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The Expansionist
Monday, May 26, 2008
 
Fiting Militarism. (And yes, I see the irony.)

This is Memorial Day, a day set aside by the Federal Government originally to remember the men (not "men and women") who died in defense of the Union in the Civil War (not the "War Between the States"). It has since been broadened in conception as a day to remember the fallen in all our wars — even Confederate soldiers who died trying to destroy the Union!
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In addition to Memorial Day, we also have Veterans Day (the Monday closest to November 11th) and Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May, the same month as Memorial Day). And each of the United States' several branches of the armed forces celebrates its own day as well. Altho Memorial Day was originally to be commemorated on May 30th and Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day) was to be celebrated on, not near, November 11th, the date when hostilities ceased in World War I, both of these days now wander over the calendar to find a Monday, so we can have a three-day weekend. It would seem that our soldiers are worth honoring, but not if we have to do it mid-week.
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Three days a year given over to glorifying militarism is at least two too many.
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Even Liberals feel an obligation to avoid criticizing our "heroes" in order not to be thought "unpatriotic". Militarism, you see, IS patriotism, and patriotism today IS militarism.
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The official line among Liberals nowadays is that it is the President and his Administration that is responsible for wars and their terrible toll, not the "valiant men and [now also] women" who carry out those attacks and commit those crimes. No, they're not responsible at all. They are just patriots "serving their country". And when they attack a country that never attacked us and kill — what? as many as 600,000 Iraqis, a figure David Letterman recently offered on his talk show — they are "only following orders". That phrase never sounds right unless given a German accent.
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Pretending they were "only following orders" didn't save German officers at Nuremberg, and it won't save American war criminals in some future war-crimes tribunal, domestic or international.
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Many of our "heroes" are no such thing, but cold-blooded killers. They entered the military not to "serve their country" but to serve themselves and take out their aggressions on helpless foreign victims. They get to be sado-masochistic butchers, even rapists and multiple murderers, and still get praise heaped upon them, and medals pinned to their chest. Oh, they wouldn't be honored for rape and murder, but those are easy enuf to cover up, especially when The Establishment is intent on protecting the reputation of the military by concealing common crimes committed in wartime by 'our brave heroes'.
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The typical enlistee does not enter the military to "defend his country" but to find a job and receive benefits during and after his or, now, her tour of duty. And if that job is to kill people, they will kill people, no questions asked.
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All American adults have seen tapes of Gulf War I attacks on Iraqi targets in which we hear the attackers cheer when a direct hit kills people, as tho it is some kind of harmless video game. And this is why the Government does nothing about monstrously vicious video games, because it wants heartless, mindless killer robots to be produced in the millions by a popular culture of heartless, mindless violence and sado-masochism, to keep the military well stocked with obedient monsters — which is what the military is: obedient, mindless, heartless professional killers. Let us never forget that. Let us never glorify militarism nor forgive the crimes committed in the name of God and country.
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In the 20th Century, three major countries were taken over by militarism, their cultures perniciously transformed into a cult of violence for Fatherland, or History, or Emperor. All of them committed monstrous crimes for those specious causes. Italy created an empire by attacking defenseless Ethiopians, then participating in an Axis that tried to conquer the world. Oh, there may be a few mentally conservative historians who refuse to believe even today that the Germans and Japanese, acting in concert with Italy and some other minor partners, really intended to conquer the world. Most people, however, accept that yes, they really did aspire to world conquest. That seems ridiculous to us, now, but it didn't to them, then. They were so certain it could be done that Hitler gladly took on both the United States and Soviet Union at the same time. Never mind that between them those two powers had hundreds of millions of people, a vast area filled with resources, and, especially in the case of the United States, a nearly infinite productive capacity with which to create the matériel of war. Immediately after, and because of, World War II those two countries, individually, became the planet's two superpowers, opposed to each other. But in WWII itself, those superpowers were allied, and militarists in Germany and perhaps even in Japan thought they could win! Militarism, you see, can rot the mind.
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The result for those countries was vast devastation and humiliation. Italy, the most junior partner, got off relatively litely. Germany lost millions of men, women, and children to violent death, and a substantial portion of its pre-war territory, with a third of what remained being administered as a separate country for over 40 years. Japan suffered two atom bomb blasts that destroyed two major cities, but emerged with all its home territory intact. Germany's reputation has never recovered, and nobody really trusts it. Japan has rewritten history to pretend that it did nothing very wrong, even tho the number of people it killed is doubtless far huger than those Germany killed, and refuses to this day to accept any guilt for a war it insists was defensive and designed to liberate Asia from outside domination. But nobody trusts Japan either, and its constitution forbids resurgent militarism. A few madmen in the U.S., intent on getting Japan to shoulder more of the burden of "defense" and "security" around the world, would like to see the leash taken off Japan's military. They must be stopped.
