As an outsider to the US, I am continuously appalled at how deeply
militarism and war are entrenched into the identity of US
nationals. It seems like virtually every citizen of the US either has
a family member involved with the military or a very close friend
"serving", as the euphemism goes, in the US
military. Or when they don't, at least very few people would question that joining the military is an honourable, decent way to make a living.
This is not normal. How does military culture in the US consistently mix in with civilian culture? How can war be constantly glorified in the media, in movies, in books? Why is it so hard to find an American who doesn't have someone close who is in the military? Well, compare the military power of the US to
the rest of the world, to any other country. The US alone has
enough firepower to blow up the Earth ten times over. Here's a
slightly more objective perspective: the US spends twice as
much as the next biggest military spender, which is the entirety of
the European Union. It has 12 aircraft carriers, while the next
biggest collection cruisers of is the UK's 5; 22 cruisers followed by 5 in Russia. It has 72
nuclear submarines, with the immediate runner-up also being Russia
with 28. Its nuclear weapons stockpile is 9,200 warheads, this time
tailing Russia's 16,000 warheads.
In short, the US is a massively, massively militarised
country, way above and beyond any other country. All those nukes,
tanks, soldiers, fighter planes, submarines, and aircraft carriers
cannot exist without the support of billions upon billions of
taxpayer's dollars, taxpayers that must apparently agree at
some level with this militarisation that could not continue without
their support. The fact that these taxpayers are being fed, are
getting gasoline in their cars, are living in one of the
world's richest countries, and overall content enough to not stage a
widespread revolt in protest of their country's militarisation, leads
me to believe that they must at the very least passively support the
wars that bring them such comforts, and at worst actively advocate
their continuation at the expense of the rest of the world.
In fact, it appears that the citizens of the US have been in agreement
of war since the creation of the country. Since the US was
created, by a bloody revolution, the US has been in almost continual
military activity, mostly with itself during its fledgling
years. The necessity to militarise every US national soon became so important to the Continental Congress, that they included amongst one of the basic rights and tenets of the new nation the right to a military and with it, the right to kill. The US military activities soon expanded into its neighbours with
Canada in the north and Mexico in
the south, then moved on to Caribbean countries
with Cuba, and later took their military to a more global scale when
they deemed it profitable to enter The Great War and
secure a worldwide foothold as military masters, all this without
taking into account the countless military activities whether at home
or abroad that do not fall within any clearly marked war. War
and conquest worked for Alexander, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan,
Napoleon, and it's working damn well for Columbia. There is no other
way to maintain the American way of life than to be in constant war
with anyone possible. War stimulates the economy, creates jobs, gives
good spoils, stifles individual freedom, and unites the country
against a common enemy. War is good for business.
To put it succinctly, the
US has always been at war with the world.
As a result of this deeply militaristic national identity, moral
justification and rationalisation to themselves is expressly
necessary. Thus the euphemistic language of militarisation, people's
countries or homes become "targets", death becomes "casualty", torture
becomes "advanced interrogation technique". It's not the
Department of War as it once was until 1947, but now the
Department of "Defense". You don't kill, you "neutralise". All of this
coated with ideologies of freedom, defense, protection, and
democracy. All to secure The American Way. And so on. Layer upon layer
of doublethink and newspeak.
A big part of the language of militarisation is the "our boys"
rhetoric. Since like I said at the beginning, war touches personally
the friends and families of virtually every US citizen, they need a
justification as to why their friends and families are off in
foreign lands killing or helping kill other people. The atrocity of war is
nowadays not lost on even the densest individuals. They understand, at
least since Vietnam when images of war came directly into every home
of the US, that war means death and massacre, and at least in a remote
sense, they understand that their boys, "our boys", are there in the
midst of that death and massacre.
But our boys are good overall. They're ours after all. They
are the same quiet boys who do their chores, went to school, help old
ladies cross the street, and woo pretty girls. So why are our boys out
there in that horrible war? Simple. They really don't want to be
there. They're doing their duty, just another chore that good boys
like ours do. They are doing the best they can amidst this horrible
war no individual can stand up to and nobody can do anything about it
but follow it along. Good boys, good boys out there killing or helping
kill because they can't help it.
Phooey, I say, to put it mildly.
There is always a choice. There's a choice to go to jail. There's a
choice to desert. There's a choice to flee the country. There's a
choice to bring victimisation by your unjust, deceitful, warmonging
government upon yourself instead of massacring people abroad. It may
not be an easy choice, certainly not a comfortable choice, but if it
were given to me, I would take it immediately. I am not going to murder
or collaborate however indirectly with the murder of any other human
being, no matter what rhetoric is used to guide me to it. There is no
glory here, no patriotism, no national security or defense, only
humans dying and suffering. You cannot compare the relatively harmless
rudeness of spitting on the face of one such murderer or collaborator,
however unwilling they may claim to be, with the crimes they committed
abroad, either directly or even by passive negligence. I would spit on
the face of every member of the military if it would help bring an end
to the war machine, starting with its propaganda arm.
Don't get me wrong. They are your boys, and you're perfectly allowed
to love them as much as you want. I'm just saying that your love
should not be in any way construed to justify or forgive what they are doing and
collaborating with out there. Your love for your boys doesn't make it all right.