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Home arrow Blog arrow August 2009 arrow August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009
August 18, 2009: The Doctor's Prescription for War and Christianity

Dr. Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician whose practice of medicine largely dealt with the myriad of mental “illnesses” that were largely the consequences of psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual trauma and abuse or adverse effects from prescription drugs.


He is a founding member of Every Church A Peace Church
http://www.ecapc.org/

His series of "Duty to Warn" essays began appearing on WAWA July 28, 2009 War, Drugs and Jesus

Aug. 29, 2009 

There is no Such Thing as Liberal Fascism

By Gary G. Kohls, MD

Recent letters to the Duluth News-Tribune editor have accused earlier letter writers of not knowing their history. The letter writer of August 19, 2009 also alluded to a book entitled Liberal Fascism, which is one of the recent American right-wing Rovian/Limbaughesque efforts to distract attention from the legitimate, obvious and overwhelming similarities between the far right-wing politics of the current Republican Party and the far right-wing politics of World II-era Italy and Germany (and Japan, for that matter). That letter-writer needs to go back to the history books himself and learn about the history of European fascism - which is very good advice for the rest of us as well.

Fascism, in the various definitions outlined in reputable textbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries is a right-wing (not left-wing!) ideology of negativism which attempts to destroy liberalism, socialism, communism, true democracy, egalitarianism and labor unionism. It also tends to be ultra-nationalist, racist, sexist, corporatist and militarist.

As a political and economic system in Mussolini's Italy, fascism combined elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism and anti-communism.

In Hitler's Germany, political and economic fascism was welcomed by the big money corporate interests that were afraid of the power of the trade union movement. German fascism (Nazism) spawned thuggery, street fighting (the infamous Brown Shirts and SA) and routinely disrupted, by intimidating and shouting down their anti-fascist opponents, any attempt at open-minded public discourse. Election fraud was rampant and there was an obsession with national security issues.

Two good places to start learning the forgotten history of fascism are with Dr. Laurence Britt's 14 points of fascism found at this website: http://www.fascistic.net/ with more at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism.

German Nazis literally smashed leftist printing presses (and got away with it, with the right-wing Gestapo looking the other way) and had anti-fascist activists (such as poets, artists, authors, union activists and assorted nonviolent resisters - many of whom were Jewish) arrested, imprisoned, tortured and often executed. The Nazi Brown-shirts shouted down liberal legislators in the Reichstag (before beating them, imprisoning them and burning down the building).

They used total press censorship as part of a powerful and extensive network of right-wing propaganda machinery, with ultimately total control of Germany’s mainstream media and the outlawing of any alternative press.

Nazism was totalitarian, ultra-nationalistic, militaristic, anti-Semitic, racist and it unashamedly tortured members of its opposition. Alarmingly, it also co-opted German Christianity and turned it into a punitive, pro-violent, virulently anti-Semitic religion (with swastikas hanging from many pulpits) which then obediently went along with Hitler's military recruitment efforts, concentration camps and the brutal invasion and occupation of sovereign nations.

Fascists like Hitler and his Big Business backers hated liberals, socialists and the left-wing worker's rights movement, and they successfully broke the unions just in time for Hitler’s war industry boom that ultimately resulted in full (though not well-paid) employment and Germany’s overwhelmingly powerful military machine.

The use of the words "socialist" and "workers" in the name of Hitler's political party (National Socialist German Worker's Party [NSDAP] from which the term Nazi was derived) was a token concession to the leftist inclinations of voters such as poor farmers, the under-employed and poorly paid workers and the many impoverished people who had suffered so much under the hyperinflation, joblessness and hunger resulting from the German militarists' gamble that started, and then lost, World War I. The use of those two words turned out to be a cruel joke that has confused many who haven't taken the time to learn the sobering facts of world history, especially the history of European fascism.

Though Hitler is dead, his spirit seems to be alive and well. Fascism is, by definition, an extension of far right-wing politics and economics.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - it's a duck.

Fascism is a right-wing, anti-liberal ideology and should be recognized as such.

There is no such thing as liberal fascism.

Dr. Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, a member of Veterans for Peace, a peace and justice activist and opposes fascism in all its variations.




Duty to Warn: The Colorado Springs Soldier-Murders, Guy Harvey Baker and the Hidden Costs of War
By Gary G. Kohls, MD

Given the sobering realities of horrific war crimes over in Iraq followed by rapes, murders and suicides in Colorado Springs, CO, by members of the U S Army’s Fourth Infantry Division, Fourth Brigade (http://www.gazette.com/articles/iframe-59065-eastridge-audio.html)  it is well to re-examine an old case of a similar nature perpetrated by an unfortunate ex-Marine who was also trained to kill without mercy or remorse.

