American's Lust for War
American's love war. They revel in it, celebrate it, and promote it. There are thousands of organizations with no other purpose than to glorify and glamorize war.
I'm not talking about those connected with the obscene
war industry who promote war because it's the source of their wealth and power. I'm not talking about the politicians who are in bed with that war industry and the pro-war NGOs around the world that line the politicians' pockets. I'm not talking about the military for whom war is their whole purpose in life. I'm talking about the average American citizen, American families whose own children will be sacrificed on the alter of war—a fact most will actually be proud of.
In my first article in this series, "Anti-War" I addressed some of the government and war industry propaganda by which war is put over as something noble and patriotic. That lie about war is enhanced by the fact that most of the visible
anti-war movements are leftist, even communist, in nature, and propagandists are quick to associate anyone who points out the
hideous immorality of war with those leftists.
The propaganda works, and most Americans have eagerly swallowed the lies and enthusiastically support the view that war is not only moral but a noble way for civilized men to deal with one another—that killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of their fellow human beings and destroying everything civilized humans require to live is some kind of noble enterprise to be proud of.
The Veterans Organizations
Not all veterans organizations support and promote war. The one's opposed to war, like Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War are very small, however, and sometimes unfortunately get mixed up with the leftist varieties of the anti-war movement.
The big veteran's organizations wholly support American military adventurism and glorify war.
The American Legion is the largest of these organizations
"The American Legion ... is committed to mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans." To these war mongers, "patriotism" means supporting any war your government engages in, and "honor" means dying or having your life physically ruined in your government's wars. They have "youth programs" to instill war lust in children as early as possible. Promoting "strong national security" means promoting the military-industrial-complex.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is another influential veterans' organization, glorifying war. "Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans' organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which is being constructed in Washington, D.C., and is expected to open in 2010. In 2001, VFW unveiled its tribute to service and country with its dedication of Centennial Plaza." Being put over as monuments of glory and honor, they are in fact, monuments to the national shame of needlessly engaging in the most immoral of human enterprises—and the totally unnecessary deaths and maiming of it's young men and women.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is dedicated to Americans shamefully shattered by war. I want to see them helped, but I would much prefer we stopped destroying America's youth in the first place. That would not be the DAV view of things. "With our brave Americans leaving the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the DAV's services and advocacy are as relevant and critical today as in any time in our nation's history." How could they be opposed to that which makes them "relevant." If this were a truly moral organization, it would be seeking to be irrelevant, and an end to the endless stream of wrecked human lives.
Much of American war mongering thrives in the most unlikely places. Perhaps the most virulent form is the religious form, especially among those who identify themselves as Christians.
Not all Christians support war and American military adventurism, and among those Christians who are anti-war, are some who have the clearest view of what is wrong with Christian war support.
Laurence M. Vance is one such Christian who writes: "I still see on church signs and church websites the "support our troops," "pray for our troops," and "God bless our troops" mantras. It doesn't matter where U.S. troops go, how many go, how long they stay, or what they do when they are there—support for the military is a fundamental of the faith, right up there with the Virgin Birth and the Deity of Christ." He calls it idolatry and writes, "The Christian's golden calf is the U.S. military."
He says it is, "not all Christians," but, Christians, "throughout Christendom have exchanged Biblical Christianity for imperial Christianity. From Catholic just-war theorists who oppose abortion (but not the killing of people outside of the womb) to progressive Christians who oppose the war in Iraq (but not military intervention in Darfur) to the Religious Right who oppose the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries (but not the American killing of Muslims in Muslim countries)—Christians of all branches and denominations are engaged an idolatrous affair with the U.S. military."
Another one who speaks out against Christian support of American militarism is
Jacob G. Hornberger, who brings the following indictment against war-mongering Christians:
"... Christians began supporting a new rationale for killing Iraqis: that any Iraqi who resisted the U.S. invasion or occupation was a terrorist and, therefore, okay to kill. Since terrorists were bad people, the argument went, it was okay to support the killing of Iraqis who were resisting the invasion and occupation of their country.
