Sense of Urgency Changes Depending on Whose Ass Is in the Sling


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' America takes care of its own.' I remember seeing a news clip of Bill Clinton saying that in The Siege. It needed to be included to establish that the U.S. government goes after terrorists when they hit Americans and American interests. After the last three and a half years, I'm pretty certain that when it comes to taking care of its men and women in uniform, the U. S. government does as little as possible, especially while they are getting shot at and after they have been shot up. For a soldier, it seems the most efficient means to ensure urgency of action from the government that sent you to a hostile environment is to massacre civilians, cover up your crime, and thereby threaten the delusional world of war maintained by the political class and career yes-men in the highest ranks of the military. Do this and they will move real fast to hang you out to dry.

Most Americans know how the U.S. government has abused and ignored military personnel over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan . When Squinty von Rumsfeld was challenged by a soldier about the lack of body armor, Rummy blubbered some crap about going to war with the army you have and not necessarily with the army you would like to have. Rumsfeld didn't even show some sense of political decorum and lie about how he and the president were doing all they could to get what the troops needed out into the field. Rumsfeld essentially told this guy that a handful of soldiers with inadequate equipment didn't mean shit to the larger operation. Call in an air strike if you get harassed by sniper fire or get some guys killed by an IED.

There was that flak about soldiers recovering in military hospitals having to pay for their meals. Imagine how insulting it would be for a guy who just spent a couple of months in a hospital and then getting a bill for a bunch of lousy meals he couldn't eat while he was in the hospital.

There's a recent story on the net about a guy being sent to Bosnia and having to pay $200 for the newer, lighter uniform the army has decided is better suited to that corner of the empire. His father comments in the article on how soldiers will next have to pay for their own food and bullets.

And probably the most disgusting display of military abuse of its personnel was when the Army whored out the corpse of Pat Tillman. The Army knew the truth but chose to withhold it because the circumstances of Tillman's death were too embarrassing and, not to mention, too lucrative as a recruitment tool.

Reduced veteran's services for those who gave 20 or more years of their life to defending the empire; poor medical and dental services (I saw how retirees were always made to wait whenever I had to report for a mandatory physical or dental check-up); no guarantee of retirement benefits or stability of pay grades while on active duty; no guarantee that contractual terms will be honored on the part of the government (stop-loss). When organizations committed to improving or preventing a reduction of benefits and pay fight the government on behalf of active duty and retired military, the government moves at a snail's pace and often acts contrary to the best interests of military personnel and retirees.

Now, the Haditha Massacre has gotten the attention of lots of people. We are seeing the beginning of a media blitz designed to minimize backlash against top military brass, the military itself, and a civilian leadership desperate to appear genuinely shocked, sensitive to the innocent people killed, and interested in diverting attention from the botched mission (Iraq War) they initiated in the first place. The Marines involved have quickly become a plague and are being placed under political and military quarantine.

News stories are using carefully chosen words and phrases to leave no doubt that the Marines who committed the massacre are solely responsible. CNN states that a small number of Marines 'snapped' and 'went on a rampage.' Earlier this week I discussed how this incident might be explained in similar verbiage to that used to describe the actions of the military personnel involved in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. A small number of troops going on a rampage has become the new 'a few bad apples.' It suggests that this was an isolated incident and should not reflect on all military personnel serving in Iraq or the noble mission they are performing.

It is also being widely reported that the Marines involved in the incident had given information that 'contradicted' or 'conflicted' with evidence that has since been uncovered during a more thorough investigation. Payments of $2,500 for each of the family members killed in the raid, except a number whom the Marines involved claimed committed hostile acts (they were young males), were authorized by Lt Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the 3rd Marine Battalion Commander. Why would they make payments unless they were trying to cover something up? Come on, America , think about it.

President Bush, through his appointed mouthpieces, is once again doing what he does best, playing dumb, claiming he had not heard about the incident until it was reported in Time magazine. Hey all you still clueless Bush supporters, do you need any more reason to rethink your position than when the guy supposedly in charge claims to not have heard about this atrocity until someone read it to him from a magazine?

The New York Times reported that Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania 'praised' General Michael Hagee, the Marine Corps Commandant, for making a special trip to Iraq to counsel his troops on the proper treatment of noncombatants, while at the same time castigating NCOs and officers in the immediate chain of command.

If nothing else, let this episode in the Bush/Iraq War Era be a lesson not only for those 'serving' their country, but to all Americans as well: Government never 'takes care of its own' unless you're talking about the government taking care of its own ass. The rest of us be damned.

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Harry Goslin's picture
Columns on STR: 40

Harry Goslin lives in eastern Arizona.