 
What happened in St. Paul MN in August of 1994 should have been a premonition of things to come and proof that the Pentagon hasn’t really learned anything since Vietnam. The Dept of Defense’s recent promises to “provide the best behavioral health care for our soldiers and their families” are just lip service and delaying tactics for a problem that has no known solution – and never has - unless true, primary prevention is considered.

Legal violence committed by military professionals in the war zone that continues on in illegal activities at home when those professionals re-enter civilian life should come as no surprise. It happens after every war, in every culture, in every era of history. (see http://www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier.) The Army’s promises to “take this soldier violence seriously” are an attempt to divert attention from these crimes, especially when these soldiers are sent home after multiple deployments, treated inhumanely in the war zone, made crazy and then given brain-altering, dependency-inducing and even brain-damaging prescription drugs – that, tragically, is considered “psychiatric treatment”.

 
 15 years ago, on August 26, 1994, a US Marine combat veteran (from Gulf War I), Guy Harvey Baker, murdered two St. Paul policemen in cold blood. Virtually all of the coverage by the major media at the time made it appear that these murders could not be rationalized (the usual media comments, “senseless violence” and “we’ll probably never understand what actually happened,” were used by various journalists and commentators, especially the Pentagon spokesmen). However, if attention were to be paid to the multiple underlying realities of the murders, most of which were un-investigated and/or unreported, many sobering and unwelcome lessons for our militarized culture could be learned.

 
According to the earliest press clippings (comments never repeated, as far as I could tell) in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Baker had been, in his childhood and adolescence, the proverbial fun-loving kid down the block. He was popular in his Iowa hometown; his respected father had a well-paying job teaching in the public schools; he dated the best-looking girls; he was close to his family; and he hung out with the “cool crowd.” In 1987 he joined the US Marine Corps, every patriotic American boy’s dream, but in Baker’s case it was the top of the slippery slope that ended tragically in St. Paul.

 “The Change is Forever” (Marine Corps Advertising Slogan)

 
Somewhere between basic training in 1987 (where he had been a standout, breaking records in the obstacle course) and August 26, 1994 Baker became a “remorseless killer, very cool, very calm, very chilling.” (That quote came from his jailers, but could just as easily have been from his proud drill sergeant or commanding officers.) Friends said that  he was dramatically changed by his experiences as a Marine, especially in the war, where he served as a forward air controller, working in the battlefield under dangerous conditions. He had been decorated for exemplary service more than once.

 
But Baker also had combat-induced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, obviously, antisocial (sociopathic) personality disorder, both virtually incurable conditions with multiple manifestations caused by a combination of exposure to psychological traumas, the experience of cruelty on the battlefield (with the need to “numb-down” emotionally), chronic stress, sleep deprivation, exposure to various military-related neurotoxins, malnutrition and, all-too-frequently, traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The prototype of combat-induced PTSD is the Vietnam combat veteran who “came home crazy”, having been subjected to 12-13 months of severe psychological, spiritual and physical stress related to jungle warfare against unseen enemies. The Vietnam combat soldier had been trained to kill those who were fingered as enemies, training that wasn’t easily unlearned when he returned to civil society. He had found himself fearing for his life constantly in an insane environment, ready to point and shoot at anything that moved, usually asking questions only after the reflex killing was over. He had been immersed in a 24/7 kill-or-be-killed situation for months, often experiencing the aforementioned constant fear, sleep–deprivation, toxic food, and contaminated water – a crazy-making environment with little or no respite save for drugs and discharge, neither of which, they would soon find out, would give them permanent relief.

Soldiers in all wars are expected to unquestioningly obey legal and illegal orders to kill suspected enemies, including innocent and defenseless civilians that may be impossible to  discern as either combatants or noncombatants, and therefore they often participate in, or witness, torture, grotesque death, horrifying sights, smells and sounds – indelible memories that would haunt them in the form of unwanted daytime flashbacks, nocturnal nightmares, feelings of guilt and suicidal urges that often would last for the rest of their lives.

