FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Of Warriors and Liberators

by DIANE CHRISTIAN

“Our troops are warriors and liberators.”
US President George W. Bush, 11 November 2003

Warriors and liberators are not one. Forcing and freeing are different acts. The problem is time-you can’t do war and freedom simultaneously. In Vietnam we burned villages to pacify them and it requires abstract thinking and wrenched words to recast that destruction as liberation. The soldier in Baghdad who yelled from his tank to hostile cries “we’re here for your fucking freedom” voices the paradox. First I beat you, then I kiss you. It’s not so much a perverse erotic routine as belief in a mysterious transforming power of violence.

The President’s plan was to force in order to free. This is always the military rationale. We don’t publically pursue force for the sake of flexing mighty muscle, dominating, profiteering, or seizing resources. As Anchises tells his son Aeneas in the underworld the destiny of great warriors is to rule for the sake of justice and order:

“To pacify, to impose the rule of law
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.”

It transforms war into a noble act, selfless and society-building. Blake translated that argument from the Aeneid VI, 848 this way: “Let others study Art: Rome has somewhat better to do–namely War and Dominion.”

When we say war is noble, well-meaning, self-sacrificing, does the power of words rule? Like transubstantiation, do the words change blood into bread? ‘Hocus-pocus’ is a deliberate corruption of “Hic est corpus meum” (“This is my body”)-the words of Christian consecration making bread into the body of Christ. For the faithful the words are sacred and transformative, for the faithless they are ‘hocus-pocus,’ a deception. The President, highpriest of the nation, intones a consecration when he says ‘warriors and liberators.’ He builds on our Battle Hymn of the Republic which goes “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” The model is skewed, however. Christ doesn’t kill, he dies rather than kill. He is a liberator not a warrior. Hocus-pocus.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail