By Jane Stillwater

Richmond National Cemetery in Henrico County, Va., on Memorial Day weekend. (Bill Dickinson / CC 2.0)

Did you know that Oliver Stone was a Vietnam vet? That explains a lot. No wonder he has come out so strongly against all the various American “war” fiascos since then. If you had suffered through all the shite that he did while fighting in Vietnam, you would most likely be anti-war as well.

Stone recently spoke at the annual Veterans For Peace convention here in Berkeley — and he had a lot to say too. “America’s crackpot realists create the terror for which they then provide the antidote.” Apparently it’s the American thing to do.

“In Vietnam, every time we took fire, we went berserk. We’d blow up everything. The mentality of absolute destruction. But when I came back from Vietnam, I thought that intelligence would finally start to reign. Didn’t happen. Reagan’s warning to the world was that Americans could be truly barbaric. That was the lesson of Hiroshima too — to let the Soviet Union know that America was capable of anything.”

Then Stone cited various American public relations campaigns that got us into a whole laundry-list of barbaric wars after Vietnam. Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Even Reagan ran a PR campaign to convince Americans that we had actually won the Vietnam debacle — and never had our asses whipped by a bunch of underfed farmers.

“It is mind-boggling for us Vietnam vets to have to go through all this again. It’s Kafkaesque. And now the crackpot realists are back with Hillary Clinton, worse than Reagan. But putting pressure on Russia just isn’t going to work. At great expense, Russians fought back against Hitler during World War II. Five out of every six Nazi soldiers were killed by Russians. They are a proud people who will defend themselves to the end.”

And then Stone added, “At home, the war is now happening here too. Our policemen are doing the same thing here now that Americans did in Vietnam — escalating. Like Americans did in Afghanistan. Going berserk. Blowing things up. It’s sick. We have to learn how to calm down.”

Then Andrew Bracevich also spoke about how the military-industrial complex is screwing us over. “War has become a permanent condition — yet we don’t even talk about it. Neither Clinton or Trump have mentioned Afghanistan, America’s longest war. War has become the new normal. But here’s the rub: Our appearance of abundance is rapidly eroding. Endless war has become a diversion that Americans can ill-afford.”

And then Ann Jones brought all this information down to the personal level — regarding how endless war is screwing our individual vets. “When our soldiers came back from the wars, that was where the trouble started. VA hospitals were not prepared for this new rush. They had become geriatric wards. So they changed gears.

“But another bunch of war profiteers also sprang into action, providing all our vets with magic pain-killers. ‘Provide all patients with pain medications,’ came down the orders. And vets soon discovered that heroin was cheaper and started on that too. And the death rate among vets increased dramatically. The vets were sitting ducks to support this drug scam.” And Big Pharma started raking in the profits at the cost of our vets’ lives.

But wait, there’s more. The Koch brothers then got involved too. Why? Because the VA provides a singularly successful single-payer healthcare delivery system, that’s why, according to Jones. “The Kochs even created their own veterans’ organization, ‘Concerned Veterans of America’. They claimed to want our vets to be able to have the ‘freedom and prosperity’ to find healthcare on their own.”

Privatization of the VA? The Koch brothers think this is an idea whose time has come. They are trying to pass laws to give veterans “choice cards” instead of having VA hospitals — but the sad truth is that “no one takes the choice cards. No hometown doctor takes them.” And our vets are left out in the cold with no medical care at all.

The ultimate moral of these three speakers? That war is bad for all Americans — but especially for our vets.

Jane Stillwater is a freelance journalist, war correspondent, blogger, political Cassandra and author of “Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today’s Middle East,” now available on Her latest motto is “Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.”

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