FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Troop Worship

If there’s one thing that unifies the nation in times of perpetual war it’s the pledge to “Support the Troops”.

Between yellow ribbon magnets, patriotic anthems at sports games and corporate marketing campaigns, the rhetoric that those in uniform are protecting freedom is hammered into the psyche of Americans at every turn.

But no war ever fought by the US military has been about freedom. Communism wasn’t a threat to us then, and terrorism isn’t a threat to us now. The only reason an empire ever fights wars is to maintain empire.

Every year, the establishment hijacks Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day – not only to audaciously commemorate the war criminals that send our brothers and sisters off to needlessly die – but to justify decades of bloodshed and militarism while paving the way for decades more.

It’s been thirteen years after the declaration of a global “War on Terror”, with two catastrophic failures under Uncle Sam’s belt. In occupied Afghanistan, America’s longest war, opium cultivation is at record high. In Iraq, over one million civilians were slaughtered to secure oil interests. And despite being kicked out of the country by Iraqis, Obama just keeps sending more troops to fight the new al Qaeda, pledging 1500 more boots on the ground just this week.

The stream of empty platitudes ordering troop worship is especially ironic considering the abysmal treatment veterans receive once they return home.

More than 6,800 soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. And until 2011, war was the leading cause of soldier death. Then they started taking their own lives. In 2012 and 2013, soldiers began killing themselves faster than they were dying on the battlefield, according to the Pentagon’s own data. To put that into perspective, a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, or twenty-two every single day.

Maybe this number wouldn’t be so stunningly high if the military and VA actually helped returning soldiers rehabilitate. Instead, thousands are suffering from various injuries and forms of PTSD when they are thrown back into society.

As of March, 2014 the backlog of Veterans benefits was a staggering 400,000 cases with an average wait time of 125 days to process the claims, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. At least one million servicemen and women have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 300 thousand during the Vietnam War, despite the lack of a draft. The number could be even higher, but the VA abruptly stopped publishing the number of injured troops, citing national security reasons for the censorship.

The disgraceful way veterans are treated in this country exemplifies how little this government actually values life. Amidst all the ritualistic pageantry immortalizing fallen soldiers, we lose sight of the military mind, one that dominates policy and breeds new generations of sadists, who are taught that other human beings have lesser value than them. This toxic mindset seeps into every facet of American society, teaching every citizen that force is the answer to every problem. As Chris Hedges explains:

“The U.S. military has won the ideological war. The nation sees human and social problems as military problems. To fight terrorists Americans have become terrorists. Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy.”

As Salon journalist David Masciotra points out, compulsory troop worship deadens democracy and restricts questioning. Calling all soldiers heroes undermines those who actually are, a person who would throw themselves in the line of fire to save their battalion should not be generalized alongside one that pillages, rapes and murders.

I know people don’t join the military to be called heroes, or because they think they’re fighting evil incarnate. Most do so because there are no jobs and no hope, but there’s always hope that comes with choosing peace over violence. War would cease to exist if soldiers refused to fight them.

The only heroes of today’s wars are those who resist them, including, Tomas Young, a 34 year old soldier who became paralyzed on his fifth day deployed in Iraq from a bullet to the spine. Ever since, Young became one of the most prominent anti-war activists in America, famously penning an excoriating letter to Bush and Cheney.

He died on the eve of Veterans Day 2014. But he said he wanted to die knowing that he fought as hard as he could to keep another him from coming back to Iraq.

So, the next time you hear someone say “Support the Troops”, ask what they’re doing to make sure there will be no more bloodshed, no more body bags and no more war.

Abby Martin is an artist, activist and journalist whose work can be viewed at http://www.mediaroots.org/. She currently works as a correspondent, writer and host of RT America’s Breaking the Set.

 

More articles by:

Abby Martin is an artist, activist and journalist whose work can be viewed at http://www.mediaroots.org/. She currently works as a correspondent, writer and host of RT America’s Breaking the Set.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail