August 29, 2006

Supporting the troops

A question for someone who has seen it

My dad's platoon, WW II, Pacific Theatre. He is standing, right end, middle row. Not all the men pictured here survived WW II.
Donna posed this question today:

I have read some things about the ways American life changed during WW2. Can someone who lived then tell me the TRUE meaning of "support the troops"? From what I've read, Americans during WW2 made real sacrifices in their personal lives, like working in factories, and giving up certain luxuries.

In contrast, "support the troops" nowadays seems to be just putting a sticker on your car, a flag on a fence, or a yellow ribbon on a tree. An empty gesture, as opposed to any real action. With the obvious exception of families whose loved ones are in the middle east right now, nobody's life has changed one whit, except they have to pay more for gasoline. People just go right on filling their gas-guzzling SUVs, while complaining about the high price of fuel. And somehow, putting a ribbon magnet on the back of said SUV makes them feel better about themselves. A little less guilty about their total self-absorption and conspicuous consumption.

Can someone who was there tell me what "support the troops" REALLY meant at one time? Or am I just totally jaded?
What is your answer to what "support the troops" meant before the expression was corrupted? What should it mean? See reader comments and add your opinion below.

Further reading...


aikane said...

On the NBC Nightly News, George W. told Brian Williams that Americans had sacrificed for the war in three ways:

1) high taxes;
2) economy in the tank;
3) air travel disruptions.


video clip

Tom said...

It hasn't been corrupted in the least. People during WW2 made "real sacrifices" because the entire economy of the country was geared towards supporting the war effort. Businesses converted their entire operations so they could contribute, and profit, during wartime - sadly, if a company did that today the liberal gestapo would label them "war profiteers", pointlessly picket their offices and make up silly conspiracy theories about them.

By paying taxes every American supports the war. Do you think $78b here and $200b there was magically created from Haliburton Money trees? No, it came from my check, your check, everyones check.

aikane said...

Ah, yes, the dreaded war tax! So when did the Republican Congress pass that one? I must have missed it.

Certainly, though, everyone knows the Bush administration is bankrupting the country, but where's the sacrifice --today -- for the misguided and poorly prosecuted war, occupation and rebuilding of Iraq? Are Republicans afraid that by making the public feel the pain now, they undercut the support for the Iraq catastrophe even further?

Seems to me they're trying to have it both ways -- win support for anything they want to do, with the pretense that the country is forever more "at war," while hiding the true costs.

No, we are not paying as we go -- we are leaving the financial costs of the Iraq invasion and occupation for our children and grandchildren to bear. The other human costs are either hidden or ignored as well.

- Why else give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and try to make the reductions permanent -- during a time of war?

- Why else take costs of Iraq "off-budget" -- as if that makes them disappear permanently?

- Why else agitate for elimination of the "death tax" -- making it appear to the simple-minded that everyone who dies pays a "death tax," -- when only the wealthy leave an estate large enough to be taxed under current law?

- Why else ignore the bodies of brave soldiers coming home in flag-draped boxes?

- Why else refuse to meet with the mother of a war casualty who camped outside the gates of the president's "ranch" -- simply because she disagrees with his policy?

- Why else pretend the US has no way of counting killed and wounded civilians in Iraq?

And, yes, there are other real sacrifices, just none the Bush administration wants to acknowledge: America's loss of moral leadership, respect, influence and power in the world, the failure to secure our own borders, the ineffective leadership in dealing with disasters like Katrina, the lack of health coverage for 46 million Americans.... The list goes on, but don't hold your breath for W. to accept responsibility.

Tom said...

Tax breaks are for more than the "wealthy", I recieved a heftier tax refund the last few years, and that's not because of my 2% cost of living raise.

Death Tax - My father owns his own business, he's made a good living at it for 20 years, when he dies I assume he'll leave me and my siblings a sizable portion of the money worked his ass off for. His death should not be a taxable event.

Ignore bodies? What the hell are you talking about?

He did meet with Cindy Sheehan, in fact she had pictures on her Casey tribute page of the meeting. She has since taken these pictures down.

We don't a way to count killed civillians. Name a war in which we have ever gotten accurate figures on civilian deaths.

aikane said...

Tom, the topic was about Americans' sacrifices to "support the troops" in Iraq.

First you wrote, "By paying taxes every American supports the war." Now you write, "I recieved a heftier tax refund the last few years...."

Sorry, that doesn't showcase any special tax sacrifice you've made for the war.

In the meantime, the war is being fought with off-the-books, borrowed money -- much of it from China -- while the national debt grows unabated (see tickers in right column of this blog).

