“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien,
Publisher’s Note: I published variation of this before last November and it certainly rings true for yet another holiday during the year when we celebrate the use of war and violence to advance the agenda of the American Federal government around the globe. We are asked to bow our heads in honor of the dead and wounded who gave their service for freedom. Call me a skeptic. Individual citizens have never been in graver danger of being fined, kidnapped, caged, maimed and killed by their own government for the most banal of violations or infractions against the imperial power that has wrapped its tentacles around every living soul in the land of the free. The export of extraterritorial violence does not make a country free, it puts every inhabitant in the hazard as the entire planet has factions enraged, women and children savaged and murdered and entire religious sects chosen for special military attention.
Full disclosure: I am a retired Army officer so I have been there and done that at neo-imperialist shit-pits around the globe.
Since 1775, there have been approximately 1.35 million deaths and total US casualties of approximately 2.8 million. The deaths could fill a lake with about 1.7 million gallons of blood which could fill a city swimming pool that was 30 feet deep and 275 feet at each side. The deaths on the other side in the belligerent camp are exponentially larger by any standard when once examines the history.
In essence not only are we asked to memorialize conflicts that always manages to strengthen the government’s power on the other side, we are exposed to a constant drumbeat of protecting “our” freedom yet no existential threat to the USSA has existed since the cessation of hostilities with the UK in 1814.
The celebration of Memorial Day should not be about the soldiery, it should be a mass wake and reflection on the untold millions of innocents detained, kidnapped, injured, napalmed, fire-bombed, incinerated, shot, mutilated, tortured and murdered by the barbaric and naked grasping of the American central government for ever-increasing power and control at home and abroad.
Those acres of tombstones are also a fitting symbol to the state of liberty over time in America as a result of the obedient slaves marching to the drumbeat of expanding government…forever. War is nothing more than a dispute between plantation owners who quizzically and cleverly get the Helots to spill their blood to build heavier chains and more effective manacle systems.
A discomforting thought: Many people on this day insist that we should honor the dead and maimed because they thought the crusade they were on was righteous. This is precisely the attitude of many people when it comes to the tsunami of cops abuses on US soil; the badged political social workers are simply doing what they think is right.
There are many heroes in these conflicts like the young helicopter pilot, Hugh Thompson Jr., who positioned his bird between unarmed Vietnamese villagers and an American patrol to protect the innocents from further bloodshed at My Lai.
The only just war is one fought on your soil to defend your own soil. -BB
What! I hear this familiar refrain again and again every November. I am appalled whenever this unthinking salutation is proffered.
I am a retired career Army officer and like USMC General Smedley Butler before me, I find these sentiments to be hogwash.
The only service rendered was to the American political power structure in the dishonorable hands of the Democrats or Republicans; the former, despite their protestations to peace, have gotten America involved in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Starting with the shameful expropriation of the Mexican territory from 1846-48 to the War of Northern Aggression from 1860-65; the United States went into hyper-colonial overdrive in 1893 in the Hawaiian Islands and has not stopped since. The entire history of American arms on Earth has been a shameful and expansionist enterprise culminating in the first ever post-WWII (the Japanese attack on American territories in the Aleutians during the War to Save Josef Stalin and the minor coastal skirmishes in Oregon) attack on American state soil in 2001. I am frankly astonished at the length of time it took for a substantive attack of any kind to be initiated on American soil with the breadth, ferocity and long sordid history of American mischief and mayhem abroad.
The sheer number of military expeditions the US has embarked on over time is breathtaking. One worthy notes there have been 234 military expeditions from 1798-1993. Another posits 159 instances of the use of United States armed forces abroad from October 1945 through December 2006.
“This list does not include covert actions and numerous instances of US forces stationed abroad since World War II, in occupation forces, or for participation in mutual security organizations, base agreements, and routine military assistance or training operations.”
Good God, if I were a Martian who landed on Earth ten years ago and found myself attending government schools, to include college, and watching television for any additional cultural education, I would not be aware of any of this. The constant drumbeat emanating from the State is the Orwellian chorus about America making the world safe for freedom and liberty and never using force abroad except in self-defense. The history proves otherwise.
America, next to Rome in the Western world, ranks as one of the world’s most aggressive nation states when one examines the evidence. A country sheltered from the tempestuous and constant warring on the European continent by one ocean and the turbulence in Asia by another ocean yet it simply cannot mind its own business nor resist the temptation to maim and murder abroad for expansion of political power and control whether for mercantile or colonial aspirations.
One can even see that the brutality practiced by American soldiers abroad is not recent but a long-standing tradition.
