Our Military Is Fighting For Corporate Profites
By John Kaminski
Do you remember how many US soldiers died in the first Gulf War? On television at the time, they told you it was around 64. Later, as news agencies recalculated the total from a variety of sources, it became 146. But now, some 13 years later, according to the Veterans Administration itself, the first Gulf War death toll among US troops who served there stands at 8,013! And this a figure from a 2002 report.
I was reminded of this hideous numerical progression recently when I read the Pentagon's report listing 534 American military fatalities as of Feb. 1, 2004. Almost immediately after seeing that, I read the story by Australian investigator Joe Vialls saying the American combat death toll from Iraq was actually 1,188.
So what is going on? As if we didn't know.
Today's Army recruitment jingle is "Be all that you can be." But given the news these days, and the ominous spectrum of options and consequences that confront today's enlistees, it seems like all you can be is dead, or at best, severely messed up for the rest of your life.
It seems like the real choices when you join the US military are somewhere between missing limbs, lifelong cancer from toxic substances, and learning how to murder innocent women and children on the diabolical say-so of those who avoided military service themselves.
If dubious combat in some out of the way place doesn't get you with a roadside bomb planted by courageous souls who resent your invading their country, then the aftereffects of radioactive ammunition vapor, poisonous vaccines, bad equipment, substandard medical care, inadequate training, and, if you're a woman, being raped by your own American comrades, is likely your foreseeable future. (See http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,0,36%257E30137%257E,00.html for that last topic.) Soberly considered, these realizations might possibly dissuade you from signing up.
Private e-mail communications I have had with some enlisted men in the military have painted a really grim picture. Americans are now in a minority in the US Army, according to these messages. A majority of our troops are now green card soldiers, foreign nationals who have immigrated to the states and joined the military in order to get their citizenship, if they can live through the experience. And they are not especially eager to uphold esprit de corps, or fulfill any mission they might be given, only to get that piece of paper.
But even worse that that-and what ordinary soldiers and sailors would consider the worst possible fate to befall them-is that many career military personnel who have served their 20 years in order to get their pensions with which to live out their days with a comfortable financial anchor are now prevented from going home because top military officials insist they can't afford to lose them.
Just imagine - joining the military and never being able to get out! It's a tale out of ancient Rome.
And all this isn't even to mention-so far-the phony rationalizations used by the fake human beings in Washington to throw away the lives of America's finest young people.
Those contemplating joining the military-and parents who are trying to counsel their children with this decision-should contemplate the following choices.
First of all you have wars popping up everywhere, with the Pentagon petrogurus and pharmapsychotics intent on creating new conflicts as fast as they can. But the bottom line is this. Based on what the leaders of our country and the people in charge of our military are saying, they are not telling the truth.
The leaders of our military are not only not telling the truth about why they are going to war, as clearly demonstrated by this ongoing caper in Iraq, where the stated reasons for initially starting this "preemptive" war have been demolished six ways from Sunday.
But they are lying about everything else, as well. They are lying about the number of people killed (they don't even bother to count the Iraqis or Afghanis or Colombians or Filipinos they kill), they are lying about how Americans are dying, or getting their limbs shot off, or dropping dead on the spot from some kind of mysterious pneumonia.
Soldiers going to Iraq were ordered to take an antidote to biological weapons called pyrisdostigmine bromide (PB). They also received a vaccine against botulinum and a drug to protect against anthrax. Some 250 thousand troops took PB, 8,000 received botulinum vaccinations, and 150 thousand took the anthrax medicine.
An investigation in response to the deaths of two soldiers and the hospitalization of approximately 100 with what was diagnosed as pneumonia has revealed that 10 of the 19 most severe cases, including the two fatalities, had the condition eosinophilia-a higher than normal level of the white blood cell eosinophil. Eosinophilia is commonly associated with an allergic reaction to either toxins or parasitic infection. In these cases, the military claims there is no evidence of toxins or an infectious variant of pneumonia. An Army spokesman blamed the problem on excessive cigarette smoking.
