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G.I. Joe has been Punk'd

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They told you all about the noble cause for which you fight and the urgency of this holy war to save freedom. Saddam Hussein is aligned with al-Qaeda. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. You will be greeted as liberators. The mission was "accomplished" by May 2003.

Cue Demi's boyfriend, soldier, because you've been punk'd. "Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy," said Henry Kissinger and now, today's grunts are part of this storied American tradition.

From Shays Rebellion in 1787-long before the cries of "support the troops" became commonplace during every brutal U.S. military intervention-to the quarter-million homeless vets today, the powers-that-be made it clear how little they intended to follow their own counsel. For example, in an ironic twist, American pilots who were taken as prisoners of war during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 were held and tortured at none other than-drum roll, please-the Abu Ghraib prison. Many of those same pilots were eventually awarded nearly $1 billion from Iraq as compensation for their ordeal. Bringing the irony to a level that would startle even Alanis Morissette, the Bush administration fought a legal battle to prevent those American veterans from collecting one thin dime. The rationale, according to the Los Angeles Times, was brutally simple: "Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money."

In the face of such unambiguous contempt, Americans continue to enlist. But why should this surprise anyone? We grow up watching war movies and playing with guns. We're surrounded by war memorials and war monuments, and are taught to respect and fear those in uniform. We witness the demonizing of those who oppose war. Our media is overrun with militaristic fervor. Our tax dollars finance war and pro-war propaganda. Our government passes laws designed to thwart dissent.

Even if we remain immune to wartime spin and propaganda-even if we don't buy into the story that America has been dragged into conflict after conflict and perpetually left with no choice but to wage a humanitarian war against a savage enemy-we still face the guilt factor of the "support the troops" peer pressure: No matter what we think or how we feel, once the actual fighting begins, all Americans must unite behind our troops to insure their safety through victory. After all, what kind of American turns his or her back on the brave men and women in uniform-the noble men and women putting their lives at risk so we can enjoy our freedoms-the courageous men and women glorified by countless films and video games and toys?

Okay, son, just sign right here and you'll be spreading democracy before you can say: "depleted uranium." Look at them yellow ribbons, son, your country is mighty proud of you.

Punch line: The "support the troops" mantra specifically ignores any real examination of who those troops are, what those troops are doing, and why someone might not want them waging war. In reality, when we're told to "support the troops," we are, in essence, being compelled to support the policies that put those troops in harm's way.

America...consider yourselves punk'd.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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