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View Diary: Iraq Vets Banned from Veterans Day Parade (204 comments)

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  •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
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    I couldn't agree more that this is a divide between leftists and liberals.

    While I detest the worship of celebrities I don't see how it really bears on the question of whether military service should be honored.

    I don't doubt that many (if not most) soldiers see themselves as prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for a larger noble purpose. The problem, of course, is that the same is true of most suicide bombers as well. Before we designate self-sacrifice as honorable its neccesary, I believe, to determine what the self-sacrifice is actually for. It should hardly be surprising that when it comes to asking people to kill and die that there might be a fair amount of deception and self-deception involved.

    There was nothing intrinsically decent or honoroable about the German aristocracy and there is nothing decent or honorable about U.S. imperialism. This doesn't mean that many individuals aligned with either didn't or don't love their kids, say good morning to their neighbors or write checks to noble charities. It does mean taht the professional organization of people into the violence neccesary to maintain either of those social systems is not something to be honored.

    The war in Iraq is not a perversion of the "real purpose" of the U.S. military. The U.S. has been an agressive and expansionist power from day one and the place of the military in our national culture is very much a product of this simple fact.

    As USMC Major General Smedley Butler (one of only two Marine to recieve two medals of honor for separate engagements) put it:

    "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."

    It should also be said that there is actually a strong connection between the grotesque culture of consumption and celebrity and the soldiers calling. It is the soldiers who ultimately secure the "favorable international business climate" (a euphemism for regimes that bust unions and tolerate the poisoning of their environment in order to produce cheap goods for export to the US) that delivers the (affordable) plasma TVs and mountains of other consumer junk that keep the people of this country so stupefied.

    None of this is intended to heap scorn on individual soldiers. We are all products of this culture and all trying to make our way in this world. But the time has long since passed for praising the heroism of young men who sign up to learn how to kill out of a mixture of machismo, ignorance of geopolitical reality, and misplaced idealism, and then die terrified as they carry out missions crafted for the most cynical purposes.

    Build the Iraq Moratorium Fri., Sept. 21!
    "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories" -- Amilcar Cabral

    by Christopher Day on Mon Nov 12, 2007 at 06:57:12 PM PST

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