"It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service in this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."
~ Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933
Two-time recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor
The response to my article, Worshipping The State: Why They Die, has been tremendous, with the overwhelming majority of responses being positive. Especially pleasing was the number of emails I received from veterans of Vietnam, Korea and even WWII.
It appears that with time old soldiers begin to see the words of General Smedley Butler to be true, especially today, as they pertain to this nation’s immoral, illegal war.
I did receive several emails that were perplexing. It would appear there are still a number of people out there who believe it is actually possible to support the troops without supporting the war they are participating in. I received comments such as "I can’t believe you were a soldier and are showing such contempt for those in uniform," and a multitude of clichés such as "support the warrior, not the war." Until one can fully comprehend the words of General Butler, they will never be able to discern that one cannot support the criminal without supporting the crime.
For those who asked how I could say such things about soldiers, I would say to them: I love the soldier much more than you because I do not wish to send soldiers to be maimed or killed, or have them kill those who are trying to defend their homeland in a war based on lies. I do not believe you can sentence someone to death, or a lifetime of flashbacks and horrible dreams, and call it support.
I have seen the sacrifices soldiers make for the pittance they receive; I have seen the effects on families that are making do with only one parent — and now, with women serving such an active role — sometimes doing without both parents; I have seen families broken and torn apart by returned soldiers who could not escape the horrible visions of war and destruction that keep returning when they try to sleep. I have seen those who have tried to suppress those visions with alcohol and drugs and the heartache and human misery that brings. I have seen disabled soldiers whose families no longer want them because of their handicaps. There is no hell hot enough for those who use such sacrifices for their personal gain.
Were both mom and dad working in any job other than the military, leaving their children with others while they were gone for a year would constitute abandonment, or at the very least, they would be charged with negligence or child abuse. If they are off fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan for Halliburton, Bechtel, Unocal and other members of the Military Industrial Complex, everything is forgiven, and their sacrifice to the state is considered noble.
Where did this blind devotion to the State begin? What makes a soldier abandon his oath, his country and his family to increase the bottom line of a Military Industrial Complex corporation while he/she in many cases qualifies for welfare and food stamps?
Professor Thomas DiLorenzo offers answers to this question in his latest work, Lincoln Unmasked. Chapter 15, Making Cannon Fodder, is most revealing. DiLorenzo, speaking of Walter Berns and his book, Making Patriots, states:
"The dilemma, says Burns is how to motivate America’s youth to become such sacrificial lambs for the state. The answer is to devise a new "civil religion" so that young people will think of themselves as "religious" crusaders as they march off to war. Not genuine religion, but a religion that worships the state and its dictates…"
DiLorenzo says that to assume this "civil religion," citizens must experience,
"…nothing less than a complete repudiation of the American ideal, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, that citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that the purpose of government is to secure these rights, period"
Evangelists for this "civil religion," such as Walter Berns, believe it to be,
"…the other way around: the people, particularly young people, are to serve — and even die for — the state to promote the state’s whims and abstract notions, such as the forceful imposition of "democracy" around the world. Under this scenario the state is the master and the people are its servants."
General Smedley Darlington Butler spoke of the reasons for this civil religion:
"I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag."
I believe, as did General Butler, that there are only two reasons we should ever go to war:
"I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."
Not one of the rabid Bush/war supporters that I encounter can answer one simple basic question: If we are truly engaged in a war against terrorism; one that can last indefinitely, and the first basic tenet of war is to secure one’s perimeter against attack, why are our borders unsecured? This is the greatest indicator this war on terrorism is a farce and that we are not fighting for democracy, freedom or any other such nonsense. We are fighting the wars General Smedley Butler warned us about those many years ago.
Soldiers and Citizens — we are not fighting for our homes and those who led us into this war are attacking and destroying our Bill of Rights. Who is our enemy and why are our soldiers involved in this racket.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.