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by RIP RENSE

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On 'dissing' dissent. . .
3/26/03


        Support the troops?
        Why has this even been made into a question?
       Why is there even an issue?
        Show me a U.S. citizen who does not support the troops, and I'll show you a screwed-up U.S. citizen.
        No one wants a single U.S. soldier to suffer so much as a stubbed toe in Iraq. That these are nervy, well-trained, dedicated men and women is a moot point.
        Suddenly, though, "supporting the troops" has gotten all mixed up with supporting U.S. foreign policy. Suddenly, senators and congressmen and congresswomen who have opposed the Iraq attack. . .are saying nothing. Suddenly, "supporting the troops" (translation: don't criticize foreign policy) has become a litmus test for patriotism.
        The popular justification is that dissent at home might give encouragement to "the enemy," therefore dissent is wrong.
        I say the salient question here is. . .why is there so much dissent at home? It has not sprung up overnight. It is not frivolous. It has been well in evidence for many months, in many cities, and the world over. It includes the government, military, middle class, upper class, the poor. It is hardly a small faction of so-called "anarchists" and passionate kids.
        I say the salient question here is . . .what created this dissent? Does it not have a valid basis? If so, is that validity suddenly rendered null because troops have been deliberately put into danger by this administration?
        The whole point of the dissent, all these months, has been to prevent the troops from facing danger.
        The whole point of the dissent, all these months, has been to prevent a massive military attack on Iraq in favor of continued international pressure on the Saddam regime. Pressure that had the country under a microscope, with U-2 flyovers. Pressure that---incredibly---had Saddam destroying dozens of missiles. Pressure that, according to weapons inspectors as well as British and U.S. intelligence, yielded no evidence of nuclear or bio-chemical weaponry.
        The whole point of the dissent, all these months, has been to protest current U.S. foreign policy on the basis that it will: increase danger of terrorism, bankrupt the country, erode Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, dramatically destabilize the world, destroy old alliances, create death and suffering, fatten up salivating multi-national corporations smarting from 9/11 losses, wreak environmental havoc.
        Even if you disagree with the dissenters, you can't knock their motivation!
        Suddenly, as this foreign policy is implemented with bullets and bombs---and is starting to yield all the ugly fruit just described---dissent should be abandoned? In the name of "patriotism?"
        Is the absurdity of this argument apparent yet?
        When the going gets tough, the tough. . .get meek?
        Suddenly, all the protesters---whose numbers remain drastically underestimated by the "war"-mesmerized media---are supposed to go mute and acquiescent? Put down their drums and "War Is Not The Answer" signs to don suits and Old Glory pins?
        Imagine that.
        The whole country would then just unquestioningly get in line behind the Bush Administration, and give it carte blanche to do as it pleases.
        Sounds more like Iraq, where Saddam got 100 percent of the vote in the last election.
        Unquestioning support of any administration is a crime, a shirking of Constitutionally guaranteed rights as a citizen. You are supposed to question. You are supposed to read, and research. You are supposed to do more than sit and blink witlessly at television anchors calmly recite military-ese, and presidential speeches that hypnotically repeat the words, "weapons of mass destruction" and "liberate the Iraqi people" and "evildoers."
        To not question, and to not dissent, if so moved, is un-American.
        It was dissent that woke up the country to the futility and insanity of Vietnam. In case you've forgotten, that undeclared "war" was unwinnable because, in part, to escalate further would have drawn China directly into the conflict. A land war with an inexhaustible army. It took a merging of the student-led anti-war movement, the hippies, and an American middle-class tired of hearing Walter Cronkite pronounce the body count on the CBS Evening News every night to stop that war.
        Even then, it took far too long to do so.
        Was that dissent "un-American?" Should the '60's protests have stopped in the name of "supporting the troops?" If they had, many more would have been killed. It was precisely because of that dissent that a whole hell of a lot of kids---including this writer---did not have to serve, and possibly die, in the Vietnam quagmire.
        It is precisely because of the current dissent that a whole lot of kids might not have to die in Iraq.
        Does it "encourage the enemy?" If so, that would be the inherent downside of a democratic nation attacking another country. My guess is that the "enemy" doesn't require any encouragement.
        Of course, if the cause made real sense, there wouldn't be much dissent in the first place.
        War is not the answer.

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