3.06.2007

in the scandal over walter reed, a basic truth is revealed

Now that the world knows something about how wounded American veterans are treated at the US's flagship veteran's hospital - the good one, the one with the funding - many of us in the peace movement can't help but think: we knew this all along. This is what we've been trying to tell you all these years.

Of course we didn't know the exact location of the most disgusting hospital building (the now-notorious Building 18), or the specifics of the degradation (mold, vermin, cockroaches). But we've known that there is little funding and support for the scores of grievously injured men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, because the United States government doesn't give a shit about them. They call the veterans heroes and pose with them for photo-ops when it's useful. Other than that, who gives a shit. Put a sticker magnet on your car and call it a day.

Ever visit a VA hospital in the US? I have. They're disgusting. Under-staffed, under-funded, dirty, they are places of last resort. There are some great programs coming out of VA hospitals, like support groups and wheelchair sports teams, but those are the work of veterans or advocacy groups, not the Veterans Administration.

I'll repeat something I have written in various forms over and over again.
Of all the hypocrisy and lies perpetrated by the US government, for me the worst, the absolute lowest, is the shameful treatment of the armed forces. Lie to these people, betray their trust, cut off their options so the military is one of the only ways to get an education, use them for propaganda - then spit them out. Cut funding for the ongoing medical treatment they'll need long after their dues have been paid, give their families only partial benefits because they were reservists, deny them even proper protection in combat - it's a long list.

And do you know what? It was ever thus.

Here's something else I've posted before. From Lord Arthur Ponsonby's, Falsehood in Wartime: Propaganda Lies of the First World War, published in 1928.
1: We don't want war
2: The enemy bears all the responsibility.
3: We are not waging war against a people, but against an evil leader.
4: We are fighting for a noble cause, not for material interests.
5: The enemy commits atrocities.
6: The enemy is using weapons that are not permitted.
7: Our losses are limited, the enemy's losses are high.
8: The artists and intellectuals support our cause.
9: Every war is a 'holy war'.
10: Anyone who calls the propaganda into question is a traitor.

Facts must be distorted, relevant circumstances concealed, and a picture presented which by its crude colouring will persuade the ignorant people that their Government is blameless, their cause is righteous, and that the indisputable wickedness of the enemy has been proved beyond question. A moment's reflection would tell any reasonable person that such obvious bias cannot possibly represent the truth. But the moment's reflection is not allowed; lies are circulated with great rapidity. The unthinking mass accept them and by their excitement sway the rest. The amount of rubbish and humbug that pass under the name of patriotism in war-time in all countries is sufficient to make decent people blush when they are subsequently disillusioned.

Through time, and through history, young men (and now woman, too) have been called upon to give up their bodies, their lives, their limbs, their eyesight, their sanity, for the furtherance of someone else's profit and power. Read (or re-read) All Quiet On The Western Front, and think about how little has changed.

5 comments:

James Redekop said...

Put a magnet on your car and call it a day.

Check out Stick Magnetic Ribbons On Your SUV by Asylum Street Spankers.

Have you heard the right-wing spin on all this? "This just proves that the government can't run health care."

Another example why you really don't want to give control of the government to a group based on the ideology that governments are inherently incompetent. Doing a good job would undermine their own position!

laura k said...

Check out Stick Magnetic Ribbons On Your SUV by Asylum Street Spankers.

Reminiscent of skits we put on in sleepaway camp...

Another example why you really don't want to give control of the government to a group based on the ideology that governments are inherently incompetent.

That's true. Unfortunately, deplorable conditions at VA hospitals transcends partisan politics and ideologies. It seems US govts are good at filling up those hospitals, but that's where their interest ends.

M@ said...

Have you heard the right-wing spin on all this? "This just proves that the government can't run health care."

Unfortunately for them, the exact opposite is true.

laura k said...

Unfortunately for them, the exact opposite is true.

Ah, thanks for that, M@. I completely forgot to mention that. Like so much else connected to the military, the VA has been handed over to private, for-profit interests, too. And is it any surprise that those interests are part of the Halliburton family?

Thanks for the link and for jogging my memory. I'll post a follow-up soon.

James Redekop said...

Like so much else connected to the military, the VA has been handed over to private, for-profit interests, too. And is it any surprise that those interests are part of the Halliburton family?

I saw a good article the other day on how the Republican form of "privatization" is pretty much designed for corruption and cronyism. As the article put it (paraphrased): "If you don't think the government should provide a service, then don't provide the service. Get out of the business altogether and let private companies do the work. Don't contract out to a single provider who does the work on behalf of the government, because if you do that, you don't have a market, you have a monopoly."