Insulting War and the Military Can Cost You

See, this is what happens when you insult the military industrial complex and their tools and means to an end: soldiers and veterans and the very war machine that keeps getting romanticized by the war mongers running this country.

More than three-quarters of voters have heard about Donald Trump’s spat with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim Americans whose son died serving as an Army captain in the 2003 Iraq war that Hillary Clinton voted for.

And that’s not good news for Trump.

According to a new Fox News poll, 77 percent of voters knew of the harsh words exchanged between Trump and the Khans in the wake of Khizr Khan’s fiery anti-Trump speech at the Democratic National Convention. Nearly 7 in 10 of those who have heard about the controversy think Trump stepped over the line.

“I’m undecided now. I was leaning for him, but the last few days, what he’s been saying about that soldier and his parents, he’s made several comments I don’t like,” said Larry Fountain, a 67-year-old Navy veteran and retired pipe fitter from Starks, Louisiana, who listened to both Trump and Clinton speak at the VFW’s national convention in North Carolina last week. “I just don’t know.”

Trump said that Khan “viciously attacked” him in the DNC speech, and suggested Ghazala Khan, his wife,  hadn’t spoken because she wasn’t allowed (–> LOL at that. I’m afraid that Trump is, sadly, right on this one. When a friend and I were discussing Khan’s speech at the DNC and why Mr. Khan would sell his son’s memory  out to a candidate who voted for the very war that got him killed, his wife and her silence came into play. We agreed that the poor woman was probably just dragged there by her husband and that even if she had been against supporting a candidate whose vote is responsible for the senseless war that got their son killed, she was likely not allowed to say anything).

The Khans, and with that I mean Mr. Khan, continue to speak out, and Trump has continued to criticize them in response in the days since Thursday’s speech.

Not that I have any use for this sleazebag, charlatan, white supremacist piece of garbage Donald Trump, but I do think that he was right when he pointed out the hypocrisy here about Clinton being the one who voted for the Iraq war that got their son killed.

But in this climate and in this country, people do not want to know or face the truth when it comes to the military. They all want to romanticize war and military duty as this wonderfully amazing and heroic thing and revere soldiers as heroes who are fighting honorable, moral wars to save our country from evil.

No one wants to hear the inconvenient truth about the military industrial complex and the nature of war in general. No one wants to hear about the reasons why the War Department’s budget is so bloated and why and how there are strong monetary incentives for keeping us in a perpetual state of war. No one wants to talk about the human cost of war, in addition to the economic one. No one wants to talk about the the role defense contractors who pay off law makers and profit from war  play in this or even acknowledge the fact that the last legitimate war the US fought was World War 2.

Oh no. That would be unpatriotic and a betrayal to our soldiers. Instead, everyone wants to pretend veterans are heroes, instead of victims used by those in power to fight for dubious causes, such as for the benefit of the powerful and wealthy.  In this particular case, no one wants to acknowledge that Mr. Khan’s support for Hillary Clinton was hypocritical and that his son, Captain Khan, died in a senseless, fraudulent war perpetuated by corrupt politicians, including Clinton, and the military industrial complex.

Captain Khan’s parents, in addition to glorifying and romanticizing war as some heroic thing, sold out his memory to a politician who voted for the very fraudulent war that got their son killed; a politician who will continue military action and meddling in the Middle East to cause even more senseless deaths and harm to the very Muslim community Clinton pretends to care about when hiring a token Muslim, such as Mr Khan, to do her bidding.

These are the conversations leaders and the media do not want to have when they manufacture the consent of the public through propaganda and lies about the nature of war fare, the War Department and our foreign policy objectives. It is all hunky dory and anyone who says otherwise just hates veterans and America.

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On the Father of the Muslim-American War Hero

Khizr Khan speaks during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Khizr Khan, whose son, Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving in the U.S. Army in the 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, offers to loan his copy of the Constitution to Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as he speaks while a relative looks on during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016.

At the Democratic National Convention last week Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party pulled at the stops in order to gain traction and win points with nearly all segments of American society, which is a diverse bunch. One way of doing so was to bring in the father of a Muslim American “war hero” who brought the Democratic National Convention to its feet on Thursday night with his impassioned rebuke of Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Pakistan-born Khan, 65, appeared on stage at Wells Fargo Arena, the site of the Democratic convention, with his wife, Ghazala, at his side. He spoke of the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004 by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers from the ensuing explosion.

