The Elitist Betrayal of the American Soldier…
A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled The Atrocities and Allure of America’s Perpetual War Machine which focused on America’s never-ending war and the toll that it is taking on American soldiers. I keep finding myself questioning why we are always at war and why there is always an impending war. It is something directly out of Orwell’s 1984…”We are at war with Eastasia. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.” The questions that I have are:
Why are we always at war? & Who pays the price for war?
Staying with Orwell’s idea…
War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and the setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society.
As the elite would have it, war is not for people to understand. They will go to great measures to deceive us and, for the most part, they have done a decent job. The deception begins with the recruitment process. A 2008 report by the ACLU details recruitment infractions and abuses by the military with an emphasis on the child soldier. They are recruiting students, often minorities, who come from low income families. From the report,
The U.S. military’s practice of targeting low-income youth and students of color for recruitment, in combination with exaggerated promises of financial rewards for enlistment, undermines the voluntariness of their enlistment.
So why do you think they are targeting students who are so young? Many don’t see any other way out of poverty as the disparity in income in the country widens. Another reason is that, on a developmental level, these students are prime candidates to carry out the will of the elites. It is widely known that the prefrontal cortex is the last region of the brain to mature. So what does the prefrontal cortex control? From The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
The prefrontal cortex is one of the last regions of the brain to reach maturation. This delay may help to explain why some adolescents act the way they do. The so-called “executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex include:
- Focusing attention
- Organizing thoughts and problem solving
- Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior
- Considering the future and making predictions
- Forming strategies and planning
- Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
- Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change
- Impulse control and delaying gratification
- Modulation of intense emotions
- Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior
- Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information
This brain region gives an individual the capacity to exercise “good judgment” when presented with difficult life situations. Brain research indicating that brain development is not complete until near the age of 25, refers specifically to the development of the prefrontal cortex.
So, having read all of that, you can see why they are perfect recruitment targets for the military. They can easily be manipulated and turned into unquestioning soldiers. Bill Moyers recently interviewed Karl Marlantes, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who discusses the truth about war. He describes the feelings of soldiers when placed in the worst imaginable situations and the effects that those circumstances have on them over a long period of time. You can see the video right here. Marlantes doesn’t sugar-coat or hide anything about the long term effects of war on soldiers and also discusses his own battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also believes that more emotional and psychological help needs to be given to the soldiers and their families. Chris Hedges, in his column “War is Betrayal“, sums this up perfectly:
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.
So who pays the price for war? We know who the profiteers are. We have identified them. But who pays the high cost of these senseless, perpetual wars? We, as the working class, pay the economic costs associated with war, but the blood that is spilled comes at the cost of the soldiers. The psychological damage inflicted upon these men and women is horrific and totally unnecessary. The rate of military suicides is sky-rocketing. Why do they see this as the only way out? Judy Chu has an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that confronts the problem of hazing in the military. She details two separate stories of suicide caused by hazing. So what is the relevance of that? Well, the military recruits these very young men, who are not developmentally ready for the atrocities of war or even military life. We put them in unimaginable situations and hope for the best. We are doing a very grave injustice to these brave men and women. They deserve so much better than that. They, as are we, are being betrayed by the very government/country that they are fighting for. Again, Hedges writes;
War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial and the banal, the empty chatter and foolish obsessions that fill our days. It might let us see, although the cost is tremendous.
As I have said before, I do support our troops. I have many friends in the military, including my best friend. I support them all, but I do not support the wars they are fighting in. In good conscience I cannot say that we are occupying Iraq or Afghanistan for any reason other than financial gain for the corporate elite. We hear that they are fighting for our freedoms. If that were so, they would be here, on our soil, fighting against the very government that is, itself, governed by the corporate elite. We are the ones who are seeing our freedoms eroding away in the name of “national security”. Our troops are being misled and it sickens me that these brave young women and men are dying so that the elite may get an even bigger piece of the pie.