Bring the Troops Home Now/Support the Troops

Mark Lause MLause at
Thu Jul 24 06:53:06 MDT 2003

Here's how I see the discussion.

1. The main point of the discussion was--and still should be--the slogan
around which people across the U.S. are organizing demos, rallies,
etc.--the old Vietnam-era slogan "Bring the Troops Home Now!"  A number
on this list--dms and others--take issue with the slogan as insufficient
for such purposes and offered a number of others that they said or
implied would be better--No War, Get all the troops out of everywhere,
Disband the army, Fuck the army, etc.  In response, we have asked for
arguments why they might see their proposed slogans as better FOR THOSE
PURPOSES--as the main slogan.  Obviously, many other issues need be

2. The objections to the BTTHN raised the issue of our political task
with regard to the military.  Is its advocacy of "our" troops too
opportunistically an American-centered approach?  In reaching out to our
class brothers and sisters in uniform are we making peace with the
institutions that sustain U.S. imperialism?

3. An entire exchange took place under a subject line indicating that
Sgt. Goff's argument might be "silly."  In lieu of addressing the big
question, the critics of the BTTHN slogan opted to focus on this
tertiary matter rather than to explain why their slogans are better than
BTTHN for the purpose at hand.  Now, dms chose not to offer evidence to
sustain his claims over the larger question, but instead asserts that I
am a "motherfucking liar" for viewing this treatment of Sgt. Goff as

In short, rather than to address the central questions, we get more of
the SOS--nitpicking and abusive personal attacks.

To return to the main point--these are "our" troops.  I know people over
there, I hope that the Americans on this list share not a sense of
responsibility both for their being there and for their well-being.  I
have been discussing the region with people in the military for many
years now, and have surely learned as much from their concerns as they
from mine. Everyone who joins the military has a mix of motives.  Almost
nobody joins for the violence.  Obviously, recruitment ads offering them
water skiing doesn't explain it either.

For centuries, military service has been one of the few options
presented working class youth for being of service to their society.
Certainly, this remained true when I was growing up blue collar in a
small town in the heart of the U.S.  A lot of those people over there
RIGHT NOW are in uniform for honorable and decent reasons.  We believe
that that honorable and decent impulses are ultimately incompatible with
the class interests that write their orders.  This social and political
experience involves a wrenching and very personal experience for them
that needs.  It falls to us to support our troops--not the regime, not
the government, not the army, but the men and women in uniform--in this

Or we can behave like good armchair radicals--pontificate about their
lack of understanding, browbeat them as to their youthful stupidity, and
dismiss their experience as useless.  Maybe read to them about surplus
value from CAPITAL.

Mark Lause

PS: As an aside, I remain as disappointed as I was in the mid-1970s that
the SWP and other groups active against the war did not take up the
suggestion of some of the National Peace Action Coalition officers to
close the Vietnam War with one last march that would both welcome the
veterans back and build our political determination not to allow it to
happen again.  I think the term I heard one SWP leader use at the time
to describe this was "silly."  Maybe.  ...Or maybe it would have made it
a bit less easy for the Right wing to claim the concerns of the veterans
as their own.

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