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America’s War Disease

Posted on May 7, 2010
U.S. soldier in Afghanistan
Flickr / U.S. Army

Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Wire stands atop Ghar Mountain at Kabul Military Training Center in Afghanistan in February 2008.

By Bill Boyarsky

The Afghanistan war, along with Iraq, has become a chronic illness that America has learned to ignore.

News of the sick economy, natural and human-made disasters and momentary sensations like the Tiger Woods sex scandal flashes across cable news screens and the Internet, leaving hardly any space for the war. Financially strapped news organizations employ few of the talented war correspondents who could bring the conflicts to the public’s attention, as an earlier generation of journalists did with Vietnam. At home, the anti-war movement is barely covered. In late March, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq made the top 10 stories on cable, network television or online news, and they finished in seventh place among newspapers.

As a result, peace candidates such as Southern California’s Marcy Winograd find it difficult to break through the news media clutter to reach the public. And the nation is denied a debate on an Afghanistan war that has lasted eight years.

Winograd is a Democratic anti-war insurgent challenging Rep. Jane Harman, who supports President Obama’s war policy and voted for the resolution authorizing the Iraq war. They are competing in a district that has long reflected middle-class views. It reaches from Los Angeles suburbs through beach cities and inland cities. Harman represented the district from 1993 to 1998, when she ran for governor and lost, and was elected to the seat again in 2000. Her personal wealth and campaign contributions make it a tough race for a challenger like Winograd.

Winograd ran against Harman in 2006 and lost by a big margin. She says she lost badly because she entered the race too late. This time, she started early. There’s much that separates them in politics, policies and personality. Most important, if Winograd were to upset Harmon or even come close, it would be a sure sign of Democratic discontent with the president’s stand on Afghanistan.


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Winograd told me she would have voted for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s resolution forcing Obama to withdraw troops within 30 days of passage of the Kucinich measure.

“We should start bringing our troops home and ending the air war,” she said. She added that she would have conditioned her vote on a provision that the nation also “invest resources in … bringing peace and prosperity” to Afghanistan. “We have a commitment to invest in the country and not to simply say we are done, period,” she said.

Harman, chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, voted against the resolution, although she had previously opposed Obama’s decision to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. “Like Mr. Kucinich, I want the United States out of Afghanistan at the earliest reasonable date,” she said during the debate on his resolution. “But accelerating the Obama administration’s carefully calibrated timetable could take grievous risks with our national security.”

The Kucinich resolution provided a rare debate on the war. It was defeated 356 to 65 on March 11, as expected. But, as Julian E. Barnes observed in his story in The Los Angeles Times, “antiwar lawmakers welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued buildup in Afghanistan, and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating Al Qaeda, had been lost.”

We Americans are ready for such a debate. And there is plenty of discontent around the country. A Quinnipiac University poll in April showed only 49 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the war, while 39 percent disapproved. A CNN/Opinion Research survey found that 48 percent favored the war and 49 percent opposed it.

“Our country is deeply polarized,” Winograd said in an interview with the Tehran Times. “I wish our president had immediately used his victory, his political capital, to fight for transformative change, a transition from a permanent war economy to a new green economy,” she told the Iranian newspaper. “In the end, one man can’t make change all by himself; there needs to be a movement on the streets.”

Winograd also disagrees with the administration and the Jewish establishment on Israel. She told the Tehran Times, “I am a non-Zionist Jew who believes in equality and dignity for all in the Middle East. I hope my candidacy and convictions will give courage and strength to others who dare to question.”

In my interview with her, she said, “I’m not a Zionist. I am a realist, though. I support two states, [or] one state, whatever incarnation will put an end to the misery and suffering on both sides.”

We need a public debate on these issues, and Winograd is forcing one, at least in her corner of California. Scattered peace candidates are doing the same in other parts of the country.

Search them out. Give them a hand—or a few dollars. Bug the news media for attention. Guilt-trip the media bosses. Nag the reporters. It has worked for the tea party. Why not try it for a good cause? Otherwise, the United States will continue to be mired in this fruitless war.

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Tennessee-Socialist's avatar

By Tennessee-Socialist, May 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

I bet that most americans don’t realize that the US founders ordered the extermination of american native indians.  In fact some people say that there wasnt any real independence from UK and Europe.  Some historians say that the USA is just continuity of the British Empire.  Here is a little of the dark ugly truths of US foundation:

US ORIGINS In Genocide/Extermination:

But this policy of eliminating people, whether in the form of genocide of whole peoples, or of key individuals who possessed followers, when they are perceived in the way of White Man’s “progress” – prosperity for the few through expansion at any cost – has been the guiding cultural ethos of USAmerica since our origins.

