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“To lead an uninstructed people to war is to throw them away.”

Confucius

“Youth is the first victim of war; the first fruit of peace. It takes twenty years of peace or more to make a man; it takes only twenty seconds of war to destroy him.”

King Baudouin I of Belgium

Another Memorial Day, another orgy of mattress sales and of reveling in the glory of war and sacrifice for freedom.

What a steaming crock of shit! As George Carlin would say, fuck military glory.

For the government and the media to link war death with something glorious is to maintain a cultural propaganda system that has sent young men (and now women) to horrible fates…to hell and worse.

The newspapers carry stories of new kinds of head wounds in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and new facial disfigurements too, from the suicide bombs and other horrible explosive devices…of rising and unreported rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress syndrome in the military…of young men and women sent back again and again after their tour is supposedly up…and of glory and sacrifice for freedom.

Real sacrifice for freedom

Here’s an example of a real sacrifice for freedom: Congress drafts a resolution to indict Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Tenet, and the other architects of the made-up Iraq war. It will never happen. These SOBs squandered uncounted billions of daollars and over 100,000 lives, mostly to keep the oil flowing to our SUVs and NASCARS (3-4 miles/gallon). The country is too obedient.

Where are they now?

A recent Funny Times cartoon asks “Where are they now?”

Paul Wolfowitz (Iraq was “doable”) is now a “scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute. Douglas Feith, who told Dubya that Saddam was involved with al-Qaeda, is now at the Center for National Security Studies. Richard Perle (THAT’s the Perle who should have been beheaded), who doctored intel reports, is now at several think tanks. Liar and House Negro Colin Powell, with his vile little vial of tale salt, is still a hero, giving speeches (one at my corporation, platitudes and anecdotes; a whole event constructed around his availability!)…and, the cartoon concludes, 100,000 Iraqis were just living their lives…which are now over. Doesn’t regime change usually mean holding previous regimes responsible for criminal acts?

OK, I get it - so later leaders won’t do the same to you.

If Congressfolks actually stood up to the actions of war-making Presidents, they wouldn’t get reelected. But they would have done something for the freedom of the American people, the freedom to say NO to government and its criminal, manufactured wars that have nothing to do with our freedom.

“Fighting for your freedom”

Every time a military person tells me he/she is fighting for “your freedom,” I cringe. I almost weep inside for the misguided loyalty of this dedicated individual.

So much do I respect the sacrifice of this individual…that I cannot bear to tell him/her about the way politicians have for centuries coerced and manipulated young people into sacrificing their bodies and lives, always upping the incentive, but with the same bottom line: your body, your destiny, and your very life are now completely in someone else’s hands.

The chickenshit chicken-hawks who planned the Iraq War knew this and found convenient ways to avoid military service.

They knew that to serve in the military is, first and foremost, to put your body, mind, and fate in the hands of politicians. It is to put yourself on a path that may lead to a meat grinder, and you will end up as a blind, limbless, disfigured parody of your young and vigorous self…or as ground, charred meat, another pointless death, but with glory. They do such wonderful things with prostheses these days!

Immortal and invulnerable

It’s really sad that young people feel this sense of immortality and invulnerability. It makes them easy prey for recruiters and politicians with offers of cash/educational incentives, flashy uniforms (with ribbons and medals!) and explosive play toys.

If I had a young son or daughter who seemed intoxicated by visions of military glory, I’d make sure he/she saw all the pictures of facial disfigurements and new kinds of head wounds. I’d make sure he/she was fully informed on the rates of suicide, substance abuse, mental illness, and divorce among military personnel.

Perhaps it is not until they actually get into combat…do they realize that they could die that day…or their friends could die…or that they could be forever disabled or paralyzed…or eventually lose their minds because of what they have had to do and see. A friend admits he pissed himself the first time in combat.

Perhaps it does not dawn on them before that moment. If it did, there might be fewer volunteers.

Of all the wars that America has fought in my lifetime alone, only one – World War II – had anything to do with my freedom. (And Nicholson Baker, writing in Harper’s [”Why I’m a Pacifist,” May, 2011], argues that even the worst bloodshed of that war could have been avoided, had not rage and vengeance gripped and blinded the Allied nations.)