While I stand in full solidarity with Mr. Khan and feel deeply saddened by the loss of his son at the hands of our war mongering politicians, including Hillary Clinton whom he, ironically, supports, I ask myself: what about the parents and loved ones of all those Muslims who died at the hands of President Obama’s as well as Hillary Clinton’s  actions and policies in the Middle East?

Am I supposed to be impressed and touched that these self proclaimed men and women of honor bring in a token Muslim to their convention to show their solidarity with Muslim-Americans while at the same time, and behind closed doors and as we speak, they have ordered another round of drone attacks to those very parts?

I understand that this was Clinton’s way to put a human face onto the people who are the target of Trump’s vitriol and hateful rhetoric, but why does no one talk about all the Muslims Clinton and Obama got killed with their actions, including drone strikes?

Their lives matter, too. They loved their children, too. Who is listening to their pain? Who is lowering the flags for them? Who is inviting them to talk and giving them a chance to be heard?

I am bothered by how gullible and easily fooled people are. How superficially they look at issues, how a bit of fanfare, smiles and hugs and a few words of select wisdom are enough to win them over and embrace a candidate who has not only voted for the very fraudulent Iraq war Mr. Khan’s son died in (for nothing, if I may add) but who beats the drums to war as we speak and has no intention to stop US meddling and killing in the Middle East.

Clinton believes that this (token) Muslim she paid off to support her campaign was her being the epitome of decency and inclusion, when in reality  what she is doing is just using Muslims becasue it is politically expedient.

The truth is, each year thousands of Muslims, you know, the very brethren in faith of Mr. Khan,  die at the hands of our troops whose missions have been signed off and approved by the likes of President Obama and, later to be, Hillary Clinton. Each year dozens, if not hundreds, of families are torn apart, killed, separated and rendered destitute  due to the military actions our leaders sign off on. The current refugee crisis in Europe did not just take place in a vacuum or was brought on by itself. We had a lot to do with it.

To see no one talk about or mention that and instead celebrate Hillary Clinton as if she wasn’t a war monger who has voted for every military action in the Middle East she could vote on and who has called Palestinians in Gaza, terrorists, is disturbing and appalling.

Furthermore, by inviting these Muslim parents and using their tragedy for political gain (which, in and of itself is a pretty deplorable)  both Clinton and Obama just reinforce the binary of choice forced on Muslims: pacifism or violence. Most may not realize but by consistently putting onus on Muslims to ‘solve’ ISIS, our leaders  absolve any part US government policies have played and continue to play in the growth, cultivation and influence of ISIS.

Words are important, showing solidarity to the battered Muslim community is important – but don’t expect me to be grateful when you show up and tell me you support Muslims while you surveil, imprison and kill their kin.

Seeing so many American Muslims just eat up the words by Khan and, by extension, giving their support to Clinton and sing praise to her whilst ignoring this government’s policies (you know, the stuff that has actual impact on actual lives) is disappointing, albeit expected.

The sad thing is that Trump’s fascism and obscene Muslimophobia have created the kind of situation where Democrats do not, in fact, have to worry about addressing the deeper issues of military action, and specifically drone strikes, in the Middle East in any meaningful way.

The majority of Democrats in both House and Senate support the use of drone strikes that have proven to result in devastating civilian losses. Yet, it appears as though all they had to do is just invite a token Muslim to the table, throw around a few words about inclusion of the Muslim community, and they are guaranteed our votes. In other words, all they have to do is NOT be a vitriol spewing hater such as Trump, and they got it made. No need to examine the larger issues of foreign policy, specifically  as pertaining to the Middle East and the use of drones to kill those Muslims they pretend to care about. Just do not be Trump and you got their vote.

And, of course, someone who questions that is dismissed and called a Republican enabler whose continued criticism of Democrats is going to cost Clinton the election.

 

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Corporations No Longer Need Republicans To Do Their Bidding

The greedy, corporate, tax-evading pricks over at Apple Inc.said that they will not offer computers and other technological support to the Republican National Convention this coming July because of Trump’s comments about women, immigrants and minorities. The decision by one of the United States’ largest and most popular companies is the biggest corporate defection from the Republican convention, where the party will formally nominate Donald Trump.

News outlets and Clinton supporters are beside themselves with joy, seeing this as a significant win for progressive groups, which are pressuring major companies to boycott the convention over Trump.

