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Thread: How America Screws Its Soldiers

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    How America Screws Its Soldiers

    [SIZE="3"][B]How America Screws Its Soldiers[/B][/SIZE]

    by Andrew J. Bacevich
    May 28, 2011 | 7:24pm

    Everyone claims to “Support Our Troops.” But as Andrew J. Bacevich explains, telling the military it can do whatever it wants works for everyone—except for the soldiers themselves.

    Riders on Boston subways and trolleys are accustomed to seeing placards that advertise research being conducted at the city’s many teaching hospitals. One that recently caught my eye, announcing an experimental “behavioral treatment,” posed this question to potential subjects: “Are you in the U.S. military or a veteran disturbed by terrible things you have experienced?”

    Just below the question, someone had scrawled this riposte in blue ink: “Thank God for these Men and Women. USA all the way.”

    United States Marines place a colleague wounded in an IED strike into a waiting medevac helicopter in Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, \Here on a 30 x 36 inch piece of cardboard was the distilled essence of the present-day relationship between the American people and their military. In the eyes of citizens, the American soldier has a dual identity: as hero but also as victim. As victims—Wounded Warriors —soldiers deserve the best care money can buy; hence, the emphasis being paid to issues like PTSD. As heroes, those who serve and sacrifice embody the virtues that underwrite American greatness. They therefore merit unstinting admiration.

    Whatever practical meaning the slogan “support the troops” may possess, it lays here: in praise expressed for those choosing to wear the uniform, and in assistance made available to those who suffer as a consequence of that choice.

    As the 10th anniversary of what we used to call the Global War on Terror approaches, a plausible, realistic blueprint for bringing that enterprise to a conclusion does not exist.

    From the perspective of the American people, the principal attribute of this relationship is that it entails no real obligations or responsibilities. Face it: It costs us nothing yet enables us to feel good about ourselves. In an unmerited act of self-forgiveness, we thereby expunge the sin of the Vietnam era when opposition to an unpopular war found at least some Americans venting their unhappiness on the soldiers sent to fight it. The homeward-bound G.I. spat upon by spoiled and impudent student activists may be an urban legend, but the fiction persists and has long since trumped reality.

    Today such egregious misbehavior has become unimaginable. Even if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not especially popular or successful, no one blames the troops. Instead we cheer them, pray for them, and let them go to the front of the line when passing through airport security. And we take considerable satisfaction in doing so.

    From the perspective of those who engineer America’s wars, the principal attribute of this relationship is that it obviates any need for accountability. For nearly a decade now, popular willingness to “support the troops” has provided unlimited drawing rights on the United States Treasury.

    Since 9/11, in waging its various campaigns, overt and covert, the United States military has expended hundreds of billions of (mostly borrowed) dollars. By the time the last invoice gets paid, the total will be in the trillions. Is the money being well spent? Are we getting good value? Is it possible that some of the largesse showered on U.S. forces trying to pacify Kandahar could be better put to use in helping to rebuild Cleveland? Given the existing terms of the civil-military relationship, even to pose such questions is unseemly. For politicians sending soldiers into battle, generals presiding over long, drawn-out, inconclusive campaigns, and contractors reaping large profits as a consequence, this war-comes-first mentality is exceedingly agreeable.

    One wonders how many of those serving in the ranks are taken in by this fraud. The relationship between American people and their military—we love you; do whatever you want—seems to work for everyone. Everyone, that is, except soldiers themselves. They face the prospect of war without foreseeable end.

    Americans once believed war to be a great evil. Whenever possible, war was to be avoided. When circumstances made war unavoidable, Americans wanted peace swiftly restored.

    Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible.

    Members of the civil-military-corporate elite find war more than tolerable. Within its ranks, as Chris Hedges has noted, war imparts meaning and excitement to life. It serves as a medium through which ambitions are fulfilled and power is accrued and exercised. In Washington, the benefits offered by war’s continuation easily outweigh any benefits to be gained by ending war. So why bother to try?

    As the 10th anniversary of what Americans once called their Global War on Terror approaches, a plausible, realistic blueprint for bringing that enterprise to a conclusion does not exist. Those who might once have felt some responsibility for articulating such a plan—the president, his chief lieutenants, senior military leaders—no longer feel any obligation to do so. As a practical matter, they devote themselves to war’s perpetuation, closing one front while opening another. More strikingly still, we the people allow our leaders to evade this basic responsibility to articulate a plan for peace. By implication, we endorse the unspoken assumption that peace has become implausible.

