Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Soldiers

As of today, the War Department lists 2544 as the number of murdered troops in Iraq. Dozens of innocent Iraqis are being killed due to this war crime every day. More than 80 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad alone on July 9th: dozens of people just in one city on one day who would be alive if not for BushCo.

I don’t know what number Casey was. I have seen people say 614, I have seen people say 714. It doesn’t matter, because Casey and the other 2543 were not numbers. They were living, breathing, loving, worthwhile, and contributing members of society. They could pass drug tests (unlike their “commander-in-chief” at their ages) and they honorably volunteered to serve their country to defend America and our freedoms. What George Bush and the rest of the war profiteers have committed in Iraq is abuse and misuse and had nothing to do with defending America or protecting our freedoms. The lies are well documented. The lies are written on my heart forever.

Between WWI and WWII, Marine Major General Smedley Butler wrote a short dissertation called War Is a Racket. I wish to God I had read this before Casey enlisted because I believe that he would be alive today if only I had. The first two paragraphs succinctly define the entire booklet and the reason not to allow your child to fall into the hands of the military-industrial-war complex:

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In his treatise Butler goes on to define the “damned” war profiteers of his day: the DuPont family, the steel companies, the leather companies, the t-shirt manufacturers, etc. The profits for these companies increased at a minimum ten-fold in the WWI years and in retrospect even seem like healthy profits in 2006 dollars. He also complains about the 6000 buckboards for the colonels, thousands of saddles for the cavalry, and hundreds of airplane engines that were never used in the war. The waste of money and the waste of life in war are horrendous and inherently immoral – always!

The criminal tradition of the enormous profiteering that went on in WWI and all the other wars is going on today in the war crime of Iraq. The Halliburtons, Bechtels, Blackwater Secutities, KBR’s, are raking in the billions at a clip that would make Barbary Coast pirate's head spin. The no-bid profiteers are cronies and/or former companies of the vice president and most of the Bush regime. I don’t know how can the blood-monied devils can look at their own children or grandchildren and not be ashamed and appalled that their insatiable greed killed someone else’s flesh and blood.

Napoleon once said:

All men are enamored of decorations…they are positively enamored of them.

Casey was in the paramilitary Boy Scouts founded by Lord Baden Powell, who was a militarist. I am not knocking the Boy Scouts because Casey was an Eagle Scout, and he gained a lot of positive skills in the Scouts. But he was also taught how to be a good soldier: To pledge to do his duty to God and Country. Does that include marching reluctantly off to a war which one knows is wrong? Does that include putting “the mission” first, above even ones own family and life no matter how disordered and corrupt the mission is? Boy Scouts earn decorations for their paramilitary uniforms and I know I sewed dozens on Casey’s sash (I always complained that sewing should be their first mandatory badge so the Scout could do it himself). Then Casey “graduated” to soldier and started earning his “Man Scout” badges. I was handed his Bronze Star and Purple Heart at his funeral like I should be a proud mom being pinned with his Eagle Scout badge. The Man Scout Badges, Gen. Butler explains, were instituted so the military wouldn’t have to pay the soldiers more money. How many Man Scout badges can make up for the needless, senseless, and avoidable murder of your oldest child?

In war correspondent Christopher Hedges book: War is the Force That Gives Us Meaning, he writes:

The disillusionment comes later. Each generation again responds to war as innocents. Each generation discovers its own disillusionment – often at a terrible price.

The terrible price is that, once again, we forget that the war machine loves to greedily consume our children for the terrible profits that they so willingly and cheerfully reap. Hence the phrase: “Laughing all the way to the bank.” How does it feel that the vultures are laughing at how gullible we are to so navely cough up our young? Previous generations of mothers have watched presidents and other cheerleaders for war and mayhem drag us into war after war and we mothers are unwilling and unknowing accomplices in our children’s murders. War will finally have to stop when we mothers and fathers stop allowing our leaders to march our children off to wars to feed the ravenous war monster: This hideous war monster counts on families forgetting that the last war for revenue was fought against phantom enemies that can’t be confined within borders. Whether the wars are covert or overt, they are always being waged with our babies' blood.

Tragically, I don’t know anyone, war supporter or not, who raised their children to be war criminals. There are no people in our country who have hoped that one day that their son would grow up to rape Iraqi girls and kill innocent Iraqis in cold blood. The Mahmoudiya and Haditha incidents are horrible atrocities, but unfortunately, are not isolated incidents in the Iraq war crime. War breeds atrocities, and so does occupation and counterinsurgency. I wish to God that Mahmoudiya and Haditha were isolated incidents, but we know that they are not. When the neocons despicably spit out the blather that we need to “Stay the course,” I wonder what that means? Rape and murder?

To be honest with ourselves and our children, instead of the flags and Man Scout badges that our soldiers decorate their uniforms with, they should have their suits covered with corporate logos like NASCAR drivers. A Halliburton patch here and an Exxon patch there. I also believe, like Gen. Butler said: during times of war, CEO’s of war profiteers should only be allowed to earn as much as a common soldier.

Sounds fair to me and I believe war will end if the war profiteers, politicians and generals were required to send their own children to fight for their ill-gotten gains before they sent ours.

Our nation forgot the lessons of Vietnam where not one person over the rank of lieutenant was even tried for war crimes. It is incumbent upon this generation of war victims to make sure that this unspeakable episode does not repeat itself. The people responsible for sending our children to this war crime should not get off scot-free. BushCo should be the ones sent to federal prison for crimes against humanity and crimes against peace.

Holding our leaders accountable for unnecessary war and killing innocent people? It’s a new concept, but I think one that just might work. Let’s try it this time.

But more important: don’t let your babies grow up to be soldiers.

July 13, 2006

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04 She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. She is the author of Not One More Mother’s Child and Dear President Bush.

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