The memorials below have been installed in 21 places across the USA, with another 43 in progress. The original wording said, “A tribute to mothers and fathers who sacrificed a loved one for our freedom.”
Latst last night I quietly corrected this as a public service. Two examples…
Nobody believes that the USA fights for “our freedom,” or “to spread democracy.” Even so, shouldn’t survivors be allowed to have to their fantasies if it makes them feel better?
Perhaps, but while it is one thing to cling to the “freedom” fantasy in order to cope with personal grief, it is another thing when this becomes a collective habit that justifies continual war and death. Grief can change to indulgence at the expense of everyone who will continue to die.
An average of 20 veterans die by suicide every day (according to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs) because they cannot reconcile reality with the lies they are told, and the lies they had murdered by. Extreme cognitive dissonance is unbearable. Perhaps we could reduce it by telling the truth…
All human civilizations are built on lies. In ancient Rome, for example, soldiers returning from foreign wars often discovered that rich oligarchs had used legal tricks to steal the soldiers’ estates while the soldiers had been away, fighting for the rich. Since the oligarchs owned all the judges and magistrates (just like today) Roman soldiers were compelled to go fight another war (and another and another) in order to grab as much booty as they could to compensate for what had been stolen from them back home. Rich people camouflaged this cycle of theft by evoking the “Glory of Rome.”
Because of this lie, and oligarch theft, Rome had to become an empire. It was forced to continually expand and steal in order to fill the void caused by its own internal corruption.
The British Empire grew for the same reason. Ordinary Britons were so crushed by poverty and inequality, and were so abused by corrupt politicians, that they were compelled to form colonies abroad. This sickness was justified by slogans like, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
Likewise American corruption and inequality is camouflaged by the claim that soldiers “died for our freedom.” We must destroy foreigners to “bring them democracy.” We must make rich people richer to promote “national security.”
What kills empires is when ordinary people echo these lies. Not just pundits and politicians, but ordinary people. An empire’s collapse is caused by internal corruption, but internal corruption can only continue as long as we collectively deny reality.
Yesterday the U.S. House has approved the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, which will boost military spending by $80 billion. Critics have noted that the $80 billion increase alone would easily cover the costs of free public college tuition and other initiatives that are frequently dismissed as too expensive.
The budget provides cash for 90 of the non-functional F-35 jets (20 more than Trump requested) plus $12 billion more for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, which is a farce, since (as I have blogged before) there is no such thing as ballistic missile defense. (I’m talking about ballistic missiles, not ordinary endo-atmospheric missiles. Ballistic missile “defense” is a multi-billion-dollar hoax.)
That $700 billion violates the $549 billion ceiling set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, but Congress ignores its own laws when it comes to war, corporate welfare, and Wall Street bailouts. Budget control laws only apply to programs that help average Americans.
The Empire’s wars are sustained by ordinary people who pay money to see movies that glorify war. Decades ago movies were occasionally anti-war, but today all movies about war glorify war, including “anti-war” movies.
For example, the movie “Last Flag Flying” opened two weeks ago. On the surface it pretends to critique the lies told by pundits and politicians, but the movie is really about celebrating the “honor” of having defended the lies. Yes we were lied to, and yes the lies killed my son, but at least we can be proud to have served the war machine. Yes the war profiteers are murderous, but at least we honorably performed our duty to them. Yes the wars are absurd, but at least we have “pride” and “patriotism.” Yes our owners fed us into meat grinders, but at least we “had each other’s backs,” which is all that matters. “Having each other’s backs” is far more important than is ending the genocides, or ending our own slavery and extermination.
Such bullshit rationalization is a lie that feeds the liars. It keeps the wars going. It sustains the war profiteers.
Note that today’s “anti-war” movies focus only on the drama experienced by the Empire’s soldiers. Nobody wants to see the nations destroyed by the Empire, and the millions of people exterminated by the war machine. It’s too depressing. Anyway they “had it coming.” Hoo-rah.