U.S. Imperialism, Boot Camp and Cognitive Dissonance

Imperialism, Boot Camp and Cognitive Dissonance
by James Craven/Omahkohkiaaiipooyii

Imperial Mythologies

It is time to strip away some of the mythology and outright sycophancy vis-a-vis military service in the U.S. imperial war machine. Yes, some heroic actions are undertaken, some compassion shown and sacrifices made by U.S. forces despite the often ugly intentions of those who sent them into battle. But the U.S. military is also full of psychopaths, sociopaths, glory boys (and women), the intellectually challenged, racists, proto-fascists, and other forms/types of pathological personalities who often thrive in a military environment.

The civilian leadership that controls the military in the U.S. for the most part is made up of “Chicken-hawks” who glorify the wars and the military that they and their children will never “serve” in. They have their own cognitive dissonance issues which is why they celebrate and fawn all over the military and wars they and their kids never served in: “Thank you for your service” often means “Thanks chump that you and your kind went to the military and war so me and my smug and entitled kind did not have to…”

What kind real veteran, with an IQ over room temperature, could stand or cheer, for one minute, the likes of Chickenhawks (those who promote wars and the military they and their kids will never “serve” in) like Bush and Cheney or now Obama, in faux military gear or talking tough to the VFW? These types in faux military gear is like a pedophile Catholic priest in elegant flowing robes quoting from the New Testament’s “Sermon on the Mount” on children or naming a shelter for battered women after the serial killer of women Ted Bundy.

Bush in Costume

<a

They are not “serving” what is euphemistically called “American Democracy” because: a) America was never founded as a “Democracy” and it still is not any kind of a democracy de facto. It was founded, by white propertied elites as a slavery-based-and built, plutocratic pseudo-republic (de jure) and an oligarchy or plutarchy (de facto), and remains so to this very day; b) America is rightly regarded as an oppressor and outright suppressor of Democracy not as a liberator and promoter of it all over the world. The rhetorical question that followed 9-11 was: “Why do ‘THEY’ hate US? That question of course begs at least two more questions: Who are “THEY” and who are “US”? Most certainly not all Americans are on board with U.S. foreign policy, torture, summary executions from drones in the sky and other forms terrorism and “collateral damage” against innocents under the banner of counter-terrorism.

Cognitive Dissonance and Why do “THEY” hate us? Often for some good reasons.

I am convinced that cognitive dissonance explains a whole lot of human behavior. I might even buy it as a central component of a meta-theory of human history. Examples: What is a conservative? Answer: A Liberal that has been mugged. What is a Liberal? Answer: A Conservative that has been outsourced or downsized.

Cognition comes from the Latin root "cognoscere" or becoming acquainted with something or "knowing". And dissonance refers to disharmony. Put the two together you get cognitive dissonance. Those, who seek to create human robots, build empires on the blood and obedience of innocents, cover-up crimes, create advertising, in military "Psyops" and those who design curricula and cultures of military boot camps understand it well.

We have different ways of thinking about things and we have different things we think about. There are “facts” we discover or are presented with which we may or may not bother to discover, think about or accept as facts. We have beliefs about ourselves, those closest to us, about where we live and what we do that come from and are modified by a variety of sources. We have emotions or passions about things that often correspond to our interests or what we think are our interests.

Cognitive dissonance arises when certain purported FACTS come into conflict with certain BELIEFS; when certain BELIEFS come into conflict with certain EMOTIONS; when certain EMOTIONS come into conflict with certain FACTS. Something has to give otherwise potentially physiologically and psychologically disturbing, sometimes even life threatening, forms and levels of dissonance or contradiction develop.

For example, someone is raised with the BELIEF that America is “Number One” in respect for human rights, decency, progress, enlightenment, etc etc.” Suppose further that person has acquired the EMOTION of being pro-War, pro-U.S. interventionism and pro-Regime Change. Now they encounter the FACTS of a long list of very ugly dictatorships installed all over the world; the kind that no American would ever want to live under; ugly dictatorships that were installed, supported, propped-up, even used to send prisoners from CIA rendition flights to for torture prohibited by American law. How do they deal with those FACTS versus the naked contradictions with acquired and openly and strongly expressed pro-imperialist BELIEFS and EMOTIONS and the cognitive dissonance created typically? http://youtu.be/ZGt84z2GDvk or

Destinations of CIA Rendition Flight and Black Sites for prisoners from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Included Libya and Syria targeted for Regime Change long ago.

Typically it is to label, or even kill or imprison, the bearer of the FACTS. The messenger, the bearer of the facts, must be some kind of “traitor”, “pinko”, etc. The tendency is to simply dismiss the message and deny the facts; but it is not to directly confront or even try to refute those facts with hard counter reasoning and evidence. The same applies when one has lost a loved one in war or one has lost body parts or part of one’s mind in a war based on lies, phony and contrived intelligence, contrived pretexts and the like. Someone comes along, or some facts come along that suggest that the “sacrifice” was for a genocidal war founded on lies and phony pretexts of the kind Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg ( see 4th Media ) that is a bitter pill to swallow and is not swallowed easily [see Pat Tillman story].

Cognitive dissonance then keeps some veterans and families of maimed and dead victims in line ideologically and in support of imperial wars that take their sons and daughters leading them not to questioning: just exactly what the “sacrifice” was really worth; who and what was really being “served”; and why none of those who sent the kid, or their kids, ever go to the military or war or, if they do, why any seldom come back maimed or wind up dead. When a person has lost limbs and has been severely maimed in combat, or when the family loses a loved one to the “Dover Count” [body bags coming back to Dover Air Force Base that are not filmed or shown to the U.S. public otherwise they see some of the true costs of the wars many of them uncritically support] it is a bitter pill to come to the realization that limbs or a son or a daughter were lost to an illegal, immoral even genocidal war, founded on lies, cherry picked intelligence, imperial hubris and serial violations of international and U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution [again wars of the kind Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg] and that they “chose” the course and road that led to their present misery or loss of loved ones.

In the U.S. often the ones who are first and loudest with the “Thank You for Your Service” to veterans, the ones who fawn all over the military and its veterans, the Country music entertainers who go on USO tours, etc what they really mean with the pro-forma but so passionately and loudly expressed “Thank You for Your Service” is “Thank you chump that you and your kind went to the military and wars that me and my special, smug and entitled kind will never have to go to even if we wind up the ones who send you…” As Dr. Samuel Johnson put it: “Every man thinks less of himself [if and] for not having been a soldier.”

I still remember my first day of Boot Camp (Basic) at Fort Ord, California as if it was yesterday. I was seventeen years old, a few days after my seventeenth birthday. I had been kicked out of high school and declared an “incorrigible delinquent” (for going off on a high school vice-principal that truly deserved it and for telling a school district administrator who had taunted my poor mother to go “F-word” himself and his whole school system). Alone and totally unsure of what awaited me, I knew that without a high school diploma, whatever “credentials” for future jobs, along with my present job, I would get would come from the U.S. Army–my new “home” and “family”.

It was early 1963, just five months after the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis”, during which we came right on the edge of World War III and the likely total annihilation of the planet. Even without knowing what we know now about just how close we had come to World War III during October 1962, even in those days, we knew it was close to going to WW III. We know now that Soviet forces in Cuba had more than 50 tactical nuclear missiles ready to fire and under independent authority to let them loose if there was any indication of an American invasion of Cuba and that U.S. intelligence had no idea they were there or under orders to exercise independent judgment if and when to launch the tactical nuclear missiles.

But even with all of that, and coming from a very left-leaning political family (who were in despair about my choice to go into the Army) I had no ideas about “killing Commies for Jesus “. I had no ideas about “defending American Democracy” (especially as the son of a Blackfoot mother who talked about genocide against Indigenous Peoples in the Americas often). I had no idea about the asserted “imperative” of destroying the lives of others in distant places under such banners as: “We’ve got to fight the Commies and terrorists OVER THERE instead of here on OUR soil…” I certainly had no idea or notion about the U.S. military and the global missions of that military being consistent with WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?).

And in the first days of boot camp, when we were getting to “know” each other, I never heard even one fellow soldier recruit express even one “patriotic” sentiment or rationale for going in. They all gave various reasons but those reasons were all very self-centered and even opportunistic–no transcendent causes for sure; and that includes myself as well.

