The "Support Our Troops" Paradox


| April 30, 2003

With no traces of chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction, and the "but he kills his own people" line losing relevance after the U.S. mop-up of Iraqis from Kuwait to Baghdad, the phrase "Support Our Troops" has emerged as the safest rallying point for neo-conservatives and their ilk to justify military might over diplomacy in Iraq. But when you take a look at the data and see how the war machine has been running rough-shod over U.S. vets, it's difficult to get excited about all the rhetoric of showing solidarity with our troops. Seattle Weekly recently profiled Joe Hooper, a Medal of Honor winner and the most decorated Vietnam vet who became increasingly disheartened with the idea of war until he died at age 40 of a cerebral hemorrhage. "He was a casualty of war, and you can expect more of the same after Iraq," says David Wilson, the editor of Vietnam War Generation Journal, who worked with Hooper on a collection of war literature. "Look at the history--this is a country made by war on the backs of vets who have never, ever been treated as promised." It takes real gall for Republicans to be chanting, "Support Our Troops" while the House Budget Committee is currently proposing to cut veteran aid spending by $15 billion over 10 years, starting with the $463 million that is to be cut from next year's budget. "People serving in the military are giving their best for this country," says George W. Bush. "And we have the responsibility to give them our full support." However, Bush conveniently leaves out the part about slashing $150 million aid from schools attended by military dependents and billions of dollars from VA health benefits.
--Nick Garafola 

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