A Letter to Scott Camil
by James Glaser
August 6, 2017
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According to the internet, Scott Camil is a noted political activist. He first gained prominence as an opponent of the Vietnam War, as a witness in the Winter Soldier Investigation and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. But like everything on the internet, that is just a snapshot of his life, as he is so much more.


Dear Scott,

We don’t really know each other, although we have met, but then maybe we know each other better than I think. We were both Marine Sergeants in Vietnam at the same time, but in different places, and we have both been antiwar since that time. So, I am writing to you, because really there are just not that many antiwar people left to write to.

I was out in my shop working and thinking, when something popped into my head, and I wanted to get it down on paper because so many of the things I think about get lost if I don’t.

At one time in my life the American people stopped a war. In fact, they stopped our war…Vietnam. Young people, old people, and many in-between took to the streets and physically showed our politicians how upset they were with that war. Because of that our politicians could see votes slipping away, so they ended that war.

It took a lot to mobilize a whole country into a movement large enough to make Washington listen. What did it? Over 58,000 dead American troops and over 300,000 wounded. Those numbers brought our war back to every State, County, town and city in America.

The antiwar movement that stopped that war taught our politicians something pretty profound. It taught them that they could still have their wars, and they could keep a constant profit-flow going to the rich Americans who own our Military Industrial Complex, because those are the people who fund the careers of those politicians. Yes, they could have those wars, as long as they could keep the number of troops killed and wounded low enough that the number of the loved ones of those troops did not get high enough to cause them to mobilize into a movement.

How did they do it?
First off, Washington stopped any photos of the flagged draped coffins from making it onto the front page of our newspapers and nightly news. It took 18 years for what was left of that antiwar movement to get that policy changed.

DEC. 7, 2009
WASHINGTON — In a reversal of an 18-year-old military policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news media will now be allowed to photograph the flag-draped coffins of America's war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States, but only if the families of the dead agree.

But Washington had other ways of keeping the horrors of war away from the American people. Vietnam taught them it was bad for the American news industry to have their reporters in the war zone seeing and reporting things that could hurt the war effort. So, they “embedded” those reporters right into the military where they could be controlled.

Embedded Journalism” refers to news reporters being attached to military units involved in armed conflicts. While the term could be applied to many historical interactions between journalists and military personnel, it first came to be used in the media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It worked like a charm. Reporters became friends with the troops, and they could look the other way when those troops, now their friends, ran amok in the war zone. So there were way fewer stories about atrocities, unless they were first uncovered by those few independent freelance news people or the foreign press.

But here is the key to what Washington politicians learned so they could keep their war going on year after year, making our longest war, Vietnam, seem not all that long. Ah yes, remember we did start our continuing war in Afghanistan in 2001. That is 16 years and counting. First off they knew troops killed and troops wounded had to be kept low enough to keep the people from figuring out how horrible the war was, and when those number started getting too high in Iraq they had to stop the war… for a period of time.

The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq began in December 2007. Congress then passed H.R. 2206, which provided funding for the Iraq War through 30 September 2007. However it took President Obama until December 2011 to get the troops out.

But hey, Washington got a good 8 years of combat, and those who control our government made many billions of dollars in profits, but with over 4,000 troops dead and over 30,000 wounded, they knew it was time to pull the plug. Not to worry, Washington learned something from that time in Iraq.

Washington learned that the number of troops wounded was almost as damaging as the number of troops killed. So, in October of 2012, the Pentagon just stopped giving out the number of troops wounded. Easy enough. They could not stop the press from learning the number killed, because they could just count up the number of funerals. But hiding those numbers of troops getting a leg or arm blown off or those blinded or for some, all three, will now and into the future be hidden from the American people.

Also, here is a great one to soften the impact of our wars in the eyes and minds of America. When giving out the number of troops killed, they are listed this way: “Coalition Military Fatalities By Year and Month”.

Yeah, you know, it might have been those troops from Germany, or Canada, or Poland, or maybe Romania that got killed. Maybe it wasn’t American troops killed when that transport helicopter was shot down, right?

So now, with a few years off, we have our troops back fighting in Iraq. But because the numbers have not totaled up to some magic number, we haven’t stopped fighting in Afghanistan as we have been since 2001. Also, a new front has opened up with combat troops in Syria and Yemen, and those are just the countries we know about.

Our politicians in Washington have learned the formula needed to keep everlasting war going and everlasting profits flowing at just the right rate to keep the American people sitting at home watching their TV screens and cheering on their favorite football team. It works beautifully.

Keep the number of dead troops low enough to not startle anyone, keep the number of wounded a secret, and don’t even talk about PTSD, and for sure don’t allow any Purple Hearts to be given unless there is blood flowing from the wounds, because those Traumatic Brain Injury numbers would be hard to explain.

So, Scott, that is my brain dump on why it looks like America will have never-ending wars way into the future, at least until those who make the profits from our wars figure out another way to get richer.

Thanks for being there. Semper Fi, eh?

Jim Glaser

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