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/

About VFP Linus Pauling Chapter

Veterans For Peace (VFP) is dedicated to eliminating war as an implement of foreign policy and to that end, works to educate the public about the true costs of war. Veterans For Peace (VFP) Linus Pauling Chapter 132 is a chapter of Veterans For Peace, St. Louis, MO, which has been waging peace since 1985 and is an NGO recognized by the United Nations. The local chapter and the national organization are both 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. Veterans For Peace is made up of veteran and associate members. More information about the national organization, including our Statement of Purpose and contact information for a VFP chapter near you, may be found at: www.veteransforpeace.org.
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