Practicing Democracy blog       


     Something I used to assume was with us indefinetely, because I grew up in a country that is a democracy, so I had every reason to believe it would be my kids and grandchildren's democracy too.   Now I have every reason to believe that if citizens don't work to preserve it, by taking an interest, learning the history, and getting involved, we are likely to lose it. Is it worth fighting for - and no I don't mean the military engaged in war in the MIddle East - is it worth fighting for at home?


 


 

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A very wise man taught me years ago that when dealing with difficult persons, the appropriate prayer or blessing is that they be blessed as they have blessed others.

 

 

Wisdom


Quote -- Be patient. You are not winning a game called justice, you are living a life called justice.

 Bertolt Brecht tells the story of a man living alone who answers a knock at the door.

 There stands Tyranny, armed and powerful, who asks, "Will you submit?"
The man does not reply.


He steps aside. Tyranny enters and takes over.

 The man serves him for years.

 Then Tyranny mysteriously becomes sick from food poisoning. He dies.

 The man opens the door, gets rid of the body, comes back to the house, closes the door behind him, and says, firmly, "No." 

 

 

 "An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me . . . It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority.

The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied . . . "The one I feed."

 

 

 

"First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.


Then they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.


Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.


Then they came for me - and by then there was no one left to speak out for me."


Pastor Martin Niemöller

 

 

 

 


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Iraq Messages this week - a General, A Military Mom, A Congressman, A Military Wife, A Journalist...

My mind is swimming today with the differences in messages and approaches of so many earnest people endeavoring to try to end Iraq war.


  • Retired Major General Paul D Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks from Seattle last night on Real Time with Bill Maher about conditions of Walter Reed being the 'tip of the iceberg';

  • Representative David Obey (D- WS) recorded on video Thursday losing patience with questions from Tina Richards, mother to Cpl Cloy Richards, returning Iraq Marine veteran, twice deployed to Iraq, soon to deploy for third time. MSN, Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards Thursday on Hardball.

  • Bob Woodruff, injured in IED explosion ABC journalist 'To Iraq and Back' and his wife are interviewed Friday on MSN Hardball with Chris Matthews.

  • Two of the arrested Port of Tacoma protesters are inteviewed on Fox News Hannity and Colmes.

  • Op-ed published this week by a Washington based military wife, Stacy Bannerman married to WA Natl Guardsman, himself a returning Iraq veteran. Stacy tells of the casualty of marriages in military families faced with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, including her own.




Different kinds of messages from different military-connected people with 'skin in the game' - a phrase for being in Iraq or having loved ones in Iraq. Different routes up the same mountain. But are the roads overlapping, perhaps tangling up the effort and the message - are some routes leading to dead ends?



-- video - HBO - Real Time, Bill Maher. Retired Major General, Paul D. Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks on the conditions of Walter Reed as the 'tip of the iceberg'. Paul Eaton was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He is speaking to Bill Maher via satellite with the Space Needle and Seattle skyline in the background. He says an interesting thing on the Real Time show last night and I have to admit, it took me by surprise, so when Bill Maher repeated it, I knew I had heard what I thought I heard. Quoting excerpt of end of one of his sentences

'arrival of Democratic controlled Congress, Thank God, 7 November'.
Bill Maher responds that it is not often you hear military people say arrival of the Democrats and Thank God in the same sentence.


See retired Major General, Paul Eaton, Fox Island, WA companion piece, NY Times Op-Ed, 'Casualties of the Budget Wars' published this week. You may recall also as reported by NY Times last year in April 2006, Paul Eaton was among the six Generals calling for Rumsfeld resignation - link .


-- link video - MSN - Hardball,Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards; mother of Iraq veteran Marine son, twice deployed and will deploy third time March this year. Her encounter with Representative David Obey (D- WS). Tina was representing Grassroots Missouri on Hardball yesterday. She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out, although it sounds like she is taking action as an independent military family on behalf of her son's upcoming third deployment to Iraq.


