We must stop glorifying war murders and their perpetrators. Instead we must demobilize globally in order to address the far greater threat of abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse. Murder has not, nor will it ever, make us free. Someday soon we need a day to memorialize senseless acts of love, peace, sharing, and kindness.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire (1694 – 1778)
This Memorial Day, as America lionizes the bravery and sacrifice of its soldiers, try if you can to step aside from jingoistic nationalism for a moment and think freely. Recall that stripped of ritual and pomp, war is the killing of other human beings for political and economic gain. America has proven particularly adept, by some estimates being at war all but 20 years of its nearly 240-year history.
In war brainwashed young men (and now women) of one tribe hunt down and kill the indoctrinated from another tribe to serve the interests of rich old men. It doesn’t matter under the banner of which gods or arbitrarily defined nations, or what rhetoric is used; war is murder. Bodies are cut and blown apart, homes destroyed, families ripped asunder, women raped, and the land, water, and air plundered as the wealthy declare a respite from the laws of humanity to further their own enrichment.
This is not to suggest that humanity never has to fight to stop the march of some madman or to stop some overconsuming nation from wantonly stealing resources. We may yet have to fight to overthrow the oil oligarchy’s hold on our economy and destruction of our biosphere.
But the way we glorify soldiers and war – covering up the brutal nature of war, and the profound suffering it causes – does a sad disservice to those killed, those aggrieved who will start the next war, and those who blindly followed orders. Young, naïve men and women go to war believing falsely that a nation can excuse their acts of murder – and remain forever traumatized as a result.
In this regard there is little exceptional about America except the size of our egos and willingness to kill any and all that gets in the way of our overconsumption and delusions of impunity. We are like Rome, which, despite its legions, fell because of the rot from within. We will meet the same or worse fate if we continue to revere war and murder.
Expenditures for standing armies are obscene. America spends over $600 billion a year on war – more than most other major nations’ expenditures combined – a diversion of societal resources that indirectly murders multitudes more whose food, shelter, education, and jobs are taken from them to finance the murder of other similarly poor people. It is the poor that provide much of the cannon fodder to the killing machines, their awful task of murdering others draped in grand rhetoric. To the victors goes the right to frame history, seeking to justify vicious acts of bloody murder with self-righteous words.
War murder is a business, a growth industry that benefits the military-industrial-congressional complex (how the term was originally phrased by that commie pacifist General Eisenhower), and has propped up Western economies for decades. Rather than using the limited resources of Earth to produce goods and services that meet human and all life’s needs, warmongers wantonly consume fossil fuels, minerals, food, and human capital to systematically kill other human beings.
The cost of one aircraft carrier, a floating city able to rain down death anywhere at will, could bring water systems to the entire world, saving 3,000 children under five from needless death a day. A more wholesale demobilization of armies globally could end poverty as we know it for the 2 billion human beings who subsist on less than $1.50 a day, and fund the necessary investments to limit abrupt climate change and achieve global ecological sustainability.
Until the early 20th century, armies mostly demobilized between conflicts. Now capitalist economies are built upon the systematic stealing of resources, killing those who happen to live near and claim to own “our” resources and object. The rich liberal democracies (which are in fact neither) must wage permawar to artificially maintain their high standards of consumption. Ever more grandly, wars are constantly waged under false pretexts and outright lies – look at the Iraqi weapons of mass consternation, the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, and President Obama’s reign of drone terror.
No amount of jingoism obviates the fact that veterans are murderers and they and their enablers are war criminals. America’s recent decade–plus of war has been in violation of the 1996 US War Crimes Act (specifying penalties which can include death), the international Third Geneva Convention of 1949, and the 1987 UN Torture Convention. It is not okay to invade sovereign nations posing no threat, to kidnap and torture suspected enemies, to murder remotely with drones at will, or to spy upon and assassinate American citizens.
And it is not just W, Dick, Condi, Rummy, and Bama who are guilty of war crimes (though so far they have evaded prosecution). The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes clear that soldiers have an obligation and a duty to obey only lawful orders; indeed, they are obliged to disobey unlawful orders. These include presidential orders that do not comply with the Code, the Constitution, and international law. Further, it was established at the Nuremberg war trials that “following orders” is no justification for war crimes. Nearly every American who has served in the past decade has been involved in carrying out illegal acts of murder under the Constitution and international law.
The oil oligarchy are the latest rulers to indoctrinate American young men and women to go forth to exotic places and kill the people who hold “our” resources. At one time after WWII America took the lead in disarmament and establishment of international law to avoid war. Now, after being hit by a small band of criminal terrorists, this nation feels justified in waging permawar.
Over a million people, mostly innocents, have been murdered to avenge the few thousand tragically lost on 9/11. Has America gotten revenge yet, and can the permawar stop? It is time to regain our humanity and take some calculated risk to end war murders.
And let’s push back against the creepy Orwellian justification for America’s war binge. We are not hated for our freedoms, and you can’t wage war on terrorism (which is a tactic). Mostly we are hated because we have occupied holy lands of other peoples, we arrogantly presume that all Earth’s resources are our own, and we speak grandly and pompously of liberty and opportunity as we deny it to others.
President Barack Obama’s drone permawar is terrorism, traumatizing innocent populations and murdering thousands. It is well past time for the US to stop drone terrorism worldwide, to subject our war-making to the International Court of Justice as most other nations have, and to begin the process of international negotiations to demobilize our war machine in such a manner that we and all nations can be reasonably assured of security. Future acts of barbarism will have to be responded to differently, through the criminal justice system, and without militarizing our entire way of life.
Earth is running out of resources to fuel exponential growth of industry and population. As ecosystems continue to collapse and inequities rise on a globalized Earth, humanity’s propensity for killing foes is bound to reach a whole new level of madness. As each nation seeks drones, nuclear weapons, and authoritarian means to spy upon every thought, we can never again live peacefully and justly.
We are one human family on an increasingly fragile Earth. As abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse continue to intensify – and the few hundred megarich won’t be able to exponentially grow rich any longer, the bourgeoisie realize their standard of living is going down, and the billions of poor demand their piece of the pie – perhaps it would be best if there weren’t any stray nuclear arms or billions of conventional military-grade weapons scattered worldwide.
Coming decades are going to be fraught by climate famine, water shortages, and diminishing access to resources to fuel overconsumption and an even greater failure to meet basic needs of many. We need less war to address these challenges without mass anarchy and death. Earth’s remaining natural capital must be directed to meeting people’s and ecosystem’s needs, not waging war.
It is time to pursue global military demobilization – with a residual international, demilitarized police force and an emphasis upon fairness and justice as a top priority – if together we are to survive, let alone thrive.
This Memorial Day, dare to dream of peace. And work for demobilization and caring for our “wounded warriors” – who, despite having followed illegal orders, in many cases because they were indoctrinated with our tax dollars to hate and murder, need society’s help to mend their minds and bodies. Help them be whole again, overcome the indoctrination that justifies their murders, and ensure that war mayhem stops once and for all.
It is time to embrace pacifism in all but the most unusual and desperate instances of self-defense. And perhaps we should be fighting, if at all and as a last recourse, those in the oil oligarchy and elsewhere who destroy the Earth and the human future, instead of poor people trying to hold on to their autonomy.
As one who has served honorably myself and worn the Army uniform, I call for truthful and loving attention to the needs of veterans, forgiving their mindless killing and healing their wounds of body and soul. In addition, we must help all those who have been victimized by war to use their experiences to banish state-sponsored murdering once and for all. Then we can get on with saving our deteriorating ecosystem habitats together and ensuring that the basic needs of the entire human family are met.
Together we must commit to never again celebrating war murder, someday soon taking a day to memorialize senseless acts of love, peace, sharing, and kindness.