And I am beside myself with outrage at how fucking naive and stupid people actually are.

The truth of the matter is that Apple will not endorse the RNC, not because of Trump’s stance on women and immigrants, whom they could not give a flying fuck about given their track record of running slave labor overseas and evading taxes here, but becasue Apple and all these corporations don’t need the Republicans anymore to do their bidding!!!

Hillary will be taking care of that from now on, just like she always has been.

And you know why? Because Hillary Fucking Clinton is a corporate shill and essentially a moderate Republican. She would have been a rising star in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

I really cannot believe how utterly deluded and naive people are. I cannot believe that they are buying this bullshit about corporations like Apple and all having finally turned a new leaf.

They have not.

And they are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they care about immigrants, women, blacks or anyone. They are doing it becasue a Clinton presidency is not going to hurt their bottom line, and they know it.  They do not care what the party they support is called as long as it helps them.

I mean, even the Koch Brothers have endorsed Clinton. the KOCH BROTHERS, who are the poster child of sinister corporate greed.

People need to realize that all those Republicans distancing  themselves from Trump are not doing so becasue they necessarily disagree with Trump’s stances on women, immigrants, the poor, blacks and what have you. They do so because the crass way Trump says things makes them look back. It is much harder to get even stupid people on your side and to vote against their own self interest when you are blatantly homophobic, misogynistic and racist and thus bigoted.

Trump is not saying anything out loud that the Republicans have not been dog-whistling about to their constituents and “shareholders” and creating policies for, for decades now using polite language and euphemisms. They just don’t like him becasue Trump’s crassness is so off-putting to people.

And the goes for Apple.

It would look really bad for Apple Inc to endorse Trump. No one would buy the stupid, overpriced shit anymore and people would start boycotting them too.

I am really dismayed at the state of affairs lately. It is like everyone has fallen into this collective stupor that does not allow them to see things for what they are. It is like as a nation we are digging ourselves ever deeper into a mess of our own creation.

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“Let’s Not Demonize a Man’s Tools”

“In the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people and saw countless others injured, “Pink Pistol“, an LGBT self defense and gun rights organization, issued this utterly ridiculous statement:

GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being. Our job now is not to demonize the man’s tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future.”

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols.

Demonize a man’s tools.

Wow.

Now we are hurting the feelings of guns, it would appear.

This is nothing but the old spiel about how it is not guns that kill people, but people that kill people.  Which is bullshit and a fallacious, not to mention overly simplistic, argument.

While it is true that it was a person who picked up the gun and made the decision to mass murder those people, it is  easy access to guns that is ultimately allowing such mass shootings to take place in the first place.

I have said this before and I will repeat it again: banning guns does not make us a less violent society. It is just that guns allow violence committed to be more brutal, more violent and bloodier. It is much harder to mass murder people with knives and machetes than it is with guns, especially assault rifles.

So while it is true that people carry out the attacks, the tools used to carry out those attacks do matter. If they did not, then we would just not regulate arms or ammunition of any kind at all. Then ordinary citizens could own tanks and grenades and machine guns and missiles and nukes. Because ‘hey, it is people that kill people’, right?  And not missiles/tanks/bombs.

Wrong. They are banned because overall they pose a public health and safety concern and therefore must be regulated. Like food and pharmaceuticals and safe child seats and clean water and air etc. All those things exist becasue of regulation.

Now it was about time that gun follow suit and also got banned. Overall, the cost of public gun ownership is too high and does not justify the rather meager benefits.

At the PBS Newshour last week President Obama assured a concerned audience member that he or Hillary do not “want to take away [our] guns.

That is when I realized just how utterly powerful the gun lobby has been in this country that no matter how horrific the gun violence incidences, including the mass massacre of children,  no one, no one, is willing to stand up to the NRA and even suggest the radical notion that maybe we should consider banning all guns while reexamining the validity and benefit of the  Second Amendment on American society today.

“We dont want to take your guns away” is not the right answer Mr. President. We have to ban guns. That is the only way we will significantly reduce gun violence. It doesn’t matter that people can still get them illegally. Being able to get something legally versus illegally makes a huge difference in terms of the number of guns circulating. Making something illegal just makes it harder to obtain. It is no ‘no big deal’.