-- link video - MSN - Hardball, Chris Matthews. Bob Woodruff and his wife interviewed on Bob's recovery from Brain Trauma Injury. Bob Woodruff ABC journalist who was severely wounded Jan 2006 in IED explosion while covering Iraq. (My note - reference another Washblog story I wrote on Bob Woodruff in the special ,'To Iraq and Back' )


-- link video - Fox News - Hannity and Colmes. Two arrested at Port of Tacoma protesting the loading and shipping of Stryker equipment destined for Iraq. See Noemie story at Washblog as she endeavors to explore the Port of Tacoma protests.


-- An op- ed by a published auther and military wife of Washington state National Guardsman, Stacy Bannerman wrote an op-ed March 7, courageously sharing with the public the breakdown of her marriage as a direct result, she says, of war in Iraq. Link 60000 Marriages Broken by Iraq, Including Mine, read through the comments and you can feel the tone of empathy (or lack of empathy) which military families generally encounter. Some of the comments are the usual of what we as military families have been hearing for the past four years now (and we heard it in Vietnam era too), but some of the comments are from peace/activist people who can be equally harsh in their comments. (I find this happens as well in the comments to Daily Kos stories)


She was prompted by the comments to write another op-ed, also published at Alternet March 10, 2007 link 'Volunteer Soldiers Devastated by Iraq Weren't Asking for It'. Stacy phoned me this week to pass along a request she had received for military family to speak at a Seattle area church for 4th anniversary event. She passed it along to me for consideration of Military Families Speak Out - WA chapter to determine if one of our member families was willing to speak.


That led me to share some thoughts with Stacy about how I am feeling more uncomfortable with the relationship of military families and the peace/activist movement/communities. As I explained to her, I can't tell if my growing discomfort, some of what has felt like exploitive experiences, is coloring my perspective. I am disinclined to want to participate in any of the 4th anniversary acknowledgement events being planned in Washington this month. I'm not so sure that the message I carry is best represented within the context of the planned events. I'm not sure it doesn't feel a bit like being a willing mouthpiece puppet for messaging that does not entirely reflect my own thoughts and message.


Sometimes, I shared with her, it feels like I am pressed hard from both sides - the right wingers rhetoric, and the peace/activist movement rhetoric. She, a long time peace activist, shared with me that until she herself became a military wife, she would have had a hard time understanding the viewpoint of military culture. It helped me to hear her say that, because it reminds me to continue to try to be patient and not grow impatient at what feels like the disconnect I sometimes feel with the peace/activist communities.


Of late, I'm not liking the direction of what I'm hearing from some peace/activists who point the finger at the soliders who do deploy. It sounds a lot like the residue of Vietnam to me - blaming the soldiers for a) going, b) for not putting down their weapons, c) for not refusing to go in the first place. I have actually heard someone say to me when I asked what you would have the soldiers already in Iraq do and the response was that they should put down their weapons. "While they are in Iraq," I asked, "they should put down their weapons?" I'd say there is a real disconnect happening that is unrealistic in this kind of discourse.


I received a phone call this week from a woman who invited me to show my oil paintings on an art show offered by Comcast TV channel in Puyallup. She came across one of my oil paintings on our MFSO chapter website . (That is the result of the pride of my husband who felt a photo of one of my oil paintings should be part of my profile info). As I explored this with her, confused because of the contact via MFSO website, she shared with me that her husband is a Vietnam veteran, who experienced the homecoming of having red paint poured on him and being spit upon by the peaceniks there to greet him.


This was astonishing to me because I know there is a published book, Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, indicating that this spitting on the returning Vietnam veterans never happened, is a myth, and can't be validated by first hand accounts. I asked her if she knew of this book. She did not, but she says her husband knows his own experience, and he might like to know about this book as he could offer direct first hand experience. He was not a protesting anti-war veteran. I know many Vietnam veterans reference the 'spit upon' as symbolic and indicative of how they were welcomed home as opposed to actual first hand experience. But as I shared with her, I well remember my own experience then, and the climate was not welcoming or conducive to my sharing that my husband was a returning veteran from Vietnam. We expected an unwelcome response so we shut it down in public venues and talked about it only among some of our friends - friends from high school who found themselves in Vietnam at the same time.


