The most unfortunate thing about the militarized culture that we live in is not the financial or political costs but the human cost. The poor souls that are conned into war on either side not only put their own lives at risk, but they put many other innocent lives at risk as well. It is the job of the military to kill or be killed and this profession is glorified in our culture despite the fact that we all recognize murder as being a horrible thing. In almost every single society throughout the world violence and murder are seen as the most deplorable of all acts that can be committed. If this is the case then why are we sending hundreds of thousands of our young citizens out to commit acts of violence and be victims of violence?
Even worse why are we applauding this kind of violent behavior by calling these people heroes and holding them to be examples of a model citizen? No one that signs up to kill people should be praised in any way. I’m not saying that we should hate these people, much the opposite in fact. We should pity these poor souls because they have been misled and manipulated by our militant government into giving up their lives for a senseless cause.
We should embrace these human beings with open arms but we should condemn their profession. It is not their fault that they grew up in a society that molded them for the battlefield, but we should still encourage these people to leave that dehumanizing lifestyle behind. Our message of love and compassion must be louder than the battle cries and drown out the violent ideals that they have been corrupted with. We are not the first country to strap our young impressionable citizens with weapons and send them off around the world to expand an empire.
This kind of exploitation has been going on for centuries. With the weapons of war becoming more destructive in the 20th century, the carnage that took place on the battlefield became even worse than before. The first and second world wars are among the most horrific and shameful times in human history.
Following the genocide and devastation of the Second World War, everyone agreed that the war crimes that took place were unacceptable and inhumane. To help prevent these kinds of horrors from taking place in the future, the Geneva Convention was ratified through the Nuremburg trials. The Geneva Convention is a set of international rules that dictate what is legal and illegal in times of war.
The Nuremburg trials have been the most recent update to the international war crime laws, this update is said to protects citizens’ rights in times of war as well as hold specific members of the military accountable for their actions. These laws were a response to the cruel and unusual treatment that many members of the military carried out against their own citizens.
This happened in Germany, The Soviet Union, China and many other nations as well. These trials ended up being somewhat of a circus because they were not followed through on very well and if they really wanted to make a difference they would just outlaw war. However, a few important things were recognized and established on an international level.
It was decided at the Nuremberg trials that even if a member of the military was “just following orders” when they committed a crime, they were still to be held personally accountable for their actions. The sad thing is though, even though they have committed horrible crimes, these are mostly good people who were being forced or conned into doing bad things for bad people.
After the Nuremberg trials a professor by the name of Stanley Milgram set out to discover if good people can really be coerced into doing bad things by authority figures.
He conducted an experiment in 1961 that involved average test subjects being ordered to administer electroshock therapy to another “test subject”. Only there was no shock and the participant that was apparently receiving the shock was just an actor. The study was designed to discover if the test subject would continue to do what they were told, even if it meant harming another human being. Before the tests were conducted, a poll was taken to predict the percentage of test subjects that would refuse to follow orders once the experiment seemed to become life threatening.
Those who were polled believed that 97% of the test subjects would refuse to administer anything higher than a “strong shock” to the other “participant” or actor. Unbelievably it turned out that only 35% of the subjects actually were able to do the right thing and resist authority. All of the other participants continued to administer what would have been very high levels of electricity to the apparent victim in the study.
Stanley Milgram summed up the findings of his experiments quite well by saying:
“The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation. Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”
All over the planet we have been conditioned for thousands of years to obey the orders of authority even if it means committing acts of violence against one another.
This cycle of war and violence has brought us to the brink of catastrophe and has removed almost all traces of humanity from our species. This kind of horror cannot continue and it is up to us to stop obeying orders and stop joining the military. If the public was aware of the carnage that they would witness and the impact that it would have on their mind most people would never sign up.
Even if someone survives war and comes back home they will join the millions of veterans with extreme depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. They will be forgotten and abandoned by the government who they just risked their lives for. When veterans return from war they are more times than not mistreated and neglected by the establishment and really are seen as nothing more than pawns or cannon fodder for the ruling elite.
Henry Kissinger is a feudal crusader who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes in government for over 50 years. He had a major part in the planning of the senseless war in Vietnam as well as the war of terror that has ravaged the Middle East.
This man has made decisions to start wars that have changed and threatened the lives of millions of human beings, but he has never served in the military himself and he has a sick contempt for his loyal soldiers. He played a heavy role in the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration. As a result of that scandal many tape recordings and classified documents that revealed the inhumane nature of the administration were made public.
In the revelations that came from the scandal Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy”.
This is the general sentiment among the policy makers in government, not just towards the military but towards the bulk of the working class! The government or media certainly isn’t going to inform the public about the true horror of war, so it is up to everyday citizens. If someone you know is thinking about joining the military encourage them not to.
