Tag Archives: war

Why War Is (Still) Stupid

26 May

I wrote this almost 3 years ago, early on in my blogging days, but sadly it still seems to be ringing truer than ever…

During Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq, a student in my class raised his hand and asked me a question.

“Hey, Mr. Picone, did you see that general on TV who was showing the video where a cruise missile tracks down an Iraqi truck and blows it up right there on a bridge?”

“Yes, I replied. I did.”

“Well, continued the student, how much do you think that old Iraqi truck was worth?”

“Oh about 20 to 30 thousand dollars,” I guessed

“And that bomb with the camera inside that tracked it down and blew it up. That cost a few hundred million didn’t it?”

“Yes, I think you’re right.” I said.

“So my question is, said the student who was about to give me something very interesting to think about, If our country is Spending 200 million dollars to blow up a 20,000 dollar truck how long can we keep that up before going broke?”

He asked me that question in 1992 and although I had no answer for him then, apparently my answer should have been, “Oh, I’d say about 16 years!” War is stupid because eventually we all go broke. You can bet money on it! Just ask Egypt and Greece and Rome and Persia and Spain and England and France and the Soviet Union and…now…US.!

We owe 18 trillion dollars and have no plans for paying off that debt except for the proposed dismantling of our Social services, pension systems and national infrastructure. Some plan, huh?

All civilizations eventually either spend all of their money on feeding the wealthy’s appetite for more wealth or on war, neither of which is an ingredient in any recipe for the extended prosperity and growth of a civilization and its people. And we here in the United States are doing both…at the same time!

Education however, no matter how expensive it may be for a civilization’s inhabitants to fund, sustain and expand never leads to the end of anyone’s civilization. When will we ever learn that?

Parents, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys

25 May

As Memorial Day arrives we take time to reflect on the liberties and freedom we all share due to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. My father served during World War II, My grandfather during World War I, and my great grandfather during the Civil War. They all saw action and survived while others did not and we can say today without any doubt that those who gave their lives in service to their country did so in valiant efforts to preserve what we so cherish here in the United States today…

But which of those wars was the war to end all wars? And will that war ever be fought? When I was young one American dream that was a big time favorite but by now really should have run its course was that of being a soldier. Whenever adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would always say “I want to be an army man!” That was back in the 50s and early 60s when playing soldier was a common pastime among young children. Once my father, a WWII veteran, explained to me that war involved fighting and possibly dieing, I soon changed my mind and as the Vietnam War loomed in my teenage future I wondered if perhaps my childhood boasting of wanting to be an army man would become an inevitable and now unwanted reality. Fortunately for me the draft and then the war ended and the country’s views toward wars and fighting them seemed to change for the better but now here in the 21st century we seem to have turned back towards war as a viable alternative to peace or perhaps even more insanely as a partner of peace!

Remember when you would get into a fight and your school principal or your teacher would tell you that fighting is wrong and that no matter who started it, it still was wrong to fight? When did we ever stop teaching and learning that lesson? We should no longer be encouraging any of our children to aspire to fighting or war. When will we ever learn that war is counterproductive to life? It seems like such a simple lesson to learn.

In my New Jersey high school we have a JROTC program. That stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and it is a class or series of classes and after school activities that help prepare high school children for a career in the military. Some believe that this is a good idea and I have seen many students proudly enroll in the program, graduate and continue on in a successful military career. However, that was back in the days when the United States was not actively involved in any wars and the graduating JROTC students went on to enjoy careers in a peacetime military. Today, most of these students are being groomed and prepared for active military duty in a wartime military and  many if not most of these young adults actually believe that they are preparing for something that will be fun and rewarding and once they develop their military skills they become eager to actually test themselves under real combat conditions. They look forward to becoming the new modern day cowboys of America.

This is something that I find very disturbing because these students are still children and we who work in the public schools are not just responsible for educating children. We are also responsible for protecting children. And part of what it means to protect our children involves making sure that they understand what it is that fighting and going off to war really means. And so as educators and citizens and community members we should all know better, and here’s why…

I took my own children shopping at Old Navy one day. You know that great American clothing store that sells the kind of clothes that young Americans just love to wear and have to have. As they were browsing I began browsing also and noticed that all of the clothes were made, not in America, (Gasp! Who else has an old navy?) But rather in Vietnam! Vietnam was the communist country America had fought over 40 years ago where we desperately tried to fend off communism and save democracy from the falling red dominoes that would crush us all one by one. And here today were my children happily sorting through the latest fashions in American clothes made by one of our most recent enemies, the Vietnamese! And then it dawned on me…apparently this is what our soldiers had fought for. 56,000 Americans fought and died and countless others were injured and forever scarred to ensure that someday a cheap labor source would be available to help put Americans out of work. Young adults of my generation studied hard, graduated high school, were randomly selected by our government in a lottery and sent halfway around the world in order to kill their own future jobs! Ain’t that a kick in the cargo pants?!

Is this possible? Am I remembering history incorrectly? The United States invaded Vietnam to stem the tide of communism. The war escalated. American teenagers were then drafted to bolster the armed forces desperate fight. The war continued for 10 years. Vietnam was devastated. 56,000 Americans were killed. Millions of Vietnamese citizens were killed. We eventually evacuated our forces in 1972. The communists prevailed and took over the country…and soon they began happily making clothes for Americans to wear! How did that happen? And what does this all have to do with your high school children and cowboys? Well, let’s see…

Back in the 1960s, when I was a teenager in high school, we all worried about the draft. During the year when a boy turned 18 he officially became a man, at least in the government’s eyes, and was required to register for selective service in the armed forces which meant that if your number came up in the subsequent draft lottery you would soon be headed to the war in Vietnam where your life would almost certainly be changed forever. As the casualties in Vietnam mounted, so did the public opposition to the draft. To randomly select recent high school graduates and send them off to war no longer seemed fair and although we all knew that it was all about fighting communism, and keeping the world safe for democracy, and serving God and our country and doing our duty etc., the prospects of going off to war no longer seemed exciting, just frightening. We probably have television to thank for this change in public opinion because that same medium that was bombarding us with advertisements and images of sex and violence that was surely going to rot our young brains was also showing us the truth about real violence and the real horrors of war. It was television and its pervasive sounds and images of real death and violence, along with the undeniable unfairness of a draft that could randomly pluck your children out of your home and end their lives at a moment’s notice, which brought about the end of the draft and the end of the Vietnam War.

So, what does that have to do with buying clothes made in Vietnam? Well, its 40 years later and we still have wars but now however, with an all volunteer army, it is harder to complain about those wars and how we as a country use our military because the government can always say, “They volunteered. No one made them join. They’re patriots proudly doing their duty.” That is a position that is very hard to argue with but still I am going to try to make my point and my point is this.

As teachers we need to present to our students all of the facts about history and especially the facts about the affects of war on the people who fight them, namely our children who become our soldiers, and who we send off to foreign lands to inevitably end the lives of someone else’s children. So here are some facts to consider…

In 1776 we fought the hated British for our liberty and freedom and the right to establish our own government. Then they invaded our new country again in 1812 and burned down Washington D.C. Later that century in 1863 they even considered aiding the Confederate states during our civil war to help divide our nation forever, but they decided not to so we eventually became friends again, saved their asses with massive invasion forces during two world wars and today we’re BFF!

In 1844 we invaded Mexico and fought the hated Mexicans who massacred Davey Crockett at the Alamo. Today, it’s the Mexican army (or so it seems) who shows up to fix my roof or cut my lawn or patch my sidewalks or trim my trees whenever I hire an American contractor to do the work. In 1898 we fought the hated Spanish in the Spanish-American war, remember that? Or rather remember the Maine?! Today, Spanish is the fastest growing language spoken in the U.S.A.

In 1918 and 1945 we fought the hated Germans who wanted to take over the world and kill us all, and yet by the 1960s every family in America it seemed owned at least one Volkswagen Beetle, the most affordable car of its time, made in Germany.

Who hated the Japanese more than us in 1941? If you had told my father and his WWII buddies in 1945 that someday a Japanese man nicknamed “Godzilla” would play the beloved Joe DiMaggio’s position in centerfield for the New York Yankees and win the World Series MVP while doing it, they would have plotzed! Right there in their pants! Right after their heads exploded!

My point is this. War isn’t hell. It’s stupidity! The people we kill today will tomorrow make our clothes and take our jobs. Why not just cut to the chase and just all be friends and go shopping? We need to teach our children to stop volunteering and to stop thinking that war is going to be fun. We need to teach them to stop believing that we’ve got to go over there to keep them from coming over here. They’re here already! And if not they’ll be here eventually and either with our soldiers help or because we simply invited them! Do you seriously doubt that “Made in Iraq” will be seen somewhere in your house in the near future or that a 7ft. something Afghani will be starting at center for the NY Knicks this decade and making 10 million dollars a year? I don’t.

We need to teach our children that going off to war today will only mean that if and when they come home it will most likely be with a shattered body and a rattled mind and the inability to enjoy as adults what they were sent off as children to protect in the first place.

So parents, don’t let your babies dream or grow up to be cowboys, unless they’re the kind who play in Dallas and get paid big bucks to wear their helmets and protect their heads when they do…although unfortunately that’s another story all together…

WMDs?

20 May

16NERVEAGENT3-articleLarge

Here is how you know if a country has WMDs or not, especially nuclear warheads like Dick Cheney asserted in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq with this statement: “We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

First: No one, not even the United States, invades a country that has WMDs. That’s why North Korea and Pakistan and Russia and China can do or say whatever they like without any fear of the United States taking any military intervention. So can France, Great Britain, India and Israel…but they are of course all supposed to be our great and close friends.

