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Don’t Support the Troops?

support-our-troops-freedom-isnt-free

Virginia Tech English prof Steven Salaita implores us to “Stop saying ‘support the troops.’”

“That’ll be $1.82,” the lady at the counter cheerily informed me. After I handed her two ones, she asked, “Would you like to donate your change to the troops?” I noticed a jar with “support our troops” taped to it in handwritten ink.

“No, thank you,” I answered firmly.

“Well … OK, then, sir,” she responded in subtle reproach, her smile not quite so ascendant anymore. “You have a good day now.”

She had good reason to be disappointed. The vast majority of customers, I imagine, spare a few dimes and pennies for so important a cause. Her response evinced more shock than anger. She wasn’t expecting a refusal of 18 cents, even from a guy who looks very much like those responsible for the danger to our troops.

Besides, nobody likes to have their altruism invalidated by a recalcitrant or ungrateful audience.

I could have asked how the donations would be used, but no matter the answer I would have kept my 18 cents. I don’t consider patriotism a beneficent force, for it asks us to exhibit loyalty to nation-states that never fully accommodate their entire populations. In recent years I’ve grown fatigued of appeals on behalf of the troops, which intensify in proportion to the belligerence or potential unpopularity of the imperial adventure du jour.

Two initial thoughts here.

First, I never, ever give money in these situations. Indeed, I resent being asked. If I’m at your place of business to trade with you, I shouldn’t be put in the awkward position of refusing to donate to your charity so that you can get the publicity and tax write-off.  I don’t care if it’s homeless pets, natural disaster victims, or the troops. If you want me to donate to your cause, send me a solicitation by mail and I’ll evaluate it.

Second, my experience vis-a-vis enthusiasm for “the troops” is the opposite of Salaita’s. The surges I’ve seen have all been during periods of national unity—the early-to-mid 1980s, Desert Storm, and 9/11—which then fade away as enthusiasm for the cause dies down. While the reverence for “the troops” and their sacrifices “for our freedom” remain with us, at levels that I’ve long maintained are unhealthy, the fervor isn’t what it was a decade ago.

In addition to donating change to the troops, we are repeatedly impelled to “support our troops” or to “thank our troops.” God constantly blesses them. Politicians exalt them. We are warned, “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.” One wonders if our troops are the ass-kicking force of P.R. lore or an agglomeration of oversensitive duds and beggars.

Salaita has me until the last sentence there. While there are no doubt some obnoxious soldiers and veterans who demand tribute for their sacrifices, most of the impetus is coming from those who haven’t served. Many civilians feel an understandable if completely misplaced sense of discomfort with others putting life and limb on the line defending them when they themselves have not borne that weight. Politicians have many incentives to seek the deflected glory that comes with aligning themselves with “the troops” and to make it seem that disagreeing with their policy preferences somehow constitutes disloyalty to those fighting for the country.

Salaita continues:

A nation that continuously publicizes appeals to “support our troops” is explicitly asking its citizens not to think. It is the ideal slogan for suppressing the practice of democracy, presented to us in the guise of democratic preservation.

There, we largely agree. As the late George Carlin observed, “Symbols are for the symbol-minded.” I’m generally annoyed by and uncomfortable with out-of-content appeals to patriotism. I don’t have “Support the Troops” ribbons on my car or wear a flag on my lapel and, unless it’s the 4th of July, find it odd to have the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” performed at sporting events.

But “support our troops” can mean many things. While often used to demand reflexive support for our war effort, it can simply be a call to honor their sacrifices  regardless of one’s views of the war we’ve sent them to fight. For that matter, it can mean that we owe a great deal to those who have been gravely wounded, physically or psychologically, fighting those wars. In those contexts, I support “support our troops.”

The troops are now everywhere. They occupy bases and war zones throughout the Arab world and Central Asia and have permanent presence in dozens of countries. They also occupy every tract of discursive territory in the United States. The troops are our omnipresent, if amorphous, symbols of moral and intellectual austerity.

Here, we depart company. Salaita seems to blame our armed forces for the wars they’re sent to fight by our elected leaders. They don’t get to chose which wars to fight, only whether to sign up to take the risk of being sent to war.

