LIVES AND FAMILIES DESTROYED
BY Abe, Kelli, PraetorOne, and Kyle
PART I: GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T
In the early 1800s they called it "exhaustion." In World War I they called it "Soldiers Heart," "the Effort Syndrome," and finally "Shell Shock." In World War II it was called "Combat Fatigue," only to undergo yet another transformation in 1952, when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) referred to it as "Stress Response Syndrome" caused by "gross stress reaction." During the Vietnam conflict, in 1968, it was melded into a section about situational disorders. And, as an interesting side note, it should be stated that those Vietnam Veterans who suffered from "Stress Response Syndrome" actually suffered from a preexisting condition if that condition lasted longer than six months--a slick way to avoid paying Veterans benefits. It wasn't until the 1980s that the third edition of the DSM (DSM III) used the current term of identification, and in 1994 the DSM IV categorized it as new type of stress disorder, still listed under the heading of Anxiety Disorders.
We are of course talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition which the overstretched military currently and conveniently believes can be cured by taking traumatized Iraq veterans and pushing them back into combat situations. Translated into modern English, Military psychiatrists seem to have confused PTSD with phobic reactions and are foolishly encouraging young veterans to get back in the proverbial saddle again.
Imagine if you will, that you have eaten a bad hotdog and have become violently ill. Imagine further, that you go to your doctor and that your doctor has told you to eat another hot dog. Well, that's what is happening in Iraq as Military Doctors are using traumatized soldiers as psychological guinea pigs in a thinly disguised effort to maintain troop levels, and quite possibly to prevent Iraq War Veterans from cashing in on deserved benefits here at home. In either event this so called treatment flies in the face of morality and rational thinking and it certainly makes a mockery out of the Hippocratic Oath.
To understand how foolish this controversial treatment really is we might want to take a look at the highly varied symptoms of the beast that we refer to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
*intrusive memories about the traumatic event or events
*bad dreams about the traumatic event
*flashbacks or a sense of reliving the event
*feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
*physiological symptoms such as a pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, and profuse sweating
*The patient may feel terrified and disorientated, trying to avoid feelings or conversations which might remind him of the event. There may be a loss of memory regarding important parts of the traumatic event and there may be a loss of interest in activities and in life in general. The patient may feel detached or estranged from other people or may feel emotionally numb towards people, including loved ones.
*The patient may feel increased arousal and anxiety, experiencing sleep difficulties, outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance (being constantly on guard). The patient may be jumpy and experience an exaggerated startle response.
Over time the patient may develop depression, substance abuse in an attempt to self-medicate, depression. Patients often avoid treatment because they are afraid others will be judgmental. And in the military this is not a small concern, because the culture of silence surrounding mental disorders can only be described as extreme, Especially when one considers the fact that there are established methods of treatment.
Early treatment, before the symptoms worsen, is important. The effects on friends and families can be devastating to say the least, and one of the areas on which treatment will focus is on the improvement of family life. One needs to remember that individuals and families alike will suffer as the patient deteriorates. This is not to blame the patient, but the disorder itself. Unless someone has had some sort of contact with this disorder one really can't understand the dynamics involved, the damage that it can do. Moreover, PTSD can cause physical conditions to deteriorate as physiological symptoms grow more intense: heart conditions, ulcers, ad infinitum.
Patients and loved ones need to understand that PTSD is not weakness nor a lapse in morality. Actually it is a sign that the individual is trying, albeit rather desperately, to cope with the situation, with the original trauma.
Treatment is designed to help the victim deal with the trauma as opposed to avoiding it. Thoughts and feelings pertaining to the trauma are explored; the victim is encouraged to work through the feelings of guilt, self-blame, and mistrust which surround the trauma and the ensuing PTSD. Intrusive memories are dealt with, the patient being taught how to better control those memories. At the same time family issues are discussed and dealt with.
