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Suffering knows no boundaries, no ideology.
March 20, 2003 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Adopt-a-Pagan-Soldier - No pagans in foxholes? Think again! Meanwhile, the Adopt-a-Soldier movement gains momentum. Heed this well, opponents of the ongoing invasion (or liberation) of Iraq: US troops did not engineer the plan for a "Pax Americana" which underlies the US action in Iraq. No, they were pulled away from their families and their jobs, and lack basic necessities: such as SPF-30 sunscreen, and chapstick. Send them a care package. And while you are at it, why not donate to the UN Refugee Fund set up to cope with an expected 1 millon or so refugees, and a possible humanitarian disaster, in Iraq?
posted by troutfishing (23 comments total)

posted by Guy Smiley at 11:20 PM on March 20, 2003

troutfishing - thanks. I will certainly be making a contribution to the UN Refugee Fund.
posted by plep at 11:29 PM on March 20, 2003

Thanks for posting this -- it is a great way for those of us who oppose the war to help make it clear that we don't oppose those who have been called on to fight it.
posted by thorswitch at 11:30 PM on March 20, 2003

While you're at it, see if you can influence the current regime to pay these soldiers enough to support their families. Maybe we could use the money budgeted for Star Wars or the new tactical nukes.

It's bad enough that we send mostly poor kids halfway around the world to kill innocent civilians. There's no excuse for paying them at a level which perpetuates the poor underclass.

Don't get me started on how the Pentagon lied about Gulf War Syndrome in order to avoid paying medical bills.

I just got back from a long day of confronting police in the streets of San Francisco. I am as far as any of us from supporting the war, but I'm disgusted by the way the troops are treated. Support the troops. Bring them home.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 11:36 PM on March 20, 2003

Oxfam's page on the Iraq crisis. Donations here.
posted by plep at 11:37 PM on March 20, 2003

I found this link a couple of months ago when trying to come up with things to send my brother (he's been in Afghanistan since Thanksgiving). It has a lot of things I never even thought of sending, like toilet paper and kool-aid.
posted by Andrea at 1:04 AM on March 21, 2003

I wonder if, now that the 'war' is underway the countries who account for the USD90million shortfall in the UN Refugee Fund for this particular humanitarian crisis will cough up?
The US has offered USD15million, the UK USD11million (disproportionate, you might think), somewhat paltry when compared to the USD9billion/month financial cost that the Pentagon previsionally put on the war.
This time the US doesn't have Saudi and Kuwait paying for the incursion. Last time:
'The US paid roughly $7 billion, less than 12% of the total US cost and less than half what Saudi Arabia and Kuwait paid'

Lets just hope that the deployed troops aren't injected with the same cocktail of drugs as last time to protect them from the 'stockpile of chemical weapons'.

Andrea - I can't believe that 'soft' toilet paper isn't a standard issue item. To whit, what quality is the military tissue issued? How much does that save the bean-counters? Maybe an itchy arse is seen as a good thing for a modern soldier? Helps build character, or something.
posted by asok at 2:32 AM on March 21, 2003

Well, actually I did ask about this because I thought it was weird. He said that it's like the kind of TP that they use in schools, "except worse". He said that sometimes they use newspaper instead. The terrors of war, I suppose. He also said that some of the soldiers' familes send them like, handiwipes or baby wipes, and they use those.

The PX on his base was pretty decent about stocking necessities, but was set on fire and burned down earlier this month.
posted by Andrea at 2:46 AM on March 21, 2003

What Nicolae Carpathia said.

posted by nofundy at 5:03 AM on March 21, 2003

sponsor a soldier in saddam's republican guard
"For a one-time charge of only $8.00 (delivery charge included), we'll send a REAL, white, tattered Surrender Flag (and an "I Give Up" button) right to the Presidential Palace in -- you guessed it -- Baghdad! (As long as it remains a viable postal address, that is.) That's less than 35 cents per day, or the cost of a Starbucks latte per week."
posted by quonsar at 5:32 AM on March 21, 2003

I thought military service in the US was voluntary? I've seen a number of posters say "they didn't choose to be there", etc., You'd think all the guns and bombs and stuff would've tipped them off that killing might be part of the package, no? At least by, say, the third week of training?
posted by signal at 5:39 AM on March 21, 2003

signal - "voluntary" is a relative term. I don't think that US professional active duty military personnel expected to be the advance guard of a new "Pax Americana"(the imposition of which will demand several years of invasions of several countries around the globe), and I certainly don't think the Guard Reservists who have been called up expected to become, essentially, full active duty US military personnel in a short (probably) invasion which will be followed by a rather long garrison action (very likely - ten years, even).
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM on March 21, 2003

How is "voluntary" a relative term? Either you have free will or you don't, right? Not thinking through the consequences of your choices doesn't free you from the reponsiblity for them, IMO.
posted by signal at 5:56 AM on March 21, 2003

One more thing: I heard on the radio today about a "Light a candle in your window to support US troops until they come home" movement started by the Needham, Mass. parents of a US soldier currently in Iraq. (from the website) "In thousands of homes across the nation, a single light shining in a window has quickly become a universal symbol of love and support for the men and women in the US Military and our Allies deployed overseas to protect us and our country.

