Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Send In The Marines! - is it 1932 Again?

President Obama has just announced that all the troops will be brought home from Iraq by the Christmas holidays. While most of the country breathes a sigh of relief that the failed Bush war is ending, Fox news beats the drum that we have lost the war.
Fox so-called "News" is the real looser.

What does this mean for the country at-large?
Well, I expect that we will have thousands and thousands of veterans return from the wasteful war to a country with no jobs and a stalled Congress. Many of the Iraq veterans are showing up at Wall Street Protests, in some cases backing down police who are attacking protesters.

When Sargent Shamar Thomas backed down a dozen or more New York cops, he became a sort of hero for military veterans who will soon be returning, and a new movement is coalescing to join the protests against the financial elite that robbed the world economy.
You can read more about the movement in this Raw Story article, along with embedded video of Sgt. Thomas and a link to a website that supports this veterans movement.

But this is not the first time that U.S. military veterans have staged protests after they have returned from war. Those of us who are old enough remember veterans joining in anti-Vietnam war protests, and they were quite successful.
But before Vietnam, Korea, and World War Two, was the Bonus march after World War One.

From Wikipedia:

"The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers—17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups—who gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of 1932 to demand immediate cash-payment redemption of their service certificates."
"Many of the war veterans had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression. The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 had awarded them bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1945".

"Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most popular military figures of the time, visited their camp to back the effort and encourage them. On July 28, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two veterans were wounded and later died. President Herbert Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned."


So I see at least three possible scenarios playing out:

1. President Obama brings the troops home. Despite a contrary Republican Congress, Obama (perhaps through executive order) keeps the military on duty, but has them begin to fill vital duty rebuilding our own country.

2. The returning veterans return to no jobs, are organized, and join the massive protests that will resume when spring warms the United States; an American Spring.

3. In my most cynical view, it is possible that elements of the military may be used to subvert the anti-capitalist-elite Wall Street protests.
This sword could cut both ways. It will be up to those who served to decide their part in a global revolt that represents the outrage of people who have lost everything to a ruling class that respects nothing but wealth and power.

And this is our long winter of discontent.

Here is the "Occupy Marines" website


BSM said...

Given the track record I'm sure whatever will happen will be messed up.

If Obama does get elected (again) I'll be surprised if he can get our nincompoop Congress to do anything logical.

We shall see...

Sean C. Ledig said...

Great post, DR! Thanks for sharing since most Americans don't learn about this shit in school.

A couple of things I want to add about the Bonus Army. First, the use of the U.S. Army to break up the Bonus Army's camps was pretty much the final straw for the Hoover administration. Prior to that, he was perceived as merely indifferent to the suffering in America. After the attack on the Bonus Army, it became clear he was openly hostile to them.

Secondly, the attack on the Bonus Army was the reason American industrialists tried to enlist retired General Smedly Butler's help in their attempted coup. Butler was perceived as being sympathetic to the American public, as opposed to the then-current leadership of the Army, (particularly Douglas MacArthur) who took part in the attack on the Bonus Army.

Dojo Rat said...

Yes, but Butler was recruited for a coup against Roosevelt years later.
He was a populist anti-authoritarian who informed on the coup leaders, which included Prescott Bush.
Good history about bad events.