War and profit: Deciphering what it means to be in the U.S. military



March Forward! Against War and Racism

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

From the newsletter of March Forward!

We join the military for many different reasons. Some of us want to have access to a college education. Some of us want job training and a steady paycheck. Some of us join to get U.S. citizenship. Some of us need to get out of debt or need to get off a destructive path. Some of us join out of pride, patriotism and a genuine desire to be a part of some greater, collective good. Many of us made the decision early-while still in high school, enticed by recruiters’ promises of cash bonuses, adventure and opportunity-while some of us joined after years as a worker, drawn by the military’s full health care and housing benefits.

Whatever the reason, we all found ourselves wearing the uniform of the U.S. military. What did we actually join? What is the role of the U.S. military in the world? What does it mean to be a soldier following the dictates of U.S. foreign policy? When we sign ourselves away to the military, what are we being used to do?

In recent years, many of us ended up in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are told that as a soldier in the U.S. military we are defending the interests of the United States. This does have an ounce of truth-but only an ounce. We are defending the interests of a particular class in the United States. It is only a wealthy minority whose interests are being defended in Iraq, Afghanistan and the more than 130 countries where U.S. troops are stationed.

In whose interests do we serve?

I was sent to Iraq believing we would be helping the Iraqi people. Once the illusions of pride and patriotism crumbled, I realized I was never sent to help anyone. I kicked down their doors and dragged them from their homes. I robbed them of their humanity in interrogation cells. I watched the life ripped out of them. I saw children torn to shreds. I witnessed my friends disabled by physical and/or psychological trauma. All this suffering and destruction for “Iraqi Freedom,” which really means the freedom of a new U.S.-installed government to hand over control of its natural resources to U.S. corporations.

It wasn’t much different for those soldiers sent to Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama or other countries that have been targets of U.S. intervention over the past half-century and more.

We are taught the United States stands for freedom and democracy, and that military force is used to defend or further those ideals. This is echoed constantly throughout our lives, in school and in the media. It is woven into the fabric of our national identity, making it possible for people to accept the deaths of U.S. soldiers in foreign lands, as long as they are assured they died in the interests of democracy.

History of U.S. conflicts

However, reviewing the history of conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved tells a completely different story. The U.S. government does not have a history of supporting democratic movements, but rather a history of overthrowing them. Among those countries whose popularly elected governments have been crushed by the U.S. military and replaced by authoritarian and non-elected dictators are the Congo, Grenada, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Haiti-and the list goes on. Quite simply, this government – whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House-has no problem installing and backing oppressive dictatorships.

Understanding U.S. foreign policy becomes much easier if we stop looking at it in terms of “defending democracy,” and start looking at it in terms of economic interests. It is not the form of a foreign government that determines whether it ends up in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, but whether or not that government will give U.S. businesses access to its markets, labor force and natural resources. This explains why the United States supports governments with some of the worst human rights records, like Colombia, or Saudi Arabia, which has never had an election in its history! U.S. corporations reap billions of dollars in profits from these countries.

U.S. foreign policy really boils down to ensuring the extraction of wealth from the developing world by U.S. corporations. In the words of two-time Medal of Honor winner Major General Smedley Butler: “I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

Claims that the Pentagon only works to defend the United States and spread democracy fall apart when you look at the current use of the military. It is now obvious that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States, nor did the U.S. government care about the well-being of the Iraqi people. A quarter of Iraq’s population of 26 million people has been killed, wounded or displaced since the illegal U.S. invasion on March 19, 2003. Iraq sits atop a massive supply of petroleum, all of which was nationalized and closed to U.S. corporations’ control under Saddam Hussein.

The role of banks and big business

The banks and Wall Street exert dominating influence over U.S. foreign policy. Our “democracy” is reserved for those who have millions of dollars to run for office, and who are funded by (and ultimately beholden to) corporate interests. Our “free press” is owned by only five mega-corporations who directly profit from the military-industrial complex and distort reality to shape public opinion accordingly.

The ruling class of Wall Street CEOs, bankers and their loyal politicians has the power to annihilate an entire country for profit-but they never fight in these wars themselves. So they have to find a way to convince the average worker that these wars are worth fighting. They must find a way to convince working-class people that we should kill and die to make the rich ruling class even richer.

Our enemy is not on the other side of the world; that enemy is in the corporate boardrooms and the Pentagon Brass. Defeating that enemy means refusing to take part in their imperialist plans and organizing together to demand real justice.

War is Not a Solution

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.   Northington website or on the blog.

For the past several years I have been a member of the local peace group, Pacem in Terris.  One outgrowth of membership and action with the group was my recent political campaign.  The driving force for political action was then and remains today my staunch opposition to the ongoing occupation of Iraq.  Our nation has many issues to be resolved today.  We will not be able to address many of those issues so long as we continue to borrow and spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.

Support for the Iraq occupation has waned over the course of the years since the invasion.  The administration keeps much of the activity and the results of war from our eyes.  Our media does nothing to portray war as the real hell on earth so many of us know.  During my time in Vietnam I saw first hand the effects of war on troops from both sides, the people and the land.  War ruins the landscape and kills people without discrimination.

The major insult is not to the troops but is rather to the civilians, the women, the children, and the aged who have no part in military activity.  We must continue to remember every person on either side killed or wounded as a result of our military intervention is a son or daughter, maybe a mother or a father, perhaps a brother or a sister.  Every life lost touches the lives of the many who surround that person.  The damage spreads ripples throughout the surrounding society.

I suggest we look to peaceful means of resolving world conflicts.  The end solutions to terrorism will lie in social and economic change.  We need to begin our pursuit of those measures as soon as possible.  It

is left to each of us to insure our elected officials hear our wishes.  First of all we vote.  Then we must remain vocal and keep in touch with those we elect to remind them they serve us first of all.  Those we elect must lead our nation in the direction we choose.  Only our continued action will insure that course is the one taken.

Peace.

Quote of the week:  

In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect.

~ Carl von Clausewitz

Northington Notes is a twice monthly e-mail newsletter and commentary.  Subscribe on the website or send an e-mail to JerryNorthington at gmx dot com with subscribe in the subject line.  

Re-enlisting

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

Originally Published October 8, 2007




To view the original art, please travel to Re-enlisting an old favorite

Has there ever been a more politically tone-deaf administration than this one? I can understand Bush’s need to score points with the base. But if you’re going to veto legislation to take a stand against “big government,” couldn’t you pick something more palatable than quashing healthcare for poor children? And to say we can’t afford $35 billion for sick kids, at the same time you’re asking for around $190 billion – that’s $190,000,000,000! – in additional war spending?

How did this numbskull ever get to be president? No, really.

As I was sitting down to tackle this week’s toon, I was looking to do something with that notion of tone deafness. But as I brainstormed symbols that spoke to children paying the price for America’s war machine, I kept coming back to the same image: Jules Feiffer’s Munro.

For those not familiar with Feiffer, the guy is on the top rung in my pantheon of creative heroes. Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist. Obie-winning playwright. And, in 1961, he was the writer of an Academy-Award-winning animated short called “Munro.”

