Support Our Troops?

Many people disapprove of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former brought two million people to the streets of London in protest, the consensus was one of an overwhelming majority against. However, we still went to war.

I attended a rally on Wednesday with Doncaster Socialist Worker Party, of which I am a member, and the point was raised that this is a perfect example of how the society in which we live is not a democracy. Of course, we do not live in a democracy. The people have the power to vote, but from the moment a party is elected we lose our voice. In this sense we are undoubtedly disenfranchised.

But we had no interest in these wars. America did. Though, as we are America's lap dog this point seems rather academic.

Most people understand this. I am not excusing our government - I understand completely the devastating nature of capitalism and a government that endorses it. Capitalism leads us to war. Fact. The pursuit of imperialism and profit leads us into a universe of exploitation, of sweatshops, of interminable power over the third world.

The argument is made, however, that we should support our troops, as it is not their war. This argument makes a great deal of sense on the surface. I know that many people fighting in these wars would rather be at home. Also, I grasp quite comfortably the fact that there are those who join the military in ignorance of the brutality of it. If we examine the advertisements for the army, the T.A., the navy, the R.A.F., &c. we discover a very glorified image of war. A sense of achievement is conveyed through words like "courage", "strength", "endurance". Never do they show a person being shot. It is very easy to show 'American good, terrorist bad', but this is not the whole story. I must point out that I do not endorse terrorism in any form, and I cannot sympathise with any person who fights for beliefs based on any sort of fundamentalism.

However, many terrorists are willing to die for a belief, and I respect this. A sense of hopelessness and disenfranchisement can lead people to unspeakable acts. Capitalist societies, it must be said, are not any different: they will kill, and wage war for a belief that they hold to be true.

There are many arguments for supporting our troops. Some are understandable. Most are not.

Anyone who is willing to be trained to kill, to take human life, I cannot condone. It is murder, and it is submission to the "better judgement" of a corrupt government. If we have no troops we have no war.

It is the military that is evil, not the people. The troops are disillusioned. Conned and brainwashed to trust in the powers-that-be. But anyone who would join an armed force (note: "armed" - violence is in the name) is of a nature that is detrimental to society.

However, I mentioned in my last post the Westboro Baptists who picket the funerals of American Soldiers. No, no, no. This is an assault on the living. To bring further grief to a mother who has just lost her son is unforgivable. Also, these right-wing Christians picket because they hate America's deviance from the Bible, and therefore condemn anyone who fights for it.

The troops do not deserve to be condemned, they deserve to be educated about the causes of war. The troops do, however, need to be held accountable for killing.

I say this from the point of view of a Socialist and a pacifist, and it is very simple for an outsider to point out the flaws of a system. It is easier to see the stars when you're out of the city, but the answer is not to move, but to switch off the lights.


Liam. said...

spot on analysis there robert.

when you say though about how you would never sympathise or support terrorists based on fundamentalist principles, I think you have to remember the majority of the resistance NATO is facing in the middle east has moved over the course of the occupation from the islamic insurgency groups to what is largely people fighting for liberation. Alot of young people who have grown through the occupation have witnessed the horrors of imperialist war, and feel compelled to resist the occupier which they see as the cause of the destruction and devastation.

like Tony Benn says, 'There is no difference between a suicide bomber and a stealth bomber, they both kill people for political reasons.' and in that sense I think they deserve a degree of sympathy and support, despite how heart-wrenching it is to see images of young lads killed in iraq or afghanistan.

Like you outline really well, its important despite our general opposition to the murders committed in the illegal wars, we recognise the troops, iraqis and afghans as equal victims in this imperialist monstrosity of capitalism.

Robert Clark said...

Thanks Liam! Yes, I like your point about how the resistance NATO faces has moved over to people seeking liberation. That's very true and I think we do have to support those people, however people who bomb others on the grounds of religious fundamentalism are people with whom I do not sympathise. I was really trying to say that terrorists are not the evil they are made out to be, but there are cases when I think the terrorists are in the wrong, and fundamentalism is one of these cases.

Also, yes, they are all equal victims, but I will not support anyone who has joined the armed forces in knowledge of what is expected of them, because what is expected of them is murder, torture, brutaity etc. but I do recognise that advertisement and so on play a huge part in duping people into the military.

Thanks for your comment, I'll see you on Thursday (hopefully)!