We have heard as long as I can remember, even from those bitterly opposed to a given war, “We may or can oppose a given war, but never oppose “our” warriors.” But that begs a most fundamental and elementary question: How could we have wars, illegal or otherwise, if the so-called “warriors” did not show up? Just who exactly is waging these wars if not the warriors who show up? This is especially the case when there is no draft (the career military brass and career politicians oppose the draft by the way–Why?) and when it is clear that those who start the wars and are the biggest promoters of wars, are mostly those who never “served” in the military and/or war nor did their children if they had any. Often the ones with the biggest mouths, so solicitous with their “Thank you for your service”, had every opportunity to “serve” as did/do their children, but like Dick Cheney, Obama, Romney and his boys, “had other priorities”. What they really mean and meant was: “Thanks chump for you and yours, the poor and of color, doing your bit so that me and mine, the rich, white and smugly entitled, don’t have to walk our talk and put our precious, predestined [to rule] asses on the line.
The military, and the government in general, loves acronyms. In fact they love them so much, and use them as branding (as if calling an operation say “Eduring Freedom” makes it so) that they contrive names for a law or military operation that when translated into acronyms, it does further duty as a brand and meme (thought virus). For example, how about this law from 2001: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. And if you oppose this law, if you have some kind of problem with shades of creeping fascism, well you are not only a target for the ACT itself, but you obviously ain’t no U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Here is another wonderful example where the taboo acronym created by unintended words and was revealing instead of the other form of chosing words to form a desired acronym: The original name of the Operation to invade Iraq in March 2003 was Operation Iraqi Liberation and they printed patches that read O.I.L. but that was immediately rescinded, with orders to return ALL patches and a courts martial for anyone who kept even one.
When I was in Beijing the first time, I tried to tip the taxi drivers as I am a former taxi driver and remember well times when a tip made the difference if I ate that day or not. The drivers would turn it down and show displeasure. Why? Not partly because I was a foreigner and this might have shades of the historical paternalism and patronization by foreigners that China suffered and still suffers even if unintended. But also because they felt that in their pay, and in their professional responsibilities, they did not and could/should not accept extra for what it was their duty, for which they were paid, to do. They thought that if they did not like the pay, it was their duty to fight for more or seek another job that paid more. Do we thank others with far more dangerous jobs for their service? Often what is really meant, especially by non-veterans (92% of the population) is in addition to “Thanks chump…” is “I have some cognitive dissonance issues (I support war and the military as long as me and my loved ones do not have to go but it is not that I and mine are cowards, it is just that we come from the important strata of society and we “serve” in other ways”).
But in the case of the military, those who sign up to become a willing tool in an illegal war, founded on lies and naked imperialism, their “career choice” means not only death and destruction for the targets and victims of “collateral damage” of war, but they become willing tools of compromise of U.S. national security as it is clear even to the war mongers, that unwinnable wars, wars founded on lies and violations of international law, wars that create ten new insurgents and terrorists for each one allegedly killed, can only compromise national security with blowback, however it is defined.
When I was in the military 1963-66, the recruiters used an acronym MATTRESS that stood for the real reasons why men and women enlist. It stood for Money, Adventure, Travel, Training, Recreation, Education, Security and Satisfaction. In addition to those motives, you could add the acronym used in the intelligence services for the motives that lead people to commit treason and get recruited by intelligence services or indeed become insurgents: MICE which stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego. And to that list, one could add: Revenge, Love and Lust, Family, and of course just plain false flag or deception as to for whom one is really working, getting maimed and dying. But in all of these motives for enlisting or spying, you may find ideology in some crude form, but in reality people become mercenaries, and do mercenary business for mercenary reasons.
Look at the recruiting posters and see what they give as reasons to enlist. Do they say “Join the Army and Kill ‘Commies’, ‘Hajis’ and ‘Terrorists’ for Jesus”? Do they say come to “West Point, or Annapolis or the Air Force Academy, institutes of ideological cloning (disguised as institutions of higher education) for a career as an expendable tool of U.S. Imperial Power projections”? No the posters talk about MATTRESS stuff. The patriotism and ideology, due to cognitive dissonance come later. During my time in the U.S. Army, and it remains the same today (I still have many students who are Iraq and Afghanistan War returnees who are open about their own motives for enlistment) the motives of MATRESS and some of MICE are still the motives that recruiters quickly spot and play upon. In the TV series “The Unit”, advised and written for by fomer Sgt. Major Eric Haney one of the founding members of Delta force, through the character Col Tom Ryan (commander of The Unit) visibly beaten up, flashing back to his own recruitment at 17 as he ran away from an abusive stepfather who beat him all the time:
Recruiter: “I’m assuming the reason you came is you want to join the Army. Well here’s the good news. You’ve got your own birth certificate on you. When you leave this room, you will never have to go home again. Did I guess right? Here’s what’s going to happen to ya. You get to be a man which means your gonna get to use a weapon. In your travels, you will have more women than you know what to do with. And whatever son of a bitch you’ve been dealing with, should you see him again, I guaran-freaking-tee you [that] you will look upon him with pity and he will look upon you with fear.And you get to serve your country, so what the hell are you waiting for? [Colonel Tom Ryan hands him his birth certificate]. One day if the enemy don’t kill ya, or if your not blown to bits by your own forces, or knifed by a whore, or something, you may live to be a general.”