“Munro” started life as a short story in Feiffer’s 1957 cartoon collection, “Passionella.” The story revolves around a four-year-old boy named Munro who is drafted into the U.S. Army and can’t seem to convince anyone that there’s been a mistake. It’s a brilliant piece of work, one that still has wonderful resonance today. (If you haven’t seen the animated version, treat yourself on YouTube.)

Feiffer retired from editorial cartooning on a regular basis in 2000.

With our young again being victimized by a misguided military effort, it seemed a good time to pay homage to one of my greatest influences. “Munro, 2007,” below, is the result. I think it works fine with no knowledge of the “Munro” back-story, and offers deeper meaning for those in the know (which now includes everyone reading this). I’m pretty tickled with this one.

As always, feel free let me know if you agree or disagree.

Please reference “Munro, 2007” [Archive No. 0733]

U.S. war machine the real enemy, not Iraqis

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Iraq veteran’s perspective

When I volunteered as a soldier to be a part of the initial invasion of Iraq, it was under the assumption that our intentions were just.  U.S. troops-most of us from working-class backgrounds-were fed countless stories of the supposed brutality of Saddam Hussein, and the plight of the Iraqi people.

I truly began to understand the nature of the “liberation” that the U.S. military was bringing to Iraq after one particular mission-one that I struggle with everyday, and one that I share with a great deal of shame and regret.

I still have not discovered the reasons for being sent on this mission.  There was a block of about 10 homes in an Iraqi city, all with families living in them.  Our orders were to force them to leave.  We drove our unarmored Humvees as occupiers through a newly “liberated” Iraqi neighborhood.  We found the block of houses, set up security and began knocking on each door.

Each family, “free” from Saddam’s “dictatorship” was greeted by rifles in their faces and eviction notices.  As they argued with us, confused and panicked, all we could tell them was that they had two days to leave.  We did not tell them where to go, why they had to leave or offer any compensation.  All we provided was an “official” letter ordering them out of their homes.

When we returned two days later, none of the families had gone.  The instructions from the military brass were clear: empty the houses no matter what.  We were given no reasons or explanations.  Only orders.

The orders did not tell us what to do with the Iraqi children in the homes, or the old man who could not walk.  We barged in the houses, rifles first, and began removing people.

A young Iraqi girl who spoke English tried to reason with us.  She tried to understand why this was happening and what they were supposed to do.  All we did was tell her we were sorry, as we dragged her family crying onto the street.  That day was spent being spit on, being told we were “worse than Saddam,” and being forced to turn our heads as crying families begged us to let them stay.  The men who refused to leave were zip-tied and brought to jail.  The women and children were told only what prison their family members were being taken to; we left them standing in the street as we drove back to base.  This was the “liberation” that the U.S. military occupation brought to Iraq.

International solidarity

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been haunted by the desperate faces of those newly homeless families.  The oppression of the colonial occupation of Iraq is something that weighs heavily on my mind.

Everyday, the U.S. government throws families onto the street.  In Iraq, it is with threats and violence.

There is no colonial occupation in the United States, but workers also are losing their homes and apartments to make way for the rich.  Workers here are faced with racism, bigotry and poverty-all aimed at them by the system and a massive media-based propaganda machine.

Families in Iraq are not our enemies.  The hungry and impoverished workers in Iraq are the same as workers who struggle to survive in the United States..  And it is working-class people in this country who are deliberately targeted by military recruiters.  The politicians in Washington send oppressed people overseas to kill, humiliate and oppress others.

This does not serve our interests; it only serves the interests of the war profiteers.

Real liberation will come when we-soldiers, workers, immigrants, students and families-no longer let the ruling class divide and create barriers between the exploited in the United States and the exploited abroad.  Soldiers should refuse to fight and, instead, bring the struggle home.  Real liberation will come when we struggle together against our common enemy, instead of being used against each other to profit the rich.

The Black Soldier



The Black Soldier (clip)

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Three score ago, after a long history of service, superior, and yet segregated, Black soldiers were recognized as equal, or at least consideration for the possibility was put forth.  In truth, then and perhaps now, manpower needs took precedence over racial prejudice in name only.  The story begins on July 26, 1948, or perchance, years earlier.  Historians speak of President Harry S. Truman’s doctrine, Executive Order 9981.  The directive states, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”  While the words are wondrous, the tale of what was and is, does not begin or end with this decree.

Segregation in the Armed Forces was perhaps a source of embarrassment to many Americans and the President of the “United” States.  Before 1940, and America’s entrance into World War II, African American soldiers served with honor and little acknowledgement.  Troops whose complexion was dark were forbidden from flying for the U.S. military forces.  Frustrated with the reality that, years after being freed from slavery, African-Americans, had little opportunity to “soar,”  “Civil Rights organizations and the Black press exerted pressure.” The strength of community outreach and a media delivered message helped to bring about long overdue change.  Ultimately, in 1941, an all African-American squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, was formed.  They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.  After the Second World War, the honorable actions of the Tuskegee Airmen were recognized more than once amongst average Americans.  Indeed, these prized professionals were revered.

Perchance, Harry Truman heard the words of praise for the Black military pilots and realized he could no longer ignore the issue of segregation amongst servicemen; nor would he wish to.  For, possibly, to this President, it had become obvious; when a man is allowed to be truly powerful, as the Airmen were, they serve in more than name only.  The President proposed as he placed his signature on the proclamation,

“Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense.. . .

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Had Harry Truman not been aware of the esteemed Airmen, he may have known of the presence of dark skinned soldiers in American history, Buffalo Soldiers. These troops may have influenced his thoughts.  The all-Black brigades became better known after the second war meant to end all wars.  From 1941 through 1945, in World War II, Black military men served proudly and prominently, under the direction of Commander-In-Chief Truman.

Some 500,000 Blacks were stationed overseas, amounting to 4% of the 11 million Americans who served on foreign shores. About 10% of blacks were in combat units. The all-black 92nd Infantry was in Italy, and had 616 killed in action and 2,187 wounded. The 93rd Division was stationed in the South Pacific, losing 17 KIA and 121 WIA. There was also the black 366th Infantry (Separates).?

During the Battle of the Bulge, 2,500 blacks were formed into all black Infantry platoons and attached to larger units. The famed 761st Tank Battalion spent 183 continuous days in combat in the European Theater, earning a Presidential Unit Citation. The 333rd Field Artillery bravely supported ground operations in France.?

Three all-black air units flew overseas: 332nd Fighter Group, 477th Bombardment Group and the 99th Fighter Squadron. Sixty-six Black pilots were killed in action. A total of 140,000 blacks served in the Army Air Forces. Nearly 150,000 Blacks served in the Navy. Of the 12,000 Black Marines, 9 were killed in action.

President Truman may have understood all that African-American soldiers had done to help achieve an American victory.  Yet, he also understood, that no matter what the Black troops did in the service to their country, they would always be seen as unequal, that is unless action was taken to correct the fate of soldiers whose skin was a purplish-brown hue.

This was made more apparent when, on February 13, 1946, two years before President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 into law.  On Valentine’s Day eve, love was lost for an African-American World War II veteran, Isaac Woodard.  The honorably discharged Sergeant, a decorated soldier, was attacked and blinded by policemen in Aiken, South Carolina.  President Truman took notice.  Actually, he had too.  Although, initially the periodicals did not cover the story, word did spread.  Soon the major news outlets printed reports and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publicized the occurrence.  Manpower, precedence, and prejudice again are considerations in the life of a Black soldier.

