The Anti-War Argument While Still Supporting the Troops

In this time of permanent war, it is our job to provide the counter perspective: That of the 24 US bombing campaigns since WWII, none resulted in the establishment or continuation of democracy. Many campaigns were waged against democratically elected leaders, and most ended with the establishment and continued funding of dictatorships. We must point out the correlation between US-sponsored “democracy” and market-based capitalism, and push for self-determination on the part of people around the world.

Many people already sense that something is deeply wrong with this country even as they hang yellow ribbons. People are hurting economically, and Bush seems to be continually missing that point. But many folks are troubled by questions of loyalty, still hurting from the September 11 attacks, and still believe the government line that US intervention is appreciated by and brings freedom and democracy to people around the world.

These days, a hot topic in patriot land – and a good way to address fuzzy patriot thinking – is support for the troops.

Support for the recent Iraq war didn’t fully solidify until after the troops were in combat. After the war officially started, many folks who had serious doubts about the war felt it was unethical – unpatriotic – to protest the efforts of our soldiers, fighting for us.

You can support the troops, without supporting the designs of the Commander in Chief, because you don’t support people fighting and dying, period. In particular, we can support troops who break ranks. Support for troops does not mean demanding they occupy a country where they’re clearly not wanted—witness skyrocketing anti-occupation protests in Iraq. Instead, real support means good-paying jobs at home, non-militarized education, and emotional support of friends and family.

There is a poverty draft in place today. Despite small upsurges in interest in the military after 9/11 and the Iraq war, most folks still join the military to receive promised job skills and education funding. But two-thirds of recruits never get the financial aid they were promised – and only 15% actually get the four year degree they wanted! According to a report in the Army Times, the military actually took $720 million more from GIs in non-refundable deposits, than they paid out in college benefits between 1986 and 1993. About 90% of folks don’t end up using the skills they learned in the military in their post-military jobs. What a bunch of bullshit!

Some people package these anti-military arguments under the slogan “Peace is Patriotic.” The radical analysis goes further: Peace is not patriotic! Peace requires consideration, negotiation, listening. Patriotism requires unthinking allegiance. Peace won’t come from following directions, only from working out new solutions that empower people, not governments.

Now is the time to sever the link between support for government and support for people. Wars waged by the US to “liberate” people elsewhere, supported by people here at home, are not fought in the interests of people at home or abroad. Government leaders, and their friends in corporate boardrooms – from Bush and Cheney to Saddam – fight wars for their own private power-mongering interests, not in the interests of regular folks in either the US or Iraq. The money river that starts at government founts and pools around defense contractors runs dry by the time it reaches the dude on the street.

Let’s bust up myths that assume the government cares about us, and replace government loyalty with people loyalty. George Bush isn’t my man, my best idiot, my friend – YOU ARE.