Spoiling the Pentagon

William Astore, LtCol, USAF, Ret.; from tomdispatch.com

The U.S. Military Suffers from Affluenza 

Showering the Pentagon with Money and Praise 

By William J. Astore

The word “affluenza” is much in vogue. Lately, it’s been linked to a Texas teenager, Ethan Couch, who in 2013 killed four people in a car accident while driving drunk. During the trial, a defense witness argued that Couch should not be held responsible for his destructive acts. His parents had showered him with so much money and praise that he was completely self-centered; he was, in other words, a victim of affluenza, overwhelmed by a sense of entitlement that rendered him incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. Indeed, the judge at his trial sentenced him only to probation, not jail, despite the deaths of those four innocents.

Experts quickly dismissed “affluenza” as a false diagnosis, a form of quackery, and indeed the condition is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Yet the word caught on big time, perhaps because it speaks to something in the human condition, and it got me to thinking. During Ethan Couch’s destructive lifetime, has there been an American institution similarly showered with money and praise that has been responsible for the deaths of innocents and inadequately called to account? Is there one that suffers from the institutional version of affluenza (however fuzzy or imprecise that word may be) so much that it has had immense difficulty shouldering the blame for its failures and wrongdoing?
The answer is hidden in plain sight: the U.S. military. Unlike Couch, however, that military has never faced trial or probation; it hasn’t felt the need to abscond to Mexico or been forcibly returned to the homeland to face the music.

Spoiling the Pentagon

First, a caveat. When I talk about spoiling the Pentagon, I’m not talking about your brother or daughter or best friend who serves honorably. Anyone who’s braving enemy fire while humping mountains in Afghanistan or choking on sand in Iraq is not spoiled.

I’m talking about the U.S. military as an institution. Think of the Pentagon and the top brass; think of Dwight Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex; think of the national security state with all its tentacles of power. Focus on those and maybe you’ll come to agree with my affluenza diagnosis.

Let’s begin with one aspect of that affliction: unbridled praise. In last month’s State of the Union address, President Obama repeated a phrase that’s become standard in American political discourse, as common as asking God to bless America. The U.S. military, he said, is the “finest fighting force in the history of the world.”

Read the full article here: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176102/

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US Planning New Military Bases In Middle East, Asia, And Africa

After sowing chaos for a decade, the Obama administration is expanding the military’s imperial footprint throughout Africa, Asia & more of the Middle East.

Source: US Planning New Military Bases In Middle East, Asia, And Africa

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Veterans For Peace Protests Pivot to Asia

Newton’s third law of motion reads, “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.”

VFP member protests in early December, 2015 to oppose President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” may not have been equal in magnitude, if that’s measured in money and force, but these activists certainly produced strong forces which were opposite in direction.

Protesting U.S. military expansion in South Korea and in Okinawa, Veterans For Peace members joined South Korean and Japanese activists by putting their bodies on the line, blocking construction and entry to two sites.

At Jeju Island in South Korea, the U.S. is building a huge naval installation, destroying ecologically sensitive and sacred coastline in the process. The VFP protests are well documented by Ellen Davidson here and in her photos here, here and here, plus Bruce Gagnon’s writeup here–see his several other stories about Jeju in the left side bar of his blog. Bruce Gagnon, who visited Corvallis a few years ago and is the coordinator of the  Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, is also a VFP member traveling with the group to Jeju and Okinawa.

In Okinawa, it took Japanese police, shipped in from the main island, to dislodge VFP and local protesters blocking the gate of an area set for huge expansion of the Marine Corps facility on the island. This despite the years of protests by local citizens. The expansion will, as described by Gagnon, include “building two runways at Henoko that will jut out into pristine Oura Bay likely killing coral reefs and endangered sea mammals.”  Bruce Gagnon is with the group there now and filed this excellent report.

We applaud the protestors for shoring up the local protests and drawing international attention to the aggressive military expansion in the Pacific by the Obama administration.

