Imagine that you live in Nazi Germany, but you and your friends oppose the government, which possesses the mightiest military force in Europe, perhaps the world.
Now Adolf Hitler rumbles ominously about war. You know that the likely first targets of attack places like Poland and Luxumbourg pose no immediate threat to your security. You oppose further aggression. But on Sept. 1, 1939, tinny radio broadcasts announce a German invasion of hapless Poland, whose piteous soldiers try to fight Panzer divisions with mounted cavalry.
Oh, well. Time to "support the troops" and lay aside your religious, moral and practical convictions. War has begun!
Got a problem with that?
That's more or less what the U.S. government and a complicit media have badgered us into doing since the military adventures of the Ronald Reagan era. In the constant media barrage about a probable war with Iraq, how often have you heard something like, "Americans remain skeptical of a war. But once bombing starts, they will rally 'round the president and support the troops"?
(Disclaimer: The point of this simile is not to compare the United States with Nazi Germany, or George Bush to Hitler a fool's pursuit but merely to conjure a parallel military situation.)
I did not oppose the Persian Gulf war. I think the Bush administration was right to eject the terrorist-puppet Taliban regime. And I support a multifaceted campaign to disable terrorists before they can attack. But I do not support the coming war with Iraq. Therefore, I can't "support the troops."
Don't get me wrong. I wish no harm on any American, and I would never treat with disrespect the men and women who defend us. But I will not meekly surrender my opposition to the war simply because of government and media propaganda.
Since the frequent Reagan-era military adventures (remember the terrible threat of Grenada?) the American public has been bombarded by constant messages that we must "support the troops" even if we oppose the war. In the '80s, the government figured out that it could play on our Vietnam guilt to squeeze public "consent" more like emotional blackmail for military action. If you don't support the troops or the president, why, you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy. What a load of crap.
No less than in our hypothetical 1939 case, it's disingenuous to lay aside reasonable moral objections and "support the troops." One need not "support" the deaths of innocents simply because the government has started an unnecessary war.
People aren't as stupid as Donald Rumsfeld wishes they were. Millions are skeptical of the Bush administration's flimsy, revolving-door justification for war. Bush has floated many trial balloons; all have plunged like lead zeppelins.
Some say we must present a "unified" front during war. What an appalling argument. Is unity so important that it should neuter and silence all concern for innocents slaughtered by "our troops," not to mention the danger to the troops themselves? Should Iraqi women and children die for having the misfortune of living under the thumb of a tinhorn dictator (and one-time U.S. ally)?
If you do not support this war, please don't say you "support the troops" when it begins. It's dishonest. It's undemocratic. It's un-American.
Copyright 2003, The Daily Camera