I heard stuff like the following [I am including the harsh language or typical “voice” to give a flavor of the sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, base language and testosterone-driven macho bravado typical then and now of the U.S. military and the mentalities of those who often enlist even today]:

Typical “Voice”:

“I knocked-up some bitch and had to get out of town before her three very nasty brothers beat the living shit out of me”;

“I got busted doing a sort of prank they called a crime and the judge gave me the choice of here or the joint.”;

“I am from this nowhere podunk town and wanted get the the fuck out before winding up in that same mill my dad’s been working in and that has been killing him slowly for the last twenty years.”;

“I dropped out of a very boring high school and wanted some adventure.”;

“My dad was in Europe after the war and said it was the best time of his life so I’m headed where he was…”;

“I just came in to get a trade and get paid while I am getting it and then I am getting the fuck out.”

“I heard they got some some gorgeous broads over in Europe, and all the booze [and dope for some] you can imagine–and cheap too.”

“No shit, I got here on a bet between me and my bother and his friends; I lost and it was keep my word or get my ass kicked.”

“I’m doing three [years] and then out and the G.I. Bill will pay give me a full-boat for school.”

“I had a bit of an immigration problem and this way the problem is fixed and I’m eligible for American citizenship when I get out.”

Hey, three hots and a cot [food and a place to sleep], a job with job security, they tell me where to go, what to do, pay me and I can retire in 20 at 37 or whatever years old and still have a pension and can work in government after retirement–beats welfare or constant job searches.”

One guy, who turned out to be a total psychopath, told me:

“You’re not going to believe this but I wound up here because I lost my job. I lost my job because I got caught fucking the future daughter-in-law of my boss, his son’s fiancee. The lovely bride [laughing] and I had a thing once and it was just one last fuck–when we got caught in the choir room and his buddies were going to beat the piss out of me on the spot on top of it. So here I am.”

Now I never heard anyone openly say something like:

“Damn, this is great, I used to torture small animals and always wanted to kill people; up-close-and-personal would be the best; but the thought/threat of jail or the death penalty kept me in line. But now, damn, here in the Army they will pay me, send me to exotic places, promote me, and give me a uniform and medals for doing the killings I’ve always dreamed of doing?–Sign me the fuck up”. But I’m sure some of my fellow recruits were thinking that as evidenced by the naked psychopathic and sociopathic proclivities they demonstrated in boot camp and after.

Real Motives for Enlistment (M.A.T.T.R.E.S.S.)

But among the typical motives for enlisting in the military were represented in what the recruiters call MATTRESS. From the notes of one recruiter:

“When I was a recruiter, I used the acronym “MATTRESS” to describe the potential benefits and identify which was most important to the individual. MATTRESS can be translated as:

M=money
A
=advancement
T=training
T
=travel
R=recreation
E
=education
S=security
S
=satisfaction.

Notice there is nothing in this list about “patriotism”, or “Killing Commies for Jesus” or “Tip of the Spear” or “National Security” or even acting as an instrument or agent of projection of American “democracy” and “progress” and even “liberation” {from the very dictatorships installed, supported and kept from imploding for a time by the U.S. Imperium)

In the TV series “The Unit”, based on Delta Force and written and advised by CSM Eric Haney, one of the founding members of Delta Force, the Unit Commander, Colonel Ryan [the character is also screwing the wife of one of his operators he sends out into combat while screwing his wife at home] is being offered a promotion to general but has to leave Command of The Unit. In this scene, Col. Tom Ryan is flashing back to when he first went into the U.S. Army and why [his real motive and situation that was typical]. He flashed back on how he showed up to the U.S. Army recruiter at 18 years old with his birth certificate in hand, with visible bruises all over his face and arms from the frequent beatings he got from his step-father; and he remembers this old jaded top-Sergeant and recruiter with ribbons and hash marks showing an old veteran who has seen a lot. The recruiter is looking at him like a predator and he is some kind of jewel that he has just found (to get his quota for the month) says:

Recruiter [surveying Tom Ryan like a predator looking for vulnerabilities]: “I’m assuming the reason you came in, you want to join the Army. Well here’s the good news. You’ve got your birth certificate on you. When you leave this room, you’ll 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 you’re gonna to learn 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–fucking–tee you you will look upion him with pity and he will look upon you with fear. And [by the way] you get to serve your country. So what the hell are you waiting for?

[Tom Ryan character hands the recruiter his birth certificate]

“One day, if the enemy don’t kill ya, or your not blown to bits by your own forces, or knifed by a whore or something, you may live to be a general.”

