MEMORIAL DAY 2010
by Adam Benedetto
As it’s Memorial Day it’s good to think about whom we have lost in the past four years in defense of our freedom. There have been 4400 American troops, everyone a person, killed since we started “The Long War” (as it’s referred to in the Pentagon). 31,822 wound American Troops, people, have been physically wounded. For the moment we’ll leave out the number of psychologically wounded. It’s too difficult to estimate as sending anyone into a War Zone on numerous tours of duty must create damaging effects we’re sure to see in our society later. But as it’s Memorial Day we should consider that each of these people made personal sacrifices to do what they felt was the right thing to do. We’ll leave politics aside for the moment.
4400 people is a lot of people — Especially in an entirely volunteer army.
For the most part, we haven’t felt the war at home. A small number of people have taken up the concerns of the country and gone to fight in the Middle East.
In light of these numbers it’s difficult not to feel somewhat guilty. In supporting the troops it’s our job to send them on mission with clear goals and a realistic reason for armed conflict. We now know that the Bush Administration lied to the public to convince the American people to allow the war to happen. It’s a fact. And we now know that creating democratic governments in Iraq or Afghanistan is not a realistic goal either. That’s abundantly clear. So why are we there now? Does Obama think we’re fighting them there so they can’t fight us here?
As citizens it’s our job to ensure the people fighting in our name are deployed for good reason. As Abraham Lincoln said, “It’s our duty to question.” Americans have not exercised this responsibility.
If we go by the numbers 4400 troops isn’t a lot of casualties for a war that’s been going on nine years. And if you consider that they are there to kill, and that The Associated Press estimates that more than 110,600 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion of Iraq to April 2009, we’re getting a lot of bang for our buck. If you’re a bureaucrat sitting at your desk reviewing numbers you’d think we’re winning as America lost 58,193 people in the Vietnam War. So far we’re doing pretty well in the Middle East considering how we did in Asia. Especially if you consider that, according to Bush, we won the war years ago.
So we should consider just who is winning in this war. The answer is easy. Corporations. Anytime you create a war economy, a war culture, and a war—which is in itself an endless need for resources—Corporations providing those resources win. We also know that in a war culture arguments are muted by Nationalism, journalism is repressed by Patriotism, and our commitment to the troops drains resources we could otherwise be using to fund civic projects here at home. In short, democratic systems suffer while a war is going on.
Often people forget that corporate interests are consistently at odds with democratic principles. That is the ultimate irony when considering what these troops, people, have died for and in whose name. People who have agreed to protect our democracy have been thrown under the truck for corporate profits—not for our safety or democracy. We’ve let that happen. That’s our shame to carry on this Memorial Day.
First published May 31, 2010