t's another flaming meltdown for the Los Angeles Police Department. One more in the proud history of America's most bizarre police force. Words fail.
It bears noting that Christopher Dorner's now hyper-analyzed manifesto makes perpetual use of military terminology. He makes it plain that he intends to use military tactics against LAPD personnel and their families. His use of the term "warfare" in the manifesto is ubiquitous.
"I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty. I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I'm terminating yours."
From where do such thoughts come? War, of course. Christopher Dorner was a Navy Reserve veteran. While not highly decorated, he did receive a number of citations, most notably for rifle marksmanship and pistol expertise, and he did serve in Iraq. His military experience and training were central to his manifesto and his war on the LAPD.
All men and women who are exposed to military training and combat are changed by the experience. Some more or differently than others, but everyone who lives through that horror is changed by it and they bring it home with them. PTSD affects people in different ways. The level of violence Christopher Dorner displayed was highly unusual for a U.S. civilian environment, but he was certainly not the first veteran to act out violently after returning from war.
Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez, reporting for the New York Times in January of 2008, "found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war." Those statistics are now 5 years old. Today's figures would be significantly higher.
Flashback to 2003 and the Bush administration's frantic efforts to convince anyone, anywhere in the world, that there really was a need to for the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq. Something about mushroom clouds and weapons of mass destruction. None of which ever materialized. What did materialize were unprecedented profits for military contracting firms and another American generation lost to a war without meaning.
Christopher Dorner earnestly felt that he had been defamed, railroaded and betrayed by the LAPD. The problem was his coping mechanism, or the lack thereof. He struggled throughout his life against the manifestations of an anti-African-American bias that was both overt and subtle. It was the militarism and the exposure to warfare that converted that sense of victimization into a heavily armed expression of rage.
America is trapped in a never ending cycle of enormously profitable warfare. The public relations packaging is always the same: "We are fighting for freedom and democracy." Who better to believe that than the idealistic and young? The truth however is cleverly hidden in plain sight: We are sending America's young men and women off to protect the global interests of wealthy and powerful mega-corporations based on US soil. The notion that this militarism somehow benefits the communities from which these newly adult soldiers come is flatly false. In fact American communities suffer great harm from these unnecessary military forays. The harm is both economic and social.
After Vietnam there was a sense that America had learned from what had occurred. Sadly that appears not to be that case. Those who profit from war will never learn. They can always find a rationale for conflict as long as lucrative government contracts are on the table. The larger and more important question is when will the American people learn? Without public support, the military profiteers will have to fight the wars themselves.
The Christopher Dorner saga is one more painful reminder that war must never be made without good cause and must never be supported by the country unless such cause exists. Beware: it's not a global force for good, it's a global force for profit