted immunity for illegal spying, and so on. They have been used as pawns to justify imposition of a police state in what was once a reasonably free place.

    I am a person who believes that military expenditures should be REDUCED to a least one quarter of the current amount. One who is sick of seeing our kids sent off to bleed and die in wars waged only for Chamber of Commerce interests, all the propaganda babble of security and democracy spreading notwithstanding. One who believes that when wars are waged, that the sons and daughters of the wealthy and of elected members of the Executive Branch and Congress should be subject to a special draft, a draft that ensures that they are assigned to the most dangerous tasks, without pay or benefits.

    I am one who is sick of an economic system that has at its premise that growth can go on indefinitely on a planet that has finite resources. A system that portrays commodities (natural resources) as variables that are dependent on economic whim rather than the independent and limited constants that they truly are. Finally, I am a person who lives for the day that the criminals in the Executive Branch and their criminally complicit enablers in Congress are sitting in the dock of an international tribunal awaiting sentencing for their crimes against humanity.

  18. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2008 at 12:20pm #

    “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, scince for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despiceable an ignoreable war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” — Albert Einstein

  19. Eric said on March 14th, 2008 at 12:34pm #

    Pretty brave article and well said. In a different era this sentiment would be the centerpiece of a mass anti-war movement. But we don’t have a mass anti-war movement; we don’t have a mass-anything movement, unless you consider the democracy that’s practiced once a week (or so I’m told) on American Idol. For most Americans the Iraq War is like a television series that “used to be good back in the first season”. I think most people have turned the channel on it and expect that it will just go away, like some kind of less-interesting, soon-to-be cancelled show.

    I was walking through a university town the other day and saw those “hate the war, love the warrior” stickers which – as you point out in your opening section – is a cop-out of the highest order. “Support the warrior” is not an anti-war sentiment. It’s not even a pro-peace sentiment. In fact it’s a PRO-WAR statement. But it does do one thing effectively: It’ll keep you from being attacked by the militaristic Right which has taken over since 9/11. That’s really the story of our times.

    I do think this can’t be ignored; a lot of young kids went to Iraq because they believed it was a way to fight back against 9/11. I’m not saying this justifies their actions once they’ve gotten over there. I’m just saying that it was very effective propaganda and ought to be mentioned.

    Just my two cents; thanks as always for the enlightening commentary.


  20. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 12:59pm #

    “I was walking through a university town the other day and saw those “hate the war, love the warrior” stickers which – as you point out in your opening section – is a cop-out of the highest order. “Support the warrior” is not an anti-war sentiment. It’s not even a pro-peace sentiment. In fact it’s a PRO-WAR statement.”

    Eric. With all due respect, I think Love the Warrior is different from Support the Warrior. IVAW’s Winter Soldier event is proceeding in Washington DC right now, and I heard repeated a few hours ago, in highly sympathetic terms: “Hate the war, love the warrior.”

    I recommend that you go to the address providing live video-audio coverage of the event:

    But don’t expect to access the streaming coverage immediately. As noted at the bottom of the page:

    “We are experiencing an extremely high level of traffic on the IVAW website because of interest in Winter Soldier. If you have trouble accessing the main website, please try back later.”

  21. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 1:07pm #

    After all:
    A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over…is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.
    – G. K. Chesterton

  22. Eric said on March 14th, 2008 at 1:14pm #

    Lloyd, that’s a fair a point and thanks for making it so politely. Perhaps you’re right – I’m just not sure that the sentiment behind those stickers is anything other than a backhanded way of appeasing the Right-wing, which has so effectively narrowed the allowable rules of anti-war expression.

    In other words, I think those stickers may be saying, in effect, “I’m against the war but I’m not one of those Anti-American zealots who don’t love our troops!”.

    But maybe mine is too strong a statement.


  23. D.R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 1:21pm #

    We’ve all had some pretty interesting and civil conversations, and I agree with you, Lloyd, on a lot of things – but I think “hate the war, love the warrior” and “hate the war, support the warrior” are the exact same.

    The only defense that can out forth for all those who marched when the drums of war started thumping in the early period of the decade is that they were ignorant. Ignorant of what they were doing to world. Ignorant of what they were doing to their country. Ignorant of what they were doing to themselves.

    Ignorance is not an excuse.

    I do not blame the warrior, but I do not love him or support him. In my eyes, he is just as guilty as his leaders. Anyone armed with a machine gun and the good-will of their government that marches on another nation is more a threat to what little democracy and freedom we have left than any “terrorist” organization could dream of being.

    Because when the leaders said march – they marched . . . without questioning.

  24. Mike McNiven said on March 14th, 2008 at 1:46pm #

    Thank you very much Mr. Z!

  25. hp said on March 14th, 2008 at 1:56pm #

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

  26. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2008 at 2:20pm #

    hp good one

  27. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 3:04pm #

    Thanx for this perspective, D.R. But there are warriors and warriors. Some warriors – usually very obviously – need no more than support, some of them only the support of their militant colleagues. Other warriors have turned their backs on this sort of support, and have been so devastated by war that they need a certain kind of love much more than support. Institutional love. Many of these warriors have had loads of personal love, but their devastation in war has rendered them beyond the reach of ordinary or even extraordinary personal love. Need I add that institutional love includes all the medical-psychological attention and care that Bushco and their minions are even now continuing to de-fund? Even personal and institutional love is (or would be) insufficient for the recovery of some devastated warriors. And if they are fortunate, their paths lead into activist opposition to war. Not out of personal or selfish reasons, but because they keep trying other alternatives than the things that haven’t helped. And their lives have been, often literally, saved as a result of their anti-war activism.

    But it goes without saying, what is saved can be lost later. The war has to end.

    GL Rowsey

  28. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:03pm #

    To be truly anti-war you must oppose ALL parts of the war machine – that includes those who fund, design, manufacture, transport, or use weapons. If you pay taxes you are part of the war machine. If you vote for a Democrat or Republican you are part of the war machine. If you work for Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, GE, etc you are part of the war machine. If you support the economy of the US you are part of the war machine. We are all war criminals. If you don’t think so, take a look at the Fisk War Photos. They are online. Then look at the photos of the babies born to Mothers who had been exposed to DU.

  29. opeluboy said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:10pm #

    I agree with the central premise of this piece completely, that it is impossible to truly oppose the war and support the troops. Donning a uniform does not relieve one of moral responsibility. And as the writer has reminded us, Nuremberg has forever made this clear (or should have).

    Where I differ from the author is in his suggested reason for this present war: oil. While oil is certainly a factor, I believe Israel is an even bigger one. While it is convenient for some liberals to ignore this fact, or the fact that the drumbeats demanding attack on Iran (and Syria, and Lebanon, and…) are emananting from that one tiny state and its morally bankrupt supporters here, it is yet a fact, and no simple omission in this article or any other is going to change that.

  30. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:39pm #

    Oil and Israel are often given as the causes for the war. Maybe – maybe not. If it wasn’t oil it would be broccoli or water. The US will always find a reason to make war. Remember Korea, Grenada, Panama, etc, etc etc… War is the most profitable thing we’ve got going. Think about it. What would the corporations do if there were no wars. As long as there is a Capitalist with a bomb, there will be war. It’s just too profitable for any red blooded Capitalist to resist.

    Wearing a uniform might make a fashion statement, but it does not give anyone the moral right to kill.

  31. D. Chandler said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:46pm #

    Well, this blog has been Farked, which is how I stumbled upon it. So rather than snark on their discussion boards, I thought I would speak directly to the audience this is meant for.

    I’m a Marine. No no, please keep reading.
    Specifically, I’ve recently been medically retired. I enlisted after 9/11. I didn’t enlist because I ‘wanted to kill me some Ay-rabs’ or some callous thing some expect, I joined because I realized, at 24, that my safety and comfort was a precarious thing, as well as that of my new son. I joined because I saw there was something dark coming, and I felt I was intelligent and strong enough to survive it. I joined so someone else wouldn’t have to.

    I had no idea this was how the war would be waged. I’ve disagreed with a great deal of the decisions made by our president. I’ve been sickened by the military leaders who are appointed to command the war, then rotated out as they inevitably find Bush’s ambitions ludicrous and say so. I have no love for the president or his ideology, but that does not grant me pass to pack and go home. There was a legitimate fight to be fought, and it was botched, to engage in painful understatement. I would love to hear that presidential order pulled every American out of Iraq tomorrow, but till that happens, no soldier, airman, sailor nor Marine is going to abandon his brothers and sisters. Those people mean more to them than their commanding officers, their president, or someone on a blog equating them with Nazi soldiers. Those that do believe that this war is wrong aren’t staying because they were told to, they’re staying because they won’t leave their family to die.

    There is a degree of indoctrination that occurs upon joining the military. There must be, to remain coherent in the situations we find ourselves in. But we are not robots, and we are not killing machines. We are men and women who have sworn to serve our country in a manner that most will not and can not. War represents the most monstrous facet of human nature and those who wage war cannot help but be contaminated with it.

    Misuse of the military does not constitute lack of need for the military. This nation needs its vanguards, and their application to self-serving ends by the president doesn’t negate that, which means we do need more brave men and woment to sign up…hopefully in time to see America’s regime change and a new direction overseas. When human nature changes, we will be glad of our obsolescence. As someone who’s been to Iraq and seen the abyss with my own eyes, I truly hope humanity can be taught to remember their…humanity. Until then you can love us, support us, pity us, or hate us, but we will always be needed, and we will always be there. You may think we have become the monsters Nietzsche warned of, but we truly are your monsters.

  32. hp said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:46pm #

    Good point Opeluboy. Anti war and pro-Israel? No way.

  33. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:52pm #

    I only spent five years — from the 8th grade thru the 12th — in a military high school, and realized MY future wasn’t with the military, but it’s sadly obvious from the posts to this article that the consciousnesses of all warriors, whether triumphant or devastated, is quite beyond the understandings of “ordinary Americans.”

    Try, if you will gentle readers, you who are neither warriors nor the close family of warriors, who are not failed or attempted suicides, to step outside of your mental cages and imagine a form of mental anguish like you’ve never experienced.

    Then, wake the hell up.

  34. Robert Magarulian said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:00pm #

    Selective Reasoning
    Do you display the swirling blue orb of the planet Earth, and proudly declare: “One World Indivisible?”
    Do you believe that human beings everywhere deserve the same rights to life and liberty?
    Do you agree with the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: “My country is the world; my countrymen are mankind?”
    Do you align yourself with the military in Latin America, or is your allegiance to the peasants and the Zapatistas?
    Do you disagree with Secretary of War Elihu Root, who in 1899 declared: “The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the world began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness?”
    Do you avoid giving a negative response toward volunteer American troops overseas by uttering the naive and misdirected response: “Bring them home?”
    By the omission of a direct negative response (No!) to the question of support for American troops overseas, you are approving the extensive civilian abuses, pillaging and murder committed by U.S. military forces in the Middle East — and in all other countries that are invaded by the American Military Machine — or am I missing something here?

  35. D. R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:22pm #

    I have three immediate family members in Iraq.

    I can sympathize with warriors when they don’t SIGN UP FOR WAR.

    If there was a draft in place and the US was having mass conscription – my fullest sympathy would go out to every innocent person dragged into a unjust war.

    But not when they sign up for it, get what they signed up for, and then wish they didn’t.

  36. rosemarie jackowski said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    Lloyd…Are you saying that because killing causes the killer anguish, we should not hold him responsible. The person killed is the victim, not the killer. Your system of ethics is a bit twisted.
    At least one of the people here, who disagrees with you, is a vet and a member of Veterans for Peace.

  37. D. R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    Actually, after thinking about it some more . . .

    Perhaps I don’t think the warriors are decent people, or that they aren’t as guilty as the top brass or the capitalist war machine – but I suppose, as you said Lloyd – that what is done is done, and though their ignorance does not entitle them to amnesty from their crimes, they do deserve the mental and medical help they need.

    Not because they are soldiers, but because they are human.

    So I would like to change some of my earlier statements, after I’ve had time to get other peoples’ viewpoints on it.

  38. hp said on March 14th, 2008 at 5:37pm #

    Almost anyone is capable of being healed. Not everyone is capable of healing.
    To heal someone, help heal someone, you must first forgive them.

  39. opeluboy said on March 14th, 2008 at 7:06pm #

    I would like to respond to D Chandler’s thoughtful entry here.

    While I can appreciate your concern after 9-11, and what I perceive to be a truly selfless act on your part — enlisting in the Marines — there are several problems.

    First, you are making the understandable mistake of believing both the government and the media. You have no real way of knowing actually who was responsible for 9-11, but we do know now without a doubt that it was not Iraq and it was not Afghanistan. If you hold to the official narrative, it was al Qaida, and 15 of the hijackers were Saudi nationals. So being involved in the destruction of Iraq and the deaths of now upwards of 1,000,000 people — and another 4,000,000 displaced — while noble in your intent, is nonetheless a war crime.

    I am not accusing you of willfully committing this crime, but for being lied into committing it.

    And what if some day it becomes clear that 9-11 was not orchestrated by some shadowy Arab group, but by people within our own government, what then?

    I also disagree with your statement that “there was a legitimate fight to be fought.” On what grounds was it legitimate? What did Iraq do to my country? Attacking and invading a basically defenseless country is illegal, when that country has committed no aggression.

    And staying in Iraq to protect one’s fellow soldiers, while admirable in itself, does not negate the illegality of the invasion in the first place. Certainly staying would also entail killing even more Iraqis, people who again, did nothing to you or me (until we invaded them).

    You state that you “have no love for the president or his ideology, but that does not grant me pass to pack and go home.” No, it doesn’t. Which is why there are hundreds of IDF soldiers (many of them officers), one of them Netanyahu’s nephew, sitting in jail cells in Israel for refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories, slaughtering and dehumanizing Palestinians.

    You make three points I strongly agree with. First, I am certain that most people serving in our military are doing the best they can, and are not there to fulfill some sadistic need. Second, there is no question that our military is misused (has been for decades) and third, a well-equipped, well-trained military is an unfortunate necessity.

    I would rather see nationally-minded young people able to serve their country some other way (and get training, money for college, etc.), aside from military service, as they are being grossly misused. Foreign bases should be closed. We do not need 700 plus. And the military we have should be for defense of the United States, not used as a private army for Corporate America or for our “allies” increased regional hegemony.

    This will require Americans rethinking their love affiar with all things military, our infatuation with violence and the mistaken belief that it solves all problems. Hopefully, your experience can be used to further this change.

  40. D. R. Munro said on March 14th, 2008 at 7:55pm #

    I can see where D. Chandler is coming from.

    However, the problem lies within that. That is to say, as opeluboy mentioned above – the soldiers are not defending American in Iraq. I’m sorry, they’re not. What they’re doing there (in regards to corporate/political/hegemonic means) I don’t know, none of us do except a select few power elite. What they’re not doing is defending the United States.

    And while on the subject of defending the United States – is there anything so vehemently disgusting as nationalism? Does being forced to take pride in your nation not mean that you have nothing to take pride of in yourself? This thought that just because I was born somewhere, it therefore must be the best somewhere – is ridiculous, and the thinking that enables the perpetual cogs of war to keep spinning until humans finally recieve their self-inflicted coup de grâce. How soon we forget that nationalism caused the death of upwards of 100,000,000 people from 1914-1945

    Look, here is my problem with war: I accept the fact that evil people exist. I accept the fact that some may even pose a threat to me. I refuse to accept the fact that innocent men, women, and children must die in order to take out these select few. That is, if these select few even exist.

    What sort of disorganized logic is this? If we’re going on Utilitarian point of view, then when comparing the approximate 6,000 American dead (including 9/11) to the approximate ~500,000 Iraqi dead – there is no comparison. That is to say, 9/11 was a “better” alternative in relation to the world.

    After all, we may be “Americans” – but we do not live in this world alone. We share it with 6 billion people . . . and I would rather refer to myself as a human being than an “American” anyday, even though it says it on my passport.

    I can appreciate the close-knit family feeling that men at arms feel with one another. They truly are your brothers and sisters. . . but why can’t the Iraqi men, Czech men, Polish men, German men, and Indian men also be your brothers?

    You said you saw “darkness” coming to the United States, and worried for your child. Do you not see that you have brought that SAME darkness that you so feared to the Iraqi civilians and their sons!? These are innocent people, afraid and worried for their lives, their families, and their children – just like you and just like me.

    So in sum, this is why I loathe war: I do not narrow my thinking into defining myself as an “American.” I am a member of this world, and all the world’s men are my brothers, and I don’t believe in killing family members – even if they might want to kill me.

    Because, until we stop enacting retribution over every little thing that occurs – we will live in perpetual violence and bloodshed.

    But, some people like it that way. Cha-Ching.

  41. HR said on March 14th, 2008 at 9:50pm #

    As long as leaders here have a huge military to play their business-friendly games with, they will. This country can defend itself more than adequately from any currently existing country with a much smaller force than we have now. It just won’t be able to ride roughshod over the rest of the world as it has for decades.

    It’s sad how many self-identified liberals buy into the crazy notion that we need a military of the magnitude that currently exists. Afraid of the Muslims overrunning us? How are they gonna get here? Swim, or fly coach? Maybe book a fleet of cruise ships? Give me a break.

  42. D.R. Munro said on March 15th, 2008 at 6:21am #

    I would actually like to see something of an isolationist policy like we had before both World Wars. I realize the world took the express lane to hell around us . . . but that’s just it – AROUND us. Not with us.

    And I realize also that it would take some massive re-organization of the economy to transistion out of this burgeoning global economy . . . but let’s be honest – what does a global economy contribute to the masses of people? Nothing but cheaper shit at Walmart.

    The whole much-touted global economy really only has benefits to the the capitalists with the most money to invest.

    I would contend that an American military need only be large enough to defend ourself against possible threats on the continent – and that would be . . . Mexico and Canada?

    I mean, think about how much peace and prosperity we could share in North America. We’re blessed with peaceful neighbors – and seperated by two oceans from the rest of the world.

  43. hp said on March 15th, 2008 at 10:02am #

    We’re all Israelis now!
    The infamous words of Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee Chairman, Bush-Cheney campaign manager and DUAL CITIZEN ISRAELI, speaking to a group of Christians United For Israel.

  44. Deadbeat said on March 15th, 2008 at 10:28am #

    This is a good article but I take issue to two points:

    [1] But surely every suicide bomber is merely following orders as are those detonating IEDs in Iraq.

    This assumes that the people engage in this activity are being coerced or pressured like U.S. soldiers into following orders. This is a bogus attempt to make the Iraqi resisters appear to be motivative by the reasons as U.S. soldiers. This is a terrible and insensitive analogy. There was a very good article on Counterpunch this week written by Patrick Cockburn where he quotes a women who is now motivative to become a suicide bomber because U.S. soldiers killed her husband and children. The Iraqi resistance are clearly motivated by the U.S. occupation not the other way around as is being implied by Mickey Z.

    [2] The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not fighting for my freedom. They are fighting to keep the world safe for petroleum.

    I refer Mickey Z to James Petras. The destruction of Iraq was not motivated by the oil companies. It was motivated by Zionism. Yet again we see left-wing denial and its unwillingness to confront Zionism.

  45. hp said on March 15th, 2008 at 10:50am #

    Deadbeat, yea, couldn’t help but notice that myself, as I stated way above.
    Seems to be this guy’s M.O.
    I’m not convinced I see anything ‘left wing’ at all here.
    I do see the “Z” though.

  46. Deadbeat said on March 15th, 2008 at 11:16am #

    You are right hp, I shouldn’t be referring to such commentary as “left-wing” but as reactionary. Such articles tries to obscure injustice using false dichotomy (“following orders”) and blame shifting (“War for Oil”).

