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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Soldiers of Misfortune

Long version: mp3, 3.59 MBs, 4:26
Short version: mp3, 2.95 MBs, 3:40

[Col. Recorded 6/19/03]

Every politician worth his or her salt speaks sweet words of endearment about the young soldiers on the periphery of the American Empire.

They're "brave," "courageous" and "defenders of 'our' freedoms."

Everyone in power seems to be basking in the glow of spring love for 'our' young warriors, but if time teaches us anything about the praises of politicians, it is that such sweet words last about as long as cotton candy in an April shower.

If we are honest, and if we look at things from the perspective of political leaders, we see that soldiers are but instruments of state power. They're seen as, say a queen bee 'sees' a drone; they are expendable.

How can we come to any other conclusion in light of the way veterans of military engagements past are treated, not by protestors who may oppose their imperial violence, but by the State that employed their services?

Soldiers of World War II were subjected to dangerous exposure to radioactive materials, causing uncounted effects in thousands of men over generations. The veterans of Vietnam were exposed to the ravages of Agent Orange, but found their enemies not in grass and mud hootches in the subtropics of Asia, but in the Veteran's Administration hospitals, the chemical companies, and the politicians who represent their interests, who rejected their health concerns for at least a generation. When thousands of men and women went to the (first) Gulf War, they experienced serious life-threatening illnesses that they called the Gulf War Syndrome. Who opposed them, assuring them that it was 'just in their minds'? The same folks who opposed their predecessors!

The raging protests of Vietnam forced the government to deep-six the draft (which had been unpopular since the Civil War), and institute what they claimed was an 'all-volunteer' service. Yet, who volunteers — and why?

Studies have shown that low-income levels and chronic unemployment is an important element in why some people opt for military service. Slick, computer-generated ad campaigns promise thousands of dollars for college, and emphasize individuality under the "Army of One" pitch. With few prospects of a career in an economy driven by recession, and the demoralizing weight of a dead-end job (if one is able to get one), the ads on TV can prove irresistible. The Philadelphia-based Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) considers the military's present recruitment efforts as a "poverty draft".

The Jennifer Lynch's of the world, surviving in the low-growth economic battlefield of West Virginia, find the military a viable, stable option in an unstable civilian economy.
How many people in the services would be there, if education was truly affordable? Or if the economy was out of recession?

As Congress passes resolutions praising the troops, the very same House of Representatives moves to cut some $25 billion from veterans' health benefits over the next decade. The love of politicians seems ever so fickle these days.

Meanwhile, more and more public dollars gets funneled into the cavernous maw of the military-industrial-complex.

As this happens, we see the economic underpinnings of war.

Wars are not waged on behalf of the many, but for the few; those few who can, and will benefit from ravages of war, like oil companies, defense industries and the like. How can this most recent war be for the benefit of a people who overwhelmingly opposed it, in unprecedented numbers? Least of all, are wars fought for those who fight in them.

They are drawn, overwhelmingly, from the ranks of the poor and the working-classes; those who can find no space in a tight economic environment. They fight abroad because they are exhausted from the never-ending fight at home, for a decent, affordable education, for decent housing, for a job with some degree of longevity.

They are fighting to survive against a truly ruthless enemy — those who run America's economy.


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.