This little passage sums up in one riff, most of the real reasons why people go into the military: self-esteem issues [The “Audie Murphy Syndrome” where men of small height often choose combat arms to prove something to themselves and others] payback; boredom with small towns; alternative to the joint [jail]; family tradition and pressures; vocational training and skills; GI Bill for college; travel; adventure; “Walter Mitty” types [fantasy freaks –of glory, medals, getting the girl next door etc]; low IQ but the military will take from the bottoms of the IQ barrels in terms of entrance requirements, job security, emotional security; alternative to civilian welfare for those who need regimented lives and job security to function; macho-testosterone-driven ego needs; psychopathic and sociopathic types who can run loose [in the fog of war] with very little accountability or scrutiny, and so on.

But the supposed “patriotism” stuff, such as “I signed up to stop the commies over there instead of having to fight them here”, well that stuff if at all, came later to rationalize an essential personal, self-centered and mercenary decision. Research in brain and neurobiology and in cognitive psychology shows that most people when they think they have decided something it is usually way after the time that the really decided something, and the rest of the time was spent trying to rationalize to themselves and others why they made a given decision long ago based on thin of any real reasoning or evidence for the decision. The “now you are a new man or woman” stuff came later toward the end of Boot Camp along with the notion that you have survived Boot Camp and now you can and should value most that which came the hardest to complete. When you graduate Boot Camp, some of the families show up and you have new medals in the forms of badges for marksmanship on the ranges.

Now the first taste of what lay ahead for me besides the Drill Instructors (DIs) screaming all sorts of racist epithets and threats–and who were allowed to and even threatened to “physically kick the shit out of us” in those days– came when I got my dog tags. Your dog tags give your name, serial number, blood type and religion. When I was asked my religion I answered none. Right then and then the DI went off: “What the fuck do you mean no religion? No religion? Are you some kind of special person, some kind of royalty, asshole? OK, you are now what I am—a Lutheran—now move the fuck out NOW and I’m going to be watching you carefully boy…”

Later, when I learned about cognitive dissonance, I wondered why they would want us to be so “religious” and/or at least express a religious preference when what they had planned for us to be doing in the service of U.S. Imperialism would clearly and nakedly violate the most basic tenets of almost all known faiths: murder; cover-ups and lying; complicity in planning and launching and executing illegal wars [what they hanged criminals at Nuremberg for]; war crimes; actions involving planned or highly likely massive “collateral damage” against non-combatants; etc. Did they not risk inducing cognitive dissonance with the clear contradictions between their message and the nakedly racist, chauvinistic, misogynistic, and even psychopathic messages and missions being suggested versus the clear tenants of the various faiths they wanted identified or claimed? If the U.S. Constitution in Article I prohibits both the establishment as well as prohibition of religion, it mandates clear separation of church and state, then that means freedom FROM as well as OF religion in that Constitution we swore to “uphold, serve protect and defend against all enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC.”

The answer was that they knew we brought with us certain ideas and values from our families and faiths, or just from mass culture, in conflict (dissonance) with the values and missions they wanted to accept and carry out. And often it is easier, from a cognitive-dissonance-point-of-view, and in terms of classic propaganda techniques, to try to show our given and highly entrenched values are “in reality” quite consistent with their values, missions and notions of what our faiths are really about and what they allow or don’t allow, than it is to try to immediately disabuse us of our own values, faiths or notions of what our faiths and values would or would not allow us to do or think or say.

They had it down to a science for sure. Like the Emperor Constantine, converting the Roman Empire to Christianity, they understood is is easier to start with and co-opt existing sacreds (symbols, ideas, values, rituals, sacred dates and festivals) than to try to wipe out all of the old ones and introduce a whole new set of ideas, taboos, sacreds and values.

Right from the beginning, the racism and use of racist epithets was common. “Hey Chief” as all us Natives were called; and the name “Chief” got to be confusing. Even the “N-word” for African-Americans was common; but in those days, African-Americans were not calling each other “Nigga Please”. Poor Whites were all “Crackers” etc. And since most of the DI’s were Korean War vets, with a few World War II vets, reference to Asians as “Slopes”, “Dinks” and “Gooks” was common. This was also part of the cognitive dissonance reduction: “When you go to Vietnam or somewhere else where the people are non-white, then you will not really be killing human beings like yourself or your family; they are “commies” [now “terrorists”] and not really “human” like us anyway…”. “And besides, the Bible says ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’ not ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’; and in defense of freedom, killing commies is not ‘Murder’, it is self-defense which the Bible allows”… No kidding, we got all of this including from the Chaplains.