“All told, five soldiers were charged with killing civilians in three separate episodes early last year. Soldiers repeatedly described Sergeant Gibbs as devising “scenarios” in which the unit would fake combat situations by detonating grenades or planting weapons near their victims. They said he even supplied “drop weapons” and grenades to make the victims appear armed. Some soldiers took pictures posing with the dead and took body parts as trophies. Sergeant Gibbs is accused of snipping fingers from victims and later using them to intimidate another soldier.
He also pulled a tooth from one man, saying in court that he had “disassociated” the bodies from being human, that taking the fingers and tooth was like removing antlers from a deer.
Sergeant Gibbs said he that was ashamed of taking the body parts, that he was “trying to be hard, a hard individual.” But he insisted that the people he took them from had posed genuine threats to him and his unit.”
“Like many of their officers, American troops also showed incredible callousness toward the Philippine civilian population. A man named Clarence Clowe described the situation as follows in a letter he wrote to Senator Hoar. The methods employed by American troops against civilians in an effort to find insurgent “arms and ammunition” include torture, beating, and outright killing.
At any time I am liable to be called upon to go out and bind and gag helpless prisoners, to strike them in the face, to knock them down when so bound, to bear them away from wife and children, at their very door, who are shrieking pitifully the while, or kneeling and kissing the hands of our officers, imploring mercy from those who seem not to know what it is, and then, with a crowd of soldiers, hold our helpless victim head downward in a tub of water in his own yard, or bind him hand and foot, attaching ropes to head and feet, and then lowering him into the depths of a well of water till life is well-nigh choked out, and the bitterness of a death is tasted, and our poor, gasping victims ask us for the poor boon of being finished off, in mercy to themselves.
All these things have been done at one time or another by our men, generally in cases of trying to obtain information as to the location of arms and ammunition.
Nor can it be said that there is any general repulsion on the part of the enlisted men to taking part in these doings. I regret to have to say that, on the contrary, the majority of soldiers take a keen delight in them, and rush with joy to the making of this latest development of a Roman holiday.
Another soldier, L. F. Adams, with the Washington regiment, described what he saw after the Battle of Manila on February 4-5, 1899:
In the path of the Washington Regiment and Battery D of the Sixth Artillery there were 1,008 dead niggers, and a great many wounded. We burned all their houses. I don’t know how many men, women, and children the Tennessee boys did kill. They would not take any prisoners.
Similarly, Sergeant Howard McFarland of the 43rd Infantry, wrote to the Fairfield Journal of Maine:
I am now stationed in a small town in charge of twenty-five men, and have a territory of twenty miles to patrol…. At the best, this is a very rich country; and we want it. My way of getting it would be to put a regiment into a skirmish line, and blow every nigger into a nigger heaven. On Thursday, March 29, eighteen of my company killed seventy-five nigger bolo men and ten of the nigger gunners. When we find one that is not dead, we have bayonets.
These methods were condoned by some back at home in the U.S., as exemplified by the statement of a Republican Congressman in 1909:
You never hear of any disturbances in Northern Luzon; and the secret of its pacification is, in my opinion, the secret of pacification of the archipelago. They never rebel in northern Luzon because there isn’t anybody there to rebel. The country was marched over and cleaned in a most resolute manner. The good Lord in heaven only knows the number of Filipinos that were put under ground. Our soldiers took no prisoners, they kept no records; they simply swept the country, and wherever or whenever they could get hold of a Filipino they killed him. The women and children were spared, and may now be noticed in disproportionate numbers in that part of the island.
And countless incidents small and large in between from the only nation state in the Western world that not only endorses the use of torture but makes it an official means of projecting power abroad.
I have often remarked that cops are the only reason freedom and liberty is and has been in the hazard in America, and unfortunately, the same standard applies for military power abroad.
The only just war is one fought to defend one’s own soil from invasion. There is no other. Every other conflict reeks of statist opportunism and yen to expand tax jurisdictions and the power to rob others of their wealth and resources. Some may mistake this for a pretense of the Left. Not only do the progressives and the collectivists in America have a rich history of cheer-leading wars such as WWI and WWII but they also wish to employ military-style violence domestically to achieve their government supremacist dreams.
The notion that foreign wars and entanglements are wrong still emanates from a sparsely populated philosophical quarter that has no majority presence in the academy or the government–media complex. It is a true voice in the wilderness. That voice has one signature message: you cannot thank a veteran for your freedom because they have actively done nothing more than endanger its very existence. In fact, American military power abroad (and increasingly, at home) has made civilians more unsafe than they have ever been. The threat not only emerges from aggrieved victims of American brutality abroad but a government desperate in bad times to ensure that not one dollar of military expenditures is reduced. America is now a national security garrison state. Think about that the next time you take a flight.
Veterans don’t need gratitude but a self-realization on their part that the machine they worked for was never an engine for liberty but a device whose single purpose was aggrandizement of American political power at home and abroad. And that political hammer always extinguishes liberty and never expands it.
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”