Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Republicans Love War, But Not the Warriors

On the heels of what should have been am embarrassing floor fight over extending health benefits for 911 first-responders, Republicans provide further evidence that, for all their pseudo-patriotic flag waving for never-ending wars, they don’t care much about the young men and women they send to fight those wars.

A recently-released proposal by the Republican Study Committee suggests reducing non-defense spending to 2008 levels and non-security spending to 2006 levels. Although cuts to veteran’s benefits are exempted for 2011, they are on the table beginning next year, and would result in a 42% cut in VA expenditures by 2021, according to an analysis by Jim Horney of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This, even as the military released figures from 2010 that the suicide rate among our troops exceeded the casualty rate for the second year in a row.

This shocking abdication of their responsibility to care for the soldiers impacted by the wars they have championed reminds me of nothing so much as the anguished concern Republicans express over developing embryos as compared to their callous indifference regarding the needs of poor children: Once born, Republicans care very little about children. Once the soldier comes home, he/she just become another piece of discarded and obsolete equipment.

Human beings are not pieces of equipment, not machines that can be subjected to a little retooling. War causes damage to the human psyche. Sending soldiers back for deployment after deployment as we have done in unprecedented ways during these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will cause damage that we, as a nation, have a responsibility to address.

The Republicans should be ashamed – if they were capable of it.