And fuck the Second Amendment. Really. It was written for a different time and for different reasons and for a different peoples and a different America and the only reason it is being cited by gun nuts as a right today, is because of gun manufacturers and the  gun lobby leading to the misguided interpretation of the Second Amendment by our equally misguided Supreme Court. 

It seems like we are just going in loops: a shooting happens, some hack steps forward whining about  why “the good guys” like them, who allegedly use guns responsibly, should be “punished” for the mistakes of others, saying trite shit like ‘people kill people, not guns blah blah blah’, just so everyone shuts up like they had a point, just so we can repeat the same discussion next time around. And again. And again. And again…and then we wonder why nothing changes. 

Thing is: there is no such thing as responsible gun ownership. That is a myth. Guns are tools designed to kill. They serve no other purpose. A responsible, decent person doesn’t need guns in their everyday life to begin with. And  I have this suspicion that anyone who thinks they are a decent guy who needs to own guns to get by, is secretly hoping to have to use them one day.

Finally, background checks (and mental illness checks) don’t work: Mental illness reporting and “checks” (whatever that is supposed to entail) are a gross violation of a person’s privacy and with it dignity. And background checks don’t work because a lot of the shooters did not have police records and thus a negative background. The Sandy Hook shooter had a clean background and would have fallen through any kind of radar and so would most of the mass shooters of late. None of them had shady, criminal backgrounds. They were not the “wrong” people to own a gun, until they were.

So background checks don’t really do anything but give people on the other side a false sense of security and that someone is being held accountable here, when in reality these checks are so pointless in reducing gun violence, we may as well save ourselves the money and not bother with them at all.

And mental illness checks will do nothing but add more stigma to mental illness, further demonizing the already vulnerable, stigmatized mentally ill who, by the way, are more likely to be the victims of violence than its perpetrators.

The only way we can and will put an end to this fuckery is by BANNING ALL GUNS. Everything else is just self aggrandizing bullshit while pandering to the stupid masses and the damn gun lobby that’s turned gun ownership into a virtue and necessity via vile propaganda, lies and scapegoating.

If we don’t stop “demonizing” that man’s tool, the gun, as PInk Pistol put it oh so romantically, then nothing will change and we’ll be having the same discussion for another 50 years. 

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I Will Miss Bernie Sanders

bernie-sanders-having-birdiesandersI will miss Bernie Sanders and the air of hope and optimism he brought with him during this Primary season.

After all the capitulations of the Obama Administration to Republican demagoguery in general and to the GOP in particular; after all the nay-saying and “no we can’t do it after all” crap and over-compromising to the point of actually compromising one’s core principle and thereby essentially allowing Republicans to set the tone and direction of national policy and debate, it was great to see someone who inspired real change;  who wasn’t just another god-damn politician looking out for himself and his bottom line, perpetuating the same failed policies that further no one but the greed and avarice of the one percent.

Republicans have set the bar so low that it really does not take much to exceed it. This country has moved so far to the Right, that both Obama and Clinton would have fit well into the Reagan administration instead of FDR’s. The Republicans are so awful, that they make people like Clinton and Obama look good and liberal, rather than showing them as the moderate Republicans they really are. Republicans who have turned  not being a fascist into a standard which politicians like Clinton aspire to (“Hey vote for me, at least I was not THAT  horrible.”),

Seeing people come together, being fired up, having hope for a better future for all Americans, was inspiring. I think a lot of even cynical people felt that there was finally a political leader who wasn’t telling us what we wanted to hear becasue it was politically expedient,  but who, behind closed doors, just went on with business as usual. Someone who finally got it and who strived to make it happen, even if he knew it was hard. It was great to see someone who isn’t running a capitulation campaign,  where you aim really low so you can at least get that done (which is sort of the message I got from Hillary Clinton, in a nutshell). 

A lot of Clinton’s supporter believe that Sanders’ supporters live in a fantasy world where everything is free and they don’t have to work for it.  We were and continue to be dismissed as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, detached from reality, who don’t know any better, versus Clinton who repeatedly prides herself in her pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude.

But we are not blind. We understand the political process perfectly well.  We understand that the President isn’t an elected king and that he has to work with Congress and lawmakers to make things happen. We understood the value of compromise. We know that this is going to be an upward battle requiring effort, a thick skin and hard work. And we knew that Bernie Sanders was not going to waltz into the White House, swing a magic wand and make it all happen.

