Whatever you do, never criticize the troops. It’s been an inalterable and non-negotiable fact of American life since the 1980s when multiple-felon Oliver North became a media star and saved the Reagan administration by flipping off those who opposed Reagan’s secret and illegal war in Nicaragua, which had been financed with secret and illegal arm sales to Iran.
If ever there were a time to realize that “the troops” were perpetrating horrible crimes in our name and needed to be thrown in jail for a long, long time, that was it. Instead, the media went gaga over North, Reagan was let off the hook, and Bush Sr. would eventually pardon North and his fellow war criminals.
Soon after came the first war in Iraq and a nation desperate to bury “Viet Nam syndrome” once and for all collectively declared that “the troops” were perfectly noble, could do no wrong, and protestations from creeps like me would no longer be tolerated.
Fast-forward to Bush Jr’s fiasco, a war in which “the troops”Â have been forced into the most unconscionable of acts and yet, nary a word of anything but SUPPORT THE TROOPS!! is allowed.
I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi … The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we’re trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us.
â€” Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado
I’ll tell you the point where I really turned. I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg…. An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn’t crying, wasn’t anything, it just looked at me like–I know she couldn’t speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?… I was just like, This is–this is it. This is ridiculous.
â€”Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn
The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them.
â€”Staff Sgt. Camilo MejÃa, 31, a National Guardsman from Miami