January 20, 2003
"It is the leaders of a country who determine the policy. It is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, a parliament or a communist dictatorship, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. . . All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
From time immemorial when Big Daddy decided to play rough and battle some other honcho it was the little guys on both sides who bashed each other to pieces. The net result hasn't changed over all those thousands of years.
But as weapons changed from clubs to a-bombs, Big Daddy's pool of trusting souls expanded, as did its intelligence....perhaps. So he had to devise strategies to keep the dupes so loyal to him that in spite of their greater intelligence they would sacrifice their very lives to satisfy his whims.
In the U.S., Big Daddy is a figurehead who achieves that spot if he is acceptable to the real bosses and will dance to their tune. The real bosses actually control the country and engage all the top brains to overcome any problems that may exist.
Keeping the masses loyal is one of the many problems that keeps those hired hands busy. From observation it seems they are doing a good job.
To create that loyalty they get the masses to think that there are two distinct sides in an upcoming war usually designated -- and in the anticipated one -- by separate countries. One side will be a winner and the other side a loser.
The other side is always governed by a terrible contemptible tyrant. The U.S. has always had a bull market in contemptible tyrants. It seems there was never a time when there weren't a few readily available, and right now it's a bonanza season for tyrants.
If the current No. 1 is not eradicated he will destroy the good guys. To win the ultimate battle all must contribute. The young men must be willing to fight and die. The rest must be willing to pay the enormous costs -- new taxes, loss of government benefits and inflation. In effect, all are told that even the winners will be losers.
Yes, losers there are a-plenty. And who is responsible for all those losers? Who will become a superlative mass murderer and a purveyor of mass misery? The man who gives the 'GO' signal for the ensuing cataclysm -- the generalissimo himself. But, ho-ho-ho, he will be proclaimed the savior of the republic by the toady media barons and their flunkies, and the general public in its stupor will agree and applaud.
What they don't and won't tell the public is that there are winners. All of those enormous costs are being collected by the real bosses so they are raking it in while everyone else is paying. (1) Ultimately if they are on the winning side the bosses will get an additional bonus by looting the losing side of its treasures.
With the end of the war the Generalissimo praises his troops and the suckers that supported them. Victory parades are staged. The casualties are counted, the total costs assessed and the books are closed on that episode. But that is not the final cost suffered by the people. Obviously most of the casualties and/or their families will for years and years grieve and suffer the loss of love and affection and reduced incomes as well. And there are still other unsuspected costs that have recently been cropping up.
What are they and how do they come about? In studying how well troops performed in prior wars (through WWII) it was discovered that only 15 to 20 percent of the doughboys in the infantry were firing at the enemy. (2) Imagine that! Some God-given inherent trait prevented the soldier from killing. Damn it, that had to be corrected. Big Daddy was not getting full efficiency from his troops!
But not all of the military were inefficient. Killing done by artillery, air crews, naval units had no qualms. When the killing was a shared experience and no man felt he was solely responsible, no one held back. (3) Other factors also played a part. A strong authority figure to encourage and command the troops increased the efficiency (4) and the camaraderie amongst men of the same outfit caused each to be protective of the rest. (5)
Where the mitigating factors were not present, if somehow the humanity of the enemy could be eliminated, the reluctance to kill should disappear. (6)
Well, they were successful. They modified the training to dehumanize an enemy. They increased the efficiency of the troops. Yes siree, they overcame that God-given reluctance to kill.
And as an added benefit the same techniques are being copied in the civilian market. The movies and TV shows that are watched, the games that are played, involve continual slaughters without any apparent compassion for the victims. Dehumanize the victims -- that's the answer. Now, not only is the military more efficient but the entire country is gung-ho for the atrocities to follow. (7)
But 'blowback' (8) is becoming more apparent. While the training has gotten the G.I. to kill, it was unable to prevent him from becoming psychologically scarred.
Those scars have manifested themselves in various ways. Supposedly honorable and loyal troops have been committing murders when they returned home. (9) Many veterans -- Timothy McVeigh and John Allen Muhammed most notably -- have produced headlines for the atrocities they perpetrated. (10)
Many vets have suffered mental disorders and breakdowns and they account for an inordinate number of the homeless, suicidal, imprisoned, etc. (11) These conditions have been showing up amongst Israeli soldiers who have been enforcing their government's policies in the occupied territories. (12) So while the fat cats keep bagging the loot, the consequences long-term for the grunts and their supporters at home are troubling. But overcoming that inherent desire not to harm humans is only part of the problem. G.I's and vets are suffering their own collateral damages from major medical blowbacks.
There have been physical ailments that vets have been enduring years after they left the service (Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Radiation Sickness). All resulted from a careless and uncaring top military brass, and that's describing it in the most favorable way because the potential side effects from exposure were so well known in advance. (13)
But to prove that the top brass didn't give a crap about those guys who were out there on the front line when they were needed, just look at how they reacted when the poor souls needed help.
In Vietnam, they stonewalled and stonewalled about the effects of Agent Orange for years and they did the same thing about Gulf War Syndrome. You remember the Gulf War -- that was a great war, wasn't it? The U.S. only suffered ". . . 147 Killed In Action and 457 Wounded In Action." But, if you are not aware, currently there are 156,031 recognized by the VA as disabled -- the highest percentage (28%) of casualties of any US war. (14)
But it doesn't take a war to screw up the poor G.I.'s. Hundreds of thousands were exposed as human guinea pigs to learn how effective nuclear munitions might be as a tactical weapon on the battlefields. (15) The facts are out there, but of course the media gives them minimum exposure.
As war drums beat the public is assured of a glorious victory and a brighter future. But just recall. The most respected voices and companies were assuring a bright future for investors in the stock market. Why, if only individuals could invest their social security taxes in the market, their retirements would be assured.
Now the most respected voices are also making claims for war. But a patriotic investment in war will generate dividends of death, destruction and misery to the poor souls who are caught in its web.
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References and Notes
1. "War Is Good Business," Conn Hallinan, January 11, 2003, Znet, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=2851 (back)
"Is War Still a Racket?," Chris White, January 9, 2003, CounterPunch, http://www.counterpunch.org/white01092003.html
2. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society," Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Boston, 1995; 'During World War II . . . of every hundred men along the line of fire during the period of an encounter, an average of only 15 to 20 would take any part with their weapons." (pg. 3) "...throughout history the majority of men on the battlefield would not attempt to kill the enemy, even to save their own lives or the lives of their friends." (pg 4) "This lack of enthusiasm for killing the enemy causes many soldiers to posture, submit, or flee on the battlefield; and it is a force that is discernible throughout the history of man." (pg 28) Section I Chapter Two, Nonfirers Throughout History (pgs. 17-28) (back)
3. Ibid. "Dyer observes that there has never been a similar resistance to killing among artillerymen or bomber crews or naval personnel . . . They can simply pretend they are not killing human beings." (pg 59) (back)
4. Ibid. Section IV Chapter One, The Demands of Authority: Milgrim and the Military (pgs.141-148) (back)
5. Ibid. Section IV Chapter Two, Group Absolution: "The Individual Is Not a Killer, but the Group Is" (pgs.149-155) (back)
6. Ibid. &"If your propaganda machine can convince your soldiers that their opponents are not really human but are 'inferior forms of life,' then their natural resistance to killing their own species will be reduced." (pg.161) (back)
7. Ibid. "If we had a clear-cut objective of raising a generation of assassins and killers who are unrestrained by either authority or the nature of the victim, it is difficult to imagine how we could do a better job. . . we, as a society, have become systematically desensitized to the pain and suffering of others. . . . We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the inflicting of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it." (pgs. 310-311) (back)
8. "The Strong, Violent Type," Barbara Ehrenreich, The Progressive, January 2003 (back)
9. "String of Slayings Startles Army," Dennis O'Brien, The Virginian-Pilot, July 22, 2002, http://www.pilotonline.com/military/ml0721eli.html (back)
10. "Another Gulf War Vet Opens Fire," Charles Sheehan-Miles, October 30, 2002, AlterNet.org; http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14418 ". . . Robert Stewart Flores, who killed three professors at the University of Arizona before shooting himself, was a Gulf War veteran. . . John Allen Muhammed, better known as the Washington D.C. sniper, is also a Gulf War veteran. Not to mention British Gulf War vet Paul Delaney, who stabbed his ex-girlfriend and mother of two, Colleen Chudley, 30 or 40 times. Or Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi, a Gulf War vet who murdered and sodomized an 11-year old girl in Kosovo. Or Jeffrey Glenn Hutchinson, also a Gulf vet, who murdered his girlfriend and her three children on Sept. 11, 1998. Or Joseph Ludlam, who murdered his former manager in November 2000. And then there's the most famous Gulf War veteran of all, Timothy McVeigh, who killed hundreds of people in a homegrown terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. . ."
