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  • Kiki asks: Why support the troops?

    A complicated question indeed. I remember well in 2003, while my family were demonstrating against the March invasion of Iraq, those ubiquitous little yellow ribbon stickers "Support our troops" began appearing on seemingly almost every car. They turned my stomach. Death and destruction were about to begin, and, thanks to the wave of public revulsion following the 2001 attacks on New York, people had been manipulated by the government into believing that Iraq was responsible and hence the war was a just war of revenge.

    To this day, many still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the World Trade Tower attack. Proof, if any was needed, that a lie well told to a receptive audience has remarkable staying power.

    Yet the soldiers who do the killing and dying have little say in those matters of state. As the war went on, and the death toll rose, I found myself falling more in sympathy with the "Support our troops" stickers. Yes, they were a mark of jingoism. But they were also the mark of a family living with the deep anxiety of knowing a loved one was in harm's way and there was little they could do to stop it.

    Today is Remembrance Sunday. In neatly kept French cemeteries lie the bodies of my great-uncles. Not so neatly remembered, mass graves of the Germans they killed and who killed them, lie nearby. The losers do not get the best treatment. I think now of Kiki's uncle Werner, killed in the stunningly comprehensive slaughterhouse that was the Battle of Stalingrad.

    All young men. None deserved to die. I think of them all.

    Front photo - World War Two battle reenactors at Jefferson Barracks Park, back photo - Peace demonstration in Forest Park, March 2003)
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