This disturbed me: what of the Iraqi civilians suffering, and those who will become refugees? What of the Iraqi dead - both civilians, and hapless conscripts press ganged into the Iraqi army? ........The exclusive focus of Nancy and Dan Wright's initiative - on American troops - conforms neatly to an emerging world stereotype of American behavior: that Americans are belligerent but completely unconcerned about the human toll left in the wake of their of their international military actions and invasions. Afghanistan (and the Bush Administration's refusal to fund the rebuilding of that bombed out hulk of a nation) is a case in point.

The Wrights need have only mentioned the others who will suffer from the current war in Iraq - especially the Iraqi civilians - to turn their candlelight initiative into a truly beautifull gesture. So I am sad that this possiblity - of making a truly international statement about human suffering - did not occur to them.
posted by troutfishing at 6:05 AM on March 21, 2003

How is "voluntary" a relative term? . . . Not thinking through the consequences of your choices doesn't free you from the responsibility for them, IMO.

Here's an example: My good friend who is in the service signed up nearly 10 years to help pay for college. Now, if he left the service, he would have to repay the entire cost of his education, ~US$15,000. So while he technically could leave the service, it would leave him (and his wife) stranded in Germany, unemployed, homeless, and deep in debt.

So yeah, there's voluntary, and then there's voluntary.
posted by mikrophon at 7:12 AM on March 21, 2003

trout_fishing, i don't understand why americans should be concerned about iraqi civilians. after all, the news keeps telling us that the u.s. military uses incredibly advanced smart bombs; apparently, some of them are so intelligent that they politely ask people to identify themselves before they explode.

in all seriousness, i mostly agree with you. instead of all these protests and marches, i'd love to see more candlelight vigils held for, among others, the innocent iraqis who are going to be killed and displaced; the people (mostly women) who suffer in saudi arabia, our staunch and noble ally; for the u.s. soldiers who died in afghanistan that we will never hear about b/c it would hurt the bush administration in the polls; likewise for the soldiers who will die during the invasion and occupation of iraq.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:12 AM on March 21, 2003

Oh yeah, and Not thinking through the consequences of your choices doesn't free you from the responsibility for them

I'm really glad that I'm not being held responsible for life choices I made when I was fucking 18 years old. The world was a different place in 1992. For example, it seemed pretty unlikely that an imbecile would be handed the presidency by the Supreme Court, that Islamic fundamentalists would start flying fucking plane bombs into major US landmarks, and that the above-mentioned imbecile would use the resulting anti-Arab sentiment to justify dragging the US into a preemptive strike with no evidence as to what exactly the strike was preempting. I probably wouldn't have taken that chain of events into consideration.
posted by mikrophon at 7:32 AM on March 21, 2003

mikrophon 2 points:

1) your friend chose to be trained in how to kill people and the possibility of being sent to do so at any time on somebody else's whim, in exchange for an education. Bully for him. It's still his choice.

2) I wouldn't join this army and then be surprised I was sent to invade some place.
posted by signal at 8:03 AM on March 21, 2003

I'm really glad that I'm not being held responsible for life choices I made when I was fucking 18 years old.

You are.
posted by signal at 8:04 AM on March 21, 2003

This disturbed me: what of the Iraqi civilians suffering, and those who will become refugees? What of the Iraqi dead - both civilians, and hapless conscripts press ganged into the Iraqi army? ........The exclusive focus of Nancy and Dan Wright's initiative - on American troops - conforms neatly to an emerging world stereotype of American behavior

Well, you know, showing support for the troops doesn't preclude also supporting anyone else you want to support. I don't see why you'd be disturbed by the idea that people care about their family, friends, and neighbors first and foremost; that's only natural and human.
posted by kindall at 9:09 AM on March 21, 2003

troutfishing - Thank you.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:11 AM on March 21, 2003

Thomcatspike - You're very welcome.

Kindall - I'm not at all disturbed by the Wright's concern for their son or the well-being of US troops. But if the projections by the UN relief agency set up to deal with the impending refugee/humanitarian crisis in Iraq have any validity (they are projecting mass famine, and up to one million refugees) the war's toll on the Iraqi people will dwarf US war casualties by a factor of about 100 (or even 1,000) to one. This is not the fault of the US military ( which isn't a relief agency ) , but rather the fault of the US government - by not taking responsibility for the obvious impact of the war on an already highly stressed civilian population.

What disturbed me was, I suppose, the utter void in the Wright's message - the fact that their concern extended only to the "American Tribe" and not an inch further. I am trying my best to imagine how this looks to the world outside of the US - I don't think it will be seen in a favourable light. And what really disturbed me was, given how much press the Wrights are receiving, how easily - with almost no effort at all! - they could have broadcast a truly Christian, inclusive message of concern for all involved in the Iraq War.

It is American symbolism of this sort which feeds the fears of many around the globe that the US is slipping into a sort of violent, fearfull and autistic nationalism which lashes out at perceived or potential US enemies based on little more than the inchoate fears of our policy makers. Newsweek's cover story this week sums this up beautifully: The Arrogant Empire:  
America’s unprecedented power scares the world, and the Bush administration has only made it worse. How we got here—and what we can do about it now
( by By Fareed Zakaria )

The Wright's message could have been - and still could be - a message of concern for their son, for US troops, and an expression of hope that the war will be won swiftly and that the loss of life - among Americans and Iraqis alike - will be minimal.
posted by troutfishing at 9:57 AM on March 21, 2003

House Budget Resolution Will Slash $9.7 Billion from Veterans Medical Care and $15 Billion from Disability Compensation and Other Benefit Programs.
posted by homunculus at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2003

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