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"Supporting the troops" = Supporting U.S. Imperialist War

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In the recent political battle around the Marine recruiting station in Berkeley. California there has been much confusion around the concept or slogan of “supporting the troops,” but opposing the unjust wars of the Bush regime.  Many who oppose the Bush Regime wars also say they “support the troops.” Let me say it straight out -- I do not support the troops and neither should you.  It is impossible to support the troops of the imperialist military forces of the U.S. and at the same time oppose the wars in which they fight.

“Support for the troops” has become political cover to support the wars, and undermine the widespread opposition to them.  In Congress, many of those who claim they oppose the wars, use “support of the troops” to vote for hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the wars. These politicians are political opportunists, but there are also people who genuinely oppose the war, but who also say “I support the troops.”

A KILLING MACHINE

The U.S. has over 700 military bases or sites located in over 130 foreign countries. The U.S. government spends more on its military than the entire rest of the world combined. The hundreds of thousands of troops stationed overseas are not there to preserve or foster freedom and democracy as the Bush regime would like to claim, but to maintain U.S. imperialist domination of the world.  If you “support the troops” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other more than 100 countries in which they are located, you also support U.S. hegemony in the world.  I believe that the vast majority of people who say they support the troops do not wish to support U.S. imperialism, but that is what they are really doing by putting forth the slogan of “support the troops.”

We need to oppose the recruitment of men and women into the military. We need to support resisters within the military who have realized what they are doing and now choose to resist the role of the U.S. military.  This includes people such as Lt. Ehren Watada who refused to deploy to Iraq. Watada stated, “Never did I imagine my president would lie to go to war, condone torture, spy on Americans…” He was the first officer to refuse to go to Iraq and he was court-martialed. Another resister is Camilo Mejia. In 2004 Sergeant Mejia was sentenced to one year in prison when he was court-martialed for refusing to assist the military in Iraq.  Mejia said, “I am only a regular person that got tired of being afraid to follow his own conscience. For far too long I allowed others to direct my actions even when I knew that they were wrong....”

We need to expose that those in the U.S. military are trained to be part of a “killing machine.” While not every member of the military is an individual murderer, they are all part of a system that commits war crimes, including aggressive wars, massacres, rape, and other crimes against humanity, all in the service of U.S. imperialism. The bottom line is that even if these people are relatives or friends, you can not support the troops without also supporting the objective role that these troops play in the imperialist system. 

James Circello, who joined the Army after September 11 2001, and was sent to Iraq in March 2003 described his experience there : “We were told that we were giving these people Democracy. Unfortunately what I saw would best be described as martial law, or what we called "The Old West". Soldiers joked that "anything goes", which was true and still is….I never forgot what I did while in Iraq and what I saw happening: Other kids turning into animals. Some as young as 17, brutalizing, bullying and humiliating individuals sometimes old enough to be their grandparents, and sometimes young enough to be their children. And it wasn't just the men on the receiving end, suffering through illegal and tiresome searches of their homes and vehicles, simply for being brown skinned, but the same methods were applied to women and children as well. 
No one was innocent.”

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James Circello reached a point where he could no longer be part of this killing machine. At an anti war rally in New Orleans, he said “you will never get me to agree with or get me to support genocide against any group of people. Regardless of who they are. An American life is no more valuable than an Arab's life!”

A FORCE OF INVASION AND OCCUPATION

U.S. troops are acting as destructive and murderous forces of invasion and occupation. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan see this on a daily basis.  Hundreds of thousands have died as a direct result of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Millions are either internal or external refugees. Tens of thousands have been detained in prisons, with thousands of these tortured and scores murdered.  Haditha, Iraq where 24 Iraqis were massacred is just the best known of the massacres.  Women and children are described as “collateral damage” by military spokespersons when they are murdered in military operations.

But to decide whether U.S. troops deserve support you must analyze what they actually do in countries occupied by the U.S. The wars these troops are engaged in have the goal of maintaining and extending U.S. hegemony throughout the world. They are unjust, illegal, and immoral wars.  Can you support the troops in these wars?  Why is this any different from a German in World War 2 saying, “I oppose the wars launched by Hitler, but I support the troops of the German army which are making these wars possible.” When the Marines in Haditha massacred Iraqis, including women and children, would it have been correct to say I supported the Marines who killed those people, but not the massacre? This would be ridiculous, but no more so than supporting the troops engaged in the war that made the Haditha massacre possible in the first place.

In 1933 Marine Major General Smedley Butler clarified the role of the U.S. military.  He stated, “War is just a racket…It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses…I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps…In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism...” 

Like Butler, Watada, and Mejia, those in the military today must take responsibility for what the military does. Just like the German soldiers of World War 2 could not hide behind the “I was just following orders” excuse, military personnel today also can not hide behind it. Those of us who oppose the unjust wars of the Bush regime must struggle with those in the military and those that support them to expose what role the troops objectively play.  Supporting the troops engaged in making war against other nations and people on behalf of U.S. imperialism is not acceptable.

