The Public Square

P. Gregory Springer on why he doesn’t support the troops


I'm P.Gregory Springer, a local author who has written for Variety and the New York Times. I am completing two books on travel with my sons throughout Guatemala and Mexico.

I heard George say the other day, in his pointy finger kind of way, "I think about Iraq Every Single Day!"

And I thought, well, duh. I should be so lucky to get through even one hour without seeing those car magnets reminding me to rally around the flag. Anyway, it leads me to believe that George probably DOESN'T think about Iraq every day.

What could he be thinking about?

I am going to stick my neck out and say (please don't spray paint my house) I don't support the troops. Is that safe to say these days? Or is that a crime now? I certainly wouldn't taunt terrorists by speaking for the soldiers and saying, "Bring it on" or anything, but no, I don't support the troops. The troops are on a mission without a strategy, a mission based on falsehoods. And I would like to stop thinking about it.

I'd like to stop thinking about a world artificially divided up into two separate halves. We're not all either liberals and conservatives or black and white or boxers or briefs or good or evil or with us or with the terrorists or any other stupid football game dichotomous way of looking at the world.

In a recent letter to the New York Times, a reader wrote that, if the troops are defending the US soil by fighting terrorists in Iraq, is George's strategy to "leave the security of the United States in the hands of an inexperienced Iraqi Army as soon as we can?" "There is no higher calling," George said in his TV speech the other day, "than to join the military."

The same night, the streets of Urbana were filled with a bunch of classic cars, traveling from Washington DC to the West Coast. There were Ramblers, Buicks, 1950s Impalas, a rock and roll band and pizza. It was fun. But I still was thinking about Iraq. The exhibition was sponsored by the National Guard, which had slapped magnetic ads on every old car and set up a tent.

Dick and Donald like to say the terrorists are desperate, in their last throes. But who is really desperate? We've got George on TV and the Guard making sales pitches like a Coca-Cola campaign on a cross country tour.

After the Weapons of Mass Destruction mantra; after liberation for the Iraqi people; after the domino theory of freedom; the latest thing we're supposed to think is that we can't leave Iraq because those who have already died would have died in vain. So, just to clarify, we have to keep fighting a war we started because somebody died in it?

I know George told Pat Robertson there wouldn't be any casualties. And I guess "oops" really isn't going to cut it as an excuse.

Anyway, if you know a good way to get through the day without thinking about the mysteries of the war in Iraq, I'm open to suggestions. Shopping or Social Security or Tom Cruise or runaway brides just aren't doing it for me anymore.

I still think about Iraq Every Single Day. I could dwell on the weather. You know what they say about Illinois in the summertime, "It's not the heat, it's the stupidity." But maybe I'll just wrap myself up in the newest episode of Six Feet Under. Somehow, I don't think it's going to help.