One therapy is Exposure Therapy in which the patient is gradually exposed to the thoughts and situations which trigger memories of the original traumatic event. Eventually the patient is encouraged to face situations which may resemble (the opportune word being resemble) the original traumatic event. Cognitive Restructuring is another means of therapy in which the patient is encouraged to recognize and identify the disturbing thought patterns surrounding the
original trauma. In this form of therapy the patient is taught to differentiate between distorted and irrational perceptions and more balanced, rational perceptions.
And those are only two out of many accepted therapies. But now look out. Here come George W. Bush and the Bush Military and they have a whole new take on the situation. Thanks in part to a handful of renegades within the mental health care profession--most of which are tied to the United States military--we have now reached the point where where Military psychiatrists want to take traumatized soldiers and push them back into the situation which caused the trauma in the first place. As we stated above this flies in the face of both, basic morality and the Hippocratic Oath. In the standard, accepted therapies that we discussed above the object is to prevent future harm, there is only a minimal danger of additional mental or physical harm. That cannot be said about taking a traumatized soldier and sending him back into combat. There is desensitization and then there is the kind of congenital imbecility which is being promoted by that handful of renegade psychiatrists et al as they place more lives and limbs in danger.
So why would the United States military devise such a foolish method of treatment. First and foremost we suspect that it has more to do with a desperate need for troops than it does with legitimate medical and psychological needs. It is no secret that the United States Military is already spread too thin and that it can't afford to lose many more soldiers. Ergo, it has devised a way to keep troops on the battlefield, mental health be damned.
Secondly, we also suspect a financial motivation. In 2005 the Republican dominated government in Washington began to question the legitimacy of disability claims based on PTSD.
In 2004, 215,871 vets received PTSD benefit payments at a cost of $4.3 billion. In 1999 the figure stood at $1.17 billion, a jump in five years of more than 150 percent and that included very few of the veterans, the troops, who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the increase had come from Vietnam veterans who wanted to free themselves of the devastating effects of PTSD. True to form the Republicans decided that it might be a good time to start cutting benefits based on PTSD claims. The result was a messy political argument in which the Republicans claimed that some veterans were faking their symptoms just to maintain their benefits. To substantiate this Loony Tunes argument, the Republicans claimed that extending benefits to Vietnam Era vets for such a long period of time would somehow tell Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that PTSD was a hopeless disorder that would continue without end: which, when you think about it is a little like saying someone would want to drink a vial of poison and risk his or her life just so they can enjoy the trip to and stay in the hospital. It does happen from time to time--you might find the rare person who would risk life and limb for the sheer joy of receiving medical treatment-- but such cases are rare and we suspect that those cases in which a rare individual would fake PTSD for benefits are also very, VERY rare. Oh, they like the trappings of war. They enjoy the impassioned political speeches, the nationalism, the flag waving and cheers which initially get them elected as they promote whatever intervention they believe will buy them political points, but when it comes to actually helping the kids who are going to do the actual suffering, bleeding, and dying, our GOP (Greedy Old Prigs) the upper class government officials show an almost gleeful contempt for the lower and lower middle class kids who sign up to do the GOP's dirty work. In addition we doubt if the Republican bean counters have ever given two whoops in hell about any vet once he or she had put in his or her required time. And today we can't even say that--not in a day of extended tours and little or no rest for weary, exhausted troops. Indeed, today the Republicans, George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney in particular, see troops as little more than disposable toy soldiers. They would just as soon see them come home in body bags than pay them for disabilities sustained while they were fighting in their ill-conceived war of choice. Not that Bush is especially interested in attending funerals, nor in allowing the public to see flag-draped coffins, much less body bags. To make the situation even worse the press has served as a pro-Bush cheering section in this regard. We've all see it. The stereotypical "news story" (think propaganda) about the severely wounded veteran who is eager to get back to Iraq. This, of course serves less as legitimate news (at the very best it's a feel good story) and more as propaganda to encourage wounded veterans to get back into action. The press COULD show more news stories about veterans who have been successfully treated and who have adjusted very well without putting their lives in jeopardy all over again, but they don't do that. The media are more interested in promoting the image of the strong-willed Marine or Soldier who goes back into the military with a prosthetic leg or arm. Indeed, a special on ABC a few years ago went so far as to feature soldiers with PTSD who allowed themselves to be manipulated by these semi-professional psychiatrists (read quacks) into going back into combat. Naturally, the ones who didn't were portrayed as weak and self-destructive. The message could not have been more devastating to PTSD sufferers who may already felt weak, guilty, and depressed because of their symptoms. And if the truth is to be told, stories such as these only reinforce the damaging mythology that has surrounded all types of mental illness in the past. Why do the words archaic and hackneyed come to mind?
