Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Man in the Mirror

by Jill Dalton

When I learned of the Kandahar massacre of 17 civilians including 3 women and 9 children and the subsequent burning of their bodies by the alleged lone assailant, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, my first thought was obviously he snapped.  The more I learned about Bales the clearer this thought became.  Here’s a soldier, a trained sniper with a traumatic brain injury being redeployed shortly after he’s been told he wouldn’t be redeployed, for the fourth time into yet another combat zone. 

But as more information surfaced including the Army’s use of the controversial drug Mefloquine also know as Lariam, which according to Mark Benjamin’s article, “Robert Bales Charged:  Military Scrambles to Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghan Massacre,” includes serious side effects.

 “Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military.  For years the military has used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops.”

FYI: This drug’s not supposed to be given to anyone who’s suffered a brain injury.  The Army refuses to reveal if Bales was taking Lariam saying it’s private but he had all the symptoms and the truth will eventually come out.

Shortly after news of the massacre hit the airways President Obama went on television in damage control mode extolling how this act was unacceptable and “someone must be held accountable.”  I wholeheartedly agree someone must be held accountable Mr. President.  However, this could prove problematic, as Obama doesn’t like holding anyone accountable except whistle-blowers and truth tellers.

“It’s time for America to understand that the Obama administration has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act in three years than were ever prosecuted by the government for whistle blowing under the Espionage Act since 1917 – double much.  And that indicates more than anything else, a very chilling atmosphere here in Washington, designed to keep you from understand what we do.”  Peter Van Buren, whistleblower

 This list of whistle-blowers and truth tellers includes Bradley Manning, who allegedly turned over evidence of U.S. war crimes including the release of the “Collateral Murder” video and state department cables to WikiLeaks.  Then there’s Peter Van Buren who published a book, “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,”

“about the mismanagement of billions of dollars and the waste of human life.  American life, Iraqi life, in the pretend reconstruction of Iraq.” 

Thomas Drake was also targeted after he leaked details about waste management and possible constitutional violations at the National Security Agency but the case fell apart so charges were dropped.  And then there’s journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye who exposed the U.S. involvement in the 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children who was pardoned but now sits in prison due to a personal phone call from President Obama to then Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Truth tellers:  (L) Col. Ann Wright – Resigned from the State Department over the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.  (R) Coleen Rowley – FBI Whistle blower

Photo.  Truth tellers:  (L) Col. Ann Wright – Resigned from the State Department over the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.  (R) Coleen Rowley – FBI whistle-blower.

Obama supporters are offended when I make the assessment Obama as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is ultimately responsible for not only the Kandahar massacre but for thousands of other unnecessary civilian deaths.  One such person shot back at me, “Perhaps you’ve forgotten but Obama did not start these wars.  George Bush did.”  This is true, however, Obama chose to escalate the war in Afghanistan calling it the “good” war.

Only someone who’s never served or experienced war in any way would have the naïveté to call any war good.  And Obama’s war escalations don’t end there.  There’s also Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya.  And for those of you who say he got us out of Iraq — wrong again.  We’ve built the largest military base in the world there and staffed it with 5,500 private contractors.

I’ve come to realize the so-called “left” is just as blind in their hero worship of Obama as the right was to Bush.  Seems both have decided not to think but instead to turn what’s left of their gray matter over to the propaganda, lies and marketing tools of the military industrial complex, corporate media and the corporate elites who profit from these wars.

Neal Shea’s chilling article,Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace,” exposes the racism, hatred, needless violence and diabolical disregard for the Afghan people by our military.  This is what we get when we train men to be killers and then place them year after year in a situation without a clear mission or exit strategy.  Does the administration really believe the military can change a foreign country when they can’t take care of their own?  750 soldiers commit suicide every month. More then have been killed in combat. There’s something seriously wrong here.

And we certainly have no business telling anyone how to run their country when we can’t run our own.  The U.S. is falling apart.  Our infrastructure’s crumbling, our schools, libraries and firehouses closing.  Services are being cut and all the money goes to prop up this deadly empire that traffics in murder and blood for oil.  We’re on a race to the bottom while the republic disintegrates before our eyes.

I’m from a military family and know first hand the trauma a family endures when a warrior goes to war and returns home broken.  Vietnam was my father’s third war and upon his return he began drinking heavily and had erratic outbursts of anger and abuse.  He was obviously suffering from PTSD but we had no idea what was going on.  My heart goes out to the families and all the men and women who’re asked to make the ultimate sacrifice for a country that does not value them and sends them to fight illegal wars based on lies and greed.  We need to end these useless wars and help our soldiers reintegrate into society.  We can no longer sit idly by and allow these wars to go on and on in our name and for what?  I’m surprised more soldiers haven’t snapped.

So when we learn of yet another unnecessary atrocity such as the massacre in Kandahar for one brief moment we awaken from our slumber to acknowledge the horrors of war but only to point the finger and blame a single soldier for these ungodly acts.  We look no deeper because to do so would reveal our complacency and our responsibility in these atrocities as well. 

Where is the outrage at our politicians who embroiled us in these wars in the first place and now continue to fund them regardless of the cost in treasure and human lives?  And where’s the accountability?  Once again there is none.  The Bush/Cheney administration walked away without one single person being held accountable for the lies that brought us into these illegal wars of aggression.  Obama protected these criminals with his double speak of, “We must look forward and not backward.”

We no longer punish people for war crimes, crimes against humanity or the planet, collateral murder, collateral damage, oil spills, lies, genocide or destroying the global economy.  We only prosecute whistle-blowers and truth tellers.  Because to look at what’s really going on would reveal the truth and the empire, the corporate state doesn’t allow the truth because the truth exposes them for the liars and frauds they truly are.  In a culture awash in lies telling the truth has indeed become a radical act.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

We live in a culture that glorifies violence.  Violence has become a way of being in America.  Guns and hatred fueled by fear and ignorance.  We no longer negotiate or ask questions.  We use preemptive wars and shoot to kill tactics and then walk away with no consequences — no accountability.  We live in a culture where a white man can murder a 17 year-old black child for wearing a hoodie armed only with a pack of Skittles and whose only crime was the color of his skin. Where the White Plains police can break down the door of a 68 year-old black veterans home when called there for a medical emergency and shoot him dead because he accidentally pushed the button of his alert device while he was sleeping.

Image by Tracy Knauss

 

So who’s accountable for the massacre at hand?  There’s plenty of blame to go around.  Obama’s the commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta makes no bones about it we’re staying the course in Afghanistan.  And then there’s whoever sent Bales back into a combat zone or gave him Lariam.  They’re all responsible.  Just like Vietnam they trudge blindly on with no end in sight because they have no solutions.  No ideas.  All they have is a dead system, which they continue to defend and prop up.

But may I suggest we all need to take a look in the mirror.  In reality we’re all responsible for the massacre in Afghanistan.  We the American people have been sleepwalking through these wars.  And we’re now reaping what we sow.   “A Course in Miracles” teaches, “you become what you defend against” and we’ve become the terrorists.  The United States is now the largest terrorist organization on the planet. 

And a culture of war without accountability no longer values human life or human rights and instead protects and reveres their criminals.  All the while our rights are being systematically stripped away under the guise of protecting us from the “terrorists.” All Totalitarian regimes eventually turn on their own people it’s the nature of the beast.

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror

I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

Image by Tracy Knauss