Support the troops by bringing them home

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American public.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

We are at war and I am about as pissed off as an ass model with a hemorrhoid. Many people think this war is about liberating Iraq and ridding the world of terror. Wow, I am so glad over 600 civilians are dead so we can feel safe from a regime that hates us tenfold now.

The headshot used from my weekly column in the George Street Observer, the student newspaper of the College of Charleston.

The headshot used from my weekly column in the George Street Observer, the student newspaper of the College of Charleston.

Regardless of the truth, we have our brothers and sisters overseas engaged in warfare. Those of you who think troop support is allowing them to die, I suggest a trip to the bookstore and acquisition of a dictionary. Support is a positive thing. Support their morale by flying a flag? Support their life by bringing them home.

And how about Washington? How are they showing their support? The House Budget Committee voted to reduce the health care budget for veterans by $844 million, and to cut an additional $463 million in benefit programs. The committee plans to cut $15 billion from veteran programs over the next 10 years. It looks like our government is showing their “support.”

You can argue our troops fight for our safety, so that we can live and be free. I refuse to believe that my freedom is in question. I can walk to the store and buy beer; a Palestinian or Israeli will get blown to shreds if they take a wrong turn. Priorities, priorities. Who needs ‘em?

Conservative rhetoric tells me I can buy beer because of what we are doing. What about the family of 13 who were mowed down by American troops? The parents saw their two little girls get their heads blown off. Where is their liberation and their freedom? The grandfather was wearing his nicest suit to look American. They waved at the troops before they were fired upon. The troops apologized, saying they made a “mistake.” A car full of people was mistaken for suicide bombers. The pain of the parents is unimaginable, and the psychological damage to those troops will last forever. Just following orders.

What other “evil regimes” must we eliminate before the “threat of terror” is eradicated and all “weapons of mass destruction” are destroyed (except for our own, of course)?

Let’s not forget about the elite beneficiaries of war. Our own vice president’s wife sat on the board of directors for Lockheed Martin, the biggest defense contractor to the U.S. Ol’ Cheney himself earned $60 million as CEO of Haliburton Oil Company. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans held stock valued at between $5 million and $25 million in Tom Brown Inc., the oil as gas company.

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice was a director for Chevron. Our leaders who hold defense stock made quite a profit recently. We launched over $225 million in Tomahawk missiles in two strikes alone. To this day, we have dropped over 9,000 bombs, and by the time you read this we will have dropped hundreds more.

Meanwhile a child dies every 24 seconds from poverty. Priorities. Let’s not forget the 100% increase of leukemia in children under 15 from 1990 to 1999 because of the depleted uranium weapons used by the United States during the first Gulf War, a clear defiance of the Geneva Convention. Overall malignancies among Iraqi children have increased 242% in post-Gulf War Iraq over the last decade.

A 1999 UN report stated: “Infant mortality rates in Iraq are among the highest in the world. Low infant birth weight affects at least 23 percent of all births; chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under 5 years of age; only 41 percent of the population have access to clean drinking water; 83 percent of all the schools need substantial repairs.” This is because of the sanctions we enforced after the war and the toxins we left on their land.

What happened to the Gulf War syndrome? Are the soldiers still taking the two chemicals that over 250,000 troops were exposed to in the first Gulf War, which has been linked to the mysterious ailment? The Department of Veterans Affairs showed that 10,391 veterans had symptoms and did not receive a diagnosis. This is definitely an underestimate.

Meanwhile here at home we curse Saddam for all his evil and we vow for retribution for 911. Guess what? The hijackers were all Saudis, yet we have armed forces hanging out on terrorists’ soil.

This is our country, and I am disgusted that we allow this to happen. Thomas Jefferson feared and wrote of days like this. So has Plato, Cicero, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandella, Noam Chomsky and countless others. After Watergate, after Iran Contra, after Vietnam, after slavery, after the genocide of Native Americans, after segregation, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after all these atrocities, I seriously doubt our government knows best. The only thing they know is what to say and how to say it. Media manipulation is their art and they are damn good at it.

Let’s bring our troops home alive now and hug them for their bravery. Curse this government for making them fight in an unjust war. Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye leaves both sides blind.” I cherish my vision, don’t you?

This article originally appeared in The George Street Observer.

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