An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Military’

I am Anti-War on Memorial Day

It’s not an easy thing to be, to be sure.  While I do respect that fact that a lot of people have died to make this country what it is, there are a lot of problems that I have with this holiday.  The first is this – the idea that all dead soldiers are heroes.

Look, I’m not dogging on all soldiers.  Just like with cops, there are plenty of them that do the job, trying to do the right thing, trying to make things better, and trying to protect their country, even if they are being sent to wars that represent none of those things.  However, they are also plenty of soldiers who are completely psychotic killers who wanted to be given a gun, or jerks who want to have virtually unlimited authority over other people.  To say that every person who has been killed in battle is a hero, you have to make the same statement for the Nazis, or the Huns.  There has to be an understanding that some soldiers who die are not heroes.

The second is that the wars for the last 60 years have been completely and utterly pointless.  The last war that made sense to me as to why it happened was WWII.  Hitler was a monster who was mercilessly killing millions of people, trying to ethnically and ideologically purify the entire planet, and to take over.  The Japanese, while we had cut off their oil, were trying to take over this country.  America was in real danger.  It was clear and present.  What were the Korean and Vietnamese wars about?  Nothing.  It was a mission to stop the Reds from taking over.

Both times, they failed.  They failed for the same reason that Afghanistan and Iraq are failing – because this country invaded a foreign nation, not understanding the determination of the populace to defend their homes.  This nation pointlessly invaded two countries, and in both of them were involved in unbelievably violent and pointlessly brutal wars.  But again, this isn’t the soldier’s fault for being in these wars.  There was a draft back then.

Next up we have the invasion of the Persian Gulf.  This war served no purpose at all.  It was a lot smarter than Korea and Vietnam, since we knew not occupy Iraq and to leave quickly, but it was still a completely useless military action against a nation that stood no threat to us.

However, of all the pointless and brutal wars that have ever been fought, I can see none more pointless and more draining than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They were started under false pretenses by a man who was using these wars as a way to exercise his faith and get petty revenge against people who hadn’t wronged this nation, fueled by the mob-mentality that called out for revenge.

All of this said, while these wars were unbelievably pointless, we mustn’t blame the soldiers.  The average soldier can’t help where he ended up.  Blame the systems that drafted them, or the way we got soldiers into Iraq and Afghanistan by screwing them on deployment and back-handedly having those who are just trying to go into the National Guard end up in Fallujah.

The average soldier has only one loyalty when they are in a foxhole.  They don’t care about king or country in that instance.  Their only concern is with their fellow soldiers who are in that foxhole with them.  A lot of brave men and women have died, not defending this country, but defending each other.  If we are going to memorialize something, let us look at that, and pay homage to how many brave people did everything that they possibly could to protect their fellow soldiers and to protect the people who they trusted to protect them.

And for those who did truly die for this country, like the Revolutionaries at Bunker Hill, or the Union troops at Gettysburg, let’s remember them and give thanks for them preserving this nation.

I am anti-war, but I am also understanding enough to realize that this is not the soldier’s fault, and we should be grateful for them sticking with all the BS that the system puts them through, to look out for each other.  But let’s bring them home!  Let’s get them out of harm’s way, so we don’t have to put more men and women in the ground.

Bring them home.

Politically Powerful Films and Society

There is something about a great piece of film that sends a message about all of society.  Finding out about the great parts of history through good film is something that people often overlook.  But it is a great thing to see.  Most of these films are often controversial, but that is one of the reasons that they are so important.

When the film Green Zone came out, a lot of people were screaming about how this film was anti-war, as if that was a bad thing.  The recent attitude that every piece of film about the war in Iraq must show America as the heroes is actually a little distrubing.  Since when has this country been above scrutiny?  Since when has America been so perfect?  The fact is that the lies that got this country into a war need to be talked about.

Part of what made that such an interesting movie was the fact that it was based on a true story.  All of the stories about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq were lies.  Lies that our government let happen, because, well, the reasons for that will probably never be clear.  It is that way with a lot of our military actions.

Take the film Salvador, which tells the story of a photo journalist in El Salvador.  It is a depressing story about how America is helping dictators stay in power, even though the people tried to free themselves.  At the same time, it showed how easy it is for power over others to corrupt you.  The people tried to take control of their government, but the lies that they were Communists kept the military aid flowing.  It still does to this day.

Another point that Salvador made was the hatred of journalists by the military.  This is an absolute truism.  The fact is that our military and our government hates journalists.  The good ones, anyway.  The corporate media has never been something to fear, because they will never stand firm against the status quo.  Our government has always hated forces that can second-guess them, and show their lies.  Of course, thanks to the corporate media, there is no longer revolt against them.  This is one of the thing that has made the Occupy movement so very cool to observe.  These people are standing tall to fight oppression.  People in this country are oppressed, by a corporate and banking system that answers to nobody.  They are also oppressed by cops who don’t uphold their mandate to protect the people, and instead put them down.

Then there is the fact that politically poignant films tell us the stories about the groups of peole that we don’t want to think about.  Take a look at the film Blood Diamond.  It tells the story of the diamond trade in Africa, and how blood diamonds are driving countries that are hopelessly impoverished, and the people are brutalized by ruthless dictators that nobody seems to care about.  We can talk about spreading freedom all we like about Iraq and Afghanistan, but the fact is that people are being brutalized all over the world, and nobody cares here.  Nobody ever cares about the suffering other places.  We only care when we can blame them for attacking us.

Then there was the film that showed a culture for what it is.  It was called Lord of War.  The monologue toward the end by Nicholas Cage about how the law will fail, because this country is involved in dirt was a very harsh statement about the realities of the world we live in.  America is sending guns to scummy people, and all because we want to remain on good terms with them.

Really, the ultimate statement that is made in these politically-motivated film is that America likes to believe that we are the end of the line, that we tell other nations what’s what.  But the fact is that we don’t.  One of the greatest lines in cinema was delivered in Green Zone.

It is not up to you to decide what happens here.

That’s the truth right there.  America wants to believe that the rest of the world conforms to what we want, but that isn’t the truth.  And until people can wrap their tiny little minds around that very fundamental truth, this nation is going to be the biggest pot of lies, and nobody will care.

Peace out,

Lefty

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