(N)ews soon also emerged in popular culture. Via his radio show, broadcaster and movie celebrity Orson Welles soon began to crusade for the punishment of Shull (the officer who intentionally blinded Mister Woodard) and his accomplices.  Welles, a follower of the civil rights movement, found the reaction of the South Carolina government to be intolerable and shameful.

The news would also have an impact on music as well. A month after the beating, calypso artist Lord Invader recorded an anti-racism song for his album Calypso at Midnight entitled “God Made Us All,” with the last line in the song directly referencing the incident.

Perhaps, President Harry Truman was not moved by music or media personalities.  Possibly, more prominent in his mind were the internal communications that circulated through the White House.  Two years to the day, before Executive Order 9981 was signed a memorandum “Re:  Stoppage of Negro Enlistments” marched through the halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The document, from the desk of  Philleo Nash, Special Assistant to the President, was addressed to David K. Niles, Administrative Assistant to Harry Truman. The communication referenced “undesirable and uneconomical” Black soldiers.

As the discussion of what to do with Black troops raged on within the walls of the White House, a Caucasian crowd pulled two African-American veterans and their wives from their automobile near Monroe, Georgia.  The Black citizens were shot to death; their bodies riddled with bullets.  Upon investigation, it was discovered sixty (sixty) rounds were fired into the purplish brown flesh of these four innocent persons.  Their only crime was the color of their skin.  Whites in the community found the darker hue objectionable.  Again, it mattered not that the men were soldiers, honorably discharged after years of service to the country that denied them equal rights, the “United” States of America.  On this occasion, the need or want of a few white men took precedence over racial justice.  This may have disturbed the man in the Oval Office, Harry Truman.  The Commander took action.

Within days of the horrific occurrence, on July 30, 1946, Attorney General Tom Clark announced that the President had instructed the Justice Department to “proceed with all its resources to investigate [the Monroe, Georgia atrocity] and other crimes of oppression so as to ascertain if any Federal statute can be applied.”

Months later, in a letter to the National Urban League, President Truman resolved; the government has “an obligation to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected.”  Yet, it became increasingly apparent the Administration had done nothing to ensure the rights of African-Americans, in, or out of the Armed Forces.

As months turn into years, and racism remained rampant on the streets and in the barracks, Presidential Advisor Clark Clifford urged President Truman to consider the importance of the African-American vote and Civil Rights issues in the 1948 Presidential campaign.  Perhaps, that was the catalyst.  Expedience advanced equality.  Thus, Executive Order 9981 was signed into law.  End of story, all is well, and sixty years later Americans celebrate the anniversary of equal Rights for Black soldiers, or so it would seem.

Yet, on the same day the order was executed, Army staff officers spoke anonymously to the press.  Each official explained the Executive Order 9981 did not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.  Then Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley stated desegregation would come to the Army “only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.”  

While Americans may wish to believe that the ugly face of bigotry is gone for good, indeed, even in the twenty-first century, intolerance surfaces in subtle ways.  Once again, manpower needs took precedence over racial prejudice in name only.  Filmmaker Clint Eastwood had a need for a cast of characters.  He hoped to document the mêlée at Iwo Jima, 1945.  Yet, he did not tell the story a Black soldier who served in the battle might have.

On February 19 1945, Thomas McPhatter found himself on a landing craft heading toward the beach on Iwo Jima.

“There were bodies bobbing up all around, all these dead men,” said the former US marine, now 83 and living in San Diego. “Then we were crawling on our bellies and moving up the beach. I jumped in a foxhole and there was a young white marine holding his family pictures. He had been hit by shrapnel, he was bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. It frightened me. The only thing I could do was lie there and repeat the Lord’s prayer, over and over and over.”

Sadly, Sgt McPhatter’s experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island that opened on Friday in the US. While the film’s battle, scenes show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.

Apologies are offered.  Yet, not to Sergeant Thomas McPhatter, or by the director, Clint Eastwood.   The filmmaker said he did not include Blacks in the script “because there were no Afro-American soldiers involved.”  Notwithstanding, the facts, many servicemen of color fought for this country long before they were acknowledged or recognized by the State, society, or a screenwriter such as Clint Eastwood.  Mostly, the military men of color fought on two fronts.  First, Black servicemen battled with foreign foes.  Then they clashed with those at home who only saw their skin color.  Neighbors acted as local combatants, not allied forces.  Civilians, protected by active duty Black soldiers, accused those whose complexions were charcoal of crimes they had not committed.  The evidence offered was but a reflection of reality;  racial prejudice is preeminent.   Please consider a tale too true.

Army apologizes to soldiers convicted after 1944 Fort Lawton riot

By Keith Ervin

Seattle Times

For decades, Willie Prevost kept his secret.

Like most of his World War II Army buddies, he never told his family about his conviction for rioting during a night of violence that left a number of men injured and one dead at Seattle’s Fort Lawton in 1944.

But on Saturday, his family was there as the U.S. Army apologized in a ceremony to clear the names of Prevost and 27 other African-American soldiers who were convicted in a now-discredited court-martial.

Sixty-three years after they were sentenced to hard labor, and nearly all dishonorably discharged, “The Fort Lawton 28” were given military honors, with an Army band and color guard, gospel choir and speeches by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Mayor Greg Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims and Assistant Secretary of the Army Ronald James.

Only two of the veterans lived to see the day. . .

In total, the families of five veterans were present.

Saturday’s ceremony took place on a Fort Lawton parade ground – now part of Seattle’s Discovery Park – 60 years to the day after President Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces.

Again, actions taken six decades earlier prove profound.  The past permeates the present.  As Americans celebrate six decades, since the end of segregation in the Armed Forces, we must accept that in actuality, prejudice still permeates and is prominent.  While it might be argued; there has been some progress. Decades later, apologies are offered to a few, or two.  There is still much to be done to right persistent wrongs.  Perhaps we may wish to ponder the present,

Blacks still rare in top U.S. military ranks

While blacks make up about 17% of the total force, they are just 9% of all officers, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.

The rarity of blacks in the top ranks is apparent in one startling statistic: Only one of the 38 four-star generals or admirals serving as of May was black. And just 10 black men have ever gained four-star rank – five in the Army, four in the Air Force and one in the Navy, according to the Pentagon.

All is not well on the Western front.  America and Americans do not honor the contributions of all hues.  Accolades of “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” aside, pinkish persons have yet to embrace the notion; we are one, the human race.

References Racial Discrimination and Executive Order 9981 . . .

The Ticking Time Bomb

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

There is a story taking place in America that is being buried by the media, the armed forces, and the politicians. This story is so frightening that no one wants to address it or even talk about it. This story has the potential to bring more violence to the streets of America than any terrorist attack. The frightening tale that is being ignored is the fact that we have ticking time bombs within our midst. They do not belong to al Qaeda or any other shady terrorist cell, they will not be profiled because they don’t have Mid-Eastern ancestry, nor are they Muslim extremists. These ticking time bombs are our own sons, daughters, fathers, and brothers. They are the returning soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just like everything else in these wars the brunt of the fighting has fallen on a very small group of individuals and their numbers are shrinking. These unfortunate few have been forced to fight this war on an almost constant deployment. No sooner than they arrive home, they are redeployed back to the war zone. Many are unable to retire or discharge themselves from their respective services due to stopgap measures instituted by the White House and the services designed to keep those shrinking numbers on a constant rotation. Because we have never fought a war like this one no one knows the consequences of placing these young men and women in this state of constant fear and agitation. Whenever there is any clinical evidence concerning the stress levels of returning service people it is buried.

I have often wondered why with so many Americans against this war there isn’t a stronger outpouring of protest and outrage. Then I am reminded of how the warrior sheep have framed and prosecuted this war. Short of the relatively small number of families being asked to prosecute this war, the rest of us have had to make little if any sacrifices. The warrior sheep have placed the cost of the war on future generations. They are satisfied with using  a dwindling volunteer force, a rogue mercenary army staffed by US security firms, and proxy forces from countries who cannot enforce the rule of law in their own nations, so there is no draft. We still have plenty of commodities albeit more expensive than before the war, but there are no shortages and rationing. So honestly, what is this war costing us?

The study found troops in the unit reported low morale, spousal abuse and attempted suicides. And yet, troops had to wait up to two months for an appointment with a mental health expert once they returned, it said.

A separate report by the Army released earlier this month found that soldiers on their third or fourth combat deployment were at particular risk of suffering mental health problems.

Major General Gale Pollock, the Army’s deputy surgeon general, said the results simply “show the effects of a long war.”

A similar report by the Army’s Mental Health Advisory Team released in 2007 found that 28 percent of soldiers who had been in high-intensity combat were experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or acute stress. Middle East Online

What is disconcerting about these numbers is that they keep rising. The original studies concerning PTSD in returning Iraqi veterans placed the numbers at 1 in 12, now they are at 1 in 4. The numbers are rising not due to the nature of the conflict but due to the continued policy of longer and more repeated deployments. Or as the General in the study called it, “the results of a long war”. Eventually what is going to happen is that these ticking time bombs are going to begin to explode. They are not getting the psychological treatment they deserve and need and at some point they are going to break. Humans can only take so much stress and trauma before we psychologically break.

For those too young to know the term “going postal” came into existence because of a large number of veterans given jobs at the Postal Service for their years of service and sacrifice for their country began to break with reality and began killing supervisors and customers. I believe that if these psychological issues are not addressed soon we are going to see a level of violence unprecedented in American history. We are already seeing the number of suicides rise among these veterans, eventually that violence will be turned away from themselves and towards society. The thing about the false patriots in this country is that they are only patriotic at others expense, they have put nothing in place to deal with the trauma they have helped to create. This type of phenomenon happens over the course of years, it was years after Vietnam that the “postal” veterans began striking.

The scary thing about all of this is that you will not know when or where it is going to happen. That fine young man sitting next to you at Starbucks could be just waiting to open up his coat and unleash a barrage of death and destruction. The randomness of it will be what makes it so frightening. And of course our warrior sheep will blame everything but the war for these homegrown suicidal killers. These will be the terrorists created by the war on terror. How ironic. Because we don’t fully understand or can predict the causes and extent of the damage of these PTSD sufferers isolating or tracking them will be next to impossible. We have no conclusive evidence of what causes or who suffers from these horrors of war. But make no mistake in the end we will all suffer as innocents begin to be slaughtered by war heroes.

But given her research, and the study in this week’s New England Journal, it’s clear that brain injuries don’t have to be massive to cause significant emotional and mental problems, and that “shell shock,” as it used to be called, may be caused by physical injury or, in turn, cause physical symptoms – it’s not just a reaction to the horrors of war. And if that’s the case, better and earlier medical and psychological intervention, along with better protective armor that shields the body as well as the head, could make life after combat a lot easier to endure. Time

Remember just because the story is being buried doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. One of the most repugnant aspects of the Neo-Con mindset  is that they believe if they ignore or deny something enough then it doesn’t exist or by the same token if they say something enough then it does exist. The question is then, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around does it make a sound? I guess depending on how you answer that question will determine your depth of knowledge concerning this storm on the horizon. Do we honestly think we can bring home all of these psychologically scarred  people and there not be any fallout? I guess it is just considered more collateral damage.  We haven’t even begun to study the mercenary armies of the security firms. What skeletons are going to come falling out of that closet is anybody’s guess. We have already begun to see the mental cases they have under arms and in charge. Tick, Tick, Tick…

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.

~ Josh Billings

An Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran

On this the day, the Fourth of July, we celebrate our own Independence.  Citizens revel in our love of freedom and tranquility.  Today, may we take a moment to reflect upon how an unwarranted, or unnecessary war might have a profound effect on our lives and those of all mankind throughout the globe.  

I offer a correspondence intended for the person we hope will be our next President, Senator Barack Obama.  Please ponder the possibilities, and if you choose, I invite you to add your signature. You fellow Americans appreciate your consideration.

By Many Authors

Dear Senator Obama . . .

We the undersigned may have different views on U.S. foreign policy with respect to Iran. We all, however, are deeply concerned about the stories in the press in the past few weeks suggesting that the Bush administration might be considering a military strike on Iran, that it might give a green light to such an attack by Israel, or that it might engage in other acts of war, such as imposing a blockade against Iran.

We welcomed your stand against the war on Iraq in 2002. And we were encouraged by your early campaign statements emphasizing diplomacy over military action against Iran. Today, you have an opportunity to forestall a repeat of the tragic Iraq war. We hope you will use that opportunity.

We agree with the conclusion of Muhammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that “A military strike … would be worse than anything possible. It would turn the region into a fireball…” A military attack, he said, “will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build nuclear weapons with the blessing of all Iranians, even those in the West.” (Reuters, June 20, 2008.)

We don’t know, of course, whether an attack on Iran is in fact being considered, or if there are serious plans to initiate other acts of war, such as a blockade of the country. But we call on you to issue a public statement warning of the grave dangers that any of these actions would entail, and pointing out how inappropriate and undemocratic it would be for the Bush administration to undertake them, or encourage Israel to do so, in its closing months in office.

An attack on Iran would violate the UN Charter’s prohibition against the use or threat of force and the Congress’s authority to declare war. Moreover, the public right to decide should not be foreclosed by last-minute actions of the Bush administration, which will set U.S. policy in stone now.

We were heartened by your earlier comments suggesting that an Obama administration would act on the understanding that genuine security requires a willingness to talk without preconditions (something Iran has offered several times to no avail), and that threats and military action are counterproductive. We hope you will follow through on these commitments once in office, but also that you will speak out now against any acts of war by the Bush administration.

Sincerely,

Please review the list of signatories below or follow the path provided . . . Impressive!!!!!!!!

Please join the signatories by traveling through this link

Please join these signatories and sign below

(organizations listed for identification purposes only)

Michael Albert ZNet?

Cathy Albisa exec. director, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative?

John W. Amidon U.S. Veterans for Peace?

Stanley Aronowitz Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY?

Rosalyn Baxandall Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY Old Westbury?

