by: Timothy Villareal on April 14th, 2014 | 7 Comments »
The New York Times has published a chilling article about the greatest anxiety for this year’s West Point graduates: the newly-commissioned officers won’t get to see any combat action, owing to the end of the Iraq war and the winding-down Afghanistan war. Times reporters Tom Shanker and Helene Cooper write:
For as much as military commanders will publicly say differently, men and women with combat experience are bound to be taken more seriously in today’s military than those without it, defense experts say.
The last time this happened was after a different war, Vietnam, and in an Army different from today’s volunteer and more career-oriented force. But even after Vietnam, the return to peace came with unexpected anxieties.
“As Vietnam was winding down, young officers were begging to go there so they could get the coveted combat infantry badge,” said Col. Robert Killebrew, a defense expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington and a Vietnam veteran. “It’s not so much a thirst for glory as a professional impulse. When you’re a soldier, if the game is going to be played, you want to be there.”
That’s right, these young men actually want wars to continue – not to end wars which is what most people want – so they can get their ribbons, medals and badges of honor which will help them advance their military careers, which begs the question: Why the heck are we, the American people, continuing to enable these people who are quite obviously willing to embroil our country in wars for their own personal glory?
It is understandable why the right-wingers would support the war machine and its devoteees that are devouring not only the treasury of the United States, but the soul of the nation. The military is the very apex of the synthetic masculine ideal upon which right-wing men wrap their gun-worshipping identities. Indeed, even if the right-winger in question is a certified chicken hawk – one who encourages wars that he never has the guts to fight in – worship of the military is still central to his synthetic masculine identity. That’s understandable: after all, his chicken hawk status is a mere extension – really the only logical end point, if you think about it – of his already self-deluded sense of manhood.
What is not understandable is why so many liberals, moderate Democrats, and moderates in general, sit by and do nothing as professional warmongers attempt to define our nation’s role in the world and indeed our definition of patriotism itself, all according to their amoral war-loving mentalites. Case in point: New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff, who has used his column to enlighten consciences on a host of global challenges, but who recently penned a fairly typical story about a wounded Iraq war veteran who now has PTSD, due in large part to the fact that he was ordered by his commanding officer to shoot a little Iraqi girl whom the officer feared was wearing a bomb vest, when she was not. According to the Kristoff, the little girl was killed, and her blood was spilled everywhere. One would have to be a sociopath not to have PTSD after carrying out such an evil act. It’s an important column to read because it underscores just how many hundreds of thousands of Americans will need far greater care for their war traumas in the years and decades ahead than they are presently receiving.
Yet, as is so typical in this nation’s discourse on military affairs, there is no questioning in Kristoff’s column of why we as a society are tolerating the commissioning of officers who conclude that the lives of occupying soldiers trump the lives of children: Those soldiers chose to go to Iraq with guns; the children of Iraq who have been shot by U.S. officers and troops were just being children.
This military system is ruining the soul of our nation. Truly, the men and women – active-duty, veteran, along with those dedicated vocal platoons of Joe Public Chicken Hawks – who continue to promote this system whereby people make livelihoods, or build-up careers and prestige out of war can be said to be doing something of a reverse Martin Luther King. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act last week, we remember how MLK helped lead a permanent change in the moral character of this nation, even if we still have miles to go on racism.
The for-pay warmongers are doing a reverse MLK: They are attempting to permanently change the moral charcter of this nation through their glorification of war and militarism, specifically by brainwashing the rest of the country that their war lust has something to do with patriotism. Of course, it has nothing to do with patriotism, much less basic human decency.
We need a constitutional reform to stop the U.S. military from being further taken over by the spiritually sick people who relish, and profit from, the practice of war.
Here’s one proposal for such constitutional reform which, in addition to banning the for-pay enlisted soldiery, would give Americans more say about the kind of men and women who get to become commissioned officers of the U.S. military: