WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
Home · Articles · Columns · Editorial · Blame and Shame

Blame and Shame

By John Fox · July 11th, 2007 · Editorial
0 Comments
     
Tags:

The other day CityBeat News Editor Gregory Flannery posted this on the Porkopolis blog on our Web site: "I don't support the troops. Supporting the troops means supporting what troops do -- namely, kill people."

That's a pretty bold statement, even for Greg, who's known to be a little out there on political matters. Then he dug deeper.

"Why would anyone who opposes the war support the troops who conduct it? What exactly does that support entail? If, for example, we mean that we want U.S. troops to come home safely, doesn't that imply that we oppose safety for the people they are fighting? Can one support the troops of this country without wishing for the death of their enemies in combat? Supporting the troops is just a touchy-feely endorsement of nationalism and war-making." (Find the entire post and comments at blogs.citybeat.com/porkopolis)

In these politically divisive and bitter times, one of the few concepts most Americans seem to agree on is that we should support the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other day CityBeat News Editor Gregory Flannery posted this on the Porkopolis blog on our Web site: "I don't support the troops. Supporting the troops means supporting what troops do -- namely, kill people."

That's a pretty bold statement, even for Greg, who's known to be a little out there on political matters. Then he dug deeper.

"Why would anyone who opposes the war support the troops who conduct it? What exactly does that support entail? If, for example, we mean that we want U.S. troops to come home safely, doesn't that imply that we oppose safety for the people they are fighting? Can one support the troops of this country without wishing for the death of their enemies in combat? ... Supporting the troops is just a touchy-feely endorsement of nationalism and war-making." (Find the entire post and comments at blogs.citybeat.com/porkopolis)

In these politically divisive and bitter times, one of the few concepts most Americans seem to agree on is that we should support the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They didn't make the bad policy decisions that put the country in unwinnable wars, but the troops are risking their lives and deserve unqualified support.

As the war in the Middle East drags on, it's not easy to agree about anything any more.

President Bush has let us down, Congress has let us down, the military leadership has let us down, the media watchdogs have let us down and even, in the cases of Abu Ghraib and Haditha, the troops have let us down.

At the same time, the very leaders in the Bush administration who loudly urge us to support the troops are themselves dishonoring the troops. They hide the flag-draped coffins coming home, they play games with Pat Tillman's family over what really happened to the ex-NFL player, they don't provide proper armor and equipment, they extend tours of duty on a whim and they overlook poor health care treatment at places like Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Every time a new scandal breaks over funding, management or tactics in the war, Bush's cheerleader rap of "Support the troops!" rings more and more hollow. And it gets harder and harder to muster support for the troops.

As usual, that's not the troops' fault. But, as the saying goes, shit runs downhill -- and America's finest soldiers, Marines, seamen, pilots and support personnel are stuck in a very deep manure pit right now.

So what do we do? Do we pull them out and bring them home, as Greg advocates? Do we send more supplies and ask them to try harder? Do we tell them to hold their noses and pretend the shit doesn't stink?

The reality is that we have very little day-to-day connection with this war. Few of us have sacrificed anything to advance our collective cause.

I personally know no one who's served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The closest I've come to any sort of connection is when a woman I know read a poem about her neighbor's son, who died in Iraq, at a recent S.O.S. Art event.

Otherwise, I've been touched by various CityBeat stories about local Iraq vets and by other stories on TV and in magazines. I've gotten to know Paul Hackett, Matt Maupin and members of the Marines' Lima Company vicariously.

But it's all one big video game to most of us. The horrible human destruction has been sanitized from our TV screens, leaving us with vaguely unpleasant images of soldiers scurrying and mothers crying. We turn it off when it gets too uncomfortable.

When our armed forces invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq, Bush informed us that we were facing a titanic clash of civilizations that would define the future course of human history. And yet he's been fighting that titanic clash with an all-volunteer military that's not properly equipped or staffed.

The vast majority of Americans haven't been asked to contribute in any way to saving Western civilization. On the other hand, we haven't stepped forward to volunteer either.

The wealthy among us have been given tax cuts, and the rest of us were encouraged to go shopping in order to bolster the economy. It's pretty much business as usual on the home front.

Every now and then Bush's approval ratings dip even lower, and we secretly are pleased. We wanted to see Scooter Libby, C.I.A. agent traitor, go to jail. We'd love to see Alberto Gonzales, torture enabler, get his comeuppance.

We voted for Democrats last November because we thought they'd stand up to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, et al. They haven't done much, and we shrug. Hey, we tried.

There's a lot of blame and a lot of shame to go around regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Bush and Cheney seem unable to either accept blame or understand shame, they might be the only Americans who don't feel bad about what's happened.

The rest of us are ashamed. Ashamed that we believed Bush's call to arms. Ashamed that we didn't have a plan before we went into Afghanistan and Iraq. Ashamed that our government has wasted thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Ashamed that we've done nothing to help and little to oppose what we knew all along in our hearts was wrong.

I heard an NPR interview last week with New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, the latest Republican legislator to break ranks with Bush over the war. He said one of the things that changed his mind was talking with parents of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said they supported the war when their sons and daughters were serving in the Middle East, but now that their children are dead they see no point in continuing to fight a losing cause.

It's the same epiphany that Cindy Sheehan came to when her son died in battle. She became an anti-war activist because she didn't want another mother to have to face that kind of grief, but unfortunately many more have.

Do we continue to support the troops until they're all dead? Or do we offer better support by trying to keep as many alive as possible?

I'm with Greg: Let's bring them home now.



Contact john fox: jfox(at)citybeat.com
 
 
 
 

 

comments powered by Disqus
 
Close
Close
Close