Phyllis Bennis Institute for Policy Studies?

Stephen Eric Bronner Professor (II) of Political Science, Rutgers University?

Charlotte Bunch exec. director, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers Univ.?

Noam Chomsky Institute Professor (retired), MIT?

Ray Close retired CIA Middle East specialist; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity?

Rhonda Copelon Professor of Law, CUNY Law School?

Hamid Dabashi Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia Univ.?

Lawrence Davidson Professor of Middle East History, West Chester Univ.?

Ariel Dorfman author?

Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY?

John Feffer co-director, Foreign Policy in Focus?

Bill Fletcher, Jr. exec. editor, BlackCommentator.com?

Libby Frank Women’s Internat’l League for Peace & Freedom, Philadelphia?

Arthur Goldschmidt Professor emeritus of Middle East History, Penn State Univ.?

Tom Hayden author?

Doug Henwood Left Business Observer?

Doug Ireland journalist?

James E. Jennings exec. director, U.S. Academics for Peace?

Nikki Keddie UCLA (emeritus), historian, Iran specialist?

Janet Kestenberg Amighi v.p., CDR (sponsor of Holocaust child survivor research)?

Rabbi Michael Lerner chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives; editor, Tikkun mag.?

Mark LeVine Prof. of Modern Middle Eastern History, Culture and Islamic Studies, U. Cal., Irvine?

Manning Marable director, Center for Contemporary Black History, Columbia Univ.?

David McReynolds former chair, War Resisters Internat’l?

Rosalind Petchesky Distinguished Prof. of Poli. Sci., Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY?

Rachel Pfeffer interim exec. director, Jewish Voices for Peace?

Katha Pollitt writer?

Danny Postel No War on Iran Coalition, Chicago?

Matthew Rothschild editor, The Progressive magazine?

Stephen R. Shalom Prof. of Poli.  Sci., William Paterson Univ.?

(Rev.) David Whitten Smith Univ. of St. Thomas, Minnesota (emeritus)?

Meredith Tax writer; president, Women’s WORLD?

Michael J. Thompson editor of Logos?

Chris Toensing editor, Middle East Report?

Cornel West Professor, Princeton University?

Stephen Zunes Professor of Politics, Univ. of San Francisco

I, we, the people thank you for your time, care, and actions.

Issue Number One; Economic Insecurity Breeds Bigotry, Bias and Bitterness



Fear Itself

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

He was a beautiful bouncing baby boy.  He was born to two parents that love him dearly.  Even before his birth, indeed, prior to conception, this little fellow was the apple of his parent’s eyes.  His biological beginning was carefully calculated.  As the seeds of life developed into a bright-eyed baby, the people he now knows as Mom and Dad thought of little else but Maxwell.  The soon to be proud Papa and Momma anxiously anticipated the day they could hold this bundle of joy.  Each of his parents was eager to meet and greet the small, sweet face of the guy that they would call Max.  Maximum value, supreme significance, marvelously magnificent, all this was and would be their son.  After Max was delivered and during any political season, such as this, Mom and Dad feel certain Max is issue number one.

The guardians look over their angel.  They plan for his future, and they are apprehensive, just as their parents and grandparents were before them.  For generations the realities of daily life have shaped parental priorities.  First and foremost, families want to survive, to feel safe and secure.  Yet, much that accounts for stability is beyond the control of a parent or any single person.  Moms and Dads agonize, as do all individuals.  Economic, educational, environmental concerns have an effect on caregivers and all citizens.  Military engagements also affect households, even if only one lives within the domicile.  Mothers, fathers, and babies, boys or girls learn to fear.

Ultimately, in the course of a life, each individual will ask, how does any matter affect me, my family, and friends of mine?  Countless citizens sense we have loss the sense that within a society, each individual works for the commonweal.  The words of Thomas Paine On the Origin and Design of Government in General are principles from the past.  In America today, the common folk feel they can no longer trust the government.  In recent years, people profess too many promises were broken; lies were told.  Intelligence was not wise.  Still, Americans sense there is an enemy.

In the minds of most Americans, the foe exists outside self.  Few have fully internalized the truth of the words uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  As people do, citizens in this country trust themselves.  People know their faith will guide them.  The Almighty will not disappoint them.  Proud of their personal strength and all they survived throughout the course of their lives, the American public, no matter their economic station believes their family will be fine.  All Americans trust in their ability to fight the opposition.  Residents in the United States are not afraid to take up arms if they need to protect themselves from evil forces.

Nevertheless, Americans are “bitter.”  People in the cities, the suburbs, and in the countryside, resent the precarious position their leaders have placed them in.  In the “Land of the free and home of the brave” the public is “looking for strong leadership from Washington.”  Individuals and communities recognize they cannot go it alone.  Sadly, those previously entrusted with Executive privileges have not served the common folk within the United States well.  Citizens have expressed their ample concern for quite a while and no one seems to hear the cries.  While some of the Presidential aspirants wish to believe Americans are not indignant . . .

Poll: 80% of Americans Dissatisfied

By Associate Press.

Time Magazine

April 4, 2008

(New York) – More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, the highest such number since the early 1990s, according to a new survey.

The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”  That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and 35 percent in early 2002.

The survey comes as housing turmoil has rocked Wall Street amid an economic downturn.  The economy has surpassed the war in Iraq as the dominating issue of the U.S. presidential race, and there is now nearly a national consensus that the United States faces significant problems, the poll found.

A majority of Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school say the United States is headed in the wrong direction, according to the survey, which was published on The New York Times’ Web site.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was doing better . . .

The poll also found that Americans blame government officials for the housing crisis more than banks or homebuyers and other borrowers. Forty percent of respondents said regulators were mostly to blame, while 28 percent named lenders and 14 percent named borrowers.

Americans favored help for people but not for financial institutions in assessing possible responses to the mortgage crisis.  A clear majority said they did not want the government to lend a hand to banks, even if the measures would help limit the depth of a recession.

Intellectually astute, each individual understands to his or her core, a country must work well as a whole.  If we act independently of others, with little regard for those who reside in our nation, we all will realize a reason to feel insecure.  No family can survive alone. Maxwell’s parents can plan and work to provide, but if the country suffers from a crisis, be it fiscal, a protracted feud, the cost of food, or fuel, the family will also find themselves in situation critical.

In a society, we are our neighbors’ keeper, for what affects those in adjacent abodes will influence us.  If one person is poor, so too is his brother.

The tenet is true in the abstract; it is also viable concretely.  We need only consider what occurs when one domicile on the block is in disrepair or foreclosure flourishes in an enclave.  Property values for all homes in the area plummet.  A family functions best as a unit.  A nation fares well when we are one.

Our most conservative estimates indicate that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile (essentially a city block) of a single-family home results in a 0.9 percent decline in value.  Cumulatively, this means that, for the entire city of Chicago, the 3,750 foreclosures in 1997 and 1998 are estimated to reduce nearby property values by more than $598 million, for an average cumulative single-family property value effect of $159,000 per foreclosure. This does not include effects on the values of condominiums, larger multifamily rental properties, and commercial buildings.

Less conservative estimates suggest that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile of a property results in a 1.136 percent decline in that property’s value and that each foreclosure from one-eighth to one-quarter mile away results in a 0.325 percent decline in value.  This less conservative finding corresponds to a city-wide loss in single-family property values of just over $1.39 billion. This corresponds to an average cumulative property value effect of more than $371,000 per foreclosure

In 2008, this consideration consumes millions of persons who thought they were safe and secure.  As the subprime debacle ripples through every community, people realize their very survival is at risk.  Everyone, even some of the elite now experience a profound sense of insecurity.  Again, people ask who or what might they trust.  The average American has faith only in what is familiar.  Max, Mom, and Dad, families turn to what is tried and true.  Whatever has protected them in the past, they hope, will save them from what is an uncertain future.

Certainly, people have no confidence in government.  Many are frustrated.  They resent those who placed them in such a precarious situation.  Mothers, fathers, sons such as Max, and daughters are reminded, without regulations only the few profit.  Dreams die.  Witness the subprime debacle.

Mortgage companies and banks, such as Wells Fargo, have twisted the average prime mortgage loan into something much more incapable of paying by the recipient, but profitable to the company. Subprime loans, as “adjustable rate mortgages,” are packed with deceiving modifications that have low “teaser” rates that expand in interest exponentially after an initial low pay period.  Families that have received Subprime loans have bit into a bitter center of the sugar-coated American dream.

Citizens in this once prosperous country wonder whether they will ever again be able to trust that they can aspire to greater heights.  Homes are no longer worth what they were at the time of purchase.  Payments on adjusted rate mortgages [ARM] are exorbitant and balloon expenditures are now due.  Americans feel pinched.  Businesses are also affected by a slowed economy and bad investments.  Bankruptcy is an option, although brutal.  As the cost of fuel and food rises, financial fears become more real.  Existence takes a toll.  As Americans assess the circumstances within their home region, they realize there is reason to hold on tightly to what they know and love.  

Perchance G-d and country are all citizens can believe in, and maybe there is no longer reason to believe either of these will save them.  Certainly, Administrations in the recent past and present have not protected us well.  After all, our Presidents, Congress, and the Federal Reserve were responsible for the Demise of Glass-Steagall Act.  This law once regulated banks and limited the conflicts of interest created when commercial depositories were permitted to underwrite stocks or bonds.  Without such oversight, Americans lost their security.  Survival no longer seems possible.  The American Dream is a nightmare.

The Next Slum?

By Christopher B. Leinberger

Atlantic Monthly

March 2008

Strange days are upon the residents of many a suburban cul-de-sac. Once-tidy yards have become overgrown, as the houses, they front have gone vacant. Signs of physical and social disorder are spreading.

At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in.  In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge-many once sold for well over $500,000-but the phenomenon is the same.  At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others.  Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied.  Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity.  Things have really been changing, the last few years.”

In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty. Charlotte’s crime rates have stayed flat overall in recent years-but from 2003 to 2006, in the 10 suburbs of the city that have experienced the highest foreclosure rates, crime rose 33 percent. Civic organizations in some suburbs have begun to mow the lawns around empty houses to keep up the appearance of stability. Police departments are mapping foreclosures in an effort to identify emerging criminal hot spots.

The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures.  And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market-a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work.  It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes.  And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.

Perchance, more weighty than the influence of a social degradation on a community is the impression such dire circumstances leave on a little lad such as Maxwell. Young Max will learn, just as his parents had.  Likely, he too will come to believe that he can only depend on himself.  An older and wiser Max will not fully grasp how extraordinary he is, or perhaps he will know all to well that no matter how glorious he is, someone might jeopardize his stability.  No matter how well he lives his life, another force, power, person, or authority might cause his dreams to go awry.  

Maxwell sees how hard life is for his parents.  He comes to understand that he too will always and forever, need to prove his worth.  How else might he hold onto his job, his home, his money, or his sense of self?  For Maxwell, as for us, anyone, innocent as they may be, might seem a threat.  His Mom and Dad, fearful that they might lose their livelihood, health care benefits, the family home, and their ability to provide, let alone survive, teach their young son trepidation.

Mom and Dad look around the neighborhood and they see society is shifting.  People of other races, colors, and creeds are destined to overtake the white majority.  This can be nothing but trouble, or so they think.  Maxwell trusts this sentiment to be true.  The parents wonder; might immigration and  Free Trade deprive them of their life style?  In the United States, Anglo Americans react more to what they muse might be so.  However, ample evidence affirms the contrary.  A 2006 study, by the Pew Hispanic Center avows, the sudden rise in the foreign-born population does not negatively effect the employment of native-born workers.

Growth in the Foreign-Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born

By Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research

Pew Hispanic Center

August 10, 2006

Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center that examines data during the boom years of the 1990s and the downturn and recovery since 2000.

An analysis of the relationship between growth in the foreign-born population and the employment outcomes of native-born workers revealed wide variations across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers . . .

The size of the foreign-born workforce is also unrelated to the employment prospects for native-born workers.  The relative youth and low levels of education among foreign workers also appear to have no bearing on the employment outcomes of native-born workers of similar schooling and age.

Nevertheless, people continue to fear what is less than familiar.  Maxwell’s mother and father often speak of the immigrants.  The words voiced are unkind.  Assessments often are unrealistic.  In this country, on this globe, our apprehensions, our insecurity, the fear that we might not survive divides us.  Self-surety is issue number one.  

When individuals do not feel as though all is fine, when distressed, emotional reactions may be exaggerated. Many persons prefer to deny that they feel distraught.  The press, the powerful, and persons who wish to be more prominent understand this.  Each is expert in the art of persuasion.  Tell us that we are doing well, that we are strong, that they will help bring certainty, security, and safety to our lives, and to our country, and we will croon along with them.

Anxious Americans, at home and abroad, such as the parents of young Maxwell attack.  Anyone can be considered the enemy.  Bankers, big business, bureaucrats, billionaire oil magnates, migrants, and of course, mutineers of Middle Eastern descent.  Our fellow citizens are easily terrorized, if not by the persons who they think might destroy the neighborhood, or take their job, the people who crashed a plane into the Twin Towers must be a target.  Since September 11, 2001, Maxwell parents have thought it wise to protect United States shores.

Some Americans say we must stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These persons may fear terrorists from the Persian Gulf.  There is great consternation when people do not think they are physically safe.  

Citizens feel a greater concern when they discover the reasons we went to war are invalid.  Again, the people in this country recognize the adversary is the American Administration.  Lie by lie, the Iraq War Timeline reveals greater reason for antipathy.

Those who cite security and survival as the primary concern proclaim, “It is the economy.”  They say, this is the number one issue Americans must address.  Too many persons, today, cannot even live paycheck to paycheck.  Disposable income, discretionary spending, savings to fall back on are luxuries of the past.  People dream of the cushion they hope to create.  Yet, in the back of their minds, they fear.  Again,  foreclosures are in the forefront in people’s minds.  Many are mired in debt.  In February 2008, another sixty percent (60%) of Americans concluded they could no longer pay the mortgage.  Mortgage Woes Boost Credit Card Debt. Balances on charge cards cannot be reconciled.