In marching and drills there were “cadences” that were infantile, vile, misogynistic and racist like: “I don’t know but I’ve been told, Eskimo p*ssy [vile word for female vagina] is mighty cold, sound off, one two, sound off, three four, sound off, one, two three, four, sound off…” (http://www.uic.edu/depts/rotc/cadets/cadence/cadencehistory.htm) and http://www.alternet.org/story/79877/veterans_decry_institutional_sexism_in_military

Now here is some more potential cognitive dissonance: Someone, perhaps Native or African-American, in a racist military machine being taught to use racist terms that work and slander even against the group from which he came? They had an answer for that too. For Natives, they made continual reference to being part of the “Way of the Warrior” or reference to famous Native heroes like Ira Hamilton Hayes on Iwo Jima. Never mind being Native in the U.S. military, serving genocidal U.S. Imperialism, was like being one of Custer’s Scouts. And for African-Americans, the reference was either of getting out of the ghetto and getting a trade, for which they should be grateful, or sometimes references to “Buffalo Soldiers” or African American heroes of the past. And of course there was always divide-and-rule by shades of color or “darkness” among African-Americans and/or by “blood-quantum” or how much Indian one “looks” among Natives.

Right away I noticed something interesting. Although we had not yet taken our tests [I eventually took and passed cold the GED test for my high school and also took and passed cold the OCT test for Officer’s Candidate School but was only 17 years old and Officer’s Candiate School required 18 1/2 years old and long before then I wanted out] so we didn’t know what our eventual MOSs [military occupational specialties] would be. But I noticed that a lot of my fellow recruits who were short in physical stature (height) as was Audie Murphy (hence the term “Audie Murphy Syndrome”),as are a lot of macho action movie stars like Jimmy Cagne and Robert Conrad, expressed that they specifically signed up for infantry and combat arms. The military understood this very well and understood how to use some apparent insecurities and self-esteem issues about height (often exacerbated by those short in height often being taunted and bullied) to overcome any cognitive dissonance problems arising from any previously-held values conflicting with the kinds of missions and activities they would likely face and the values they would likely have to internalize to carry out those missions. Nothing like a war to turn a “nobody” into a “somebody” and Audie Murphie, a Medal of Honor winner and one of the most decorated soldiers of WWII who became a movie actor, noted that about himself and his original motives for going into the Army after being rejected by other services as too short in height.

For those driven to enlist by the Audie Murphy Syndrome, the military had a way to hook them early and keep them going: medals and ribbons and patches. For marksmanship–everybody gets some kind from basic to sharpshooter to expert–and other unit competitions and awards start almost from day one. So even when you go home on leave after Basic, and you want to show that “bitch” Muffy who dumped you for Biff the quarterback at the high school you dropped out of, that NOW you are a “somebody”, you have at least some kind of medals, patches and ribbons to show off.

Now you are required to go to “Chapel”. And even if you are say Jewish [being an expressed atheist or agnostic might well get you attacked by fellow recruits or the D.I.s or Drill Instructors] “Chapel” in those days was only some kind of amorphous “Christian” service. There is no concept of “Freedom of Religion” (which also means—and even demands—“freedom FROM religion”). There is no notion of any kind of fundamental contradiction between putting your life on the line on the one hand, to serve and protect the U.S. Constitution, while having your basic and most elementary Constitutional rights (Freedom FROM religion) “spit and shit on” right off the bat on the other hand.

And paradoxically, it was at “Chapel”, with the Chaplain wearing his robes and not his rank, that we got our first taste of “Killing Commies for Jesus”. No, not only were we NOT violating the basic tenets of our faith in training for and eventually carrying out our murderous missions for U.S. Imperialism. No, actually, we were, as the hymn says, “Onward Christian Soldiers” doing the Lord’s work on earth in unique ways. And they went even further: “If you hesitate, get weak, start expressing qualms and reservations, while the forces of Satan, who wears many masks, and Communism is but one of them, does not sleep or hesitate or equivocate, then YOU are not only betraying your faith and all those before you martyred for the faith, you are an agent of the enemy and therefore of Satan.” They actually said stuff like that in addition to the supposed distinction between “killing” and “murder”.