Corporate entities are the worst offenders. On flights, troops are offered early boarding and then treated to rounds of applause during the otherwise forgettable safety announcements. Anheuser-Busch recently won the Secretary of Defense Public Service Award and in 2011 “Budweiser paid tribute to America’s heroes with a patriotic float in the Rose Parade®.” The Army’s website has a page dedicated to “Army Friendly Companies”; it is filled with an all-star lineup of the Forbes 500 as well as dozens of regional businesses.

I do not begrudge the troops for availing themselves of any benefits companies choose to offer, nor do I begrudge the companies for offering those benefits. Of greater interest is what the phenomenon of corporate charity for the troops tells us about commercial conduct in an era of compulsory patriotism.

It tells us, first of all, that corporations care far less about the individuals who happen to have served in the military than they do about “the troops” as an exploitable consumer category. Unthinking patriotism, exemplified by support of the troops (however insincere or self-serving), is an asset to the modern business model, not simply for good P.R., but also for the profit it generates.

As a veteran myself, I’m actually more than a little uncomfortable with strapping young soldiers in uniform availing themselves of early boarding along with old ladies in wheelchairs and parents with young children. It’s unseemly and reverses the very notion of selfless service to the nation.

Beyond that, though, I think Salaita is too cynical about corporate motives here (and coming from me, that’s saying something). I have no reason to doubt that the desire to honor the sacrifices of our troops during a period of extended war is genuine. But, yes, there’s also a benefit to wrapping oneself in the flag.

This is just downright obnoxious:

Multinational corporations have a profound interest in cheerleading for war and in the deification of those sent to execute it. For many of these corporations, the U.S. military is essentially a private army dispatched around the world as needed to protect their investments and to open new markets. Their customers may “support our troops” based on sincere feelings of sympathy or camaraderie, but for the elite the task of an ideal citizenry isn’t to analyze or to investigate, but to consume. In order for the citizenry to consume an abundance of products most people don’t actually need, it is necessary to interject the spoils of international larceny into the marketplace.

Aside from the defense industry itself, what possible corporate interest is served by the war in Afghanistan or the various largely untalked about mini wars in places like Yemen and Somalia? And, what, precisely, are Americans consuming more of in response to any of these conflicts?

The next section mixes good points with the most outrageous slanders:

Clichés aren’t usually meant to be analyzed, but this one illuminates imperialism so succinctly that to think seriously about it is to necessarily assess jingoism, foreign policy, and national identity. The sheer vacuity and inexplicability of the phrase, despite its ubiquity, indicates just how incoherent patriotism is these days.

Who, for instance, are “the troops”? Do they include those safely on bases in Hawaii and Germany? Those guarding and torturing prisoners at Bagram and Guantánamo? The ones who murder people by remote control? The legions of mercenaries in Iraq? The ones I’ve seen many times in the Arab world acting like an Adam Sandler character? “The troops” traverse vast sociological, geographical, economic and ideological categories. It does neither military personnel nor their fans any good to romanticize them as a singular organism.

And what, exactly, constitutes “support”? Is it financial giving? Affixing a declarative sticker to a car bumper? Posting banalities to Facebook? Clapping when the flight attendant requests applause?

Yes, “support the troops” is vague. Yes, it includes those serving in the rear as well as those in hostile fire zones, since they’re all part of the same team and eligible to face danger. And, yes, the level and meaningfulness of the “support” being asked for differs.

But, no, the troops serving in Iraq aren’t mercenaries. And our defense contractors, whether mercenaries or not,  aren’t troops.

Those guarding prisoners are troops and deserve our support, whether or not you like the fact that those prisons exist. It ain’t their policy, it’s President Obama’s and, before that, President Bush’s. Those incredibly few troops involved in torture are guilty of crimes and, no, they shouldn’t be supported in their crimes.

I have serious misgivings about our drone policy, in particular the “signature strikes” issue. But it’s either a vicious slander or stupidity of the highest order to call killing suspected enemy combatants during a war “murder.”

The column actually deteriorates from there, so I’ll truncate the analysis of it there.

The banality of “support the troops” is sufficient that I’d just assume see it go away as a slogan. Rather than free access to airport lounges, I’d prefer to see more reluctance to engage in unnecessary wars, more limited and achievable aims to those wars we do fight, provision of better equipment and medical care, and more appropriate compensation for those who suffer real harm from their service.

