Honor the dead by making sure not another American soldier dies fighting in pointless and thankless wars.
Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform says it well in his essay of May 27, 2012. Here are the choice excerpts:
“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
Economic Opportunity Cost
“You can’t say civilization don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.” – Will Rogers
Any doubt that the Military Industrial Complex is as strong as ever should be removed after examining Obama’s 2012 Budget which has $900 billion dedicated to our military machine. We spent $370 billion in 2001, $620 billion in 2006, and now this liberal anti-war Democrat from Illinois is spending 45% more than that war monger Bush who was burned in effigy by the anti-war Democrats during Iraq War protests. It seems both parties are war pigs.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, leaving the United States as the only remaining superpower on earth. Since 1990, the United States has depleted the U.S. Treasury of $11.5 trillion for spending on War. With no military on earth capable of challenging us why would there be a need to spend this much on the military? Over this same time frame the U.S. spent $500 billion on science, space & technology and $70 billion on energy, a mere 6% of the spending on invading sovereign countries. Military expenditures benefit humanity in no way. If these trillions had been invested by the private sector or devoted to energy and scientific research, our economy might not be a hollowed out shell, dependent on China for financing and oil exporting countries for energy. Neo-Cons argue the Arms Industry employs millions and benefits the country. These companies employ brilliant engineers and scientists who spend their days developing weapons that kill people more efficiently. If they had been employed manufacturing high tech goods to export around the world, inventing new technologies that didn’t obliterate human beings, newer safer nuclear power plants, a more efficient electric grid, upgrading our deteriorating infrastructure, or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, would the United States be better off today?
The National Debt in 1990 was $3.2 trillion. Today, it is $15.7 trillion. This is a 500% increase in twenty-two years. What benefit has $11.5 trillion of spending on War produced for the United States or the world? In 2001, spending on Defense was 17% of total governmental spending. In 2012, Defense, Homeland Security, and war spending account for 25% of government spending. In the meantime, major cities experience blackouts due to an overloaded electrical grid, our 156,000 structurally deficient bridges crumble, one hundred year old water pipes burst under our streets every day, and we transfer over $300 billion per year to foreign countries for our precious oil. The 19 terrorist hijackers who implemented their plan with box cutters, spent less than $500,000 to pull off their 9/11 acts of terror – not war. The United States will directly spend at least $3 trillion on our wars of choice in response, while turning our country into a prison camp and stripping our citizens of their freedoms and liberties for perceived security and safety.
You would think we must be trying to keep up with our enemies by spending $900 billion per year on past and present military adventures. But one look at the following chart reveals the United States is spending almost as much as the rest of the world combined. The two countries considered potential rivals, China and Russia, spent $200 billion combined in 2010. This is 22% of U.S. spending. From a foreign viewpoint, one must wonder why the U.S. is spending such vast sums on our military. They can only conclude that it is for offensive intentions rather than defensive. The United States soil has not been attacked by a foreign power since December 7, 1941. Prior to that surprise attack, a foreign power hadn’t attacked the U.S. since the War of 1812. With this stupendous level of wasteful spending, our leaders feel compelled to interfere in the business of sovereign states and dictate how they should govern their nations . When you have an enormous hammer, every country looks like a nail.
Laughably, the neo-con hawks and Fox News pundits declare that our military is a hollow shell and needs much greater funding to insure our safety from attack by our many enemies. Other countries, such as China and Russia, feel they have no choice but to increase their expenditures on the military. On a percentage basis, they have more than doubled their expenditures in the last ten years, and still are a drop in the ocean compared to American Empire spending. The fact is that the U.S., China and Russia all have enough nuclear weapons to obliterate the world – mutually assured destruction. The United States could realistically protect itself from attack with only the 18 ballistic missile nuclear submarines we have in commission.
When did Americans lose their ability to distinguish between intellectual and moral pygmies like George Bush, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney versus statesmen like Dwight D. Eisenhower? The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war when our country was not threatened has proven to be financially and diplomatically disastrous and his blueprint is being followed by our Nobel Peace Prize President in his saber rattling with Iran. Following this policy puts them in fine company.
“Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
The U.S. borrowed $807 billion from China, Japan and oil exporting countries to wage a war in Iraq that was based on false pretenses. None of the terrorist hijackers on 9/11 were Iraqis, they had no links to Al Qaeda, and Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Historian Barbara Tuchman description of “war as the unfolding of miscalculations” was never so fitting. In 2002, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld estimated the costs of the war in the range of $50 to $60 billion, a portion of which he believed would be financed by other countries. The United States invaded Iraq to secure the 115 billion barrels of oil reserves, pure and simple. We traded the blood of young Americans for oil because we chose to not develop a cohesive logical energy policy in the last 30 years. Americans, not in the military, sacrificed nothing in the last 11 years of war. We bought BMW SUVs, 6,000 square foot McMansions, flat screen HDTVs, iPads, iPhones and Rolexes while less than 1% of Americans fought and died, with the cost passed to future unborn generations. We are a country of chickenhawks, willing to sacrifice the few so the ruling class can comfortably relax on their decks sipping wine, believing Fox News propaganda about terrorists lurking behind every bush, and filling up their Mercedes convertibles for their excursions to the summer cottage in the Hamptons.
As we spend $900 billion per year on instruments of destruction, 49 million Americans live in poverty, with 46 million on food stamps. There are 3 to 4 million people homeless in any given year. Military Veterans, who make up 13% of the population, account for 23% of the homeless. This is another example of Federal government politicians using young Americans to fulfill their agenda and then tossing them away like pieces of garbage. [...]
What kind of a civilized society allocates 44% of the taxes taken from its people to war? Only 2.5% of your taxes go to science, energy, and environment. Only 2.2% of your taxes go to education and jobs. You produce the results that you would expect from your investments. A full 13% of our population doesn’t have a high school diploma (20% of African Americans & 43% of Latinos) and only 30% have a college degree. How do we expect to lead the world in technology and research with these figures? We do lead the world in government issued student loan debt with $1 trillion and rising.
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Barack Obama are cowardly politicians who never had the “pleasure” of coming under fire in battle. [...]
The world has been a huge game of Risk for these warmongers, with young Americans as the game pieces. Instead of conquering Kamchatka in a board game, these non-veterans sent 6,470 Americans to their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan for a false cause. [...] Another 47,545 Americans have been badly wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three of these despicable politicians have written their memoirs, raking in millions for telling lies and half-truths. The 6,470 dead Americans won’t have a chance to write their memoirs or get rich. They will never get a chance to see their kids’ graduate college or walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Their children will grow up with a giant hole in their hearts. Their widows will never recover from their endless heartache.
[...] American soldiers, who have completed their duty to country, have been lied to and had the rules of the game changed again and again. Their politician leaders have reneged on their promises by sending men and women back to the war zone or not letting them come home on the timeline that was agreed to. Meanwhile, their families have gone bankrupt, lost their houses, and saw their marriages dissolve. Politicians started these wars and are too cowardly and prideful to accept failure.
“The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” – General William Westmoreland
Over 1,300 more Americans died needlessly when Barack Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, chose to double down in Afghanistan to prove he was as tough as Bush and McCain. Another man who has never been under fire needed to prove his manliness to his opponents and his constituency. He should have studied the words of former Presidents who were under fire.
“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” - George Washington
President Obama follows the standard Presidential game plan and dutifully gives patriotic speeches at military bases proclaiming the bravery and sacrifice of our troops. These are the words of politicians. The brutal reality for troops is much different. Representative Ron Paul in November 2003 described the early mistreatment of our soldiers:
- Fort Stewart, Georgia housed hundreds of injured reserve and National Guard soldiers in deplorable conditions who were forced to wait months just to see a doctor. These soldiers made huge sacrifices, leaving their families and jobs to fight in Iraq. They found themselves living in hot, crowded, unsanitary barracks and waiting far too long to see overworked doctors. This was hardly the heroes’ welcome they might have expected. Only an exposé in a major newspaper brought attention to their plight, prompting an embarrassed Defense department to rush additional doctors to the base.
- Some wounded soldiers convalescing at Walter Reed hospital in Washington were forced to pay for hospital meals from their own pockets. Other soldiers returning stateside for a two-week liberty had to buy their own airfare home from the east coast. Still others paid for desert boots, night vision goggles, and other military necessities with personal funds.