Plastic Card Tricks

The New York Times

March 29, 2008

Americans are struggling with a very rocky economy while they are also holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. In most cases, those cards provide a little flexibility with the monthly bills. But an increasing number of people are defaulting because of the “tricks and traps” – soaring interest rates and hidden fees – in the credit card business.

Before more Americans get in so deep that they cannot dig out, Washington needs to change the way these companies do business to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.

The stories about deceptive practices are harrowing. At a recent news briefing in Washington, a Chicago man told about what happened when he charged a $12,000 home repair bill in 2000 on a card with an introductory interest rate of 4.25 percent. Despite his steady, on-time payments, the rate is now nearly 25 percent. And despite paying at least $15,360, he said that he had only paid off about $800 of his original debt.

Once more Americans are confronted with what causes great bitterness.  No one, not Congress, the companies that lend citizens cash, the corporate tycoons, or candidates can imagine why Americans might be bitter. None of these entities care enough to help the average Joe, Jane, Maxwell, or his parents.

Why might inhabitants in this Northern continent be cynical, or feel a need to cling to religion, weapons, or hostility.  Perhaps, these sanctuaries feel  more tangible.  Faith, as an arsenal, and anger too, are at least more affordable than other options.

Petroleum prices are also an issue of import.  Citizens cry, I now work for fuel.  Only four short month ago, oil hit $100 a barrel for the first time ever.  The rate charged for petroleum continues to climb.  Now the expense exceeds what was once unimaginable. The cost of crude is the cause.  The effect is, Mommy and Daddy do not drive much anymore.  Each trip is evaluated.  Carpools are common considerations.  Vacations are not thought vital.  Parents who had hoped to show Max the seashore this summer cannot keep the promise they made to themselves and their progeny.  Plans did not prove to be predictions.

In 2008, the inconceivable is classified as inevitable.  Scientists share a stingy assessment.  The environment is no longer stable.  Nor are our lives on the planet Earth.  We, worldwide, have passed the point of no return.  Globally, groups and individuals pooh-pooh this determination.  For them, immediate concerns take precedence over the future.  

The question we all inevitably ask, even if not expressed aloud, is, “Will I continue to exist?”  If so, “Will my family and I be comfortable?”  The answers shade our sense of what is right or wrong.  Maxwell hears his Mom and Dad speak of free trade.  This is another hazard that haunts them.

The link between economic integration and worker insecurity is also an essential element of explanations for patterns of public opposition to policies aimed at further liberalization of international trade, immigration, and foreign direct investment (FDI) in advanced economies. Economic insecurity may contribute to the backlash against globalization in at least two ways.  First is a direct effect in which individuals that perceive globalization to be contributing to their own economic insecurity are much more likely to develop policy attitudes against economic integration.

Second, if globalization limits the capacities of governments to provide social insurance, or is perceived to do so, then individuals may worry further about globalization and this effect is likely to be magnified if labor-market risks are heightened by global integration.

It seems every issue intimidates us.  Each challenges the security we crave.  All beckon us and cause us to question whether we, Maxwell, or his parents will survive.  Our serious fears force us to believe we must separate ourselves from others, from our brothers and sisters.  In an earlier speech, echoing the words of Franklin Roosevelt, the eloquent Barack Obama spoke of this situation and how our own anxiety harms us.[ The Presidential hopeful offered solutions.

[W]e need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all . . .

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.”  We do not need to recite here the history of racial [or economic] injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the [any] community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered  . . .

Legalized discrimination . . . That history helps explain the wealth and income gap  . . . and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity  . . . and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of [all] families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban [and now with “no new taxes” suburban] neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

Potential President Obama understands and hopes to help all American realize that we are one.  While this vocalization was meant to focus on the more obvious rift between the races, the Senator from Illinois, the community organizer, attempted to advance awareness for what troubles Americans as a whole.

In fact, a similar anger exists within [all] segments of the  . . . community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch.  They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor.  They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense . . ..

Americans, no matter the color or circumstances might contemplate that anger is “often proved counterproductive” as are resentments.  These attitudes distract attention and widen any divide.  If Americans are to find a path to understanding, we must accept that our insecurity, our fears need not distract us.  We will survive if we work as one.

This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of [any child] black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem.  The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy . . ..

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics [poor and those the government classifies as affluent] who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.  This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag.  We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

Today, we must be honest with ourselves.  We can admit that we are incensed, irritated, infuriated, and irate.  These feelings do not immobilize us.  Nor do we necessarily need to fight, and be combative.  It is time we teach Maxwell and also Maxine, distress can inspire us to dream the of impossible and make it our truth.  We, Americans can rise above our bitterness and build bridges to a fine future if we unite.

It is not elitist to speak truth.  It is ignorance and obfuscation to deny how we feel and what we fear.  We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.  Elusion will not bring bliss.  We may be insecure; we may question whether we can survive.  Indeed, if we act as we have in the past, if we focus on our faith and antipathy, there will be no reason to hope.  Americans, divisions have distracted us for too long.  To negate our natural response is to restrict our growth.  This time citizens of the United States, let us come together.  Bitterness can become sweet.

Sources of insecurity.  Resources for survival . . .

In Case You Forgot There Is A War

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

Thank God for the Iraqis, if it were not for them the MSM would have allowed John McCain to put the Iraq War in his pocket and run with it. Fortunately the Iraqis have other thoughts and have reminded the American public that yes there is still a war going on in Iraq. Despite all the hype and the John McCain “Mission Accomplished” banners, any peace in Iraq has very little to do with us and the surge and is dependent on the Iraqi people. It is unfortunate that it takes bodies and bloodshed to get the MSM’s attention, but of course when St. John declares peace is at hand who in the MSM is going to argue.

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” NY Times

Judging from McCain’s comments during his recent trip to the Middle East, it is pretty evident to see that he has every intention of carrying on the Bush legacy in Iraq and is sure to expand the conflict into Iran. It appears that Bush if given the opportunity will pass the gauntlet to McCain to continue the “Great Crusade” and retake the Holy Land expelling or killing any Muslims who are not willing to convert. They don’t have to convert to Christianity; these people aren’t concerned with religion although that would be a great side benefit they just have to convert to capitalism. They have to be willing to sell off their national treasures and resources to the multi-national corporations, benefiting the ruling class with little or no regard for those high minded democratic principles they espouse in their photo-ops.

It is like these people have been asleep for the past 50 years or they think we have been asleep. They have learned nothing from previous attempts to impose democracy at gun point. I am so tired of all those pundits and writers who dismiss any comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. The only real connection that any of us have to be concerned with is the same arrogance of American Imperialism that has fueled both conflicts. Just as all the high-tech hardware could not defeat a determined insurgency in Vietnam, so it will not defeat the same in Iraq. The MSM talks about the reduction in violence, but what they fail to mention is that those reductions are contingent on payments being made to those who have at best allowed the attacks against our troops or at worst perpetrated them.