Second: If you are an invaded country and the leader of that country that actually has WMDs, then rather than watch your country be conquered while you cower in a hole, you use your WMDs on the invading troops as a last resort to your own defeat. That is why possessing WMDs is such a deterrent and threatening defense against invasion in the first place.

Third: Only 9 countries have real WMDs. We know who they are. And if ever there were to be a 10th, (Like Iran wants to be, and notice how they haven’t been able to surprise anyone about their intentions despite our supposed horrible and incompetent intelligence community?) you could find out on Wikipedia as soon as it happens.

And Finally: If any country in the Middle East, besides Israel, had WMDs, the Israeli’s would blow the crap out of them and take names and ask questions later…and then, when they were done, ask for the United States permission and intervention.

And that is how we know that Iraq never had WMDs and that the call to war against Iraq over the threat of their possessing WMDs, made by the Bush administration after the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was always based on false pretenses.

And old rotting chemical weapons that were buried in various locations within Iraq, that were there because the United States had once upon a time given them to Iraq to use in their war against Iran during the 1980s, (we sold weapons to Iran at the same time by the way) and that we knew were still there, dysfunctional and buried, do not constitute a WMD or nuclear threat. Besides, you have chemical weapons in your kitchen cabinet and whether or not you have enough for mass destruction is frankly speaking…up to you.

Why politicians and the media still can’t figure all of this out, or pretend not to be able to, is beyond me.

War is Peace?

29 Mar
Is War Peace? Freedom Slavery? Ignorance Strength? As suggested by the leaders of Oceania in George Orwell’s novel, 1984? Well, Here in 2015, the United States, the country with the largest military budget in the history of the world, more than the next 10 militaristic country’s military budgets put together…has finally done it!
Currently we are fighting in Iraq, along side the Iranians, in an effort to defeat the terrorist forces of ISIS. And we are fighting in Yemen, alongside the Saudi Arabians, in an effort to defeat the terrorist forces of the Houthi rebels, who are allied with Iran!
Whose side are we on anyway? …Answer: Yes!
We are now fighting with our enemies against our enemies and they are both us, or at least one is us, or some combination of us and them. It’s quite confusing, but suffice it to say that we are fighting over there so we don’t have to fight here… which is kinda the same thing as saying…well, you know…don’t ya think?
And meanwhile here at home we are fighting over whether we should be increasing the military budget while cutting homes for the homeless, food for the hungry, and healthcare for the unhealthy…which is kinda the same thing as saying…
N’est-ce pas?…or as we like to say here in the USA… Freedom Fries!

Afghanicare?

12 Feb

According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report…The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, will be the most expensive wars in US history—together totaling somewhere between 4 trillion and 6 trillion dollars. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”

That’s 4-6 trillion dollars for 2 wars that President Bush said would cost between 100-200 billion dollars, one of which would pay for itself with Iraqi oil revenues. Boy was he ever wrong!

But forget about that because here we sit in 2014 with Republicans up in arms over the Affordable Care Act and still trying to do their darnedest to repeal it or nay-say it because they say it will be too costly for the American public to sustain… but when it comes to a  4-6 trillion dollar boondoggle designed to destroy American lives, foreign countries and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghan citizens where is their public outcry? Or anyone else’s for that matter?

And now consider the fact that (by conservative estimates) we now spend 4 billion dollars each month in Afghanistan! That’s around 50 billion dollars per year spent in a country that has a GDP of 20 billion dollars! And then when you subtract the amount of money included in their GDP that comes from opium production and foreign aid (mostly ours) Afghanistan is pretty much worthless! (at least to us)

So we pump 50 billion dollars per year into a giant sink hole that is all set to revert back to the exact conditions we found it in, once we pull out in 2015, but we pull our hair and clench our fists and tie ourselves up in knots over whether or not we can afford to spend some money on each others healthcare…and no matter how much we spend it’s going to be money spent by Americans, on Americans, in America to make certain other American’s richer.

Boy is that a bad idea, huh?

Why feed Americans or house Americans or heal Americans or fix American cities when we can blow a hole in a foreign country and dump all of our money into the big black pit that we’re just going to leave behind anyway? Like we always do…

There must be an answer…right?

Anyone?

Give Peace a Chance?

7 Feb

 

Here is a very alarming statistic!

There are over 200,000 inmates in America’s prisons who are veterans.

That’s 14% of the U.S. prison population!

Which means that 1 out of every 7 American citizens who is incarcerated today, once served our country by participating in its armed forces.

And when you consider that:

Nationwide, 900,000 veterans live in households that rely on SNAP to provide food for their families.