But let’s not replace an empty sentiment with its opposite–disdain for those who serve in the military because we dislike the policies of our elected leaders. “The troops” don’t set policy, they carry it out. And that’s a very good thing.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I too am uncomfortable with the blind patriotism that seems to assert itself in pleas to “Support our Troops”. I have had countless arguments over whether or not I had to support a war or armed action because if I did not, I was not supporting our troops. That always seemed the height of idiocy to me. I am generally against most armed interventions not because I am a peacenik, but rather because I don’t think they will do any good. Our service members will kill and be killed for no measurable good. Some will return damaged in ways we can not know or feel. I can not feel that sending them off to some far corner of the world to fight on some old man’s behalf because our “credibility” is at stake is supporting them.

    After a decade plus of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, what other lesson can be learned?

    PS: while not so opposed to giving to a charity at the checkout line, I would have a hard time giving to a “Support our Troops” fund. You really want to support our troops? Call your Congress critter and demand that the troops and programs for them be fully funded by the Federal gov’t and paid for by taxes paid by all Americans. Demand that they not be abandoned on street corners after they have nothing left to give to their country because their psyches are so fractured by what they have seen and done,

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 4

  2. john personna says:

    “Support the troops” was specifically used as a strategy to cloud the goals and looming failure of US policy in Iraq. It was very much “you may not question the mission without disrespecting the troops.”

    Anything else is historical revisionism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 8

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    I, personally, support all the wars but oppose the troops. This has put me in a lonely position…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  4. Tony W says:

    I could go on for ages on this topic – but two key thoughts:

    1) The troops who serve within the territory of the United States have an extremely different experience from those serving overseas. Those corporate angels who “support our troops” often will not even ship their goods APO/FPO, presumably because of the customs forms paperwork they must fill out. Hollywood’s licensing policies means that Netflix and similar services do not work for our overseas troops, and purchases are essentially limited to the BX/PX and the local economy – price and selection are poor at best. Meanwhile domestic-serving military members find that their money is no good at Starbucks and they go home to their kids at night.

    2) Enlisted members typically qualify for WIC and other programs for the poor. This is a travesty.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    But it’s either a vicious slander or stupidity of the highest order to call killing suspected enemy combatants during a war “murder.”

    Except many of the people killed are not suspected enemy combatants, they are just people who happen to be around suspected enemy combatants. We don’t suspect them to be an enemy at all, yet we kill them anyway. That is, in fact, murder.

    And it’s stupidity of the highest kind not to understand this distinction.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 7

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W: The first point is interesting, indeed. The second is mostly untrue.

    Essentially, very, very junior enlisted troops who have large families qualify. But that shouldn’t be shocking. How much are we supposed to pay an 18-year-old high school graduate.

    An E-4 with three years of service and no dependents makes $2304.90 in monthly base pay plus $549.60 in housing allowing and another $352.27 for subsistence (food, etc.). That’s $3206.77 a month or $38,481.24 annually–only $27658.80 of which is taxable. And that doesn’t count any locality pay, specialty pay, or enlistment bonuses. That’s pretty damned good for a single 21-year-old with only a high school diploma.

    But, add in a spouse and a couple of kids, that’s pretty crappy. Granted, they get a little more for housing and subsistence, all of it untaxed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: The law of war has evolved over more than a millennium. We have always distinguished between collateral damage and intentional targeting of noncombatants. By definition, we suspect those who we target in signature strikes to be enemy combatants. That some of them inevitably aren’t is an argument for not conducting signature strikes—indeed, combined with other problems, I think we should not be conducting signature strikes—but it doesn’t transform collateral damage into murder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  8. PogueMahone says:

    @john personna: “Support the troops” was specifically used as a strategy to cloud the goals and looming failure of US policy in Iraq.

    Agreed.
    I remember the days of late ’03 and ’04, when it started to look like our venture in Iraq may not have been a good idea, then suddenly it became fashionable in many circles to argue that if you did not support the policy, you did not “support the troops.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  9. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: The slogan predates the Iraq War by decades.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  10. DC Loser says:

    As a veteran and civil servant who spent my entire federal career in the DoD, I feel no need to display my patriotism by such cheap sloganeering and meaningless gestures. IMHO, it’s mostly done by people who never served, and feel a certain amount of shame they didn’t put their lives on the line like the guys in uniform. I’m fine with them feeling that way, but just don’t expect me to share in it. I’ve done my part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    but it doesn’t transform collateral damage into murder.

