Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Support our Troops?

Thanks for the invitation, but I'll pass. I know that's an extremely unpopular position to take since thousands of young men and women are putting their lives on the line every day, but I'm not the one using the "Support our Troops" rally cry to silence dissent over the nature of this war.

That's what it is you know. Bush's limited supporters have long given up on calling people to stand behind our president. The endless stream of lies, the irresponsible leadership, the vacations and his inability to hold his staff accountable for their actions has made it impossible for all but the most foolish of Republicans to stand behind the president.

This war is unjust. Our soldiers are fighting a for a cause that the majority of the Iraqi people don't want--which explains the well organized and highly motivated insurgency--and the American people don't need. Iraq was never a threat to the United States. Never. Our original impetus for invading Iraq was Weapons of Mass Destruction. The search for WMD's revealed nothing. After Bush hired and fired several chief inspectors to seek out the desired conclusion, the best we could come up with is that Saddam's WMD programs were dismantled back in 1991. Oops.

After that cause was exposed as a fabricated sham, Bush and his cronies changed gears and gave our war a purpose after the fact. Saddam was supporting al-Qaida. While some Americans believed this, most people capable of reading thought it was a wry little joke. Why would Saddam want to support an organization that was trying to kill him? Does that make any sense at all?

After Colin Powell sat in front of the U.N. waving bogus pieces of evidence around as irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was actively stockpiling WMD's the United States lost all credibility with the rest of the world. Powell was upset that he was outfitted with fabricated evidence and resigned after Bush's first term. How can we believe anything the Bush administration says?

Saddam was a secular ruler in region highly susceptible to theocracy. The high illiteracy rate, and lack of information gives clerics a great deal of power which they wield with a cruel decisiveness. Iraq is populated with zealous fundamentalist Muslims who vastly outnumber the more reasonable and educated Muslims who embraced the secular leadership of Saddam. Under Saddam Hussein fundamentalist practices were banned, education became a priority and women were granted a number of rights that included employment and divorce. He went so far as to outlaw Sharia law, which is the cornerstone of an Islamic theocracy. This infuriated fundamentalists and invoked the wrath of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network of extremists.

There was not a truce between the two so they could pool their resources against the United States. Fundamentalists like Osama don't operate that way and it's unlikely that a megalomaniac such as Saddam would entertain such a compromise either. This theory of collusion was widely dismissed as wishful thinking as soon as it was offered. Strike two.

That's when Bush grasped at the humanitarian aspect of this war. Which would have made sense if the U.S. had done two very important things: First, define that cause in advance of the war and gain U.N. support for the humanitarian aspect of ousting Saddam. Second, and possibly most important, demonstrate that the U.S. has a pattern of deposing tryanical dictators who brutalize their people. Surely we sent forces in to contend with Pol Pot or Ceaucescu. Oh, that's right. We never lifted a finger to help the people those murderous dictators oppressed.

It seems like years have passed since Bush stood in front of a carefully selected group of troops on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf in his flight suit and smirk to declare "Mission Accomplished". It's almost like he had a banner flying behind him with those very words emblazoned across it. Saddam's regime had fallen and the people he had oppressed for so long were now free to embrace democracy. Our boys (and girls) were coming home. Hooah!

Except a funny thing happened on the way to democratic bliss. All those fundamentalists Saddam had been keeping at bay decided they were going to take control of Iraq. No room for democracy and freedom. They wanted an Islamic theocracy and they wanted it now. At first, Bush and the boys were elated. This was the proof they needed to link al-Qaida to Iraq. Once we pushed back this tiny band of foreign terrorists the people of Iraq would be free to govern themselves and Bush would have his red herring. Except it wasn't al-Qaida. Oh they have a hand in things now, but the first band of insurgents were rank and file fundamentalists.

Since accomplishing our mission, thousands of U.S. Soldiers have died and the network of insurgents shows no sign of weakening. The Bush administration has changed the complexion of this war by no longer referring to it as a war on terror, but rather a long war. They don't specify what the goal of the war is, but apparently they are going to fight it until it's over. Obviously this has drawn a lot of criticism.

We aren't fighting one enemy right now. There are several groups that are working independently with the common goal of running our forces out of Iraq. Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad, Shi'a insurgents, Sunni insurgents. The list of those opposed to our occupation seems to grow each day, and none of them seem interested in accepting the authority of the puppet government we have worked so hard to install. Once we leave, they'll destroy the Iraqi government we created and then they'll fight amongst themselves for the next three thousand years.

The Bush administration and sympathetic media entities (Fox) have resorted to exploiting the young men and women fighting the war to make would be protestors feel guilty about questioning Bush and his administration about this war. The rebuke is that our soldiers will see the lack of public support and lose morale thus making them less effective and increasing their risk of being killed in combat. The real kicker is that this will only draw things out even longer.

That's rich. So now, as the body bags pile up, they can blame war protestors for the loss of life. The American public isn't stupid enough to fall for that. We've learned our lessons from Vietnam and understand that the soldiers are victims. While we won't be lining up to wave flags anytime soon, we'll happily acknowledge the sacrifices our troops have been forced to make by an irresponsible administration. We know who to blame, and we won't let you hide behind the troops. Not this time.

Nobody has lodged criticism toward the troops. Even in the case of the Abu Ghraib scandal, most reasonable people believe Lynndie England and Charles Graner were offered up as patsies. Anybody who has been in the military knows that it is highly unlikely that such low ranking soldiers would take the initative to employ such extensive measures to humiliate and torture military prisoners.

One gets the impression reading through various reports that even the high ranking officers are weary of this war. While nobody currently serving will publicly criticize the war or the administration's handling of it, you can sense the frustration in their words when they talk about the details of this ongoing battle. Our forces are stretched dangerously thin, supplies aren't getting where they are needed and progress is dubious.

It's not a war worth supporting. The troops deserve our respect, but supporting the war is doing them a grave disservice. Voicing dissent about the war and the administration will force our leaders to consider withdrawing forces to appease an uneasy public. Protesting the war will serve to give leaders pause when future military incursions are pondered.

Those who support the war believe they are being patriotic, but that's not true. Patriotism is not about blindly supporting your country regardless of what it does. A true patriot realizes that his country is bigger than one regime. A true patriot isn't afraid to question his government or express his dissent.

This war the Bush administration has gotten us into defies everything good patriots have stood and died for throughout our country's history. This war isn't about freedom and justice, it's a personal vendetta. This war was not conceived with the interests of national security at stake, it was about possession of oil fields. No, this war isn't good. It's not righteous or just. This war is about ego and greed and I will not support it and by extension I simply cannot pretend I support our troops.

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