Posted in mind control, war | 155 Comments »
Back when I was a long-haired hippy freak with a hand-scrawled peace symbol on his jacket holding signs up in protest of Gulf War I, the Orlando peace activist organizer types would always enjoin us in preparing for rallies, protests or other events thus:
“Oppose the war; support the troops.”
The idea had a certain strategic logic to it. Our opinion was a minority one, and offending the millions with military members in their families or otherwise close to them didn’t seem like a terribly bright way of getting the peace message across. We also somewhat accepted the logic that the people in the military had signed up to defend America; that they were being sent to a criminal war for profit on the other side of the globe wasn’t really their fault, they’d been hoodwinked.
So, all of those well thought out banner ideas like “US Military: Millions of Murderers in Uniform” were left aside so that we might more effectively get the peace message across and avoid offending anyone’s precious sensibilities. We stuck instead to our peace signs and our rainbows and our doves and our “No blood for oil” lines. We endured the taunts from the counter-protests: “My country, right or wrong!” “America, love it or leave it!” “Traitors!” and so on. And we gingerly protested in our carefully cordoned-off free speech zones or under city permit permission, got ourselves in the papers and all cried together and lit candles as the radio reports started coming in of the missiles and bombs striking Baghdad. And, of course, none of it made a damned bit of difference.
It always bothered me, though, this “support the troops” idea. Sure, it was a smart strategic play, but in stark conflict to the rest of what we thought we were doing. We were here to bring the truth to an ignorant, deluded or sleeping public, and the whole truth, nothing but. That truth must have necessarily included the realization that these amorphous “troops” we were enjoined to support were actually individual, thinking, morally responsible men and women. It must have included the knowledge that each and every “troop” currently engaged in mass murder in our names had volunteered. And we knew, as they should have, that the murderous, destructive, obscene organization they volunteered to serve, hadn’t conducted a legitimate “defense of America” since at least WWII, and maybe as far back as the War of 1812, depending on whose Pearl Harbor narrative you believe.
They weren’t conscripted, they weren’t shanghaied, they weren’t tricked into signing up and donning the uniform and picking up the gun. They sought out the role, they agreed to follow orders, they signed the papers, and nowhere along the way did they somehow become transformed from individual human beings, morally responsible for their individual acts of violence and destruction into those collectively romanticized “troops”. Some small number said, “I didn’t sign up for this,” and did the only moral thing possible, which was to desert. The rest marched freely onto the planes and ships and deployed, the willing agents of empire. Certainly in many, the thought was there afterward: “We didn’t sign up for that,” but still they went, perhaps finding their own moral cover in the notion they’d been tricked. Likely, most found no moral problem with going at all.
Even today, the “support the troops” mentality is embedded in the tactics and rhetoric of the organized anti-war movement, implicitly or explicitly. It’s considered bad form to condemn the American armed services en masse for their self-subjugation to the American empire’s war machine.
Unlike Gulf War I, though, Gulf War II, freshly turned five years old, is an occupation. It is an obviously immoral war launched on the flimsiest of concocted excuses and conducted with the most sinister of aims. The history of Gulf War I, the suffering inflicted on Iraq by a decade of sanctions, the horror of depleted uranium weapons residues and unexploded landmines and other ordnance from the first attack should have made it obvious to anyone that a crime had been committed there. A massive, inexcusable, inhuman, monstrous, treasonous crime.
And yet, most of the military personnel that have served in the current conflict up to the present weren’t in the military for the first. They signed up, willingly. If they didn’t know the history of what the US military actually did for the prior fifty years, flag-waving nonsense and Cold War turned War on Terror hysteria aside, their foolishness should not excuse them. If they learned nothing from the lessons of Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon or other places that the empire had been sticking its nose and its guns into, well, we should let neither ignorance nor willful blindness be an excuse. Unjust, illegal wars do not just happen by themselves. They are the sum total of millions of individual decisions by millions of individually responsible people to obey, topped by whatever dark cabal is giving the orders for the week.
Further, probably close to half or more of those still in Iraq today signed up after the war’s justifications had evaporated, after the stories of casual murder, collective punishment and institutionalized torture were already splashed on television screens and across newspaper headlines worldwide. They, especially, should have known better.
So, I will not support the troops. In fact, fuck the troops! Each and every US serviceperson today who is not deserting, refusing to follow orders or turning their weapons on their commanders is, in fact, a criminal, and one for whom we should feel neither sympathy nor pity, let alone the specious solidarity of “support the troops” when it’s those same “troops” who are carrying out slaughter, destruction and torture in our name.
At the same time, fuck all those who support the troops! If history, recent or ancient, hasn’t been sufficient to educate you on the true nature of war and the true nature of the predatory, inhuman power you seem so eager to serve, then damn you for your stupidity, damn you for your ignorance, damn you for your blindness, damn you for your fallacious morality. And this goes not only for every family member or friend of someone serving in the US military today who is NOT insistently urging their child or husband or wife or friend to desert or disobey, it goes also for every federal employee and for every shareholder and employee from janitor to CEO of the military-industrial-terrorism complex and the companies that comprise it: Blackwater, Halliburton, Boeing, General Dynamics, Allied-Signal, Unisys, Westinghouse, DynCorp, Exxon, Hewlett-Packard, EDS, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, Hughes, KBR, Kearfott, Lockheed-Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Mitsubishi, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Shell, AT&T, Sikorsky, United Technologies and all the rest. There is blood on your hands, real human blood — lives taken, families shattered, homes destroyed, crops ruined, populations displaced, tortures committed, atrocities sanctioned, all facilitated by your unthinking, odious, ignorant, unconscionable support.
This essay is in part a response to the writings of Arthur Silber, in a piece entitled “The Honor of Being Human: Why Do You Support?“
In concluding, he states:
The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for.
I repeat once more: these horrors are now what the United States stands for. Thus, for every adult American, the question is not, “Why do you obey?” but:
Why do you support?
Or will you refuse to give your support? Will you say, “No”? These are the paramount questions at this moment in history, and in the life of the United States. We all must answer them. Our honor, our humanity, and our souls lie in the balance.
No, Arthur, I will not support.