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God's Politics


Duane Shank: Support the Troops

posted by gp_intern

Several weeks ago, David Cortright wrote about a petition being circulated by active duty and Guard and Reserve service members who are opposed to the war in Iraq. Now, the Appeal for Redress is gaining mainstream news coverage.

Last Sunday, the lead story on CBS’ 60 Minutes featured a panel of service members discussing why they supported the Appeal. Watch the video report here. The lead-in to the story was:

Americans in the military have been asked to make extraordinary sacrifices in recent years, particularly in Iraq, where the casualties are mounting, the tours are being extended, and some of them have had enough.

One of those who initiated the Appeal, Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, explained their motivation:

“Just because we volunteered for the military, doesn’t mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm, and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral.”

This morning’s New York Times ran a piece on the Appeal, calling it “a small but growing sign of dissent.” The story noted that since Sunday’s 60 Minutes report, 300 more have signed, bringing the total to 1,600. The Times also quoted a soldier:

“There is a sense of betrayal,” said Specialist Linsay Burnett, 26, who recently returned from Iraq with the First Brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. The division is readying for its third deployment. “These soldiers stand up to fight, to protect their country, but we are now on the fifth reason as to why it is we are in Iraq,” added Specialist Burnett, who has served as a public affairs specialist and as a military journalist focusing primarily on the infantry. “How many reasons are we going to come up with for keeping us over there?”

As the debate over the war and how to end U.S. involvement grows, let’s remember those who are on the front lines (the 3,158 U.S. soldiers who have died, as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). The best way to support them, as the Appeal says, is to “respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq.”


Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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carl copas

posted February 28, 2007 at 9:29 pm


It took great courage for these soldiers to speak out. They are genuine American heroes.



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Payshun

posted February 28, 2007 at 10:33 pm


I agree w/ Carl. They are no less heroic for standing up and speaking out against this than those that chose to fight. p



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 12:50 am


One thing I know, soldiers want to get back to their comrades. So, when they say they would go back to Iraq or wherever does not mean they agree with the action they talking about returning to. This doesn’t prove anything either but I think a study that simply ask what do they think of the war would be important.I further feel that asking a parent or loved one at the funeral or shortly thereafter how they feel proves anything. How many would say their child died for nothing even if they come to feel that way. This doesn’t exactly relate to the previous but I worked with a man whose son was in Vietnam, he was as pro war as anyone you might meet. His son was killed and I never saw him smile again. Suddenly he was anti-war. It just broke my heart to see this profoundly sad man every day. For every causality there are many more loved ones who are casualties.



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Mike Hayes

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:23 am


butch, I think many of us know someone (or someone who was close to someone) who came back from Vietnam a very different person. When our daughters were young, we lived across the street from a former marine who had stepped on a land mine in Vietnam. His injuries were severe and his wife helped him shave and dress every day and he went to work, in spite of the plate in his scalp and his difficulty walking. I will always remember him responding to a question a relative asked him about his time in the military… “it was a great learning experience” was his reply, and he meant it. He died of complications from a colonoscopy just two or three years ago. What a strong spirit! A person I knew from my work experience had been married to a soldier who served in Vietnam. She tried to stay with him but eventually divorced him, because he had changed so much that he was just a different person. She was a good person, and just had to change course. You could tell when she would talk about it that it had been a very difficult decision and that she was deeply influenced by that experience. She eventually remarried. She was a strong person, also.



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Mike Hayes

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:26 am


Duane, I wonder if Sojourners and other similar groups might consider offering a “take action” opportunity for those of us who did not serve and who would like to support the military personnel who are asking their members of congress to exercise oversight of the conduct of the war in Iraq.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:55 am


asking their members of congress to exercise oversight of the conduct of the war in Iraq. Mike this is not to disagree with what you say but I want congress to exercise oversight period. If enough questions had been asked a lot congressmen and women would not be saying I made a mistake or if I knew then what I know now.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:58 am


I want congress to ask questions about engergy and medicine and host of other areas. Then I want them to them to tell us what they learned and why they are voting the way they do without middle of the night amendments.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:03 am


Talk about radical, I want congress to give us a transcript and a tape of all meetings dealing with the countries business. When I talk about transparency I really mean transparency. We’ll know what they knew then.