But winning is only half the battle. The appeal of the Sanders movement is about achievability as much as it is about inspiration and believing that one must and can work toward a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal  healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system. That in and of itself is half the battle.  And if you can’t even envision that, just like Clinton cannot and won’t envision it, then why do you even fucking want this job? Why do you bother?

Goldman-Sach-Hillary-900-e1455056003700

In fact, I have often wondered why given her defeatist pragmatic attitude Clinton even wants this job. She is rich enough so it is not like she has to work. And how much more money can one person need and want?

Is it for power? Prestige? To be the first woman President? Bragging rights?

I look at her track record and I look at her during this Primary season and I don’t see a public servant, I don’t see someone who wants to bring about change and reform. On the contrary, what I see is a neoliberal, Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire  militarist.

It is a shame. We had the chance to elect an utterly honest man who has not spent  the last 40 years enriching himself at the expense of the American people. Unlike Sanders’ positive and hope filled message, this so-called victory by Clinton brings with itself an air of hopelessness and despondency that weighs down my heart.

The masses of people being gullible sheep who vote against their own self interest is nothing new, but it never ceases to amaze and appall me when I do witness it.  Sanders is a man who, going by his tax returns alone, is  broke compared to his multi millionaire colleagues in Congress. He and his wife made less in one year ($204k) than  Clinton makes in one speech to Goldman Sachs. He didn’t vote for every war he could vote for,  he was not being sponsored by banks and corporations while also receiving endorsements by the likes of the Koch Brothers and war criminals like Henry Kissinger. Unlike Clinton he has not spent the bigger part of his career aligning himself with the powerful and wealthy against the powerless and poor.

Yet who do people vote for? Hillary Clinton. A woman who  wore a $12,000  Armani  suit while giving a speech on income inequality.

Hillary-Clinton-Banks-Wall-Street

As a woman and feminist I am supposed to feel really elated and happy here. It is a historic moment for the United States to finally have a woman Presidential nominee and probably also President. However, I feel nothing but disappointment and despair. I look at the next six months with a heavy heart and know that she will win the General Election, too, given that the person she is running against is not really a viable candidate, or even a opponent, but more like a troll. So in a way Clinton will be running unopposed come this November.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified and experienced for the job. Nk doubt in my mind she is brilliant. However, it is not her qualifications that are in question here, it is her priorities. She is bad for America and this historic moment of finally having a woman on the command chair is overshadowed by the fact that Clinton is not the Progressive she claims to be.

Clinton is not running (at this time or any other) to help the American people, who have been nothing short of brutalized by corporations and the politicians that do their bidding – including Clinton – or to make America a better place. She’s running because the Presidency is the biggest prize in the world, and she wants that prize. Trump is running for the same reason–bragging rights.

If she wins, and she will win, her presidency will then be focused–again–not on the people, but on doing just enough to secure a personal legacy and a place in the history books as The First Woman President.

Someone who accepts nearly a million dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and who goes to fundraisers were people spend nearly $400,000 on a plate, and someone who has a track record of voting for all the fraudulent wars this country has been engaged in for the past five decades and Wall Street bailouts and policies aimed at furthering the 1% at the expense of everyone else, someone who has already said that there will never, ever be universal health care and free – or at least affordable -education and meaningful student loan reforms for all, not just special interest groups – is not someone who should be running on the Progressive ticket.

For the record, Goldman Sachs does not pay HRC $250,000 per speaking engagement for nothing. Those rich people in the aforementioned dinner organized by George Clooney don’t spend nearly $400,000 a seat to help poor people. This is an investment and those people will  want a return on their investment; a return which doesn’t include you or I.

Clinton is a moderate Republican, paid and endorsed by big banks to convince the middle class to be happy with the old deal. And this past Tuesday, middle and working class America agreed by making her their nominee.

 

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The War Culture and Veterans

13315565_983413988440227_3266484451880158017_nCalls for supporting our troops and honoring veterans and military personnel are ubiquitous and loud and it has become one of those concepts people take for granted and unanimously agree on and rarely ever question, the assumption being that these men and women have “served” our country and deserve our respect, veneration and support.

Everything is “support the troops.” It has become a punctuation mark on nearly every advertising campaign and seemingly every sporting event. “Support The Troops” and “God Bless America”; you can hear those phrases repeated at anything from a car lot commercial to an NFL or even our local minor league hockey games.

