This week’s readings mainly focus on rhetorical tools used by government authorities, personnel and other sources to get the American public behind the war effort by glorifying the troops and associating with the army rather than the political agenda that is driving this prolonged war on terror.
Stahl examines the origin, purpose and reason for the emergence and prevalence of the “Support the troops”. He tracks the slogan back to post-Vietnam America when the unnecessary war was highly unpopular among the public and received a lot of criticism. According to Stahl, the movement is strategically used to do two things – deflect and disassociate. Deflect attention towards the war being more about the military effort rather than focusing on political goals. Disassociate the public from the troops by glorifying the troops and defining any type of war criticism as “unpatriotic” and disrespectful to the troops.
Vicaro talks about the use deconstructive rhetoric used to undermine laws and rues about wars and outside involvement in internal affairs. He examines Bush and Obama’s war time policies for detention and military involvement that would previously break laws nationally and internationally but they have used deconstructive rhetoric to justify them. The terming of Afghanistan as a “failed state” and the coining of the term “unlawful enemy combatant status” that has been used in the Global War on Terrorism led by the United States.
Butterworth and Moskal talk about the armed forces bowl and the integration of militarism and sports. They examine the use of sports to make the concept of militarism and war “fun” for the audience. They take a close look at the armed forces bowl which aims at “supporting the troops” in a prolonged overseas war and in the process trivializing the war itself by shifting focus to the troops. They also mention the deep presence of militarism in everyday American life such that one cannot avoid being exposed to the rhetoric used to justify this war.
The summaries for each of the articles is meant to be an overview of some of the main topics disused in them. However, through my reading of these articles I found myself mainly agreeing with the critiques of the “support the troops” movement and the deflection from important political issues towards pseudo-patriotism. As some of the authors mentioned, there is a historical trend of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny that one needs to study in order to understand the global perspective the country holds. This perspective, in my opinion, is one of the greatest reasons why America is pioneering this long and tedious war on terrorism. The Monroe doctrine is a perfect example of a historical document that displays these values. The doctrine, originally meant to maintain neutrality is used in the future to justify the war actions during different eras. Roosevelt used it in his justification of America being the global police in the Roosevelt Corollary. Bush used it to enter a never-ending war on terrorism and most recently Rex Tillerson (the US Secretary of State) praised it for “being a success”. These values of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny is why I think the war on terrorism will never end because American is involved in a war which is not quantifiable, a war of fear, and America does not seem to be backing down.
The idea of this blog post is not to undermine the efforts put in by the members US defense services, but it is an effort to point out to the hollowness of the “support the troops” rhetoric as a political propaganda tool. This rhetoric is used to hide the complete picture of the war and has made war a state of normalcy for the country.