57,849 veterans are homeless on any given night, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

An investigation by the Department of Veteran Affairs concludes that Almost once an hour a military veteran commits suicide. That’s over 8,000 suicides every year.

And consider that government programs for food stamps, housing and mental health have all recently been cut.

Then…

When our nation’s young soldiers are recruited and advertised as heroic unselfish patriots fighting for national freedoms and yet later as veterans, treated as though they were worn out, discarded and forgotten appliances who can no longer be of any marketing value, then something is seriously wrong with what it is that we all think we, or rather our soldiers, are fighting for.

If the costs of waging war are so great that the costs of healing the wounded are considered too burdensome then it’s time to recognize the fact that war isn’t our most serious nor our most pressing problem.

Isn’t it?

Now You Shoot Me! Now You Don’t!

21 Sep

Well ,it’s happened again. Another mass shooting in the United States. The Huffington Post has reported that this was the 17th mass shooting in the United States this year. Of course that lit up the internet with gun advocates claiming that a mass shooting only counts when people are killed, not wounded and definitely not when just multiple shots are fired by multiple people and only a few are injured, so your 17 mass shootings may just be my 7 mass shootings.

I know that in my town of Toms River, NJ we had 2 mass shootings in the late 1990s when 4 and then 5 people were murdered by gunmen who happened to be retired police officers. Since then I have searched for these incidents whenever mass shootings lists appear in the newspaper or on the internet and they never show up…so I guess they didn’t happen or perhaps in deference to the retired police officers previous years of exemplary service they just aren’t mentioned.

That seems to be how many Americans view these tragedies. Let’s just forget about it and move on. There’s no sense in trying to prevent these tragedies because they each involve America’s God given and most basic of rights…the right to bear arms. And since America is the greatest country there ever was and probably ever will be the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is more sacred and sacrosanct to a supposed “Christian” nation than the 6th Commandment of the 10 Commandments of God.

If there had been an amendment guaranteeing citizens the right to health care, the madman who committed the Washington Navy Yard murders, may have received the proper care when, during his ER visit 2 weeks before, he complained to police that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.

Who knows? But for whatever reasons many Americans believe that the right to carry, own and use firearms is a right that transcends all others and is more important than a persons right to decent food, proper housing, adequate healthcare or employment at a fair and liveable wage.

Perhaps our founding fathers knew that those things would just be too expensive for independent, free thinking capitalists and entrepreneurs to have the wherewithal to want to pay for or provide to others who may be less fortunate or less “equal” than the founders of the new great nation.

And now, in the short time it has taken for me to right this, another 13 people have been shot in an incident in Chicago. Is that now 18 mass shooting this year…or not? Meanwhile in Iowa people who are legally blind or…wait for it… completely blind… will now be allowed to carry, display, and use if necessary, guns in public places. After all, people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all of life’s experiences…so why shouldn’t they be allowed to participate…or create if they so choose…some death experiences?

So, While one legislative body is granting the right for people who cannot see to shoot at whatever they choose, another legislative body is doing its best to deny access to fair and affordable healthcare to those who might someday get shot!

Is this what it means to be human in the United States of America in the year of our lord, 2013? Are we  truly a nation built on the rights of mankind? And does man have but one right? Kill or be killed? And but one law? The law of the jungle?

In whatever grand design this nation was created over 230 years ago We are now most famously known as a nation of guns: exporters and importers of violence the world over, while we self righteously deny healthcare, living wages and food to our own citizens… and all the while we stand before the heavens and Earth and say that we are the greatest!

And I suppose we must be… for what man or god would be foolish enough to oppose us and say otherwise?

And I guess we all have the 2nd Amendment to thank for that.

J.R.Goldrich

Perspectives, Musings, and Messages from the All

Making it write

Taking reality into the realm of fiction

a cooking pot and twistedtales

Thoughts and Tales Etc..

opening the shutters

Musings of a Mad Woman...

Terminal Cruise

One woman's weird and wonderful world

The Arm Chair Pontificator

Satirical & Poetic Musings Of A Self-Proclaimed Nobel Prize Winner

jeffrey m hartman

Examining The Flaws In Special Education Law And Practice

alesiablogs

A Blog About Ordinary Life Told In Extraordinary Fashion!

KO Rural Mad As Hell Blog

Rural doctor, mom, writes poems, dance, sing.

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

The Happiness Trick

Let's Get Happy!

Loving a Frenchman

My Cultural Adventure

saneteachers

What they never taught me in teacher school.

The Last Half

Spitting into the online ocean.

Voices from the Margins

A welcoming space for resistance to the forces of oppression and hegemony.

Joanna Funk

a MeLODica, a PiANo & Me

Long Awkward Pause

A Humor Mag Of Sorts...

rona black photography

occasional visual essays

Life as a Garden

Exploring how we can live our lives with purpose and joy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,057 other followers

%d bloggers like this: