Friday, November 06, 2015

TGIF: Who Supports the Troops?

A huge sign outside a local tire store really irritated me a couple of weeks ago. Its large letters blared: "WE SUPPORT THE TROOPS." I was tempted to get out of the car and demand that the owner tell me what he was actually doing besides displaying the sign, which probably didn't cost much in money or effort. I suspected that posting the sign was the extent of his "support," but I restrained myself and kept going.

I wonder if anyone ever asks the owner that question. Probably not. People seem to think that supporting the troops consists simply in displaying signs and bumper stickers, and perhaps suppressing negative thoughts about what those troops -- including pilots -- are doing in the far-flung locations to which the imperial ruling elite has dispatched them, That's all you need to do to be a citizen in good standing of the Empire -- that and pay your taxes on time. It's funny because supporting the troops and declaring you support the troops don't really seem to be the same thing.

I can imagine a conversation:

Troop supporter: I support the troops!
Interlocutor: Okay, let's see how you support the troops.
Troop supporter: You just did.
Interlocutor: I just did what?
Troop supporter: You just saw me support the troops.
Interlocutor: No I didn't. I heard you say you support the troopers.
Trooper supporter: That's right.
Interlocutor: Okay, then. Let's see how you support the troops.
Troop supporter: You just did!
Interlocutor: No I didn't. All I saw was you saying you support the troops. I want to see you actually support the troops.
Troop supporter: That's how I support the troops.
Interlocutor: To support means to assist. How does your empty declaration of support assist the troops?
Troop supporter: Why don't you support the troops? Don't you love your country?

What's strange is that demanding an end to the wars in which the troops are fighting, killing, and dying seems not to count as support. You'd think that the ultimate expression of support would be, "Bring them home now!" But that's not how typical troop supporters see things. In fact, they think that's the opposite of support -- and even treason. Topsy-turvy.

While I believe their expressions of support are sincere, I also believe they haven't thought things through. Good intentions aren't enough. Their expressions in effect are only in support of the regime that moves the troops to dangerous spots on the map like pawns on a chessboard in the ruling elite's geopolitical games.

I concede that opposing the wars -- how many are there today? -- is also little more than a declaration not backed by much action and therefore without immediate effect. However, I see a difference. To the extent that declarations of support for the troops reinforce the government's militarism, it endangers those troops, and those not currently deployed -- and that really doesn't seem much like support. In my book, merely making the troops feel better about what they are doing (if that is indeed the effect) doesn't count as actual support.

On the other hand, to the extent that antiwar declarations and public activities such as demonstrations change government policy for the better, the troops are that much closer to safety. That, I submit, would be of help to the troops.

So who really supports them: those who merely say they support them while refusing to criticize the militarism that imperils them, or those who vocally oppose militarism while trying to convince families, friends, neighbors, and total strangers to join them in opposition?

At some point during a discussion with an avowed troop supporter, the matter of morale may come up. "I support the troops but not necessarily the wars," he might say. "We've got to keep the troops' morale up while they are away from home serving our country."

Why do we want their morale high while they are carrying out immoral orders -- which does not serve the country but only the regime? Remember, American troops are fighting aggressive undeclared wars -- in one manner or another -- in more than half a dozen countries, roughly from Somalia up to Syria and over to Pakistan. Heaven knows where else the CIA (do their agents count as troops?) and special-ops forces are? American military personnel -- including drone operators -- routinely kill and injure noncombatants. As we know too well, even hospitals and wedding parties are bombed.

Perhaps if the troops' morale was low, they'd refuse to do the immoral things they do, like raiding homes, operating killer drones, and flying bombers and gunships. Perhaps they'd like to know that some Americans disapprove of what they are doing. Some of the troops know that what they are doing is wrong. What about their morale?

I know: they're just following orders. Does anyone still think that's a valid excuse? One has no obligation to follow an immoral order.

To be fair, troop supporters may do more than merely express their views. They may send money to the Wounded Warrior Project or a similar organization. I guess that's nice, but I can't help thinking that for the mangled beneficiaries, the help comes a little late.

Where were their supporters before they were deployed to hell?

TGIF -- The Goal Is Freedom -- appears (of course) on Fridays. Sheldon Richman keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Become a patron today!


  1. I can imagine that many of them take vicarious pride in the military much like a sports team.

    They are not asking questions such as "who benefits from these military adventures? or who loses from these militarty adventures?"

    Its the vanity of the warrior as conquerer that supercedes any kind of critical thinking.