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Throughout history, the glorification of militarism has produced catastrophic consequences, for the victims of aggressive states and, eventually, for those states themselves. The Roman Republic was destroyed by militarism, and, in its turn, the successor to the Republic, the Empire, was also ravaged by militarism, with generals ousting Emperor after Emperor to take power themselves.
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Historians now believe that in all probability, Mayan "civilization" was destroyed not by drought or other climate change, but by a culture of endless war, of attacks on neighboring city-states and counterattacks from those neighbors, of mass death thru human sacrifice and slauter of captives.
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Aztec "civilization" brutalized surrounding peoples, and stacked up mountains of skulls of people killed by a stone knife plunged into their chest to rip out their still-beating hearts. As many as 100,000 people a year were murdered by the Aztecs' insane, bloodthirsty, militarist culture. So when the Spaniards arrived and gave conquered and tributary peoples a chance to destroy their oppressor, they leapt to form an alliance to destroy Aztec culture, and tear down the largest city of the Western Hemisphere. And they did.
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But some people never learn, and to this day we hear and see, in book and film, "heroic" tales of insane militaristic adventures and defenses of old, from Troy to Marathon to the conquests of Alexander, to all those to whom we can attach a defensible "spin". I haven't seen any glorifications of the slauters of Jengis Khan or Tamerlane, yet. But at the rate we're going, I wouldn't be surprised to see such massive criminals not merely whitewashed but glorified. (In the 1956 movie The Conqueror, John Wayne played a young Jengis Khan, who is shown in a sympathetic lite, and whose massive crimes against humanity thousands of miles outward from his home in Mongolia are not shown.) It would be very hard to show the reality of the vast slauter and devastation caused by the Mongol Hordes and still put a heroic spin upon them.
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Alas, some Mexican nationalists actually dare to pretend pride in the Aztecs! And that kind of insane pride in savagery is not universally condemned.
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But when Germans organize neo-Nazi groups, they are actively persecuted by the German authorities, who even attempt to impose their anti-Nazi laws extraterritorially, to punish non-Germans acting hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
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The people of Mongolia have very warm feelings for Jengis Khan, and brag how that one man probably has more progeny living today than any other man in the history of the world, "about 8% of the men in a large region of Asia (about 0.5% of the men in the world)" (and, thus, their children too). Forgotten are the literally uncounted dead killed by their people and their culture of callous, even exuberant violence. They even want to erect a statue to the monster in Washington, DC! I would suggest to any public board contemplating approval of such a statue that they read The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe by James Chambers first. If they nonetheless approve such a statue, I suggest the next statue they approve be one of Adolf Hitler.
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In the United States, unreconstructed Confederate sympathizers gloss over the highest of treasons and glorify the worst traitors any society has ever had, the Robert E. Lees and Jefferson Davises, and name parks and highways after them, erect monuments to them, and fly the Confederate Battle Flag as a sign of Southern pride. Never mind that the Confederacy started a war that killed over 600,000 Americans, most of them on the Union side. Never mind Andersonville, a Confederate prison for Union soldiers that was the Auschwitz of its time. The United States, always easily confused, actually consented to the slap in the face that the State of Virginia committed against the national government, and accepted a statue of the world's single worst traitor, Robert E. Lee, to stand in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol Building! Astounding. A man who tried with all his might to destroy the United States, and who single-handedly prolonged the war by months or years, and thereby killed uncounted thousands of Americans, North and South, stands as a hero in the Capitol of the country he tried to destroy. That is militarism gone mad, and there's more where that came from.
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Robert E. Lee was not an honorable man. The criminal things he did in uniform were not heroic, only criminal. But because he wore a uniform, we pretend he was a honorable man. I guess Charles Manson's only mistake was not to design a uniform and create his Family into an Army.
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All militaries are evil. At present, some are a necessary evil. But they are all evil.
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Civilization must work itself away from militarism and stop glorifying murderers in uniforms. We must revise all the institutions that have produced the need for militaries. We must merge countries and subject them to a common law agreed by consent of the people and enforced by courts and police, not armies. We must glory not in the warmakers but in the peacemakers — and stop calling weapons things like "Peacemaker" and "Peacekeeper".
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Militarism is corrosive, and has destroyed other civilizations. It can destroy ours too. Let's end all the rhetoric about our "heroes" in Iraq, where they have no right nor reason to be. There may be some heroes in Afghanistan, a just war against a monstrous, militarist, and murderous cult, the Taliban. But the only American heroes as regards Iraq are those demanding an immediate and unconditional pullout.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,082 — for Israel.)

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