SUPPORT THE TROOPS NEWSLETTER #2, December 9, 2013. Compiled by Dick Bennett for Culture of Peace and Justice. (#1 Oct. 15, 201).
War Department/Peace Department
War Department/Peace Department
See OMNI’s several newsletters on Us Imperialism and related subjects.
See: Imperialism, Militarism, Nationalism, Patriotism, Recruiting, US Imperialism, Westward Continental,
US Military Industrial Complex,
Security State, US
Weapons Sales, US Westward Imperialism WWII Pacific/E. Asia,
DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS (DAV)
A DAV advertisement on PBS May 14, 2013, thanks vets for sacrificing themselves to save our way of life (photos of vets with missing limbs) and appeals for support for better care. But the message is based upon several unexamined assumptions.
One enormous assumption is that the wars in which the vets were wounded were defensive, needed, legal, moral indeed righteous. If, as I think, most of the wars were aggressions, unnecessary, and illegal, where does that leave the vets and the DAV? These newsletters reply to this question.
GOOGLE “SUPPORT THE TROOPS” AND THE FIRST PAGE PRESENTS ALL GUNG HO PRO-MILITARY ENTRIES EXCEPT TWO. BUT GOOGLE “SUPPORT THE TROOPS PROPAGANDA” AND THE MAJORITY OF THE PAGE ONE ENTRIES CRITICIZE THE MILITARY IN VARYING INTENSITY. Dec. 9, 2013.
Contents #1 Oct. 15, 2013
York and Barringer: Christian Pacifism Against Killing
Herman: Support the Troops, Support the Wars
Michael Moore: Stop These Senseless Wars
Salaita: No Thanks
Dick: Service, the Services
Dick: Finding Rest
Dick, What Service Were You In?
Dick, Wal-Mart Vet Employees
Dick, Our Marines Can Do No Wrong
Ostrowski, Warmongers and Messengers of Truth
Blum’s Books on US Global Aggressions
Marine General Smedley Butler, War Is a Racket
Masullo, Bring Them Home
DICK BENNETT, WHAT SERVICE WERE YOU IN?
Smith, “Linemen To Take Electricity to
(ADG 9-1-13). Guatemala
“Service” the word serves militarism well. Ask the question and everybody knows the question pertains to the military service. But is that the only service for young men and women in the
course not. The only hazardous
service? Again, no.
The best service? Now here is the real, the controversial
question. Why do we give a higher
priority to military service people, whose service includes, when ordered,
killing, than to those service people whose service involves protecting and
rescuing people, such as doctors and nurses, firemen, teachers, and, in the
case of this article, electric linemen?
And these are also hazardous jobs, more or less (as with military
persons, combat or distant support).
Let’s get our priorities straightened out in the US and value
the people who save lives and don’t kill people, particularly in illegal and
Dick Bennett, DON’T PUNISH THE MARINES?
“Punish those Marines for urinating on the enemy? I should say not. Our government is developing a very dangerous pattern by punishing those we enlist to protect us.” Sue Richardson, Bella Vista. “Don’t Punish the Marines.” ADG (1-23-12). [Protect us? From Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Grenadians? Afghans, Iraqis? William Blum describes over 50 nations the
US has invaded or intervened with, and only the
Axis of WWII has attacked the US. Our Marines have invaded two dozen countries,
killing their people. Pissing on them is
a minor issue comparatively. –Dick]
Cyd King, “Wal-Mart: 100,000 Veterans on Rolls.”
Democrat-Gazette (8-7-13). A Commentary by Dick Bennett. Arkansas
Wal-Mart says it employs 100,000 now and “that figure is expected to double over the next five years.” How is this happening? Partly, the reporter tells us, because it is committed to hiring vets, including recruitment through its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment. VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki visited Wal-Mart to praise W-M for putting vets to work. Why is W-M doing this? No executive was quoted, but perhaps Shinseki’s explanation partly applies: vets are “’people with tremendous opportunities to provide service both to the nation and to the businesses they work with’.” And he adds, echoing the Obama administration’s overall view: “What they need, he said, are jobs, a good education, quality health care ‘and the opportunity to join the middle class and help all of us get the economy rolling again.’” President Obama is later quoted by Shinseki as being fond of saying, “’Veterans who have fought our wars shouldn’t have to fight for jobs,’ and that’s what our discussion has been about today.”
