I honor the soldiers who have served us, but not for the reasons most people do.
Memorial Day is upon us again. I am somewhat aware of the fallen, the injured, the irreparably scarred. I only know something of their pain, their anguish, and the holes in their families.
But I also know that our brave men and women made the choice to enlist. Enlistment is voluntary in America. And yet, we are still at war. If enlistment is voluntary, then war is voluntary. We don’t have to go to war.
We have been at war for roughly 90% of the life of the United States. I can’t remember a time in my life where none of our troops were engaged in some far off theater, somewhere. I remember Grenada. I remember the burning oil wells of the first Iraq War. I remember the corpses dangling from the telephone wires of the second Iraq War. I remember Bosnia. I think of the poppies in Afghanistan and I know that those poppies are used to make oxycontin and heroin, and our troops are protecting them. And now, Trump is contemplating a war with Iran as a means of ensuring his re-election — just like former President George W. Bush did.
The men and women who enlist do so out of a sense of patriotism, a sense of duty to protect our country. I know they mean well and that they want to do the right thing. But they still must take orders. I remember the pictures of Abu Graib, and how the prisoners there were degraded, insulted, and spat upon as if they were not even human. Our soldiers took orders from someone else to do all of that.
I am still thinking about how drone strikes now pass for war. I am aware that there are men and women in a comfortable office setting, operating a drone aircraft in what is essentially a video game played out in real life. With drones, the scale and scope of war are almost completely externalized. The soldiers who operate the drones are not boots on the ground. They don’t feel what the people on the ground feel. They don’t get splattered with the blood of their opponent. They don’t feel the heat and shock of their payloads. They don’t see the mourning families of their victims as people like them.
When a drone strike is over, the drone operators, I mean soldiers, are so far removed from the results of their actions, that they can easily objectify the targets of their work. They never have to see the eyes of their targets. They never have to see the aftermath, the infrastructure, destroyed, the families, destroyed, the countryside, destroyed.
Too often, I have seen that what was once sold as a good war was really about natural resources like oil, uranium, rubber, gold or just people. Too often, we are caught in a catch-22 with the countries we invade. The pretense of theft on a massive scale is freedom for the targets of our wars. War is a racket.
And so it is with this in mind, that I feel for our military. I feel for them as they are pawns being led into endless, useless wars, wars that serve no other purpose than to support the facade of free trade with the world’s one remaining superpower.
War is always about money. I have never seen an exception to this rule. Money is power and there are some people who will never be satisfied with the power they have. There is simply not enough power for them.
War is about dominance, and the only purpose of pursuing, attaining and maintaining dominance is to avoid accountability. To me, every war we prosecute is about avoiding accountability. Freedom is the dupe, natural resources are the dope, of war.
Unfortunately, people who will never, ever be satisfied with the power that they already have, are in power now. No matter how much power they have, they will always want more. They will always want more security. And the great irony of it all is that most if not all of the members of the Trump administration claim to believe in God, an all-mighty, all-powerful being who is on their side. If they believe in such a being, why do they have to go to war?
So to the men in uniform, I salute you. I know you mean well, and I depend on you to protect our country. I just wish you’d stay home and protect our shores instead of touring around the world, invading other countries for someone else’s profits. I just wish you were working for a Department of Defense rather than a Department of War.