Executive Editor, The WIP
On the 29th of June The WIP posted a link to Anti-Americanism Hits New Record in Turkey from Today’s Zaman, an online Turkish newspaper. Apparently Turks now dislike the United States more than any other country in the world. A report from The Pew Global Attitudes Project documented that today only 2 percent of Turkish respondents had a favorable opinion of US President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, despite the fact that only five years ago 52 percent were supporters of The United States. This is in Turkey, a US ally and a member of NATO!
Later in the week, I caught Steve Inskeep on NPR, interviewing the Senior Republican Senator from Indiana, Richard Lugar, the day after Lugar declared that Bush’s Iraq strategy was not working and that the US should downsize the military’s role in Iraq. Inskeep pressed Lugar about whether he would then urge cutting off funds for the war. Lugar retorted a variation of the standard reply, “I think the majority of the Senate, regardless of how they feel about the prosecution of the war, are not about to cut off funds that would jeopardize our troops in any way.” Inskeep pressed further: “[It] sounds like you're saying that this is not going to change your vote.” To which Lugar responded, “Not with regard to support of the troops. I'm going to vote for the authorization and the appropriations.” Inskeep then let it go.
Having just seen Robert Greenwald’s Iraq for Sale, I am no longer willing to just “let it go.” It is time that both Republicans and Democrats see that the cry to “Support Our Troops” is both a fallacy and a lie. It is time for journalists to challenge all who use this slogan. The Pew Global Attitudes Project also found 81% of Turkish respondents were critical of American ideas about democracy and 83% were negative about the way Americans do business.When “Support Our Troops” really means Support Halliburton, Blackwater, all the other private US corporations who are making a killing in Iraq, and the leaders who have facilitated these efforts, it is no wonder American popularity is down.
I am patriotic. I say the Pledge of Allegiance and I actually enjoy singing the National Anthem. I’ve lived enough places around the world to not only love but respect the ideas on which we founded this nation. I love our soldiers for being so brave. They are willing to sacrifice their lives for a war that they were told is being fought for democracy. They believe they are in Iraq to fight a war that will protect Americans from future terrorist attacks. They sacrifice their lives for a country they were told would protect them overseas and then care for them when they returned home. But this too has been a lie.
The United States did not go to war to spread democracy and we have not made the world, nor America, a safer place. We have not only failed to provide our soldiers adequate physical protection and care, but in outsourcing their basic needs, we’ve given them substandard services such as contaminated bathing water and expired and substandard food.
Employees for these private companies have also been misled. Traditional military roles have been outsourced to companies like Halliburton and their subsidiary KBR. Their employees, tricked into believing they were hired to rebuild Iraq, are participants in perhaps the single largest money grab perpetrated on the American public ever. Not only are these companies wasteful of lives and property, but because they are directly reimbursed by the U.S. government, money spent equals money earned, as Greenwald uncovers so clearly in his film, Iraq for Sale. Greed is now demonstrably more important than the lives of our military, more important than contractor’s lives, or, certainly, Iraqi civilians’ lives. If we truly intended to support the troops, the U.S. would not have engaged in a privatized war.
Unfortunately the fallacy of “Support Our Troops” spreads even wider. The latest from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. reveals that 20 to 40 soldiers a month are evacuated from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They arrive with mental problems at a hospital that not only has no PTSD center, but where the psychiatric treatment offered is admittedly inadequate. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry at Walter Reed sent out an “SOS” memo “desperately seeking more clinical help.”
In spite of the obvious lack of adequate government support for our troops, the Vice President continues to utter the shameful three word lie. The official White House website proudly displays a news release of a Cheney interview with Rush Limbaugh from last April. Addressing the supplemental funding bill, Limbaugh asked Cheney, what could his audience do to get the bill passed as the President wants it?
Well, I think they ought to make it clear to their member of Congress that this is a question of supporting the troops. These are young men and women who put their lives on the line every day for this country; they deserve the absolute unequivocal support of the United States, of the Congress - the funding that's in that bill, the resources that they need to do the job we asked them to do for us…It's very, very important that this legislation go forward and that members of Congress be judged based on whether or not they really do support the troops when they're put to the test.
So, what does “Support Our Troops” really mean to Cheney et al.? It means supporting the private corporations that have generated billions in profits in Iraq, and the leaders in the US who’ve allowed them to do so. Support Our Troops means Support Halliburton. Support Our Troops means Support Blackwater. Support Our Troops means Support Greed. This war is about supporting business profits and the influence that profit buys in Washington. “Support Our Troops” has nothing to do with the men and women fighting in Iraq. Morality has been set aside and once again greed is good.
The President and his supporters claim that any dissent will send the wrong message to our troops. What could be more supportive than a withdrawal to safety from a war we are not winning and which is costing American lives daily? The right thing to do is not only to bring our troops home, but to end privatized warfare. The US Government has disrespected our troops. The US Government has disrespected the American taxpayer. And America has offended the world.