If the leftover ideals of the 60s protesting era are being revived and used again as rhetoric and talking points among peace/activist communities and directed at soldiers and military families, then I contend this is a disservice to those of us contending daily with this war. I'd like to think it is the few and not the general tone of the peace/activist communities, but my experiences tell me otherwise.


I don't know what the best course is to trying to end this war and getting our troops home, all the while ensuring they are not without the equipment they need while they are in Iraq; not to mention the medical services they will need, likely long term. A hard-wired mantra for me is that we (America) don't abandon our troops in the field and leave them with a shortfall of funding which translates to equipment and medical care. This is very real for me.


Another hard wired mantra for me is the experience of Vietnam. I'm still learning nuances - 35 years later - of what went into that era and what brought that war to an end, even though I actually lived in that time as a military wife. It doesn't seem to be any more clear cut now than it was then.


There are those who say it took the soldiers themselves protesting to bring it to an end (do see the dvd Sir, No Sir). There are those who say it was the massive protests, the college students, the violence against the protesters (ie, Kent State) and that without the 'movement' in place, the soldiers would not have had the support in place to launch their own protests. There are those who say it took politicians umpteen tries politically to bring it to a close; that the work of politics is a slow moving mechanism - taking years and years sometimes.


As near as I can tell, the stew of ingredients that finally brought Vietnam war to a close was a combination of many social, political, economic elements. It took a combination of ongoing public protests, increasing pressure on Congress, having the soldiers themselves refuse to continue to participate in Vietman war, the condition of the 'draft' = widely sweeping to affect all draft age males pressing them into involuntary military deployments, and the element of the 'unknown' as it was not expected that soldiers would find so many ways to refuse to participate.


What is different this time with Iraq is that this Administration - please don't forget this fact - was also there at the time of Vietnam. Rumsfeld, Cheney, George W. Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle, all had direct experience of the political climate of Vietnam. I would say they learned how to 'contain' the imaging, message, and narrative we are given about Iraq from what they learned about Vietnam. I would offer as well that there continues to be the kaleidoscope of the techniques of misdirection that keeps many of us off center and sometimes without firm ground as we try to dissect what is really going on.


Is Jack Murtha on track then? He has a strategy of redeploying the troops out of Iraq and leaving some of the troops on the horizon. How about his recent suggestions to ensure troops are given opportunities of full training, recuperative one year between deployments as a kind of back door approach to stemming the flow of 'volunteer' troops who are kept in combat via back door draft of stop loss extended deployments?


Is what Representative Dave Obey (D- WS)shared with Tina Richards on the mark? Is it accurate that Democratic party cannot get the required 233 votes on their proposed non-binding Resolutions? Is it true that even should they be able to get Resolution passed it could be vetoed by President? Is it true that the appropriation funding is needed to provide for the already deployed troops, get them fully back home safely and provide for their medical care? Is there a political way in which the Iraq war can be made to be an illegal war and therfore illegal to fund, as Rep. Obey seemed to suggest in the exchange with mother, Tina Richards?


Or is it true what Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) indicates as enough funding already in the pipeline to safely bring the troops home now, and that additional funding is not necessary to get them home, rather that additional funding perpetuates and continues the war in Iraq? That a vote now not to fund is not a vote against the troops and will not impede getting them home safely; will not abandon them in the field.


Is the Democratic party in the majority now working on a plan or several plans to actually find an effective way to end the war in Iraq, which they know is an immoral and probably an illegal war?


What about the voices and messages, ie, General Wesley Clark, that express grave concerns about the U.S. military action expanding to Iran?


I'm not at all sure on this fourth anniversary of the Iraq war what message I want to be sending and how to best symbolize and represent that message.