    Here at last we come to the dirty little secret that underlines all the chatter about “supporting the troops.” The people in charge don’t really believe that the burdens borne by our soldiers will ever end and they are not really looking for ways to do so. As for the rest of us, well, we’re OK with that.

    Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University
    Last edited by intelligentjetsfan; 05-30-2011 at 08:15 AM.

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    Another nonsense piece by a liberal academic.
    Americans care about their troops and always have. Life goes on, however. During WWII families celebrated holidays. At least that's what my parents told me. During the Vietnam war, my parents and fiance's family celebrated the holidaies. I got some of the photos while I was sitting on a firebase.
    It's life. This war is long. People do follow it on the invasive media.
    Remember this. The Indian Wars (which people seem to forget) lasted some interminable period from at least the Civil War to the 1880s. There were considerable casulaties yet the U.S.population was only about one sixth of today's size.

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    I think the article makes alot of good points, but one specific point sticks out to me.

    The involvement/passion/caring of the general populace whne the Nation is at War.

    Like so many things in the US today, I think a large portion of the population just doesn't actively care. About the War in faraway lands, or about politics and political power or even their own rights and burdens within this society, here in our own lands. We live in a "Bumper Sticker Means I Care, Now Leave Me Alone to Watch TV" society today, with the truly involved and educated (On political issues) being a tiny fraction of the total.

    As such, it's no suprise to read the idea that the majority are not involved and do not actively care about the War. I agree with this point fully.

    The causes of this would take a book on it's own to really cover.

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4038344]I think the article makes alot of good points, but one specific point sticks out to me.

    The involvement/passion/caring of the general populace whne the Nation is at War.

    Like so many things in the US today, I think a large portion of the population just doesn't actively care. About the War in faraway lands, or about politics and political power or even their own rights and burdens within this society, here in our own lands. [B]We live in a "Bumper Sticker Means I Care, Now Leave Me Alone to Watch TV" society today, with the truly involved and educated (On political issues) being a tiny fraction of the total. [/B]

    As such, it's no suprise to read the idea that the majority are not involved and do not actively care about the War. I agree with this point fully.

    The causes of this would take a book on it's own to really cover.[/QUOTE]

    Excellent analogy! I feel significant part of the reason for that is a more insular family dynamic. But I do realize that there are many more things at play here for the change.

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    We fight wars on the backs of a small volunteer army suplimented by highly paid mercenarie/Corporate warriors. We pay for it in inflated gas and food prices that creep up on us like a frog thrown into water and brought to a slow boil.

    You want the American public to care reinstitute a draft and have a tax surcharge that falls on all of us. When the American public has a stake in war we will fight far fewer of them.

    We are at war in Libya over 60 days with no Congressional action or debate. 10 years in Iraq and Afganistan. National elections where war is an after thought to high unemployement and the price of a gallon of gas. If we paid for these wars directly with our sons and daughters and our money there would be riots in the streets.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 05-30-2011 at 04:23 PM.

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    Unfortunately, my alma mater somehow felt compelled to hire this puke -carrying on the ignoble tradition of the radical Zinn and Levin

    And even more unfortunately wild-eyed JI anti-war freaks revel in repeating this garbage - as long as they live and breathe this kind of pablum will run and run

    Hippies, commies and assorted fruits and nuts spitting on GI's returning from Viet Nam was certainly not apochryphal - well documented

    [URL]http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399133860/qid=1080429122/sr=1-21/ref=sr_1_21/102-2850250-8616169?v=glance&s=books[/URL]

    And certainly their latter day ideological heirs did & do likewise, most notably in the G. W. Bush years- "No Blood For Oil" etc

    Hoary old lib tropes die hard..the notion behind the piece is bogus, as so many people have loved ones, friends and relatives in the armed forces the majority of Americans certainly do care.

    There's nothing hidden about our ME wars despite the lack of MSM media coverage..all the murder and mayhem they gleefully filmed side by side with "insurgencies" was front and center until B. Hussein was foolishly handed the reins...except for the week Obama let a soft coup d'etat take place to nail OBL while he rested on the 19th hole...his sole accomplishment as MinC shone brightly in the media spotlight for a week then it was back to the links

    But seriously...if libs wanted wars to ever end they'd a) never start any and b) allow extremely prejudiced ROE that would literally level the playing field.

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