The recent news about the failings at Walter Reed Army Hospital are enough to make any American sick and ashamed. Bob Herbert, in the New York Times of March 8, expressed it about as well as anyone:
"There is something profoundly evil about a country encouraging young men and women to go off and fight its wars and then shortchanging them on medical care and other forms of assistance when they come back with wounds that will haunt them forever."
One could add that the wounds from the disgusting hypocrisy involved—-the President constantly berating his opponents for not supporting the troops, while at the same time refusing to attend even one soldier’s funeral, and short-changing them all on real care when it counts—-will haunt this nation forever. Indeed, as Tom Engelhardt has argued, Bush has used the troops as political pawns: by conflating them in the public’s mind with the hostages in the long-ago Iranian hostage crisis (yellow ribbons first used for the Iran hostages are now routinely used as symbols of support for the troops in Iraq), the President has literally taken American troops hostage for his own political purposes. [Tom Engelhardt, "Hostages to Policy," 6 March 2007, tomdispatch.com.]
It is for this reason that we should refuse to be baited into supporting the biggest military debacle in American history with the "support our troops" ploy. American troops, however decent they may individually be, are engaged in an illegal and immoral war. All justifications for the war have proved false--lies perpetrated by an administration of war criminals. The Nuremberg precedent established the fact that neither citizens nor soldiers can be excused from criminal actions because they were "ordered" to commit them. The burden on soldiers and civilians alike is clear: they must resist orders that violate international laws and standards. By virtue of the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and the violations of the duties of an occupying power to protect the civilian population it occupies, the American invasion of Iraq qualifies as criminal several times over. To support such a crime is itself a crime. And the crime shows no signs of abating. Rather it is increasing, as this conclusion, from Prof. Michael Schwartz ["Surge and Destroy," 13 March 2007, truthout.com] on the current "surge" testifies:
"The architects of American policy in the Middle East tend to keep escalating the level of brutality in search of a way to convince the Iraqis (and now the Iranians) that the only path that avoids indiscriminate slaughter is submission to a Pax Americana. Put another way, American policy in the Middle East has devolved into unadorned state terrorism."
"Indiscriminate slaughter." "Unadorned state terrorism." This is what American troops, willingly or not, are now engaged in. It makes you wonder why all the Senators and Representatives, all the public figures and commentators, all the protestors with their signs, even, keep up their sincere and solemn drumbeat of WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS no matter what. And more critically, perhaps, what the Iraqi version of the Nuremberg Trials will have to say about that.