Talk to them about what they can do to improve their lives here at home, and help them in any way you can. If they are joining for financial reasons, help them find a good job at home so they don’t have to sell their soul to the devil and go fight a war. Inform them of the senseless atrocities that they will be faced with and let them know that the government is lying to them.
If a life away from war is more attractive and logical then life in a battlefield then people won’t join the military. People are only joining now because they don’t feel that they have any other options or they have been caught up with the romanticized idea of the military that our country projects.
If we can help them find options and we debunk the glorified vision that the people close to us have of the military then we will begin to save our brothers and sisters from the war machine. It is also extremely important not to be negative towards people that are already in the military, but still encourage them to do the right thing and stand up for their brothers and sisters, instead of fighting for the corrupt regime that keeps them imprisoned.
The wars that they are fighting and dying in are making the corporate elite that have hijacked our government richer while further impoverishing the American people and removing our natural born rights. The once innocent young men and women in the military play a critical role in preventing further genocide and violence on this earth. They are the final line of defense between bloodthirsty tyrants and the struggling masses.
If the soldiers refuse to fight an unjust war, for an unjust cause they have the ability to save billions of lives. This is why the military is so strict on their enlistees and discourages free thinking, they do not want the soldiers to actually weigh the morality of what they’re doing.
Though the fact has been strongly suppressed there have been many times throughout history when soldiers have stood up against wartime authority in the name of truth, justice and human rights. There has not been a single war in history where the public and the soldiers were told the complete truth, because if they were familiar with the reality of war they would never support it or allow it.
When the soldiers discover that they have been lied to (and they usually do by the time they are forced to kill civilians) they react in some of the most inspiring ways. Refusing military service is not a new idea at all, people have been doing it for as long as warfare has been around.
This is of course yet another very much ignored and glossed over part of history. Wars are always started under false pretenses, and when the truth eventually comes out the people who have been used and taken advantage of aren’t going to just continue on as usual, they are going to demand answers and accountability.
When this happens the establishment uses words like “mutiny” “desertion” or “treason” to condemn the actions of any soldier who was brave enough to stand up against the malicious practices of their so called superiors. Yet despite the wartime rhetoric of the establishment many courageous soldiers have done just that, rebelled against their inhumane “leaders”.
This is most apparent in times of revolution and civil unrest where armed forces are ordered to harm the very people that they are sworn to protect. This is when the soldiers realize that they have not been serving the people of their country like they have been led to believe, but were in fact serving the ruling class who was oppressing the people. It is now when the veil of deception is automatically lifted and soldiers are left with monumental decisions. They are forced to choose between the people of their country and the “leaders” of their country.
In most cases the fate of revolutions have depended upon the public’s ability to form a bond with the military that will supersede any orders that they may get from so called authority.
This scenario makes it easy for a soldier to make the right decisions, but it is a bit less clear cut when they are sent into a foreign land to fight an unknown “enemy”. Even then many soldiers have a difficult time coping with the orders they are being given and have a change of heart when they are exposed to the reality of the situation.
In the most recent US wars there has been a very strong culture of resistance in the military, even though you may not have heard about it. The Vietnam War is today known throughout most of the world as a war of aggression and imperialism on the part of the United States government, and rightfully so. However, if it wasn’t for the courage and defiance of a large number of American soldiers, the world may have never known the true story of what actually happened in Vietnam.
Like many wars this was said to be a noble cause, where the Americans were apparently “liberating” the Vietnamese people. Many good hearted people in America and throughout the world actually bought that excuse for a period of time. Behind the scenes there were very different discussions.
In June of 1952 a secret memo from the National Security council stated “Communist control of all of Southeast Asia would render the U.S. position in the Pacific offshore island chain precarious and would seriously jeopardize fundamental U.S. security interests in the Far East.” What are those “fundamental security interests”? Well, the memo goes on to explain why the area is so important, saying that, “Southeast Asia, especially Malaya and Indonesia, is the principal world source of natural rubber and tin, and a producer of petroleum and other strategically important commodities.”
Then in 1953, a congressional study mission reported reconfirmed the US governments interest in the region, the study said that "The area of Indochina is immensely wealthy in rice, rubber, coal and iron ore. Its position makes it a strategic key to the rest of Southeast Asia." and "If the French actually decided to withdraw, the U.S. would have to consider most seriously whether to take over in this area.”
On January 31, 1968 came the “Tet offensive” which was to be a turning point in the war and an awakening for many American soldiers.
This was a full scale attack launched by the North Vietnamese forces that America was fighting against, but they also had many South Vietnamese civilians on their side as well.
These are the people that the Americans are supposed to be “liberating”! It then became apparent to the soldiers that they weren’t welcome in this country, and the story they have been told by their government and their so-called superiors just didn’t add up.