- Existing federal rules forced disabled veterans to give up their military retirement pay in order to receive VA disability benefits. This meant that every VA disability dollar paid to a veteran was deducted from his retirement pay, effectively creating a “disabled veterans tax.” No other group of federal employees is subject to this unfair standard; in every other case disability pay is viewed as distinct from standard retirement pay.
The Humvees that soldiers were forced to drive did not have enough protective armor. In December 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was giving one of his usual inspirational speeches when Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a unit that consisted mainly of reservists from the Tennessee Army National Guard asked him a question:
“Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?”
This set off what the AP described as “a big cheer” from his comrades in arms. Rumsfeld paused, asked Wilson to repeat the question, then finally replied, “You go to war with the army you have.” Besides, he added, “You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can be blown up.” I’m glad Donald Rumsfeld has a clear conscience. History will not be kind to this despicable excuse for a human being.
Rumsfeld also sent Americans into battle without protective body armor. Only after bad publicity did the proper protection reach the troops. The blood of dead soldiers is on Rumsfeld’s hands. While President Bush sacrificed by not golfing, terribly wounded soldiers were sent to Walter Reed Hospital to recover. Instead they entered hell on earth. Outpatient mistreatment was reported in 2004, but nothing was done. In 2004 and 2005, articles appeared in the Washington Post and in Salon interviewing First Lt. Julian Goodrum about his court martial for seeking medical care elsewhere due to poor conditions at WRAMC. A Washington Post expose in 2007 finally revealed the horrible mistreatment of our brave wounded soldiers. These reporters uncovered the following conditions:
- WRAMC’s Building 18 was described in the article as rat- and cockroach-infested, with stained carpets, cheap mattresses, and black mold, with no heat and water reported by some soldiers at the facility. The unmonitored entrance created security problems, including reports of drug dealers in front of the facility. Injured soldiers stated they are forced to “pull guard duty” to obtain a level of security.
- The typical soldier was required to file 22 documents with eight different commands – most of them off-post – to enter and exit the medical processing world, according to government investigators. Sixteen different information systems were used to process the forms, but few of them could communicate with one another. This complicated system has required some soldiers to prove they were in the Iraq War or the War in Afghanistan in order to obtain medical treatment and benefits because Walter Reed employees were unable to locate their records.
There was a tremendous surge in suicides by soldiers who have been pushed beyond their limits as they increased by 80% between 2004 and 2008. There are almost as many deaths by suicide as deaths in combat:
- Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.
- Soldiers returning from long tours in Iraq or Afghanistan suffering from combat stress were sometimes met with scorn from their superiors and something bordering on neglect from some medical officials. As their largely untreated problems deteriorated, their marriages unraveled under the strain. They turned to alcohol and drugs and in some cases saw no other way out than suicide.
- Healthcare officials at various installations who are struggling to help say they’re overwhelmed by huge numbers of troops returning from two, three or even four deployments with acute mental problems from combat.
- Statistics on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, obtained in 2011 through a Freedom of Information Act request by a San Francisco newspaper, found that more than 2,200 soldiers died within two years of leaving the service, and about half had been undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress or other combat-induced mental disorders at the time.
- For five years, beginning in 2005, a service member died by suicide every 36 hours, according to the report by the Center for New American Security.
Nearly 20% of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a RAND Corporation report. Many service members said they do not seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they fear it will harm their careers. But even among those who do seek help for PTSD or major depression, only about half receive treatment that researchers consider “minimally adequate” for their illnesses. Recent studies expect PTSD to affect 30% of all returning veterans.
For all the glory and accolades of dying for chickenhawks like Dick Cheney, enlisted soldiers make between $17,000 and $32,000 per year. The military evidently does not prepare them well for the outside world as their unemployment rate is 12.1% versus the national rate of 8.2%. The pandering Obama gives speeches and the criminal bankers at JP Morgan have their PR maggots create TV commercials about hiring veterans, but the numbers don’t lie. A country can be measured by how well it treats its veterans. Our leaders talk a good game, but their actions prove they don’t care about the human costs of war. They are busy planning their next move in their game of Risk.
Read the rest of the article here.