Collateral Damage

Well, here we go again.  Those of us in the military during Vietnam remember the lousy care returning soldiers got.  I worked in a military hospital back then, and witnessed  the misery as the soldiers tried desperately to get past the paperwork to get care.

I just heard a parent of a soldier on the radio say he did not care about building schools for Iraqi children.  He only cared about getting care for the “wounded warriors.”

Here’s the problem: most soldiers have thought the term “collateral damage” only applies to civilians.  They’ve seen it as a reasonable cost of war.

What they’ve never realized is that “collateral damage,” in the minds of the arms industry and their servant governments, includes the soldiers and their families.

Here’s how the military views your kids:  you birthed ’em, fed ’em, raised ’em, educated them.  When they were ripe, the military plucked them — sucked them dry — threw them out.  They’re a cheap resource.  They’re like trees, or buffalo, or any strip mine.  They’re there to be used, and dumped.

It’s the same mind that considers dead Iraqis just a cost of doing business.  During Vietnam, there was a question about whether Vietnamese felt the same grief for their dead that we did — until we saw, on TV, the films of Vietnamese villagers wailing in agony at the funerals of their loved ones.  The fact that they could feel emotions, like human beings — like us — came as a great shock to this nation.  I think the black people of our country will recognize this reaction; Mark Twain pointed it up in Huckleberry Finn when Huckleberry is surprised that Jim can mourn for his children.

Until our soldiers absolutely refuse to accept the concept of collateral damage, they’ll be part of that damage.  Poisonous concepts spread — like poison.

Whoever refuses to become human and recognize the humanity of all humans affected by war — risks being treated like a bunch of thrown-out empty tin cans.  The government may inspect the military hospitals for now, but the moment our attention comes off them, they’ll be back to their old tricks.

You can’t trust the arms industry, and the high-ranking soldiers who have made their careers catering to it.  Especially if you’re a soldier.  How much do you think a General really cares for you?

If I were you, I’d be doing some CYA.

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