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Passions in Poetry

Economic Cannon Fodder

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Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
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Southern Abstentia

0 posted 09-11-2004 09:01 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Since this seems to be what people want to discuss these days let's take a different perspective;


I am proud of the way American soldiers answered the call in a war so poorly conceived, conducted, and explained by their country's leaders.  Dozens of my friends died in that war.  ...All this heroism and sacrifice are precisely the point: you do not squander courage and lives without clear purpose, without the country's backing, and without full commitment.

I particularly condemn the way our country's leaders supplied the manpower for that war.  The policies  -- determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live -- were an undemocratic disgrace.  I can never forgive a leadership that said, in effect: These young men, poorer, less educated, less privileged -- are expendable (someone described them as 'economic cannon fodder'), but the rest are too good to risk.  I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and so many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wrangle slots in the Reserve and National Guard Units.  Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance  to their country.  

In time, just as I came to reexamine my feelings about the war, the Army, as an institution, would do the same thing.  We accepted that we had been sent to pursue a policy that had become bankrupt.  Our political leaders had lead us into a war for the one-size-fits-all rationale of anticommunism, which was only a partial fit in Vietnam, where the war had its own historical roots in nationalism, anticolonialism, and civil strife beyond the East-West conflict.  Our senior officers knew the war was going badly. Yet they bowed to groupthink pressure and kept up pretenses, the phony measure of body counts, the comforting illusion of secure hamlets, the inflated progress reports. As a corporate entity the military failed to talk straight to its political superiors or to itself.

Colin Powell
My American Journey
Ballantine Books 1996
pp 144

Member Elite
since 06-17-2001
Posts 2607

1 posted 09-28-2004 11:25 AM       View Profile for RSWells   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for RSWells

As easy as it would be to bash Bush, his privileged Guard enrollment ahead of 500 others less connected and thus endangered, his inability to perform even those limited duties assigned him, the pressure applied to endorse his service as complete and the concerted efforts to erase the record once he made the transition from wastrel to politician, I’ll instead focus on one of the three issues most Americans prefer to avoid,… race…. (The other two unmentionables are America’s violent history and Zionists contribution to the current world mess)

Blacks/African Americans (referred to henceforth as Blacks) comprise 12.3% of the American population (34,698,190;  2000 census)

Blacks, at first appearance, seem to make up 24.88% (8,601,000) of the 34,570,000 who live BELOW the poverty level (just released figures from 2003)

Blacks, according to a census release (Chart no. 526, 2002) make-up 16.1% of the armed forces (193,200 of 1,199,300)

These statistics should disturb anyone serious about this subject. But a closer examination reveals far more sinister facts and manipulation of the numbers. For example, is it a coincidence that the Census Bureau ceased to break out the racial numbers for each individual service branch at the same time Powell’s above statement was written? The last time these figures were available was in 1995. And these are what they reveal (chart no 500);

White…….. Black ……     %Black
322,000   137,000        30%

White…….  Black……      %Black
326,000    25,000         7%

Air Force.    
White……  Black……       %Black
318,000   58,000        15.4%

White……  Black……      %Black
130,000   28,000        17.7%

No one dare diminish the contribution of each branch to our national defense, particularly in these shallow times when the least mis-goose-step is amplified as “unpatriotic,” but give some thought to the last chart. Who is first and foremost physically put in harms way in any conflict? The term “cannon fodder” is as old as cannons and used to describe  those who the powers that war have always considered expendable.

Poverty forces too many Blacks into the service. Millions more are picked off the street by asinine and uneven treatment of minor drug offenses or left to dangle in the shadow of ignorance due to the shameful mistribution of dwindling education funds.

Disingenuously parsed from these figures are new categories such as the 15,359,073 now deemed of  “Some other race” and  6,826,288 logged as “Two or more races” (2000 census and 2003 poverty report). We know that those of mixed race are treated no better (and sometimes worse) than recognized Blacks.

Ours is a shameful history of enslavement while forming our perfect documents of democracy. Many southern slave owners continued to control Blacks after the civil war, some contriving a new form of slavery called share cropping. A good many hid their slaves in Texas until after the war. Texans were knee deep in the awful fraud of continuing slavery well after the end of the war. To this day Black Texans celebrate “Juneteenth” which is a holiday marking the time, 6 months AFTER the Civil War when Texans could no longer keep the truth of emancipation from them.

We continue our commutes from suburban enclaves on overpasses designed to lift us over and rush us past the eyesores of the urban blight. We embrace the denial of our shame and are blind to the 2 million incarcerated, the causes and solutions. We enlist through economic attrition, arm and train a minority we don’t trust or respect to fight other, “different” peoples (Vietnamese, Arabs) I’ve no doubt that if many had their way we’d field a neutered, Nubian army. Those now screaming for war make certain the lamentations of the families of the fallen remain a distant whisper and that the blood that always drenched in waves our soil is pooled in a place we will not step. Our inability to discuss this will be our undoing. There’s a reason the Nation of Islam took hold in Black communities as early as the 50.s, its main recruiting grounds the prison system with its message of the “white devil.”

12.3%   American population
16.1%   Armed Forces
24.88%  Living Below Poverty
30%       Of the Army

Shame, shame, shame

Main Page;        

"Born in Slavery" at the Library of Congress;
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2 posted 09-28-2004 02:50 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I think Powell should repeat this message, as it is still the modus operendi, even as he sits alongside a President that spits out euphemisms and lies faster than I can spit out sunflower seed shells.
Member Rara Avis
since 11-18-2002
Posts 7451
the ass-end of space

3 posted 09-28-2004 03:35 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

The other two unmentionables are America’s violent history and Zionists contribution to the current world mess

thank you for this RS.
Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia

4 posted 09-28-2004 10:18 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ah Richard.  Glad to see you again.  It's also good that someone picked up on the theme of this thread -- that is to say -- too much focus on preferential treatment and not enough on why it is bad.

This is the Alley and incendiary language is par for the course but -- I wonder if there isn't more traction to be gained without it?  

This was a topic that was presented in Farenheit 9/11 as well and one of the problems I have with propagandists like Moore, Rather, and Bush is that they make it difficult to have a substantive conversation about what's really wrong with the subject(s).

What's really wrong with the way we decide who is going to go to war and die?  What were the real problems with Saddam Hussein and how to handle it?  What is the real issue about ducking the draft and going to the Guard in the Vietnam era?

I think we can and should have that discussion here.

Is the answer two years of mandtory national service, be it military or civil at the discretion of the President, as Charles Rangel is proposing?

Powell will be quick to point out that he thinks the all volunteer military is working and democratic -- and -- we have to be cognizant that there are a lot of White people laying down thier lives in the field.

That's why I titled this thread Economic Cannon Fodder instead of looking at the race issue.  I think economic status has surpassed race in this country as a means to determine what someone's life is worth.

If you're rich, however, regardless of race you can get away with murder, or rape.
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