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Watching My Students Turn Into Soldiers of Empire

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/07/watching-my-students-turn-soldiers-empire

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What’s honorable and patriotic about dropping bombs on men, women and children on command from the 1%?

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And still no end in sight. Can’t even get a discussion of this in the Democratic debates. As with climate change, it’s a topic that the establishment considers off limits.

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“Knights in white satin, never reaching the end…”

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The only honor I see in joining this military, is, you’re willing to die for others, and as you say, that’s mostly the 1%.

Personally, imo, I do not see the honor in that.

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I have endless respect for this man’s writing, his journey, his integrity, his fearlessness in facing the truth and wanting to make amends for it. His initial “service” to the empire - not so much.

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“You think you are dying for your country; you die for the industrialists.”

— Anatole France

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This is why I laugh when people say Tulsi Gabbard is as good as Bernie.
She was dumb enough to believe the Empire’s lies, joined the Empire’s war machine, helped its killers and torturers when they got wounded, and brags about her “service” to this day.
She’s still a member of the most dangerous war crimes organization in the world.
The only honorable volunteer soldiers are those like Chelsea Manning who expose the crimes of Empire and renounce the military and its feckless volunteers.

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I’ve watched America’s war (empire) machine since I was a child. I watched my brother go off to boot camp when his birthday drew a single digit number. Remember the Vietnam era draft lottery? What strikes me is that every generation of soldiers seems to forget the horrors that our country put the previous generation through. How do they get people to join after they’ve seen how that previous generation of soldiers is treated? Especially how they are ignored when they come home. Why on Earth would anyone volunteer for that? I joined the army myself although it was not for patriotic reasons. I just needed a fuckin job and I was desperate. I have a theory about high school football. It mirrors army training. It’s no accident that the military and the NFL have a close bond. Maybe somebody will investigate this conundrum of horrible treatment of veterans yet no shortage of volunteers to be canon fodder.

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My perspective: Honor the patriotism and the bravery of the soldiers willing to die to protect the U.S.A.; dishonor them for believing the lie!

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That’s why improving the care that veterans receive is a very progressive thing. The corporate democrats and conservative republicans both do not care about veterans. We, progressives, are the ones trying to improve the care our veterans receive.

Which I find very ironic, because most of those veterans are warmongers themselves, the kind of people who are into guns and killing, and who believe in American hegemony and Empire.
Many of them joined the war crimes machine so they can get free training, college, medical care.
They also tend to be hardcore evangelicals.
The best you can say about them is they were so dumb, feckless, and naive that they believe the recruiter’s lies.
The worst you can say about them is they’re eager foot soldiers of the wealthy elites, complicit with if not actively engaging in war crimes worldwide, and morally accountable for their wrongs.
I have ZERO respect for any volunteer American soldier.
People forced to serve in Vietnam I have lots of sympathy for, and they deserve help.

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I can understand that. Remember too, decades ago progressives were trying to get politicians to deal with undocumented immigrant laborers being paid cash under the counter by creating a way they can legally access jobs and have to pay taxes on the income they received. However, conservatives refused to because their constituents liked having cheap labor who didn’t have any legal rights. Now those same conservatives are trying to act like they are doing something to stop that tide that they welcomed all those years ago. Ironic indeed.

Whether or not you can accept it, supporting the veterans no matter why they joined is progressive because it makes life better for everyone and conservatives and liberals haven’t been stepping up to their responsibilities. Sure its not a pretty picture but shunning them will only increase our political adversaries. Many of those same veterans come back and find out that the USA doesn’t have their back and many of them become disillusioned as this author has. We need to show them that WE have their back and that their voting support of us will be rewarded. Most of what progressives are trying to get dealt with isn’t pretty but someone has to face the nasty realities of our times. Providing support to those veterans is the best way to favorably turn their attention to progressive issues. I hope you can find it in you to forgive them.

Also, this is yet another area where Medicare For All will solve a lot of problems.

