Militarism Has Become Enormously Popular and Nearly Universally Accepted

Photograph Source: The National Guard – CC BY 2.0

I watch The Real News regularly. Marc Steiner seems to have taken over the role that one of the program’s founders, Paul Jay, once had before he disappeared from the program at the beginning of last summer. Jay disappeared along with one of the lead reporters at The Real News with no official explanation ever given. Recently the comment section appended to segments on the program disappeared and I stopped receiving responses to emails I sent to The Real News.

On December 13, 2019, the segment “188 Democrats vote for Trump’s Bloated Defense Budget” aired on The Read News. Here’s host Marc Steiner about 13 minutes into the discussion of the $738 billion so-called defense “budget” that will stoke the profits of the permanent war contractor class to levels of stratospheric proportions for the endless wars the US now fights and supports: ”I mean the people in this country and from many and interesting and good reasons support their military.”

The Congress, in a bipartisan move, gave Trump $738 billion, but the kids in Flint had to wait for clean water in bottles and Trump is cutting food stamps. Are we exceptional yet?

In an otherwise well-done and critical analysis of US military spending, there’s the expected and obeisant nod to the military that has been going on since the eradication of the Vietnam Syndrome (the hesitancy of the people in the US to support war following the disaster of the Vietnam War) by George H W Bush in 1991 in the first Gulf War. If the US government made us safe from communism, but not the vagaries and abuses of capitalism, why can’t the US fight all the endless wars it pleases for profit and the raw power of empire? Let’s all celebrate and learn to keep critical thoughts about militarism to ourselves1

When the antiwar group I was involved in in 2001 gave up the ghost and disbanded in response to the rise of militarism following the heinous attacks on September 11, 2001, I knew the handwriting was on the proverbial wall for the celebration of all things connected to war and militarism. Many go hungry in the US, schools aren’t properly funded, the environment decays beneath our feet, and millions of others can’t get good medical care, but anything the military and its contractors want is okay in this not-so-new world order.

The accolades for those who fight and fought wars need to end with their proper care in and out of the military. Soon after the War on Terror began, local and national news outlets began the obeisant and slavish celebration of everything military. It became so widespread that I found myself unable to watch local and national news outlets without reeling in disbelief. I knew better from having had some skin in the military’s “game” during the Vietnam era and later attempted to help and support the few veterans who sat in the classes I taught and seemed not to be getting the care that they needed from the government. What do the words “Support Our Troops” mean during a time of endless and immoral wars? Trump thinks that the most heinous of war crimes need to be immediately erased from the records of those who commit those crimes against civilians.

The US has not championed a just cause in war since World War II. The US breaks the rules or laws of war with abandon because it can. When was the last time the US fought a war for a defined objective, achieved that objective with a proportional use of force, and then got out of the war and helped rebuild a nation that lay in ruins? Examine the disaster that is present day Iraq for a reality check. Not that there can’t be an intelligent strategy for protecting people, but look to the intelligence agencies’ and larger government’s debacle in the lead-up to the September 2001 attacks and it’s clear that those so-called  defense dollars don’t add up to very much. Now, the government knows every single move citizens make, and that policy is called intelligence information gathering.

Militarism has long since come to the streets of the US with militarized police forces that have predictable and lethal effects for minorities. Even the sacred legal concept of posse comitatus has now been jettisoned against “We the people…”

Notice that as the US becomes more right wing, how the celebration of the military and militarism becomes so popular and nearly universal. There are those at the highest level of power, Stephen Miller, for example, who would like nothing more than to see his fellow travelers do the goose step and use the hand gestures of the far-right as they march on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).