Opinion: No Justice for Dozens of Deaths at Fort Hood as 14 Leaders Relieved of Duty

Cover photo by Andrew Harnik for AP Photo

By Mike Talavera

Six months since Vanessa Guillén was murdered at Fort Hood, US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced this week that 14 of the base’s top-ranking officers would be fired or suspended per the findings of an investigation into 25 deaths that had occurred on base this year. The job loss which millions of people across the country have already experienced during the economic crisis this year, has been deemed a fitting punishment for the Fort Hood leaders who oversaw an operation which purveys sexual abuse and death in large numbers every year.

The administrative actions will likely be followed by more serious discipline, ranging from reprimand to discharge, but criminal charges will not be proposed, because holding these military officials accountable for the crimes against the soldiers under their command would turn the mirror on the crimes US imperialism commits against the people of the world every day.

Notably, Fort Hood commander Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, who has been deployed in Iraq for most of the year, will not face even trivial consequences for the 25 deaths at his base, just as US imperialism has yet to fully pay its blood debt for the millions of Iraqi lives lost during the US invasion and occupation.

The US military is defined by the political economy it enforces, monopoly capitalism, where money is accumulated in fewer and fewer hands. The drive of corporations like Amazon and Walmart to dominate markets is the same motivation behind the US military’s violent oppression of the world’s people, and the way in which it regards its own soldiers as disposable.

The Fort Hood investigation discovered that nearly half of the cases of sexual harassment and assault at the base this year had not been reported out of fear of retaliation, and many other soldiers were the victims of suicide or homicide like Guillén.

Firing and suspending the 14 officers is nothing more than a publicity stunt to placate the righteous anger of the people in the wake of Guillén’s murder. The problem is dismissed as one of bad culture, overlooking the rotten society underneath. It is like how video games are blamed for making teenagers violent, while the US military’s active recruitment of children through video game platforms like Twitch is ignored, not to mention the imperialist interests that demand the young and poor be converted into cannon fodder.

There can be no justice in an unjust system. These firings are a concession that the military is happy to give compared to the demand made by some earlier this year, to shut down Fort Hood!

The people have every reason to oppose the existence of a base where the best and the brightest of their communities, like Vanessa Guillén, are killed, whereas monsters like US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, who is stationed at Fort Hood, thrive. Like the families of Fort Hood’s victims who are still seeking justice, the family of comrade Garrett Foster, who Perry shot and killed at a protest for Black Lives in downtown Austin, is still demanding justice. No charges will be brought against Perry without a fight, and the reactionary violence at Fort Hood will not be ended by targeting the backwards culture alone. US imperialism itself must be confronted.

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