"Yet, rarely would any Christian ask himself the important, soul-searching questions: Why didn't Iraqis have the moral right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country, especially if that invasion and occupation had been based on a bogus principle (i.e., the WMD threat)? Why did their resistance convert them into terrorists? Why did U.S. troops have the moral and religious right to kill people who were defending their country from invasion and occupation?
"Instead, people in Christian churches all across the land simply just kept "supporting the troops." I suspect part of the reasoning has to do with the mindset that is inculcated in public schools all across the land—that in war, it's "our team" vs. "their team," and that Americans have a moral duty to support "our team," regardless of the facts." [Emphasis mine.]
All these Christian, "Support the Troops," organizations, like "Christian Support for Our Troops," the "Christian Military Fellowship," or "The KERI family, 'Lifting Up Our Military in Prayer'" radio site are put over in the name of "patriotism," "preserving American freedom," and, "concern for American service personnel;" but sending gullible young mean and women to foreign lands to kill innocent civilians, and to destroy their homes, businesses, and schools, and to be killed or have their lives permanently destroyed for the sake of their government immoral aggression has nothing to do with patriotism, American freedom, or concern with America's young men women.
So many of these organizations are put over as supporting the troops, but that really means supporting the military, which really means supporting the government and any use at all it wants to put Americas young men and women to. Organizations like "Support Our Troops" promote themselves with language like, "... civilian support is essential to the well-being of our troops and their families. Support Our TroopsŪ was founded as a means of meeting our moral obligation to do what we can for those who endanger their lives to preserve our liberties, livelihoods, and businesses."
What country do these people live in? How can they print such propaganda without blushing? How can anyone believe it? What liberties are they talking about? There is less "liberty" in this country than there has been any time in history. Americans everywhere are having their livelihoods diminished or wiped out to pay for the longest most expensive wars in history. Unless your business is one of those involved in the military-industrial complex, you are in more danger of going out of business every day.
These organizations do nothing but promote war fever to encourage more gullible young men and women to sacrifice their lives to government war projects.
These war-promoting "patriotic" organizations love to use the word, "freedom," like "Freedom Alliance." Their mission statement says, "The Mission of Freedom Alliance is to advance the American heritage of freedom by honoring and encouraging military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense."
There is only one kind of sovereignty that is freedom, the sovereignty of the individual to live their own life as they choose. The phrase, "the sovereignty of the United States," does not mean the sovereignty of individual Americans, it means the sovereignty of the American government.
That's not freedom! That's not individual liberty. That's statism. It is the assumption that maintaining the power of the U.S. Government is the equivalent of individual interest, a subtle subordination of the individual to the state.
With few exceptions, every program and organization in this country that labels itself "patriotic" or "supporting the troops" promotes and glorifies war.
By Conservatives, I do not mean, "neocons," who are blatant statists and advocates for big government and war. As
James Bovard writes, describing the "neoconservative concept of government:" "The key to ending evil ... is to greatly increase the power of the federal government both at home and abroad. Government becomes the ultimate force for the good—and distrust of government is the ultimate proof of a lack of sophistication."
I mean by conservative those who seek a return to "Constitutional" government and a restoration of "American ideals." The "conservative" WEB news site, Newsmax recent article about conservative Republican, House Minority Leader John Boehner's" recent speech at an American Legion convention, where he said, "I support our counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan," Boehner said, "but the president must do more to emphasize his commitment to ensuring its success ...." In other words, the war is fine—we're just not killing enough people and destroying enough property. We need to bomb more.
From Townhall.com, another "conservative" WEB site, is this glowing report of the war in Afghanistan by Oliver North
"Report From 'The Necessary War'." The "story" is about a mission he accompanied to, "Take down an opium smuggler's compound before he could move his precious cargo across the nearby, increasingly tense Afghanistan-Pakistan border." The successful raid, he wrote, netted, "about 175 pounds of opium, heroin, precursor chemicals, weapons and cash ..." "All of this," he said, "reflects the remarkable courage and tenacity of those serving in our nation's uniform."
