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Working Class War Fodder

Who in their right mind would be prepared to fight and die for Shell, Chevron or Coca Cola? Who with half a brain would choose to put their life on the line for Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or General Electric? Any volunteers? I’m guessing there wouldn’t be many.

Then again, I could be wrong. Think of the tens of thousands of NATO troops who over the last decade or so have been in Afghanistan or Iraq. Drunk on the potent aphrodisiac of nationalism and a military that sells life in the armed forces as resembling some computer game reality, young mainly working class men have lined up in their droves to put their lives on the line for their respective governments.

Enticed by the glamour of armed forces’ adverts that proclaim ‘see the world’ or ‘learn a trade’ in an era of severe economic downturn, when few poorer people have little chance of doing either, ‘serving queen and country’ (or some other nationalistic slogan) seems like a good option.

This form of economic conscription has meant no shortage of young men signing up to fight wars in far-away lands. Sold under the outright lie of ‘protecting democracy’, ‘humanitarian intervention’ or another apparent high-minded falsehood, thousands have gone off to kill and die and pledge allegiance to a ‘greater good’.

But it’s not the greater good of humankind, queen, flag or country that is at stake. Forget about blurry-eyed patriotism or idealism. These young men are spilling their own blood and the blood of countless others on behalf of corporate interests.

Western ‘liberal democracy’ has nothing to do with empowering people and everything to do with enslaving them and making them blind to the chains that bind them. It is the powerful foundations and think tanks headed or funded by private corporations that drive US policies and its war agenda.

Through their funding or by direct membership of various foundations, think tanks and government bodies, US domestic and foreign policies are formulated to serve corporate interests. It is the Brookings Institute, International Crisis Group and Council on Foreign Relations, among others, where the real heart of the US government lies. In Britain, Chatham House plays a similar role.

John Perkins book Confessions of an Economic Hitman details how poorer countries have been neo-colonised by a cabal of US corporations, banks and government agencies. This is achieved via a combination of targeted assassinations, bribery, deceit and financial loans leading to debt dependency. If all of that fails, the troops are then sent in under the banner of ‘humanitarianism’ or protecting ‘national security’. Corporate America has been the leading hand in virtually every US-backed conflict since 1945, from Guatemala in the 1950s right up to Syria and Ukraine today.

Who but a misinformed and brainwashed public would think for one minute that such corporations and their foundations, institutes and agencies would let ordinary folk have any say in policies that would adversely affect their power or enormous wealth? There is no way they would allow any genuine form of democracy that could disrupt their aims. What is required and achieved is an ignorant and misinformed public that places an X on a ballot form every four years in favour of competing corporate-sponsored politicians. A public that readily lines up to support the corporate war agenda, and a public from which a cannon fodder army of young men is recruited to die on the battlefields of Asia.

And as those young men are delivered to their families inside a wooden box or return home suffering from the long-term effects of using health-destroying weapons, there can only be one thought among decent minded folk – ‘what a waste.’

But young men being carted away in a body bag or suffering from life-long illnesses means nothing to the men these wars are fought for. They are just ‘collateral damage’ in pursuit of the ‘greater good’. Not the greater good of lofty idealism. But the corporate brand of ‘greater good’ – greed, resource grabs, ever more profits and ever more power.

The mainstream media glorifies the military at every available opportunity. Obama calls armed forces personnel ‘the real patriots’. In Britain they are ‘our brave lads’. Such rhetoric serves as a smokescreen to hide the true nature of the illegal, imperialist wars NATO continues to engage in.

For many, it seems strange that our ‘brave heroes’, our ‘true patriots’ who were sent out to kill, so often have to rely on charities when back from the battlefield to piece their health and lives back together again. But it’s not so strange. Henry Kissinger, the criminal responsible for scorching, torching, maiming and killing tens of thousands is reported in the book The Final Days (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) to have referred to military men as “dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”

Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello once wrote in his song ‘Oliver’s Army: ‘Call careers information, have you got yourself an occupation’. The song is regarded as an anti-military statement and that particular lyric was reminiscent of a TV ad campaign by the British army to attract young men straight from school from mainly economically deprived areas at the time (later in the song, he mentions ‘the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne’, the rivers of three of the largest coastal population centres on the coasts of England: Liverpool, London, Newcastle).

The reality is that these young men are regarded by the wealthy beneficiaries of the war agenda as constituting disposable working class fodder who have little idea about what or who they are really fighting for.

More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

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