I want the politicians to do their jobs and bring this war to an end yesterday. I want to give them the space they need to do their jobs but each day of delay represents so so many deaths. A sense of urgency presses military families as their loved ones deploy over and over again into an ill-defined mission. When I speak of concern for our own loved ones and our troops, the focus is not limited strictly to our troops as that is too narrow - hundreds of Iraqis also are killed daily. I think of another Washingtonian, Bert Sacks, of Seattle and his own individual courage in trying to help Iraqi children.


What of General Casy who seemed to be warning us all of the impending 'long war' against 'terrorism' in the Middle East? When a military General says 'long war', my ears perk up and I ask myself if I am hearing the nuanced statement to the public of a General's assessment that this will be a decades-long war. Where will the troops come from to continue a decades long war with recruitment numbers down and fewer willing to enlist in what they have come to recognize as a questionable war? Will the two in my family be serving deployment after deployment over the next decade? How is this going to impact their wives and children?


How can the former code of the military that goes down through the generations telling the new crop of soldiers and their families to 'suck it up' possibly relate to the experience of so many repeat deployments? That is not in their experience, so how can they know to give advice of that nature? It is the new crop that have the message in this war, and we aren't yet hearing from them.


We hear from some, those who find peace/activist communities that give them a platform to be heard. I rather think though that there are many more who are very perplexed, dissatisfied,confused and wanting to share their own message but not ready to swing that far away from their clan in speaking out quite so radically. Often I ask myself, isn't there a kind of middle ground that permits one to have both conservative and liberal views - does it have to be one way or the other? Where are those people, and where is their platform, what venues are provided for them?


Maybe it all flows together in ways I can no longer easily detect and maybe we all do get to the mountain top by different routes. Maybe there is room for all the divergent viewpoints, approaches, strategies and tactics. Right now I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees - I think - but I know my intentions are honorable. Aren't they all - the intentions of all who take on this struggle?

 

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'To Iraq and Back' an ABC special features reporter, Bob Woodruff, injured while reporting in Iraq.

 

Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI - heard of it? Of the over 200,000 (that's right 200 thousand) injured troops in Iraq, a quarter of those suffer traumatic brain injury. That is a quite high percentage but what is more astonishing is that the smaller VA hospital/centers don't have the knowledge, equipment, people power, professionals to deal with it. I don't suppose it would surprise anyone to realize that TBI is another one of those 'issues' being sanitized and swept out of public view.

Thanks to the courage of ABC journalist/reporter, Bob Woodruff, and ABC's willingness to air it, special tv production 'To Iraq and Back' finds a middle ground arena (not slung with partisan politics) to try to educate the public on the plight of many of these injured, returning soldiers. If you didn't get chance to see it last night on tv, you can watch the online video here at ABC website.

Bob Woodruff was injured while reporting in Iraq, and he has made a recovery from his own traumatic brain injury (TBI) many in the medical profession view as remarkable. Which isn't to say he has completely recovered, rather that he has learned to compensate and inspires hope for other soldiers trying to adjust to life with TBI. He has made this tv special, 'To Iraq and Back' which aired on ABC, Tuesday night, Feb 27, 2007.

It chronicles his life starting from the IED explosion he experienced in the humvee in Iraq, the evac and medical journey, and his efforts at recovery. You will see some graphic reality. You will see Bob (and other soldiers) with half his head blown off, in recovery, with what is becoming the traditional 'helmet' TBI survivors wear and you will see glimpses of his efforts to retrain his memory.

As Bob goes back to the medical and hospital staff to thank them, he interviews them along the way and the viewer gets some firsthand information from those who have an up close and personal view of the enormity of injuries sustained by our troops. He then visits some of the soldiers on the humvee with him when the IED exploded.

He visits with other soldiers who have TBI and talks with the soldiers and their families about the resources or lack of resources after being released from the primary hospitals - Walter Reed and Bethesda. As those soldiers return to their homes in communities across the nation, the VA resources are not up to speed in treating them for TBI. (Most of you who know much about VA resources, already know the shortages of hospitals, centers, staff and services) .