On top of that, many soldiers grew to hate the war and the senseless human slaughter, and began the lifelong mistrust of the military and the government politicians, even their churches that helped get them into the hellhole that killed their souls. Usually the only temporary respite to their intolerable existence was alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, heroin and other addicting non-prescription substances, made readily available in the battlefield by the military. Upon returning to the states, the stressed veteran was not re-programmed, re-humanized or re-spiritualized to fit back into “normal” society. Rather, brain-altering and often addicting psychotropic drugs were often prescribed, which might mask symptoms but can cure nothing and only complicate the course of the illness with innumerable adverse neurologic effects that can mimic mental illnesses.


 PTSD, especially the combat-induced variety, is classically manifested by recurrent nightmares (Baker’s were about rats); severe insomnia (which causes chronic fatigue, headaches, irritability, mental dullness and often unemployability); depression, suidicality and anxiety; panic attacks; daytime flashbacks resembling the original traumas; marital dysfunction; hypervigilence and aggression, with violent reactions to what may only be minor threats. Such veterans are often reclusive but also may be unpredictably abusive of those around them with violent reactions ranging from verbal, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.

 
Traumatized vets are much more likely to commit suicide than the average civilian (it is believed that upwards of 200,000 Vietnam veterans committed suicide in the US after the war was over for them, compared to “only” 58,000 killed in action.).

 
And it probably will be worse for the Iraq War veterans. A report by the Pentagon revealed that there were 900 attempted suicides among Iraq War soldiers just in the calendar year 2006. Combat veterans are more often chemically dependent or abusive of drugs and more likely to commit criminal acts. (At one point in the 1970s, 20% of all US prison inmates were Vietnam vets!). And homelessness is rampant, with a recent survey showing that 30% of the homeless in the US are military veterans.

 
In addition to Baker’s PTSD, he had become partially deaf as a direct result of his battlefield experience. This service-connected disability certainly contributed to his joblessness, homelessness and disillusionment with society. Baker was an early victim of the Gulf War Syndrome, which caused him to have a chronic rash (similar to Agent Orange dermatitis), numb feet, memory loss, restless nights and night sweats. Baker blamed the anti-nerve gas pills he was given, but of course he also had exposure to toxic residues of all kinds, including neurotoxic fumes from explosives and petroleum products, previously untested mercury- and squalene-containing vaccinations (including Anthrax) and, probably most significantly, exposure to depleted uranium (DU), the armor-piercing rockets and shells that burn on impact, spreading tiny particles of radioactive uranium and plutonium all over the desert and into the air, to be inhaled or ingested by passersby for billions of years whenever the wind blows the desert sands around.

 
The first Bush administration, a proxy for us American citizens (who, as George W. Bush’s father often reminded us, supported the first Gulf War by a 9 to 1 margin) sent Guy Harvey Baker and many other all-American “boys next-door” to do homicidal duty to ensure American access to Middle Eastern oil.

 
Many soldiers like Baker were fooled into thinking that they were doing their heroic “duty to God and country” rather than killing and being killed protecting the profitability, prestige and prerogative of conscienceless multinational corporations like Halliburton, Blackwater and Exxon, who have been operating above the law during the Cheney/Bush administrations. Baker learned his soldiering trade very well and gradually became an obedient, unthinking, paid professional killer. He suffered - and died (mentally and spiritually) in ways that we civilians can’t appreciate and which even Baker and his loved ones may not have understood. He was one of the advertised “few good men” but was imbued with serious psychopathic traits starting in basic training that may be necessary in combat but, in civilian life, are a menace to society. He was discarded by the war machine that recruited him and is now disavowed by the Marine Corps that trained him to be what he became.

 
In 1994, Guy Harvey Baker was one of the most hated humans in the news, but he was any mother’s son.

What the unthinking public and its vengeful politicians have done is to turn a blind eye to the root causes of the Baker and the Colorado Springs veteran’s stories, ignoring what the glorification of war has done to our violence-tolerant society and its unsuspecting military recruits and their families. And therefore we have not seen this truth: our entire culture, not just Guy Harvey Baker and the Colorado Springs suicidal murderers, rapists and felons, has been victimized by America’s reliance on problem-solving by the use of violence, intimidation, bribery, ruthless economic domination and lethal, unaffordable and ultimately morally and financially bankrupting militarism.

 
Dr. Kohls is a member of Veterans for Peace and Every Church a Peace Church (www.ecapc.org). Prior to his retirement, he practiced holistic mental health care in Duluth, MN,  frequently treating victims of psychological and spiritual trauma, both combat-induced and domestic.


More from Dr. Kohls:

July 28, 2009 War, Drugs and Jesus

   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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