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When “Support Our Troops” Becomes a Slogan to Support Militarism

Should we bet all surprised that the US making peace with North Korea has fizzled out? Should we be at all surprised that the US military is still in Syria? Should we be at all surprised that a US attack on Iran or Venezuela is all too possible? And should we be at all surprised the USAF still refuels Saudi warplanes killing innocent people in Yemen?

No, we should not be surprised. Nor should we fail to see the overt militarism permeating American society and infecting it with war fever. The American people act as if they cannot understand how these wars get started. Almost as if we got them unknowingly in a sweepstakes the American people never entered. Ah, but is that really true? Or is this what we wish to think so we can absolve ourselves of responsibility?

We tend to glorify the military who carries out these orders as if they did so unwillingly. Let it be made clear: the draft was ended decades ago. For right or wrong, a person chooses to enlist in the military. And I will certainly anger and infuriate a lot of people by what I am about to say. We cannot keep glorifying the military. We have already given veterans more rights than non-veterans, which is actually a form of discrimination. Veterans are entitled to the pretty much free universal health care system known as the VA. While the same politicians that defend the VA also say the government cannot afford to give that same universal health care system to non-veterans, I shall point out.

Who pays the military? The taxpayers. Who builds their weapons? The civilian sector. Who are the combatants in a nuclear war? Everyone, civilian and military alike. Therefore, everyone is entitled to the same medical care under the same reasoning it is given to the veterans. “But the veterans earned it!” Not so fast! The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not say that. It states all people are created equally and with the same rights. This is supposed to be a given under the law. If you create a class of people (veterans) who can “earn” more rights than everyone else, you have rendered null and void the statement we are all created equal and are equal. We are not. Veterans are more equal than others.

This is one method the US government ensures a steady supply of enlistees into its military. It awards them more rights for their service. Where did they learn this sales pitch? From the Roman Empire who awarded land grants to veterans that served 20 years in the Roman army. The government today awards veterans free medical care, business loans, home loans, and student loans that are not available to non-veterans. “But if the government doesn’t do that, who will want to enlist?!” Well, to be blunt, that may be precisely the reason to stop doing this. If we are all equal under the law and everyone has equal access to all government programs, then those who enlist will not be doing so under a type of economic incentive or a quasi-mercenary type motivation. With lower enlistment rates, perhaps the government will be less likely to start wars since drafting will certainly lead to civil unrest. Click To Tweet

Yes, people who suffered loss in combat are entitled to compensations the same as a worker injured on the job should be (but often isn’t, by the way.) But you simply cannot say a guy that sat in a missile silo for four years listening to corn grow above his head has done something especially worthy of being awarded more rights and benefits that anyone else. How can it be said that a guy who did spread sheets in the army quartermaster corps for a few years is entitled to more rights than someone doing the same job at a retail store chain? Because of the uniform? Because they did it for the government? So, is the government then above the law?

We’re also basically guaranteeing wars with this system of awarding veterans more rights than everyone else. Because they’re vested in it, they will defend the wars by saying any criticism of those wars is “not supporting the troops”. As if the troops should never be criticized. Except that’s not what the First Amendment says. In this era, you should know that, if you enlist, you will probably be sent into a war being waged for reasons the US cannot coherently explain. Have they ever explained exactly how toppling Bashar al-Assad in Syria will benefit the people of the United States? Can they show where Iran or Venezuela has landed troops on US soil? Can they prove that Assad planned to take over the world?

Yes, the military should be criticized. “They’re just following orders!” Then you better have the Supreme Court go back and say the verdicts given in the Nuremberg Trials were wrong. You have set a very dangerous precedent when you say a military cannot be criticized for fear it might be seen as “not supporting the troops”. There are actions of “the troops” that should never be supported under any circumstances. What if “the troops” were called out to quell a bread riot in Los Angeles in the future? And they panicked, opened fire, and killed 200 people and wounded 2,000? Suppose they were criticized? Would this then be considered “not supporting the troops”? You absolutely must criticize the military. Why? Because they are the armed wing of the same government! The government orders the crime of an illegal war, but the military carries it out. Both should be criticized. Both are guilty.

Again, we’ve created a situation where the glorification of the military is leading to the further entrenchment of the police state. One argument behind this whole kerfuffle over the national anthem revolves around “not showing respect to the people who died for that flag!” Therefore, any First Amendment right to refuse to pay homage to the flag becomes lost amidst the so-called “disrespect to the troops and/or veterans”. Again, a select group of citizens has been awarded more rights than others.

While the Pentagon spends hundreds of millions promoting militarism, they can’t even muster up the will to take care of people who enlisted.

We spend a lot of money on the VA, which is a socialized medical care system. The irony is conservative veterans sit and blast “socialism” and “socialist health care” while, at the same time, applauding and defending the socialized health care system they have. Basically, they got theirs and to hell with the civilians. They lash out with anger at any proposed VA cut, but lash out with equal anger if a public health care system is proposed for everyone else. They say, “I don’t want to pay for everyone else’s health care!” Yeah? Maybe everyone else is tired of paying for yours. Maybe it’s time to say “Everyone or no one”.

We need to untangle our feet from the snare the military has become for us as a society. We have allowed the military to become a stumbling block. Few recall that the whole “support the troops” phenomenon began during the Gulf War in 1990-1991. It demanded unquestioning support for a war that was allegedly over “freedom” but was really fought to protect US oil and the Saudi theocracy. Any protests against the Gulf War were seen as “treason” and “not supporting the troops”. People were reminded that the Vietnam War veterans were not shown respect or supported and we couldn’t allow that to happen to them again. Except it really wasn’t about the veterans, was it? No. It was about not criticizing the war at all. Any war. Ever.

So here we are. In war after war after war. We’ve been at war 17 years now. In wars off and on since the Gulf War. But for 17 years, in a constant state of war. Are you safer? No. Kids pick up a weapon developed for the military, carry it into schools, and murder their classmates. This is where militarism has led us. It cannot lead to peace.

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Jack Perry
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Jack Perry

Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.
Jack Perry
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