What about those psychopaths and sociopaths drawn into the military? And trust me there are many. By definition, the psychopath has no allegiance to any kinds of transcendent values; and the sociopath has any allegiance only to a very narrow range of anything transcendent outside of himself such as a member of a biker gang. Everything is about them. They are narcissistic, predatory, self-absorbed, shallow in affect, able to wear and pass-off masks, calculating and ultra-individualistic. They are “Homo Oeconomicus” [Economic Man]–what capitalism tries to create and celebrate–incarnate. This is indeed one of the central contradictions of capitalism as a system: the very types of “individuals” who make good and profitable consumers and markets, and thus are necessary for the expanded reproduction of capitalism and capital (self-absorbed, greedy, narcissistic, ultra-individualistic, fad driven, unable to delay gratification, competitive, egoistic, no conscience, no transcendent values), do not make good military unit or team members (there is no “team” in “I” as opposed to the military slogan “There is no ‘I’ in team”), informed voters, neighbors during a crisis, sons-in-law, husbands etc etc.

Since military operations may be quite dangerous to the most precious thing a psychopath or sociopath has–himself and his life–and since psychopaths and sociopaths can be dangerous to a military mission, as well as quite effective instruments for it, the military has something to overcome any potential cognitive dissonance along these lines: unit and team bonding. Various exercises are carefully calculated to build unit cohesion, bonding and allegiances based not on “esprit de corps” (that again would require some kind of allegiance to or reward from a cause beyond ones self-absorbed self) but based on mutual reciprocity and survival. They note that in a combat team, people risk their lives out of reciprocity–“I do for my buddies what they will do for me”. Peer pressures and fear of being seen as a coward by peers is the most common reason for “heroism” and risk taking not some transcendent cause.

You learn early, through team building and unit cohesion exercises in Basic, along with “blanket parties” [blanket thrown over someone who is beaten collectively and cannot see or report who did it] for “deadbeats”, the “weak” and “whiners”; that everybody is in the same boat, including fellow psychopaths and sociopaths who give as much a damn about you as you give about them. Your only chance of survival is to join the team and pull together and that “I” and “Team” can be mutually complimentary and not contradictory. In fact, it is the only way out and for any chance of your own survival. During basic training, in addition to blanket parties, you get a real taste, from some of the more jaded DI’s, how the “weak” and “ultra-individualistic” will likely fare in combat with references to and “real stories” about, fragging, weakened static lines on parachute jumps, poisonous snakes in the sleeping bag, poisoned K-rations, bullets in the head (from “snipers in the bush”) of “chickenshit” or “glory-boy” second lieutenants just out of OCS (6-month Officer’s Candidate School and new “butter-bars” or Second Lieutenants) putting YOUR ass on the line for THEIR own glory and promotions.

What about those not religious or political, not psychopaths or sociopaths or not on an Audie Murphy trip? Well some of them came in for the “family” they never had on the outside. For those folks they have a whole new alternate kind of “family” in mind. One thing is that since all military bases look basically the same, and have the same basic services, then when one rotates to a new post, you will immediately be in familiar territory and with your new “family” who will not only take care of your basic needs, but they will tell you what you need to know and do to not only “survive” but to actually prosper and get promoted. Your squad, platoon and company are your most immediate family. Your divisional and army unit patches you wear are sort of like the extended family. And your branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, that is your broadest “family” or allegiance against other services that are clearly inferior to the one you are in.

Just as cognitive dissonance dictates that YOUR old Alma mater could only have been the most rigorous and best anyone could have attended (who wants to admit to having a degree from a useless paper mill and having got a degree while totally wasted on dope and screwing co-eds for four years?), and just as cognitive dissonance leads to the syndrome of “the older I get the more heroic I used to be”, so it is that my service (Army) was/is “the best”. And you even have jokes disparaging other services and/or units within services to build bonding, allegiances and “family ties”—allegiances that will cause you to overcome any reservations about being part of a “family” doing some war crimes in the service of U.S. Imperialism. We had jokes like: “How do the Marines really separate the men from the boys? Answer: With a crowbar?”; “What is the secret of the Silent (Submarine) Service? Answer: A Hundred guys go down, fifty couples come up”; “What falls from the sky? Answer: Birdshit and fools”.