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Mike Hayes

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:23 am


butch, I agree, with one additional thought… I can’t imagine how anyone would want to serve as an elected official, at any level… To rephrase one person from Illinois who once said something like … “…you can’t please everyone, all of the time…”. Just basic communication is really complicated…



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:40 am


If you’ve ever been in a lawsuit you should know about a deposition. You are sworn in then you tell the truth and it is written down and recorded plus videoed at times. Elected officials are sworn in, are you getting the picture? Why shouldn’t we expect to know what’s going on.



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dlw

posted March 1, 2007 at 7:35 am


I think it wd help if we also had a week of fasting and mourning for our entire country over what we have wrought in Iraq. During this week, everyone wd be asked to fast in someway and almost all forms of entertainment would be temporarily cancelled or postponed. I think it is the right thing to do. We need to put our trust for change in Iraq in both regional coordination and demonstrating to the Iraqis and others that the US is not proud of what we have done. I pray George W Bush is open to such a thing, as a man of faith. dlw



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nickerson

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:04 pm


After watching the John Woodruff special this week you realize that every soldier within a certain radius of a bomb burst may carry undetected brain damage that will show up later in life. We know that the VA will not ever be given adequate resources to treat all of these injured people so they can function the best possible. Not considering the moral issue against war the sheer cost and damage that it has and will do for the next generation is terrible.All soldiers are required to weigh the orders they receive against the test of legality. If the order is ilegal then they have the right to disobey the order. Any one care to list the treaties and other laws broken when we started the war in Iraq.Every person in the United States should be focused on this war. The efforts to build wealth should stop until the war is won, security is restored and the soldiers brought home. I can’t believe that news programs describing the violence in Iraq are framed by advertising by fashion, jewery, and automobile ads. What is wrong with us? We are the worst kind of hypocrites.



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Timbuktoo

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:45 pm


Good post. Let’s pray that this nightmare ends sometime soon. I also pray that justice be brought to those who started this horrible, unjustified war.



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Semper Fi

posted March 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm


Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, You are a coward sir and dishonor every Marine that has ever worn Dress Blues. As I see my father in my minds eye sir, he is a far better man now, though he has been dead for more than thirty years, then you will ever be. Burn your uniform and take a general discharge and walk away from the honor, fidelity and pride you think is so worthless. Your generation of cowards do not deserve the freedom that real men and women died to bring them. The only betrayal is from the hearts and backbones of individuals like you and people like Specialist Linsay Burnett.No real soldier or Marine would side with the blatant anti-Americans of “The Left.” Notic where and by whom you are being celebrated. America deserves better than your “opinion” used the way it is.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:59 pm


If you noticed I was addressing the process, if the process is not changed then we are doomed to do it again. It will appear different but it will be the same thing.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:03 pm


Talking about supporting the troops? If we had proper oversight this scandal with the VA would not happen or would be uncovered sooner.



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Mike Burchfield

posted March 1, 2007 at 7:29 pm


I really like the article written by Duane Shank as well as the stand the men in the military are taking; and I agree one of the best ways we can support our troops is to petition our government representatives to bring ALL our troops home from Iraq.There is one more thing we can do (or rather, choose not to do) in support of our troops. When they come home, DON”T meet them at the airports and bus stations to spit on them, call them babay killers, and hurl other abuses at them, like was done to so many who came home from Vietnam!In the same way the majority of men who went to Vietnam were there because they were ordered there, so our troops are in Iraq. They are the heroes, while our political leaders deserve the blame for this atrocious mess!!! Mike B (former Marine)



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Gary

posted March 1, 2007 at 8:14 pm


If all of those who claim to be Christian actually believed and practiced the teachings of Jesus, the US military would be severely depleted and we would have far fewer wars. I support the troops who decide by conscience to leave the military.



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butch

posted March 1, 2007 at 9:00 pm


“When they come home, DON”T meet them at the airports and bus stations to spit on them, call them babay killers, and hurl other abuses at them, like was done to so many who came home from Vietnam!” This is a different time and I see no indication that this is being done on any scale that needs to be addressed.



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carl copas

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:21 pm


“This is a different time and I see no indication that this is being done on any scale that needs to be addressed.” It was seldom done back in the day. The spitting-on-the-soldier myth has been wildly inflated. See the work by Jerry Lembcke, Bruce Franklin, and others.



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Hali

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:30 pm


“The spitting-on-the-soldier myth has been wildly inflated.” Someone using the pseudonym “Semper Fi” (what irony!) just did the 21st Century equivalent of that on this very blog. I think it’s a Freeper posing as a Marine; I don’t know ANY real Marine who would talk that way to another and be too gutless to use his real name.



