Minnesota emergency room nurse Cliff Willmeng remembers, during the early days of the pandemic, treating a patient at United Hospital who asked how the nurses were doing. The man was a Vietnam veteran, and Willmeng recalls that he said, “This is your war.” “I kind of laughed, like what do you mean by that?” said Willmeng, who recalled he didn’t grasp at the time how horrible the pandemic would become. “He said, ‘We dealt with this in Vietnam. You don’t know it yet but none of you are ever going to be the same again.’” More than two years later, Willmeng, like countless other nurses and frontline workers nationwide, knows all too well how true those words turned out to be. “The combination of the lethality of the virus and the seemingly total abandonment of collaboration from the management I was under produced anxiety and fear in me I had never felt, never,” said Willmeng.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to Matthew Hoh, former US Marines company commander, about the high rates of veteran suicides. Hoh served two tours in Iraq as a Marine and also worked as an official within the State Department. He resigned his position as a State Department political officer in Afghanistan in 2009 in protest at the Obama administration’s escalation of the war.
Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular and author of American Nuremberg: The Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post 9/11 War Crimes, stop by the podcast to discuss torture and moral injury in the post 9/11 world, her experiences in Nicaragua and South Africa, how past presidents paved the way for Donald Trump, and over-classication in the intelligence community. Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco and for the university’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua, Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People, and Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States.
A former US drone operator is speaking out against the atrocities he says he was forced to inflict during his time in the armed forces and says the American military as ‘worse than the Nazis’. Brandon Bryant was enlisted in the US Air Force for six years. During his time with the military, he operated Predator drones, remotely firing missiles at targets more than 7,000 miles away from the small room containing his workspace near Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr Bryant says he reached his breaking point with the US military after killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors told him was “a dog.” Mr Bryant recalls the moment: After firing a Hellfire missile at a building containing his target, he saw a child exit the building just as the missile struck. When he alerted his superiors about the situation after reviewing the tape, he was told “it was a f***ing dog, drop it.”