The current unrest in Iraq underscores the fact that the surge is not the explanation for the reduction in violence. The surge is a political strategy for the American public’s consumption and for the Beltway crowd. When the Iraqis are questioned about the surge their responses are markedly different than the American response. Given the choice between believing the reports of visiting politicians or those who are suffering daily from the hardships, I am going to believe those living through the reality on the ground. If the American public allows John McCain to run on the Iraq War, it will be one of the biggest travesties in American history. It will once again demonstrate to the world our disregard for facts or our insensitivity to the suffering of others. The Iraq War was bad policy 5 years ago and continues to be bad policy today. Invading another country under false pretences is wrong not because it has failed, but because it is morally wrong. How right and wrong have gotten equated to success or failure demonstrates how askew our moral compasses have become.

We must disengage from the Iraq occupation as quickly as possible whether or not the surge is working is not the issue. The issue is will we continue to support a policy that we know was based on lies or will we acknowledge our mistakes and move forward with the international community to help Iraq recover from those mistakes? The Iraq War will never be a success because it was morally wrong from the outset. Short of killing all the Iraqis and replacing them with American surrogates there will be no happy ending. Those peddling the elixir of victory are only continuing to sell a false hope like their carnival counterparts. It has been said that winning covers a multitude of stinky details, the truth is that after the incense goes out you are still left with a pile of crap. We may like to pretend that the war is over, but unfortunately the Iraqis can’t share in our world of make-believe.

There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find – Michael Friedlander

Support The Troops. Help Stop Soldier Suicides

(Tis in the news once again.  Our troops take their own lives.

During the month of January, more soldiers committed suicide (24) than were killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan and Iraq combined (16). This is unusual, but–amazingly–not unique. In fact, the problem of military suicides is growing much worse, as Army Chief of Staff George Casey said yesterday in Hawaii.

Casey claimed to be mystified by the suicide rates:

“The fact of the matter is, we just don’t know” why suicides have increased, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said Friday. “It’s been very frustrating to me with the effort that we made over the last year, and we did not stem the tide.”

Read more: Military Suicides

By Joe Klein
Monday, March 1, 2020

– promoted by Betsy L. Angert)



Andrew Horne on MSNBC Discuss Soldier Suicide

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

“Supporting the troops means more than slapping a bumper sticker on your car”

~ David Berry, 26, Iraq Veteran

They say the soldiers fight for our freedom, and while many may argue the truth of this statement, no one can dispute that we must support our troops.  Today, citizens have a chance to demonstrate that we, the people care about those who serve our country in combat.  Please reflect on a reality too terrible to ignore, soldier suicide.  Then, if you choose telephone, or write, your Florida State Representative.  Express your desire to endorse State Bill 2554, Prevention Services for Veterans and Their Families, submitted by Senator Ted Deutch.  If you are not a Florida resident, please ponder what you can do within your home region.  The tales and the tears of those torn from within tell an unforgettable story.  Will we listen, and look for ways to help those hurt by our war?

Lieutenant Elizabeth Whiteside, was a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  The soldier was distressed and depressed.  While in Iraq, a year ago, the woman was accused of endangering another solider.  She also pointed a gun at herself.  As she awaited a verdict she became more anxious.  Army officials would decide her fate.   She expected to be  court-martialed.  Before the judgment was heard, the Lieutenant decided to end her own life.

In so doing, the 25-year-old Army reservist joined a record number of soldiers who have committed or tried to commit suicide after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“I’m very disappointed with the Army,” Whiteside wrote in a note before swallowing dozens of antidepressants and other pills. “Hopefully this will help other soldiers.” She was taken to the emergency room early Tuesday [January 29, 2008]. Whiteside, who is now in stable physical condition, learned yesterday that the charges against her had been dismissed.

Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Suicide is not painless as the song might have mused.  Nor is the life of a soldier after they have experienced warfare.  The men and women who serve their country proudly, often cannot cope with the scope of what has become their newfound reality.  War is wicked.  Most think warfare is wrong.  Some say it is a necessary evil.  Collectively, we might agree; to kill is debauched, depraved, and despicable.  Yet, in the name of G-d and country, our youth are asked to take the lives of others.  Few consider how such an action might affect the individual who executes a person labeled the “enemy.”

Those who may have never pulled a trigger, still suffer.  The sight of what they witnessed while in country can cause such pain.  A veteran, or an active duty warrior, when alone, may not be able to escape the memories that fill the mind after such a dire experience..

A battle may be won; however, much is lost when we engage in death and destruction.  Perhaps, innocence is invaluable.  We may wish to ask ourselves as many an experienced soldier has, “Is a victor, also a victim?” Is an experienced military man or woman wounded in ways we, those who have not served, cannot imagine?  There are no official totals; nonetheless, anecdotally, we know soldier suicides are not uncommon.  A five-month CBS News investigation revealed those who saw battle, frequently sought serenity in death by their own hand.   The decision to depart from an Earthly existence before it is time, may be a epidemic amongst the troops. Chief Investigative Reporter Armen Keteyian offers an exclusive and exasperating report.

“I just felt like this silent scream inside of me,” said Jessica Harrell, the sister of a soldier who took his own life.

“I opened up the door and there he was,” recalled Mike Bowman, the father of an Army reservist.

“I saw the hose double looped around his neck,” said Kevin Lucey, another military father.

“He was gone,” said Mia Sagahon, whose soldier boyfriend committed suicide.  . . .

Twenty-three-year-old Marine Reservist Jeff Lucey hanged himself with a garden hose in the cellar of this parents’ home – where his father, Kevin, found him.

“There’s a crisis going on and people are just turning the other way,” Kevin Lucey said.

Kim and Mike Bowman’s son Tim was an Army reservist who patrolled one of the most dangerous places in Baghdad, known as Airport Road.

“His eyes when he came back were just dead. The light wasn’t there anymore,” Kim Bowman said.

Eight months later, on Thanksgiving Day, Tim shot himself. He was 23.

Diana Henderson’s son, Derek, served three tours of duty in Iraq. He died jumping off a bridge at 27.

“Going to that morgue and seeing my baby … my life will never be the same,” she said.

An existence, comfortable, cozy, and calm is never as it was, once we have witnessed inconceivable horrors.  The tragedy, the trauma that is the Iraq War has changed many an individual.  Studies show the suicide risk among male United States veterans is double that of the general population.  This study, and thus, the statistic, does not include those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Yet, soldiers who served in these more recent conflicts are known to be more depressed, more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health problems.  A fifth of soldiers are at risk for Post Traumatic stress Syndrome.  Mental illness common in returning United States soldiers.

We need only consider recent reports; Army Suicides Highest in 26 Years.  While the numbers may not be exact, it is obvious, our  troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, frequently fight the war within.  They continue the battle once home.

Doctor Mark S. Kaplan, Professor of Community Health at Portland State University in Oregon, lead author of a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health pleads, “We need to be more alert to the problem of suicide as a major public health issue and we need to do better screening among individuals who have served in the military, probe for their mental health risk as well as gun availability.”  

We can be grateful, in November 2007, the United States Congress concluded there was a need to address the issue.  The House and Senate each passed the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act.  While the United States Code is designed “to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans,” those of us familiar with the depth of a depression that might lead someone to submit to suicide, know that the Federal government alone cannot stop a soldier sworn to end it all.  We must act locally.  If you chose, please contact your Representatives, do what you can to save the lives of those who hoped to save yours.  By doing so, we the people, can and will decide what  support means to us.

Support the Troops.  Prevent Soldier Suicides Sources . . .