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Watching My Students Turn Into Soldiers of Empire
This is a sad article, but it barely scratches the surface. I am one of the relative handful of survivors of our nuclear testing in the Marshal Islands and in Nevada, amongst other places. Most of my shipmates have been long dead, from cancers and other diseases. I was just about to turn 18 when I was exposed over a period of several months, mostly at Bikini Atoll in the Marshal Islands, to seven Hydrogen Bombs. Two were classified as “dirty bombs.”
**I was terrified as I began feeling sick, especially when brushing or combing my hair produced clots of hair on the comb or brush. We had heard of that, and my bleeding gums and teeth, as symptoms. Likewise the fatigue and the feeling that your internal organs were painful, sometimes cramping. Quite frankly, I thought I was going to die. I was grateful when the symptoms started to fade and especially when my hair started to grow back in (never as thick as it had been, though).
**My active duty ended on the eve of my 21st birthday. The remainder of my eight years was as inactive reserve, but with various illnesses and blood problems, I expected to die before my twenties ended. Somehow, amidst the thousands and thousands who have died, many in the horrors of cancers and other diseases, I am still here, in my 80s. I’ve often wondered why we are still here. Possibly, some Power wants there to be at least a few who can be living witness to the horrors we observed and were exposed to. The politicians and military seem to look on nuclear war as a sort of board game. (Blow up city and three million people, earn 300 points. Next player…)
**We Nuclear Veterans have seen, felt and suffered from these bombs, these “tests,” and the attempted cleanup of the atolls. Thousands have died, and many if not most that have lived, have lived a life of treatment for cancers and other illnesses from their exposure. If you can still find it available (It seems to be gone from most sites that carried it), watch the British film Threads, which gives a pretty realistic view of a nuclear war and its aftermath. The bombs used in Threads were little bombs, like the ones used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not like our current bombs, which are a thousand times or more powerful. It also realistically covers the effects of Nuclear Winter, and the damage from solar radiation when our atmospheric shielding of Ozone, etc., are gone. It covers the horror of children born with genetic mutations from the radiation. Most, mercifully, stillbirths or dying on the berthing table. Many Marshalese people still undergo this, from their exposure.
**So, we survivors have seen the end game which seems to be courted by the military, the politicians (with some notable exceptions) and the greed of the arms-makers, the oil men, and many others.
**As the computer said in the film war games, “an interesting game, professor, where the only way to win is not to play. Would you like to play a nice game of chess?”
Pawn to King four.
;-})

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You should be ashamed of yourself! You are painting everyone in the military with a way too-broad brush. Your narrow-minded and mostly wrong opinion of the men and women who choose to enter the the Armed Forces makes you the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing neo-nazis who call all liberal, fair minded people commies.
I never had the misfortune of having to serve in a shooting war but I served for a long time and have served with many good people, most who joined for whatever personal selfless or selfish reasons and found that the military life was not for them. I hope that they took whatever experience and knowledge they acquired and applied it to better their own lives and others in some way.
I wonder if you would say the same thing about policemen, who have a loud minority which has been earning all policemen a really bad reputation for a while now for abuse and intolerance. Or perhaps you should mention all the people who enter the Big Business world who only enter that profession because they want to exploit the workers and cheat the customers for the greater glory of Profit.

I’d like to take issue with this. Tulsi, if she is who she seems to be, grew up loving life and trusting people and what she was told. Is that someone who you call “dumb”? Chelsea Manning also enrolled in the U.S. killing machine, but since she (well he when this happened) happened to have access to what was really going on, she objected to it and leaked that truth out. But if she had been in position that Tulsi had been in, she might have still basically believed in what the U.S. was doing and felt proud to be a part of it. Although I do believe Chelsea Manning was way more inclined to question things, which is probably because she went through a lot more trauma while growing up (and yes, reading about her upbringing on wikipedia, I see she did go through a lot of trouble, for example, at one point her mother tried to commit suicide, both parents were alcoholics, her father remarried, etc. — IOW, your typical Common Dreams reader). Compare that to Tulsi, who I believe was brought up in a stable, loving atmosphere, who is slowly coming more and more to realize how messed up things are…

But given all the above, I still think Bernie Sanders is better choice to be president, so I agree with you in that regard, if that is what you were saying in your first sentence.

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My Nephew was injured in Iraq and has no remorse because he still thinks he did the right thing as he says: " I protected America"! He is very brave and what is called " a patriot ". We have to feel sorry for these well meaning, albeit misled soldiers who have been so brainwashed by the American medias narrative. They are from my perspective, for the most part, good people that have been conned into doing bad things.

As a draftee in Jan.,1955 to get the GI Bill and trained in the Medical Service Corps, and again
as a general physician from July, 1963 to July, 1966, I loved the Army. I had a good job in
Germany, and did well. However, what I see now nauseates me beyond belief. I would no longer
recommend the military as a viable life choice. I’m sad to see my old Army disappear; the major
is completely correct in this article. Also, I see no immediate hope for the future. Sad, because it
used to be a viable career path.