Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Out Now!" not "Support the Troops"

Joel Stein at The Los Angeles Times sparked a kerfluffle with an article about why he does not support the troops in Iraq. The article will be off line in a couple of weeks, but you can read a synopsis and response by Richard at American Leftist. Richard's comments are not only excellent in an of themselves, but they have sparked a great discussion as well. I couldn't help but join in because this subject comes up often in the anti-war movement and I've given it quite a lot of thought over the years. I'm copying my post here, but I encourage everyone to read the discussion both because it includes respectful and thoughtful arguments for different points of view.

Here's me:

First, yes, and by all means, the people to be concerned about are the Iraqis, not the men and women who are under orders to kill them.

Second, the only honest way I can support the troops is by doing whatever I can to bring them home -- Out Now! I cannot say I believe the war is unjust and at the same time support those people who are participating in that war.

What the antiwar movement can do and did do during the Vietman War is support those troops who refuse to fight. They set up GI coffeehouses so troops could talk about what they experienced. They helped produce newsletters so troops could teach each other the truth about what they were doing. They supported GIs who refused to carry out orders in Nam. This was the anti-Vietnam War movement whose history has been grossly distorted by right-wing propaganda.

I can't remember the book's title, but one researcher found absolutely no documentary record that any returning Vietnam Vet was spat on by anyone in the antiwar movement. Ever. The movement was not making those mistakes. In fact, it's history has been deliberately distorted.
And when the antiwar movement talks about poor body armor, lack of medical care and budget cuts to veterans, it cannot be in order to build a better killing machine, but is instead a method of showing just how callous our political leaders are in carrying out their imperialist wars. They don't care how many Iraqis die, but they also don't care very much about what happens to the people they hire to carry out their grand plans.

Support the soldiers who tell the truth and refuse to carry out orders. Support the soldiers who refuse to deploy. We do a great disservice to these brave and honest women and men if we lump them in with the group who have not yet or will never open their eyes to the horrors they inflict on Iraq.