Starting in 1600s:

The British arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1607. A policy of intentional extermination of the native population began almost immediately. “Hundreds of Indians were killed in skirmish after skirmish. Other hundreds were killed in successful plots of mass poisoning. They were hunted down by dogs, ‘blood-Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seize them.’ Their canoes and fishing weirs were smashed, their villages and agricultural fields burned to the ground. Indian peace offers were accepted by the English only until their prisoners were returned; then, having lulled the natives into false security, the colonists returned to the attack. It was the colonists’ expressed desire that the Indians be exterminated, rooted ‘out from being longer a people upon the face of the Earth.’ In a single raid the settlers destroyed corn sufficient to feed four thousand people for a year. Starvation and the massacre of non-combatants was becoming the preferred British approach to dealing with the natives.” [Stannard, D. E. (1992). “American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.” NY: Oxford University Press, p. 106].

Long before Thomas Jefferson’s desire to “exterminate” the Indians,  and George Washington had said that Indians were “wolves and beasts” who deserved nothing from the whites but total ruin, the MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY in 1630 made it illegal to “shoot off a gun in any unnecessary occasion, or at any game EXCEPT an Indian or a wolf.” [Stannard, D. E. (1992). “American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.” NY: Oxford University Press, pp. 240-41].

“Founding Fathers”

In 1812, Thomas Jefferson, now a senior sage out of office, concluded that White Americans were “obliged” to drive the “backward” Indians” with the beasts of the forests into the Stony Mountains”; in 1813 Jefferson stated that the American government had no other choice before it than “to pursue [the Indians] to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach.” In other words, the Native Americans are to be given the choice “to be extirpated from the earth” or to remove themselves out of the White Americans way. Thus, to the majority of White Americans the choice for Indians was one of expulsion or extermination.  [Stannard, D. E. (1992). “American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.” NY: Oxford University Press, p. 120].

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By SteveL, May 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

If new administration in UK decides to leave Afghanistan, what kind of excuse will
we come up with then?  Oh yeah the same old stuff.

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dissentispatriotic's avatar

By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, May 8 at 10:49 pm

But I cannot concede the fact that majority of our military are working
class heroes who joined for the education reimbursement and not homicidal by nature.

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dissentispatriotic's avatar

By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, May 8 at 10:49 pm

Word up. You make a really good point there. Love the poem. Although,
I might argue that “look at all those dead bastards over there” might
not have such aggression issues or an opportunity to “engage enemy
combatants” without the “training” he received from Big Brother as
well as bad foreign policy dictated by fat bureaucrats.

I have to concede to you the fact that most war is not fought in the
name of altruism. And too often it has been fought in the name of
broodish national pride. But I cannot concede the fact that majority
of our military are working class heroes who don’t really want to

Thank you for making a very valid and coherent point.

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
~Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, May 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

He’s five foot-two, and he’s six feet-four,
He fights with missiles and with spears.
He’s all of thirty-one, and he’s only seventeen,
Been a soldier for a thousand years.

He’a a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain,
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew.
And he knows he shouldn’t kill,
And he knows he always will,
Kill you for me my friend and me for you.

And he’s fighting for Canada,
He’s fighting for France,
He’s fighting for the USA,
And he’s fighting for the Russians,
And he’s fighting for Japan,
And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way.

And he’s fighting for Democracy,
He’s fighting for the Reds,
He says it’s for the peace of all.
He’s the one who must decide,
Who’s to live and who’s to die,
And he never sees the writing on the wall.

But without him,
How would Hitler have condemned them at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone,
He’s the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war,
And without him all this killing can’t go on.

He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away no more,
They come from here and there and you and me,
And brothers can’t you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.

Buffee Saint Marie “Universal Soldier”
(You may remember Buffee from “Sesame Street”)

Poetic isn’t it? Perhaps a less poetic expression would be, “Look at that pile of dead bastards over there”

Reality bites, and it causes PTSD.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

Spreading Democracy is no different then spreading the
gospel, both seem self righteous and presumptuous!

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dissentispatriotic's avatar

By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

RE: amunaor, May 8 at 6:53 pm

Much respect for that last post. I think that an unfortunate side effect
of the information age is that we can’t possibly comprehend it all, so our
collective memory get very short indeed. Even the idea of historical
context gets lost in the deluge. We stop asking questions like; Why did we
give our buddy Saddam Hussein tens of billions of dollars from 1984-1989,
tactical training for his military , and dangerous germ seed. After all he
was indeed a despotic dictator, even back then. Without that historical
context we can’t differentiate between “Iraq invades Kuwait” and “Iraq and
Kuwait have an oil dispute”. We just go on believing that the first Bush
administration invaded Iraq in the name of freedom and Democracy. If that
were the case, than why were we all such good buddies before the conflict?

Probably the most famous example of this was the US support for the coup
d’etat in Chile in 1973. Salvador Isabelino Allende Gossens, (June 26,
1908 – September 11, 1973) was a physician and the first democratically
elected Marxist to become president of a country in the Americas. It is
well documented that the US (CIA) backed the coupe d’etat by General
Pinochet, a Despotic Dictator, who was sympathetic to US trade policy but
more importantly was not a socialist. In the ensuing chaos 1,500 people
vanished, 200,000 went into exile, 80,000 were interned, and General
Pinochet’s men murdered 3,200 and tortured 30,000. Then Secretary of State
(previously head of the National Security Council) Henry Kissinger was
quoted as saying “We can’t let a whole country go Marxist just because
it’s people are irresponsible” in response to the massacre.

These instances exemplify the fact that usually, not always, the goal of
US military (and sometimes covert CIA) interventions abroad are not
orchestrated to spread Democracy but to protect our interests. Let me say
in the same breath that this does not make our military men and women
guilty of anything other than being heroes. The US military is involved in
merciful aid work all over the world. In addition when a peaceful nation,
including our own, is legitimately invaded or mass genocide is being
committed, I WANT our military there. In fact, I love them for being
willing to go. 

Thank you for that.

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By Steel Toe, May 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

Soldiers die, so that Generals can gain reputation among other general.  Who is more despised than a General who has never lost a soldier in combat.  He is a greenie.  He is not considered battle hardened. 

Generals who have had many soldiers die under them walk around with spring in their step.  For lesser officers, watching your buddy’s back means something.  For Generals, however, getting your buddy killed means something.

The sacrifice of battle is an alluring myth.  But, it is a myth because the soldiers should not have been in battle in the first place.

Today, the best that you can say is:  “yes, he died for the unit, but the unit was sent on a fools errand.”  Of course, I would say, he died so that General X could afford his beach house in Hyannisport.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

Steel Toe;

“We live pathetic lives.  We have a pathetic
culture.  It makes us angry and, so, we want to make
others suffer.”

Absolutisms used in sweeping generalities seems
problem enough, as they seem clear as mud. 

As to the we in the comment, I would disagree, for I
do not feel culpable in any of the we! As for the
pathetic culture you and I may agree on many of the
same points, but from the general sweep of the
comment one could not know?

My life may be pathetic in other peoples eyes, but
the only people I may want to suffer would possibly
be the indifferent opportunists and unaccountable
power mongers, again you and I may agree on who
those would be, but how would I know?

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dissentispatriotic's avatar

By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Steel Toe:

I definitely agree that violence is ingrained into the American
culture.(check out the film"why we fight” if you haven’t). But let’s
not forget that the average American isn’t living to make people
suffer. The soldier isn’t either. When the soldier follows an order,
it’s a unequivocal patriotic act. I don’t know that there is anything
that I respect more than the willingness to lay down your life for
your countrymen (and women). The problem with the war in Iraq war was
that the policy makers (who should be held accountable) were dead
wrong and the toll has been paid in human life. Including our own
patriotic military personnel. That just adds to the outrage. But,
they weren’t just wrong, the evidence suggests that they knew they
were wrong and invaded anyway. That’s what makes it an atrocity.

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amunaor's avatar

By amunaor, May 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

>>RE: dissentispatriotic, May 8 at 5:46 pm>>

Don’t forget, Desert Storm – Bush I – Iraqi Invasion Part-1…

In which case, Hussein was complaining about Kuwait, pinching Iraqi oil at the border; was tricked by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, under Bush I, into believing U.S. would not feel bothered if Iraq were to defend its oil rights. Hussein was tricked; resulting in two decades of brutal, U.S. predatory carnage against Iraqi people, blossoming out into the surrounding areas; witnessed since 2001.

All Saddam had to do was make a deal with the US on the oil and Bush would have been visiting Saddam and planting kisses on his cheeks as he did with the dictator of Saudi Arabia.

The irritant was that Saddam had begun to trade oil for Euros, which is actually what got him invaded and lynched, with millions of Iraqis dead as ‘collateral damage’. This very same fate has now placed Ahmadinejad in the cross-hairs of this neo-con legion, because, as of December 2007, Ahmandinejad too had begun trading Oil in Euros, to the silent cheers of the Saudis.

In similar light, if Ahmadinejad had fallen under the magic spell of the American Dream, he too would have been inundated with Haliburton contracts, ready to build for him any number of nuclear power stations his heart desired; showering the Iranian population with credit cards; intent on creating debt slaves tied to the multinationals. Don’t forget, the next energy cartel is Uranium!

They simply see the transparency of the scheme and do not wish to be corralled by the American fright-mare. The magicians of sound and vision, the corporate lens, have been beating the same drum, projecting the same psychological tricks of demonizing Iran that managed to justify reigning down Shock-n-Awe upon the innocent Iraqi population.

Please read the following—-

The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse:

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

“Just look at the pile of dead bastards over there” Growing by the minuete!
WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder

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By Steel Toe, May 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

War has been a boom for military brass.  Just imagine all those promotions!

These wars have revealed the sadistic thirst Americans have; the burning desire to cause others pain.

We live pathetic lives.  We have a pathetic culture.  It makes us angry and, so, we want to make others suffer.

We should, instead, have the guts to fix a noose and hang ourselves.  But, no, we go on, day after day, finding more people to hurt and cause to suffer.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

At least 500,000 dead and no end in sight. We are all implicit because largely
we did nothing. The largest US protest that I know of was less than a million
people who were corralled into several groups to minimize the impact. While in
Rome 3 million outraged people took to the streets. I guess the other 62% of
Americans(189 million people) who claimed to be against the war had some
important errands to run that day. Or maybe they just thought they would wait
till the next election (3 years later) to show their mild displeasure and in
that event how could W. have been reelected. I’m no math whiz, but I know that
62% is a majority. I am so ashamed of us. If we had a whisper of a daydream of a
soul there would have been, and still would be, mass civil unrest, 50 million
people camped out on the White House lawn and George W. and the coalition of the
willing charged with torture and war crimes.

CIA documents now show that Saddam’s government (who we propped up with billions
of dollars and tactical training to fight Iran in the 80s) was aware of the
impending invasion and was trying to negotiate a plea. His last offer included
going into exile so that the US could facilitate a new government without
conflict. Although he was a despotic and violent dictator, this would have saved
500,000 lives and the UN could then hunt him down and charge him.  // “Iraq also
attempted to reach the US through the Syrian, French, German, and Russian
intelligence services. Nothing came of the attempts”. (by the way conservatives
this is why people hated G.W. with such a passion, not just because he held
conservative views).

If this video doesn’t make you physically ill, then you have a cold dead heart.
“Just look at that pile of dead bastards over there”
WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder

another thank you to amunaor for sharing this link

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By balkas, May 8, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Hey folks,this is just baby’s first steps; baby’s longer stride and larger strife yet to come.
And 98% of americans saying: Common baby, what’s with iraq and afgh’n? Can’t u finish the job! tnx

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By Night-Gaunt, May 8, 2010 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

After 9 years a war economy costs more than it produces, we are long past that. Ever since 1950 we have been on a permanent war footing. Ever since 1980 our middle class ($40,000-$60,000) have been whittled down and sold off either to illegals [from the bottom up] or through the H1-B system [from the top down] to destroy it. Turn it over to the corporations with minimal resistance from gov’t. Wage stagnation locked into the 1970’s [adjusted for inflation] In short a direct and conscious undermining of us since the New Deal. The eventual outcome? To make it a corporate friendly nation again like it was from the 1840’s-1930’s. When the Guilded Age was at its peak and there was no middle class.

The War Economy is one of the the chief ways this has come about. Billions flow to them either from the banks or the war companies like Raytheon and Xe and by other means for the CONG (Coal-Oil-Nuclear-Gas) too.

Only the very rich and those who protect them will live well in the society we are devolving into. The very rich at the top, a broad blue band of military-police protection and surveillance and the teeming poor who are lucky if they become wage slaves of a corporation—-their property. Because if you become a “blank” and non-citizen you will be considered an automatic criminal and subject to harsh labor or even summary execution, for the Bill of Rights would have been long buried by them.

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By felicity, May 8, 2010 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

As I see it:  Surgical strikes have numbed us to the agony of war.  War has become for America just one more business among many. (The Iraq War was launched in March because one never ‘launches’ a new product in August, which would have been the logical time according to the military, to start the Iraq War.)

And news coverage?  It cost CBS News $7 million/year to run its Baghdad bureau.  CBS was paying its CEO at the time $40 million/year.  And we wonder at the ‘quality’ of news we’re (not getting?)

During my entire 78 years of life, short about 9 years, this country has been at war, hot or cold.  War has literally become part of my landscape.

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By ofersince72, May 8, 2010 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Let us not forget, it is the Democrat Progressive
Caucas that has endorssed Jane Harmon.

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By Paul_GA, May 8, 2010 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

I fear this country will pay a huge price for its apathy one of these days ... a country just doesn’t behave like the USA does and escape retribution.

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By Leefeller, May 8, 2010 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

“Who gives a damn about apathy”; is my favorite bumper sticker!  Why don’t they make bumpers any more, now that should be an national concern where to put ones bumper sticker?

What war?...... Bush told us victory was just around the corner like a zillion times after he announced victory from the air crafty carrier, ah…the memories of victory are still with me.

There are just so many major problems effecting my life, like should I buy a Kindle or an Ipad and then what do I do with all my books?  And then there is those gays asking to be equal like Republicans or something. What the hell is that all about?  When Michel Jaskson died I cried for days and then Tiger Woods happened to have a new date announcement every day, just kept me glued to the TV screen, I was waiting to find out if Tiger Woods was the father to Octomoms kids, who has time to worry about a war?

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By SereneBabe, May 8, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

PLEASE. It’s not a “war.” They are not “wars.” They are occupations.

Please stop using right wing radical framing in your discussions.

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By balkas, May 8, 2010 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Boyarsky,like all the other MSM people omits fundamentals.
The fact is that in an iniquitous society one cannot ever have equity.

I am not using the word equity in an utopian way, but in an idyllic or pleasing-to-all way.
In an justly-structured society wars wld be obviated.

In an unjust society like US, we will have wars, oppression, exploitation, drug wars, crime, incarceration, etc.

Indian social structure is an epitome of the iniquitous societies. Expect nothing good to come out of it. That may be reason why india leans towards US.

Iniquitous societies ar evil on two levels: interpersonal and interclass levels. In other words, people are bosssed at work by evil individuals and as classes of people commanded by a class of people.

To render us even more obedient-dependent-fearful, clergy divides us into godless and godful people; i.e., a better and worse classes of people.

Pass this on to americans. They are not diferent than germans, italians, or japanese were 1930s.
Or am i mistaken? Ab americans not already knowing this, but are just happy with what is? I do not think so! tnx

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By JDmysticDJ, May 8, 2010 at 6:34 am Link to this comment


Are you recommending apathy because of apathy?

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By dissentispatriotic, May 8, 2010 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

“Just look at that pile of dead bastards over there”
WikiLeaks—Collateral Murder

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By skulz fontaine, May 8, 2010 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

What? We’re still at war? Afghaniscam? Iraqnam? How could that be? Somebody in
the administration said “we won” or “we are surging” or “it’s a long war of terror”
or some banal crap like that. The ‘presidential’ babbling merely changed the face
but not the tone nor the endless off-the-books “supplementals” that pay for
Amerika’s atrocities. Heck, these days the Obama sounds more like George Bush
than George Bush. About the ONLY activism against the war comes from Code
Pink. Well, that’s all one might hear about from the media/infotainment crowd.
Shoot, even Arianna Huff ‘n’ Puff has signed off on the wars. No one cares. Not
anymore. Well, no one at a level that can break the stranglehold on access to
media. Bill you are dead on correct about “America’s war disease” and the cancer
is terminal.

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By zaphodity, May 8, 2010 at 5:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The sooner America leaves Iraq and Afghanistan the
sooner this mess will be over. The longer you stay the
worse it will get, just like Vietnam.

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By Ouroborus, May 8, 2010 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

Ah, national security has surpassed patriotism as the
new buzz word.
Bill, you’re wasting your time (trying to)
preach/inform/educate/teach the U.S. people anything.
They don’t want to know! You’re disturbing their
morning coffee, lunch, dinner, sex, TV, Internet
porn, Evangelical diatribes, Beck, Limbaugh, Palin,
teabaggers, republican gay scenarios, democratic
payoffs, and all of the myriad distractions generated
by “The Machine” which, I might add, would make
Orwell blush.
Watch the movie “On The Beach”. Those that still can,
should seek out their paradise and go for it; the
future is ugly…and “we” made it so.
Good luck, ya’all.

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By Moonlighter, May 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The political jockeying you describe is a symptom of the disease. 
This article was supposed to be about America’s War Disease, according to its
title.  I felt like I was reading a long footnote in what should have been a hefty
book.  Better luck next time.

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