Not everyone can be an Audie Murphy and come home with a blue cord for infantry, a beret, a neck scarf, jump boots, paratrooper wings and a bunch of medals etc. Here the military produces some of the cognitive dissonance it has to later reduce. If you focus on the “glory” associated with certain specialties, say combat arms, and hand out all sorts of special badges, ribbons, braids, tabs and patches, then where is the “glory” in the other MOS categories like Cook, General’s Driver, Payroll Clerk etc that also need to be staffed? What is the pitch to get people to join to become a clerk in say Payroll?

What about the cognitive dissonance associated with winding up in “non-glory” MOSs: Supply, a Cook, a Clerk etc “in the rear with the gear” (They are called REMFs or “Rear Echelon Mother F*ckers” and thus often only eligible for American Legion instead of VFW when coming home). The military has an answer for that. In Basic when pulling duties like KP (kitchen police), loading, police call (garbage pickup) they drill it into you that EVERY job is part of an indivisible whole and that no one job can be done without the others being done also. The guys on the front lines of combat after all depend for their lives on supplies of weapons and bullets, food, clothing, transport, pay and the like to do what they do and even some in support services like Logistics wind up on the front lines also bringing the bullets and food to those in combat and even wind up in combat themselves (they get medals and extra pay for being in a combat area even if behind relatively safe walls)

And you learn how shitty and nasty some of those jobs are and how grateful you are and should be, to those doing them and grateful that you are not doing them as an MOS. “The Green Beret or LRRP, deep in the bush in Vietnam, did not make his own clothes or bullets, and cannot even begin to do what he does without logistics support, intelligence, air transport and support, food, rest, entertainment, etc and, without force deployments in other places, yes, less hostile and more safe, but, nonetheless, where those forces are also critically needed (and no one really “chooses” where one serves and thus is not responsible for where one winds up serving and in what MOS).” Thus everyone is a vital part of “The Green Machine” thus freeing the Green Berets and LRRPS, who get the glory, to do what they do where they do it.

And for those who just came in for job training, planning to get out, they have something for them to overcome any cognitive dissonance angst. For example, if someone is a “best fit” as a sniper, and yet came in only for “job training”, unless one is planning a career as a Mafia hit man or Merc, there is a definite disconnect in terms of post-military career prospects. The answer, from the perspective of the military, is that in all MOSs, Military Occupational Specialties, whether a sniper or cook, one acquires secondary skills and capabilities (discipline, focus, cooperation/team work, patriotism, physical fitness, etc) that prepare one for a variety of jobs and management positions, the hiring for which by the way, will likely be done by fellow vets more in tune with hiring fellow vets.

And finally what about the cognitive-dissonance-producing disconnects between, on the one hand, the beliefs and emotions as associated with one supposedly being a part and an instrument of, “Fighting for Democracy”, “Protecting U.S. National Security”, “Stopping Godless Communism”, etc? How about all of that “all for Jesus” on the one hand, versus, on the other hand, the clear FACTS of being part of installing and/or working for and/or propping up ugly despotic, fascist, genocidal, corrupt, militaristic, brutal, Satanic regimes that no American would ever want to live under?

They have some cognitive-dissonance-reducing answers for this problem.

“Those are all lies”

“You simply do not see the big picture”.

“We do not live in a perfect world, and the perfect is often the enemy of the good”.

“If we are not as ruthless as our enemies, they will win and decency will be lost”.

“Who told you or where did you read/hear about these supposed “FACTS” about our friends? ”

“Did you not know you are prohibited from messing in politics or having access to prohibited stuff?”

“For the sake of the mission and indeed for the sake of your own safety and that of your comrades, we need you to do what you are told to do and when you are told to do it and not to question why; that is way above your pay grade. You do not have the big picture we have.”

“What makes you think you are so fucking special when none of your teammates asks these kinds of questions that can only give aid and comfort to our enemies—the same ones that will kill you and your friends without a moment’s hesitation and do not ask their superiors why they do what they do?…”

And all of these techniques are not only used in conscious and calculating ways on new recruits, they are also used on the mass public as well (manufacturing consent) with often the same effects. But once one understands what is going on, why, by whom it is calculated and orchestrated, with what instruments and in whose interests, those who rule lose some of their force and effects.

