Thank the Troops for Their Service?Speak for Yourself
By Laurence M. Vance
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President Obama made a surprise visit over Memorial Day weekend to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Following a performance by country music star Brad Paisley, the President addressed about 3,000 troops in a hangar on the base. Video of the event, as well as a transcript of the president's remarks, are up on the White House website.
After a few jokes, the president personally thanked the troops:
To all of you, I'm here on a single mission, and that is to thank you for your extraordinary service. I thank you as your Commander-in-Chief because you inspire me. Your willingness to serve, to step forward at a time of war, and say "send me," is the reason the United States stays strong and free. Of all the honors that I have serving as President, nothing matches serving as your Commander-in-Chief.But why should anyone thank the troops for their service? Why should anyone thank the troops for fighting an unjust, immoral, unnecessary, senseless, and unconstitutional war? Why should anyone thank the troops for bombing and destroying Afghanistan? Why should anyone thank the troops for killing tens of thousands of innocent Afghans? Why should anyone thank the troops for making tens of thousands of widows and orphans? Why should anyone thank the troops for collateral damage of dead civilians? Why should anyone thank the troops for instigating, perpetrating, participating in, or otherwise being a part of atrocities, war crimes, and mass murder?
Later in his speech, Obama referenced Memorial Day:
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. At bases here in Afghanistan and towns across America, we will pause and we’ll pay tribute to all those who've laid down their lives for our freedom. And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice, that last, full measure of devotion, right here in Afghanistan.No U.S. soldier who died in Afghanistan died for any Americans' freedom. In fact, freedom in America has steadily eroded since the bogus war on terror was declared and the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was undertaken. U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan didn't die defending the United States, protecting Americans from Afghan attacks, fighting "over there" so we wouldn't have to fight "over here," keeping Americans safe from terrorists, or avenging 9/11. U.S. soldiers died unnecessarily, duped, in vain, and for a lie. They died for the imperial presidency. They died for the U.S. empire. They died for the national-security state. They died for the military-industrial complex. They died for a belligerent, reckless, and meddling U.S. foreign policy. They died for no one's freedom.
The troops applauded the president several times during his speech--a speech during which he told the troops that he didn't ever want them to forget why they were in Afghanistan. A few minutes after this statement, Obama gave the paramount reason why he believed U.S. troops were in Afghanistan: "And we're going to make sure that Afghanistan can never again, ever, be used again to launch an attack against our country."
Savvy troops would, of course, have immediately recognized that statement for the outrageous lie that it is. Instead of applauding their commander in chief, they would have instead asked him some pointed questions:
But I'm also here representing 300 million Americans who want to say thank you as well. I know sometimes when you're over here, away from home, away from family, you may not truly absorb how much the folks back home are thinking about you. So I just want you to know when it comes to supporting you and your families, the American people stand united. We support you. We are proud of you. We stand in awe of your service.Now, it is true that many Americans do feel the same way as the president. After all, Obama doesn't lie all of the time. He correctly pointed out in his remarks that Americans send care packages to the troops, line up at the airport to applaud, welcome home, and shake hands with the troops, stand to their feet at sporting events to salute veterans and the troops, and stop and listen when Medal of Honor citations are read.
But not all of us do.
Sorry, troops, the American people don't stand united. Not all Americans are thinking about you. Not all Americans support you. Not all Americans are proud of you. Not all Americans stand in awe of your service.
The truth, of course, is just the opposite. Some Americans don't think anything good about you going to Afghanistan. Some Americans oppose your mission in Afghanistan. Some Americans are ashamed of what you do in Afghanistan. Some Americans are disgusted by your service in Afghanistan.
There is nothing good about waging an unnecessary war. Senseless wars should never be supported. It is shameful for a U.S. soldier to die fighting an unjust war. It is not thankworthy to serve in the U.S. military.
The president doesn't speak for all Americans regarding the troops. Speak for yourself, Barack Hussein Obama. Speak for yourself.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The Revolution that Wasn't, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and Social Insecurity. His latest books are War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. Visit his website.