U.S. Politics and the Economy

U.S. Military Blowback

Does the U.S. military incubate brutal, abusive cops along with their deranged, disconnected shooters?

By Bruce A. Dixon

Media spokespeople and politicians in both parties are working overtime to paint imaginary connections between the broad movement supported by millions of Americans to strip police of their traditional immunity and impunity for violent acts committed against civilians on the one hand, and the deranged, disconnected shooters of police in Texas and Louisiana.

The real links they studiously ignore are that the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were both veterans of the unjust and murderous U.S. military occupations of Afghanistan and/or Iraq, as are many of the police who commit violent acts against their fellow Americans after they return home. While the percentage of cops with military backgrounds is unclear due to the existence of special laws protecting police personnel, disciplinary and other records from prosecutorial and public scrutiny, the percentage of military veterans among police around the country is probably higher than any other line of work excepting civilian employees of the Pentagon, intelligence services and their contractors.

The U.S. military is widely known to aggressively discourage soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from admitting to or seeking help for psychological disorders and injuries. The world our military members live in is a brutal and twisted place where two out of five women are sexually assaulted. It’s a world where reporting, not committing such an assault is a career-ender, a world where seeking help for psychological problems can impair your security clearance and job prospects years later in civilian life because military medical and psychological records, unlike those of civilians are not confidential.

Indications are that the Baton Rouge and Dallas shooters both had problems, which are likely results of their military experience. By the same token, it’s not implausible to imagine that many violent and abusive former military members were in need of psychological help even before they became law enforcement officers.

For too long Americans have hidden from the facts and the consequences of America’s brutal overseas wars, even while making motion picture heroes of white snipers like Chris Kyle who famously claimed to have been paid to shoot 30 so-called “looters” in New Orleans during the Katrina disaster. In Chicago, the famous police torturer John Burge first learned his trade in the Vietnam War’s Phoenix program. A generation later Burge’s successors in the Chicago Police Department were directly linked to the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. Rank and file U.S. torturers at Abu Ghraib were Pennsylvania prison guards in civilian life.

While malicious authoritarians from Hillary Clinton and Wolf Blitzer to Bill O’Reilly and Rudi Giuliani want to sell us their fantasies connecting Black Lives Matter movement and shootings of police, they ignore the all too real blowback on American streets from our nation’s permanent war footing.

It’s not fantasy but fact that U.S. special ops troops are currently active in dozens of countries across Africa and Asia, and in Ukraine on the borders of Russia, doing bloody brutal and unspeakable things the American people don’t endorse and didn’t vote for. Their crimes go unacknowledged and unpunished and their psychological injuries untreated. Our military, stationed at the frontiers of U.S. empire in more than a hundred countries around the world are incubating the next waves of brutal and abusive police, along with their disconnected and deranged shooters, all practicing what they never should have been taught, bringing home to us another cost of global empire.

Black Agenda Report, July 20, 2016