As I was thrown out of high school, I had this history teacher, a wonderful man and teacher who gave me a copy of “The Negro in America” by Arnold Rose, a condensation of “An American Dilemma” by Gunnar Myrdal. This teacher told me as I was going into the Army that he had five questions for me to think about; he said that after I posed and answered the first three questions I would be lead inexorably to the next two. Those questions were:

1. Who are the rulers?
2. Who are the ruled?
3. In which class am I?
———————–
4. How do the rulers rule?
5. How do WE take them out of power?

I now have many students who are returning from two and three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and I can see the proverbial “thousand-yard stares” [in the eyes] that so many came back from Vietnam and other places of my time in the military also had and carried with them over many years. From my discussions with them, little has changed in the military today except that the incidents of sexual assault of women and male soldiers is estimated at around 19,000 per year with less than 4,000 reported each year. Suicides today are at higher levels than during the Vietnam Era and for the first time have been higher than battlefield casualties and training accidents. The marching and running cadences (“Jody calls) are just as racist, sexist and vile as in my time in the military and now more bellicose on the militaristic and imperialistic side:

Bodies bodies bodies

Load another magazine

In my trusty M-16

Cuz all I ever wanna see

Is bodies bodies bodies

Prep another claymore mine

See the light I’m feelin fine

Cuz all I ever wanna see

Is burning chunks of bodies

Draw my rusty bayonet

See the funny looks I get

Cuz all I ever wanna see

Is rotten stinking bodies

Throw some candy on the ground

Watch the children gather round

Cuz all I ever wanna see

Is little bleeding bodies

About jimcraven10

About jimcraven10 1. Citizenship: Blackfoot, U.S. and Canadian; 2. Position: tenured Professor of Economics and Geography; Dept. Head, Economics; 3. Teaching, Consulting and Research experience: approx 40 + years all levels high school to post-doctoral U.S. Canada, Europe, China, India, Puerto Rico and parts of E. Asia; 4. Work past and present: U.S. Army 1963-66; Member: Veterans for Peace; former VVAW; Veterans for 9-11 Truth; Scholars for 9-11 Truth; Pilots for 9-11 Truth; World Association for Political Economy; Editorial Board International Critical Thought; 4.. U.S. Commercial-Instrument Pilot ; FAA Licensed Ground Instructor (Basic, Advanced, Instrument and Simulators); 5. Research Areas and Publications: International law (on genocide, rights of nations, war and war crimes); Imperialism (nature, history, logic, trajectories, mechanisms and effects); Economic Geography (time and space modeling in political economy; globalization--logic and effects; Political Economy and Geography of Imperialism); Indigenous versus non-Indigenous Law; Political Economy of Socialism and Socialist Construction; 6. Member, Editorial Board, "International Critical Thought" published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; International Advisory Board and Columnist 4th Media Group, http://www.4thMedia.org (Beijing); 7. Other Websites publications at http://www.aradicalblackfoot.blogspot.com; wwwthesixthestate.blogspot.com;https://jimcraven10.wordpress.com; 8.Biography available in: Marquis Who’s Who: in the World (16th-18th; 20th; 22nd -31st (2014) Editions); Who’s Who in America (51st-61st;63rd-68th(2014) Editions); Who’s Who in the West (24th- 27th Editions);Who’s Who in Science and Engineering (3rd to 6th, 8th, 11th (2011-2012) Editions); Who’s Who in Finance and Industry (29th to 37th Editions); Who’s Who in American Education (6th Edition). ------------------- There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, i.e. the voice of conscience even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state, to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
This entry was posted in Academia and Academics, Capitalism and Psycho-Sociopathy, China-U.S. Relations, Dialectics, Economic Development, Epistemology, Genocide in and From America, Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Science, New World Order, Nuremberg Precedents, Political Economy, Psychopaths in Management, Science and Method, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Veterans issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to U.S. Imperialism, Boot Camp and Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Pingback: WHAT IF THEN SENATOR NOW SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY HAD A SUDDEN ‘ATTACK’ OF A COMPULSION TO TELL ONLY THE TRUTH AT A PRESS CONFERENCE: A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s