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writing for godot


Written by James and Jean Anton   
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 07:53
Imagine wars where most of the casualties are suicides.

Where there are no battle lines, few battles, and no glory. Where few Medals of Honor are awarded. Where operators who fly robot aircraft get more honors than human pilots. Where prisoners of war are mercilessly tortured, sometimes to death. Where the enemy wears no uniforms. Where so-called friendly forces collaborate with the enemy. Where almost all the dead are civilians. Where a US-based Body-Count Project puts the number of civilian casualties at about 100,000. While the London-based Opinion Research Business survey, on the other hand, puts the dead at substantially more than 1,000,000.
Where the Pentagon itself refuses to count how many civilians have died in these wars that are not imaginary at all. Where most of the planners of these wars have avoided military service themselves.

These wars are not like the Vietnam War at all, except for the quagmire and the deception. They are not like the Korean War or either of the so-called great wars. They are unlike any wars ever fought in history.

They are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These wars are real enough because hundreds of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died. They’re fake because they were/are waged entirely on pretexts: The planners of these wars lied when they said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They lied when they said that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. They lied when they said that al-Qaeda was why we were escalating the war in Afghanistan.
And it turned out that the goal of these wars was war itself.
In 1997, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) laid out plans for a series of endless and ever-expanding wars. Iraq and Afghanistan are only the beginning.

But the wars are not going well.
In the past two years, more American soldiers have committed suicide in Afghanistan than died in battle. In 2009, 334 members of the armed forces had committed suicide in Afghanistan, while the enemy killed 319. The final figure is not available for 2010. However, the ratio of suicides to battle-related death is not expected to improve.

In Iraq the situation is no better. More soldiers have committed suicide during the past two years than have been killed in combat. In 2008, 30 percent of soldiers who committed suicide were on deployment. Another 35 percent committed suicide after returning from a tour of duty. Others committed suicide when they had to return to duty, such as the case of a decorated marine pilot who hanged himself one month before he was scheduled to return to Iraq.

At least 6,256 US veterans committed suicide since the war began in 2001. The suicide rate in America among veterans aged 20 to 24 is four times higher than non-veterans in the same age bracket. Approximately 18 veterans commit suicide every day.

More than 4,500 military personnel have died in Iraq; however, 58 percent of the fatalities did not occur in battle. Most were due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In Afghanistan, the situation is similar. IEDs are everywhere. They can be in an abandoned truck or car. They can be in a shopping bag. They can be strapped to suicide bombers. The omnipresence of IEDs, in other words, means that the American soldier has to be on high alert 24/7. No matter where he is - he could be walking down the street, or having a cup of coffee, or helping a child or petting a dog - he is always in mortal danger.

The Defense Department estimates that as many as 20 percent of veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is no small thing. Between 45,000 to 90,000 veterans of the two wars have been left with “severe and lasting symptoms” of this kind of brain injury, according to the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Traumatic stresses include: repeated exposure to death and injury, continual threat from all sides, dehumanizing policing operations that they have to conduct against civilians.

We’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan about seven and nine years respectively, making the latter the longest war in history. WWII, which lasted “only” about six years had 464 Medal-of-Honor recipients. Korea had 133, and Vietnam 247 Medal-of-Honor recipients.
Only four soldiers have been awarded the Medal-of-Honor in Iraq; and four have been awarded in Afghanistan. Fake pilots behind their computers in the US who operate drones received 200% more Aerial Achievement Medals than human pilots in manned aircraft.

As recently as 7 October 2010 the Senate Armed Services Committee reported that the Pentagon has some 26,000 private security forces in Afghanistan, 90% of which are outside the control of the American military. The report says that criminal networks and Iranian intelligence have been hired by the Pentagon to guard our military bases in Afghanistan. Some of the contractors are known Taliban figures. As a result, our convoys and soldiers are exposed to attacks by insurgents, who gained inside information from enemy agents, who were hired by the Pentagon itself.

The wars are not going well.
An article from the Florida Today site on January 3, 2010 reported that 450 of the 800 homeless in Brevard County were veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Shelters in California are reporting twice as many requests for assistance from these veterans compared to only a few years ago. At the current rate, homeless veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will soon outnumber the more than 100,000 homeless Vietnam vets.

To be fair, the news is not bad for some people.
For some people the wars are going exactly as planned. For Richard Perle, William Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney and the other neocons associated with the Project for the New American Century, who called for “multiple-theater wars” that would last a century, things are going as planned.

For Halliburton, Boeing, Blackwater USA, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, General Electric and an elite handful of other mega-corporate war-profiteers, the war is going very well indeed. The Pentagon has already spent more than a trillion dollars on weapons of mass destruction that they manufacture and sell to cronies in the Pentagon, and that money river shows no signs of drying up. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emigrates, Oman, Israel, and Kuwait are buying hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons of mass destruction from them for the coming war with Iran.
For them, war is money.

The manufacture and sale of weapons is not the only way mega-corporations profit by these wars. For example, Prudential Insurance Company was awarded a no-bid contract to sell life insurance to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sweetheart deal, when a soldier is killed, the Veterans Administration sends $400,000 NOT to the family of the deceased soldier, but to Prudential insurance. This allows Prudential to hold on to the money, until the family requests some or all of it, and invest it in super-safe bonds.
Since 2003 the Veterans Administration has paid Prudential $1.7 billion dollars.

The war is going very well for the CEOs of these mega-corporations.
They place enormous American flags on their corporate headquarters, lobbies, offices, yachts, and country estates to show off their patriotism. They also put Support-Our-Troops bumper stickers and yellow ribbons on the bumpers of their luxury automobiles.
For them the wars are endless good.

Mysteriously very little of the military spending benefits most Americans. Mysteriously the profits being made are not shrinking the deficit but growing it. But we are being told not to worry. CEOs and war profiteers have a plan.

They plan pay for their wars by destroying Social Security (even though Social Security has nothing whatsoever to do with the deficit). They also plan to destroy health-care reform and/or any other social/environmental program, which they say is a waste of taxpayer money that could be made available for their good wars.

Alas, for most of us the war is not going well at all.

By James and Jean Anton your social media marketing partner


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0 # James Ceribello 2010-10-13 18:08
Shockingly sad report. Beautifully researched and delivered. It is also sad to realize how so many Americans will think this message unamerican instead of understanding how important it is, as Americans, to question and criticize a government gone mad.
0 # Kim A Myatt 2010-10-13 20:34
Is there any hope of ending these endless wars? It appears we are hopelessly at the mercy of profiteering warmongers. RSN provides an venue for an open discussion, but isn't there more we can do to fight back? I begin to feel desperate for an action plan.
+1 # halbhh 2010-10-14 11:39
The bit about Prudential profiting from the death benefits made me curious, so I read carefully through the bloomberg and nytimes articles:

A few interesting facts:
The private insurers involement in military life insurance began in 1965, and the profiting from death benefits through the checkbook based payouts started in 1999.

Prudential appears to be doing standard-practi ce stuff, not that different from your too-big-to-fail banks, though within the more conservative practices of life insurance companies. And that's the problem.

Basically, they're in business to make money. The best change would be to simply cancel the contract, and let the VA pay out the benefits. 2nd best: require the insurer share 1/2 of its profits with the beneficiaries.
0 # B. 2010-10-25 11:10
There is one other tid-bit of info the writers didn't pick-up on related to the suicides...I did. The large increase in video "war games" that flooded the video game market, before and after the Iraq war started. Being no accident, this was suposed to numb the effects of killing in our future "Warrior's" minds. With such high rates of suicide, it didn't work.

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