But we seem to have digressed. In closing we shall only add that the pseudo-scientific approach to therapy which takes traumatized troops and places them back in jeopardy is just another manifestation of the fact that the Bush Administration didn't plan this war properly from the get go. Instead of concentrating on the war against terror the Bush Administration dropped the ball and attacked Iraq, distracting from a more crucial and relevant effort in Afghanistan. Obsessed over Iraq and the man who "threatened to kill (his) daddy," Bush assumed that the United States could defeat any enemy on the battlefield. It went in with an insufficient number of troops to fight a war which didn't have to be fought in the first place and ever since it has been recycling combat weary troops, knowing full well that it blew it but remaining too cocksure and too politically opportunistic to admit the same to the public. So now the Administration has ruined the military, spread it so thin that it can't afford to lose a single man or woman. Is it any wonder that we're sending traumatized soldiers back into battle?
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
SYMPTOMS TYPES AND TREATMENT
WASHINGTON TIMES Online Edition
A POLITICAL DEBATE ON STRESS DISORDER
By Shankar Vedantam
27 December, 2005
Noli nothis permittere te terere
Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
FAMILIES AND LIVES DESTROYED
BY DoctorWho, Shakti, and Rachel
PART 2, Screwing Wounded Vets at Home and in War
When former Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld issued his asinine comment about how we go to war with the army we have not the army we want, I thought to myself: "How unfortunate that we went to war with the President, Vice President, and Secretary of War that we have and not the one we legally elected."
No matter how you look at it, this Administration has been a disaster for wounded veterans. On the one hand they sent the troops into a war lacking weapons, armored vehicles, and body armor, a fact which undoubtedly increased the number of dead troops which we never saw come home in flag-draped coffins. On the other hand, when we DID properly arm the troops, we all but guaranteed an increase in the number of severely injured veterans. Body armor, surgical techniques, new medicines, and improvements in transportation have translated into an increase in the number of severely wounded troops. Today, as a result of the innovations listed above, only 6 percent of all veterans die of their wounds. That's up from 17 percent in Vietnam and from 23 percent in World War II. That isn't to suggest that we want more dead troops. Far from it. When you consider the fact that we now have nearly 4,000 dead and 29,320 wounded with outside estimates ranging from 23,000 to as many as 100,000 wounded, one really has to wonder what the Administration was thinking about (or for that matter,what it was thinking WITH) when it decided to invade Iraq in the first place. Contrary to Administration prevarications, we were attacked on 911 by terrorists from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not Iraq. But I'm not here to argue about motives--at least not yet. No, for the time being I'm here to insist that at no point did the Bush Administration consider the possibility that under supplying some troops while properly arming others would cause tragedy at both ends of the spectrum.
Those who have survived their injuries have been plagued with injuries that only a Demon from Hell could imagine. Many, TOO many, suffer from polytrauma, combinations of injuries which include: amputations, multiple amputations, nerve damage, multiple bone fractures, loss of hearing, loss of vision, infections, unhealed body wounds, third degree burns, major brain damage, spinal cord injuries, and of course, emotional and behavior problems (think Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dissociative disorders, thoughts about suicide, etc.)
