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Must every holiday be twisted to honor the military? I was saddened this morning to go to my Facebook news feed and be promptly hit with memes showing American soldiers in the Middle East, asking me to think about them during my day off. The last time I counted, we had at least four national holidays that either directly or indirectly honored the military.

Yes, I believe we have a duty to support our soldiers when they return from duty, but let’s face it: being in the military is a job and joining is voluntary. There are many jobs that should be held in just as high esteem. What about people fighting to protect the environment, people fighting to protect civil rights, or—being that today is Labor Day—people fighting to protect workers’ rights?

Since World War II, the U.S. has essentially gone from one military conflict-of-choice to another. When people say our military is “fighting for our freedom,” that’s not actually the case. Other than some laudable humanitarian efforts, much closer to the truth is that our military is fighting for Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton.

We need a “Department of Defense,” not a “Department of Offense.” If we had that, we could dramatically shrink our military, and instead of remembering our brave men and women overseas, they could be with us here in person! But with military profiteers pulling the strings in key congressional districts across the country, that’s not going to happen politically—it has to come from the people. To do that we must stop the culture of turning every soldier into a hero, as that only encourages more people to sign up.

Imagine if the U.S. Military had a staffing shortage. Without a continual influx of new recruits, we’d have to be much more selective on where we sent our soldiers. And maybe, just maybe, Exxon and ConocoPhillips would have to pay for their own security, should they chose to do business in a dangerous region of the world.

The most dreaded word for the war profiteers of the Military Industrial Complex is “peace.” And that’s why on this Labor Day I chose not to think of people who fight with weapons. Instead, I chose to think about my heroes—those who fight using their voices, their brains, and their time to make the world a truly better place.

Originally posted to Marty Essen on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Group W: Resisting War.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My heroes... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PatriciaVa, exlrrp

    ...have always been cowboys.

    I don't know how I'm meant to act with all of you lot. Sometimes I don't try, I just na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

    by Zornorph on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 10:40:25 AM PDT

  •  Republished to Group W. It was a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marty Essen, sfinx

    pleasure to see and read this, a wonderful point wonderfully made. Thank you.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:42:16 AM PDT

  •  Labor Day is a military holiday? (0+ / 0-)

    news to me---I see nothing about military at all today.
    There's also the fact that being in the military IS labor and should be honored for that.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 04:56:29 PM PDT

  •  In my young flower power days, I particpated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marty Essen

    in sit-ins for the ROTC off campus movement.

    It worked; we got ROTC off campus. Faculty joined us in demanding that universities not be recruiting grounds for the military -- or for the military industrial complex.

    That was a very different America.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 05:18:47 PM PDT

  •  I didn't join for the adulation. (0+ / 0-)

    I joined for several reasons:  (1)  I was a poor kid who did not know how to finance college, or even that I should have gone.  In 1981 poor kids didn't get that kind of counseling because we were expected to go work in the mill.  (2)  No way in hell was I going into logging.  Yep, the military was actually a less hazardous alternative.  (3)  I wanted some sort of future outside a dead-end job in a dead-end logging town.

    ...we must stop the culture of turning every soldier into a hero, as that only encourages more people to sign up.
    Because adulation was not the reason I joined, I don't have a lot of faith in the above approach working.

    What do I have faith in?

    I have faith in making college or trade school affordable, and in spending the lion's share of the counseling on the poor and struggling.  Military recruitment suffers when young adults have options.

    I have faith in robust occupational safety laws, and in pay commensurate with the hazards of the job.  No one should have to unduly risk their health or life in order to earn a living.

    I have faith in government involvement in incubating technology.  We have to be the only industrialized nation where government involvement is viewed as anathema.  Solyndra aside, incubating new technology as a means of competing internationally is a good idea.

    I have faith in laws and national policy that supports well-paying jobs.  Offshoring and that crap where companies dodge taxes by moving headquarters overseas should be illegal.  Again, military recruitment suffers when young adults have options.

    I have faith in diplomacy and multilateral efforts as the foreign policy tools of first choice.  The military doesn't recruit when it doesn't need people.  I can tell you that as a survivor of several military reductions-in-force.

    I have faith in realism regarding national security threats.  We can screw this up in both directions:  overreact and people die unnecessarily; underreact and people die unnecessarily.  In the end, both extremes over-use the military:  one by over-reach and the other by allowing a malignancy to grow unchecked.

    If we want to minimize the size of the military, don't do it by making military service a thing to be slut-shamed.  Do it by making viable alternatives available, and by engaging in foreign policy that minimizes the need for military power.

    If atheism is a religion, then "off" is a TV channel.

    by DaveinBremerton on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 08:27:15 PM PDT

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