On two occasions this week I have heard stories and interviews about soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with post traumatic stress disorder. This is not a new malady and documented cases of it, although called by myriad names, date back to the Civil War. Yet in recent years, we have sent our fine young men and women to god-forsaken places to fight needless wars; wars built on lies and greed that served no purpose but to stoke the egos of idiots like George W. Bush and the pockets of Dick Cheney and his corporate ilk.
In our nation’s more respectable past, we have gone to war with the consent of the congress and when the interests of the freedom of the world were at stake. No literate American can deplore our efforts in getting rid of Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo. Not only were these wars just, but they were won with the participation not just of our military, but of our citizenry as a whole. During WWII our entire country observed the blackouts to protect our coasts, gave up creature comforts and dealt with the rationing of goods in order to keep our country and the free world free.
This isn’t the case today. We have allowed our leaders to start conflicts, predominantly in the middle east for one reason and one reason only. Oil. And oil means production and production means profit and profit means greed.
The conversation that has struck me most came from a young college football player who had served in our most recent conflicts on multiple tours. He spoke of his feelings when at half time there were ceremonies to honor our veterans. But what does it mean to say “thank you for your service”?
When any person tells a soldier thank you for protecting his freedom, it begs the question: “Was your freedom ever at risk?” The answer is clearly no. Despite the horrendous aftermath of the September 11 attacks, not once since the Second World War has the freedom of any American been in jeopardy. Not because of Korea, nor Viet Nam and certainly not Iraq or Afghanistan. The only thing at risk was the wealth of a privileged few. A few whose own sons and daughters were never at risk of harm.
Over half a million young men and women have returned home from our greed wars permanently scarred from the horrors that they witnessed and in which they participated. They did their duty and they knew that a military life was dangerous, of course. But is the life of one young man or woman worth the low cost of a gallon of gas? Is your “freedom” any more secure because we have allowed our government to wage wars of their own invention? No it is not. It is not, because your freedom was never once at risk.
It is high time that we call into account the real criminals in these conflicts. Saddam Hussein never harmed an American. And Osama bin Laden got his wealth from the oil that we buy from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan. As five hundred thousand soldiers come home to permanent and irreparable emotional damage, let us consider who the real threats are to our freedom. They are secondly the politicians who start a new profit war every decade. But the most egregiously guilty people in this whole affair are those voters who continually put these fools into office, and worse yet, let them stay there.
Mirrors my friend. Mirrors. Look into yours and accept the blame. Then look ahead and make the change at the ballot box. The power lies in the people. Let’s take it back!