Dear reader – I surely hope you do not think the worst of me after reading this. What is written below is meant to provoke thought, conversation, and an analysis of contemporary American foreign policy, not to demonize or slander anyone. Let’s get it over with…
The NFL protests are continuing to be big news and a controversial subject. On one side, fans complain that players who refuse to stand for the national anthem are disrespecting the flag and the troops who have kept America free. On the other side, folks claim that the protests do not intend to disrespect the flag, but rather aim to raise awareness about racial inequality.
What neither side questions is whether the troops themselves deserve the gratitude or respect of Americans. Yes. I’m going there. No one else will, so allow me. (Let the hate begin!)
It has become a hobby of mine to argue against myself, and against my own beliefs. I don’t just challenge the status quo, I challenge myself. Whether one agrees with the following is one thing, but please do not allow emotion to get in the way of an interesting argument.
America’s Wars Are Not Defensive Wars
No one wants to disrespect those who gave their lives in defense of America’s freedoms, but the entire premise is completely flagrant. Since when were Americans giving their lives in defense of America?
It has been a long time since America has fought a war against an actual enemy, or rather a threat. The Korean War was not fought due to a threat to the United States, and it in fact ended in a stalemate, with neither side “winning”. Korea continues to live in this state today, being a divided country, with neither side (North or South) attempting to take control of the other.
The Vietnam War had nothing to do with American security either. Vietnam was, and is, a third world country with a horribly poor and desolate population. There was no threat that the Vietnamese would invade America, or even its allies in the region. In fact, the entire war was based on the lie of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. The United States’ reason for going to war was based on something that didn’t actually happen.
The Afghan War of the 1980s had nothing to do with American security. The American government deliberately lured Soviet forces into the region in order to bring the USSR into “their own Vietnam”, as a part of the CIA’s Operation Cyclone. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted to this in 1998.
Please don’t forget about the first Iraq War. Americans were lied to during the Nayirah testimony and pulled into yet another conflict that had nothing to do with “protecting our freedom”. Due to sanctions placed on the Iraqi people, as many as 576,000 children starved to death. Were these children “worth it”, as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated?
Let’s go into South America, where the United States has played a major role as well. Most Americans do not realize that the United States has supported the slaughter and destruction of numerous peoples south of its border. In Nicaragua, the US-backed Contras waged war and cost the lives of thousands. In Chili, US-backed groups cost the lives of thousands. In Guatemala, more than 200,000 died as a result of a US backed civil war.
None of these wars had to do with American security, just as today’s wars with Syria or Iran have nothing to do with American security. Sure, they have to do with the interests of some Americans (natural resources, mostly), but not security.
The Results Of War Are Awful For Both Sides
Reports say that American bombing during the Vietnam war caused the deaths of 60,000 Vietnamese, and up to 150,000 Cambodians. The grand total of civilian casualities during the Vietnam war ranges from 1.4 million to 3.5 million. Using the lowest civilian/combatant ratio, it is still 1:1, although alternative statistics provided by the Vietnamese government itself put the ratio at 2:1.
Was Saddam Hussein a threat to America? If not, were the Americans who fought in the 2003 Iraq War fighting for our “freedoms”? Patrick Doherty of TomPaine.com wrote in 2004,
Publicly, President Bush offered four rationales to justify the invasion: the presence of WMD, Iraqi collaboration with Al Qaeda, the possibility of giving WMD to Al Qaeda, and bringing democracy to Iraq. Since the invasion, numerous commissions have shown the first three to be plainly false. The lack of post-war planning, the elevation of Iyad Allawi and the pervasive corruption among U.S.-funded contractors has put the lie to the fourth rationale.
Worldwide, the largest number of Al-Qaeda fighters is estimated to be 92,100. Compared that to up to 1.2 million civilian casualties in the Iraq War alone. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances for many of these deaths, but based on raw numbers, for every Al-Qaeda combatant killed, 10 civilians are killed.
I’m American, and know many who are serving or who have served in the military. Luckily, I do not personally know any who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. That said, how many Americans have fought and died in these wars? The losses aren’t just of foreign life, but American as well.
Offensive Wars Are Immoral And Hurt America’s Standing in the World
America, at least from my recollection, stands for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It does not, however, stand for the belief that American troops ought to be sent into harm’s way to pursue these ends for others.
The American flag stands for very different things depending on where a person lives. For a person in the majority of the world, the American flag is feared. It is only in the West that the American flag is seen as a symbol of freedom.
The Huffington Post, (brush it off if you like) said,
This is the conclusion of a massive world opinion poll conducted by Win/Gallup International and released at the close of 2013. The poll, which was first conducted in 1977, asked over 66,000 thousand people across 65 countries this year a variety of questions about the world, including which country they would most like to call home, whether or not the world is becoming a generally better place and which country poses the greatest threat to world peace.
The U.S. was voted the biggest threat by far, garnering 24 percent of the vote. Pakistan was a very distant second with 8 percent, followed by China (6 percent) and Afghanistan (5 percent).
That’s somewhat subjective though. Although statistics have been gathered showing how the world’s view of America has diminished as American imperialism and interventionism has increased, overall statistics are less easy to argue with. It isn’t me. I’m no pinko commie. Don’t blame me for the statistics the rest of the world is giving me. As the saying goes, “Don’t blame the messenger.”
The fact is, that American troops are far more likely to slaughter innocent civilians than “terrorists”, “enemy combatants”, or “insurgents”. When I say far more likely, I mean 10 times more likely. American troops, the “heroes” they claim them to be, kill ten innocent people for every bad guy they kill.
Be that the case, why exactly are they worthy of our praise? Is it enough just to claim that they did as they were ordered? History has showed us that just because a soldier was following orders does not negate the terrible actions he committed. The Nuremberg Trials showed us that.
Following WWII the world decided on a set of rules for international military conflict. The argument can and has been made, that based on international law, the Geneva convention, and historical precedent, numerous members of America’s political class and the soldiers who follow their orders ought to be put on trial for war crimes.
The Lies of War Continue…
It has been said so recently by Senator Lindsey Graham that the Americans who were killed in Niger died “defending America”. How dumb does Senator Graham think his audience is? Niger is not a threat. Nor was Iraq, nor Afghanistan, and neither is Iran (which spends 1/60th the amount of money on its military as the United States).
What the hell are we fighting for? Our troops are NOT fighting to “defend our freedoms”! That is complete and utter nonsense. Despite what your high school history teacher told you, our troops are also not fighting to spread freedom and democracy around the world. Here’s the ugly truth – American troops are sent around the world to defend the interests of private corporations that aim to profit from war and an arrangement of the world that war provides.
WWI Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler wrote in War is a Racket,
“It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
We’ve been lead to believe that standing for the National Anthem somehow means we’re patriotic, but being patriotic hasn’t been clearly defined. “Supporting the troops” also hasn’t been clearly defined. Americans of course do not support the murder of millions of innocent civilians who pose no threat to us, yet we are taught to stand for a national anthem which shows our support of the very people with blood on their hands.
The greatest threat to American freedom comes from the United States government itself. Standing on the side of the government are the troops; their willing enforcement agents.
Even writing about this is taboo. Americans are told that they can oppose a war, but never oppose the troops who carry out the war. Why is that? America needs its troops to defend it, but in my lifetime, America has never been in a conflict with a nation that was a threat to our freedom. America does not have a department of defense; it has a department of offense. Wars do not keep us safe, and the logical conclusion to draw from that is that neither do the soldiers fighting in them.