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This week in New World Notes, #67, June 9 & 12:
This week's installment bears the title, "Support the Troops!"
In fact, this is not the motto of the Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs, or White House. Their motto is not "Support . . . " but rather "F**k the Troops!" In excerpts from a recent talk, journalist Aaron Glantz explains the major ways these institutions do so. Fighting troops are treated shoddily, seriously injured troops (no longer useful to the War Machine) worse, and veterans worst of all.
All those trillions of dollars of our tax money we pay for "defense"? They become profit for our patriotic war industries. The money isn't used to "support the troops" by, say, putting armor on their Humvees . . . supplying enough water to allow working all day in a desert without dehydration . . . preventing female soldiers from being raped by male soldiers and Blackwater goons . . . sending soldiers home after one tour of duty . . . providing all the benefits that the recruiters promised . . . and providing psychiatric care to all soldiers who need it.
And the more tours of duty in a combat zone they force you to endure, the more you'll need this last item . . . if you're lucky enough to avoid electrocution by the KBR-installed faulty wiring in your barracks.
Hence the high rates of suicide and of untreated psychiatric problems among soldiers on active duty today. And the even-higher rates of same among veterans. Then for the latter group let's add a few generous servings of mortgage foreclosure, divorce, alienation from one's family, alcohol and drug abuse, spouse abuse, other lawbreaking, unemployment, and homelessness.
What, me worry?
Glantz's survey of the customary and usual ways the military and the rest of the federal government abuse the troops is infuriating--even to anti-militarist, antiwar Conscientious Objectors such as the entire staff of New World Notes.
Glantz, too, since 'way back, has been antiwar and no fan of the military. But while reporting on the invasion and occupation of Iraq--I believe he was "unembedded"--he came to sympathize with and identify with the enlisted soldiers and called-up National Guardsmen.
But the exploitation and abuse of the country's "grunt" troops did not begin with Rumsfeld. I can trace it back almost a century, and I suspect that any bright undergraduate history major could trace it back at least as far as the Continental Army of George Washington.
To make the point, in addition to Glantz's talk I play a passage of testimony made before a Senate committee in 1971. Testimony made by an obscure combat veteran and antiwar activist named John Kerry.
Last, I read General Smedley Butler's 1935 expose' of how our soldiers and veterans of World War One have been treated--a section of Butler's celebrated long pamphlet, War is a Racket.
- Roy Zimmerman, Thanks for the Support
Coming soon (dates of WWUH Tuesday broadcast shown):
- June 16--George Galloway on War and Occupation
- June 25--George Galloway on Palestine
Butler's War is a Racket is available without charge on several Web sites. One good source--which offers the text in HTML, pdf, and ASCII formats--is http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html.
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