As you already know, "death tax" is another propaganda term -- just like "cut and run" and "kill them there before they kill us here." In fact, the term "death tax" was dreamed up by a Republican polster to mislead the masses into believing that everyone with a pot to piss in will be taxed before being laid to rest.

In reality, the estate tax applies to fewer than 2% of estates. If your father is wealthy enough to fall into that category, he should be proud to share a fraction of his good fortune with the country that offered him the opportunity to achieve his dreams. No one accomplishes great success in a vacuum. And, even if he wants to leave every penny to his children, a man with his means can find numerous legal avenues to keep you smiling for a very long time.

However, everyone has a right to their own opinion about taxes at all levels. That's one of the reasons you probably lean toward supporting Republicans, while I lean away from their ideology. Maybe we could make a deal -- rich people would only pay taxes on the wealth they accumulated during Republican administrations. That way, they'd be able to keep everything they earned during Clinton's administration, probably the best eight years many rich people ever had -- and not so bad for us poor folks, either. ;-)

As for ignoring the bodies coming home from Iraq, that has been well-documented. Official policy prohibits full coverage, even photographs -- and Republicans go ballistic every time the names of fallen soldiers are publicized.

If you know that Bush met with Cindy Sheehan, then you know the circumstances -- and you also know that he later looked like an arrogant, uncaring coward by refusing to meet with her after learning of her opposition to his invasion and occupation of Iraq. Indeed, that was his right. People have varying opinions about how presidential he looked.

Your last statement, "We don't a way to count civilians," is just another evasion of the truth the Bush gang doesn't want the public to see. Only today the Pentagon released numbers showing a 51% increase in civilian deaths in the last three months. Wonder how they knew? Did they simply draw a number out of midair? Nobody is asking for an exact number of killed and mutilated babies, children, and other civilians in Iraq -- but you don't really believe that our government has NO ESTIMATE AT ALL of the number of civilians killed in Iraq, do you? Those were our bombs, after all.

If our leaders are still incapable of assessing damages after occupying a small country for three years, that's even more shameful. But we are talking about the leadership Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld incompetence, after, all, so perhaps you have a point. We've been estimating civilian deaths during war since the beginning of time. I challenge you to name a war, other than this one, in which we have no estimates of civilian casualties.

aikane said...

Military and civilian deaths in Iraq


United States 2,623

Britain 115

Other nations 115


MILITARY Between 4,895 and 6,370#

CIVILIANS Between 41,041 and 45,613*

# = Think-tank estimates for military under Saddam Hussein killed during the 2003 war. No reliable official figures have been issued since new security forces were set up in late 2003.

* = From, run by academics and peace activists, based on reports from at least two media sources. The IBC says on its Web site the figure underestimates the true number of casualties.

From Reuters

aikane said...

(Comment by Aikane Leo, transferred from August 29 opening page)

Americans have allowed one group to control the language. Patriotism and sacrifice have been redefined. Up is down, black is white, and greed is sacrifice. "Support the troops" has been politicized by skillful propagandists. In equating support for their policies, which have failed, to support for the troops, who have not failed, Bush, Cheney, Rove and the neocons have cynically morphed themselves into virtual "troops." Never mind their aversion to risking their own lives and careers in service to their country, any time or any place, including the Viet Nam conflict -- the war they adored; the war "lost," according to them, by leaders and real troops like John Kerry, Max Cleland, and thousands of others who may or may not have understood or supported that war's objective (to kill them over there before they kill us here).

By extension, the big money, theocratic, and warmongering groups who support the Bush administration's policies have also become "troops" in the battle to collect the spoils of the battle as they have defined it -- the battle to win, retain and wield power on the backs of their "less fortunate" and sometimes gullible followers, and through the bloodshed of those who "volunteered" to die in Iraq and whose sacrifices they "mourn" daily. Sure.

To change the country's direction, we need to re-take the language. Supporting the troops does not equate to blind support of any president -- past, present or future.

aikane said...

(This comment was written by Donna's father, August 29)

Support the troops in WW2 meant what it said. I was only one year too young to be drafted. My uncle ... was drafted at the top age they took people, 49 years old. I was 16 or 17 and thought of him as an old man. The public made sacrifices then. We had gas/food rationing. I got rides with friends by having a spare gas ticket sometimes. Women worked in factories. Ellen's sisters were factory workers who made war materials.

While President Roosevelt asked for and got public support to make sacrifices from start to end, Bushievik said "go shopping," and got tax deducts, most of which went the richest 1%.

