In Monday’s Nexus (“Media’s Attacks Add Stressors on Troops,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 22), Ross Nolan writes, “Monday morning quarterbacking by the anti-war liberals in our country creates a situation where our brave soldiers have to not only worry about the enemy trying to kill them, but also need to worry about what the country will do to them upon their return.” Nolan claims that “the anti-war left wing in this country wrongfully [accuses] soldiers of murder to advance their political agenda” therefore giving all troops a bad name and making it impossible to win the “War on Terror.”

Earth to Ross: The war is a lie.

Troops have more to worry about than the supposed liberal animosity he self-righteously claims to be opposing. The Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq was predicated on several deceptions – supposed weapons of mass destruction programs, Iraqi links to 9/11, etc. – and these lies are the very reason why U.S. troops are struggling to survive in distant hostile lands. In other words: They shouldn’t even be there! The mission is wrong, no matter how righteous the troops are. The anti-war “liberals” Nolan so quickly condemns are the very people trying to bring the troops home because we value their lives as well as the truth.

Regarding war crimes, it’s key to point out that the anti-war movement’s opposition to torture, secret prisons, murder, massacre, kidnapping and other Geneva Convention violations committed in Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S. military have not been directed at the soldiers in the field. The ultimate responsibility for all unjust deaths in these wars rests on the president, his war planners, Congress and leadership in the Pentagon. Nolan’s reasoning is typical right-wing discursive strategy: Ignore the real issues at the root of the problem and inflate petty politicking over substance. Instead of talking about how the Bush administration ordered hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to invade and occupy Iraq in violation of every right and reason to do so, Nolan fixates on a false debate about who supports the troops more: The pro-war right, or anti-war left.

Nolan’s allusion to the image of “liberals” attacking homecoming troops is ridiculous and unfounded. I challenge him to produce evidence supporting this claim other than vague interpretations of what Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said on one occasion. Anti-troop accusations thrown around by right-wingers are mischaracterizations of peace movements in America – past and present. The troops are our brothers and sisters. We want them home, not off fighting some rich man’s war, killing other innocents over oil and power, ordered to do so on a foundation of lies and half-truths.

In fact, one of the most dynamic and interesting facets of the U.S. peace movement is that veterans and soldiers are increasingly at the center of its organizing efforts. Groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against War have been working since 2003 to stop the war in Iraq and more. Thus, far from ostracizing the troops as the mythology goes, the anti-war movement itself is largely made up of soldiers. Furthermore, soldiers have been at the forefront of critiquing the military, the war and the Bush administration’s policies. Despite what you see on TV, and regardless of the military’s censorship, troops in Iraq are resisting the war in ways big and small. Anti-war blogs written by soldiers have proliferated. Pro-peace stickers are pasted up around camps alongside ones that say, “Bush lies, who dies?” – among other thought provoking jabs.

I’ve been organizing the anti-war movement since long before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I’ve worked alongside more veterans than I can think to list because I share with them a concern for the well being of the U.S. soldiers. By invoking the myth that returning soldiers have been treated as criminals by an anti-war left, Nolan hopes to smear our motivations for ending the war and direct discussions away from the issues of real importance. Those of us trying to stop the war see U.S. soldiers as victims of lies. They have been forced to invade and occupy a distant land and fight against an Iraqi people who are the ultimate victims of the Bush regime’s twisted foreign policies. Troops home now!