Adam Ash

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Adam's blogbox: why America should be ashamed of our military, and especially of our generals

Perhaps the biggest cowards in the world are the US military.

Like sheep, they went along with a war that has absolutely nothing to do with their sworn duty, which is to defend our country. They attacked a small, weak nation who was no threat to us for no good reason.

As for our generals, they’re the biggest cowards of all. They did not stand up to Rumsfeld. When he made them fight a war with guaranteed-to-lose tactics, they said nothing. They were scared more shitless than rats who’ve had colonic enemas, because they were afraid they’d get fired. They’re not men; they’re careerist sissy cowards.

It’s rather hilarious how our generals find the courage to criticize their Secretary of Defense and their Commander-In-Chief only after retirement. There’s no shortage of retired generals giving our Commander-In-Chief hell. But when such criticism and resistance would actually make a difference -- while they’re in service and have the power and the duty to resist dumb and immoral orders -- then they keep their cowardly mouths shut.

What happened when the scandal of Abu Graib broke? Our generals did not point to the real culprits: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, who let our interrogators know that “the gloves have to come off” and that we must go over to “the dark side.” Our generals went along with this shameful atrocity even though their own army lawyers were dead set against it. Our generals did not court-martial General Miller, who introduced torture to Guantanamo. No, they sent him to Iraq to introduce torture to Abu Ghraib. When the scandal blew up in their faces, they acted like the cowards they are: they prosecuted poor Lynndie England and eight other grunts who were carrying out the orders of higher-ups. They were too cowardly to prosecute their own.

In Iraq, our generals have fought a cowardly war and ran a cowardly occupation. Force protection is the motto. Translation: shoot first and ask questions later. British soldiers in Iraq have been shocked by our crude, heavy-handed tactics. Hey, let’s bomb the hell out of Fallujah. Come on, let’s bang down doors of civilians, and terrorize women and children. Let’s throw everybody in prison, even if more than 90% of them turn out to be innocent. Most Iraqis were happy to see Saddam Hussein overthrown, but after four years of US military occupation, a majority of Iraqis now approve of the killing of US soldiers. Our generals brought this change of attitude on themselves by the dumb, cowardly way they’ve behaved in Iraq. They don’t seem to know the first thing about winning the hearts and minds of regular Iraqis. They only know how to terrorize civilians.

Most shockingly, our generals are cowards who allow their troops to be used as IED fodder -- as the useful idiots of the Bush-Cheney administration. Every Sunday morning when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos shows a list of our kids who died in Iraq during the week, tears sting my eyes. Poor bastards, I think, they’re mostly underprivileged kids who didn’t have any career open to them besides the Army. And now look what’s happened to them. How can their president and their generals allow them to die for nothing?

But then I ask myself, why are our troops so dumb as to go in the first place? Why am I crying when they volunteered for this? Shouldn’t I honor our troops by giving them some responsibility for what they’re doing? After all, isn’t it high time they woke up? Heck, most Americans have -- they voted against the war.

It’s harsh but true: at this point, if you’re all gung-ho to go fight in Iraq, you’re being nothing but a dumb ass. If you get yourself killed, it’s because you’re dumb, not because you’re noble. You might deserve to die, just for being that stupid. As Barack Obama said: "We've seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted ... 25,000 amputees." What kind of a dumb ass goes ahead and volunteers to become an amputee?

Come to think of it, being a soldier is a pretty dumb job. You’re most successful at it when you sit on your butt in your base, successfully deterring invaders. But since there’s no chance in hell that anyone will ever invade America, being a US soldier is basically a useless profession.

You’re deluding yourself if you think you’re being noble by being a soldier. You’re not like a fire-fighter or the police, who are there to protect us. Instead, you’ve been trained to kill. You’re sanctioned by the fictional notion of a worthy “country” or “nation” to snuff out human lives. You’re a murderer with a badge. There’s not much nobility in that. At best it’s quite icky. Who outside the Mafia would take a job to kill people? Would you?

But we like to call our troops noble. We rave on about how great and special and awesome they are. Why? I think it’s a con, the same con we lay on teachers and nurses, telling them they’re in a noble profession so we don’t have to pay them much. At heart, soldiers are mercenaries: murderers for pay.