Stating that you do not support our troops and the military is seen as sacrilege; as a heinous and cold hearted thing to do,  next to kicking puppy dogs and toddlers. In some parts of the country, not blindly accepting the alleged War On Terror is seen as unpatriotic.

I often read that whether one agrees with the reasoning for engaging in war,  no one deserves our respect more than the people who served, fought, died or were seriously wounded as a result of war. I read a comment once stating that “regardless of what the intention is, good or bad, giving yourself up for your nation’s ambitions is pretty respectful.”

I disagree.

Intention matters. Our nation’s ambitions matter. Why one joins the military and why one’s military engages in armed conflict matter very much. In fact, I would argue that this is one instance where intentions and motives should matter the most. Joining an armed organization that has massive firepower capabilities with deadly consequences for other human beings, especially civilians, should not be taken lightly. It is a big fucking deal and it matters.

If the reasons as to why do not and should not matter, then we had no business prosecuting  SS officers back in Nuremberg after WWII. But we did becasue we believed that blindly following orders and not asking why was neither a valid excuse nor acceptable.

More importantly, I disagree with this notion that our troops deserve our support no matter what. Supporting troops is an endorsement of war and armed conflict. Such seemingly innocuous  endorsements in turn set a bad example for the citizenry and especially children, because they teach them that violence and armed conflict are not only necessary and needed but also heroic and admirable, ultimately normalizing and glorifying war as something inevitable.

“Support Our Troops” or war in general are not something that should be romanticized and worshipped. Dying is not glorious. Being maimed and traumatized for life is not grand and heroic. Coming back an emotional, physical and spiritual wreck becasue you fought wars of choice and opportunity to further someone else’s agenda or fill their pocket books, as has been the case for all of the wars this country has fought over the past half a century, are not grand things. They are not admirable and laudable. They are contemptible.

War is bloody, devastating and brutal and everyone loses, one way or another. Even the “winners.”

Casualties and collateral damage and thus the loss of human life are not acceptable. They should never be taken as just a normal thing one must live with.

It’s easy to stand for a few moments and chant “USA! USA! USA!” and put a yellow ribbon sticker on your vehicle, than it is to try to understand the horrors of combat and the lasting traumas our troops have to endure, not to mention those whom our troops end up injuring, maiming and killing in the line of duty.

When I hear someone say those troops performed a service to our country, I have to ask: what service?  And for whom? For me? Killing and displacing people or adding fuel to internal feuding wars while bankrupting us internally are not a service performed for us. They do not do us any good.I am not benefiting from a fiscally bankrupting US military involvement all around the world. Involvement and meddling that gave rise to Islamic extremism in the Middle East and such things as the Islamic State Group. Those are not things that I consider benefits brought to me by our military. Those are devastating disasters I distance myself from and that I do not like committed in my name and with my taxes. I am most certainly not thankful for them or the military or the fucking troops.

Now I understand the need for military action at some point. I am not naive to believe we never, ever need it. But wars should be fought for defense only, instead of employed strategically in order to wear down and threaten those who do not agree with us or who pose potential threats or in order to change the balance of power in a region to our  favor etc.

Fighting countries hardly even capable of mounting a defense, never mind a real attack on our country, is not heroic and bold. It is cowardly and cruel. Adding fuel to internal conflicts, arming and training rebels to serve our cause regardless of the long-term consequences are not things I support about our military and, by extension, about our troops.

Take the Iraq war, for example, and calls to support our troops there:

First of all, the Iraq war was not a draft, those men who went, joined voluntarily. No one made them.

Secondly, the Iraq war was a fraudulent war to begin with. We had no business being there. It was a war sold to us via lies and manipulation, still is, and the troops are hailed as heroes when what they mostly did is engage in the indiscriminate killing of locals and various other war crimes, ultimately leading to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men and women. Men and women who were victims of the regimes that oppressed them and for whom US invasion and intervention brought nothing but more chaos, instability and death.

US troops are being ordered to commit atrocities so vile that the only way many of them can cope with the horror of what they have done is by killing themselves.

Examples of atrocities aided directly or indirectly by US troops in Iraq include;

– Orders to slaughter “all military age men” during some operations;

– Torturing detainees – many of whom had never engaged in combat and were totally innocent – at grisly prison camps across the country;

– Raping and torturing children at the infamous Abu Ghraib detention facility while they shrieked in terror. Women forced to watch later begged to be killed.

