Since the end of the Great War (World War I), we have been paying homage to veterans with parades and speeches, and the required military and patriotic songs. And I wonder, how many people know why we fight?
Recently, I heard a friend say to another friend that whenever he saw someone in the service, he wanted to say to him or her, “Thank you for your service.” On the other hand, on seeing someone in the service, I want to go up to him or her and say, “I am so sorry that you have been put in harm’s way to protect the military-industrial complex’s war profiteering.”
It is not fair that so many young men and women are sold a distorted bill of goods to get them to enlist in something that they know so very little about. I respectfully disagree with all those who do not think as I do, especially because it’s the Army and the United States that disrespects veterans.
For all the hoopla, parades and rhetoric about how we should support our troops, the United States has been totally negligent in supporting these men and women when they come home broken in body and mind. For years, Joshua Kors has been reporting on veterans issues for The Nation. Another good source is the film “Body of War,” which can be watched online for free.
President Eisenhower — a World War II hero, the man who led the allies on D-Day — upon leaving office, cautioned us about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces. He was warning about “the immense military establishment” that had joined with a “large arms industry.”
Chris Hedges writes an exceptionally excellent (and must-read) article for Truthdig, in which he states, “The soldier’s tale is as old as war. It is told and then forgotten. There are always young men and women ardent for glory, seduced by the power to inflict violence, and naïve enough to die for the merchants of death.”
The United States has spent upward of $175.5 billion to fight these endless wars. And, let’s not forget the private military contractors about whom we rarely hear because their clients include organizations such as the CIA, and their contracts require silence.
Their pay, according to CNN, ranges between $500 and $750 per day, or between $15,000 and $22,500 per month. And, as long as there is a war to be fought against some inconsequential country, the contractors will be the first on line to provide their invaluable expertise.
Yet, none of the countries where we are carrying on relentless wars ever attacked us, or even threatened to do so. In 2001, when we decided to go to Afghanistan, it did not even have an air force.
So, how was it going to attack the United States? Certainly, Iraq did not attack or threaten us. Neither did Niger (where four U.S. soldiers were killed).
Nor did Libya, Somalia, Kenya, Grenada — a pimple in the Atlantic Ocean — Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Yemen. The list goes on ad infinitum.
How can we say that the soldiers fighting, dying, being injured, are doing it to protect us? Against what? Against whom? It does not compute.
I am so sorry to disagree with those who believe that these kids whom we are sending to fight in these many wars of choice are fighting noble wars. These endless wars do not only negatively affect those in the countries we have attacked (some people still do not know why they hate us), but the people in this country as well, who most of our lives have been spoon-fed the lie about the threat that we face every day from militarily weak countries.
The United States has become the cops of the world, and it is something that makes me, and should make every single person, extremely uncomfortable and extremely sad. Instead of the trillions spent on the war effort, we should be using the money for education, health, repairing our deteriorating roads and bridges, help for the elderly — you get my drift.
We should be spreading peace, not war. And we should do it by example, not by invasion.