Swans Commentary » swans.com December 4, 2006  



A Complex Education For Misery


by Philip Greenspan





(Swans - December 4, 2006)  "All Governments Lie" was a profound statement of the enlightened and prescient iconoclast journalist I.F. Stone. Well, why do governments lie? Because they have nefarious agendas they cannot disclose. Usually they must enlist the citizenry to assist them in their schemes. If their agendas were discovered and their motives surmised, not only would they not get assistance but they would quite likely be thrown out of office. And who amongst the citizenry provides the most essential assistance? The rank and file of the country's armed forces!

Farming, mining, engineering, law, medicine, manufacturing, entertainment, communications -- name any vocation or business, all provide beneficial, useful or pleasurable products and services. All except the military, whose products and services are death, disability, and destruction. Why would any decent human being enter such a sadistic vocation or business?

To glamorize the disgusting, governments in dire need of the military extol their fighting forces and provide ample inducements and enticements to likely enlistees. The process starts by socializing young children who are imbued with patriotism for the fatherland or the mother country. Books, films, and songs glorify the country's wars, honor the generals who fought those wars, and sanctify historic battles. Enlisting in the military, the reserves, or the National Guard is deemed an honorable public service. The horrible by-products of war are concealed, sugar coated, and/or falsified. Comfy words and phrases substitute for reality. Death, injury, destruction become collateral damage; the War Department becomes the Defense Department. The munitions makers, properly identified as "Merchants of Death" after the wholesale slaughter of World War I, were resurrected by the jingoism of World War II to become -- get this inspiring phrase -- "The Arsenal of Democracy."

Medicine, law, education, the ministry and other noble callings have been designated professions. That term has been appropriated by the officer corps in the military as well. The US government maintains colleges that teach military science -- another comfy phrase for WAR -- at West Point (US Military Academy), Annapolis (US Naval Academy), and Colorado Springs (Air Force Academy). Successful applicants receive an all expense paid college education including room and board in exchange for service as an officer in the military. Graduates who make the military their career will, if they do not rock the boat, never suffer the problems of unemployment, lack of health care, homelessness, retirement, etc. The military is unique in that career officers enjoy the security of a socialist organization.

The industrial segment of the well-known military-industrial complex also enjoys special treatment and is amply rewarded as well. Other businesses in a capitalist environment must produce a superior quality product at a competitive price and must continually design new and improved products to survive and prosper. But the armament vendors play on a different and more congenial playing field. Good, well-oiled political connections augmented with lots of moolah are the key. Superior quality and competitive prices? Not necessary! Poor quality not in conformity with specifications and cost overruns of already inflated prices will be forgiven and will not deter future orders. Industries producing for the civilian market, like the food and clothing industries, can also grab some of that easy money -- GIs eat and wear clothes, i.e., uniforms -- by following the requisite corrupt practices, waving the flag, and persisting as hawks.

The military-industrial complex attempts to mirror other professions and businesses that continually employ tests and studies to expand and update existing knowledge in their fields. Medical journals regularly report results of such tests and studies to uncover new and effective treatments. The military improves on past performances and accomplishes new assignments by updating their knowledge and tactics as well. By modifying training they were able to increase the percentages of American soldiers who fired their weapons to kill an enemy. Only 15-20 percent fired to kill in US wars through WWII; in later wars it evolved to 90-95 percent. The Vietnam defeat, stigmatized as the "Vietnam syndrome," so traumatized the establishment, the military, and the politicians that to prevent a reoccurrence, policy guidelines, dubbed the Powell or Weinberger Doctrines, were set for subsequent conflicts. The doctrines as well as other factors shaped Pentagon thinking so that thereafter campaigns would be limited to those of short duration utilizing overwhelming force fought by an all-volunteer military force backed by strong public support and a strictly controlled media. By following the guidelines, most later actions worked as expected until Bush and his cocky neocon gang overrode them.

Gobs of money thrown at manufacturers and universities for research and development concoct ever new and improved products to kill, maim, and destroy. What a waste of money and intellectual resources.

It is extremely sad that a complex (military-industrial that is) PR indoctrination enterprise can brainwash the human mind to subdue a strong humanitarian instinct. But for money, advancement, prestige, etc., individuals will condone needless killing, maiming, injuring, and subjecting victims and their loved ones to lifetimes of misery and suffering.

Many on the inside -- veterans of the military, the FBI, the CIA, and various branches of government -- after realizing what they have done and experienced, reveal the truth as only an insider can do. They encourage others to blow the whistle and warn the public to be wary of perfidies by their government. A few well-known names on that honor roll are Smedley Butler, Dwight Eisenhower, Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, and Stan Goff. Their message, although it is stifled by the media, is getting out and is having an effect. The inability of military recruiters using every trick and device to ensnare sufficient numbers of dupes to the ranks from that vast pool of eligible low-income potential enlistees is a hopeful sign.


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About the Author

Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published December 4, 2006