Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Death, Drugs, and War - a History

America has fought three major colonial wars in her history - the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1913), the Vietnam War (1965-1973), and the Iraq War (2003-present). All of them have two things in common - war crimes and extensive drug use by American soldiers.

Philippine Insurrection

Following our victory in the Spanish-American War, the United States bought the Philippine Islands from the Spanish. This came as a surprise to Filipinos, who had declared themselves an independent country. We sent over troops and told the Filipinos they had new masters. The ingrates decided to fight. The fighting quickly devolved into a classic asymmetrical guerrilla war. The drug of choice was smoking opium to dull the fear and guilt. The war crimes included concentration camps, torture, and summary executions.
It is an inevitable consequence of war that the innocent must generally suffer with the guilty ~ Gen. J. Franklin Bell, U. S. Army
I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. ~ Instruction from Gen. Jacob Smith on how to deal with any Filipino prisoners over the age of ten.
There was an active anti-war movement that included Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie.

Vietnam War

Drug Use
Pot smoking started early in the war. Marine commanders estimated 70 to 80 percent of their soldiers were smoking pot. Heroin, usually smoked or snorted, eventually took over. In 1971 U.S. Army medical officers estimated that 10 to 15 percent of enlisted men used heroin; other estimates go as high as 90 percent. The reason for the drug use was fear, bordom, and the uselessness of the battles.
War Crimes
While My Lai is being talked about again, there were many less famous crimes. Soldiers went into the bush with orders to pacify an area, to clear it of the enemy. But this was a guerrilla war where anyone - men, women, children, the elderly, the lame - anyone could be the enemy. Where anyone can be the enemy, everyone becomes the enemy.

Iraq War
Drug Use
There is an interesting twist in this war. The Pentagon is the most active drug pusher in theater. There is no time, no interest in caring for soldiers who have been traumatized by the conflict. Drug them up and keep them out there is the order of the day. Antidepressants and tranquilizers like Valium instead of R&R or counseling; "go-pills" to keep the soldiers awake and wired for 24 to 48 straight hours; sleeping pills to undo the effects of the go-pills and numb away the nightmares.
It concerns us when we hear military doctors say, "It’s wonderful that we have these drugs available to cope with second or third deployments.” ~ Joyce Raezer of the National Military Family Association
Remember the predictions that the army was on the edge of breaking? Well, it is broken and the only thing keeping it together is drugs. American street gangs are marketing more traditional drugs like heroin to the troops. Military families are distraught over what is being done to their children and spouses.
War Crimes
When Rush Limbaugh reads this (yea, right) I want him to realize I am neither ecstatic nor gleeful. Like Vietnam and the Philippine wars, what is happening now is the natural outgrowth of placing good, decent American servicemembers in impossible situations, ordering them to do the absurd, and riding them until they break. As before, the guerrilla fighters are ghosts. Like during the Philippine war, our soldiers have come to fear even the children.

Conservative talking points dismiss each incident that becomes public, like Abu-Ghraib and Haditha, as an aberration. The aberration is when they become public at all. For those interested (I suggest you not consider the chances of NSA surveillance if you go here), this is an Iraqi resistance website that lists the war crimes they believe we have committed. Most of the links on this site are to western news sources; several are also no longer valid. My point in linking to it is to show that many incidents have been reported upon that have never filtered through to the public conscious.

Additional Links: Common Dreams, Another Fine Mess, Information Clearing House

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1 comment:

PoliShifter said...

The right went on a pre-emptive push bakc saying "liberals" were "gleeful" of the events at Haditha.

I don't know anyone who is gleeful.

Most sane people I talk to or read about say very similar things: We have troops who are stretched thin, under-equiped, and put in a situation they can't possibly win. What did anyone expect?

It's hot, you get two meals a day, you're on your 3rd or 4th tour, your humvee isn't armored, you watch a friend get blown up, you have a notion of who/what/where/when, and shit happens.

It doesn't make it right. But honestly, this is not a military operation anymore. "Mission Accomplished" happened three years ago. Our troops did their job efficiently.

Now they have been turned in to security guards, diplomats, politicians, peacemakers, policemen, and reconstruction workers. This is NOT the job of the military.

I place blame on those who designed and attempted to execute this failed occpation of Iraq.

That would be Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bremmer, Wolfowitz, the PNAC, and others who woudl not listen to people like Shinseki or Ziny.

I just find it fascinating how the rigth is trying to co-opt this issue in order to prove some mythical point that just doesn't exist.

Sorry for ranting...