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Friday, April 07, 2006

Supporting the troops

Juan Cole:
The LA Times discusses a seldom-explored subject, the thousands of wounded Iraq veterans. Many of these Vets will need special help the rest of their lives, but the Bush administration has actually cut their medical benefits. And, tricks are used to put them off the books. Some of the wounded stay in the service in Iraq, but head wounds or post traumatic stress disorder often make them discipline problems, and they are given dishonorable discharges, which have the effect of denying them access to the VA hospitals!
Cole's LA Times link was incorrect, and I haven't been able to find the article he refers to. But I believe him. For many of the people with "Support Our Troops" stickers on their SUV's, tax cuts are actually much more important.

Nothing new here. Tennyson glorified "The Charge of the Light Brigade":
"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Twenty-one years later Kipling wrote about the abandoned veterans in "The Last of the Light Brigade":
There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.
O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made-"
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!
Imperial America, like Imperial Britain, never admits its "blunders;" it hides them. The real problem lies with people like Tennyson, who believe that there is honor and glory involved in senseless killing and dying.