Iraq Veterans and “(I)Pod People”

decider

“The Decider Guy says he listens to the generals while ignoring any who practice reality instead of fantasy. Meanwhile, lives are lost, bodies are scarred, futures are blighted and American treasure and reputation are wasted.”

By Horace Coleman

7/19/07

The Los Angeles chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) picked Friday the thirteenth as the July date for its first LA area event. It was held in Venice, California at the Venice United Methodist church.

Speakers included Army Sergeant Ronn Cantu, home on leave from his second Iraq deployment, who was a spark plug in the Appeal to Redress petition given to Congress.

Iraq veteran Jabar Magruder, president of LA’s IVAW chapter and a California National Guard member, delivered that petition in Washington. Magruder gave a presentation that outline IVAW’s goals and methodology. Cantu and Magruder have been on CBS’ Sixty Minutes program.

Tim Goodrich, an Air Force veteran who served in the Middle East during the pre war bombing of Iraq, was the evening’s master of ceremonies. After being discharged, he was part of a civilian fact finding delegation to Baghdad. Goodrich is a founder of IVAW and a member of its national board.

Other members of the Los Angeles chapter also spoke. Several common points emerged. Patriotism. Disillusionment as no weapons of mass destruction were found. Routine military practices during what often amounted to “police work” that lead to the inevitable (desensitization, fear and callousness of war that made all Iraqi lives cheap). More than once the general indifference of the “(I)Pod people,” hedonistic and uncaring Americans, was mentioned.

A smaller segment of the society than during the draft-fueled Vietnam War now does military service or fights in Iraq or Afghanistan. A “lets you and them fight to keep me ‘safe,’ revenged and prosperous” mentality is loose in the land. Even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Or al Qaeda. Or the Taliban.

U.S. policy put the emphasis on Iraq rather than on Afghanistan, where we had trained the Taliban (to fight the Russians). The Taliban that gave a base of operations to Osama bin Laden and suppressed the opium trade now flourishing in Afghanistan. The Taliban, now regaining power, is using drug money to do what?

The speakers—and the audience—were a typical cross section of Southern California. The desire to earn money for education while making a living came up. So were the high pressure tactics recruiters for the armed services use on naïve young people. The difficulties of readjusting to civilian life after combat were mentioned.

Support the troops (watch them be redeployed on a tour extended from 12 to 15 months—since there aren’t enough of them to “transform the Middle East”)!

Support the troops (see them duel with the VA and the military for disability ratings appropriate to their injuries, adequate medical treatment after initial injury and for PTSD)!

When people say “Support the Troops!” it’s usually more attitude than action. Often the “action” does more to soothe the sayer than to actually aid troops in any significant or meaningful way.

Support the troops (admire the adroitness of discharging people with “pre existing mental conditions” instead of treating them for PTSD)!

Support the troops (watch their families fray—or not; if the military thought they needed a family it would issue them one)!

Expect the ship of state’s course to turn on a dime because the last election sent a slim majority of Demopublicans to the previously Republicrat dominated congress.

“Virtual patriotism” (self absorption, being unknowing or ill informed, poor perception and self aggrandizement) leads to virtual, not actual, freedom. IVAW is striving for the real thing. Another generation of veterans wants wisdom, relevance and sense to guide sacrifice. Hearing “Thank you for your service” does nothing practical.

While “(I)pod people” avoid actuality with celebrity worship, shopping, clubbing and NIMBYism, an imperial presidency–aided and abetted by ideological war wimps and think tanks, corporate pirates, lobbyists, and politicians seeking campaign contributions and earmarks–runs wild. The common good and the real needs of the nation, its people–and the planet–go ignored.

The Decider Guy says he listens to the generals while ignoring any who practice reality instead of fantasy. Meanwhile, lives are lost, bodies are scarred, futures are blighted and American treasure and reputation are wasted. Unless you run, work for or own stock in the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) or a subsidiary.

At a minimum, a citizen’s duties include researching and becoming knowledgeable about issues and candidates and monitoring their effects and progress. Do any thing else and you get demockcracy.

When more attention is paid to choosing an American Idol than a president you get a knockoff, idolatrous president, administration and congress.

When a nation fights unnecessary wars ineptly and makes the people who fight them expendable and disposable, it becomes hard to get people who’ll fight the next (hopefully necessary) war.

The distinguished scholar Chalmers Johnson ends his trilogy of works called The American Empire Project with these words from the volume entitled Nemesis: “. . . My country is launched on a dangerous path that it must abandon or else face the consequences.”

In Greek mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of justice or vengeance. The first book in Johnson’s trilogy is titled Blowback. The second is called The Sorrows of Empire.

When considering national military, diplomatic or economic action, it’s prudent to ask these questions:

• What is known about the situation?
• What outcome and goals are desired?
• What’s the best way to achieve them?
• What acts are needed to achieve them?
• What resources are needed and available?
• What’s the effect on the nation of using them this way?
• Are there alternatives to the type of action proposed that can yield the same results?
• What are the possible costs and effects of a course of action?
• Are the potential gains worth the potential efforts?
• Whether you win, lose, or stalemate what might you win, lose, prevent, delay or avoid? And, for how long?

Or, as some old Roman supposedly asked, who does it help? Who does it hurt? Who pays for it?

Horace Coleman, Southern California contact, Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

From Thomas Paine’s Corner

Say “When.”

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