25 May 2009

Memorial Day Rant

As I sit here typing this "rant" I'm listening to an excerpt from another demonstration by the Winter Soldier project. The soldier testifying is explaining how he and his fellows were issued "drop weapons" - guns that would be dropped by the bodies of murdered civilians to "prove" that they were insurgents.

Though this particular story has not prompted this blog entry directly, it is an example of just why I say on this Memorial Day: "Fuck the military."

Now, as individuals, most people in the military are decent enough (I believe I've mentioned previously that my brother's a Marine vet, and I'd trust him to babysit the cats) but as an institution the armed forces have brutalized this country's soul. Certainly they haven't defended "freedom" (whatever that may signify) since the Second World War (and some would argue that). Unless, of course, they've been defending the ability of our ruling elites to do anything they damn well please anywhere they want. Consider: The chief function of the U.S. Army from c. 1800 to c. 1861 was slaughtering or transporting Native Americans (known today as "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide"). From 1861-1865, a case could be argued that the army was actually performing its function to defend the Union (unless you're a complete pacifist) but post-1865, it was back to the status quo ante. Fortunately for the Republic, the Indians and our Latin American neighbors were military midgets. The pre-WW2 military-industrial complex never attained a size where it exercised an overwhelming influence over our government. That balance changed after the Allies defeated Hitler and Tojo. The U.S. found itself the only industrial power of any size, and segments of our society with sympathetic aims coalesced around a permanent war economy that bribed millions of Americans with good jobs and secure lifestyles.

I challenge anyone to show me where American military intervention has benefited a country. Haiti? Nicaragua? Iraq? Iran? Viet Nam? Afghanistan? Pakistan? The list of the unfortunate who have endured (or are enduring) our baleful presence goes on and on.

Sigh...I know that painting with such a broad brush invites defeat in detail but the point is that violence always leaves and generates more problems than it solves. And in America's case, it's become the only solution we seem capable of (witness the hysterical reactions of many to even the suggestion that Obama was open to negotiating with the enemies we've made).

I can respect a person's decision to join the military for pretty much any reason, no matter how deluded I think they may be, but I cannot respect the institution they serve, and I'm not going to celebrate that service.