Civil Discourse Now

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Pentagon Papers Redux: when do people die in vain?

For years American elected officials - of both major parties - and American military leaders misled the American public about the prospects for military success. The same elected officials and military leaders misled the American public by implying there was a strategy to the effort.
Thousands of American military personnel and many more thousands of Asians native to the places U.S. forces attacked also died. The people in the countries where U.S. forces went, supposedly to advance freedom and democracy, resented the USA. Corpses piled up, but, more importantly to corporate interests for which war is the raison d’etre, profits piled up as well.
I do not refer only to Vietnam. The Washington Post has interviewed people who helped direct or served on the ground in Afghanistan. What has been revealed is that our military had no strategy and no prospects to achieve that which was ill-defined.
The United States was founded on contradictions. Delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention had to reconcile the concepts of freedom and equality espouses in The Declaration of Independence with what they perceived as the necessity of maintaining the institution of slavery. The delegates ignored the obvious and made a part of the political structure a guarantee that some people could own other people as items of property.
About ten years ago, a person told me that if U.S. military personnel withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq, those who had died would have died in vain. Because our military involvement in both instances was maintained, if not actually started based, on lies, how did people not die in vain?
We were attacked on 9/11 for several reasons, none of which was jealousy over the freedom we enjoy. Much of their anger was over U.S. bombings and invasions in the Middle East. And I am sorry if anyone is disillusioned by what I must say: we are not the “land of the Free.” With five percent (5%) of the World’s population we have twenty-five percent (25%) of the World’s prison inmates.
This is not a country of equality. If your skin is darker or if you pray to the wrong deity or if your are female or ... The list is longer. In economics, Theodore Roosevelt advocated inheritance taxes to deter self-propagation of the wealthy class. Teddy was a Republican. Reagan’s people came along and spun estate taxes as “death” taxes. Corporations seem to be viewed as having rights - even though corporations are not people, friend, but fictional entities on paper and that paper can be owned by anybody.
We have to acknowledge that President Eisenhower - who was a five-star general - was right when he warned about the military-industrial complex. We should cut out military budget in half and invest in our infrastructure.
The more weapons we have, the less secure we are - because people come to hate those who drop bombs on them. We need to reduce the number of troops in our military and take care of those who have served. We need to educate our young people, and not force them into the military as one of the few means of getting a college degree without enormous debt.
We should require a declaration of war before we commit military forces - unless we are attacked, as we were on 12/7/1941.
As this latest revelation - i.e., the Afghanistan papers, as one newscaster described them in a slip of the tongue - indicates, U.S. elected officials and military leaders have lied about our involvement. If people went off to Iraq or Afghanistan in the belief they would fight for freedom and democracy or for our national security, they were wrong. Whether they died in vain depends upon whether we continue to be fooled by this charade.

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