Mostly the wars had to do with politicians’ vanity; or their need to prove their toughness by sacrificing others (if it’s so necessary, why don’t THEY go?); or America’s wish to forcibly impose its will on other countries.

Even WWII could have been avoided (per Milton Friedman) via the appropriate economic measures, including not humiliating and bankrupting Germany after WWI. Instead, 50 MILLION people died (at one point, 15,000 A DAY) and an entire continent (and ANOTHER generation of young people) was destroyed.

Squandering human blood and treasure

War is not only the failure of governments to settle their differences peaceably, as sad as that is. War also represents (mostly) old people’s (mostly men’s) decisions that peace cannot be achieved and that young men and women should suffer and die. All of us must pay for the old people’s pretensions, politics, and failures.

And it’s not just men. Madeleine Albright once told Colin Powell, “You have such a magnificent military! Why don’t you use it?” What is history, asks economist and historian Thomas Sowell, but a tale of “how politicians have squandered human blood and treasure?”

The sad fact is that most of the horrible agony and death of the people we mourn and thank on Memorial Day was and is unnecessary.

Historians may debate the choice and necessity involved in various wars, but apart from the big ones (my personal favorite for “most lives lost to politicians’ ego and vanity” was World War I), America has a history of dozens of foreign interventions based on greed for land, global politicking, or worst of all, politicians’ self-image and manhood (LBJ’s testosterone alone caused tens of thousands of American lives in Viet Nam).

Phony war, real blood

The current wars are no exception. Pre-emptive war - what bullshit. Who’s going to attack America? They should change the Pentagon’s name back to “Department of War,” because that’s what it is, though I wish it really were the “Department of Defense.”

A failed, totalitarian state like Iraq (and there are other such throughout the world) was not in and of itself a danger to the US. Absent clear and present danger, there was no need to start this war. And since the politicians’ adolescent vanity was involved — and Obama will be VERY careful about withdrawal in any way that suggests “surrender” — Americans and uncounted thousands of others, will continue to die unnecessarily till we actually get out.

New face; it’s about RELIGION

All this as terrorism assumes a new face - no longer the massively planned 9/11, but a series of random attacks by radicalized young psychotics.

Which leads to the last piece of the “war on” something gimmick. What are we at war with? Not terror or extremism. Too vague. We face a vicious meme, an insane ideology that promises paradise in return for suicide and mass murder.

Let us call it by its correct name: it is a RELIGION that invests young people in ignorance and sacrifices them to fantasy. Let ANY political leader call out the real enemy: religion. Nah, then he’d have to admit his own is also a crock of shit. So religion gets to be the elephant in the parlor, the unmentioned cause of all the misery (Shi’ites and Sunnis — does anybody know the difference? — killing each other in large numbers in Irag and Syria, no surprise there).

James Madison said that “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Don’t tell me that times have changed since Madison…or that his statement no longer applies. We still have vain, stupid politicians who are willing, even eager, to send young people to suffer and die. We get Muslim terrorists in Boston and London in reprisal for our meddling and arrogant militarism. This is the other truth politicians won’t face.

On Memorial Day, let us remember those who have sacrificed themselves for our country – but let us not forget why they did so.

14 Responses to “Memorial Day, 2014: not for MY freedom”

  1. on 29 May 2013 at 5:40 pmRich

    “The really intelligent soldier would run away” - Frederick the Great of Prussia (I’m sure he was kidding - Prussian military discipline was so brutal, the Ideal was “kadaverobedienz” (sp) - the obedience of a corpse)

    What was Friedman’s idea to prevent WW2? Kissinger made the point in his doctoral thesis: You can’t negotiate with madmen (like Napoleon, Tojo, Hitler, et.al.).

    I execrate “economic sanctions”. They only hurt ordinary people w/no power.

    Actually, one Did work. The embargo of Japan. We got Pearl Harbor for our pains.

  2. on 29 May 2013 at 7:55 pmRich

    Plus… Congress hasn’t declared war since 1941. Korea: Police Action. etc. I thought it was in the Constitution!

    Totally agree re: Afghan (shoulda left after we beat the crap out of what passed for a govt) & Iraq. Ignorance atop Hubris atop Fecklessness atop Idiocy (Religion of Peace; we share the same goals; we can make them into Americans).

    Nobody seems to have read a single decent book about the West vice Islam. They’re different Civs! Since Napoleon, the West has meddled in ME, and retreated after much misery.

    It struck me at the time. What the bloody heck were our Leaders thinking? Or not.

    * By early 1916, every combatant nation’s leaders knew the war was hopeless. But didn’t dare try to come to terms. After all their people had suffered, there would be riots in every capital.

    *Hitler was told by his top people late 1940: The war can’t be won. He accepted the logic, but believed, like Nap, in his Destiny.

    I was a neo-conservative when the dads of today’s neos were around. Not now. Come to think, when 241 Marines were suicide-bombed under Reagan … he got the heck out of ME.

    Oh, forgot. I not only pissed myself, my lower legs crumpled. Had to crawl around on my knees for awhile. We thought it was funny!

  3. on 30 May 2013 at 8:53 amRich

    Loquacious me. Forgot about Crusades. How many, 8 or so? The Children’s Crusade was particularly horrible.

    Seeing how 150th Anniv. of Gettysburg is a few days hence, been thinking CW. 30% of Reb males between 18 & 40 died. Union: about 20%.

    Latest painstaking research posits that over 800K US males died. That’s about proportional to WW2 German soldiers at 6M.

    New book by Thomas Fleming argues the war was Inevitable & Desired. Flaming Abolitionists vs. Southern Fire-Eaters HATED each other. And yearned to kill each other.

    Southern Leaders wouldn’t have accepted Any amount of money to abolish their “Peculiar Institution” and way of life.

    For over a generation after CW, Abolitionists were Execrated in North. Blamed for the catastrophe - w/reason.

    Some call it “The American Iliad”. Michael Scharra’s “Killer Angels” works better for me. Great book & movie moved me to tears. Also “Glory”.

    We nearly lost the Union. It would have made US like Europe - warring nations. Germany’s WW1 “Zimmerman Telegram” would have been sent to Confederacy, not Mexico.

    BTW: my Polish grandfather in Chicago was drafted in 1918 at age 33 w/5 children. War ended before called up. Wilson was a Stinker.

  4. on 30 May 2013 at 6:01 pmAlan

    Comment on #3: Oh, I dunno. I think the CSA would be more of an English-speaking third world nation, run by corpocrats who keep the retards amused with NASCAR, beer, boobs, foopball, country music, and racism.

    Northern publications regularly ridicule the barbaric South. The two sides still hate each other, like India and Pakistan. And they both have nukes. Are you listening, Harry Turtledove?

    I wouldn’t debate foreign policy with you. Would agree that it is heartbreakingly sad for insane politicians to prolong wars long after they know them to be lost. Often as not, they get away with it.

    Also: How in HELL did you get into combat in the first place?

  5. on 30 May 2013 at 8:21 pmRich

    English speakers have been lustily killing each other since Chaucer. English Civil Wars. Ireland. Scotland. Here.

    IMHO, if Confederacy was sovereign nation, it wouldn’t be satisfied w/its rump. Southern Filibusters had been mounting expeditions to Central & S.America since 1840s. My guess is first conquest would be Cuba.

    I was actually charmed by my Southren buddies. Many had Black friends. The kind of friendships between White & Black the North is incapable of.

    I had a black girlfriend in early 70s when living in Cicero. After a date, I drove her to my apartment. By the time we reached the curb outside, a caravan of Dangerous Northern Yahoos was following us. With High Beam Headlights. We skedaddled.

    MLK said he’d never seen such Vicious Racism as in Chicago. Boston, Philly … the list goes on. Northern Tolerance & Enlightenment indeed.

    My military peregrinations? Not to be cryptic, but it’s a Long Story. Frankly, I’m surprised I survived. Suffered when I came back.

  6. on 31 May 2013 at 11:56 pmAlan

    No question that Northern racism was different but just as virulent. Even in my day, there were vestiges of it (grew up just N of the Mason-Dixon line). Read Richard Wright - harrowing tales of race hatred and injustice in Chi.

    I didn’t say The Other had to be different or even LOOK different. The most enduring hatreds are between peoples who live near each other and are similar in color and culture.

    As experiments have demonstrated, arbitrarily assigned differences can rapidly blossom into bigotry and hatred. We are born to fear and hate. Is that an evolutionary advantage?

  7. on 01 Jun 2013 at 12:55 pmRich

    I strongly believe it IS. Caring for & protecting kith & kin gives them a leg up on survival. You see it in all sorts of creatures.

    If the approx. age of homo sapiens is 500K years, all but 10K years have been in small homogeneous hunting & gathering bands.

    Strangers were threats on several levels. Many wanted to kill you and take your women. They possibly carried unknown diseases. They were competitors for food. Other problems.

    Consider the pre-Columbian N.American Indian tribes. They were at Constant War w/each other. Every male was a Warrior.

    Not pretty, I grant you. But truer than Rousseau’s Dangerous Claptrap.

  8. on 01 Jun 2013 at 10:36 pmAlan

    Yeah, I’ve come to agree with you, the more info I get. Kevin Costner aside, the noble savage is much more savage than noble. The Iriquois were as nasty as the Huns, no?

    And as far as being in touch with Mother Gaia, they were mostly the opposite of ecologists: typically ate and killed everything, then moved on. Numerous large land mammals hunted to extinction. Very impressive number: 450,000 years as true primitives.

    Wonder what their language was like. Now THAT was an evolutionary advantage!

  9. on 04 Jun 2013 at 4:46 pmRich

    They wiped out horses, or their ancestor eohippus.

    It’s difficult to compare ferocity of Indian tribes vice huge conurbations like Huns. John Keegan (RIP) thought the Mongols were the toughest, bravest, smartest Invaders of all time.

    You can compare Indians (the preferred nomenclature of their current descendants).

    The less ferocious fled, or were wiped out. I’ve read of Iroquois torture sessions. One fiendish method: cutting bottom of feet open, inserting sharp pebbles, sewing it back up, and forcing the unfortunate to run.

    A French Jesuit’s stoicism so impressed the Iroquois, they actually let him go. What was Left of him.

    There’s the old standby, which apparently has always been effective: “Leaving them to the women”.

    I think we started Idealizing the Indian immediately after the last war party was dead. They were big in Cub/Boy Scouts in my day.

    One big reason we got Texas and other states from Mexico, apart from the ‘48 war, was the Indians. Mexico was helpless against the Plains tribes. Apache. Comanche. Comanchero.

    Around that time, Comanche wiped out my Entire Mexican Family, except a 5 y/o girl who hid in creek reed bank. But for her, I wouldn’t exist.

    I think Kostner got a “little funny in the head”. The movie was totally bogus, a tissue of lies and fantasy.

    Funny, even in Paradise (Hawaii, etc) people were bloodthirsty and perverse (Easter Island) as heck.

    Yeh, I’m stunned we were primitive so long. But I recently read that the climate was terrible, didn’t allow settled agriculture until about 10K years ago. We were down to a few thousand people at one point.

    Same for the stirrup. What could be More Obvious?! I think the Mongols finally invented it in 7th or 8th century CE.

    Interesting that we know the Ur-Europeans, the “Aryans”, only from language. Scandinavia to Sanskrit, they seem to have conquered all and left their Ur-language as the foundation. They must have done genocide, or close.

    Sibling Children have invented their own private languages, or nearly. Must be deep seated in us.

  10. on 08 Jun 2013 at 11:29 pmRick Levy

    “The most enduring hatreds are between peoples who live near each other and are similar in color and culture.” Yes, the first example that comes to mind is Ireland, although as for the latter a case could be made for the socioeconomic difference between the lower class Catholics and the Scotts-Irish Protestant landowners.

  11. on 09 Jun 2013 at 12:36 amAlan

    How about (non-European) Jews and Arabs - how different are they, really?

    At the extreme, I think, are genocidal campaigns in Africa, much sadism and hacking off of limbs, between peoples that we could probably not tell apart.

  12. on 10 Jun 2013 at 7:45 pmRich

    Don’t forget the Tutsis and Hutus. 800K killed in a few days with machetes. A cleric locked his congregation in the church and set it on fire. Teachers did the same to schools.

    The horror. The horror. I think Conrad meant mankind itself.

  13. on 02 Jul 2013 at 5:27 pmAlan

    That’s who I was referring to. Apparently THEY can tell each other apart.

    Nice comment on Conrad. I agree. How many violent deaths in the world each day as compared to natural deaths? I’d love to see the numbers. The horror is everywhere.

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