Support the troops, but not the fear

I recently received an email from a friend, encouraging me to sign an online petition supporting our troops:

Please visit the Department of Defense web page below and sign in thanking the men and women of the U.S. military services for defending our freedom.
The compiled list of names will be sent out to our soldiers at the end of the  month. So far, there are only about 3.6 million names.

That is less then 10%  of this Country.

What a shame.
National Military Appreciation Month.
The entire exercise takes 10 seconds...literally.

Please pass it on to your email friends.

As a veteran who served during Gulf War I, I wholeheartedly support the troops. My father served in the Air Force, my mother still serves in the US Navy, and I have friends who are now serving in the Gulf.

If this "Defend America" petition and "National Military Appreciation Month" had anything to do with supporting the troops, I would support them. I think its a worthy cause to show our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that we support them, even if we think the Bush administration is using them recklessly.

Think about this for a minute: two weeks ago, Congress was asked to vote on a resolution to show its support and appreciation for the troops. Fine. It passed unanimously in the Senate, and in the House only 11 Democrats voted against it, while 22 abstained. Why wouldn't everyone support such a resolution? Because it wasn't just about the troops. It also included language that gave "unequivocal support" to the President.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi said, "I disagree with the policy that took us to this war. I dispute some of the arguments used in favor of this resolution, and I am disappointed in some of the provisions in this resolution. But even those objections cannot overcome the pride and appreciation that I have in our troops. And the message I want them to hear from us tonight of our support for them." She voted in support of the resolution.

Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, who is a decorated Vietnam veteran, was one of the few who had the courage and moral conviction to vote against this cynical and misleading resolution. When he did, I wrote a letter praising him for bravely speaking out against this absurd vote of loyalty. He said, "I, for one, will not be forced to praise the president's reckless decision when what I want to do is praise the troops."

I think you get the picture - supporting the troops shouldn't have anything to do with supporting the President.

But notice the differences in language used by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, who was one of the chief authors of the resolution.

"We salute every person taking risks to confront terrorism and tyranny to expand the frontiers of freedom. And we salute the president for showing the world the power of strong, moral leadership."

DeLay doesn't mention the troops, but rather "every person taking risks." I take this to include every American, whether politician, fireman, janitor, whatever. This is good, populist language, but doesn't address the troops, who are risking their lives in this war. (I might add that the children of Senators and Congressmen, for the most part, don't serve.)

DeLay doesn't mention weapons of mass destruction, which were used as justification for our invasion, but rather confronting "terrorism and tyranny to expand the frontiers of freedom." Does anyone think we're fighting terrorism with this war? If anything, this war is certain to create new terrorists by its very nature. Violence begets violence.

And of course, DeLay salutes the president specifically, not for doing what is best for America or the people of Iraq, but rather "for showing the world the power of strong, moral leadership." The world doesn't see it quite this way, nor should they. They see our power, yes, but not our moral leadership. On the question of the morality of this war, read Jimmy Carter on a "just war," or the remarks of Pope John Paul II and Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

I don't have to tell you that the US military isn't "defending our freedom" by invading Iraq. Does anyone feel safer now than they did before this war began? Does anyone feel more free?

Does anyone feel their freedom is defended by Republican State Senator John Minnis, who "has filed an 'anti-terrorism' bill in the Oregon senate that would put war protesters in jail for at least twenty-five years? The bill defines terrorism as a person who "plans or participates in an act that is intended ... to disrupt" business, transportation, schools, governments, or free assembly."

Does anyone feel their freedom is defended when a man is "charged with trespassing in a mall after he refused to take off a T-shirt that said 'Peace on Earth' and 'Give peace a chance.'?"

Does anyone feel their freedom is defended by Jim Bunning, a Republican senator from Kentucky, or others who would like to convict Peter Arnett of treason for giving an interview on Iraqi television that was critical of US war strategy?

The list goes on and on, these are only recent examples.

I would encourage my fellow Americans to carefully consider the motives behind initiatives like the "Defend America" petition and "National Military Appreciation Month", and think twice before participating or encouraging others to do the same.


"11 Democrats vote 'no' on war resolution"

"Arnett is treacherous, but not a traitor"

"Just War -- or a Just War?" by Jimmy Carter

"Man Arrested for Wearing Peace T-Shirt"

"Oregon Law Would Jail War Protesters as Terrorists"

"Pelosi doesn't represent us"

"Praying for Peace"

"The U.S. Needs to Open Up to the World"