THE BLOG

Support for the Troops? Mine Is Bigger Than Yours Is

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET

The Democratic leadership should immediately introduce legislation to raise the pay of our troops, increase their health benefits, raise their pensions, and cut off the funding for the war. The troops should be promptly redeployed, as we turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. These increases should be retroactive at least to the official end of the war, that glorious moment when our Commander-in-Chief declared "Mission Accomplished."

No one who votes for such a bill could be accused of not supporting the troops.

No one who votes against it could continue to claim, by the logic of sound-bite Wonderland, to be "supporting" the troops by sending more of them to their deaths in a cause that was always demonstrably false and is now irrecoverably lost.

How will we pay for these increases?

Not by money borrowed from China, to be paid in full by the grandchildren of the Worst Generation, the disgraceful, appallingly selfish taxpayers of the richest nation in the history of the world. There should be a new, across the board tax to pay for it. This should not be an easy raid on the fat bank accounts of the very rich, those tough-talking chickenhawk exemplars of corporofascist greed, who cheerfully deposited their big tax cuts even as their neocon stooges said we couldn't afford sufficient armor and equipment for those troops. (All that neocon tax cut money can be measured in arms and legs, in brain injuries and broken hearts.)

The American super-rich, profoundly averse not only to sacrifice but to any sort of truly shared responsibility for ensuring that this is a decent, caring, "compassionate" nation, will have no loopholes for this little tax, but we should all be glad to pay our fair share of it. We'll come back to the shirking moguls later on, when we decide to recover some of their ill-gotten gains on health care, education, environmental protection, and all the other decent things that interfere with profits, things they frankly don't give a damn about. There will come a time, if not with this Congress then with the next, when we will ask them for their fair share, and when we will all have to sacrifice together (what an idea!) to make this a better country. The pampered darlings of the Republican "philosophy" have a lot of catching up to do.

But the money to increase the pay and benefits for our troops should come from all of us. Even if we don't agree with the wildly-shifting mission our soldiers been given, we are grateful to them for their courage and sacrifice. Most Americans will be glad to show that gratitude with a small, hardly-comparable sacrifice of their own-a tax increase-instead of relying on just more of the same familiar, easy, knee-jerk, touch-base, talking-point, transparent, sanctimonious, patting-ourselves-on-the-back super-spin--all that pitiful, jingoistic Foxcrap blather.

As we redeploy our troops, we should convene a regional conference (with NATO and UN participation), making it clear that we are ending our disastrous occupation; that we have no further geopolitical designs on Iraq; that we will commit ourselves to contributing the lion's share of aid necessary to stabilize and rebuild the country we have so criminally devastated; that we will do whatever we can to help in the effort to stop the civil war, keep it from widening into a regional war, keep that regional war from becoming World War III (with a new nuclear arms race and the use of nuclear weapons), and stop the genocide now erupting from the medieval hatreds of the Sunni and Shia tribes, hatreds that have been released by our truly ignorant and incompetent meddling Most important, we should promise only to help; we should not presume to dictate the terms of the solution or to lead the process of stabilization and recovery. Iraq is a regional and a world problem now, albeit created by our catastrophic mistakes; all nations have a serious stake in trying to end the horrors. The lead must now be taken by countries with better leadership.

We should also acknowledge that these truly are "our" catastrophic mistakes. There is an understandable human impulse to take comfort after calamity in the fantasy that bad leaders are alone responsible for the bad actions of nations. Hitler was to blame: the Germans were victims, too. Stalin murdered all those people by himself. Pétain was the collaborator (and no French gendarmes rounded up Jewish children). The United States has a much-venerated Constitution. If it is assaulted, we have a responsibility to defend it. The United States has elections, even if so few of us vote, and so many who do vote vote stupid. The people we elect speak and act for us, and we bear responsibility for what they do. (Connecticut, for example, can hardly take any pride or satisfaction in being a decent, liberal, anti-war state; they voted for the war when they returned the Independent pariah Lieberman to the Senate.) Our votes-our actions-matter: we reap what we sow, and in this world, whatever our provocations and intentions, we have sown chaos.

We have had 6 years of the Presidency of a supercilious, arrogant, delusional, multifariously incompetent hack, a man of no demonstrable achievements before or since he won our highest office. He has, in fact, been elected twice (more or less)--and if he wasn't really elected either time, we are even more responsible for having allowed such a shameful thing. ("Get over it," chortles Scalia, with blood on his hands.) Even now, as this Decider, grinning painfully, from ear-to-ear, as he assesses his "legacy" and his options, as he moves carriers around like toys and vents his grim little threats and warnings, as he contemplates the most-reckless self-serving double-or-nothing strategy in Iran-even now there is no real effort to stop his misadventures the only way they can be stopped: by removing him from office (an effort that should be led by Republicans: we all stand to lose greatly by his continuing misgovernance, but the Republican Party will lose most).

So let's raise the pay--especially the combat pay--of our brave soldiers, and their health benefits and pensions. Let's cut off the funding and redeploy the troops, out of the crossfire of the increasingly genocidal tribal conflict, as we wait and hope for other nations to help solve the problems we have created. And let's impeach the increasingly dangerous, failed Commander-in-Chief, before he makes things immeasurably worse, not just for 21,500 more American families but for the whole imperilled world.

Join the Democrats. Support the troops.

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