It’s a bad, sick joke to call our troops noble heroes and to worship the ground on which their boots stand. The poor guys and gals are simply people whose best option was the Army. You don’t see any rich kids signing up. We give these kids a safe haven, which is a nice thing to do, but then we stick their minds full of blather about them being heroes to make them feel better about the poor choices our society has stuck them with. It’s not really fair to them. And it’s hypocritical, too. You don’t see anyone worshipping our chronically homeless vets from our last stupid war in Vietnam, or worshipping the meager benefits that veterans get. You and I sit on our fat butts while these kids are out doing the dirty work of our warmongering elite, and we're complicit in the nobility-of-dying-for-your-country con game, along with our media, when our troops are actually the victims of our screwed-up society.

In any event, soldiers don’t fight because they want to die a noble death for their country: they fight for their buddies, for the guy next to them. And no sane person can call their fighting noble -- not when their collateral damage includes babies and children and women. Where’s the noble heroism in that? Being a soldier is a shitty job -- shittier than being a toilet cleaner, which has more nobility to it than killing people.

In essence, a soldier is a sucker. He’s conned to believe he’s a noble person willing to sacrifice his life for his country. But then he’s sent out to go and grab oil fields in some Middle East hick place for the Texas oil buddies of his Commander-In-Chief. If that’s noble, I’m a sex change. These kids are IED fodder for their generals and their Commander-In-Chief, who betray them and their parents by wasting their lives and then telling the world they died for a noble cause.

Anyway, why is it noble to die for your country? What makes a country so important that you should lay down your life for it? I can think of other much more important things to die for: my kids, my family, my parents, my second cousin twice removed. The notion of a “country” worth dying for – that’s sucked out of thin air to cover up the agenda of old men who like to send young men to their deaths for some BS scheme of their own. They like to paint our troops as young and innocent lads and lasses who’ve chosen to do something brave and good, so they can get away with their own nefarious schemes.

“War is a racket,” as a very honored Marine wrote in his book of the same title back in the 1930s. It’s racket we Americans have fallen for hook, line and sinker. To the point that we spend more on our military than all the other military budgets of the world combined. What for? We’re in no danger of being attacked by anyone. Who’d want to destroy the biggest market for the world’s products?

But take a look at a breakdown of Bush’s new budget, which doesn’t even include the money he needs for the war in Iraq, to see how insane we Americans are:

Discretionary Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2008 in billions of dollars:

$481.4 Defense
$58.6 Education
$52.3 Health
$43.6 Justice
$39.6 Veterans benefits
$39.5 Int'l affairs
$32.9 Housing assistance
$28.7 Natural resources and environment
$27.3 Science and space
$23.4 Transportation
$17.6 Training, employment and social services
$17.6 General government
$16.4 Other income security
$10.7 Economic development
$10.1 Social Security and medicare
$5.8 Agriculture
$4.2 Energy
(Source: Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.)

That’s WITHOUT the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan included.

I ask you: are we out of our minds? Why do we keep making our arms manufacturers rich with our tax dollars when we need that money to educate our children? Why do we spend money on new stealth bombers that are totally unnecessary for today’s wars when our healthcare system doesn’t cover 40m Americans?

But not all Americans are insane. There’s one among us who is supremely sensible, moral, and brave.

His name is Lt. Ehren Watada, and he may be the only member of the US military who is not a coward. Why? Because he refused to deploy to Iraq last year. He said he’d go to Afghanistan, but not to Iraq. He said: "My moral and legal obligation is to the constitution. Not to those who issue unlawful orders. It is my conclusion that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong, but also a breach of American law.” His attitude is simple: the Iraq War is immoral and illegal, and going there would make him a war criminal.

This year his superiors tried to court-martial him, but it ended in a mistrial, probably because they didn’t want the publicity of the world to gather around the one man in our Army brave enough to stand up against the whole farce in Iraq. Here’s someone unique -- a man who takes responsibility for his actions. A soldier who is not a dumb ass.

Listen to these words, excerpted from a speech he made:

“Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.

“The American soldier must rise above the socialization that tells them authority should always be obeyed without question. They must realize that this is a war not out of self-defense but by choice, for profit and imperialistic domination. Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders, will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars.

“If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings. If I am to be punished, it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one man.

“Now, I'm not a hero. I am a leader of men who said enough is enough. Many have said this about the World Trade Towers, ‘Never Again.’ I agree. Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free -- be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now -- the time to stand up and be counted is today.”

Lt. Watada, I disagree with you. You ARE a hero. It’s a pity that the rest of the army, especially our generals, are your exact opposite: cowards. But then, why blame our military for being cowards? We, the American nation, are the ones who cheered them on as they attacked a small, weak nation for no good reason.

No wonder we have an army of cowards. After all, they come from a nation of cowards. In the end, our shame should not be for our military: it should be for ourselves.


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