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At the End Of Cowboy Diplomacy: How Can We Support Our Cannon Fodder and Shell Shocked Soldiers?

I see Support Our Troops and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers everywhere. What if I put a Support Our Cannon Fodder or Support Our Shell-Shocked Soldiers sticker on my car? Would a driver of one of those big Bush/Cheney SUVs or pickup trucks run me off the road in a fit of patriotic fervor?

Cannon fodder and shell-shocked originated in World War I, the Great War-to-End-All-Wars. U.S. troops were cheered as they proudly marched off "Over There" to save Europe from the horrid Huns. George M. Cohan's musical romanticization of their cause did not prevent our troops from becoming expendable cannon fodder--used by the war planners and profiteers to fight in deadly trench warfare at a high risk of death or maiming. Others became shell shocked; common vernacular for soldiers suffering psychiatric casualties such as combat stress, battle fatigue, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Is it disrespectful to our military in Iraq to point out how they are being used by deceitful war planners and profiteers? Even our media elite are finally seeing through the patronizing patriotism and bogus boasting of George W. Bush.

Time magazine's July 17th cover story "The End Of Cowboy Diplomacy" features a giant cowboy hat with the presidential seal and little cowboy boots sticking out the bottom. The six page spread is a better-late-than-never indictment of Bush's go-it-alone war initiative by an iconic institution of mainstream U.S. media. Time says that Bush used 9/11 to take pre-emptive action against a Bush-speak axis of evil that led to a costly war in Iraq while failing to deter regimes like Iran and North Korea and calls Bush's foreign policy "A Doctrine In Doubt".

Back in February 2002 I expressed concerns about Bush's Cowboy policies in Sheriff Bush Wages War Against Evil To Cover Corporate Corruption of Government. Commenting on Bush's State of the Union Address, I wrote, "Bush played sheriff to a world bedeviled by evildoers and outlaw nations... Sheriff Bush declared an endless man-hunt and state of war against terrorism and described Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an axis of evil".

Bush's war of choice has had another politically convenient economic aspect. With the economy lagging and good jobs for poor and working class Americans diminishing, the military beckons as an alternative for many caught in the economic squeeze. Bush's ill-fated illusion of quick victory and welcoming Iraqi multitudes was an easy sell to economically challenged youth by military recruiters. Poor and troubled youth have always been the most readily available cannon fodder.

Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003. He proudly announced that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended" and "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed..... Iraq is free." As the inevitable insurgency against the ignominious invasion intensified, Bush has made many speeches to captive audiences of U.S. military personnel with rousing invective against the axis-of-evil and the terrorist insurgency they are fighting in Iraq. We are having more reports of death or disability lurking everywhere for our troops in Iraq and alleged atrocities against Iraqi civilians.

On November 15, 2005 at least 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. Marines in the alleged Haditha massacre, reminiscent of My Lai and Vietnam.

On July 9, 2006, four U.S. soldiers in Iraq were charged with participation in the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and three members of her family. Another soldier was charged with failing to report the incident. All five are charged with conspiring with former Pfc. Steven D. Green to commit the crimes in March. Green has been charged in a U.S. federal court with rape and murder for having shot and killed an Iraqi man, woman and child before raping a young female from the same family and killing her and setting their house on fire after planning it with his fellow soldiers. Green was honorably discharged from the Army before the atrocity was revealed after being diagnosed with an unspecified personality disorder.

A two segment report by Armen Keteyian on CBS Evening News this week, questioned how Green got into the army with his psychiatric problems and looked at the increasing problem of PTSD among Iraq veterans.

Green was a high school dropout from a broken home who joined the Army to give his life direction, but was discharged after 11 months of service for an unspecified personality disorder. Only after Green had allegedly raped an Iraqi woman and massacred her and her family was the clinical term anti-social added to the diagnosis. Dr. Michael Stone, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University told CBS that with such a condition, "Chances are you're going to be insubordinate with authority, you're going to be able to casually do wrongful things to enemy non-combatants."

Keteyian questioned how a person with Green's severe problems was recruited and reported that military recruiters around the country are under constant pressure to fill annual quotas and maintain troop levels. There have been reports of widespread, fraudulent enlistments and ethical misconduct due to the recruitment goal of 80,000 new troops in 2006 and a large number of recruits receive waivers for such things as medical problems and misdemeanor drug and alcohol convictions. These waivers have increased by 70 percent since 2001. The Pentagon says only about 1 percent of all those dismissed from of the Army had personality disorders, but Fort Carson in Colorado, says about 18 percent of the soldiers involuntarily discharged involve personality disorders.

More than one-third of Iraq war veterans have sought help for mental health problems and PTSD within a year of returning home. Nearly a dozen soldiers at Fort Carson told CBS that their cries for mental health therapy either went unanswered or they were subject to unrelenting abuse and ridicule.

At the end of cowboy diplomacy: how can we support our cannon fodder and shell shocked soldiers?

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Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is

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