As if that isn't bad enough many wounded vets must be taught how to walk, talk, speak, or even swallow again and that comes with some rather hefty medical expenses: thousands upon thousands of dollars per year combined with ongoing treatment and rehabilitation, often for the rest of their lives. To its credit, as a part of it's 2007 proposal, the Administration offered $80.6 billion with $34.3 billion set aside for Veterans' health care. That sounds good on the surface, but to pay for it the Administration also proposed cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Energy Assistance, and other programs for the poor. At no time did this Administration ask that everybody share in the pain. But it DID do its very best to protect tax cuts for the hyper rich while it waged a parallel war on poverty by waging a relentless war on the poor. Now consider the fact that so many of these wounded troops come from lower and lower middle class backgrounds and that the only reason many of them signed up in the first place was to obtain career and educational opportunities that they otherwise couldn't have afforded and you realize just how duplicitous the Bush Administration truly is.
Of course you just have to give Bush and his depraved band of war-mongers credit. When they decide to persecute the poor they don't go half way. They are equal opportunity persecutors. They go after anyone who has trouble making ends meet: Black, White, Hispanic, make, female, soldier or civilian. It's bred in their blue blood. They genuinely believe that poor people deserve to be poor. And the fact that so many of the troops are drawn from the ranks of the poor, from the ranks of racial minorities, may well explain part of the contempt that George W. Bush, Cheney, and their ilk show towards this particular generation of troops. In so many ways this is a sociopathic version of the contempt that Barbara Bush revealed towards Katrina survivors. Babs believed that hurricane refugees were better off in a public stadium than they were in their homes. George W. Bush seems to believe that young, twenty-some-year-olds will be better off in a body bag or in a nice sterile institution that they are in the warm comforts of a home and a family relationship.
In addition the Republicans also found new and innovative ways to financially screw wounded veterans. Never mind the Republican-led effort to cut off benefits from veterans who were receiving those benefits based on claims of Post-Taumatic Stress Disorder Let's talk about the now infamous Enlistment Bonus scandal which operated like this: Imagine, if you will that you are a young veteran who was wounded in Iraq, who came home seriously injured with an honorable discharge expecting an Enlistment Bonus for your time served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Then imagine that you received your bonus, only to receive a subsequent mailing in which the Republican-dominated Defense Department demands that you return the money because you had not served your full amount of time on duty. This, shockingly, is what was revealed by the Dole-Shalala Commission when it investigated the Defense Department's policy which quite literally prohibited payment bonuses unless entire commitments were fulfilled. It didn't matter if the soldier in question had been forced into an early discharge. The Bush Defense Department wanted its pound of flesh no matter how or why the wounded veteran had been forced into an early discharge. In fact, the situation became so bad that in 2007 the Bush Defense Department was thoroughly humiliated and the House of Representatives, proposed the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act which prohibited the Defense Department from denying enlistment bonuses to wounded vets, even if they hadn't served their full amount of time on duty. Moreover the bill would have required that bonuses be paid in full within a period of thirty days. For a complete text of the bill please go to:
So who's to blame? Certainly the Administration--people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condy Rice, Colin Powell, and others--must wash some of the blood from their hands. Can you imagine a network of homicidal maniacs were so obtuse as to invade the wrong country without properly arming an insufficient number of troops? Can you comprehend a conspiracy of oil-hungry war-mongers who were so stupid that they didn't realize that technological advances in both medicine and warfare would result in severely wounded veterans such as we have never seen in the history of mass slaughter? By this stage I think it's a given that many of us can.