  47. Deadbeat said on March 15th, 2008 at 11:29am #

    hp you are correct that Z should apply his anger toward what Israel has done to the citizens of Gaza and its blatant violation of International Law. It seems unfair for him to rail against the U.S. soldiers when they too are victims in this war for Zionism.

  48. Rocco Ray said on March 15th, 2008 at 2:22pm #

    Mickey Z, I agree with you totally.

    To the person that said the troops…I say the troops as opposed to our’ troops because I don’t have any troops and if I did they wouldn’t be in Iraq they’d be here protecting the homeland…are fighting for freedom.

    What freedom? The freedom to plunder, rape and pillage?

  49. anthony innes said on March 15th, 2008 at 7:30pm #

    Micky Z’s call to inform the troops should speak to us all.Its the lack of information ,transparency and the authoritarian mindset that enables the wars to start ,reconfigure and continue.The financial meltdown caused by this profligate spending and lack of information is bringing not just tactical defeat but strategic castastrophe to the home front.
    Sadly Mickey is right “the universal soldier ” is killing in not in my name.A volunteer army is that …… they volunteer to obey orders.The fact that the orders are by corrupt so called elected government makes it all the more tragic.
    The crisis is now evident,undeniable and now extremely dangerous.
    The complacency which the “thinking community ” has been treating the education of all citizens is visiting everyone of us with stark choices .
    Religous fervour,tribal loyalty,patriotic mythology and other wishfull thinking are going to reduce to the primaries of justice and food .The soldiers of whatever stripe are going have to relearn to declare their allegance to defending the constitution against its enemies and refuse illegal orders.
    Only by calling for an IMPEACHMENT agenda against those guilty of malfeasance in office and illegal operations as defined under the Constitution will this education begin in earnest.
    Real leadership is responsible for the wellfare of the troops.Its obvious who has been screwing both them and the rest of the people.
    The American people may be broke and getting really hungry but they are about to get their house in order.The so called political class are a bunch of wets.The journey to November is going to be one long march and watch what happens to any candidate who is not for an end to war economy and against IMPEACHING the criminals in administration.
    This time around the Macnamaras and Kissingers will be lucky to have bodies to swing from lamposts.People everywhere are stretched to breaking point.The failure by people in charge of money to provide food and justice is revolution’s fertile ground.The Constitution proven in crisis is the centre point of liberty and it demands those who honour it to IMPEACH its enemies.Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld et all are demonstratably guilty of treating the Constitution as” apiece of paper”.
    The world will not take a dollar not backed by IMPEACHMENT as demanded by the Constitution.

  50. hp said on March 15th, 2008 at 9:09pm #

    Mickey, I mean mouthed you on another thread and I wanted to apologize for my rudeness, my incivility.
    I have no right to accuse you out of anger or passion and I’m sorry.

