The Atrocities and Allure of America’s Perpetual War Machine…
According to Wikipedia, perpetual war refers to a lasting state of war with no clear ending conditions. The United States is in this particular state and has been for a very long time. There also appears to be no end in sight as tensions mount with Iran. So, why is America always at war?
The economic costs associated with perpetual war are staggering. Getting a firm dollar amount is very difficult, but according to costofwar.org the Pentagon’s total allocation for war from 2001-2011 in current dollars was $1.2 trillion dollars. So, what does America have to show for that $1.2 trillion dollar investment? There are several companies making annual profits from this never-ending war. You can see the top ten profiteers here.
So everybody knows that big business makes big money from war, but what about the non-economic costs? What toll is being paid by our troops fighting this war? Chris Hedges, in an excellent article titled “A Culture of Atrocity“, writes,
All troops, when they occupy and battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are swiftly placed in what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton terms “atrocity-producing situations.”
He continues about the betrayal of war,
War is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics and of troops by politicians. This bitter knowledge of betrayal is seeping into the ranks of the American military. It is bringing us a new wave of enraged and disenfranchised veterans who will never again trust the country that sent them to war.
So what about the betrayed veterans of war. The U.S. and other NATO countries have this mythical love affair with the heroism of our soldiers fighting for our freedom overseas. You see the yellow ribbons claiming support for our troops. So what, exactly, do we support? Hedges continues,
We make our heroes out of clay. We laud their gallant deeds. We give them uniforms with colored ribbons for the acts of violence they committed or endured. They are our false repositories of glory and honor, of power, of self-righteousness, of patriotism and self-worship, all that we want to believe about ourselves. They are our plaster saints, the icons we cheer to defend us and make us and our nation great. They are the props of our demented civic religion, our love of power and force, our belief in our right as a chosen nation to wield this force against the weak. This is our nation’s idolatry of itself.
Prophets are not those who speak of piety and duty from pulpits—there are few people in pulpits worth listening to. The prophets are the battered wrecks of men and women who return from Iraq and find the courage to speak the halting words we do not want to hear, words that we must hear and digest in order to know ourselves. These veterans, the ones who dare to tell the truth, have seen and tasted how war plunges us into barbarity, perversion, pain and an unchecked orgy of death. And it is their testimonies, if we take the time to listen, which alone can save us.
By no means am I saying that I do not support our troops. I have many friends who are or have served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I do support them, however I feel that they are pawns in this endless game of chess. The atrocities of war are taking a huge toll on our troops. Last month, an article in the New York Times discusses the very high rate of soldier suicides. The article, from June 8 of last month states,
The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the Pentagon said Friday.
Seeing data like this makes you wonder if our troops truly believe in what they are doing. Do our soldiers, having been in some of the worst situations imaginable, really believe in the cause? They have been betrayed. In Hedges’ article “War is Betrayal “, written yesterday, he says,
The disillusionment comes swiftly. It is not the war of the movies. It is not the glory promised by the recruiters. The mythology fed to you by the church, the press, the school, the state, and the entertainment industry is exposed as a lie. We are not a virtuous nation. God has not blessed America. Victory is not assured. And we can be as evil, even more evil, than those we oppose. War is venal, noisy, frightening, and dirty. The military is a vast bureaucratic machine fueled by hyper-masculine fantasies and arcane and mind-numbing rules. War is always about betrayal—betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics, and of soldiers and Marines by politicians.
So please, by every means possible, support the men and women who serve the country, they truly deserve as much support as we can give them. You don’t, however, have to support the cause. Don’t be fooled with the mantra of “fighting for our freedoms”. The U.S. government is fighting against its own citizens in an attempt to strip freedoms away. The threat is not external, but rather internal. Don’t be sucked in by main stream media who will attempt to rationalize another reason to go to war. Do your homework, figure out who the real enemies are…and you will find that they are right here.