Left Justified: Support the troops, bring them home

I kinda expected a negative response from my “10 Reasons to Leave Iraq” column, this being such a conservative community. But to receive such a diatribe from a fellow veteran caught me by surprise. Most soldiers have already written off this war as a loss, and are looking for ways to extricate the troops without getting bit in the behind.

Leaving our soldiers in Iraq as occupiers is not in the cards, at least for most intelligent military advocates. Leaving them in Iraq under our present Commander In Chief is just asking for more death and stupidity.

But the responder couldn’t even admit there were mistakes in Bush’s Iraq adventure, and would not even acknowledge the disappearance of billions of dollars as a result of graft (“nobody’s been prosecuted”). Well, thanks to the work of our own Congressman Don Manzullo, no one will be prosecuted.

“An investigation, or recriminations do not support the troops,” is what many say on Capitol Hill. “Let’s work to win this war.” Which is like continuing to dig deeper into a quagmire.

When people ask me about “supporting the troops,” my reply is: Pay the people in the service well enough that they don't need food stamps to feed their families.

How about making sure the veterans get medical benefits they are entitled to, such as being able to see doctors without waiting months for an appointment, and being fully covered for any needed drugs? And stop covering up illnesses as was done with Agent Orange or the Gulf War Syndrome.

Keep our troops out of harm’s way by stopping the use of depleted uranium, which poisons them, and leads to birth defects in their future children, as well as poisoning foreign lands.

And we can do more to prevent psychological damage because of killing and wounding other human beings. More immediate counseling, as well as not sending our troops into ridiculous situations like the Iraq occupation in the first place. Those who thought up this war should be forced to apologize, not only to our troops and their families, but also to the Iraqi people and the rest of the world.

An apology by our president might not quell the fire in the Middle East, but it could go a ways toward winning back world opinion.

Lastly, considering that for more than 200 years, patriotic soldiers have shed their blood defending the Constitution, we can do all we can to preserve that Constitution and the rights of Americans from those who would trash them in pursuit of personal power and world empire.

To hear more about this, you are welcome to hear Tom Nielson a political folksinger, celebrate his freedom of speech this Thursday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m., at the JustGoods Listening Room, 201 Seventh St.

We want the soldiers to return home to a free and democratic nation. And we want them home now!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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