But there's another group which needs to wipe the blood from its hands as well. I am talking about military recruiters who have been given carte blanche by the damnable No Child Left Behind Act. Not only are these propaganda masters allowed to spread their phony PR in American High Schools; they also receive free access to student records. With information in hand they are able to fix their arguments around the individual student,playing on fears, dreams, and personal backgrounds like psychological chess masters. And that's exactly what military recruiters really are: psychological chess masters. They'll tell an eager young man or woman anything that young man or woman wants to hear. They deal in public relations, not reality. Educational opportunities, career opportunities, honor, and valor. They'll tell any lie that a young person is prone to believe. And the part that strikes me as the most horrifying is that they know young people, young males in particular, have impressionable minds. Worse yet, they also know something that many of us have learned with maturity: recruiters know that young people don't fully understand the concept of mortality. A young person in his or her late teens and early twenties thinks that he or she is invincible, that severe injury or even death will never happen to them.
And that's a misconception that is quickly corrected when they come home wounded, or in psychological pain, or when their family relations begin to deteriorate, or when they can't find work, or when they find themselves thinking about suicide because they can't forget the horrors or war, or when...
Noli nothis permittere te terere
Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
Posted by Praetorone and Donatra at 6:21 PM
DESTROYED LIVES AND FAMILIES
By DoctorWho, Shakti, and PraetorOne
PART 3: HALF TRUTHS AND BROKEN PROMISES
Under normal circumstances it takes a number of a decades for a Veteran to go homeless, but in the case of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, the process by which past generations of veterans went homeless appears to be taking place at an accelerated rate. According to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans nearly approximately 196,000 vets are homeless in any given night. And that may only be the beginning because as of 2006, 1.3 million American men and women had served at various times in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Sadly more than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are now utilizing agency supported residential programs across the entire United States. Shelters, soup kitchens, and parks are regularly visited by outreach officers from the Veterans Administration and the results are chilling to say the least. Approximately 1,500 Iraq-Afghanistan veterans were determined to be at risk even though some of them still had jobs. And the news only gets worse.
The increased number of women in the armed services has also complicated he picture. Approximately 40 percent of the hundreds of female veterans have been sexually assaulted by American soldiers while they were still in the military. That may sound irrelevant until you remember that sexual abuse can be a factor in determining homelessness.
And as stated in the previous installment, technological advances in medicine, warfare, and transportation have created a situation in which soldiers who might otherwise have died are now coming home with brain injuries, PTSD, and other forms of emotional and/or psychological disorders. That is of particular importance because government programs, including the Veterans Administration tend to treat mental disorders differently than they do physical disorders. Governmental programs tend to cater to those who have physical disabilities, but if you suffer from an emotional, psychological, or behavioral problem, you will be scrutinized more carefully, forced to jump through more hoops than someone with physical disabilities. And while you are waiting the nonphysical disabilities from which you suffer may well lead you from the horrific world of self medication (think drugs and alcohol) to the nightmare of genuine addiction, another factor in homelessness. In addition it often doesn't matter if an applicant has a physical or a psychological disability because red tape and governmental bureaucracy has created a situation in which applicants often wait for as long as a year for services. You don't need to be a social worker to realize that a veteran could easily go through his or her resources during that time and find him or herself on the steets.
Taken as a whole, veterans of all ages compose approximately 11 percent of the population, but they represent 26 percent of the homeless. Moreover 44,000 to 64,000 veterans (in general) have been diagnosed as chronic cases. And to make matters even worse, the United States Army has determined that one out of three Iraq War veterans will suffer the devastating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental disorders. Moreover experts expect this trend to continue for years, decades, to come; and if that sounds familiar it should. The same thing happened to Vietnam veterans. In other words, those organizations which provide housing, employment and counseling are not and may never be ready for the flash flood of human misery that is about to hit as a direct result of the Bush War.
Posted by Praetorone and Donatra at 3:55 PM
Of course we can hear the Social Darwinists even now: "Homeless veterans WANT to be homeless! Why should my tax dollars go to help people who WANT to live on the streets." Yup. That sounds good to us. Who wouldn't want to live on the streets during a Wisconsin winter. Nothing like 10 or 20 below zero to stimulate the old cardio-vascular system. Or a 95 degree summer day in clothing that hasn't been washed since Hector was a pup. And don't forget the meals--we hear garbage can left overs are a real treat. By the same token living in warehouses or under bridges or in old cars might be considered adequate housing in SOME deluded minds.
