According to War is a Racket by General Smedley Butler, war creates millionaires and billionaires. In other words, war creates something I call blood wealth. The most horrifying part of the United States in 2018 is the complacency surrounding the black hole that the military and the military industrial complex represent.
Back in the summer of 2012 a friend decided to enlist in the infantry. Unable to explain the complete spectrum of my anger and disappointment with this decision, I tried to offer what support I could muster going as far as memorizing the different models of weapons and the military alphabet, but every attempt proved half-hearted and disingenuous. We both sensed that we stood on opposite sides of a barricade. On one side he stood, able to reconcile the bloodshed, the death, and the destruction of sovereign nations, while I stood on the other, fiercely opposed to war of any kind waged by proxy, attrition, sanction, media, or trade.
As a teenager who read books like Overthrow: A Century of American Regime Change by Stephen Kinzer, I developed, early on, a strong criticism of the concept of “American Exceptionalism” and the belief that “America is the best nation on earth”. Eventually, I wholly disagreed with it. I just finished a book called How Facism Works by Jason Stanley, in which he describes how facist rhetoric uses cities, women’s rights, and diversity to fear monger, scapegoat, and elevate their own personal self-esteem. He highlights how in recent years, Trump has come to represent many of ideologies and methods employed by facist leaders of the past. He shows how Trump’s demonization of the caravan from Central America shows an ignorance about the history of the Americas, that many immigrants/refugees are made by the United States, and a desire to incite fear of immigrants by using facist rhetoric like calling them “rapists” and “criminals” which is a repugnant way to undermine the truth, blame people for trying to come to America to start a new life, and stir up the ignorant that are incapable of critically questioning racist, discriminatory propaganda when it hits them squarely between the eyes like Trump’s pouty lower lip. In addition, his abhorrant and disgusting misogynistic comments about “grabbing women by the pussy” so they “do whatever you want” fits within the facist mold as well. Facists are threatened by anything that makes them feel less powerful and right. In this case, women’s empowerment represents a threat to Trump’s patriarchal, misogynistic paradigm and, as a result, he insults, verbally abuses, and trashes attractive, successful, and smart women to elevate his pathetic, racist, demagogery in an attempt to go backward, not forward.
Why did I title this piece Live Free and Die? Freedom is a lie sold to us by the corporate elite and the oligarchs that are pulling the strings of the military industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry, and the corporate media giants in order to keep profiting off of the beautiful scheme they have created. In effect, they have created a legalized system of lawlessness whereby taxpayers are robbed blindly of their hard earned income, while congress can decide to spend those dollars making bombs instead of schools, missiles instead of electric cars. I write this to say, no more bombs! No more missiles! No more war! I write to say, I do not want my tax dollars spent on killing innocent civilians labelled “enemy combatants”. I write to say, I did not give government permission to utilize my tax dollars to invade sovereign nations and instigate a coup on behalf of United States interests like we have done in Lybia, Syria, and Iraq to name a few. The aftermath of US involvement in this manner is disorder, conflict, and more war.
From a young age we are taught to say the pledge of allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
And this is the first lie we are taught to internalize as children. Let’s dissect the true meaning of this saying. By saying that we pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands, it means that we are saying we stand in sollidarity and support of everything that that flag and that republic represent. By saying that we are one nation under God, is to use religion and God as a justification for defending this flag and this republic through acts of war, violence, and aggression. By saying that within this nation there is Liberty and Justice for all, is to lie.
How is this a lie? Let’s take a closer look at this concept and break it down a little more. The US in 2012 had ten times more mentally ill people in prison or jail than in a mental health facility. In 2018, the majority of Americans cannot afford a $500 emergency, but the top 1% holds 40% of the country’s wealth and will have 2/3 of the wealth by 2030. In the United States the largest consumer of fossil fuels is the military industrial complex which is allowed to have lobbyists and former board members hold political positions as public servants. Furthermore, there is an extreme misunderstanding, even held by current public servants, about the purpose of government.
The purpose of government is to be “by the people, for the people”, not by themselves and for themselves, as it has become. In large part, the United States government is so caught up and entangled with corporate interests that they must preserve and defend their own interests at the expense of the people; as if the people actually weren’t here at all.
Earlier this year, I went to a meeting with an incumbent senator from Maine, who claims to be independent, and was disgusted by the lack of genuineness that he displayed with us. I do not like to be talked to as if I am a fool and it makes me angry to know that people who claim to work for us have forgotten who their boss is. Us! We have let them forget because we have stopped reminding them! Why? Life is too busy, expensive, and stressful to focus on one more reason to be upset, distraught, and ready to pull your hair out, but this is truly a matter of life and death.
People are already losing their lives because we have not managed to get a handle on gun control and violence, because we have not pulled together to counter corporate fossil fuel companies and tell them to start packing, because we have not put enough pressure on government to prioritise education and teacher’s wages, because we have let Trump pull out of the INF without internalizing the fatal ramifications this may have for collective humanity, because we continue to elect public servants who decide to put universal health care on the back burner instead of at the top of the list of emergent tasks to acomplish yesterday, because we gather around a national identity of patriotism while the military industrial complex continues to invade countries like Syria and aid the bombing of Yemen by financially supporting the Saudi Led Coalition, because we decide to keep living our lives when places like Flint, Michigan do not have clean and safe drinking water that is free of lead, and because we continue to allow giant agrobusinesses like Bayer and Monsanto to run amok and pollute our crops with RoundUp and Glyphosate.
In the book, A Plot to Scapegoat Russia, Daniel Kovalik mentions the Iran-Contra scandal. Few Americans, including myself until reading this book, grasp the true extent of what happened in Nicaragua with the Sandanistas and the Contras. The Sandanistas were a socialist, grassroots junta movement started to rally the people toward a more prosperous Nicaragua. The Contras were a US backed rebel force that saught to destroy this movement and counter the Sandanista movement. The Contras became a violent rebel force known for terrorism, torture, and violent atrocities that included hanging women from trees and cutting off their breats, gang raping women, cutting out the uterus and putting it over their heads, and dragging children across barbed wire until their flesh peeled off. The Iran-Contra Scandal involves a scheme during the Reagan administration to sell arms to Iran and use the procedes to support the Contra Force in Nicaragua eventhough support for the Contras had been banned. The United States government did this, and yet what responsibility has been taken? What reparations have been made to Nicaragua for the turmoil and chaos left in the wake of this conflict? What rationalizations have been made for the state of disaray left behind in Nicaragua during and after that time?
Chris Hedges often quotes St. Augustine’s “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are and the courage to see that things don’t stay that way”. Well, I don’t know about hope alone anymore, but what I do believe goes good with hope is conviction. It gives hope some spark and light even through the dark times that will not seem to end. We must decide that, like Michelle Alexander so astutely argued, we are not the resistance, Trump is. We must decide what matters more than bloodshed, destruction, and division. We must decide to put the planet first. We must figure out how to let love triumph over hatred and greed. It is possible, but only if we are all in.
How Facism Works by Jason Stanley
In the Shadows of the American Century by Alfred McCoy
Collusion: How Central Banks Rigged the World by Nomi Prins
Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer
A Plot to Scapegoat Russia by Daniel Kovalik
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The Jimmy Dore Show
On Contact, RT with Chris Hedges
CrossTalk, RT with Peter Lavelle
Black Agenda Report
The Real News Network