Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 1, 2006

Support Our Troops

There is no tool more precious to demagogic politicians than young American soldiers under hostile fire. They love it, because they know we are not about to hang those youngsters out to die.

They know that, whether we agree with a military action or not, whether we love or hate our leaders, we will move mountains to support our young soldiers when and wherever they are at risk.

When we say “support our troops,” we mean make sure they have all the gear, food and creature comforts needed to survive until they can be brought home.

But when folks like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, say “support our troops,” they are really saying, “support us,”-- and in the case of Iraq, “support our mistake.” They are saying “help us get out of this mess or our own making with our political skin in tact.”

And finally, when they say “support our troops,” they are really saying, “support our bloated defense budget,” and “support our crony defense contractors and high-dollar contributors.”

None of which comes as any great revelation. Eisenhower warned us this would happen is we allowed it. We did allow it and so it has happened. Our bad.

But what happens when “support our troops,” means doing what the troops want? What happens when the young soldiers sent to fight and die in a conflict -- and are therefore by definition, experts on the subject -- tell us we need to get out – and fast? What does “support our troops,” mean then?

Well, that's precisely what's happened. For once we have heard from our troops in Iraq without it first going through the Pentagon's happy-face filter:

Poll of troops in Iraq: 72% support for withdrawal within year

Washington — Seventy-two percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year, according to a Zogby poll released Tuesday ...The survey of 944 troops, conducted in Iraq between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, said that only 23 percent of service members thought U.S. forces should stay “as long as they are needed.” ... Of the 72 percent, 22 percent said troops should leave within the next six months, and 29 percent said they should withdraw “immediately.” (Full Story-Stars & Stripes)

“Support Our Troops,” they say. How so?

George says, “stay the course.”

How does that jive with what “our troops” in combat want?

Well, George's position is in the minority over there. Less than a quarter of “our troops,” agree, (23%). Nealy three quarters of them, (72%) hold a polar opposite position. They don't want to “stay the course,” because they know (first hand) that there is no course. They know George and his advisers, (fellas who think shooting quail with blunder-busts, is a manly art,) are just winging it in Iraq. Our troops understand, far better than George & Co., that Iraqi insurgents, unlike quail, shoot back.

George says, “our troops should stay as long as needed.”

Sorry George, but nearly a third of our troops in Iraq think we should leave, like yesterday. Twenty nine percent said we should pull out “immediately.” Whoa! There's quite a gap there, George., between your “as long as needed,” and our troops', “let's get the hell outta here, now!”

But wait. The gap is even bigger when you combine the “leave now” 29% with the “leave within 6 months, 22%. If you figure it would take at least six months to withdraw all our troops from Iraq, even if we decided to leave now, the poll indicates that 51% of our troops in Iraq are for leaving ASAP.

(I know math was not your strong suit, George, so let me help. That's more than half – which is a majority of "our troops" in favor of a near-immmediate withdrawal.)

Therefore it's not anti-war folks like me who are failing to support our troops. It's George Bush & Co. Three quarters of "our troops" say they have no interest in “staying” a course that their own captain keeps changing. Nor do they see any upside to “staying as long as required.” They've seen the Iraqis, up close and ugly, and they know that “as long as required,” translates into “forever.” (See what Churchill had to say on the same subject, HERE)

There you have it. This poll puts it right out on the table for the first time. A stunning majority of "our troops" fighting in Iraq believe we should leave, sooner rather than later. This new fact requires that those in Congress and the media factor this into all future statements and discussions about the conduct of this war. They are now ethically and morally required to factor these poll results into the debate over our military presence in Iraq. Three quarters of our troops on the ground say we should leave, either immediately or within the year.

What that means is that no one, not the President, not any member of Congress, should be allowed to use the term, "support our troops," without being required to explain precisely what he or she means by that, in light of this poll.

The next time George W. Bush -- or any of his covey of chicken hawk-advisors, admonishes us to “support our troops,” reporters need to ask if that signals a change in policy? Do they mean they are going to withdraw, as the majority of “our troops,” say they want? Or is “support our troops,” when they use it, just a monumentally cynical non sequitur?

So, don't be shy. Shout it from the rooftops -- “Support Our Troops!”

And do so now. Withdraw.

Otherwise this war's supporters need to update their signs and bumper stickers. Something more along the lines of:

DON'T Support Our Troops.
Stay the Course!