Typically, there is no mention of casualties, and certainly not the cost of helicopters, troops, and materials to eliminate 175 pounds of opium from some hole in Afghanistan, or how any of this is protecting Americans or their freedoms. Of course it has nothing to do with that. The article is not meant to explain, it's meant to beat the war drums of "glory" and "and militarism."
Here's another conservative Townhall.com article, "The Western Way of War" by Caroline Glick.
"Due to the administration's aversion to civilian casualties, preventing civilian casualties has become a chief fighting aim for the US military. Yet since the Taliban war effort relies on civilian infrastructures and human shields, the strategic significance of preventing civilian casualties is that US forces' ability to fight the Taliban is dramatically circumscribed."
Caroline explains what is wrong with that. "... the story is that in Afghanistan, the US is repeating a sorry pattern of Western nations of not understanding - or perhaps not caring - that if you are not willing to fight a war to victory, you will lose it."
In case you're not clear on that, she means if your not willing to kill innocent civilians you cannot "win" the war.
What war? Well it used to be called the "war on terrorism." It is still "the threat of terrorism" which is the excuse for this apparently endless war. But what is terrorism, and what is wrong with it? Isn't it the fact that terrorist attacks are carried out against, killing and maiming, innocent citizens the very thing that is wrong with terrorism? Isn't that the basic immorality of terrorism? So, to fight terrorism, killing and maiming innocent citizens not only becomes moral, but mandatory. No contraction here, none at all.
The Free Republic forum, with over 300,000 registered participants, is perhaps the largest conservative site on the Internet. There is hardly a more rabidly pro-military pro-war site on the WEB, with its programs and rallies promoting the war and the military. These are not political activists, just everyday Americans who have had their moral priorities turned around by government and military propaganda. Have a look at the nice elderly gentleman with the, "God Bless Our Military," sign, and this gentleman (left side, about 5 images down) with the "We support our Brave Military and their Just Mission," sign. These are all Free Republic sponsored activities.
Free Republic is also a big supporter of the Tea Parties, especially the
Tea Party Express. Their
core values are "Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets." But at every Tea Party rally of the over 2000 organizations (listed at the bottom of the main page) there are always signs like those described above promoting "supporting the troops," standing behind "America's war effort," and "maintaining a strong military."
What do good conservative Americans like those on Free Republic like? One of the most common and popular threads is called "War Porn" like
Sunday Night War Porn with links to actual war footage of buildings being blown up, people being being killed from the air, and lots of killing.
Do they watch these to remind themselves of just how horrible war really is? No! They watch them because they enjoy them, enjoy seeing the destruction and death and celebrate it as though they were watching something glorious and noble and moral. Americans really love war.
In the very first article of this series I quoted Ayn Rand's "Roots of War." It was that article in which Rand made her strongest case against war. Today, those who claim to be the followers of her philosophy, Objectivism, are the worst of the war promoters, and if they had any real influence on America's policies (which, fortunately they do not) they would be much more dangerous than the neocons. But the rhetoric is very alarming.
If you only ever hear him, you'll think your hearing Mel Blank doing his Elmer Fudd voice, but this is no cartoon character, he's the President and Executive Director, of the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook. He and Alex Epstein, an ARI fellow, published an article,"'Just War Theory' vs. American Self-Defense," that makes revenge (retaliation) an appropriate principle justifying attacking Afghanistan and Iraq.
"On that day [September 11, 2001] and in the weeks after, we all felt the same things. We felt grief, .... We felt anger .... We felt disbelief .... And we felt fear .... But above all, we felt the desire for overwhelming retaliation against whomever was responsible for these atrocities, directly or indirectly, so that no one would dare launch or support such an attack on America ever again.
"... in fact, the desire for overwhelming retaliation most Americans felt after 9/11--and feel rarely, if ever, now--was the result of an objective conviction: that a truly monstrous evil had been perpetrated, and that if the enemies responsible for the 9/11 attacks were not dealt with decisively, we would suffer the same fate (or worse) again."
