I can’t remember the last time I went through an entire day without seeing some variation of the “Support Our Troops” message. While the flood is a bit stronger on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day, the American obsession with the military is now pretty much a 24/7/365 affair.
It’s a mindless message that never answers the questions it creates. Support our troops to do what? Why do we have so many troops to support? Why aren’t we doing more to ensure that we don’t have to put human beings in harm’s way to achieve our goals? What are our goals, anyway?
Up until World War II, the United States was generally a pacifist, isolationist country that followed George Washington’s advice to avoid foreign entanglements. The two exceptional events were the brief reaction to yellow journalism that resulted in the Spanish-American War and Woodrow Wilson’s manipulation of events that led to American involvement in World War I. After the First World War, Americans wanted nothing to do with war or with foreigners, and FDR’s attempts to bring the country around to a less neutral stance was met with strong resistance every step of the way.
After World War II, the leaders of the United States felt they had to maintain the overseas presence they had gained during the war in order to restrain communism. It made sense at the time, but it also created the monster of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address. The military now had a mission of protecting U. S. business interests, which is why we wound up supporting all sorts of unsavory dictators in complete violation of our alleged belief in democratic principles. Even after communism tumbled into the dustbin of history, the U. S. continued to maintain a large military presence throughout the world. The best estimates indicate we have 900 military bases or missions in over 130 countries.
This presence is self-perpetuating. Our presence often angers the people in the countries where we are stationed or appears to threaten other countries in the region. Our military presence therefore the risks of war and terrorism, thus justifying the need for an even stronger military presence.
I don’t want to support our troops to do that job. I don’t want to support our troops when they’re put in harm’s way because of our own stupid policies. I don’t want to support our troops when their mission is to support the right of American business to make a buck at the expense of other people.
Although I hate war, I recognize it is sometimes a necessary evil. In WWII, we had no choice: Hitler and the military clique in Japan had to go. Most Americans accepted that in the spirit of “We’ve got a job to do. Let’s do it and get our boys home.” Delight in our status as a military power only manifested itself when we became a paranoid country during the Cold War, a state that is still the dominant mindset today.
The only thing Ron Paul got right in the 2012 primaries was to point out the absurdity of our addiction to military power. We don’t need the military presence we currently have. All evidence indicates that presence increases the likelihood of violence and war, and perpetuates the military-industrial complex that is poisonous to the democratic way of life.
Do you really want to support our troops? Then vote for candidates who will bring them home.