Many underlying assumptions are not questioned. Did the reporter check the 100,000 claim? Exaggeration is a frequent liability in commercial publicity. Why are veterans given this privilege and not other unemployed service citizens or citizens seeking larger salaries for their essential service—mental health workers, teachers, librarians, ambulance drivers, firefighters, city councillers? If the veterans voluntarily participated and killed innocent people in
unconstitutional wars, a case could be made that all of the vets hired should
be carefully examined regarding their critical thinking and their combat
record. Wal-Mart: instead of touting how many vets you have
hired of the some fifty illegal interventions and invasions performed by the
corporate-Pentagon-White House-Congressional-Imperial Complex, hire the victims of these violent violations.
I can think of one persuasive counter-argument: our troops themselves are victims—of the false myths used to justify the US empire (we conquer and kill for freedom and democracy; the US is exceptional, unique and not expected to follow universal norms such as those defended by the World Court); of the lying recruiters who persuade young and poor people to join; and women soldier victims of rapists. If compassion for these veterans motivates Wal-Mart, let CEO Bill Simon, a U.S. Navy veteran, say so.
Support the Troops?
We often hear, from antiwar activists as well as pious politicians and every sort of commentator, that we should all "support the troops." No matter what one thinks of the particular war being fought, this kind of boilerplate is invariably appended: "But of course," we are told, "." We honor them for their service. We pat them on the back and say: "Good job!"
In this context, consider the details of the most recent atrocity coming out of
, the activities of the
"," which is accused of and . The alleged mastermind of the
thrill-killers, , is also by
military authorities on suspicion of carrying out similar murders in Afghanistan . The Gibbs
"kill team" is suspected of slaughtering at least seven Afghan
civilians, and quite possibly more, in . Gibbs and four others were
arrested in June, and . Iraq
These twelve apostles of mayhem — assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade, and stationed at , along the border with
randomly chose unarmed Afghan civilians to murder. Then they shot them, or blew
them up with grenades, mutilating the victims. Gibbs, the alleged ringleader, out
of the body parts. They covered up their killing spree by placing weapons near
the corpses, and the incidents went down in the records as gun battles with
Gibbs reportedly has a tattoo on his left calf which is a pictorial record of his crime spree: it consists of two crossed pistols encircled by six skulls. According to , the red skulls indicate murders carried out in
, and the
blue skulls represent Afghan kills. Iraq
Knowledge of the killings was widely shared in the camp, and it’s hard to imagine higher-ups were unaware of what was going on. But there was indeed one apparently unwilling participant, , who desperately tried to reach out to his parents, to whom he confessed the murders.
The "honor the troops" brigade will tell us this is just another of a few bad apples: this latest incident is no reason to condemn the entire
military – is it? US
Well, quite frankly, it because, as Winfield to his parents in a February 14 Facebook posting: "Pretty much the whole platoon knows about it. It’s okay with all of them pretty much. Except me…. I want to do something about it [but] the only problem is I don’t feel safe here telling anyone." "I talked to someone," Winfield continued, "and they told me this stuff happens all the time and that when we get back there is always someone that spills the beans so it normally works its way out."
