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Part 2 – The Human Costs of War

“You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing!” – W T Sherman

What are the costs of war? Major General Smedley Butler’s answer to this question is, “This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries.”

The amount of deaths is just the start. For every death in war, there are hundreds or thousands of others who are mentally or physically injured. The term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) had not yet been invented when Major General Butler was writing but, among other issues, it is clearly what he is referring to when he writes of “shattered minds.” He goes on to describe what this looks like, “These boys don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone. “ This has not changed from the time that Butler was writing. Indeed, the mental toll of war may even have gotten worse due to the phenomena of combat isolation.

While the body count (on the US side) of recent conflicts has not been comparatively high, the price paid by those involved in the wars remains incredibly high. In addition to those who have suffered physical injury or death in the recent wars, there are many more whose lives were severely damaged by the trauma of war. A study of Vietnam says “that at the time of the study approximately 830,000 male and female Vietnam theater veterans (26%) had symptoms and related functional impairment associated with PTSD. “ However, this number may actually be much greater than that as ““In a reanalysis of the NVVRS data, along with analysis of the data from the Matsunaga Vietnam Veterans Project, Schnurr, Lunney, Sengupta, and Waelde (2003) found that, contrary to the initial analysis of the NVVRS data, a large majority of Vietnam veterans struggled with chronic PTSD symptoms, with four out of five reporting recent symptoms when interviewed 20-25 years after Vietnam. “ For more info, see Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study

In 2011, a Pew survey found that 37% of post 9/11 veterans surveyed said that they suffered from PTS. The number goes up to 49% of those who saw combat. Pew – War and Sacrifice It is difficult to determine how many veterans suffer from PTSD, but whatever the actual number is, it is clear that warfare produces severe mental trauma. A direct result of this mental trauma can be seen in the increased suicide rate among veterans. A recent study by the VA found that “risk for suicide was 21% higher among Veterans when compared to U.S. civilian adults.” Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet This amounted to an average of 20 veteran suicides per day in the year 2014 for a total of 7,403 suicides. In comparison, a total of 4,491 United States service members were killed in action in the Iraq war between 2003-2017. (It should be noted that in contrast to this, the lowest estimate for Iraqi casualties from 2003-2006 is 151,000 deaths, it is likely that total Iraqi death toll will never be known for sure – in terms of casualties, these have been extremely one sided wars) While we have not seen a war on the same scale as the First World War, it is clear that the price of war has not changed since Major General Butler’s time. Whether it be death, injury, or mental trauma, soldiers pay a high price in war. In exchange for this, they receive very little compensation compared to the millions that the corporate warlords are making off these wars. With what it costs to buy a single Tomahawk cruise missile, the Army can pay the salary of 34 military police sergeants, including benefits, for an entire year. (Numbers based on Defense Budget 2017 and Army Benefits) As Butler puts it, “No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here.”

The human costs of war for the other countries, those that are being bombed or invaded, is much higher. In Part 1, I already mentioned the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Since writing that, it has only gotten worse. As of July 2017, 17 million people are insecure for food and 3.11 million have been displaced. There is essentially no access to healthcare and “ A child under the age of 5 dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes. “ More information on this crisis can be found at Yemen. The statistics are horrifying. According to another UN Report, “Since March 2015, OHCHR has recorded a total of 13,504 civilian casualties, including 4,971 killed and 8,533 injured. “ Yemen Casualties These are civilians, not combatants. Combatants at least make a conscious decision to risk their lives in war – these civilians did not choose this, they were simply collateral damage in a war that they have no part in. Many of these casualties were caused by armaments sold to Saudi Arabia by the United States. Others were caused directly by United States attacks.

In many ways the situation in Yemen mirrors that of Vietnam. Many atrocities were committed during the Viet Nam War. The most famous of these atrocities was the My Lai massacre in which over 300 unarmed civilians were slaughtered by US troops. There were many other such incidents which did not receive as much publicity. I recommend reading this BBC report on the atrocities in Vietnam – Was My Lai just one of many massacres in Vietnam War? Another, more vivid reminder of the atrocities committed during this war can be found in Nick Uti’s photographs of a napalm attack from 1972. Warning, graphical content: Nick UT In this instance, the United States did not carry out the napalm attack, but it goes to show how terrible war can be and in many other instances during the war, napalm was dropped by United States forces into civilian areas. The use of napalm against civilians was banned in 1980 by international law although the United States did not agree to this until 2009. In spite of this, the United States and allies continue to make use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon similar to napalm. It appears that white phosphorus was just recently used in attacks on Raqqa and Mosul in Syria. Raqqa and Mosul phosphorus is manufactured by Monsanto which is also linked to the manufacture of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in Vietnam with devastating effects which are still felt today by the people of Vietnam. The other company involved in the manufacture of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical, also produced napalm for use in Vietnam. Both of these companies have seen enormous profits from the use of these incredible inhumane weapons in war. This is nothing new – every war is inhumane.