After FRD died and the war was ending under Truman, he put forth the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe. He told congress and the country he would not put up with any looting of the budget. In contrast, duffle bags stuffed with $100 bills have been sent to Iraq. We sent several million in cash to Iraq which just disappeared. No bid contracts, especially to Cheney's former company Halliburton, have been and still are the practice with the current crooks running things.

The public more or less trusted FDR and Washington in the WW2 era. "Support our troops" meant something then because the vast public was affected by the draft. Loss of innocence happened during the Viet Nam war when the public gradually opposed the war and the draft. Largely poor and uneducated were dying - if you were in college you got a deferrment, like Cheney, etc. The public still tolerated 55,000 deaths before Viet Niam was over. I took Rick to a couple of meetings at the Quakers to get him started with concientious objector status. We didn't follow through because soon after he got married and the war, I thought, was going to end soon.

Publishing of the Pentagon Papers by the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan, who had worked at the Pentagon, showed that those in power knew the war was lost while still sending people to die. There are no such whistle blowers today because of the tight secrecy of this bunch of crooks in charge now. The 9/11 committee never finished its work to investigate what exactly what was going on with plans for war in Iraq. The Democrats walked out last year until the congress agreed to set a date, but nothing else ever happened.

"Support the troops" today means don't say anything critical of the war because to do so you are not supporting the troops. The "war on terrism" is really not even a war but a police action that requires intelligence to deal with. Even the media has picked up the "war on terrorism" line without questioning.

Today, we are in a real live version of "1984".

aikane said...

(Comment by Donna's cousin Andrew, written August 29)

i had to do with 'recap tires' for my old 'jalopy', gas was rationed, we cut it with cleaning fluid or kerosene. ran ok after sluggish warmup. cigs were rationed, so was sugar. we 'made do' with what we had. ur right on about now, some people complain about every little inconvenience. been there, done that.....!

aikane said...

(Comment by Cousin Paulyne, written August 29)

I was there during WW2. It was the most patriotic period in history for Americans. We had a president who everyone loved, FDR, a crippled man who could not walk. A depression president who created jobs for the millions who were starving in the USA. Things like WPA, PWA, CCC. Churchill was a drunk but head of England, which the Germans were taking over. Hilters plan was to take over Europe.

On Dec 7 1940, when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japs, America came alive. Most of us had never heard of Pearl Harbor. Most of us only knew by newsreels at the movies about the war in Europe. FRD declared war on Japan and some days later he joined with Churchill and declared war on Germany also. America was mad as hell. People who had been depressed for so long came off farms, out of the hills, and joined the service. There were old men as well as the young. Most people had lived through WW1 but many of us knew nothing of that war.

To most old Americans there has really only been one war and that was WW2. We supported the troops as no one ever will again. We took them into our homes when they were on leave fed them, entertained them, and wrote to them when they were shipped out. If one of ours was in the service we has a gold star in our window on a blue flag, if there were two or three a star represented each of them.

We bought savings stamps, and bonds, had scrap drives, saved tinfold and rubber to help pay for the materials our troops needed, we knitted socks and made care packages. We stepped out of the way on the sidewalk when we met a sailor, soldier or airman. We spoke to them and patted their back. We respected them above all others. Because we knew they were fighting hand to hand combat on two fronts, the Japs the Nazis, and Italy.

We rationed our food so it could go to the troops, we did without sugar, rubber, anything made of metal, butter and meat. Even shoes were rationed.

We supported the troops because we believed in what they were doing. It was not a religious war - we had been attacked. It is said that after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor that the Japanese said, "We have served no purpose but to awaken a sleeping giant." England had to be supported, Hitler was a madman.

We were not the only ones, all the countries in the world sent troops. When the war ended after we dropped the atom bomb (we had warned Japan if they did not surrender the most awesome weapon ever created would be used on them) people went crazy. Any returning veterans were celebrated, honored, and cared for. They were respected above all others.

We had supported them because we believed in them - we believed in America. We believed the president, we respected him. That will never happen again. No one protested WW2, no one dared. Korea, Vietnam, can not even be called war.The Gulf war was another story. We believed in that and we supported the troops. We believed in Afghanistan till Bush made a mockery of it. He so wanted to be another FDR, a war president, so he made a war. Iraq is another Korea, Vietnam, not a war just a killing field.

To be able to say you support the troops is to say you believe and they believe they are fighting for America. They are fighting because Bush made them go where they had no business going. You rarely hear about Aflganistan anymore. I will always support the troops because they have to do it. But I will never support a war that was made to profit some son of a bitch in Washington, George W Bush and his mafia.

aikane said...

Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000