Bob talks also with new VA Secretary, Jim Nicholson, or perhaps interviews him, because it looks very much to me like Jim Nicholson, is very uncomfortable with the questions Bob Woodruff puts to him. And they are not challenging or difficult questions, more straightforward kinds of questions, deserving of factual and straightforward answers. Something Jim Nicholson does not provide. His responses seem to me like efforts to minimize the severity and seriousness and strike me as the kind of defensive answers one gives when one knows what one is being asked reveals a truth being cloaked.


Mentioned in the tv show is Wounded Warriors Project - please see their website and help in whatever ways you can.

Excerpt from Wounded Warriors Project on Bob Woodruff's 'To Iraq and Back'

On Tuesday, February 27th at 10pm (EST), ABC will air the much anticipated special featuring ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff's injury and rehabilitation after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while covering the war in Iraq.

This September, the Wounded Warrior Project had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bob in Washington DC at a TBI Caregiver Summit. The goal of the summit was to bring together family caregivers of service members who have incurred serious traumatic brain injuries during the war against terror and facilitate a dialogue between these family caregivers and key policy and legislative decision makers in Washington.

Part of this summit and a roundtable discussion between Bob and the family caregivers (and some patients themselves) will be included in the piece.


Another excerpt:

At a hearing held last June by the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Jonathan Perlin testified that, “Traumatic Brain Injury accounts for almost 25 percent of combat casualties suffered in OIF/OEF by US Forces.” With over 20,000 combat injuries to date during the ongoing global war on terror, this means that there are almost 5,000 service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries. While advances in body armor and battlefield medicine save the lives of many soldiers, they do not protect against impacts that cause brain injury.


An excerpt from Discover Magazine, article Dead Men Walking; What sort of future do brain-injured Iraq veterans face.

While the Pentagon has yet to release hard numbers on brain-injured troops, citing security issues, brain-injury professionals express concern about the range of numbers reported from other military-related sources like the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). One expert from the VA estimates the number of undiagnosed TBIs at over 7,500. Nearly 2,000 brain-injured soldiers have already received some level of care, but the TBIs—human beings reduced to an abbreviation—keep coming.

    

 

 

Congress didn't act then, doesn't act now; History Lesson - Bonus Army - 1932

By Lietta Ruger
Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 11:45:35 AM PST


Bonus Army March on Washington DC in 1932 provides us with a model that has seemingly gone unchanged in how Congress responds to our military veterans, and the intensity by which veterans and civilians have to 'demonstrate' to get the attention of Congress - no not just get the attention, but enough attention that causes Congress to finally take action.    

A history lesson. Last night, on PBS station, was airing of a show about the 20,000 Bonus Army veterans of World War 1,along with their families, and other affiliated groups in their march on Washington DC, their encampment in Washington DC during the spring and summer of 1932, and the resulting riot that ensued to break up the encampment.  Congress continued to vote no to keeping a promise they had already made and given to these WW 1 veterans. Perseverance and persistence, on the part of the veterans, families and supporters and finally Congress said Yes to keeping their promise. What happened in between with Congress saying No to Congress saying Yes is not a pretty American tale, but indeed, part of American history.  

1932 - World War 1 and all the wars that followed up to the present in 2007 - why do our veterans have to fight Congress as well as fight in the battlefields?  It seems this is the 'norm', not the exception.   (read more)

In 1924 promise was made via Adjusted Service Certificate Law giving to WW1 veterans "bonus" certificates the following year that would be redeemable for cash after a maturation period of 20 years - payable in 1945.

