By John Rachel
1992 © Kenneth Jarecke (Contact Press Images)
Until recently, this photo was never seen in the U.S. It’s a soldier making a last desperate attempt at climbing out of a military vehicle after it had been hit by an incendiary bomb. This was during Desert Storm in 1991.
This is the side of war our leaders don’t want you to see. For us they want it to be all about waving flags, marching bands, grandiose speeches, stars-and-stripes lapel pins.
Remember Bush’s order that there be no reporting of coffins flown in from Afghanistan and Iraq containing the remains of our dead soldiers?
But this photo is what war is really all about. That scorched corpse could be your son or daughter, one of your grandchildren, an uncle, cousin, nephew or niece, that freckled neighborhood kid that used to ride by on a bike.
When our politicians speak about some new crisis that requires our military intervention, some challenge to our national interests or terrorist threat to the homeland, then with the appropriate somber expressions and deeply furrowed brows reel off patriotic slogans and chest thumping battle cries that beg for our bravado and self-sacrifice, they want you to imagine proud soldiers in clean pressed uniforms, glorious fireworks reflecting in the pool of the national mall, the flag majestically waving in the background atop the White House, they want you embracing that triumphant feeling of being a citizen of the greatest country in the world. They most certainly do not want you thinking about that photograph.
Sure, our leaders claim that they want to avoid at all costs sending our brave soldiers into harms way. They claim to value every young man and woman in uniform as they do their own children __ though for some reason their own kids never get sent into battle.
They claim the decision to wage war, even to commit our troops to “limited engagement”, is a very serious one, that putting “boots on the ground” is something we do only when every other conceivable option has been duly explored, considered, weighed, exhausted.
Warning! When you hear any of this talk about war as a last resort, be VERY AFRAID. Because it means the bombs are about to drop and the bullets are about to fly. Last resort is now pure cover, a charade, just one component of a PR game to tenderize public opinion, just more cynical role play to get people ready for the slaughter.
When our leaders say they hate war, be VERY ANGRY. Because their actions betray their love __ their worship! __ of military power. Just look at their priorities. Just look at the national budget. Just take out a world map and try to identify the 1000+ military bases the U.S. has in over 140 countries across the globe. If they really wanted peace, these would be Peace Corps camps, not military installations.
When they talk about “humanitarian war” and “R2P” __ responsibility to protect __ LAUGH, then CRY. Because any humanitarian concern is not about you. And when you’re getting your ass shot at, the only reason they want to protect you is so you can shoot back.
On the increasingly rare occasions, when our leaders do give their token nod to promoting peace in the world, be INDIGNANT __ be OUTRAGED __ at the blatant hypocrisy. Why, our Nobel Peace Prize winning president even used his award acceptance speech to make the case for “necessary wars”.
Let’s see . . . necessary wars. When I was in college, it was Vietnam. Commies would take over the world if we didn’t stop them. Then we had to stop Saddam Hussein from taking over Kuwait, even though 9 out of 10 American thought Kuwait was a tropical fruit. Then, of course, we had to bomb the shit out of Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden, though he strutted around the caves and continued to make threatening videos for the next eight years. Then, we really had to get Saddam Hussein, this time before he dropped an atomic bomb on Baltimore or Orlando, even if he didn’t have one and if he did had no way to lob it further than the Sea of Galilee. Then there was Libya because we had to get rid of that pesky Gadaffi. And Syria because . . . well, just because. And of course, we’ve been having a regular hissy fit about Iran for decades now, so they’re high on the hit list. And now we have the Ukraine, for a lot of reasons, including Snowden, and Putin’s making Obama look like a warmonger, which frankly is not that hard, and the BRICS, and the abandonment of the dollar, and the deranged neocons running amok in the State Department, and the piles of military hardware which we’re bankrupting the country to buy __ after all, you can’t just leave that stuff laying around, because it’s dangerous, so it’s imperative we use it. Hell, let’s throw some ordnance at the Russkies, and the Chinese . . . and . . . and . . .
Whew! All these “necessary wars” are exhausting!
As anyone who reads my blogs knows, I have never recommended any organization and directed readers to support its activities. There are hundreds __ thousands __ of good, hard-working, well-meaning, probably extremely worthwhile groups out there trying to make a difference. My reluctance stems from observing that despite their best efforts, not a lot seems to be getting done.
But now, since time is running out and this might be our last best hope, I’m going to break tradition.
Please go to the website for World Beyond War. One of the founding members and its current director is a man I greatly respect and admire, David Swanson, who I’ve written about before. There is much more on the web site itself but here is a quick summary of their agenda:
Creating an easily recognizable and joinable mainstream international movement to end all war.
Education about war, peace, and nonviolent action — including all that is to be gained by ending war.
Improving access to accurate information about wars. Exposing falsehoods.
Improving access to information about successful steps away from war in other parts of the world.
Increased understanding of partial steps as movement in the direction of eliminating, not reforming, war.
Partial and full disarmament.
Conversion or transition to peaceful industries.
Closing, converting or donating foreign military bases.
Democratizing militaries while they exist and making them truly volunteer.
Banning foreign weapons sales and gifts.
Outlawing profiteering from war.
Banning the use of mercenaries and private contractors.
Abolishing the CIA and other secret agencies.
Promoting diplomacy and international law, and consistent enforcement of laws against war, including prosecution of violators.
Reforming or replacing the U.N. and the ICC.
Expansion of peace teams and human shields.
Promotion of nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention.
Placing restrictions on military recruitment and providing potential soldiers with alternatives.
Thanking resisters for their service.
Encouraging cultural exchange.
Discouraging racism and nationalism.
Developing less destructive and exploitative lifestyles.
Expanding the use of public demonstrations and nonviolent civil resistance to enact all of these changes.
Is it naive to think that the human race can rise above its long history of savagery?
Noam Chomsky says we are a “strange species which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but __ so the evidence suggests __ not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.”
Let’s hope he’s wrong.