Maybe you are shall we say “vertically challenged” [short] in terms of height and stature, like Audie Murphy was seen to be; perhaps you were bullied most of your life. Well a uniform, some training, ribbons and decorations, training in the combat arms, and before you know it, those who used to laugh and mock you now run in fear when they see you; and there is nothing like a war to turn a nobody into a somebody. Perhaps you were dumped by your girlfriend Muffy for Biff the quarterback and BMOC in high school; well when you come home from a war with chest full of medals, that “bitch” Muffy will see now she dumped the wrong guy cuz now you are a somebody. Perhaps you are from some podunk small town and do not want to work for 30 years in the same factory as your daddy, the factory that gave/gives him bloody lungs and a cheap watch after thirty years. Perhaps you come from a family of “warriors” and they expect you to do your bit as did Dad, Uncle Frank even Aunt Milly. Perhaps you are afraid of the outside world, job searches and rejections, and the choices and uncertainties that that outside world has–no guaranteed “three hots and a cot”. Maybe it was a case of getting some woman pregnant and getting out of town before her brothers intent on homicide showed up; or maybe an offer from a Judge of either enlisting or winding up in the joint married to a 300-lb tatooed biker named Spike. Maybe you decided no student loans or working my way through school; I am going to finance my education, plus the travel, adventure, need for a job and job security, getting an ego boost from a uniform, etc. by becoming a paid thug and killer for U.S. Imperialism.
Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is a contradiction between fact vs emotion, or emotion vs belief, or fact vs belief. So I am not going to say that “I went into the military for thrills; ego; a job; rather than the joint or prison; travel; adventure; psychopathic or sociopathic desire to kill (“Damn, when I was a kid I used to torture small animals and always wanted to kill and torture people, but it is against the law and I might get caught; but now, in the military, they give me medals, pay, promotions, travel, status, a job and job security, all for doing what I always wanted to do”); boredom; cheap dope and hookers; family pressure; skills; education; or whatever–particularly if one has been in war and wounded. That is when the “patriotism” comes out” [“I was fighting for freedom in a place I cannot spell or find on a map”; or “I was fighting them over there so we would not have to fight them here…”] This is when they provide all the comforting rationales for enlistment that make one appear not as just some “mercenary merc” but as a patriot and hero driven only by desire to serve the nation. This is especially the case for the wounded and families of the dead who must come to terms that they lost the use of limbs for the rest of their lives, or lost their son or daughter, in wars founded on lies, and who were sent to war by those who never served nor would their children; this is a bitter pill to swallow so in many cases they will contrive reasons for enlistment that has nothing to do with their original reasons and justify in their own minds that their “sacrifice” for “The Cause” was worth it.
But what about patriotism? What about ideology?
Here is the real truth from a real warrior and hero Maj Gen Smedley Darlington Butler, three times nominated and one of 19 who were awarded twice, the Medal of Honor:
Speech by Maj. General Smedley D. Butler, USMC (Three times nominated for Medal of Honor, twice awarded it)
Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by General Smedley Butler, USMC
“War is just a racket. I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to.
I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
In 1934 there was an Attempted Overthrow of FDR Government and Replacement with a Fascist Dictatorship (Foiled By Maj. General Smedley Butler). Note, in addition to the Duponts and various other industrialists in the American Liberty League, George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush and other Skull and Bones members were intimately involved in the plot.
[At about the same time the Du Ponts were serving the Nazi cause in Germany, they were involved in a Fascist plot to overthrow the United States government. ]
“Along with friends of the Morgan Bank and General Motors,” in early 1934, writes Higham, “certain Du Pont backers financed a coup d’etat that would overthrow the President with the aid of a $3 million-funded army of terrorists . . .” The object was to force Roosevelt “to take orders from businessmen as part of a fascist government or face the alternative of imprisonment and execution . . .”
Higham reports that “Du Pont men allegedly held an urgent series of meetings with the Morgans,” to choose who would lead this “bizarre conspiracy.” “They finally settled on one of the most popular soldiers in America, General Smedly Butler of Pennsylvania.” Butler was approached by “fascist attorney” Gerald MacGuire (an official of the American Legion), who attempted to recruit Butler into the role of an American Hitler.–R. William Davis, “The Elkhorn Manifesto,” July 4, 1996] [Butler exposed the plot in a famous press conference to the public.]
[If one were to look closely at the past 58 years, one would be hard pressed to find a single U.S. military or C.I.A. intervention that has brought us one iota of safety, or, for that matter, that has actually been done for national defense purposes.] As Butler illustrated in 1933, and it is even truer now than then, the U.S. engages in interventions meant to protect the interests of the powerful and wealthy of our nation and our allies, and rarely, if ever, in order to actually protect its citizens.–Chris White, “Is War Still a Racket?” CounterPunch, January 9, 2003]
Charlie Liteky, “An Open Letter to the U.S. Military: Congressional Medal of Honor recipient addresses U.S. forces in Iraq,” Veterans Against the Iraq War, May 7, 2003
John S.D. Eisenhower, “War Turned Eisenhower Into a Pacifist,” International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2004