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Support Our Troops

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Nothing I've seen explains this administration 's attitude toward our troops better than the juxtaposition of the following headlines:

Eisenhower's military/industrial complex warning is the most famous, and rightly so, but I think in the current context General Butler lays it down a bit better:

War is a racket ... in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Never has that been truer than right now, when the desire to monopolize control of oil, for both power and profit, is causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And the troops are viewed much as the turn of the century coal barons viewed their miners: necessary, but expendable, assets. They are to be paid as little as possible, and their lives and health only matter in so far as the bad publicity too many deaths might generate.

The proposed cuts in veteran health care, which is a recurring theme with this administration, are even more insidious than they sound. The current war is notorious for creating a greater percentage of wounded than previous wars. There are two reasons for this. One is that body armor and rapid medical evacuations lead to many severely wounded vets that would have been fatalities in previous wars. The other is the extensive use of depleted uranium, which is now viewed as a likely contributor to the "Gulf War Syndrome" of the first gulf war and which is currently wreaking havoc both on the Iraqis and our soldiers. It was just discovered that the initial shock and awe assault released so much of this toxic substance into the atmosphere that the increase in radiation was measured as far away as Great Britain. And what company was involved in suppressing that information? Halliburton, of course.

Anecdotal stories reinforce the notion of a callous military. Like the soldier who was charged for the body armor that got destroyed when he was wounded. Or those threatened with the loss of death benefits if they wore better body armor. Stories like these may be the exception, and not the rule, but they are common enough to indicate a real problem, a pattern of disdain for the needs of the soldiers doing the actual fighting.

Yesterday Zogby released a poll indicating 72% of the troops in Iraq think we should leave within a year. Being closer to the situation, the truths of the war are more obvious to them, despite the indoctrination they receive.

I hope these realities are also becoming clear to those sporting "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home, and to replace the current administration with one that really cares about them.

Jon Korein lives in the Philadelphia area. He has a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked as a programmer in research projects at UPenn and IBM, along with a number of smaller companies.
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