  2. It is an attempt to portray the buisness ,and thereby owner, as being a trustworthy person and patriotic american on the cheap.
    Troop is the plural of "trooper", it is all inclusiv
    It is bad buisness to come out of the foxholes and say to hell with them they volunteered to be mercenary forces and every death they cause is a murder not protecting Amrrican Liberty or even its borders they are in actual hired out by our government to corporate interestOur military does not know difference between massacres by deliberate action andncombat. It is thebwarrior etosnthat wordhips the chaos

    They chose to partake of illegal and immoral crimes agains humanity, no excuses, they want trigger time if they are in combat arms, and they are well paid while doing so.
    Stop whiping their noses and butts they are young adults and stupidity id no excse as they graduated high school or even some or full college degreed, when they join not a bunch of under 60 IQ individuals.
    They are criminals and if they were committibg those type actions in Stayesnwebwould be in open revolt.
    They are not honorable in any manner.

  3. I think there's a trap with the first train of thought.

    Happen to remember a call-in to Medved, possibly as long ago as '06. The caller took the tact you took, but it appeared to be more along the lines of friendly advice on how the war-PR is lacking. Talking of people who say-so, the caller said: ~'I have to ask, how is it that you are (pause) SUPPORTING the troops?' Medved clearly took the man seriously.

    Then since around '10 I did confront two separate people about the 'support' bit, and both piped up about something tangible they did. One had gone out of her way for hiring preference (a less qualified vet), the other visited a hospital (and the former thought doing that would persuade you how wonderful war was). So I'm guessing that there has been some effort made to leave war-enthusiasts feeling as if they're doing something--within the next week I could probably point to advertisements with that intent.

    I was a 'troops' in '02 where I saw the 'support' bit come up for the second time in prologues to two 'Gulf Wars.' Yes, second time, at least, I understood it as ... well, here:
    Say you're a war promoter doing an inventory of people one might be concerned about when considering whether one oughta assent to the war.
    --Enemy troops? No, that'll never get off the ground.
    --Enemy civilians? Well, there'll be those in the way, but concern about those is actually insulting-to-troops-integrity---surely they're very careful. So you can even insinuate that such a concern just means a Bleeding Heart is really a Troops Hater.
    --Might be missing a few groups-of-concern, but you do, of course, arrive at
    --'Our Troops?' You don't dismiss concerns about those; everybody's concerned about them. Instead, you try to sound like you're on their side, and that you're opponent isn't. So you try pushing a false conflict between troopses and war haters. You'd also like to sorta copyright "support" of those-which-one-must-be-concerned-about if you could.

    Upshot is, it's not as significant to me that people may say 'support' out of their @$$es. They'll be struggling with that themselves, probably to the point that making that the issue is almost their briar patch. They'd like nothing better than e.g. a competition over who-'supports'-more. But it was very significant to me that it was a way of speaking for us, that the phrase demonstrably came up in arguments of whether or not to go to war, prior to going. Proof, to me, that low-lifes injected it into pop lingo to sell the war. And because of that it's a phrase that leaves me instantly dismissing a person--if you were serious even about-the-war, you would've noticed where it came from. Normal people do taste their lingo before puking it back up.

    You know they issue you four different types of pretty, non-greasemonkey, uniforms in boot, right? So if you're not a pretty-boy, you get that you're a sales-prop at least as early as boot (think marching, parades, assignments dealing with civilians...). Then comes '02-'03, and whadya know, they're selling a war with your image. E.g., a peacenik actually hates a troops, and if you're really concerned about troops when you think of whether to go to war you can rest assured they really wanna be shot-at ('supported'). ...and you hear s--t like "every single one of our troops..." e.g., knows the risks, loves the danger, thinks it's a noble cause, whatever. We're selling it whether we want to or not.

    That was significant to me.

  4. Do the troops support you?

  5. It's.1969 all over again except this time there is no draft hence there is not much protest

  6. I saw recently a movie called "Julius Caesar", supposedly written by Shakespeare, 1953, with James Mason and Marlon Brando. With this movie I learned two things: one, that there are no actors like that in this day, and two, that it is impossible to differentiate politics from war. Therefore, anyone who hates war must hate politics, and anyone who loves politics must love war. And people who claim to like politics but not war, or war but not politics, are either lying about one thing or the other. This includes actors, writers, journalists, professors, teachers and, yes, military folks. Everyone who says or implies that this bullshit is necessary for civilization is wrong, even if he does not know that.

    I suspect that most people who claim to dislike either war or politics only say that because they expect to lose. But that can change.

    Back to "support the troops". You can support the troops, but then don't complain when politicians raise taxes, or when they send paramilitary personnel to raid dairy farms, or when they write that self-reliant people pose a threat, or when they debase your moneys, or destroy your education, or ban your religion, or impose a different religion or language, or take you or your sons and daughters to war. Anyone who wants to support the persons who happen to be troops should stop "supporting the troops".

    And to those leftist actors who say they hate war but would like to ban all weapons and cash and meat and CO2 emissions, and those who have wet dreams where they see fulfilled the plans of Engels and subtracting every child from their family to raise "it" scientifically, you also should know that you will know no peace unless you leave behinf politics.