So let's correct that mythology right now. Granted, there are a few veterans who might be reluctant to seek help because they view a need for help as a form of weakness. You have to remember that the military tends to view psychological disorders and a need to seek help as a form of weakness, indeed, careers can be ruined if a person is deemed weak because of a psychological disorder which requires therapy. So there may be some reluctance to seek out help in the first place, but that doesn't mean that homeless vets enjoy being homeless. Virtually no one, save for the most severe cases, wants to live on the streets. As we might have expected, the myth of the happy homeless started during the Reagen Administration and it continues to this very day. Sadly it is just that, a myth, and yet the degree to which weak-minded right wingers continue to believe in that lie is nothing less than shameful.
Instead of blaming the victim we would suggest looking at more realistic explanations. We just wrote about some of them, the governmental bureaucracy and red tape which delays approval for social programs; requiring those with psychological disorders to jump through extra hoops etc. So maybe now we should look at more realistic explanations, including the governmental funding of various agencies and programs.
People assume that the Veterans Administration is of tremendous help to veterans, As we have just learned it is helpful to veterans with physical disabilities. Moreover there is no law requiring that the VA be funded at all. As a matter of fact it is so under funded that in 2006 groups as diverse as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Disabled American Veterans urged Congress to increase the VA budget by more than $2 million. Ideally what should happen is that Congress should pass a law mandating adequate funding for the VA, but that might actually save lives, not take or ruin them as George W. Bush and his merry band of blood thirsty imbeciles are so inclined to do.
Nor is the Department of Defense of that much help either, although it could be if it wanted to be. At the present time the Defense Department is spending more than $5 billion dollars a month to occupy a country which had nothing to do with 911. At the same time it spends a paltry $50 million to assist homeless veterans. Why so little? The answer is obvious. The State Department believes that its one and only mission is to transform civilians, regular citizens, into soldiers. Once the Veteran returns home and takes off that uniform, the DOD believes that its job is done. It sees no reason to help transform soldiers into good, productive civilians, citizens if you will. But isn't this an abdication of the DOD's basic mission? Do not healthy, productive citizens provide another kind of defense for America? Don't they contribute to her financial well being? Of course they do. Moreover one might argue that a productive, well adjusted citizenry not only provides for the defense of the country, it also make the country worth defending--facts which have apparently flown over the heads of both, the DOD and the Regime in Washington. That said it is obvious that the DOD must be pressured and shamed into helping veterans readjust to civilian life.
All too often troubled veterans come home under the false impression that society is ready to help them with their problems. They genuinely believe that there is a social network of social and veterans' programs out there to help them with medical bills and to help them find meaningful employment. And then reality sets in; and in addition to the trauma which ended their tour of duty, they must now face a new trauma--the fact that they were led to believe a bill of goods before they marched off to war.
So what can we expect if we continue to ignore veterans' issues? Nothing less than a tsunami of human misery. Broken homes, broken families, domestic abuse, drug abuse, rising suicide rates among troubled veterans, and, of course, increases in the number of homeless vets. Something has to change. We need to recognize and then act upon the fact that some veterans are going to require special care and extra attention when they get home. We need doctors and mental health care professionals who will be willing to work with these young men and women, profit be damned. We need to step on governmental agencies and social programs and demand that they cut through the red tape, insisting that they process disability claims more quickly, regardless as to whether or not the disability is of a physical nature.
In short we need to open our hearts and our pocket books and start treating our disabled and homeless vets with a little compassion, pride, and dignity. Anything less is a waste of human potential.