June 17, 1932 and Congress was to vote on the Patman Bonus Bill, which would have moved forward the date when World War I veterans received a cash bonus. The 'Bonus Army' massed on DC, in hopes of convincing Congress to grant payments immediately, providing relief for the marchers/protestors who were unemployed. It was the era of the Great Depression, and veterans who already served found themselves in the food lines, without means to provide for their families, and were reduced from proud returning warriors to street beggars and bums (note; use of those words street beggars and bums reflects the social thinking of that era, not my definitions for how I think of the veterans of that era).  Not a pretty sight then for veterans, and doesn't it bring up recent history of Vietnam-era veterans who are homeless, living in the streets in reduced life circumstances?

Why is it no surprise that Congress defeated the bill July 28, and offered the pittance of paying the veteran demonstrators way home?  Some accepted and went home; others did not and remained. The Washington Police moved in to disperse the encampment, and two veterans were fatally shot in the process. The veterans hit back with blunt instruments, and the Washington Police backed off telling then President Hoover that they could not maintain the peace.

President Hoover ordered in federal troops to remove the veteran protesters.   Noted Generals, General Douglas MacArthur with Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of his staff,  and General George S. Patton were in command of the removal.  Troops carrying rifles, unsheathed bayonets and tear gas were sent in.    Hundreds of veterans were injured, several killed.  It's not hard to imagine the impact on the public of a visual of  U.S. armed soldiers confronting poverty-stricken veterans from what was then in American history the recent Great War.  (note; jumping forward in hisotry, we've seen this image again in Vietnam war protests).  It did set the stage and we do have these protesting WW 1 veterans to thank for what would become Veteran relief and eventually the Veterans Administration, making benefits of medical, home loans, and college tuition available to the next generation of veterans.

(Side note) And these benefits, I'm afraid, are on the serious decline as this Administration cites budget constraints while asking for budget supplemental appropriation to feed troop increases and keeping the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

In the battle against it's own veterans to clear the encampments, burning down the tents and shacks, by the end a list of casualties looked like this:

 


    - Two veterans were shot and killed.
    - An 11 week old baby was in critical condition resulting from shock from gas exposure.
    - Two infants died from gas asphyxiation.
    - An 11 year old boy was partially blinded by tear gas.
    - One bystander was shot in the shoulder.
    - One veteran's ear was severed by a Cavalry saber.
    - One veteran was stabbed in the hip with a bayonet.
    - At least twelve police were injured by the veterans.
    - Over 1,000 men, women, and children were exposed to the tear gas, including police, reporters, residents of Washington D.C., and ambulance drivers.

 President Hoover was not re-elected, and a new President in Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. After his 1933 Inauguration, some of the veterans regrouped to make their case to the new President.  He did not want to pay the bonus either, and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt engaged the veterans encouraging many of them to sign up for jobs making roadways at the Florida Keys.

In the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in Florida, 259 of these veterans were killed at their worksites on the highway.  Public sentiment in reaction to seeing  newsreels of veterans giving their lives for a government that had taken them for granted, is what persuaded Congress they could no longer afford to ignore it in an election year (1936). Roosevelt's veto was overridden, and the veterans received their bonus.

 NPR Soldier Against Soldier; The Story of the Bonus Army with vintage newsreel.

I will mention 'Vietnam' without getting into another history lesson - a decade of sending our young into combat in an un-necessary war, 58,000 names of the dead on Vietnam Wall in Washington DC; millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians killed - oh yes, if you didn't know it to be true, U.S. troops were ordered by the Nixon Administration into Cambodia and Laos - it wasn't limited to Vietnam. The Nixon Administration also ordered the military use of weapons of mass destruction in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos without much regard to the troops or non-combatant civilians.  What did it take to get Congress to act in this history lesson?  

Today, then, in 2007, in the matter of four years of U.S. military deployed in occupation of Iraq, despite four years of mounted protests by hundreds of thousands in cities across the United States, in Washington DC - what is it going to take to affect Congress to action instead of using just empty words as they jocky for political position?  Despite the efforts of veterans - over 1,300 Iraq veterans signed the Appeal for Redress that was delivered to Congress in January 2007 - Lt. Ehren Watada's efforts by his refusal to deploy to put the Iraq war on trial in accord with U.S. compliance with Geneva Conventions - the poll which indicated that 70% of deployed troops polled believe they should come home -----   what is going to take to get Congress to listen and act?  

