Supporting the Troopsa href=”https://www.dailyegyptian.com/contactus.html”bDE Staff Reporter/b/abrspan class=”realsmall”bDaily Egyptian/b/span
“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and 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. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
-Hermann Goering, Hitler’s right hand man.
For anyone out there who still considers the phrase “support our troops” to be anything more then government-speak for “shut your mouths and go along with our decision to murder Iraqis”, consider the following. The 2004 budget that recently passed the House “will cut funding for veteran’s health care and benefit programs by nearly $25 billion over the next 10 years.”
Today, over 28 million veterans are currently receiving benefits from the Veteran’s Administration, and there are 70 million more who have applied to receive them. With even more cuts, who knows how many will get the assistance they need and deserve.
These days, we are constantly told that we must support the brave soldiers who are fighting in Iraq to “preserve our freedom” and “liberate the Iraqi people” – it’s patriotic, after all. This is not a new refrain. In all truth, it is a necessity:what soldier would fight a war to “preserve American hegemony” or “liberate Iraqi oil”. And what better way to gain the support of the American people than by engaging their natural love for their countrymen (and women)?
So Congress passes a resolution to show its support for the troops. And the next day it cuts benefits for veterans. Of course, history tells us that this is nothing new:our country has almost traditionally turned its back on veterans. In fact, from the very start, veterans have been cast aside once the war was through.
Take Daniel Shays and the so-called “Shays’ Rebellion”. After leaving their farms to fight in the Revolution, former Continental soldiers like Shays returned home to poverty and debt. They appealed to the government that they had bled for, but it gave them only promises of the pay that it owed them. Hundreds were thrown in jail for their debts, and when the farmers and soldiers rebelled, they were crushed by the military.
In 1932, over 20,000 veterans of the Great War (destitute due to the Great Depression) marched on Washington, set up shantytowns and attempted to petition Congress for early payment of the bonus they had been promised.
Congress squashed the bill designed to give aid to the soldiers, and then showed how much the US government “supports its troops”. The US military attacked the shantytown, burning buildings and gassing the veterans and their families. Two veterans were shot to death.
During and after WWII, our government tested nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons on US soldiers (as well as civilians) in an effort to determine their effects on the human bodies. Troops were made to march through ground zero immediately after a nuclear bomb went off, and biological weapons were tested on soldiers at sea. These practices have caused an astounding rate of cancer in affected veterans – and birth defects in their children. Even when it was not “performing tests”, the US has put the health of its soldiers in danger by using chemical weapons.
In Vietnam for example, our country dropped the defoliant known as “agent orange” throughout the jungles. Vietnam vets, in addition to suffering the consequences themselves (migraines, skin rashes, liver complications, and cancer), these men have passed on their government’s poison to their children. As one veteran relates, the war was over, “I got married, had Billy and Johnny…Then Billy grew up and that…pesticide…they dropped on us came back to haunt me and my kid. He has five…scars on his body from cancer.”
Of course, the military always claims it did not know the effects of the poisons it has used on US troops (which, of course, is precisely why they were doing the testing). Yet it flagrantly continues to use weapons that are believed to cause harm to its soldiers. The US still uses depleted uranium munitions (manufactured right here in southern Illinois) that appear to be closely related to the “Gulf War Syndrome” that haunts so many veterans (and, once again, their offspring) to this day.
So if the US government doesn’t support its own troops, why does it make such a fuss over those who are perceived as not doing so? Why does the media wing of the military-industrial complex do the same? Perhaps Hermann Goering has the answer.