Thank you, soldier, but you needn�t fight for my freedoms
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 19, 2006, 00:32
Whether coming from
politicians of either denomination, anchor people in the media, or Jane and Joe
Citizen, I am revolted at the effusiveness displayed publicly as members of the
military are thanked for their �service to the country� and for fighting for
�our freedoms.� A few of these thank-you givers may be borderline idiots doing
what they feel it�s their patriotic duty; most of them, however, are nothing
short of hypocrites.
I may be helping to
pay the fare for the military, but I much prefer to get nothing in return . . .
I mean nothing! Soldiers, regardless of status or branch of service, are not
fighting to defend our country from enemy nations, nor are they fighting any
frontlines of the "war on terror." They are just fighting to please
the Lord of the Manor, no one else. As for the idea that they are fighting for
our freedoms, it borders on the ridiculous, or perhaps the puerile. The
fighting that American troops are engaged in overseas is taking away other
peoples� freedoms -- freedom of identity, culture and self-worth -- which could
easily boomerang and put ours at great peril.
And we are not even
touching on the subject of taking lives, whether directly or by proxy!
For almost four
years, and mostly in reference to America�s invasion and occupation of Iraq,
I�ve been receiving much correspondence on this thorny subject of troop
support, an issue that many of us feel uncomfortable with, one that we much
rather sweep under the rug. Using Andy Rooney�s rationale (the two-minute
satirist-in-residence of the TV news magazine, �60 Minutes,� and correspondent
for Stars and Stripes during WWII) those of us who have served in the military
have earned the right to express overt criticism. Today�s column is but a
collage of both ideas and feelings transmitted to me by a broad spectrum of
veterans, people who have earned that right, from a 20-year-old recent Purple
Heart Iraq returnee, to an octogenarian bombardier who still remembers the
horrors of Dresden, to several Nam vets who after three decades continue
serving penance for what they have accepted as their sins.
What many of these
vets, draftees as well as volunteers, claim not to understand is why the lie
persists and appears to be accepted by those in uniform today, whether in the
regular ranks or the National Guard. Even if most of these young people entered
the military with honorable, or excusable, reasons -- from a sense of duty, or
misplaced patriotism, to something as mundane as a job, a way of getting a
skill or an education -- after one or two years, particularly those who have
served in occupied countries, the reality of the situation should have become
crystal clear. If the original intent was not that of a mercenary, by
reenlisting, by consenting to stay as part of a hired imperial army, like it or
not, mercenaries they�ve become.
A year ago, a
Vietnam veteran and history professor at a Southeastern college sent me an email
challenging something which I had written in a column. He reminded me how our
human nature has evolved little in a world of accelerating technological
change. The idea of empire, the quest of sword and cross, now discarded by a
tired or perhaps more enlightened Europe, he told me, has now reached our
shores. It�s our turn to take pride in giving this empire our sons and
daughters to brandish both the sword and the cross, to either kill enemies or
capture their souls. As clarification, the professor stated that the cross is
now camouflaged as democracy, American-style democracy.
Could we be
teaching our young people that faith must always have the upper hand over
reason? For a nation founded by freethinkers with great vision, how could we
have retro-evolved to the Dark Ages?
now chief of police in a Midwestern city, recently wrote a letter with a strong
sense of discovery in its narrative. From his perspective, many of our soldiers
think of themselves as policemen in an international arena where we provide
both the law and its enforcement. As he put it, �After our government
determines what the law should be -- emanating from what has proven to be a
flawed foreign policy -- it�s only the next logical step to deputize the
military to enforce it.� With such Dodge City mentality originating at the very
top, this cop concludes, how can anyone expect a higher level of morality from
the lowly, brainwashed grunts?
Bottom line: we all
need to look within, impart in our kin the universal values of respect and
dignity for all human beings wherever they may reside on this earth. Last
spring, I had my turn with my oldest grandson, then graduating from high
school, and prey to military recruiters -- perhaps because of his prowess in
sports. After a reality talk with him on what true patriotism is, and the
misuse of today�s military, something that I could do credibly because of my
military background, I know he�ll be safely tucked away in college . . . unless
the empire decides to reinstate the draft.
For now, all I ask
is that these mental-lightweights in the media and politics stop telling us
that the military is fighting for our freedoms and our security when it�s
clearly evident that the opposite is true. Perhaps one day I will once again
support the troops. But that�s likely to happen when they are no longer needed,
when the world can live in peace . . . without emperors; and power is not
foolishly or unconditionally granted to those who govern.
� 2006 Ben Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer,
resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business
consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.
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