Monday, May 28, 2007

Support Our Troops

And now for something completely different:

Recently, a friend of mine was showing me some photos she took of an Iraq War vet with his artificial leg. While I can't show you the photos for privacy reasons, it did get me to thinking about the cost of war, and what it means to "Support Our Troops."

As a science teacher, the main tenet of my teaching is the TANSTAAFL concept, which stands for:

"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

In science this relates to The First Law of Thermodynamics, the conservation of energy. I think it's a pretty good rule to live by in many regards. Honest accountants know that the true cost of many actions is not always what is advertised, but adds up based on all the consequences. In war, money is not only spent on guns and bombs, but is spent on repairing the damage to our soldiers and society as well.

Currently, we don't seem to be able to break out of the linguistic gridlock about the definition of what "supporting our troops" actually means. The president seems to feel that any attempt to reign in the blank check he feels he's been given is somehow not "supporting the troops." Congress conversely seems to feel that sending the troops off to die in the crossfires of a civil war we've unleashed isn't very supportive either.

So, what we have here is the analog to this classic National Lampoon cover. If we don't buy Bush's War, we are against the troops. This is such a false choice. I'm an old anti-war peacenik from the Vietnam era, but I have come to respect the sacrifice soldiers make for our country. We don't live in a stateless world, and until that day comes where we have no borders, we will need people to defend us. So many soldiers have lost their lives, and so many more have practically sacrificed their souls, all betrayed by a Commander-In-Chief with the big lies. On one hand we have budget deficits, tax cuts for the rich, huge contracts in Iraq for Halliburton and the like, and we juxtapose that with a rat-infested Veterans Hospital. Military families are living near or below the poverty level, and benefits to the veterans seem perpetually at risk. If we are to ask these young men and women to do whatever it takes to protect us, we owe it to them to make sure what they are dying for makes any sense at all, if there is such a thing.

Supporting our troops means we don't put them in harm's way as an instrument of policy, but only as the last resort.

click on the comic below to enlarge: