The Military Madness Machine

The Military Madness Machine

    The 2013 Pentagon blueprint to continue our military hegemony worldwide is titled “Sustaining Global Leadership:  Priorities For 21st Century Defense.”  That sounds innocuous enough, I suppose, but one sentence in the main text is more starkly revealing:  “The U.S. must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged.”  In other words, you’ve got resources we need and we’re taking them, and anyone who challenges us will be blown into red mist.  It’s the hubris of American exceptionalism, once called Manifest Destiny.  Because we’re the greatest country in the world, we’re entitled to whatever we want.  Along with our military superiority, we have another huge advantage — we have God on our side, and apparently He doesn’t care for heathens, or black, brown, and yellow people, any more than we do.
    This nation was born out of war, when we won independence from the British.  Then we had to do it again, in 1812.  We committed genocide against the Native Americans as we moved west.  In the 1840s was the Mexican War.  In 1853 Commodore Matthew Perry “opened” isolationist Japan to trade by pointing the Navy’s guns at them, and the doctrine of gunboat diplomacy was born.  We were drawn into two world wars, but the rest of the time we’ve kept busy flexing our muscles.  It reminds me of a good friend, who has probably been in a hundred bar fights, and swears he never started a single one.  He’s a really big guy, too.
    America is saturated with the culture of warfare; it’s everywhere we look.  From G.I. Joe and toy guns, to the propaganda of war movies, to video games, warfare is part of our DNA.  Our most popular sport is football, which is basically ritualized warfare.  And all the big sports events are partly sponsored by ads for the armed forces.  For telling it like it is, here’s the slogan on a current TV ad:  “U.S. Navy:  a Global Force for Good.”  Not good as a virtue, but more as permanently, I’d say.  The Navy’s Blue Angels or Air Force’s Thunderbirds fly overhead at sporting events or spectaculars, to the delight of slack-jawed, misty-eyed crowds.  The uniforms now are even designed by Hugo Boss — now with stylish new berets!
    Military language is a linguistic family of its own.  Secure the perimeter, project force, command and control, escalation dominance, strategic stability, and so on.  When I was in the Army we used to joke about their anal retentive nomenclature with “glands, mammary, w/nipples, two each.”  Civilian casualties are either “soft targets” or “collateral damage.”  It’s cold and clinical, which I suppose it must be.  You can’t let emotion and reason get in the way.  It’s top-down, no questions.  If you’re career military, war is the only thing giving purpose to life.  Without war, what would the generals do, play pinochle?  Promotions of rank are so much faster in combat situations, as well.
    We ignored President Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex, and today we have over 700 military bases in over 140 countries.  We lead the world in weapons exports — defense contractors are getting pig-wealthy. And we’re one of only a few nations who haven’t singed on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (Israel is another).  Below is a list of U.S. military interventions since 1900.  To be fair, many of these were humanitarian missions, but not that many.  The rest were mostly to prop up business friendly dictators, or to help them put down rebellions.  As you peruse the list, see how many Caucasian Christian nations you can find.

1898 – 1902 — Cuba, Philippines                                                1958 — Lebanon, Panama

1901 — Panama                                                                       1961 — Cuba

1903-04 — Dominican Republic                                                1962 — Laos

1904 – 05 — Korea                                                                1964 — Panama

1907 –– Nicaragua, Honduras                                                 1965 –– Indonesia

1909 — Cuba, Panama                                                    1965 – 66 — Dominican Republic

1910 — Nicaragua                                                            1966 – 67 — Guatemala

1911 — China, Honduras                                                            1969 – 75 — Cambodia

1912 — Cuba                                                                             1970 — Oman

1913 — Mexico                                                                                1971 – 73 — Laos

1914 — Dominican Republic, Mexico                                                1973 — Chile

1914 – 18 — Haiti                                                                                1976 — Angola

1915 – 18 World War I                                                                                1981 — Libya

1916 — Mexico                                                                        1981 – 92 — El Salvador

1917 — Cuba                                                                                      1981 – 90 — Nicaragua

1918 – 22 — (Eastern) Russia                                                        1983 — Grenada, Lebanon

1920 — Guatemala                                                                        1983 – 89 — Honduras

1922 — Turkey                                                                        1986 — Bolivia, Libya

1922 – 27 — China                                                             1989 — Libya, Panama, Philippines

1924 — Honduras                                                     1990 — Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

1925 — Panama                                                                1991 — Kuwait, Iraq

1932 — El Salvador                                                                993 – 95 — Bosnia, Serbia

1941 – 45 — World War II                                                         1994 – 96 — Haiti, Zaire

1945 — Korea                                                                                          1997 — Albania

1946 — Yugoslavia                                                       1998 — Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan

1947 — Uruguay                                                                                1999 — Columbia

1947 – 49 — Greece                                                    2001 – 13 — Afghanistan, Pakistan

1948 — Germany (Berlin airlift)                                                                2003 – 13 — Iraq

1948 – 54 — Philippines                                                      2008 – 13 — Somalia, Yemen

1950 — Puerto Rico                                                                2010 — Honduras

1951 – 53 — South Korea                                                                        2011 — Libya

1953 — Iran                                                                        1954 – 75 — Vietnam

1954 — Guatemala                                                                1956 — Egypt

2012 — Rep. of Congo, Guatemala

2013 — still in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Somalia, Guatemala, Yemen,and who knows where else.

    We’ve heard a lot about nation building in the last decade, in reference to Iraq and Afghanistan. How’s that coming along? In Iraq there have been 2000 deaths due to sectarian violence just from April through June of this year. The rest of the world is getting our message: be nice, or we’ll bring democracy to your country too. Then there’s the horrific cost of war on our soldiers, the PTSD, traumatic head injuries, and suicide. The suicide rate among active duty military has been higher than battlefield deaths for the last couple years. And the suicide rate among veterans is far higher.
    Americans are war-weary, our military is broken, and we make new enemies every time a Hellfire missle from a drone crashes a wedding party. This is why the cushiest job in the world is recruiting for the Taliban. We’ve been spending about $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, though we’re told we’re drawing down. I would bet that if we spent that money building roads, hospitals, and schools (especially girls’ schools), no one would want to be a Taliban recruiter; people wouldn’t listen to them. Yes, we have enemies who wish to harm us. Maybe we should ask ourselves why there are so many. I hope you will print out the list above, and carry it with you in your wallet or purse. And the next time you hear someone ask “Why do they hate us?” you can pull out the list and show it to them.
    We could easily cut half the Pentagon budget without compromising security. Close most of those 700 military bases, cancel contracts with defense contractors for weapons we no longer need, and use that money here, where it’s most needed. With the world as it is now, and weapons technology being what it is, we can no longer afford the luxuries of endless war. It’s been said that to a man whose only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Let’s give him some other tools.

The war isn’t meant to be won, it’s meant to be continuous. — George Orwell, 1984.

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