"Killing Isn't Witnessed Just by Heros Anymore," Farai Chideya, The Sacramento Observer, November 23, 2002, http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1123-02.htm (back)
11. Ibid "Consider the tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans who have committed suicide, or the tens of thousands of homeless veterans who've never been able to rejoin society. Just ask the growing numbers of incarcerated veterans."
Gerald Nicosia, "Home to War A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement," Crown Publishers, New York, 2001 - "Kerry pointed out . . . .'the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war. . . .the [VA] hospitals across the country won't or can't meet their demands.' Nor had he given a thought to the astounding fact that 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talked of suicide, and 27 percent admitted having tried. Vietnam veterans were killing themselves in record numbers, Kerry explained, because 'they come back to the country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care,' . . ." (pg.137);
"EPH researcher documents war's damaging effects," Yale Bulletin and Calendar, February 15, 2002, http://www.yale.edu/opa/v30.n18/story19.html "Combat exposure contributed significantly to the likelihood of current post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, job loss, separation or divorce, and abuse of a partner or spouse. In fact, the study showed that, on a societal level, 28% of PTSD, 21% of spousal abuse, 12% of job loss, 8% of substance abuse problems and 7.4% of major depression could have been averted had the men not been exposed to combat." (back)
12. "Intifada Syndrome," Eitan Rabin, Ma'ariv, November 5,2002 http://friendvillarticles1102.homestead.com/32Intifada051102.html; "They were highly motivated and enlisted in the most elite units. They served in the IDF for three years and sometimes even more. They fought in the harshest battles of the Intifada, but they were also forced to deal with the Palestinian civilian population. . . The scope of the phenomenon is frightening . . . We received over 900 requests by parents with terrible stories. Stories about drugs, attempts at suicide, about emotional distress. We are talking about veterans of the most elite units One of the central problems that crop up in the course of conversations with the veterans is the Intifada. 'The soldiers cry, blame themselves for having abused Palestinians, cruelty, disgracing and humiliation.' . . . 'We went into houses, we clashed with the Palestinians, we killed civilians-some of whom were innocent'. . . 'We are afraid that former soldiers will commit criminal acts as a result of their distress.'" (back)
13. Gerald Nicosia, "In the fall of 1988, the U.S. District Court in New York unsealed the documents from the class-action lawsuit. Among those documents was evidence that the U.S. military knew at least some of the health hazards of Agent Orange as early as 1962, three years before it began widespread use of the defoliant in Vietnam. The documents also showed that the Pentagon had deliberately misled the public concerning the herbicide's alleged harmlessness." (pg 594) (back)
14. "Oops, more unexpected casualties," Col. David Hackworth, September 17, 2002,WorldNetDaily http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28958 - "Because Stormin' Norman's forces brilliantly zapped Saddam Hussein's mob in a record-breaking 100-hour ground war, actual U.S. casualties were . . . 147 Killed In Action and 457 Wounded In Action. At least at first look. . . . So far, according to an April 2002 Veterans Affairs report, an additional 7,758 Desert Storm vets have died, while 198,716 vets have filed claims for medical and compensation benefits. Of the claims filed, 156,031 have been granted as service-connected, with more vets being designated casualties as each day passes. The 198,716 figure represents a staggering 28 percent of the vets - 696,579 - who fought in the Gulf War conflict! . . ." (back)
15. Eileen Welsome, "The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War," The Dial Press, New York, 1999 - "The Army, Navy, and Air Force also funded numerous experiments designed to help them learn more about how to fight effectively on the nuclear battlefield. . . Radiation experiments on soldiers began in 1951, . . . They continued until 1962, . . ." (pg 9) (back)
Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).
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