    For the people killed, yes, it does. If I’m a simple Afghan shepherd and one day a drone blast from the sky blows me into bits, then what has happened to me? I’ve been murdered. Now, maybe the drone operator didn’t intend to kill me the shepherd but rather a terrorist who looked like me, but he didn’t make sure and the end result is I’m dead. I’ve been murdered — not duly executed, not killed in combat, no other pleasing euphemism that lets you sleep at night — no, I’ve been murdered.

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  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    but it doesn’t transform collateral damage into murder.

    “Allah! What happened to your son Abdul? He was a peaceful man!”

    “He’s been killed.”

    “Ah! Murdered?”

    “No, collateral damage. We have no cause for complaint.”

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  13. Ron Beasley says:

    I too am a Veteran – a Vietnam era veteran. After the debacle in Vietnam I have always thought the best way to support the troops is to oppose unnecessary military adventures. I opposed the misadventure in Iraq from the beginning. In the emotionalism following 911 I supported going after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan but soon opposed it’s morphing into a nation building quagmire. And BTW I oppose any intervention in Syria.

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  14. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    That was pretty much a non sequitor. A pre-existing phrase may indeed be adopted for a new effort to shape public opinion. The age of the words does not actually contribute much to the understanding of the episode.

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  15. john personna says:

    I mean, if we are actually going to face our history on this, remember that as Iraq turned south, “support the troops” was paired with “we cannot let these deaths be in vain.”

    Staying in, and losing more troops, did not actually make Iraq a happy place.

    Those who recognized that early were actually on the side of the troops, though to this day many invert the logic.

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  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @john personna:

    “support the troops” was paired with “we cannot let these deaths be in vain.”

    I think you may be old enough to remember this argument was used during Vietnam and of course the deaths all turned out to be in vain.

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  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I was born in 1960.

    I was a Detroiter.

    As a young child, I watched the Viet Nam war in black and white, bringing the reality of death and the horror of war into my small living room.

    I watched the National Guard camp at the end of my street when the riots in Detroit occurred. I saw the burned homes and abandoned neighborhoods that still to this day have not recovered.

    I could not BELIEVE that people would elect Nixon in 1968… and I was just 8 years old.

    I studied sociology, political science and geography, and with the launch of the Iraq war, I sat dumbfounded when others around me cheered… and I could only say that we were making a huge mistake. No one wanted to hear that.

    The “Support the troops” industry kicked into high gear telling me that even if you did not support the war, you should support the troops.

    No. I could not support the troops. I could not support the war. I could not blindly smile and say “Hooray!”.

    While conservatives somehow are driven to make me feel that “government is the enemy”, the grossly overfunded (at close to 50% of the US Budget, when you take in all aspects of it in recent years) blindly driven killing machine of this government is something that I am blithely supposed to accept. And support

    Stop and frisk.

    Warrantless searches for any reason

    Strip searches for any potential arrest, even misdemeanors.

    Tasers.

    Swat Team issuing warrants.

    Continuous video surveillance.

    Armored vehicles owned by community forces for “crowd control”

    Heavily militarized police vehicles for routine traffic control.

    And the largest prison population per capita.

    Yes… Let’s support the Troops, Foreign and Domestic, and all the “heroes”.

    Bullshit.

    Have a nice day.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 4

  18. Liberal Capitailism says:

    Nationalism.

    It’s the sticky flypaper that leads to the acceptance of atrocities, and the death of freedom.

    (You know who else supported the troops?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  19. john personna says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Just missed it, but was very much shaped by post-Vietnam, and “no more Vietnams.”

    We actually had a good run of no Vietams, until GWB fixed things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  20. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: The fact that a death is tragic and unnecessary doesn’t transform it into murder. Murder, by its very definition, requires wrongful intent.

    @john personna: I have not argued that the slogan can’t be misappropriated. My point is that it has multiple meanings, some of them benign and even positive. The fact that it’s so muddled is an argument against its use. But we shouldn’t assign malign intent to everyone who uses it just because some misuse it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  21. Tyrell says:

    Eisenhower warned against getting involved in these “brush fire” wars. He knew a lot about the way the defense department works. Ike did not want the US to be a “garrison” country like Germany. He also believed that if you go in, go in full force to win and get out. LBJ felt that we were treaty bound to go in and defend other countries, especially against the forces of Communism. (SEATO, NATO). Congress gave him a blank check in Vietnam.
    Because I was raised in a time where everyone, parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, were veterans of WWI or involved in that war somehow, supporting the soldiers was not a question. There was a lot of disagreement over Vietnam, and Korea, but supporting our troops wasn’t an issue. Most veterans thought we should not have gone in there to start with, but once there win and get out. Nixon inherited the war, developed a plan to get out with honor, without “bugging out” as he put it, and ended the draft. Even though I supported Hubert Humphrey, I think Nixon did a lot of good things.
    “someone wouldn’t let us win” (John Rambo)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  22. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, add in a spouse and a couple of kids, that’s pretty crappy.