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worldcantwait.org

Kenneth J. Theisen is veteran activist of movements opposing U.S. imperialism, its wars and domination of countries throughout the world. He wrote his first op-ed piece against the Vietnam war when he was only 12 and has been writing on various (more...)
 

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For many years I subscribed to theory that the US ... by kwalsh on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2008 at 8:55:10 PM
It is unconscionable to go after recruiters and/or... by Scott on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2008 at 9:26:03 PM
Your comparison with a radical bookstore is absurd... by Richard Ledford on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2008 at 10:14:06 PM
to argue with those who would apologize for illega... by Houston Radical on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2008 at 10:56:59 PM
Their activities are not illegal.... by Scott on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 12:11:18 AM
unprovoked invasion is illegal, check Article 6, P... by Houston Radical on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 9:55:49 AM
The list of Cheney-Bush Illegalities is vast and g... by Richard Ledford on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 7:45:25 PM
Kenneth: THANK YOU!! I have been saying as mu... by needles on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 4:57:27 AM
supports the troops. It is a speculative slogan to... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 8:48:15 AM
John Lennon's "What if they gave a war an... by Mr M on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 10:28:32 AM
Twentynine Palms Marine Base. My daughter is marri... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 11:14:11 AM
 They're young and innocent, that's w... by Bob Gormley on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 11:42:19 AM
lol and no that is not a HS pic, it is from a few ... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:06:43 PM
You could have fooled me.Whatever you're doing... by Bob Gormley on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:21:49 PM
Nope, not kidding, I am an old lady :pHelly, with ... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:29:11 PM
I have had three relatives sent to Iraq.  As ... by Kenneth Theisen on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:06:34 PM
Cheri, Sorry, but that's a convenient excuse a... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 12:14:37 PM
Thank you ,Frank- Perfectly said...... by KenH on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 12:35:34 PM
  'I have no pity, remorse or empathy for... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 12:52:27 PM
I posed a question. ;)I believe the same as you do... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:10:02 PM
  I agree with you for the most part.I would ... by Bob Gormley on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:19:20 PM
US Marine Johnny Wave 9/11 Truther in dress blues&... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:33:05 PM
And I would even go a little further: Unlike ... by Harold Smith on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 2:09:14 PM
Harold,  Like earlier times the troops are st... by Hayesml47 on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 2:30:46 PM
Harold,  Like earlier times the troops are st... by Harold Smith on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 5:05:32 PM
Well said, sir! Excellent metaphor at the end.... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 6:09:51 PM
It's not for whom we vote that matters - ... by Richard Ledford on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 8:00:05 PM
Richard, great statements.  I write/email my ... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 10:20:09 AM
If the police chief in my town was revealed to be ... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 10:12:40 AM
Mark, From the United States Uniform Code of Milit... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:25:23 PM
for the military involved in rapes (marines in had... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 1:31:26 PM
The only way to truly "Support the Troops&quo... by Hayesml47 on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 2:04:15 PM
and I again also would argue that in many cases ou... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 2:24:58 PM
Theisen's article, "Supporting the troops... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 2:41:26 PM
if we do not support our troops it is the same as ... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 3:02:59 PM
Robert J. Lifton has researched the horrible crime... by Richard Ledford on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 8:16:01 PM
Richard,  thanks for the great points.  ... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:11:14 PM
If our country (right or wrong) asks (or tells) yo... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 3:10:39 PM
Frank,  So you do not want any protection fro... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 7:26:39 AM
Asking them to stop committing crimes against huma... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 3:27:07 PM
Military members are human beings. Many are ill in... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 3:52:33 PM
Cheri, You make some excellent points and I commen... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 4:39:50 PM
you say... However, many of these soldiers ar... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 4:52:03 PM
Cheri, Let me put it another, more kindred way. I ... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 5:32:20 PM
*hugs* to you Frank.... by Cheri Roberts on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 6:13:22 PM
Frank, no one in their right mind thinks war is de... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 7:48:02 AM
"I have no pity, remorse or empathy for those... by Scott on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 9:12:38 PM
Mr. Ranelli:Stand face to face with a mother and f... by Munich on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 9:44:58 PM
Munich, I do it as often as I can, looking th... by Frank J. Ranelli on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2008 at 10:45:26 PM
Frank,  If it were as simple as you seem to t... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 8:04:51 AM
Mr. Ranelli:This world you depict, one o... by Munich on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 11:48:12 AM
To steal a quote, "The world as it is; is not... by Frank J. Ranelli on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 12:27:25 PM
Frank,  It almost sounds like you are conside... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 1:27:34 PM
     .....Theisen brings up a ... by Jack Kerouac on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 1:14:28 PM
If the troops are complicit then we all are also.&... by Hayesml47 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 1:32:36 PM
Sir, Sadly, you could not be more on the mark. It... by vet613 on Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 at 1:33:45 PM
Ultimately our entire government system and sovere... by kwalsh on Wednesday, Mar 19, 2008 at 7:40:08 PM