Noam Chomsky in Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda: “… the point of public relations slogans like “Support Our Troops” is that they don’t mean anything […] that’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something, do you support our policy? And that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.”
Chomsky’s right: to put it bluntly, “Support our troops” is the government’s chicken-shit way of getting us to say “My country, right or wrong!”, a sentiment that has motivated countless young men to die in wars created by corrupt and cynical leaders. Contemporary media stories that feature young wives and families waiting tearfully for husbands and fathers to return from invasions attempt to gain political support by tugging audience heart strings while ignoring political issues. “Supporting” our troops with an appropriate bumper sticker allows people to avoid thinking about why the Canadian government sends thousands of armed killers to Third World countries.
Close examination of Canadian military activity in Afghanistan reveals that Canadian troops weren’t handing out bread and cold cuts to starving locals, they were invading (read “murdering”) their way into a country where they had no right to be – thats why 158 Canadians have died there – killed by Afghanis who logically resist invasion by foreigners. The invading Canadian troops are volunteers who choose to enter theaters of war, regardless of our government’s political motives in deploying them. These young Canadian men are not conscripts: they CHOOSE to submit themselves to military discipline and to kill on demand. Would you do this? Why would anyone do this?
The main reason is poverty and unemployment: government-created poverty and its attendant propaganda are prime ingredients in building a “volunteer” army. Uncritical nationalism, misogyny, unquestioning loyalty to their “betters,” love of the British Royal Family, racism and/or religious insanity also come in very handy in creating large groups of obedient killers. These are the issues which the slogan “Support Our Troops” encourages us to ignore.
If you really want to support our troops, build a movement that opposes poverty, nationalism, racism, the monarchy, religion, and rapacious invasions of third world countries. A better world is possible.