“The history of all forms of warfare is, however, essentially inhumane.” John Keegan, Introduction to “The Book of War”, Viking, New York, New York: 1999.

What we are seeing in many modern day conflicts is simply a repeat of what happened in Vietnam. Millions of civilians are being killed, injured, and displaced. The fate of these people is not a concern to the military industrial complex. Thousands have died crossing the Mediterranean in their attempt to flee the war zones but the corporations have made billions so they turn a blind eye to this suffering. Refugee Statistics

The only way to end all this suffering brought about by war is to end war. As Eisenhower said, “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.” Our Documents

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The Moral Imperative to End War

Part 1 – The Profits of War

The world is currently facing two interrelated issues that could result in the end of humanity. These are war and climate change. (“Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism and if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world … struggling over limited amounts of water and land to grow their crops and you’re going to see all kinds of conflict.” Bernie Sanders Both of these issues are already causing great amounts of harm throughout the world. If we can end war, it will be a major step forward in defeating climate change and creating a better planet for all life.

While it is easy to say “stop war, stop global warming,“an actual solution to these problems is much more difficult in practice. In order to stop war, it is necessary to understand how illogical and unnecessary war is. In the long run, no one benefits from war. However, in the short term, the only people who stand to gain from war are the military industrial complex. This corporate behemoth reaps the profits of war with little regard to the long term costs of war to humanity as a whole.

“The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits — ah! that is another matter — twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent — the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it. “ Major General Smedley Butler

An example of the military industrial complex can be found in the Raytheon Corporation. As the 4th largest defense contractor in the United States, Raytheon bases their business around making profit from war. In 2014, the United States Department of Defense gave Raytheon a total of 12.6 billion dollars in defense contracts. National Priorities This same year they made a total EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization )of 3.66 billion. Roughly 90% of Raytheon’s business is in arms sales. Billions of dollars are being made by selling death and destruction.

Where does this money come from? It is coming from the taxpayers – the American people. Essentially money is being taken from American citizens, given to large corporations, and then used in military actions that have not been approved by the American people.

In addition to taking American tax money, Raytheon also has a significant presence overseas. They do not limit their business to just America. They will take money from anyone. They actually have a presence in over 80 countries. This is less than the amount of countries that the American military has a presence in, but it is still a significant amount.

One of the countries with which Raytheon does business is that of Saudi Arabia. As they declare ontheir website, “In May 2017, Raytheon announced a new chapter in this close relationship with the kingdom: plans to create Raytheon Arabia, a Saudi legal entity wholly owned by Raytheon that will create indigenous products and services in defense, aerospace and security with an emphasis in the following areas:
Air defense systems
Smart munitions
Command, control, communications, computer and intelligence (commonly known as C4I)
Cybersecurity for defense systems and platforms
Raytheon

They are proud to be contributing to the “defense” of Saudi Arabia. They are happy to provide Saudi Arabia with weapons in exchange for oil money. Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a messy interventionist war in Yemen. The United States has also played a part in this conflict. As a result of this war and a massive drought in the region, Yemen is currently facing a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. The United Nations describes the crisis in the following, “Currently, 17 million people are food insecure while a staggering seven million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and are at risk of famine. At least three million people have fled their homes, public services have broken down, less than half of the health centres are functional and medicine and equipment are limited. “ United Nations Raytheon selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United States continued military strikes will do nothing but exacerbate this crisis. In March, the International Committee of the Red Cross doubled their budget for Yemen to 90 million dollars. Meanwhile, the latest deal the Trump administration has made with Saudi Arabia reportedly has “more than $1 billion worth of munitions including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon Co (RTN.N)”. Reuters It must be noted that Raytheon does give around 200,000$ a year to the Annual Disaster Giving Program of the Red Cross – however this fund goes to help with disaster assistance in the United States and does nothing to counter the devastation caused by the use of their weapons. Raytheon
In contrast to this 200,000$ a year, Raytheon spent 4.8 million on lobbying in 2016. Open Secrets This lobbying was used for inluence in the United States government in order to perpetuate continued war and defense spending.

