Friday, November 18, 2005

War...What is it good for?

I feel like this subject has been used before, but I have a question that I have been thinking about for a while, and the Midwestmindsetters may be the place for this conversation to have some merit.

How does one oppose war and support the troops? Note, I don't really care if you think this Iraq war is great...I want to know from people that seem to have the ever so fashionable opinion that the war is bad, but we can still support the troops...What does that look like?

Also note, I am not suggesting that we start protests of the men and women of the armed forces. I am suggested that to oppose this war, as I do, how do support our troops. I think getting them out of useless, chaotic war would support them. However, don't we have to assume, given there is no draft, that most people involved in the war are supporting it?

So hit me with it...



At 11/19/2005 10:15 AM, Blogger PopePotsie said...

What's with all the fake email addresses passed out around here?

Dusty Abshire: I tried to email you, twice. (I would italicize twice but I don't know html) But now I have no choice but to hop on a soapbox, hog the comments section, and force everyone else at MWMS (you guys are so big that you have shorthand now?) to read my longwinded comment.

I don't have an answer to your question. In typical liberal arts fashion, I am not taking a stand, but instead, going to quote people. But I just read Jarhead for my English class, and Swofford tugs at the tension of anti-war, support-the-troops very well. He was a marine, after all. It's an anti-war book, but it's also an anti-anti-war book. Also, my English professor pointed out the depressing fact that so few great writers are emerging from the last two wars the way they did in WWII and especially Vietnam because the type of men signed up (how willingly?) to fight are so different from those in the previous wars. Less of an inside voice is speaking out, and I think, as a result, we have to think less about supporting/not supporting the troops. We know about casualties that suck, but don't get inside anyone's heads, none of the stuff of The Things They Carried or even All Quiet on the Western Front. Without books like Jarhead, it's easy to just say I'm anti-war but for the troops. I think of actual support as letters and care packages for the troops, but I'm reluctant to commit to that idea, because it'd mean that I don't support the troops, because I've sent them nothing.
Also, to stir in some more contentions without really taking a stand, here's my favorite passage from the book:
"Already, I recognized the incompatibility of religion and the military. The opposite of this assertion seems true when one considers the high number of fiercely religious military people, but they are missing something. They're forgetting the mission of the military: to extinguish the lives and livelihood of other humans.
What do they think all of those bombs are for?"

At 11/19/2005 10:43 AM, Blogger JonAmos said...

Wow. I really like that quote...
It really sums up how I feel about the military in general. I often find myself resenting all those bumber stickers that say "We support our troops" (with the ribbon sideways to almost resemble an Ichthus) or the ones that say "Freedom isn't Free".
I don't know... maybe I'm an ungrateful bastard, but I do find myself extremely unsupportive of any endeavor to "extinguish the lives and livelihood of humans." I mean, I feel terrible for anyone who got sucked into the ideology of this "greater good," and is therefore risking his or her life.
I don't know... Does anyone else feel history repeating itself when we "try to establish a democracy in another country", i.e. install the Western brand of capitalism designed to suck all the resources and goods from a country, rendering them paralyzed to produce anything for themselves? Maybe that's another subject entirely.

At 11/19/2005 10:58 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

good thoughts popepotsie. My response is sort of liberal artsy with lots of quotes but i'm going to take a stand. boo-ya.

my thoughts my be unconventional, but I think this article points to a good way to support the troops:

This article from a Harpers last year, is about deserting the military. One of the things mentioned is the G.I. Rights Hotline, a group of non-profit, non-government organizations that help with G.I. Rights, specifically getting people discharged who signed up without really knowing what they're doing, who become conscientious objectors after getting in.

Here's another article about deserters:

Finally, here's a bunch of stories about people trying to get out who the government is screwing around with:

My point is this. To truely support troops requires believing they are more than tools and demand they be treated like human beings. Part of this is fighting against the absurd recruitment lies told by the U.S. military. Educating young people about the truth of the military and the evil that awaits is part of this. Also, Fighting for the rights of soldiers to be treated fairly along with the option to change their mind upon realizing the evils that are war. This is supporting the troops.

At 11/19/2005 11:40 AM, Blogger Liza said...

In some ways, I think this is a bit of a moot point because how could we not support our troops- we are giving them tax dollars and they are our friends/kids/friend's kids/neighbors etc. They are our "fellow Americans," and the weight of the hearts of the nation will always be behind our citizens serving active duty on foriegn soil. That said, support gets kind of tricky.
A deciding factor for me in the 2004 vote for next-turkey-in-the-oval-office was John Kerry's track record on the war. While voting with the majority to enter into Iraq, he voted against it to withold some jillion dollar aid package for "the troops." At the time I learned this, I was appalled and refused to vote for the man, which I acknowledge now might have been a BIG mistake (I didn't end up voting at all... yes, we can debate more on that later).
I wonder, would such an aid package have supported the troops, or supported the war? The money would have gone to things they needed, yes, like body armor, better vehicles, and more advanced communication systems, all of which would have enhanced their safety. However, it also would have gone to bigger, more powerful weapons, which kill bigger, more powerful people. Which, would be supporting the war. Dang it.
SO, we find ourselves in a catch-22 here. I guess the best way to support the troops is by never going to war. Which would negate troops. But, I'm really gung-ho about this pacifist being like Jesus thing, and I don't expect Pentagon/Washington cronies to come into line here. And think about the billion dollar a year car ribbon industry that would go down the drain- "Support nothing" wouldn't win anybody over.


At 11/20/2005 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am appalled by the lack of support for our troops. Many who join wish to guard our country against the attacks of others, to help keep their families and friends safe. Defending our country is only one of the jobs of our service men and women. In addition, they attempt to help others who are oppressed throughout the world.

Wouldn’t it just be peachy if we could tell those oppressors to stop? Too bad life isn’t as simple as it was when you were 5. Some people haven’t grown up enough to realize that life is more complex-we live in a fallen world. War is a “mere” result of that. We can’t just call up the “bad guys” and say, “Stop!” (…although, it would be amazing if it worked that way.) No, instead, sometimes force is needed. Mere reprimands only go so far. Without war some tragedies would continue forever or at least until there was no one to stand up against the oppressors. I don’t believe that every war has a just cause, but I do believe that those who have sacrificed their time and potentially their lives to fight for our country deserve more credit than most people give them.

Then again, if you have never had to sacrifice anything bigger than a pair of shoes in your life, you can just live in your nice little apartment (or house) and write all the clueless trash you want about our troops and their “mistakes,” because you do not understand the cause they fight for (how could you…you only care about the price of gas) and have obviously never lost someone you love to the tragedies they fight to prevent/end.


At 11/20/2005 11:30 PM, Blogger Dusty said...


I am troubled with how "justifiable" you find "our way of life." I am absolutely confused with how you characterize us as people who have only had to sacrifice a pair of shoes? or only care about the price of oil?

Helping people who are oppressed...Ya, that we like. Isn't contradictory to have a military branch that supposedly doing what you say, while most other branches of our government and corporations are promoting said oppression? Perhaps, changing the world does not have to happen with force. It would be "just peachy" if our government would stop policies that oppress the world and make us the enemy to most of the world.

I see this largely as a policy issue and not at a personal troop issue...but our twisted "civil religion", which you have illustrated perfectly, continues to confuse the issues I originally raised.

At 11/21/2005 7:47 PM, Blogger dave said...

I wouldn't assume that because people volunteered to go to war that they are in support of it (necessarily). The vast majority who volunteered did so under the impression that we were going to go to Afganistan and seek revenge for the attacks on america. What they got was something completely different, and that is why you now see so many troops coming back who are protesting our continued presence in Iraq.

I personally am a pacifist and I do not agree that we should ever go to war for any reason. That said, I know I am in a very very small minority. most people believe that war is sometimes necessary as long as it is just (torture is not just, cheney). Since I don't agree with going to war, I find it hard to support anyone who does. yes, I know that that is a very unpopular opinion and I am usually labeled unpatriotic or something because of it, but I am being honest. If you choose to go to war and fight, you are doing something that I disagree with and I can't support your decision. But, I support your right to not be killed and not be put into a situation where you might kill someone.

That is the best I can do when it comes to supporting the troops. I support that they come home and don't go to war ever again.

At 11/21/2005 11:42 PM, Blogger adam said...

one quick thought: another reason people sign up for the army, but not in support of the war is the financial support. that's why our armed forces are composed of lopsided amounts of those middle class and below.

other than that thought, dusty i agree civil religion is bad. uck.

At 11/22/2005 10:56 AM, Blogger adam said...

sorry, I posted that before I read jonny's.


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