Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Does "Support Our Troops" Mean Anything?

What does "Support Our Troops" mean? Without universal conscription, there's no compelling reason for anyone without relatives or friends in the military to think deeply about what happens "over there," let alone do anything about it. Support Our Troops seems to mean, don't spit on returning veterans as some did during the Vietnam War. Other than that, the phrase seems like an empty bromide.

And to add to our cognitive dissonance, whom do we support exactly when some of our troops turn on each other, by mistake or deliberately? What about those of our troops who commit atrocities, either in country or back in the USA?

What are we to think of General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Check out Jon Krakauer's new book, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. Not only was Tillman shot in the head by "friendly fire," some of his own men burned his uniform and body armor trying to cover up the incident. And McChrystal took part in the subsequent circus of events, including Tillman's silver star commemoration.

The movie In the Valley of Elah (2007) details how a similar cover up occurred back in the States among others of "our troops." One veteran is stabbed to death, another commits suicide. In Iraq, they'd run over a kid in the streets and tortured a prisoner. Atrocities in Iraq begat atrocities in the States. More cognitive dissonance for those who would vaguely Support Our Troops. It's a good film, based on real incidents that will be detailed in Cilla McCain's Murder in Baker Company: How Four American Soldiers Killed One of Their Own, scheduled for release on February 1, 2010.

War is a heavy burden. Many experiencing war -- soldiers and civilians alike -- do or will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), called shell shock during the First World War. And many survivors also suffer from physical wounds. Whether we "support our troops" or not, these are facts; it is our collective responsibility to recognize these and another fact: the atrocious conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan et alia will be with us for the rest of our days, directly or indirectly.

Today's Rune: Growth. Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Triumph of Death, circa 1562)


nunya said...

How many in this war were weekend Nat'l Guard members who were full-time cops?

Do you want to deal with a cop with PTSD? I don't, I know what it is like to live with it.

Lana Gramlich said...

I prefer to "support our troops" by bringing them home. They deserve nothing less.

the walking man said...

I will agree that war is ugly business ALWAYS. I prefer this presidents approach to what he has to decide as far as Afghanistan troop levels should be. I do not think it time to withdraw from Afghanistan because the terrible work there is not yet done.

Them shouting for a rapid resolution are actually calling for the use of nuclear weapons and that time has passed and is now unacceptable.

Personally I would that 100,000 more troops flood into Afghanistan, kill the Taliban and any that support them and then leave and let the Afghani build whatever the hell they want.

2000 continuous years of war indicates to me they do not want anything else, so let us take care of them who would harm us and those who would shield them who would harm us and leave the rest to their own will.

Charles Gramlich said...

The cost of war is seldom reckoned fully.

Erik Donald France said...

Nunya, the answer to q. 2 is, not if I can aavoid it!

Lana, it's not going to happen, though some will be pulled back from Iraq.

WM/Mark -- what's weird is that the Afghan pop. seems to thrive in war, from 13 million before the Soviet invasion to 28 million now; 40% Pashtun, many with Taliban ideology. We cannot kill them all, nor can we kill the ideology. We can only contain them. Glad I don't have to make the decisions.

Charles, amen. Amen.