Wednesday, November 23, 2011


November 23, 2011

So we sent 4,500 of our young people off to their deaths. We killed 100,000 citizens of a country that had done nothing to us except stick out its tongue and call us names. Our giant oil companies tried and failed to purloin that nation’s natural resources. In all, the Iraq war has been a total disaster. But Yay! We... showed... ‘em?
Did we really? Because now it’s over we’re worse off than when we started.
It’s our own fault for never questioning the lie from Mssrs Bush and Cheney that Iraq already had terror weapons and was about to go nuclear.
While we’re all paying now for their duplicity, those who pay the most are the people we sent to fight. We cheered them on, but only to the point where they epitomized all that was wrong with this war. And then we turned our backs on them: today 32,000 veterans are wounded and 30,000 homeless and there’s a backlog of a million disability claims..
You’d think this nation would reward its servicemen this time around but do we?. Not in 1975 either. Vietnam was another hopeless involvement in which 58,000 true Americans gave their lives. Those who returned? We spat in their faces
Today we slash benefits. That’s the reward our heroes get instead of a faceful of phlegm. Writing for this newspaper, retired Colonel Allan Shapiro spotlighted the latest insult. The government plans to claw back $27 billion by increasing military folks’ annual health deductibles tenfold to $3,000 and tacking on heavy co-pays and “enrollment fees”. Medical treatment and retirement pay also face cuts.
The country can’t afford it, is the excuse. Why wasn’t this mentioned before invading Iraq?
And demanding greater sacrifice from those who already give so much is a less than compelling recruitment tool; no wonder the rookies are staying home in droves.
Our warriors past and present champion an America where there’s hope. They crave a home and a job; instead we give them medals, yellow ribbons, empty words of praise, cuts...
And also scorn. Listen to the Republican debate audience in Orlando booing soldier Stephen Hill, stationed in Iraq, because he says he’s a homosexual. Silence from all nine candidates; only when pressed afterwards did two, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, give a tepid whisper, calling the booing “unfortunate”.
The guy – no matter his sexual preference – risks his life for America and this assemblage of overfed oinkers jeer him? He’s more man than any of them. Similar cowards found a way to disparage John Kerry for his Purple Hearts.
Our yellow-bellied patriots are now talking of making war on Iran. The very people who got us into the current conflicts, who themselves weaseled out of Vietnam duty. Dick Cheney, worth $100 million, with his five hardship deferments, saying he had “other priorities”, Karl Rove’s fancy footwork hiding behind school after school, and George W. Bush whose Air National Guard records – those that weren’t “inadvertently” destroyed – show major irregularities.
The draft dodgers should be named. They include Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Rudolph Giuliani, Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, Dennis Hastert and oily Tea Party agitator Dick Armey. John Boehner’s bad back got him out of the service after just weeks, as did Mitch McConnell’s blurry vision. Of the presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich played the “flat feet” excuse and Mitt Romney slipped over to France as a Mormon missionary.
And there’s good ol’ Saxby Chambliss, whose professed “bum knee” was nimble enough to sidestep the draft and hasn’t harmed his golf game. He’s the guy who so despicably smeared as unpatriotic his rival and contemporary Max Cleland, a decorated hero who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam.
Other “Great Americans” include banks like JP Morgan Chase, that swindled 4,500 active service families, illegally foreclosing on some while the breadwinner was on the front lines. Chase’s response, in essence, was: “very sorry and we promise not to break the law again.” Apology accepted by a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a Congress full of folks who are firmly in the banks’ pocket. No penalty. Why do we give these loathsome people a pass?
Walton County’s new congressman, Paul Broun, tried to take away the soldiers’ girlie magazines. They could die tomorrow but his concern is their mental purity.
So we’re broke. Iraq, which was once the chief enemy of an increasingly crazy and dangerous Iran, is now that country’s best friend. What was achieved? And at what terrible cost to those who love our nation more than we do? But what country is that? Surely not the one of abject greed and callousness we’ve allowed it to become.
You lose an arm for America and your country then twists your remaining arm. If I were a one-legged veteran I’d use my other foot to kick out at a society that’s happy to have me absorb the pain both abroad and now also at home. We are the enemy of our own military. Absurdly, they would have a moral case to make war on us!
To my mind the men and women of our armed services stand head and shoulders above all the rest of us – and in particular the lowlifes at the top who use them so callously.
It’s Thanksgiving. We thank God for our bounty, those of us who still can. But the earthly people to whom we should be giving the greatest thanks are our long suffering military.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.