THE BLOG
09/13/2010 03:59 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Stop Using Our Soldiers As Political Propaganda

I speak out against this war not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart. Above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love.

-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Why I Oppose the Vietnam War"


I'm not going to focus on the fact that this war was started on a false pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, nor am I going to harp on the fact that the supposed links to 9/11 proved to be completely false. I'm not even going to talk about how the entire post-invasion strategy was a fiasco altogether. Not going to focus on the $745 billion cost of this war that could have been used domestically on things of dire importance in our economy like better schools, health care, infrastructure, or full coverage for all of our veterans who have risked their lives for our country. Not going to focus on the continuing political instability in Iraq or the lack of a functioning government six months after their elections.

Not going to focus on the debate on whether our presence in Iraq has be beneficial or detrimental to the people of Iraq. Not going to argue the point that terrorism and sectarian violence is still a threat to tear Iraq apart just as it was prior to the invasion.

Instead, I want to focus on the troops. The US troops have continuously been used as a part of war propaganda. When it really comes down to it, who is looking out for their best interest? They deserve more than simple praise and a job well done. They deserve to be told the truth about why in fact they went to war in the first place.

The story of Pat Tillman can be described as nothing short of tragic. Here was a man who after the attacks of 9/11 felt compelled to forgo millions of dollars playing professional football and join the army rangers. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Then, it was discovered that his family had been lied to, that there was an apparent cover up that he had died in a "friendly fire" incident in 2004. But what's even worse is that, according to an article in CNN on Aug. 20 entitled, "Tillman's parents: Army still hasn't told the truth," it was revealed that not only did they not do a criminal investigation after Tillman was killed, but his parents both believe evidence was destroyed, and that they may never rest in the comfort of knowing that they have been told the truth as to how their son lost his life. What's even worse is that they don't expect to ever know the truth.

The Army, awarded Tillman the Silver Star, the third-highest U.S. combat decoration, announcing that he had been killed leading a counterattack. However, they later admitted that officers in his chain of command knew almost immediately that he had been shot accidentally by his own comrades. Instead of being truthful, it appears as though the family was not told that the death was a result of "friendly fire." Hmmmmm interesting....

The US Army's issued a statement that read:

As an Army, we failed in our duty to the memory of a fallen soldier and to his family. The failures of a few brought discredit to the Army and compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family. The Army truly regrets the pain and suffering endured by the Tillman family as a result of this tragic, friendly fire accident and the shortfalls in reporting accurate information to them in the days and weeks after Pat's death.

However, Mary Tillman's rebuttal read:

They weren't shortfalls. They weren't missteps and they weren't errors. They were deliberate attempts to cover up what happened in order for them to use Pat's death for propaganda purposes at a time during the war in 2004 when [the] Abu Ghraib Prison scandal was breaking... it was a terrible time for the military and for that administration, and Pat's death was an opportunity for them.

To use the death of a soldier for propaganda brings about a new low. However, the Republicans have not abandoned this shameful and disgusting tactic.

Republicans from John Boehner to Sarah Palin have gone on a steadfast campaign with the intent of criticizing President Obama for taking credit for the end of the Iraq War. They want to give all of the credit to George W. Bush. On a day that should have been celebrated, they were seeking political gain and further posturing. The problem is that President Obama's actual speech gave George W. Bush and the troops credit.

They assumed that President Obama would have taken a victory lap, yelled from the mountain tops "mission accomplished." Posed with a flight suit, and bragged about doing what Bush couldn't do, but they were wrong. That is the way they would have behaved, but we have a president who does things a little differently. Personally, I may have had a reaction similar to Paul Begala when he said, "We'll give you all of the credit for the surge if you take at least half of the blame for the lies that got us into this war in the first place."

And I would've added that these lies have resulted in 4,400 Americans who have died in this farce of a war, 35,000 wounded, and 18 suicides each day among returning veterans, so don't you dare try to stand there and say that you are "for the troops" now when you weren't concerned with their families, loved ones, or valued their lives in the first place. But President Obama took a different approach. He actually gave George W. Bush credit.

Obama gave credit to the troops:

These are the rough waters encountered during the course of one of America's longest wars. Yet there has been one constant amidst those shifting tides. At every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.

He continued:

The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people; trained Iraqi Security Forces; and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians -- and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people -- Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.

After noting that he has kept his campaign promise to get combat troops out of Iraq, President Obama took the high road and actually praised Bush's patriotism and affection for the troops, and repeated his call for unity:

As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq's future.

This is the perfect example of how a president is suppose to conduct himself. No political propaganda, he even gave credit to the regime responsible for getting us in this mess in the first place. There is no doubt in my mind that if the shoe was on the other foot, Bush would not have done the same. The GOP is so consumed with their disdain for President Obama that they have lost all touch with reality. Obama did not take credit for anything, except keeping a campaign promise. Instead of a "mission accomplished" victory lap, President Obama attempted to provide closure to the long and divisive political conflict over the Iraq invasion. While we definitely have a way to go before we can officially say that the war is over, at least President Obama is attempting to utilize bipartisan unity instead of divisive propaganda.