Winfield’s father asked, "No one else thought it was wrong?" Winfield’s reply:
Winfield resigned his position as the platoon’s team leader because "I cannot be a leader in a platoon that allows this to happen." He went on to make a key point:
None of this would have come out if not for an investigation into alleged drug use by soldiers. Investigators uncovered widespread and rampant drug use, including hashish, opium, and anti-depressants which are issued by the military: in the course of their investigation, one of the thrill-killers – apparently under the influence at the time – . In addition, Winfield’s parents made repeated calls to military authorities immediately upon learning of this horror, but before I get to any of that I want to underscore Winfield’s words:
Of course there aren’t. What kind of person joins the military at this particular point in time – a point when the US is engaged in endless wars of , and stories of by "our" soldiers are coming out all the time? For the most part, precisely the kind of person who would delight in the orgy of bloodlust conducted by the "thrill kill platoon." The military has become an outlet for the sociopaths in our midst.
Yes, I know, with the recession people will be joining for : after all, where else can they find a job?
Economic considerations no doubt play a large part in the decision to go into the military, but other factors also play a part in making this choice: alongside economic necessity, in this instance, is the generalized knowledge that atrocities are being committed over there. Winfield says the whole platoon knew about what was going on with the "thrill killers," and the same can be said about the entire country when it comes to atrocities being committed in and by US troops, and I don’t just mean . This grisly record is common knowledge, and, in deciding to join up, the prospective
soldier is consciously choosing
to ignore or downplay the moral aspects of being asked to commit atrocities:
it’s much more important to him (or her) to make a living. US
This is the definition of a moral monster.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the decision to seek a career in the military did not involve becoming such a monster. That time has long since passed. To put on an American uniform today is to become complicit in , and this characterization is not by any means limited to the thrill-killer platoon but to the entire killing machine deployed to carry out
When Winfield’s parents they were told nothing could be done unless Winfield came forward in
– where his life was at risk. The others suspected him of being
"soft," and threats had already come in from the thrill-killers that
if he squealed his life was worth nothing: the ringleader waved the finger of a
dead Afghan in his face to illustrate the point. The day he learned of
the situation his son was in – Valentine’s Day, a Sunday — Winfield’s father
left message on the Army Inspector General’s hotline, the Army’s criminal
investigations division, and the office of Sen. Bill Nelson, Democrat of
The response was nil. A few days later, Private Winfield was forced by his sergeant to engage in yet another random murder: Winfield , but the military is still charging him in the killing.
The Army knew what was going on. As that officer said to Winfield, this sort of thing goes on all the time. It’s part of our "footprint," even in areas where we aren’t engaged in military operations. Where
military bases exist, murders and rapes committed by US military personnel are : the bases themselves are ringed with bars, houses
of prostitution, and other less-than-savory establishments, catering to the
thuggish tastes and habits of our centurions as they guard the perimeters of
the American empire. These bases are running sores on the faces of our client
states and protectorates, and, as in ,
immensely resented ambassadors of ill will. US
So what can we do about it? Short of getting the
US out of Iraq and , not to mention the
rest of the world, the antiwar movement can engage in an aggressive campaign of . This latest atrocity, which has been
downplayed by the Afghanistan
media, should be publicized extensively, in tandem with a focused effort to
persuade young people not to join up. If the media is running "" and ads promoting military service, we
should run counter-ads – and take full advantage of the controversy when the
networks refuse to run them. US
military is a criminal
enterprise, just as the ruling elite in this country is : and they are getting away
with murder. One day, the people’s justice will be visited on them. Let’s hope
that rough justice doesn’t unfairly impact us all. US
The US is exporting its sociopaths overseas, in hopes that the havoc such people usually wreak can be put to some "good" use, but such callousness will soon blow back in our faces when Johnnie-the-thug comes marching home. We’ve already seen a spate of committed by just-released veterans of the
and Afghan wars: among
these veterans, and a disproportionately large segment is turning violent. More
worrisome, gang members are reportedly , and being accepted because the military is
desperate to make its recruiting quota. They are boasting that when they come
back, trained to kill by professionals, they’ll be in good shape to continue
their criminal activities on the home front. Iraq
It will be a harsh justice indeed as these deranged killers visit the same sort of destruction on us as they inflicted on their innocent victims overseas.