  51. Shabnam said on March 16th, 2008 at 11:07pm #

    Micky Z: I would say the same thing: BULLSHIT. These mercenaries are not there to protect anyone’s freedom but their own interest. These people are not 8 years old. They are older than 18 years of age and are responsible for their actions. It is true that these people are trained to believe certain values beneficial to the preservation of the system during their school years but all of us are exposed more or less to the same values but not the same pressure to internalize them.
    Adventurous People from working class with little freedom of
    movement due to their economic circumstances who have not done much traveling around the world and are willing to practice their shooting skills where have learnt by playing their war games on their computers , they are willing to enlist and start to built their couriers, perhaps like their fathers in the military before them since Americans hold the biggest gun, therefore, they think it is save for them to use it on others without serious consequences. They want to travel abroad and show how great Americans are. Can you picture Americans in other countries who have violated their laws and therefore they are subject to an investigation but they refuse to be questioned because they think Americans are above the law and usually they say: “I AM AMERICAN, AND THIS IS MY AMERICAN PASSPORT TO PROVE IT.” So they think Americans own the world. This arrogant attitude of Americans was one of the reasons behind the 1964 riot in Iran where Khomeini magnified, Capitulation (diplomatic and consular immunity for American citizens in Iran) and warned Iranians “all American military advisors and their families, their technical and administrative employees, and servants…are exempt from trial for any crime they commit in Iran…” Khomeini told the Shah, according to Capitulation, American’s dog can escape punishment if attacks you.
    Thus, combination of having a BIG GUN and being brain washed according to “American Exceptionalism” concept have caused 1.2 million deaths and millions of refugees in Iraq alone. Not only these criminals and their superiors are responsible for destruction of Iraq but also the internal facilitators and those who cooperated with these criminals are as guilty as the Neocons who sold the war to ignorant Americans and those who executed the war. One of the most important facilitators is the leadership of the Kurdish tribe in Iraq.
    The Kurds are spying for Israel for the last fifty years and continue to
    do so. The Kurds are cooperating with the occupation force and presenting Americans as liberators and they want the criminals to stay in Iraq indefinitely. One of the important aims of the Zionist war is to change the map of the Middle East; “the Greater Middle East” based on ethnic and religious background not the OIL. Oil is important within the new map of the Middle East. This is the Zionist’s plan which became the empire’s plan through the Zionist lobby that has great influence on foreign policy of the Middle East. Therefore, the people of the region see the Kurds like another ISRAEL who are cooperating with the occupational force and are close to the Zionist lobby and their representatives acting like the corrupt Arab head of States, majority of the Kurdish population of Iraq are cooperating with Israel and the US forces to divide the countries of the region to realize “the greater Israel” and expansion of their own tribe. That’s why the Kurds of Iran, especially those who are considering themselves as “the left”, many TROTESTYTE and associated with HOPI among them, have said they do not defend the country in case the Zionist/Imperialist dare to invade, which has angered other Iranian left. The following is an excerpt:
    ?? ??????? “??? ??????? ?????” ???? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ??????? ????? ?????? ?? ????? ??? (???? ??? ??????? ? ????? ) ?? ?????? ???? ????? (???? ?????? ??????? ???) ?????? ???? ???:
    ” ?? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??????? ? ???? ??????? ???????? ??????.”
    The translation from Persian into English:
    The representative of Communist party of Iran, Mr. Selah Mazoji, was asked: in case of American invasion of Iran what do you (meaning the Communist party and Komoleh [Kurdish fighters]) do?
    “We do not ask our forces, our people to take arms and fight against Americans.”

    The Kurds must know they are Iranians before being Kurds and they are expected to defend Iran against the war criminals if they do not want to be called TRAITORS. Thus, to attack the military and their criminal superiors is NOT ENOUGH to prevent wars. The imperialist/Zionist can not achieve anything without the local facilitators and traitors. Israel and the US helping Kurds financially and military to act as their facilitators. These war criminals must be exposed and condemned worldwide. To expose the internal facilitators and lackeys are as important as exposing those who take us to war based on lies and deception for expansion of their influence around the world.

  52. Kim Petersen said on March 16th, 2008 at 11:44pm #

    MZ’s article is directed at the actions of his own country’s military. To criticize him for failure to broaden his thesis to include Israel is, to put it mildly, unfair.

  53. Luis Cayetano said on March 17th, 2008 at 12:52am #

    “Consider the animal rights activists struggling to end the morally indefensible and scientifically fraudulent enterprise of animal experimentation.”

    How is it “scientifically fraudulent”? Can you suggest an alternative? How about human experimentation? Will you be a volunteer? Or do you really think the multinationals and the scientific community are engaged in a conspiracy to torture animals just for the hell of it? Why would they bank so much on animal experimentation if it doesn’t work (especially given that they would have so much to lose from following dodgy methods that don’t yield useful results)? Please, be serious, and actually listen to what you’re saying. Yours was the sort of ignorant rhetoric that chips away at a writer’s credibility, even if the overall argument of their article is sound.

  54. Deadbeat said on March 17th, 2008 at 10:08am #

    MZ’s article is directed at the actions of his own country’s military. To criticize him for failure to broaden his thesis to include Israel is, to put it mildly, unfair

    I disagree. It is important to criticize his premise especially when parts of his analysis are flawed. The “war for petroleum” is one such flawed premise.