[Marxism] Anti-Imperialist Veterans ask: Can We Oppose This War While We "Support the Troops"?

Carl Webb carlwebb at gmail.com
Tue May 17 12:08:41 MDT 2005

 Anti-Imperialist Veterans ask: Can We Oppose This War While We
"Support the Troops"?

      On March 21 and 22, over a thousand massive cruise missiles and
two thousand sorties pounded Iraq and especially its capital, Baghdad.
The U.S.'s "Shock and Awe" war on Iraq began as the world watched in
outrage. Never in history had a war been so powerfully opposed before
it even started.

      We know that, like us, many in the anti-war movement have
brothers, sisters, family and friends in the military. As veterans, we
wouldn't wish the situations these troops face on anybody. The
government and media are telling us that now that the war has started
we have to rally behind the troops and if we don't we're unpatriotic
or wishing the troops harm. Let's be clear: not only is the government
using these troops as cannon-fodder in their unjust war, but they are
also using the troops in a political and public opinion campaign
designed to divide and diffuse the anti-war movement. As veterans of
the U.S. military we have something to say about this.

      The call to Support the Troops targets the citizenry, you and I.
It is aimed at disarming us now that the war has started, just when we
need to be the staunchest in our opposition to this unjust, immoral
and illegal war. It has been used historically to confuse and misuse
the feelings people have for the men and women in uniform. It is
supposed to make people feel guilty and question the patriotism of
those opposed to the war. Never mind who put the troops in harm's way
in the first place by starting the war. Never mind who harms the
troops with experimental drugs and the horror of depleted uranium
weapons. People's feelings for their loved ones are used to redefine
the terms of the debate and to drag them along for the ride by their
heartstrings. People are told it is their patriotic duty to come
together as a nation behind its troops. The government counts on
people's confusion to obscure the real issues and to inspire an
emotional knee-jerk response in support of their war. But to support
the troops is to support the war and that is something we refuse to

      The U.S. government doesn't support the troops in any REAL way.
Just look at statistics about how many homeless vets there are or talk
to any veteran trying to get decent medical care at the Veterans
Administration. Why is it that today over 1/3 of the troops from the
1991 Gulf War are ill, 1/4 are disabled and it takes an average of 7
months for them to see a doctor? The federal government is slashing
veteran benefits as we speak. Their support for the troops is full of
empty promises.

A Troop Poem       What is a "troop?" A troop, simply put, is the
basic cog of the U.S. war machine that exists for one reason: to wage
war. To be successful at war, a war machine has to have disciplined
and trained troops. Troops who will obey all orders without question.
Troops who will drop the bomb, launch the cruise missile, shoot the
gun when told. The last thing a war machine needs is troops that ask
questions and make their own decisions about which orders to follow.
This is exactly what the Veterans Call to Conscience* asks them to do.

      Veterans know this because we were the troops. We followed
orders and some of us committed atrocities so we know where the troops
are being led and what they are being ordered to do. What does the
word "support" mean? It means you "agree with the mission." We know
that if one supports the troops, the troops will lead them to a future
of the imperialists' making: to the hell that is their new world
order. The U.S. war machine is not, and cannot be, a force for
"liberation." The U.S. military uses their troops as a force for
imperial conquest. Was there anything courageous about what the U.S.
military had the troops do in the first Gulf War? Was there anything
honorable about defeating, via overwhelming air power, a minor league

      This is an unjust war, a war of conquest launched by the U.S.
government. They have created this situation; put rifles in these
troops hands and told them that the Iraqis are their enemy. As the
casualty numbers rise we have to be clear: We don't support this. We
don't support this war and we can't support the troops doing this,
even if they are our brothers and sisters. We cannot support the U.S.
government turning them into killing machines, complete with the
nightmares, drug and substance abuse and a life of horror that they
will face if they come home alive.

      What the men and women in the U.S. military really need is not
undeserved support, they need to know the truth behind the orders that
they are expected to carry out in this illegal and immoral war. They
need to know the history of Iraq and the real reason why the U.S. is
using them to invade that country. They need to know that the
decisions they make and consequences of these orders may haunt them
the rest of their lives. They need to be challenged to question the
morality of this war. We in the anti-war movement need to encourage
those in the military to follow their conscience and to do the right
thing. We challenge the troops to make a decision they would be proud
to stand by-even if put before the world court. We need to stand with
and support the troops who refuse to fight. That is what many veterans
of the U.S. military are doing now. We need to popularize the stands
of these real heroes. In addition, there needs to be support and
organized structure to aid GI resisters in their legal and political

      Straight up-it is the U.S. government that is placing those in
the military in harm's way, compelling them to kill or be killed. The
government believes that our "vital interests," like control of Middle
East oil, outweigh the rights of the Iraqis to a sovereign nation. It
is the government that views those in the military as expendable,
putting them in harm's way to satisfy their own ambitions. It is the
government who will turn its back on those in the military when they
have returned and are suffering the effects of their involvement in
this war. Who will support them when they find that they have been
used and then cast aside?

      So if the government and its military wage an unjust war that
jeopardizes its troops, should we temper our opposition because they
are "our" troops? Doesn't this really say that the lives of U.S.
troops are worth more and the lives of Iraqis are worth less? And
aren't those in the military less in harm's way if they follow their
conscience and refuse to participate in another Gulf slaughter?

      As anti-imperialists and veterans of the U.S. military, we
cannot go down that path; we will not fall behind the government's
call to support the troops. GIs are responsible for their actions
while they are in the U.S. military, just as we were. They, like us,
must come to their own understanding of their role in the war machine
and then act their conscience. When they do this, they stop being a
troop and we will stand by their side and give them support. As for
the slogan: "Bring them Home," only a movement powerful enough to
challenge the U.S. war machine stands a chance to force them to
withdraw their troops. This is the challenge and task before us; one
we must continue to rise up and meet.

• No Support for Killing the Iraqi People

• Stop the War on Iraq! - The Iraqi People are our Sisters and Brothers!

• Support the Troops Who Do the Right Thing - Support GI Resistance!

*Veterans Call to Conscience to Active Duty Troops and Reservists
Statement signed by over a thousand veterans calling on troops to do
the right thing. http://www.calltoconscience.net or write VVAWAI for

Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist

PO Box 21604, Seattle, WA 98111-3604, Phone/Fax-206.374.2215

Email: TheVets at vvawai.org, Web: http://www.vvawai.org

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