That is no doubt the conclusion those who base their reasoning on their feelings would come to. These are suppose to be Objectivists who come to their conclusions rationally, not based on all the things they "felt."
They write, "to defeat the terrorist enemy that struck on 9/11, our leaders would first have to identify who exactly that enemy is and then be willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat him." And they know exactly who the enemy is.
"The group that threatens us with terrorism—the group of which Al Qaeda is but one terrorist faction—is a militant, religious, ideological movement best designated as "Islamic Totalitarianism." ... They seek to eradicate Western Culture, first in the Middle East and then in the West itself, with the ultimate aim of bringing about the worldwide triumph of Islam."
Do they not notice the irony here. Radical Islam, perhaps all of Islam, would like the entire world to become Islamic, and does not mind using force to bring it about when they can. Objectivists would like the whole world to "enjoy" the kind of liberty American's are supposed to have, and don't mind forcing it on other nations when they can find an excuse to do it.
As far as retaliating against those who perpetrated 9/11, it's too late. All 19 of the perpetrators died. If they intend to accuse all of Islam as guilty for 9/11, there is no way that can be defeated, though it is a wonderful excuse for endless war, like that in Afghanistan. The rest of the article is an attempt to morally justify just such a war.
ARI actively campaigned for
war in Iraq and is now propagandizing for
war with Iran, in fact, for the total annihilation of Iran.
Their war-lust is totally immoral and has so corrupted them, they
defend torture as a morally objective method. Harry Binswanger, editor of The Ayn Rand Lexicon,
defends torture. Leonard Peikoff, founder of ARI,
defends torture. The whole bunch of war mongers think
torture is just ducky.
[NOTE: Most of the links in this section relating to ARI are from the site,
ARI Watch. I do not vouch for either the interpretations there, or the possible motives, but it is very much pro-Objectivist and pro-Rand, and its criticisms of ARI are all documented and factual. If you really want to know what ARI has become, all the articles are worth reading.]
While I'm not concerned about the influence of ARI on American war policy, or any other policy, which is little to none, it is an illustration of how the principles of American liberty and individualism can be perverted to appear to support war, even torture, as noble and moral.
Freedom of speech is part of true liberty, and in this country anyone is free to promote whatever they choose to promote. But those who claim to be followers of the philosophy of one who most clearly demonstrated what true freedom and individual liberty are and what moral principles they depended on to claim they represent Ayn Rand's philosophy while espousing that which she and her philosophy despise, are liars and deceivers.
"Wars are the second greatest evil that human societies can perpetrate. (The first is dictatorship, the enslavement of their own citizens, which is the cause of wars.) When a nation resorts to war, it has some purpose, rightly or wrongly, something to fight for—and the only justifiable purpose is self-defense. If you want to see the ultimate, suicidal extreme of altruism, on an international scale, observe the war in Vietnam—a war in which American soldiers are dying for no purpose whatever." [Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, April 1967]
Just as they are dying and having their lives and bodies destroyed for no purpose whatever today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They Don't Have To Go
All these "patriotic" Americans beating their war drums, some gullible and innocent, other's with ulterior and very guilty motives, all share one attribute which is the reason no one should listen to them. None of them are going to be putting their lives at risk. Oh, veterans will say, they've already put their lives at risk, which means nothing, because they made it. None of those who didn't make it will be promoting the glories of war.
There is nothing more hideous, more disgraceful, more immoral than the wholesale slaughter of men and women and destruction of property which is war. Only lies can promote it, but it doesn't matter whether anyone believes the lies or not, except for that class of individuals who are the direct victims of those lies—the young men and women deceived by them whose lives will be snuffed out our shattered. As my grandmother said, "there will always be wars 'til all the young men refuse to fight." So there will always be wars, because those who know better will continue to tell the lies and sell their wars to the young and gullible who do foolishly go to kill and be killed.