This is not a new phenomenon. On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower warned against the dangers of the military industrial complex during his farewell address. He said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Our Documents

Unfortunately, the country has not heeded Eisenhower’s warning and the profits of the military industrial complex have been given priority over the needs and desires of the people. The corporations are more interested in their profits than they are in the human cost of the wars which are driving these profits. Raytheon is only one example out of many in the vast military industrial complex. These corporations are the only ones profiting from war. In part 2, I will delve deeper into the human costs of war.

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The primary reason why the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) must be stopped is environmental. It is long past time that we move beyond fossil fuels into renewable energy. A pipeline transporting fracked oil is clearly not the way to do this.

Not only does burning fossil fuels contribute to global warming, but the transport of oil via pipeline is incredibly dangerous to the environment. Sunoco, the company behind the pipeline, does not have a good track record with oil spills. Over the last six years, their pipelines have had 203 spills. Reuters
This is just from the one company. In the last twenty years, according to a report by Citylab, pipeline accidents “have resulted in 548 deaths, 2,576 injuries, and over $8.5 billion in financial damages.” CityLab This is from a total of over 9,000 major spills. These statistics also do not really take into account the environmental damage done by these spills. The pro-pipeline argument is that in spite of the spills, transporting oil via pipeline results in fewer incidents than via road or rail. This is true – but leaving the oil in the ground is the safest alternative. It can’t spill if it isn’t being transported at all. And if it doesn’t spill, it won’t contaminate the water supply.

We now have feasible alternatives to fossil fuels. It is simply corporate greed from the oil companies that is driving the pipeline. Just recently, Tesla powered the entire island of American Samoa with solar power. ZME Science Europe has also made great advances in solar power with Germany leading the way. Triple Pundit America is far behind on their use of renewable resources even though the technology exists to create a more green future. The reason for this is simply because of the amount of lobbying power the big oil corporations have. This is corporate oligarchy at work. The election of Donald Trump will do nothing to help counter the control of the government by the wealthy elite. It is necessary for millions of individuals to stand up against the corporate interests and stop the pipeline. This is the first step toward a better future that doesn’t rely on dirty fossil fuels.

It must also be noted that the original route of the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck. According to the Bismarck tribune, “ one reason that route was rejected was its potential threat to Bismarck’s water supply, documents show. “ Bismarck Tribune The pipeline route was then moved to its current position where it remains a threat to the water supply of anyone down river including the Standing Rock Sioux. This decision to move the pipeline appears to be inheritantly racist. Essentially, by moving the proposed route of the pipeline, what they are saying is that the water quality of the Standing Rock Sioux is not of equal importance as the water quality of Bismarck, ND, with a population that is almost 95% white. Bismarck Demographics See also: ABC News

In response to this threat to their water supply (and that of millions of people living down stream of the crossing point), the Stand Rock Sioux established a camp near the proposed crossing in order to peacefully protest the pipeline. This camp, the Oceti Sakowin camp, has been steadily growing since it was first established.

The pipeline has responded by militarizing their construction zone through the use of police and private security. Since this militarization, a series of human rights abuses have been carried out against the protesters. On September 3, attack dogs were used against unarmed protesters. On October 27, a long range accoustic device (LRAD) was used against the protesters. This is a device that is capable of causing permanent hearing loss. Gizmodo This same confrontation resulted in 141 arrests, some of the arrested protesters were placed in improvised holding pens that were essentially dog kennels. On November 20, a water cannon was fired on the protesters in sub-freezing temperatures. Concussion grenades and rubber bullets were also used during the stand-off. Over 150 (some reports say upwards of 300) protesters were injured that night including Sophia Wilansky, whose arm was severely damaged in an explosion most likely from a concussion grenade. New York Times
See also – Unicorn Riot and Heavy

The official statements of law enforcement have directly contrasted eye witness reports and journalists on the scene. Live video shot from the scene also contrasts the statements of the law enforcement officials. The actions of the police in attacking peaceful, unarmed protesters constitute a clear human rights violation.

In spite of inclement weather and an Army Corps of Engineers evacuation order, the Oceti Sakowin camp remains strong. Thousands of veterans are currently arriving or traveling to the camp. While establishment politicians and the main stream media have remained quiet on the DAPL, it is good to know some people are standing up to corporate greed and protecting the environment.

The DAPL must be stopped.