    Those elements are pretty much the definition of WIC. I was just shocked when my kids family (SSGT) qualified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tyrell:

    I think Nixon did a lot of good things.

    Selective memory is a glorious thing, I guess. Too, also.

    Here is a great commentary from someone else’s selective memory…

    “Richard Nixon was forced out of office by Watergate; a burglary and a cover-up, which was also an attempt to cover-up domestic terrorism against his foes and particularly against African-Americans working for economic and social justice. Nixon was disgraced, but he did not go to jail.

    But Nixon was not investigated, indicted or disgraced for a set of far greater crimes than Watergate. He and Henry Kissinger, and others, had, in the course of pursuing the Viet Nam War, systematically, knowingly and willfully violated the U.S. constitution and international law. International law doesn’t get much respect in the US even though it was forged out of the misery, degradation, sufferings and deaths of millions of people.

    Nixon was a war criminal. Kissinger is a war criminal. They were responsible for millions of deaths, including the deaths in Cambodia wrought by our war on that nation which led to the scourge of Pol Pot.

    We who were fighting for an end to the Viet Nam made a big mistake when that war stopped. We did not stay in the streets until Nixon, Kissinger and the others were investigated, prosecuted and imprisoned for war crimes.

    I volunteered in 1962 to go to Viet Nam. I was in the Navy on a ship that had extremely boring duty in the Pacific. I was 21 years old. I was looking for more exciting duty and the mystery, romance and adventure of Asia. I had been an avid reader of Terry and the Pirates comics. I believed our government, that we were fighting Communism and that that was important. And, it was an argument that gave me a righteous reason for what seemed to me high adventure.

    Fortunately I did not see combat in Viet Nam. I was not called on to directly kill nor was I threatened directly with death. But I went to Viet Nam prepared to kill. And I did see death. I did see massive corruption. I was there because of a decision by then President John Kennedy to expand the number of troops in Viet Nam. I was there because of lies. I was there because the war crimes of the then Vietnamese leaders and the deceptions of the U.S. had been covered up. I went to Viet Nam because of lies and youthful stupidity, but nevertheless I feel a need to do what I can to repent for participating in the atrocity of Viet Nam because I shared the same will to power and will for glory that drove our leaders and drove them to lie.

    I believe that had Nixon and Kissinger been held accountable for their war crimes, we probably would not be in the wars we are in today. That is because in the very divisive process of investigating and prosecuting Nixon and Kissinger and others, we the American people would have learned something life-changing about ourselves as a people and about our acceptance of war. ”

    Link: http://warisacrime.org/node/41878

    (And, for the frothing conservative: Don’t fret! This comes out of an article that criticizes the Obama administration and the continuation and worsening of Bush Policies, and the unaccountability granted by this administration to the previous.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  24. JKB says:

    @Tony W:

    Many businesses don’t ship to APO/FPOs because there is no way to ensure delivery to the final recipient. The package is removed from the USPS and slips into the military postal system. Not to mention, many vendors don’t use the USPS due cos and lack of tracking data as well as service issues. It isn’t a customs issue although, export laws would impact what could be shipped overseas, such as computers, etc., as well as the need for an export control system at the vendor. It should also be noted that many of these overseas troops are in countries and areas that the U.S. government imposes strict export controls to and private shipments to U.S. government personnel are subject to those restrictions.

    And the PX is the only place to get many familiar American brands. At prices that are good once shipping and the cheap (on base) warehousing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  25. KM says:

    @James Joyner: The fact that a death is tragic and unnecessary doesn’t transform it into murder. Murder, by its very definition, requires wrongful intent.

    Alright, I’m calling bullshit here. “Collateral damage” is what happens to objects; death is what happens to people. It is the rankest insult to degrade and dehumanize an innocent to such a degree just to justify some sort of action. A child killed in a bomb strike was murdered – no if, ands or buts. “Tragic”, my ass. Those are weasel words to escape the truth of what was done. If the child was American and killed in an insurgent’s blast, you damn well better believe it wouldn’t be referred to “collateral” on our end. A dismissive designation, a verbal “whatev…” so the guilty can move on.