That battle would begin the slow retreat of the US forces in Vietnam and as that retreat progressed the commanding officers became even more brutal. These commanding officers ordered attacks on civilians and were responsible for many untold horrors, as time went on the soldiers began to resist their bloodthirsty masters and make efforts to end the war. In the years leading up to the end of the war there were countless protests, rallies, sit ins and other peaceful methods of resistance enacted by thousands of American soldiers.
Hundreds of independent anti-war magazines were being printed on US military bases throughout the entire world and a culture of peaceful defiance was growing in the American armed forces.
Exactly two years after the Tet offensive on January 31, 1971 an activist group called “Vietnam Veterans Against The War“ held a 2 day media event called “The Winter Soldier Investigation” to publicize and expose the war crimes that were carried out on the behalf of the American people. Their stories highlighted the brutality of the high ranking officers and immorality of the whole campaign.
The final blow to the US government’s fairy tale about Vietnam came when Daniel Ellsberg, one of Washington’s most well respected political analysts revealed classified documents to the world that proved multiple presidential administrations blatantly lied to the public on a daily basis about the war.
These files came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers”, which I discussed earlier on.
Without these brave soldiers taking a stand and refusing to be a part of the violence that their government was ordering, the Vietnam War could have gotten a lot worse and many more lives on both sides would have been lost. For people who were alive during the Vietnam War the various conflicts today in the Middle East are a haunting reminder of another war that should have never happened.
The story seems very much the same, various corrupt administrations that belong to the same club of elitist have lied through their teeth over many years and misled the American people into a brutal war that they have no place fighting. The horror and injustice of these wars are eerily similar, but luckily the resistance is just as strong today as it was years ago.
Many American soldiers are coming home from the Middle East and speaking out against the imperialism and brutality that is taking place. Groups like “Veterans For Peace“ have created a strong antiwar movement among the military and individual soldiers are taking brave steps to expose the reality of what’s going on, just as Daniel Ellsberg and others did during the Vietnam war.
Classified information is being anonymously submitted by soldiers to the press via the new independent media on the internet. Droves of videos and official documents have poured in, showing evidence of corruption and war crimes on the part of the US government. William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history who writes regular antiwar articles for a website called tomsdispatch.com. Over the many years of the various occupations in the Middle East he received thousands of letters from disgruntled troops who had a different opinion of their government after being exposed to the realities of the war.
In a February 2011 article, he shared some of those letters with his readers. One soldier writes:
“I am on my second tour of Iraq. My unit has been plagued by suicides and psychiatric problems. Our guards-men even prior to deployment come from compromised social and economic environments, leaving them very susceptible [to military recruiters]. Many of our soldiers are almost forced into volunteering for multiple tours due to the lack of economic opportunity and the cold fact that there is no other way to support their families. I have seen blatant corruption among the [private] contractors [in Iraq] and even cases of outright human trafficking and forced prostitution among female third country nationals… My hope is that the U.S. can withdraw from this senseless war… This war has bankrupted the U.S. and caused untold suffering among U.S. Forces and women.”
This man is not alone either, as the lies of the occupation in the Middle East are exposed a great number of soldiers are having second thoughts about the war that they are in and the orders they are being given. There has long been a history of rebellion within the highest levels of the United States armed forces.
This is because many very great people get involved with good intentions only to discover that the whole thing is a racket. Just as General Smedley Butler revealed in his famous book “War Is a Racket” in 1935.
Smedley was the most decorated war hero of his time and during his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. He would receive dozens of medals throughout his career including the Medal of Honor, twice!
His short but insightful book was no doubt inspired by the 1934 “business plot” in which he was approached by business and finance leaders about a plan to overthrow the government and put an even worse dictatorship into place. Smedley blew the whistle and submitted testimony to a congressional committee to expose the wealthy industrialists and their plot to the American People.
The final report of the committee admitted that there was evidence backing up the general’s claims, but no charges were ever filed. A year later he released his book which outlined in detail what he witnessed behind the scenes as a decorated general in the United States military throughout the course of various wars. Smedley dedicated the rest of his life to speaking out against war and the growing military industrial complex.
The following passage is an excerpt from “War is a Racket”, which shows in detail the kind of military operations that our country has been running for at least the past century. Smedley writes:
“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, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. 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.”
There is no such thing as a noble or honorable war, all war is genocide and a violation of basic human rights. It takes a lot more courage and dignity for a soldier to stand up against authority for the wellbeing of humanity then it does to simply follow orders.
Albert Einstein said “The pioneers of a warless world are the youth who refuse military service” and he was right.
The battles that are being fought by our brothers and sisters are not their battles to fight. They are the battles of the aristocracy who plan and benefit from wars. Warfare, like slavery is one of the most brutal forms of intolerance and it is in the best interest of our species to abandon these kinds of abhorrent practices. Unless war becomes just another shameful part of our primitive past then it will surely be the destruction of our future.