Here are a few things that you can do to help:

Call the White House – 202-456-1414
Call the Army Corps of Engineers – (202) 761-5903
Sign the White House Petition – Petition

Move your money out of the big banks that are backing the pipeline and let them know why – Banks

Donate to the Standing Rock Sioux Fund – Donate

For more information see:The Prairie Blog

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People have asked, what is protesting Trump going to do? The election is over, nothing can be done to change that. Nevertheless, thousands of people are taking to the streets every day in protest. While this might seem pointless to some people, there is definitely a reason for it.

The protests bring awareness to the fact that a large number of people oppose Trump. The popular vote count shows this to be true but if people did not protest, it would largely be ignored. The protests have been covered nationally and internationally by the media. If everyone sat at home and did not express their opposition to Trump’s bigotry, sexism, anti-environmentalism, and fascism, then it would not be noticed. This would in essence condone his platform. Protesting is a way of saying, “No, we will not sit down and allow hate to win.” It is tempting to sit at home, watch Netflix, and pretend that this isn’t my problem. But this isn’t a localized problem – it is a global one. If you live on the earth, Trump’s policies are going to have an effect upon you.

Global warming is a fact. Trump denies this. His appointment for head of his EPA transition team is Myron Ebell. This is a man who wrote, “ Given our obvious preference for living in warmer climates as long as we have air-conditioning, I doubt that we’re going to go on the energy diet that the global warming doomsters urge us to undertake. “ ( See: Forbes ) This is a very narrow minded view of global warming. Scientists agree that global warming exists and presents a clear threat. Trump has tweeted that it is a conspiracy created by the Chinese. The Chinese have now clarified that they did not create this great conspiracy, so perhaps Trump will change his mind and see that science is real. However, this seems unlikely as his environmental policies seem to be aimed at creating as much money for the oil industry as possible.

I have also seen people saying that Trump isn’t actually a racist. His appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor would go against this. For those who say, “Give him a chance,” his choice of Steve Bannon shows what he will do if given a chance. Nothing good can come from having an anti-semitic white supremacist from the alt-right (translation of alt-right: neo-nazi racist) in a senior position in Trump’s cabinet. He has also picked Jeff Sessions for attorney general. This is a man who was denied a position as a federal judge because of racist comments. He called the American Civil Liberties Union un-American. This was about 30 years ago, so maybe he has changed his views and become less bigoted and more tolerant. Nevertheless, just having this in his history is a reason to be disturbed.

Another argument is the “stop whining” argument. This completely misses the point of the protests. People who are protesting Trump are not being sore losers. They are standing up for what they believe is right. I’m sure there were people who said the equivalent of “stop whining” to the suffragettes and those who marched with Martin Luther King. The 1st amendment of the constitution protects the right to protest. The protests are not an example of “millenial privilege.” The protest I attended in Denver was people of all ages and varied races/ethnicities, essentially the people who feel most threatened by Trump. The protests have primarily been carried out on weekends and after working hours, so the whole “If I protested for 5 days straight, I’d be fired” argument is also ineffective. I actually heard rumors that some of the businesses in Denver closed early to allow people to get to the protests. I can not substantiate whether that is a fact or not though.

The Civil Rights Movement Veterans describe the effects of a protest in the following, “When people see others saying “No!” through a protest, it (hopefully) awakens in them the realization that they too can say “No” in their own lives. This is one of the most important effects that a demonstration can (and should) have on observers. But in order for that effect to occur, the action has to be designed to encourage sympathy and support rather than fear and opposition. “ I recommend reading the entire page on the Onion Theory of Non Violent Protest.

There have also been some allegations of the protests being violent. Other than the case of an anarchist group using the protests to launch violence in Portland, there is little evidence of any of the anti-Trump protests being at all violent. Yes, the protesters have blocked streets including major freeways. I’m pretty sure this is illegal but it is not violent. The acts of violence that have been carried out since the election have primarily been perpetrated by Trump supporters against minorities. There have been over 700 incidents of racial violence following election day. See Hateful Harassment.

Trump has denounced these acts but considering that it was his rhetoric on the campaign trail that fueled this hate, this does little to his credit.

Protesting is not the only way to oppose Trump but it is a good start. As Bernie Sanders said recently, “ “No, you’re not going to give up. You’re going to fight back and mobilize.” This is only the beginning. This is a fight for the future of America (paraphrasing Bernie because he’s the best) and we are not going to give up. See Sanders

Keep protesting.

~Birrion

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