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June 1, 2007

Carpet-bombing the Clichés

by Thomas R. Eddlem

A few Hannitized dittobots are not worth the effort in debating the Iraq war. I've come to reply in kind to those who scream "treason" or rudely tell me that I don't "support the troops." Usually, my drippingly sarcastic reply to the irreconcilably rude goes something like this:

"Oh, I see. Only those who want to have our soldiers continue to die unnecessarily ‘support the troops.' Since I don't want any more of our soldiers to die, I don't support the troops … getting killed. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be the last one to let the troops down…. six feet under."

But very few war proponents are irreconcilable dolts who automatically question the patriotism of anyone who suggests ending our occupation of Iraq. Most of the population can be forever swayed away from the handful of pat White House-engineered talking points with a brief and thoughtful reply. Below are a few of the replies to the Bush administration talking points that I've used against misled, but rational, supporters of the Iraq war to great effect.

"If we leave Iraq, they will just follow us home."

The Iraqis never attacked Americans – at home or abroad – before we had our soldiers over there. There's no reason to believe the Iraqis would follow us over here when we leave.

"What about 9/11? They attacked us here, and we didn't have troops in Iraq then!"

Not one Iraqi was involved in 9/11, something that even the Bush Administration acknowledges these days. By the way, we did have troops over there before 9/11. We had been bombing them for 10 years straight by the time 9/11 happened.

"The President is our Commander in Chief. And we should not be setting the precedent of questioning the president's strategies."

He's not our commander-in-chief; the Constitution explicitly states he's the commander-in-chief of active-duty military only. And neither of us is active-duty military, so he's not our commander. We are free people who can challenge any decision by the public servants who are charged with representing us.

"The morale of the troops is hurt by criticism of the president's war policy, and the terrorists are energized by this criticism. Our soldiers are dying because of your dissent."

Our soldiers are dying because the president and a compliant Congress got us involved in an unnecessary military occupation, not because some wise citizens have criticized the foolishness of their public servants. Both the president and a bipartisan majority of Congress have hidden from criticism thus far by wrapping themselves in the phony mantle of supporting the troops. Al-Qaeda has not been energized criticism of the Iraqi occupation; it has been energized by the occupation itself. Generally, people don't like foreign soldiers patrolling their streets, and al-Qaeda has capitalized on resentment over the occupation. As for American soldiers being disheartened by honest criticism of our political leaders under the Constitution, well, I'd rather they suffer a little bit of depression and have more of them come home alive when we finally pressure Congress to take them home early than have this unwinnable occupation continue and more of them come home in body bags.

"We are at war with these terrorists."

War is a military contest between sovereign equals. Certainly the terrorists flatter themselves by declaring themselves the sovereign equals of the United States in a "war." But I know they are not our equals. I think they are a bunch of scurrilous criminal killers who got lucky on 9/11. Since 19 guys with box-cutters got lucky six years ago, they've gone back to their traditional and unimaginative methods of car bombs and strapping bombs to their persons. This is not the sovereign equal to the United States, is it? Do you really want to validate their self-flattery by honoring them with the term "war"?

"What if a terrorist gets a nuke?"

The television show "24" isn't a reality show. Terrorist groups, especially groups like al-Qaeda, don't have anything close to the technical know-how needed for advanced weapons such as nuclear or biological weapons. And they aren't likely to get them any time soon. These weapons take state support: billions of dollars in research funding and hundreds of scientific experts working over a period of years. Terrorist groups don't have those resources, which is why they rely almost exclusively upon car bombs and people strapping bombs to their bodies to do their damage.

"If we leave, there'll be a bloodbath…"

Haven't you read a newspaper lately? The bloodbath has been ongoing since we invaded. About 100 Iraqis are dying every day, which is the same loss of life as a 9/11 every month. Imagine New York and New Jersey having to endure a 9/11 every month for four years straight, and you'll have an idea of the magnitude of the bloodbath we've brought there. If we leave, there's a chance the bloodbath will end.

"No, it will be so much worse if we leave, just like the killing fields after Vietnam, only worse."

You are no Middle East expert. Are you saying this on your own, or repeating someone's political talking points? Even if that statement were true, I can't believe you would be immoral enough to make that kind of a trade. American soldiers are certainly going to die to prevent this massacre that may or may not occur. How many Iraqi lives would you trade for the life of one American soldier? Jesus told us that there was no greater love than for a man to sacrifice his life for a friend. I wonder what He would say about someone who would engage in the ghoulish math of trading away the lives of his friends. What does the cliché "support the troops" mean in the context of someone who is willing to trade away the lives of the soldiers in order to get a three-for-one bargain in the blood trade?

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Thomas R. Eddlem's Bio

Thomas R. Eddlem is a native of the Boston area of Massachusetts and a graduate of Stonehill College. He is a radio talk show host in southeastern Massachusetts and a frequent contributor to The New American magazine.

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