Is Support for the Troops Unequivocal?

If one takes a look at the website of right wing radio station KSFO in San Francisco at, one will find a link to “activism”. Listeners are encouraged to “support our troops” and all sorts of public events and paraphernalia are promoted to do just that. Certainly every American would like to support American soldiers. But is the support for American troops unequivocal? Does the American flag automatically make all actions of American troops moral and justifiable?

Consider some history — past, recent, and current:

Colonel Chivington led a famous cavalry charge on a camp of peaceful Indians, slaughtering mostly defenseless women and children. His explanation of the justification of his act? “Nits make lice”, said Colonel Chivington and no apology was forthcoming, and the American public supported those troops.

Lieutenant Calley decided to “liberate” the Vietnamese village of My Lai by killing everyone in it. So, Calley and his men turned their automatic weapons and grenades on hundreds of noncombatants, killing many. The American military high command tried to cover up the massacre, but the American public did NOT support the troops on this incident, and Calley was court-martialed, though his superiors were never held accountable.

At Kent State University, National Guard troops were sent to “keep the peace” while American citizens protested the Vietnam War. Ultimately, shots rang out, and the world will never forget the photos of at least one American student lying on the ground, dead, after being killed by American troops while in the act of protesting a war thought to be immoral and unjustifiable. For not supporting the troops, some have lost their lives at the hands of the troops.

In some cases, American troops stationed overseas have harmed native civilians, such as in the case of the rape of a young Okinawan girl by American troops stationed there. In a case like that, essentially NO ONE sees fit to support the guilty troops because clearly they are criminals by any standard.

News reports from Iraq in the current War of Conquest of Iraq have included reports of British soldiers who have formed a less than complimentary view of some American troops, especially pilots of American warplanes. Some British troops have been killed or maimed by American pilots who the Brits characterized as “cowboys” with no apparent respect for human life. Do we support American troops with the mentality of shoot first, ask questions later, even when possibly attacking their own allies?

Another current report from the Iraq battle front tells of American troops who held certified journalists without food, water, or communications for three or more days with no apparent justification, including beating up a journalist from Portugal who begged to be allowed to call his family on his satellite phone to assure them of his safety. The American troops held guns to the heads of the certified journalists and the lieutenant in charge warned the journalists that his men were like “attack dogs”, “trained to kill”, and that any misstep by the journalists could cost them their lives. Presumably, “imbedded” American journalists support the troops in such behaviors.

But what if the WAR ITSELF is illegal? What if the war itself violates international standards and meets with the disapproval of the world community at large? What if the troops are mere pawns in a larger game of world domination and strategic competition for earth resources? Does the flag they wave exempt them from the illegality of their actions?

We do know that war crimes trials were held after WWII and leadership of Nazi Party and German military were tried and in some cases convicted and even executed. There are ongoing efforts to hold the U.S. government accountable for war crimes in the prosecution of the current War on Iraq.

Again, does this mean we cannot support any of our troops? If we support them, HOW should we support them?

Certainly, we should not support the American troops by approving of their mission or their presence in Iraq. We should not stand by and wait for the illegal mission to be completed before supporting them.

We should support American troops by demanding a halt to this illegal war. We should support American troops by bringing them home, safe and sound. We should support American troops by bringing about a peaceful regime change in Washington at the next election, and sending the current batch of war criminals, including Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Franks, Powell, and others to The Hague for prosecution of war crimes against humanity and against the people of Iraq.

SUPPORT THE TROOPS BY BRINGING THEM HOME! Stop this criminal war! Prosecute the criminals who put our troops in harm’s way for all the wrong reasons!

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.