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Random Thoughts About the Military

This is a random topic I have trouble writing about. I have been told most of my life that the military is there to “defend our freedom.” However, for the most part, the operations I have seen in my lifetime have represented anything but freedom.

Our military is misused and a lot of U.S. soldiers take the brunt of it.

We can start with the operations going on when I was a child. Most of them involved defending dictatorial regimes in Central and South America. These were terrible regimes that did horrific things. There were entire soccer stadiums devoted to the burying of the dead that resulted from these dictatorships. Sting wrote a whole song about the terrible atrocities going on in Chile alone.


But why would the United States back such horrible regimes? Why would they condone the disappearing and torture of entire populations? It was simple, really. They were not Communist. That’s it. No, really… That’s it!


This kind of black and white thinking led the United States military throughout much of the 1980s. A military-ruled regime that makes nearly an entire generation disappear? No problem! Soldiers raping nuns? Whatever floats their boat. Genocide? It happens. As long as they aren’t filthy Red Communists, there’s no problem.


This kind of thinking reminds me of the time I was talking about studying volcanoes someday and that I had a fascination with them. The person I was speaking to was horrified that I would even care about volcanoes because they kill people. I tried to explain that this was a major reason to study volcanoes in the first place, but no, I wasn’t supposed to study them because they killed people. Because I guess boycotting volcanoes will make them stop erupting, right?


Just like ignoring non-Communists is going to make everything better. Some of the damage done by the military, acting on the orders of the government, is still being felt in Latin America today, and we’re not even in the same century anymore. Yet I’m supposed to think of the United States military as a “force of freedom” or something. Exactly how did supporting these dictatorships give Americans freedom?


And where was freedom concerning the first Gulf War? (And I can’t believe I have to say “first” here.) I mean, I can see that we went in to rescue the invaded country of Kuwait, whose citizens were being brutalized by the Iraqis. But when you think about it, freeing Kuwait had little to do with our motives to go into the Persian Gulf in early 1991.


I seriously doubt any of the American leadership cared about some people in a distant Arabic nation. I’m sure they had their own racial slurs to utter behind closed doors, because that’s the type of people who were in the government in the early 1990s. That kind of stuff wasn’t seen as a big deal back then, though it should have been.


Anyway, the real problem was that Saddam Hussein threatened our oil supply. There were protests at the time where people screamed, “No blood for oil!” But that is exactly what they got. And the Iraqis had to be total douchebags and light the wells on fire before they left, the wolverine pissing in the food supply so that no one else could have it.


Not once in this entire operation was American freedom threatened. Saddam Hussein was no Adolph Hitler. He may have thought he was, but he never came close to the threat posed by the Nazis during World War II, and he never would have been one. The only reason Bush, Junior, sought him out and killed him was for the ratings, and because he was polishing off his father’s vendetta.


You’d think that killing Saddam would bring that elusive freedom to Iraq, but it didn’t. If anything, it made things much worse. ISIS took over and started blasting the hell out of everyone. Some Iraqi citizens actually complained that things were a lot safer under Saddam’s regime, if you can believe it.


What about our war in Afghanistan? Wasn’t that to defend American freedom? Well, that’s what we were told at the time. We were there to fight the Taliban, a group of religious extremists who had put restrictive regulations on the country, especially their women.


So how did we do? Well, the same as everyone else who’s ever gone up against Afghanistan since the country existed. We fell backward into a pile of shit and went home with our tails tucked between our legs. Of course, the government hid this behind a big media-produced fanfare about how we sent our troops home… Only to have the Taliban take over once more.


Afghanistan was a waste. It was a waste of time, a waste of personnel, a waste of money, and, most importantly, a waste of lives. My parents’ generation had the Vietnam War to bring their trauma. Mine had Iraq and Afghanistan to mess them up. At least there is one consolation in the fact that the draft wasn’t activated for us.


We have to ask, what will be the war that messes up the next generation? I think most likely the conflict will be somewhere in Asia, perhaps again in the Middle East. We see to have a hard-on for fighting in the Middle East, mostly because of the oil supply that we want and depend on.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problems with the soldiers that are fighting these miserable wars. Most of them don’t have a choice in the matter, they are sent where they are ordered to go, and they can’t resign their commissions without facing trouble. They are the ones sent to the front lines, and they are the ones who get fucked up in the end.


My problem is with the government and the military brass. These are the assholes who make all the decisions to send the military in to fight their battles, and they always wrap the rotten package in a pretty little bow that says “American freedom.” And, worse, no one, especially a right-wing conservative Christian type, ever stops to ask how this latest operation has anything to do with it.


We are all taught to be this way. It’s pounded into our heads by the media. We are all supposed to blindly support our troops and never question the way in which they carry out their work. And we’re supposed to take sides on every issue as if war is a team sport.


Let’s take Israel, for example. According to media and political peer pressure, we are all supposed to support Israel, and if we don’t, we’re immediately labeled as anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. We are automatically assumed to be on the side of Hamas. There is no discussion of the many gray areas that fall in between these viewpoints. We’re back to the black and white thinking of the Cold War era.


To be honest, Israel’s track record in recent times has been terrible. There are several instances of human rights violations, they have locked people in ghettos behind walls, and they have been accused of launching an all-out genocide on the Palestinians. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous antics of that ultra-conservative psycho, Netanyahu. We would be here all day.


This does not excuse the activities of Hamas, either. Their own track record includes several acts of terrorism and unprovoked attacks on the Israeli people. They aren’t exactly kind to their own people, either. The Palestinians have basically been held hostage by a terrorist organization, who drags them along for the ride and provokes the temper of the Israeli government against them.


Let me tell you a secret: you don’t have to pick sides in this issue! You do not have to be pro-Israel or pro-Hamas. I don’t support either one, but I am pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. That means I’m in support the well-being and peace for the people of both nations, but I do not support the actions of their governments.


The Israeli situation has been a complete mess for a long time, and there is little chance of it repairing itself in the near future. Not as long as the current leadership is in charge, and not as long as the United States is fanning the flames. We have a choice between a terrorist organization and a megalomaniac. I don’t personally like these choices, and if I had my say in the whole matter, I’d lock both governments in a stadium and drop a nuke on it, just to make sure the job is done. (But only if the stadium was out in the middle of nowhere and no civilians were in the fallout zone.) I hate them both, and I think the wars they drag their people into are disgusting.


But this is one of many reasons I am not in charge of international relations. I have little patience for the ins and outs of politics, especially when it involves oil or political ideologies. I support our troops, meaning out soldiers stuck with the garbage collection job of the military brass. I do not support a bunch of rich assholes who never get their hands dirty and spend all their time fighting wars as if they are video games from their posh offices at the Pentagon, where nothing bad ever happens to them. The current situation with our military and government has nothing to do with freedom, it’s a disgusting shit show based on corporate greed and the highest bidder.


On that note, let’s spend this Memorial Day remembering those soldiers we’ve lost in our wars dating back to the American Revolution. Let’s also remember all the fallen men and women who lost their lives for the sake of a bunch of political assholes. It’s not really a day for barbecues and drinking anymore, is it?

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