Stop believing those who tout U.S. aggression everywhere.
The International Day of Peace is September 21 this year. As a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam (one tour as a combat and recon platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division during the Tet offensive of 1968, and one tour with the 69th and 79th Border Ranger Battalions in 1970-71), I have always been amazed by American belligerence toward the rest of the world and the prevalence of warmongering in our society.
America has bombed 23 other countries since World War II. We have mounted 33 foreign military operations since Vietnam and have participated in 25 assassination attempts of world figures since 1945. What is the source of all this belligerence?
The most prominent example of American warmongering, is the “neo-con” cabal that in 1997, framed the Project for the New American Century. The names are familiar: Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, Scooter Libby and Richard Pearle. All members of this group could “talk tough”, were excited to send others off to war—but had no personal combat experience themselves.
The group’s goal was to expand U.S. power throughout the world, but particularly in the Middle East. The vehicle for this was U.S. military power. The first step was to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and “…sow the seeds of democracy” there. We would be “…welcomed as liberators” and democracy would bloom throughout the Middle East. The hubris and grandiosity of this group were breathtaking.
Reasonable people saw that such a plan would lead to disaster. Predictably, it did. United Kingdom Labour MP Tam Dalyell said of this plan at the time, “This is garbage from right-wing think tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks—men who have never seen the horror of war, but are in love with the idea of war…These are the thought processes of fanatical Americans who want to control the world.” Today, the Middle East is a cauldron of insanity.
Stranger still, 82 percent of Americans endorsed this stupid plan that had “disaster” written all over it. Sure, Bush lied about “weapons of mass destruction”, but why would Americans think the plan could possibly work? Andrew Bacevich, my fellow combat platoon leader in Vietnam, has written a book entitled “The New American Militarism”. In it, he expains how Americans became enamored of military power and how that has led to unrealistic expectations about war’s efficacy. He talks about soldiers becoming “national icons” and that paying “homage” is not only expected, it is obligatory. Every soldier is a “hero” even though he or she may never have been on a battlefield.
Bacevich marks the beginning of the “New Militarism” at the end of the Gulf War. The success of the war plus a new lexicon (smart bombs, surgical strikes, etc.) made “…war an attractive option,” he writes. However, I believe unrealistic worship of the military began long before that.
After WWII, Americans were rightly proud of their military. War movies depicting the exploits of heroes like Audie Murphy mowing down “bad guys” inundated theatres across the country. Television would amplify this narrative glorifying war and worshipping its “heroes”. For nearly 30 years young minds were being shaped to believe war myths.
But our world is no longer what it was. And worshipping war alongside fanatical warmongers can lead to only one thing—more war.