The World Health Organization has specifically warned that "brief accidental exposure to high concentrations of uranium hexafluoride has caused acute respiratory illness, which may be fatal." The WHO report notes that "pulmonary edema [fluid in the lungs], hemorrhages, inflammation and emphysema" were observed in rats, mice and guinea pigs after 30 days of inhaling DU. Fatal kidney damage has also been induced in animals by several days of high exposure. DU, or depleted uranium, in case you don't know this (where have you been?!) is what America's bullets and bombs are made of. And likely what is to account for the continued increase in the Gulf War I death toll over the past decade.
And when the troops come home in a box, they're preventing the news media from even seeing them. And when they're not in a box but all shot up, they're putting them into warehouses because they don't have the medical personnel (or the commitment to treat with decency those defending America) to deal with the injured.
But it's not only that. The current push to refresh overstressed troops now involves thrusting poorly trained reservists and National Guard personnel into situations that are almost too much to bear for the military's most hardened units. Just imagine what these weekend warriors-pharmacists and factory workers from small town middle America-are up against being tossed into the middle of a guerrilla war where the whole country of Iraq is boobytrapped and the whole population hates your guts and is out to kill you. Care to sign up for that?
Still, when you join the military you must accept the possibility you might get killed. That's why the military exists, so you can't complain too much about that. You can complain about the choices of the leaders that put your dumb butt in that position, but when you join the military, you pretty much give up that right, too. But many troops are complaining that their equipment often doesn't work, the food is barely edible, the medical care (at least in the field) is pretty substandard, and when these injured troops get home, well, that's when it gets dicey .... and shameful.
You've no doubt heard of the debacle of injured troops brought back and left to molder in un-air-conditioned barracks at Fort Stewart, Georgia for up to six weeks without any medical care at all. Or the shot-up zombies wandering around the corridors of Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington unable to get adequate treatment because there just aren't enough medical personnel to care for them.
Soldiers at Fort Stewart described clusters of strange ailments, like heart and lung problems, among previously healthy troops. They said the Army has tried to refuse them benefits, claiming the injuries and illnesses were due to a "pre-existing condition," prior to military service, even though their pre-combat physicals turned up nothing of the sort.
Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block barracks without bathrooms or air conditioning. The latrine smells of urine and is full of bugs, because many windows have no screens. Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet paper.
Having to take a pay cut in the middle of combat in Iraq, and then having to pay for their own meals, was a real slap in the face recently.
But the topper-and the one that chilled me to the bones recently-was the recent Pentagon decision to not let people go home when they'd served their 20 years and were due to retire. The Army said they were short of qualified personnel, and those folks scheduled to retire would just have to wait a little longer. Well, that's involuntary servitude, friends. That admits the US government is imprisoning these people who have served our country the best and the longest, and it's absolutely unforgivable, a betrayal of these people's loyalty and devotion to their country.
But it's nothing new. America has always treated its veterans like crap. Oh, the public relations folks in Washington are always full of glowing terms to lure youngsters into serving their country, throwing around words like "honor" and "duty" like they are promising immortality in some patriotic hall of fame. But ask the veterans who come home and have their benefits cut what those words eventually mean. They'll sing a very different tune. And this is nothing new. It has always been this way.
Not many people today remember the Hoovervilles.
At the end of World War One, as the American Expeditionary Force was being demobilized, a grateful US. government passed legislation that authorized the payment of cash bonuses to war veterans, adjusted for length of service; a bond that matured 20 years later, in 1945.
However, the Crash of 1929 wiped out many veterans' savings and jobs, forcing them out into the streets. Groups of veterans began to organize and petition the government to pay them their cash bonus immediately.
In the spring of 1932, more than 3,000 veterans and their families converged on Washington. Most of them lived in a collection of makeshift huts and tents outside the city limits. Similar encampments could be found sheltering the migrant unemployed and poor outside any large city in the United States and were called 'Hoovervilles'. By July, 25,000 people had gathered on the outskirts of our nation's capital.
