November 17, 2009

"Support Our Troops" vs. Homeless Veterans

CFT2.jpgI am not a pacifist any more, but I do find the U.S. to be unacceptably pro-war. Although I did not support the first Gulf War, I did understand the need to intervene in order to help an ally (i.e., Kuwait). My primary objection to that war was that I found myself doubting that we would have been so quick to help an ally without oil. But I could at least swallow the concept of helping an ally who had been invaded. Similarly, I understood the need to go into Afghanistan following 9/11. This seemed like defensible move, even if it is not clear to me why we are still there and now appear to be on the verge of committing even more troops.

The second invasion of Iraq was absolutely unjustified, and never should have been permitted. As much as I detest W, I place the majority of the blame for this war on the shoulders of Congressional Democrats. They had multiple opportunities to stop it, including those that came well after they knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, and yet they lacked the political will. They let our country down in a massive way and deserve to lose their offices as a result. This does not mean that I hold W blameless, only that I do not accept the Democratic claims that this was solely his war. Besides, we are still there.

When I was in college, I had great difficulty understanding why some of my friends had joined the military to go fight a war in which they did not believe. Again and again, I wondered if the real power to change U.S. foreign policy rest with those who were considering joining the military. If they just said "no," there would not be enough troops to fight unnecessary wars. Bring back the draft and see how long it would take the flag-waving morons who mindlessly chant "USA USA" at every sporting event to change their tunes.

Perhaps this was naive of me. I felt like the cost of war was being hidden and that the majority of the population was so disconnected from the true cost that supporting a war became little different from supporting a sports team. Win or lose, it doesn't really affect them. Meanwhile, the military families must bear the burden with precious little assistance. It doesn't seem fair at all.

I am well aware that criticizing those who make the decision to send our young men and women into combat inevitably brings accusations of failing to "support our troops." These same accusations should be flipped and applied to those who refuse to fund the Veterans Administration, those who deny the existence of atheists in the military, and who object to providing those who served their country with the best possible care.

There should be no homeless veterans in the U.S. One is too many. If even a tiny proportion of those who affix "support our troops" stickers to their vehicles and feel self-righteous about doing so would contribute some money, to provide shelter to those they claim to support so much, this problem would evaporate before our eyes.

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