Since the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration and its supporters in the media have been working overtime perpetuating an old myth that protesting a war is unpatriotic and against our troops whose lives are on the line. Nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. people have a patriotic duty to object to the rogue-nation policies of George W. Bush and his “Republican Guards.”

Most peace fighters see the “unpatriotic” slander for what it is: a way to silence opposition to this unjust war. Many are saying, “I support the troops, but I don’t support Bush and his war.” This war was imposed on the world, despite overwhelming opposition from the United Nations, most countries and most Americans.

The sooner this courageous peace movement brings the war to an end the fewer the casualties. The peace movement wants an end to the bloodshed, so that no more civilians and combatants on all sides will be wounded or killed, so that the soldiers can go home to their families and a negotiated settlement can be reached.

Bush would like nothing better then to divert the focus of the protest onto the troops and away from himself, his administration and the corporate interests he represents. The corporate media works to give the impression that the troops want war more then any body else.

Even if that were true, and it is not, the soldiers did not make the war policy. Willing or not, they are also victims of this policy. The military is not a democratic institution. The troops can’t vote against this war. They don’t have the right to debate or dissent. They have to follow orders or face serious consequences. But you can be sure there is opposition to this war in the ranks of the men and women in uniform.

Many in uniform voted against George W. Bush and don’t like his domestic or foreign policies. Many were forced into the military because of racial and gender discrimination in the private sector. They were drafted into the service by the harsh reality of growing poverty and the Bush administration’s brutal cuts in education, health care, housing and other vital social services. They are now being forced to kill or be killed; to make the ultimate sacrifice when all they wanted was an education, a job and a future for themselves and their families. These are the sons and daughters of the multi-racial working class who didn’t ask for this war, but are forced to deal with its tragic consequences in order to survive.

The people who made the decision to go to war are not the people who have to make the sacrifices. No member of the Bush cabinet and only one member of Congress (a Democrat) has a son or daughter in Iraq. I bet no offspring from the top wealthy families will ever experience real combat in Iraq. The great class divide is always amplified during times of war.

In that framework, African Americans and Latinos have always been forced to sacrifice more proportionally. Among racial minorities opposition to the war runs deeper because intensified racism is a byproduct of war.

This war was not launched to save the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. The Iraq-based democratic opposition to Hussein does not support the invasion of their country. It’s not being fought to stop terrorism, which is increasing, or to “save civilization,” as Bush claims. This war is being fought for oil, empire and world domination.

Vice President Dick Cheney comes from the corporate boardroom of Halliburton. His company is already contracted to reap millions from the Iraq war. Meanwhile Bush’s plan for huge tax cuts for the super-rich will mean life-threatening new cuts in social services. Do these officials and their policies really support the troops?

These same war hawks have neglected our veterans’ hospitals, left sick and disabled vets from Vietnam and the Gulf War without services. When it comes to helping these troops the Bush administration is MIA (missing in action). Veterans’ benefits are on the chopping block. How is that supporting our troops? Many veterans are becoming active for peace today because they understand what this unjust war means for soldiers and their families.

So who is really supporting the troops? It’s the peace movement, because the greatest support is to work for peace and end this war now.

Like during the Vietnam War, some of our troops will be encouraged by the peace demonstrations at home, because they want this war to come to an end too. They will realize that those who speak against the war are not against them, but against the Bush policy of preemptive, illegal war. And the peace movement should strongly support the families of soldiers who speak out against the war.

Hundreds of thousands in New York City marched on March 22 to end the war, indicating that the peace movement will continue to reach new heights. And that is good for the troops and all of humanity.

Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA. He can be reached at jtyner@cpusa.org

PDF version of ‘The best support for the troops is to bring them home’