New York Times
"Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans"
By Erik Eckholm; November 8, 2007
Military.com; Today in the Military
By Paul Rieckhoff; May 4, 2006
Alternet/War on Iraq
By Rose Aguilar; February 8,
The New Standard
"Iraq War Veterans Already Joining Burgeoning Homeless Population"
By Ron Chepesiuk; February 11, 2005
Noli nothis permittere te terere
Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
Posted by Praetorone and Donatra at 3:45 PM
NO REAL SACRIFICE: LIES, EXPLOITATION, AND MANIPULATION
Obviously I am too young to have experienced World War II directly, but I am well read on the topic and I have forged friendships with older people who did experience that war first hand. One of the things I learned was that the American people were willing to make sacrifices in those days. As well they should have. In the summer of 1942 Adolf Hitler appeared to be at the height of his powers. German Armies had penetrated deep into Western Russia; German and Italian Armies had conquered vast areas of territory ranging from Northern Africa to Western Europe to Scandinavia. In the East, Japan had taken out the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, leaving America's Western Coast vulnerable to attack. Moreover, the Pacific Ocean and Eastern Asia were little more than a Japanese play ground. With that in mind the American people, though they may have grumbled from time to time, decided to make personal sacrifices for the war effort. The rationed everything from eggs, meat, and fat, to tires and nylons. They paid higher taxes and went without new refrigerators, wash machines, and cars to save metal for th war effort. Moreover the government levied higher taxes to pay for the war effort; and by taxes I mean taxes on everyone, rich and poor alike, not just on the middle and lower classes, but on the wealthy as well. Franklin Roosevelt went on the radio and explained why we needed to make personal sacrifices in our every day lives, and once we understood exactly how grim the situation was we got into line and did our best --albeit with a little pissing and moaning--to support the War Against Fascism.
Now flash forward to the year 2001. On 911 of that memorable year we were attacked by right wing religious religious fanatics from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, initiating what George W. Bush referred to as a War Against Terror(ism). Presumably this war against terrorism is a Third World War, but unlike Franklin Roosevelt, George W.Bush did not call for shared sacrifice. Instead, he fought hard to keep tax cuts for the very wealthy and told us to go shopping. In effect asking us to pull out our credit cards to buy worthless junk that we don't really need while openly encouraging his "Ownership Society," which is just a fancy way of saying: "Get yourself a variable mortgage and buy yourself a home that you can't afford to pay for." That's right--George W. Bush told the lower and middle classes to buy things they didn't need or couldn't afford to keep his consumer driven economy afloat.
Translated into modern English, George W. Bush asked the American people, the lower and middle classes, to pull his economic chestnuts out of the fire by going deeper into debt. After telling us that the War Against Terror(ism) was the greatest threat this country had faced since World War II George W. Bush called for no common sacrifice and decided to fight his wars on the cheap.His contempt for the lower and middle classes must be obvious to even the most obtuse of Americans, but what is less obvious is the contempt that our Demander and Thief holds towards the troops and veterans, who, as you might know, come disproportionately from lower and lower middle class backgrounds and from the ranks of Black and Hispanic Americans. Oh that doesn't mean that George W. Bush doesn't EXPLOIT the troops when he wants to MANIPULATE public sentiment, but beyond that our Demander and Thief has no use for the troops or, for that matter, for veterans. People like "W" and his blue-blooded ilk have no use for anyone they consider below them and so many of the troops come from demographic groups which "W" et al consider below them.
They don't mind giving patriotic speeches before crowds of soldiers or flying to Iraq under heavy guard with rubber turkeys when doing so will benefit them politically; they don't mind hanging wreaths at public ceremonies when it creates a false image of "Compassionate Conservatism" (an oxymoron if ever there were one). But when is the last time George W. Bush attended a soldier's funeral? What did he and the Congressional Republicans do to address veterans needs? Virtually nothing. And on the few occasions that they did they quite literally had to be shamed into taking action. Does anyone remember the insect and rodent infestations at Walter Reed outpatient facilities? That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. That disgusting little scandal might never have been addressed if the Powers That Be hadn't been shamed into cleaning up the facilities. And since George W. Bush is essentially incapable of guilt I suspect that he wasn't shamed at all. He was probably motivated by political needs, saving his own hide, than he was in helping wounded veterans.
