Memorial Day Patriotism: Cannon Fodder for the Merchants of Death

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” – Albert Einstein

The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan by the United States cannot be considered to spread freedom and liberty any more than kidnapping and repeated rape can be considered to spread love. Neither of these countries threatened or attacked the US. The occupation and murder of Iraqi and Afghan citizens, or resistance fighters, is not an act of patriotism; it is a criminal act of aggression. Joining a military that you know will command you to commit these crimes does not absolve the individual.

Big business and politicians alike, banging the drums and waving flags, are leading the cheers as soldiers march to their deaths, and they watch their profits and approval ratings sore. Presidential approval ratings explode when they invade a country or assassinate someone. Look at the ‘bump’ Obama got for assassinating Bin Laden. Oil and mining interests, along with private military contractors, rake in the spoils of war while Americans send their children, their brothers and sisters, and their husbands and wives, off to battle to die or be changed forever.

More than one in ten American soldiers lose a limb. More than six in ten suffer from post-traumatic shock syndrome (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury. If they survive their tour of duty and subsequent stop-loss redeployments, they are more likely to end up struggling for assistance from their government, or marketing themselves as mercenaries to Erik Prince and his companies (Blackwater, Xe, Reflex Responses R2) of paid killers, than getting a quality education. Over 920,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 1,700,00 more have been injured.

For what? Because Iraq and Afghanistan are now so much better off than before the invasion? Ask an Afghan or Iraqi citizen, or an honest American soldier, they’ll tell you different. Can Americans now claim they are safer? Quite the opposite, US aggression has resulted in a much greater risk by providing many with what may be considered a new righteous justification for harming the US and its citizens. Is this national defense? Is this spreading freedom and democracy? Why are empire and blood-lust being allowed to masquerade as patriotism?

Have Americans become the modern Romans? Has the spectacle of the arena been safely moved to other peoples’ countries? Have the stone benches in the coliseum been traded for the comfort of a Barcalounger and big-screen TV? Have we dehumanized our victims to such a point that we can cheer their deaths despite their innocence and honor the ‘heroes’ who slaughter them? Is being something other than a US citizen a capital crime?

Modern gladiators are paid a wage, promised an education, armed to the teeth, and sent out to kill on command. Those who try to defend themselves are called the enemy, and their attempts to save themselves are used to justify the violence against them. The US military is nothing more than the muscle behind Big-Oil, Big-Finance, Big-Business, Big-Pharma et al. National security gave way to economic expansionism and neocolonialism a long time ago.

The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns are no less abhorrent than Vietnam, but the public reaction has changed. Americans have either become desensitized to the horrors they export, or they have accepted this brutal substitution for patriotism that their politicians and media have sold them. Or, they truly are a country full of blood-thirsty misanthropes that place no value on the lives and nations they destroy as long as they remain fat and happy behind the wheel of an SUV.

Being paid to wear a uniform does not justify murder. Murdering people in other countries does not make a hero. Sacrificing life or limb for an unjust war does not make you a hero; it makes you a victim. Convincing the youth that the invasion of other countries that never threatened or attacked their own, and the murder of innocent civilians and all that dare resist, somehow equals patriotism, tears the very fabric of society.

The crimes perpetrated by those in positions of power and influence have robbed the members of the armed forces the right to be called patriots and heroes. Those who have served unwittingly are their victims, just as much as the ‘foreigners’ they’ve been instructed to kill. Those who serve knowingly can be afforded no absolution. To give control purposefully over one’s actions to a murderous enterprise is to assume equal culpability. To volunteer to have someone instruct you to commit a wrongful act is precisely that: wrong.

The only ones who have benefited from American aggression, and the crimes committed against all the people around the world, from Vietnam to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, and on and on through America’s decades of endless wars, are the power brokers and profiteers that picked the fights in the first place. To join a military that we all now know is involved in illegal wars and occupations is an act against humanity.

On this Memorial Day, remember the reality of the US’ wars, not the romanticized fiction that the propaganda mills spew out. Remember all those who have lost their lives, not just your compatriots who died or lost limbs while trying to kill others. The information is out there. The facts are accessible. Soldiers are no longer misinformed, victimized, heroic, patriots… they are accessories. The denial of reality does not make the carnage acceptable.  The blood cannot be wiped from your hands with the flag.


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