Random Thoughts

Support the troops?

This is my decade-old commentary on the misuse of language and abuse of the public originally foisted upon us in the first round of the Persian Gulf Oil Wars. The idea behind it was to take advantage of people's sympathy for those they know better to create support for a war they might not go along with if they thought of all those far-of strangers dying terrible deaths at our hands. By accepting as valid the motto "support the troops," people's emotional response becomes one of patriotic unity, and their intellectual ability to look beyond this simplistic perspective to the true horrors of war is stymied.

Now, a few years later, it was almost an automatic shift made by the public itself (although encouraged by government propaganda). From unsureness and questions about whether we should go to war, many people simply dropped the question and resolved to... support the troops.

Well, I do not "support the troops."

Why not support the men and women who have been asked to make the ultimate sacrifice?

"Asked" to make the ultimate sacrifice? "Asked?" I think not.

We have an army of volunteers... men and women who signed up for a job that requires a willingness to kill total strangers, on orders from above.

And what is this "ultimate sacrifice?" To lay down one's life for an idea, or one's country? Even this idea is a misuse of language and a perversion of ideas. The ultimate sacrifice is to surrender one's personal morality to someone else willing to give one orders - and in this case, to accept the idea that one man may be permitted to kill another just because someone in authority claims ot be able to justify it.

To murder in cold blood. This is what our troops are for. People who, for money, have contracted to kill other human beings. Whether a few or many, to kill them. To blow up their houses, to destroy their water supplies, their schools, their roads.

Their willing participation enables the people running the government to project our power in terrible ways, to kill, maim, and destroy people and places far from our safe homes. The government does not have to face the natural referendum on the appropriateness of war that would occur if a draft was required to take people's children against their will, if they can lay their hands on an army of volunteers. This breaks the cycle of decisions that ought to rest with the people, before they march off to murder strangers.

I do not support murderers.

They may kill with a touch of a computer screen, or a program for a missile. They may take aim and pull a trigger, or perhaps load a mortar shell into its breech. They might work in warm, well lit buildings, moving numbers and models around on large maps. However they perform their acts of brutal inhumanity, the ethical statement remains the same.

All those who join the armed forces are willing killers. (In fact, all those whose work supports the military in any way are morally complicit) Perhaps in some way it could be argued that it is moral to pick up arms in direct defense of your loved ones, yourself, and your immediate neighbors, against a direct threat of violence. I cannot accept in any way that this argument can be extrapolated to condone picking up those same arms to kill people who have not threatened you in any way. To do so is the moral equivalent of premeditated, cold blooded murder.

It is not more right for a man to kill another man than it is for the state to ordain the killing of any man.

It is murder, and I do not support murderers of any kind, corporate, state, or individual.

4/17/03 - 3 AM

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© Huw Powell

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