For all intents and purposes the relationship (respectively speaking) between George W. Bush and the troops/wounded veterans is the same kind of relationship that we find between pedophiles and abused, prepubescent children. No, I am not saying that troops and veterans are children, but I am saying that they have been abused, that it is the same kind of user-abused relationship. As long as the child remains a child, the abuser maintains an unhealthy interest in his victim, lying, coercing, and threatening, doing whatever he can to obtain what he desires most. This, of course is classic George W. Bush. He uses the troops as props before the cameras for press conferences whenever his approval ratings fall; he evokes the bravery and patriotism of the brave young troops whenever such images serve his war-mongering purposes. But like your typical pedophile, who loses interest in his victim when that victim undergoes puberty, George W. Bush quickly loses interest when troops come home in body bags or with physiological and/or psychological injuries. It's a classic case of abuser-abused psychology and the frightening part about all of this is that George W. Bush (today), with his mediocre approval ratings and increasingly irrelevant twaddle about anything and everything, probably sees himself as the victim in all of this.
Five years ago the Bush Regime invaded a country which had nothing to do with 911. In many ways the equivalent to that barbaric act would have taken place in 1941 when, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt would have declared war on Bolivia. The people who crashed those airliners into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not Iraq. Many of us still wonder why? Was George Bush trying to avenge himself because he believed Saddam had tried to kill his daddy? Was it for oil? Does it even MATTER at this stage of the game. All right, for the historical record it DOES matter, but let's look at the overall picture here. Nearly 4,000 American troops dead. Nearly 30,000 wounded.
And that doesn't even begin to account for the numbers of dead and displaced Iraqis. And through it all George W. Bush maintained that Iraq was/is a front in the War Against Terror(ism). To which one should ask the obvious question. If indeed this is the most deadly foe we have faced since the 1930s and 40s, why have we not asked the most wealthy in this society to make a sacrifice? Why does George W. Bush repeatedly compare the Islamicists to the Nazis and then refuse to give up on his budget busting tax cut for the rich? Why didn't he initiate a draft to guarantee a large enough military to do the job properly in both, Afghanistan and Iraq? The answers are political. If he asks the hyper rich to giveback some of their ill gotten gold they may punish him by cutting back on contributions to Republican campaigns. If he initiates a draft (white) middle and upper class America may well punish him by voting for the other party or by sitting out elections. In any event "W" was hardly influenced by the military situation in Iraq and he certainly wasn't motivated by "Compassionate Conservatism." Power and a need to bully and dominate, yes, but certainly not compassion.As usual, George W. Bush had ample opportunity to tell us the truth and he didn't. Instead his motives kept changing. One day it was because Saddam Hussein was a bad man. Another day it was because Iraq had been a conspirator in 911. Another day it was because we could bring Democracy to a country which had yet to experience democracy in any way , shape, or form. And the irony in all of it is that we still don't know his real motives, although I suspect it had more to do with oil, megalomania, and arrogance than anything else.
In closing I will only add the following. Far from being a good Christian and a "Compassionate Conservative," George W. Bush is a classic user and manipulator. And if the truth is to be told we have all suffered under his Social Darwinistic policies, especially the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. But when it is all said and done no one has been manipulated, and exploited and lied to as much as our troops and veterans have been manipulated, exploited, and lied to. Because while some people have paid dearly with heavy credit card bills; long, tiring hours at multiple jobs; and house foreclosures, others have paid with their blood, sanity, and lives.
And that is a tragedy that words cannot describe.
Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
Posted by Praetorone and Donatra at 3:12 PM