    A truly honorable solider (or one who supports them in this case) acknowledges that these crimes can/will happen in this unfortunate world and must be prevented by any means at their disposal. They disobey orders, they circumvent situations, they diffuse tensions, they double-check their intel. But above and beyond, they do not shy away from the fact that war is hell & murder is murder. A soldier is an instrument of death and they are very mindful of that fact. They do their duty; killing innocents is NOT one of the them.

    I would like to think the US military is an honorable institution as described above. Quibblings such as you have provided do not inspire confidence, sir. The unfortunate fact is the US military has murdered people – we should be man enough to admit it, then do what we can so we never do it again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  26. Tyrell says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: We were heavily involved in Vietnam long before Nixon got in. I agree that Nixon should have got out much earlier. What about Johnson, Rusk, and McNamara? Trials for them too? The beginning of the end came when Clark Clifford told the military no more troops. After that US troop totals in Vietnam started declining. Kennedy had said that our presence there would remain, but “in the end it is their war”. Eisenhower had troops over there but it is clear he did not like it. He was against these brush fire wars and getting tangled up in other countries’ messes. In the last several years Ike’s stock has risen a lot. For a newer look at him, read “Ike’s Bluff”. Compared to later presidents, he comes off as brilliant. His real person is far different from the image that most people have of him. And, he spent a lot of time on the golf course, more than people . Too bad our leaders have not spent more time studying him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Todd says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    After the debacle in Vietnam I have always thought the best way to support the troops is to oppose unnecessary military adventures.

    I’m right there with you Ron. I’ve always found the supposition that those who weren’t in favor of some of our recent wars, didn’t “support the troops” to be silly.

    Particularly with the Iraq misadventure, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that my own views probably fell/fall pretty squarely within the spectrum of “anti-war” … yet I deployed there twice … and did my job well. I’m proud of my service. But at the same time, when it comes to the wars, had something happened (in Iraq or Afghanistan) and I not come home, I wouldn’t have wanted my loved ones to go around spouting any of that “he died protecting our freedoms” bullshit. (unless it was simply to make themselves feel not as bad)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  28. Ron Beasley says:

    @Tyrell:

    We were heavily involved in Vietnam long before Nixon got in.

    Very true, the CIA was involved before the French pulled out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  29. al-Ameda says:

    These days, “support the the troops,” causes my eyes to glaze over – it implies that there is not already a large network of services and programs designed to support our troops, which is definitely not the case. Our troops are well-supported by our government and other organizations.

    It bothers me somewhat in the same way as when people say, “we must think of the children,” in discussing all manner of current issues. The intention seems to be to guilt people into persuading you to agree with them, or to donate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  30. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I agree with some of your proposals in terms of policy, Dr. Joyner.

    It makes me wonder, though, whether there’s any other country in the world where people sit around at dinner or in public settings and say: “God, bless the [Mexican, British, French, Turkish, or what have you] troops.”

    If not, does that say more about them than us, or vice-versa?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  31. @al-Ameda:

    Our troops are well-supported by our government and other organizations.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true, there’s been plenty of cases where the DoD and the VA has failed to provide support for American troops.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Todd says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Our troops are well-supported by our government and other organizations.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true, there’s been plenty of cases where the DoD and the VA has failed to provide support for American troops.

    Actually I think it’s a little bit of both.

    When it comes to how we take care of those service members who have made significant sacrifices (life, limb, ptsd, etc) on the battlefield, there’s no doubt that we (as a nation) could definitely do better (and in some cases much, much, better).

    But …

    For a lot of everyday type things, there are a whole lot of advantages to being a veteran that almost embarrass me (don’t know how others feel). For instance:

    Did you know that just by having an active duty ID card, I take my whole family to Busch Gardens or Sea World for free? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. But to be honest if they were to limit just to those who could show recent (within 6 months) deployment orders, I for one wouldn’t be terribly upset.

    Every election season, it’s incredibly easy for active duty military members to register and absentee vote. We’ve got a website, and even representatives in every unit to help people through the process. I just roll my eyes when I see stories about military members having trouble voting … they’re bullshit … when compared to the difficulties many average citizens face at the polls.

    Finding a job. Holy cow there a lot of organizations out there to help veterans with everything from resumes to coaching, actually hooking us up with companies. Just two weeks ago, I was able to get a free upgrade to a premium account on Linkedin, just because I’m in the military. Again, I am appreciative beyond belief for this kind of assistance. But at the same time, knowing how many Americans are already out of work (many for quite awhile already) who don’t have access to this kind of assistance does make me feel a little guilty.

    Those are just a few examples.

    When it comes to the “little things” our country does a very good job of “supporting the troops”.

    … it’s the big, important (and not so relatively easy) things that we need more work on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  33. AnnS says:

    Guess I can confess about being more idealistic and patriotic that I am knowledgable about wars etc…I do have a ribbon support our troops and a never forget 9/11. And I do give at retails some what on pre-paid phone cards, school supplies and such.

    I would like some expert opinions here about “blind patriotism” of the troops. Starting with Clinton’s dastardly and illegal bombing of Yugoslavia, obama’s North African conflicts and now Syria. Clinton and Wesley Clark should be tried for war crimes and Violation of War Powers Act as with obama. Reagan took care of Gadaffi 25 or so years ago, Mubarack was friendly towards the west and Israel, Assad knew his place and at least had some measure in place to allow the Christians to worship. Yugo…was bombed to appease the islamic world by Clinton and it was Serbia defending their country. Once again in Libya, Egypt, Syria is the same old MSM propaganda to garner support for a liberal admin and CinC. In obama’s case to establish a islamic world caliphate run by Sharia Law. What I am saying in these cases all our troops and Fed LE should disobey these order even if it means a less than honorable discharge since they usurp laws over our Constitution.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 20

  34. Rick Almeida says:

    @AnnS:

    So, military action by Republican presidents is good, while military intervention by Democratic presidents ranges from evil to outright treasonous. Your comments highlight pretty much everything that’s depressing about my country.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ AnnS

    Thank you for that concise summary of the world according to Fox News. Are you wearing a very short skirt and too much makeup by any chance?

    BTW, do you actually think there is a single person in American who lived through 9.11 who has forgotten about it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  36. PJ says:

    @Rick Almeida:
    Her comment highlights the lack of funding for education and/or psychiatric hospitals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  37. john personna says:

    @AnnS:

    In obama’s case to establish a islamic world caliphate run by Sharia Law.

    Seriously?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  38. PJ says:

    @john personna:
    I bet AnnS would be perfectly happy with it all if it was based on Christianity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  39. de stijl says:

    @AnnS:

    I think Poe’s Law applies here. This is too demented and gonzo frigging weird to be anything but a satire. I declare “shenanigans.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  40. Kari Q says:

    @de stijl:

    Agree. It’s the use of “dastardly” that gives it away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  41. de stijl says:

    @Kari Q:

    “Dastardly” was number one on my list of tells. Wesley Clark as a war criminal is just nutso. She throws in the Sharia law canard, and the kicker is “Reagan took care of Gadaffi 25 or so years ago….”

    Mos def she’s trolling.

    Unless not. Maybe it’s Pam Gellar’s sockpuppet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  42. al-Ameda says:

    @AnnS:

    In obama’s case to establish a islamic world caliphate run by Sharia Law. What I am saying in these cases all our troops and Fed LE should disobey these order even if it means a less than honorable discharge since they usurp laws over our Constitution.

    I recommend that you get a second full psychiatric evaluation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  43. black onion says:

    But, no, the troops serving in Iraq aren’t mercenaries. And our defense contractors, whether mercenaries or not, aren’t troops.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not sure how many may be there now, but the idea that there were no armed mercenaries in Iraq is false, and to jump to the assumption the original article conflates the two seems dishonest to me, at best.

    I am sure you were aware of their presence in Iraq.

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/american-troops-leaving-iraq-but-5500-mercenaries-are-staying-behind/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Pharoah Narim says:

    What a clown. Yep, all servicemen and women are corporate-controlled, murdering dunces plotting to ensure Americans can continue buying the sweat equity of the world at wage slave prices at the local Wal Mart. Got it.