No, that is not a rant or a hopeless question.  The history dating back to the Bonus Army, and the wars in which the U.S. military has been deployed since clearly show a more than casual disregard for the military and veterans over a 65 year period.  That is more than happenstance - that is a pattern of behavior on the part of Congress.  And I only went back to 1932, choosing the Bonus Army as a starting place.  

Is it any wonder that there is almost now by rote an action = U.S. military deployed into questionable wars with reaction = U.S. public must battle Congress to see the error it it's ways via repeated and accelerated protest demonstrations before Congress will act?  Is this the norm in our country - this land of freedom?  Freedom of what, I ask myself sometimes - freedom to send our young off in repeated historical wars to be killed and maimed and scarred for life and with just a thank you Sir and then are as quickly as one clicks the remote to change the tv channel the 'new veterans' are forgotten? Freedom to maintain freedom by sending our young repeatedly generation after generation to war?  I have to wonder when freedom isn't freedom but an act of an extreme kind of  selfishness.  Why is it that only our country deserves the largess?

No, I don't want to move to another country and I'm sure many would be happy to invite that opportunity if I am so dis-satisfied with my own country.  And no, I don't want to live under a dictatorship or other forms of government that are oppressive in nature.  Besides, I've had a husband and now a son-in-law and nephew pay my price of freedom and freedom to speak since they have been in combat over two wars - Vietnam and Iraq. Oh, and my nephew was also in Bosnia - you remember Bosnia?  Clinton years?

But, just because we, in this country, have some mythical definitions of what it is to be a democracy and those definitions are bathed and perfumed in nostalgic and patriotic dressing, doesn't mean we should accept that as the satisfactory bar or standard of what it means to be a democracy.  We should strive for better, yes, and we should re-examine our definitions and we should, perhaps improve on those definitions, and we should stop sending our young generations to be killed in the name of democracy and freedom, or at the very least get a clearer sense of what constitutes a 'threat' and imminent danger to our country. .

Quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who witnessed and participated in routing out the Bonus Army - U.S. troops against U.S. veterans:

 

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

 

  Don't think for a moment, that our Congress today, our Administration today does not well know the lessons of history.  Which is exactly why Congress refusing to act against an Administration who refuses to listen to the advice and warnings of his war experts is beyond deplorable as static energy - moving neither forward or backward,  perpetuating more of the same by doing nothing different. When did 'stay the course' become a patriotic nomenclature?  How is that bravery or wisdom in the face of foolishness?  

I truly do not wish to see the two in our family go back to Iraq this year - they returned alive, not necessarily well, but alive from their first 15 month deployment in 2003-2004.  Believe me, none in our family will consider it a noble sacrifice for them to go back, and their deaths will not honor them or us, rather it will be remembered that this Administration and Congress in concert did, in fact, exploit and dishonor our brave young service men and women.  



Friday, February 23, 2007

 

Bonus Army and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib on tv last night

I watched Bonus Army on PBS, and then Ghosts of Abu Ghraib on HBO. It remains on my mind today, and I will likely blog on it at my Dying to Preserve the Lies blog and at Washblog.

 

 

 

A Battalion a Month

"Combat fighting is taking roughly a battalion size group of Americans every month as casualties; killed, wounded, injured."

per Sen. Jack Reed at Senate Armed Forces Committee, 2005.

Battalion = approx 800 - 1,000 -- A Month

 

 


Conversation with Wounded Soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital


Conversations with U.S. Wounded Soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital; C-Span aired a poignant special April 2, 2005;  See and hear what the amputee soldiers Cpl Michael Oreskovic, Major Tammy Duckworth, First Lt Erasmos Valles, and Sgt Manuel Mendoza Valencia have to say; audio/video at C-span

 

 




PTSD Combat : Winning the War Within

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