– Sodomizing detainees with chemical lights and broom sticks;

– Indiscriminately firing upon and killing journalists and children from the air;

– Massacring entire groups of unarmed Iraqis, including children and the elderly in Hadith.

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing,” wrote Daniel Somers, an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide following an arduous battle with PTSD that was caused by his role in committing “crimes against humanity,” according to the soldier’s suicide note – adding that him living “any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand.”

Our military involvements for the past forty to fifty years (i.e since the end of Vietnam) have been voluntary recruitment, not drafts. In case of a draft, I cannot blame people for going. They had no choice. But when there is no draft and you join the fucking military voluntarily, then that makes you an accomplice in the devastating and bankrupting war machine .

Of course, I am not surprised that the war machine and the powers that be and which profit from endless war would send such, almost subliminal, messages to people, trying their hardest to normalize war and gain support for what is really a futile, dangerous and devastating endeavour.

And in a way they have to, right? And with they I mean the politicians, warmongers and the highly profitable military industrial complex. In order to convince people to join a military organisation and give their life for whatever dubious cause, you have to embellish and romanticize, obfuscate and blur the lines. You have to say you support and honor the troops and praise them as heroes performing a service to our country. You have to tell them they are doing it for a grander cause. Who doesn’t want to be a hero? Who doesn’t want to believe they did something for a grander cause?

By creating a romantic appeal for war and by hailing those the war machine uses to fight those wars, as heroes who are “fighting for our freedoms”, the military industrial complex and the war mongering politicians who do their bidding, create public support for a war machine that has been devastating on many levels.

The last legitimate war the US fought was WWII. All wars after that have been wars of choice and opportunity; of political posturing; from Korea to Vietnam to the Gulf War,  to Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa,  Eastern Europe: all fraudulent wars of choice and opportunity aimed at enhancing our dominance in the world. Gaining allies here or starting wars there for political gain and so we can come out on top; so we can keep militaries and defense contractors funded at the expense of everyone else.

Heck we have taken the manipulation so far that we are now calling the War Department euphemistically the “Defense Department.”

The individuals who go to war and die or who are alive but have come back damaged and broken, aren’t heroes. They are pawns at best; fools who were duped and manipulated by the war mongers and defense contractors to believe that war is good and that dying for oil or political dominance or strategic advancement,  was a good thing.

At worst, they are trigger nervous thugs, miscreants and losers who are  looking for an outlet to live out their murder-lust and sociopathy (see Chris Kyle)  while at the same time sticking it to what they perceive to be Muslim scum, as payback for 9/11.

Our troops and veterans don’t exist and are funded in a vacuum. They exist and are funded within the context of our foreign policy objectives and our military actions. To say that the reasons for wars should not matter when it comes to supporting our troops is short-sighted and harmful.

The truth is, our troops are not heroes. They are not doing this country and its citizen a great service. Killing, raping,  pillaging and displacing thousands of innocent people for every one bad guy, is hardly a heroic act.

All the Memorial Day crap and “Support Our Troops” slogans are a way for the government and the military industrial complex that it is beholden to, to not only create a culture of war but to also normalize war as inevitable, needed, and heroic with the ultimate goal of creating support for it. And that is something I, as pacifist who opposes military action unless strictly for defensive purposes, oppose.

I do not support our troops because I do not support our wars. And one cannot be divorced from the other.

War is horrible, devastating and harmful and at the end of the day, we will not be able to solve out problems with tanks, drones and via war fare. We will,  however, be able to do so via diplomacy, cooperation and thus peaceful means. Those are also the avenues and channels we must explore and exhaust before a call to arms.

By supporting our troops, who at this point are nothing more than glorified contract killers if you ask me,  we become accomplices in their crimes. Not to mention that if we were to really support our troops, we would first have to see how they live and what they are going through; something that is not particularly compatible with all the feel-good, romanticised notions everyone has about war.

I think it was about time we took a step back and asked ourselves whether supporting the troops, and thus war,  is the kind of culture and society we want to have.

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Bernie Sanders and Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo and Bernie took a walk through the Brooklyn, New York school yards where Bernie grew up, and talked about his childhood, why he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and how those experiences translated into his life in politics and this movement. (Directed by Matthew Cooke)

 

 

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