“But I still respect the troops” is testament to how strong military propaganda is in the United States. It’s a line I hear after I make my case against to be against this war and the next one. Rollo and I talked about this on this episode of the Rollo and Slappy Show, have a listen!
The points we make seems very simple and obvious. How would you feel if a foreign country did to the United States what the United States does to them? Would you be okay if the Russians came in, overthrew the president and put a brutal dictator in power? In that scenario would you fight back? Would you become a terrorist?
When Americans check the news online and see that 200 civilians were killed in an air strike it hardly grabs anyone’s attention. How would you feel if your child was killed in that strike? Those people aren’t just statistics and numbers in the news. They’re actual human beings who lost their lives.
Would you be upset when your entire neighborhood was bombed? The building you worked in doesn’t exist and your house might be next so you take whatever you can carry and get out of town? How would you feel about the Russians if they did that to the US?
After the emotional connection is made I often hear, “I agree with that, you’re right, but I still respect the troops.” What does that even mean? Shouldn’t you, prima facie, respect all people? Why should you give more respect to a soldier than to an electrician? I had an issue with my electricity not long ago, and I don’t mess with electricity. An electrician messed around with my house for about an hour and had the lights back on. If I found out he also was cheating on his wife and beats his children, would it ever make sense to say, “but I still respect him. He’s an electrician?”
“Well that’s different”, they’ll say, “whether the military actually makes us safer doesn’t really matter. Their intention is to keep us safe, and I respect that.” Well an electrician’s intention is to make sure my lights turn on. But let’s look and another person. How about a kid living in the ghetto. Due to no fault of his own he was born into terrible circumstances. Let’s make the situation rough. He has a single mother and 5 siblings. His mother works a low-paying, unskilled job and can hardly get by, but she is doing her best to feed her kids.
The kid is forced to go to school until he is 16. He is barely getting by at home, but he is required to listen to lectures on George Washington instead of learning how to make himself valuable, or actually earning money. Child labor laws would prevent it anyway. This kid wants to eat, wants nice clothes, wants to buy his mom a house some day. He has an entrepreneurial spirit. But due to zoning and licensing laws it is incredibly expensive and challenging for him to start his own business. But since the US is waging the war on drugs, no established, legitimate businesses sell these drugs despite a huge demand for them. There’s his opportunity.
He gets into the drug dealing business. He does well for a while but eventually gets caught in a sting operation. He goes to jail, gets his picture in the paper, and serves some time. Once he gets out he violates parole by missing a meeting or testing hot, and ends up back in jail. It’s a cycle that continues the rest of his life. Would the “I still respect the troops because of their good intentions” respect this person who had nothing but good intentions? He just partook in voluntary transactions. He provided marijuana to people who wanted it. He wasn’t violent, he didn’t kill anyone, he didn’t defraud anyone, he was trying to make a living the best way he knew how.
It just goes to show how strong the propaganda really is. I’m not at all saying we should disrespect the old man who served in WWII or Korea, or the younger guy who served in Iraq. Those people are generally people who needed a job or fell victim to the propaganda and believed they were doing good. I just don’t like these wars. I don’t think they’re good for anyone on either side. The destroyed lives, both foreign and American, are real. The current foreign policy is making us less safe and creating more terrorists. Pat Buchanan said it best, “Terrorism is the price of empire.”
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