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Joy

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:54 pm


Mike Hayes Thank you for what you said about the friend who’s husband was a Vietnam Vet. So was my father. I have almost no memories of him before he left for the war (he was gone 13 months). When family members tell stories of my dad I look at them in confusion because the person they descibe is not the father I knew. When I comment on that I am always told “You don’t remember him before the war. the war changed him.” I’m sure that’s true of every vet of every war. I also like your suggestion of a way for those of us not in the military to support the call for redress coming from our servicemen and women. My dad was a career military man who died in 1989. I suspect he would have initially supported this war but with all that has happened in the last four years, the constant changes as to the reason we are there and especially BoB Woodruff’s reports this week about the VA I cannot imagime he would still support it. He would be outraged by the lack of care our returning soldiers are getting. If we supposedly support our troops doesn’t that extend to post war care as well? God bless every serviceperson who is couragous enough to stand up and insist our government do the right thing.



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butch

posted March 2, 2007 at 1:01 am


Joy “He would be outraged by the lack of care our returning soldiers are getting. If we supposedly support our troops doesn’t that extend to post war care as well?” The idea that saying any words about support will help a GI in a fire fight is silly.The only support is post conflict, VA, etc. We have never supported our troops after they come back to extent they need it. I remember well the problems VETS in the 1st Gulf War had and the VA kept saying it was in their mind. Well eliminate every other possibility before you discount their complaint. Tell me that no one saw the conditions in MD and nothing could be done. I’m back to congress, while they debated over whether they were supporting the troops or not where was the oversight that would, should have uncovered these problems.



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Eric

posted March 2, 2007 at 9:27 pm


The “Appeal for Redress” is actually not a grassroots action, but a well orchestrated media and anti-war campaign run by professionals (Fenton Communications, Fourth Freedom Forum). That doesn’t make it wrong, but we shouldn’t be given the idea this is a grassroots effort started by a couple average soldiers who grew dissastified with the war over time.



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Mike Hayes

posted March 3, 2007 at 4:24 am


Joy, We’re all fortunate to know persons who served in the military. I had the great fortune to know an ex-marine who served at Iwo Jima (was also seriously wounded) and who later served as chief of police in my home town. Just a year or so before he died, I had the presence of mind to go up to him at a local super market to tell him how much I appreciated what he had done for our country, and he obviously appreciated that. I then thanked my mother’s youngest brother who was part of the invasion of Italy at Anzio. He appreciated that. We should not save those thank yous for eulogies… In the spirit of “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by the author of “Tuesdays with Morrie”, I think we ought to thank the veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Irag, while there is time to do that. We might regret it if we fail to do so.



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jacob

posted March 5, 2007 at 12:28 am


Great thread. I very much agree with Duane Shank. The best way to support the troops is for prompt, yet carefully organized withdrawal within a year, like the one proposed by Obama — of all troops home by next spring, or even sooner. AND congressionally MANDATED (this should be an amendment to the constitution) full life-time care for ALL disabled veterans, the kind of “cadillac coverage” that doctors have for their families. I am a fiscal conservative but I make strong exceptions for the welfare of impoverished children, elderly, and disabled veterans and disabled people in general(who can’t earn a living because of their disabilities)–those who are powerless to help themselves. How are we going to pay for it? We just MUST. Period. I believe these are the “poor” Jesus is talking about. There are still tons of fat in government–”bridge to no-where, Don Young Highway”. Another strong candidate is $10,000,000,000 annual U.S. tax payer burden in financing the entire Israeli defense budget. This should be ZERO. This money is precisely what caused the Iraq war, the war on terror, and upcoming Iran war, and all future military entanglements in the Middle East with our “ally”, Israel, which will continue to produce disabled veterans with no end in sight. I see the “poseur” watch is functioning better than last time I was here. People are promptly recognizing them and ignoring them. There are sincere people with legitimate differences in view, but we can’t change their mind and they can’t change ours. Kudos to all.



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Mark P

posted March 5, 2007 at 4:21 am


“I think we ought to thank the veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Irag, while there is time to do that. We might regret it if we fail to do so.” Wow. Elegantly and articulately put Mike. My grandfathers are both WW2 vets — on my dad’s side, my grandfather was a Navy engineer on a battleship off Iwo Jima. On my mom’s side, my grandfather was Army infantry — he won numerous awards including a silver star before being wounded (a bomb knocked a huge wall onto his unit; he was the only survivor from his platoon). I have three uncles/great-uncles who flew missions in either/both Korea and Vietnam. Great reminder.



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