    What’s sad is, in this country you can spout off on things you know nothing about, have zero insight into how something actually works…and get a following…precisely because, the people that read your work don’t have a clue themselves but what’s written plays into their narrative of how they belie

    BELIEVE things work. The Fox news technique aka “the blind opining for the blind”. They deserve one another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  45. @AnnS:

    Mubarack was friendly towards the west and Israel

    Is that the same Mubarack [sic] that gave sanctuary to the murderers of Jewish-American citizen Leon Klinghoffer and later flew them out of the country on an Egyptian airliner? Is that the same Mubarack [sic] that demanded an apology from the United States after the United States used F-14s to make the plane land in Italy?

    Yugo…was bombed to appease the islamic world by Clinton and it was Serbia defending their country.

    I guess you never heard of these guys called “Croatians” which were being massacred. They’re Catholic if you weren’t aware.

    Reagan took care of Gadaffi 25 or so years ago,

    Right, because there was no Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in 1988, which killed 189 Americans, and to which Reagan did absolutely nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  46. gVOR08 says:

    I don’t generally mind “Support the Troops”, although I agree with the sentiment, “Support the troops, get them the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan.” What grates on me is the constant use of “Freedom”, generally in a non-sequitur. The Revolution was for freedom. The Civil War was partially about freedom. Depending on how you think things might have fallen out long term, WWII may have been about freedom. It’s hard to see how any war since furthered our freedom. Sammy bin Laden, evil as he was, was never a threat to the existence of the U. S. or to our freedom. Except, of course, that the over-reaction to bin Laden and his ilk is a very real threat to our freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  47. Rob in CT says:

    Support the troops by avoiding avoidable wars and properly funding their healthcare (including mental health). That’s my formulation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  48. Kolohe says:

    Multinational corporations have a profound interest in cheerleading for war and in the deification of those sent to execute it. For many of these corporations, the U.S. military is essentially a private army dispatched around the world as needed to protect their investments and to open new markets. Their customers may “support our troops” based on sincere feelings of sympathy or camaraderie, but for the elite the task of an ideal citizenry isn’t to analyze or to investigate, but to consume. In order for the citizenry to consume an abundance of products most people don’t actually need, it is necessary to interject the spoils of international larceny into the marketplace.

    Wait, someone believes this malarky? And moreover, a professor at my alma mater?

    Well, the value of my degree took a nosedive today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  49. Pinky says:

    I get the impression that Salaita is every bit as huffy and petty as the lamest troop-supporter. Of course the saying is trite. Of course it’s usually more words than actions. But do you think you deserve a compliment for bearing the wrath of a check-out lady? Do you think that’s a testimony to your character? There are two possibilities – either this is the first time Salaita has ever taken a stand against anything (which would be unusual for anyone over the age of ten), or he’s this self-righteous every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. joyce watkins says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The reason to raise money is to help those that the government seems to forget.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. Sandy says:

    @PogueMahone: I said ”support the troops” during WWII!!! o you know nothing about what you’re saying. These guys go through hell, and you don’t have a clue! I would feel sorry for such ignorant thoughts, except that unless you’ve walked in their shoes, you have no knowledge. Nothing is that black and white, but it pretty much comes down to that re Democrat & Republican administrations. Kennedy did a pretty fair job in military affairs – no one is perfect. Johnson tried to micromanage Vietnam Nam – & he knew nothing about the military. Clinton was pathetic re military, and was responsible for the Bin Laden fiasco. None of those Presidents “wanted” to make mistakes – except for Obama whose plan is to destroy this country in favor of Marxist policies.

    This Virginia Tech professor knows nothing about the military, about our Constitution, the sacrifices we’ve made for other countries, and yes, many casualties caused by our military. It is because of our military, those troops, who have fought, sacrificed their lives and their limbs for his right to say those things – shameful as they may be!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  52. R3 says:

    @Rafer Janders: And this is the point where you are not simply misunderstanding his point, which was quite clearly articulated, but instead are doubling down on your slander… which was the true motive for your insistence on using the term “murder”. You want to call military personnel murderers because you despise them, not because it is accurate in any legal sense to do so.

    So ironic, in a post condemning the use of mindless, irrational, emotionally manipulative propaganda; we get mindless, irrational, emotionally manipulative propaganda. But then what should I expect from a guy who hates the troops and wants the terrorists to win.
    :P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. Steve says:

    @Tony W: On your point #2. Those of us that serve stateside also rotate through multiple overseas tours. It isn’t a “fixed duty”. You don’t get assigned to a stateside base and do your entire tour there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Sandy: Any screed that accuses President Obama of “Marxist policies” can safely be skipped over. How old are you, five?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0