Congress debated but eventually rejected paying the bonuses and the Army, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, evicted the protesters and burned their encampment. More than four years later, some veterans got small stipends, but President Hoover was not reelected.
"We were heroes in 1917," said one veteran bitterly at the time, "but we're bums now." This is exactly what today's US military have to look forward to, and many have already experienced it.
Notwithstanding the immense bureaucracy that the Veterans Administration has become today (and I have no complaints about the VA, seeing as how they saved my life on one occasion), it is ill-equipped and too underfunded to deal with the walking wounded that their nonmilitary bosses with delusions of petrochemical grandeur are producing today.
And this is no bad rant against the people who serve in the military. The vast majority of them, in my experience, are dedicated individuals who believe in serving their country, even if they don't ask the higher philosophical questions of what the military was created for. Because in fact, it was created to kill people. But you can't ask 18-year-olds to be philosophically sound when they're only trying to find a way to pay for college, or, these days, to get a paycheck.
People in the military are just like anybody else. Only these days the frightening trend is they're being taught how to kill, and allowed to murder innocent foreigners in their beds without fear of censure. It's frightening to think how many of these folks will come home and eventually join our local police forces still possessed of that same attitude that it's OK to gun down innocent people without fear of consequences.
All of this might be easy to dismiss were it not for talk of the military draft being reinstituted later this year. Because of that, America's parents need to take a much harder look at all these wars that are being created for dubious reasons, and also at the way the military will actually treat their children.
And all this is not just to focus on what America's misguided leaders are doing to their own troops. What are we teaching our children to become, and our citizens to accept?
Did you know more than 5 million children have died in Iraq in the last 12 years? This is what Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, director of an oncology center in Basra, Iraq, said at a peace conference last month in Okinawa.
Have you heard all the stories of innocent Iraqi civilians being summarily gunned down at checkpoints merely because American military personnel are so terrified for their own safety? So terrified that a significant number of them commit suicide rather than continuing to serve.
Have you noticed that Americans who are dying in Iraq are not the children of affluent families? The class composition of those being killed was pointed out in a comment by Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The all-volunteer military is disproportionately drawn from blue-collar homes." The family median income of recruits into the US military is between $32,000 and $34,000. Military sociologist Charles Moskos told Tucker: "People are forgetting, we're not losing the sons and daughters of America's leaders, but basically minorities and working class whites."
It almost seems like Uncle Sam is trying to kill his own soldiers. But there is even a more sinister and dangerous tangent that follows from that thought.
With all the troops posted outside the borders of the USA, one has to wonder just who is defending us from a possible invasion? Invasion by whom is not the question. Preventing invasion by anyone has always been the top priority of the US military. If not, what is it for? To steal other people's countries so our billionaire oil executives can claim more territory for themselves? That's the way it seems, doesn't it?
If so, what honor does one accrue when joining the US military when it's not for the purpose of defending one's homeland? And why undertake such a risk when the reward is certain disease or dismemberment, and then to be treated with incompetence and indifference upon your return, if you return?
And more than that, how will we defend ourselves with a majority of our troops stationed overseas in search of commodity control, and half of them returning to the states with serious illnesses and injuries, only to be treated badly?
It simply kills me when I see film of the funerals of those young Americans whose lives were thrown away. The patriotic zombies wave their flags, and the parents of the dead choke down the knowledge that their child died for nothing except the false-hearted bravado of the chickenhawks in Washington, who will not know the taste of blood mixed with tears until one day in the not-too-distant future, if the American people so decide, it is their own that they taste.
John Kaminski (an honorably discharged Navy veteran whose record of service can actually be produced, although he was busted for putting up peace signs on his ship during Vietnam) is the author of "America's Autopsy Report," a collection of his Internet essays published by Dandelion Books and featured on hundreds of websites around the world. For more information on how to get this book or to financially support his work, go to http://www.johnkaminski.com/
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