'support our troops ....'

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Mar 27 13:01:17 MST 2003


Mike

We should keep in mind an important difference between
this war, and the Viet Nam war. The current US army is
a 'professional army' - soldiers are 'volunteers', not draftees. The
army in Viet Nam as a conscript army, who were largely there against
their will.

Response (Jim C): Yes and no to the above. Unlike Gulf I or any other
previous war except WWII, the percentage of reserves mobilized for active
duty is unprecedented. Many of those in the reserves, while their "jobs" are
being held while they are gone, are taking up to 70% pay cuts (employers
don't usually keep them on the payrolls and old salary levels) combined with
all the bills that go with former lifestyles. Many of those going into the
reserves, do so primarily for economic reasons (building pensions, financial
aid for school, supplementary incomes) with a few that just want to
relatively safely play soldier, glory types etc.

I have many reservists in my classes and actually few are ideologically
tuned-up for the prospect of going on active duty with all that implies; and
few are quick to fall in line with Bush et al on the real reasons,
intentions, interests behind, etc this present invasion. As was noted on
"The Daily Show", one good thing about wars is we get to learn a little
world geography when we bomb a given country and then Americans get to learn
where it is, perhaps a few countries surrounding it and how the name of the
country is spelled.

On Vietnam, it should be noted, over 80% of all who were there, had
volunteered to go. What happens is the old cognitive dissonance thing again.
Young folks, like me, with few prospects, or so they think, go into the
military primarily for economic and social reasons (running away from
something or someone rather than running to). But the military knows that
these reasons, primarily self-centered, make the person potentially
unreliable especially in combat situations. So the ideological
indoctrination begins in bootcamp on day one. First there is the breaking
down of the personnas, spirit, values, ties, allegiances, beliefs associated
with civilian life. You and 10,000 more like you are expendable, you are but
a pin on some map, and that pin can be moved, from one spot to another,
(while some asshole general is getting a Lewinsky in an air-conditioned
hooch in a safe area) with the predictable result that of the 10,000
expendiable units, 2-3,000 or so are unlikely to come back alive and/or in
one piece--but it is all for higher and strategic causes which you dumb
expendable units are unable to understand and should never question. This is
all followed up with the usual degrading shit (like a few guys scrubbing
huge areas of barracks floors with toothbrushes), walking tours (walking and
holding your "weapon" at "port-arms", for the "crime" of having called your
"weapon" a gun, you walk a six-hour tour saying "This is my weapon, this is
my gun [pointing to your crotch], this is for fighting, this is for fun.")
During the initial phases they are weeding out the malcontents, those too
overtly psychopathic or sociopathic, those who might "infect" the others
with subversive thoughts and questions.

In the later phases of bootcamp, plus when going on to AIT, then comes the
building-up in the image and values of the military machine. A few ribbons,
get to go on your first pass in dress uniform, some are assigned as "squad
leaders", ideological indoctrination (I can't count how many films I saw on
the commie menace with maps showing the spreading red hordes all over the
globe), your D.I get's a bit friendlier, and you are told you are special,
you are risking your life for democracy, for freedom, for the American Way,
for Godliness (attendance at Chapel is manadatory unless you really want to
make a point of it and get your ass kicked in the barracks and/or be
assigned to the worst shit work). And when they finally finish with you, you
come out of boot camp, determined to go back home on leave to show that girl
who dumped you for the high school quarterback you really are a somebody,
and, plus, now you have been "given" a whole new socially
acceptable/self-esteem-enhancing "rationale" for why you went in in the
first place: to sacrifice yourself for democracy; to fight against the
enemies of decency and the American Way; to protect your country and loved
ones from external threats (domestic threats are usually not even discussed
unless with reference to domestic left-wingers; domestic fascists are never
discussed); etc etc;. No, you didn't go in to get a job and some benefits,
willing to serve a predatory, anti-democratic and destructive system for
your own interests despite what you and that system you are unciritcally
serving are doing to others, no, you are a patriot, you are a hero, your
sacrifices count, you are selfless...a real American soldier...

Jim C

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