Contemptibly outrageous, but undeniable: The American military is far more thorough in testing the mettle of its weaponry before sending it into battle than testing the ability of men and women to endure the destructive mental demands of combat.
Not until troops return home, battered and many suffering virtually incurable lifetime mental disorders, are politicians who endorsed combat with their hypocritical "Support the Troops" bumper stickers barely moved to show anything more than yawning concern for the emotionally and bodily crippled.
Nearly 200 years after anti-Napoleonic French author Francois-René de Chateaubriand used the phrase "la chair à canon"—"cannon fodder"—in 1814 to describe the mutilating horrors of battle, statistics of the tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan now lend justifiable credence to the term once again.
Fully one-third of the 1.5 million men and women who've served there return home with mental disorders, most requiring lifetime treatment and counseling.
Divorce is skyrocketing among Iraq-Afghanistan vets.
So, too, is suicide. Current statistics are sketchy and ambiguous, but the Veterans Affairs Inspector General estimated in May that 1,000 veterans per year receiving VA health care from all wars commit suicide, with as many as 5,000 suicides among all living veterans per year.
The Pentagon says the Army's suicide rate in Iraq rose in 2006 to 17.3 per 100,000 troops, versus 9.3 per 100,000 for all military services worldwide.
Hundreds of other new veterans are joining the ranks of jobless and homeless ex-GIs from all wars—now an estimated 185,000 on the streets. Disgraceful.
And without contemplating the "cannon fodder" consequences on human life thrown into the war, President Bush, aided by gutless Democrats in Congress, continues to feed red meat to his war-happy "base" by asking and receiving yet more funds—$804 billion so far—to continue throwing young bodies into combat. The ultimate costs of war-making are estimated to eventually reach over $1.5 trillion.
This should grate on the nation's conscience, and especially the consciences of Bush and his cronies who trumped up the war with lies and financed it with scarce dollars as a psychopathological ploy to prove Republican gunslingers have more testosterone than Democrats.
For decades to come, communities across the land will have constant reminders of the dismissive disregard for life by Washington war makers—blind, crippled, emotionally troubled, divorced veterans robbed of careers and normality.
Americans indeed will be lucky if that human debris isn't increased dramatically by a Bush-Cheney decision to recycle human cannon fodder into a new war with Iran to keep the political "base" in line for the 2008 presidential election.