Posts Tagged veteran

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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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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This Is Charity

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Mesut Ozil of the German World Cup Soccer team has donated his €300,000 (around $405,000) prize for winning the World Cup to pay for the surgeries of 23 Brazilian children – one for each member of Germany’s 23-man squad.

Now this is what I call charity, not shit like Amy Adams offering her (most probably free) first class seat on a plane to a veteran.

While table scraps like that are a nice gesture, offering your first class seat to a veteran is not anywhere near anything I would consider generous and charitable. It is kind of condescending actually and it sure as hell doesn’t really help a veteran.

Now if a person of modest means who paid good money for that seat had offered it  to the veteran, I would feel differently, but to see a multi-millionaire be only capable of giving a poor man a nice seat on a plane is just pathetic.

Amy Adams probably got that seat for free anyway and while quite nice, I want to point that nice is just about all it is because, that kind of shit doesn’t help people!!

Amy Adams has the wealth to do so much more and to truly reach out to that man and help him out yet all she can do is give him a seat. Thing is, that veteran doesn’t need a first class seat on a plane as much as he probably needs a decent paying job with a livable wage and benefits, as much as he needs financial security, as much as he needs access to quality and affordable health care etc.

While it may feel great that he can stretch out his legs for a few hours, a first class seat on a plane doesn’t pay his medical bills, it doesn’t pay for his psychological counseling – which he most likely needs after the trauma of war- ,  it doesn’t pay for his rent or put retirement money in his account. That kind of stuff is nothing but shameless self promotion trying to mask as charity in a country where people are so used to not seeing charity that the majority are thankful for such a gesture and think Amy Adams is the best ever.

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Amy Adams

But she is not. She just gave up her seat for a man on a plane, thus exhibiting basic human decency. When you give up your seat on a bus for a handicap person you are merely exhibiting the bare minimum of human decency, you don’t get accolades for that (and for all our intent and purposes, a millionaire giving up her first class seat on a plane to a veteran is the equivalent of a regular person giving up their seat on a bus).

My point is, if you have the means and you want to help people, try helping them in ways that matter – in ways that truly help them get back on their feet, in ways that lessen their burdens as they navigate life in poverty and destitution, such as helping pay for the medical treatment of children whose families do not have the means to pay for such a treatment.

Giving up a seat you got for free is not impressive and it sure as hell is not charity. Not to me as I expect more and set a higher bar.

But agreeing to pay a war veteran’s medical bills for a year from your bloated thespian salary, for example, that is charity. Or would have been charity, if Ms. Adams had actually offered it.

As  Jack London once wrote: “a bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is a bone shared with a dog, when you are just as hungry as a dog.”

There is so much wealth in this nation and collectively we could do so much better for everyone, if only we had the will. Instead, we deal with poverty, need and destitution by telling fairy tales about bootstraps and hard work, and how misfortune only happens to the lazy, the immoral, to people who deserve it etc.

Most people who have it very good, who are members of the one percent, rarely think about what it really takes to help others; they often lack the empathy needed to help create a society where we help out those less fortunate than us with something more than table scraps. They sit in their ivory towers, throw down scraps they got for free in the first place and call that charity. It is not.

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