VFP Delegation, Jeju Island, 12/2/15. Photo: Ellen Davidson, VFP

VFP Delegation, Jeju Island, 12/2/15. Photo: Ellen Davidson, VFP

Protest at Jeju Island. Photo: Sung-Hee Choi

Protest at Jeju Island. Photo: Sung-Hee Choi

Blocking the gate at the Henoko, Okinawa base. Photo: Ellen Davidson

Blocking the gate at the Henoko, Okinawa base. Photo: Ellen Davidson

Posted in Foreign Policy, Human War Toll, Peace Activism, Peace News, Veterans For Peace News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ben Griffin, VFP UK: The Making of a Modern British Soldier

Wow, watch this…trust us. Ben’s fascinating narrative could easily apply to any of the world’s top-tier militaries and his personal reflections brilliantly illustrate a service member’s experience.

Ever wondered…

  • Why do people join?
  • What’s the training like?
  • How do the services build loyalty, camaraderie, and obedience?
  • How does one learn to kill?
  • How does an occupying force spread “democracy?”
  • Do they really hate us for our freedoms or could it be something else?

[click the pic below to go to the VFP UK site and watch the video there]


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The US American Way of War – S. Brian Willson

Hey, MSM and congress critters…Why no hearings on the #KunduzHospital attacks? Why spam us with #BenghaziCommittee coverage? [Bear with us…there’s a theme here.]

Why hasn’t the U.S. government Massacre-of-Indian-women-and-children-in-Idaho-Frank-Leslie-illustratedconducted full and thorough investigations into the countless cases of Native Americans, Mexicans, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Vietnamese and many others destroyed by U.S. imperialism? The Canadian government recently completed one such investigation–sadly lacking, but a start–into the cultural real genocide of First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children, which continued into the 1990s. See here and here for some shocking details of that.

In the following piece, our friend Brian Willson gives us a brief historical look at the racist and imperialist way the U.S. conducts war and the horrific outcomes for indigenous peoples.

The US AMERICAN WAY OF WAR – Intentional Killing of Civilians and Civilian Infrastructure

October 19, 2015

In Viet Nam, being terribly ignorant like so many others, I “accidentally” discovered, against my greatest wishes, that the US was systematically targeting for destruction, schools, hospitals, churches, and inhabited, undefended villages, often by low-level napalm and 500 pound bombs. These were not accidental. US Army intelligence personnel admitted that hospitals had been routinely listed as targets: “The bigger the hospital the better it was”. Classified USAF bombing manuals defined hospitals, schools, and churches as ‘psycho-social targets’ useful for dissolution of civilian order and decimating morale(1). The US destroyed 13,000 of their 21,000 villages (North and South)(2), murdering upwards of 6 million peasants in South and North Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos(3). The US also destroyed over 15,000 bridges; almost 3,000 high schools and universities; 350 hospitals; 1,500 maternity wards; and 950 churches and pagodas(4).

But, from our origins, the US political-military policy, rooted deeply in Eurocentric racism, has revealed an intention to kill civilians and noncombatants alike, and civilian infrastructure. [Continue reading here and please leave some comments there for Brian.]

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The Intercept: The Drone Papers

Leaked documents reveal the cold calculus of murder from above. The expose is published in The Intercept.

From DemocracyNow!:

Newly leaked government documents have provided an unprecedented window into the secret U.S. drone assassination program across the globe. In “The Drone Papers,” The Intercept reveals drone strikes have resulted from unreliable intelligence, stemming in large part from electronic communications data, or “signals intelligence,” that officials acknowledge is insufficient. The documents also undermine government claims that the drone strikes have been precise. In Afghanistan, strikes on 35 direct targets killed at least 219 other people. Among other revelations, they also suggest the strikes have hurt intelligence gathering and that unknown male victims have been labeled as “enemies killed in action” unless evidence later proves otherwise. The documents were leaked to The Intercept by an unnamed U.S. intelligence source.


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“Call Out for Justice: End the Wars”

Rally and March, Portland, Sunday, October 11, 2015, 1:00 PM

Shemanski Park (the South Park Blocks at Salmon St.)

Full details, including a full list of sponsors and endorsers, more fliers and posters, here: http://pjw.info/afghanistan14yl.html

Endorsed by VFP 132 and Corvallis Alternatives to War…and many, many more fine groups.
If you go, how about sharing some feedback and observations with us?



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