K en Dunker, in his recent My Turn, said that the troops are "overall educated, well-trained and squared away individuals." Surely he knows the disproportionate number of minority individuals and those from low socio-economic backgrounds (with no other real option) who are recruited to serve in the military. And, let's just grant Mr. Dunker his premise that they are "squared away" individuals when they enter. Are they when (if) they return to us?
I'm very tired of having the government use "patriotism" and slogans as the tools to rally the masses to give up their lives, mental health and tax dollars for wars or conflicts that are designed to generate huge profits for a select few. The "support the troops" slogan is the one that really gets me.
To take a more truthful ground I recommend that we adopt "Protect Our Troops" as our slogan to the government. Protect them from greed, protect them from a government who forgets them after they leave the military, protect them from the mental pain of separation and fear, protect them from the physical trauma of combat, protect them from Gulf War Syndrome, protect them from being used as a tool for global domination and oppression.
In a Democracy, we are the ones who are supposed to have the power. Our government is supposed to serve us. "Protect Our Troops" puts the ball back in our court. Since the troops are part of us, we must decide when and where our military should be used. We must decide if they are doing the right thing, are paid enough, are treated fairly when they return.
When I read about the money being made by bureaucrats, "defense" corporations, and many other military-related companies, I get sick. A recent Boston Globe article said the CEOs of the major "defense" companies make $11 million a year. I also recently read that 356 executives of military-related corporations got bonuses of over $1 million for the first quarter of this year. What does the "educated, well-trained, and squared away individual" risking his/her life for them make? We die, we suffer, we wave the flag - they vote for wars and run to the bank. And Bush has reduced veterans' benefits while blabbing about supporting the troops.
Smedley Butler's booklet, "War is a Racket," Sven Lindqvist's book, "The History of Bombing," Grossman and DeGaetano's book, "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill" and the C-SPAN video of "Veterans Against Iraq War" really affected me. I recommend these to Mr. Dunker. The fear he feels from the "enemy" for his own children is what any protective parent could feel. The war machine knows this, and manipulates our hearts for profit. Protect our troops, protect our children. Don't believe the propaganda. Demand better.
Mary Noble of Juneau is a Peace Corps veteran.