Tuesday, November 16, 2010

American Exceptionalism, 3

I’m a disabled Viet Vet, proud of my service and grateful for the care I’ve been receiving from the VA. I think Viet Nam was a colossal mistake, as have been almost everything we’ve done militarily since with the exception of Serbia and the first Gulf War, but I’m still proud to have served. Nor am I bitter over my service connected disabilities.

This month the, DAV – Disabled American Veterans, magazine said 18 veterans a day commit suicide. 18 a day commit suicide.

It also said that the latest diseases added to the presumptive list (those diseases which are automatically attributed to) Agent Orange and other herbicides used to defoliate the jungles in Viet, Laos and Cambodia will cost $42.6 billion – just the latest diseases added, not including the others already on the list. $42.6 billion and that does not include all the other VA costs.

When a decision is made to go to war and some kind of budget is drawn up, are the costs of fixing broken veterans factored in? The costs of ruined families, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, broken and ruined children and suicide?

Oh sure, now-a-days, all our service people are volunteers, so tough shit, right, they knew what they were getting into, right, they knew what the risks were? I was a volunteer, too, and believe me, I had no idea - none. What about the fact that most of these ‘volunteers’ come from the poorest segments of our society with few opportunities so that military service is a step up for them. How many Wharton MBAs are in Iraq or Afghanistan as service people, not as contractors?

We should honor and take care of our veterans and war fighters, it’s truly a sacred obligation. Yet, we must be careful not to confuse honoring and caring for them with supporting misguided wars. The two are not the same. Supporting, honoring and caring for our war fighters is not the same as supporting misguided wars. Not. We do not honor our troops by sending them into harm’s way for no good reason. We support our troops by using them carefully in good causes.

We support our troops by voting intelligently so we get leaders who understand the horror of war, know it is not a video game and will use our military carefully in good causes; who will not lie to us about WMD and who attacked the World Trade Center. Vote for leaders who will not allow the current rampant corruption by the majority of military contractors; and who will seek to accomplish our good ends by means other than war and use war only as a last resort.

We support the troops by getting our heads out of our asses and not making the same foreign policy mistakes over and over – forcing democracy where it is not yet ready to succeed, backing weak and corrupt governments not trusted by their own people, bringing Western Judeo/Christian ideals to primitive, Islamic, tribal civilizations. We support our troops by innovating and finding ways to reduce our dependence on oil, foreign or domestic.

The way we use and support our troops is another example of the malfunction of American Exceptionalism. But please, wake and arise, it need not be this way!

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