The other night I heard Rethuglicans chastising the Democratic Congressional majority (aka, Defeatocrats) for not funding CheneyBush’s latest request for war funding. Apparently, the Democrats were willing to cough up $70 billion for the war after CheneyBush agreed to $11 billion extra for domestic spending. When he backed off from the domestic money, Democrats, who’ve demonstrated all year that they are suckers for Rethuglican terror tactics, found something resembling a spine and balked at the $70 billion. Majority leader John Boehner and the junior senator from my former home state of Arizona, Jon Kyl, declaiming about Democrats failing to “support the troops”.
Nothing new there. But I find the phrase particularly hollow from a party and administration that has consistently failed to support those troops when they return from the war with physical and mental injuries. Back during my little war, this was not a problem since EVERYBODY just wanted to forget the whole thing and the soldiers who fought in it. Some anti-war folks were even hostile to the troops, although I think that hostility has been blown out of proportion. Far worse was the indifference that was everywhere.
That’s not the issue this time around. Everybody “supports” the troops, so much so that they are a political football to be bandied about in favor of particular political agendas. I’m no different; I have my own agenda. I define supporting the troops as sending them into harm’s way only when absolutely necessary and making every effort to help them return to something approaching a normal life when they return. By that definition America fails on both counts. We’ve sent our forces to a wholly unnecessary war in Iraq and we have provided nowhere near the resources to assist them and their families when failed them miserably upon their return.
Of course, that is merely my interpretation. Sure, it’s based on what I read but my knowledge is at best second-hand. I know few Iraq veterans and those few share my anti-war views. I really don’t know what the mass of this generation’s veterans think or feel. Unlike me, they are all volunteers. I do know from my own experience that soldiers have an incredible “can-do, will-do” ethic. Even I was not immune to that ethic although I rejected the entire premise of the reasons for my being in combat. I’m pretty sure that ethic is even more entrenched in the modern volunteer army.
Which brings me back to the point. If America wants to support the troops, it should think carefully about why we ask them to shed their humanity and kill other people, either directly or as “collateral damage”. That’s the political agenda I have in mind when I say support the troops: give them a mission worthy of their sacrifice and make them whole (or as close to whole as possible) after that sacrifice.
[cross posted at Mockingbird's Medley .]