Terrorism as defined by the U.S. and other organizations is: activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping…."
My entire adult life the U.S. government has been, according to their own definition, involved in terrorist activities: 1953 installation of the Shah of Iran which was the use of force to influence and affect a government; the invasion of Afghanistan followed by the invasion of Iraq. Both of which, again, were the use of violent means and life-threatening acts meant to influence governments.
The arrogance of the U.S. government knows no bounds. They throw the word "terrorism" around with such abandon and frequency that it has almost become a cliché. Because of this, the de-facto definition of terrorism, as propagated by the U.S. government, has become: anything somebody else does that the U.S. government doesn't like. And since the U.S. government has redefined the term then they couldn't possibly ever be guilty of it themselves.
Maybe this is why it struck me so poignantly the other day when I arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport and ran into one of our government's most effective terrorist propaganda machines: the United Services Organization or USO.
As I came up from the terminal train, at the head of the escalator were, as usual, USO members wearing their little red smocks, and buttons and carrying signs extolling the greatness of our troops and what they are doing around the world: using violent and life-threatening acts to influence governments.
What affected me the most though was their attempts to influence others at the airport. The USO you see seems to know when servicemen and women will be arriving at Atlanta Hartsfield and they are there waiting for them. As each and everyone comes up the escalator they begin with their show: clapping and cheering these young people as if they had just won the World Series. The USO workers turn to the waiting crowd and encourage them to clap as well, which they do in an attempt not to seem "un-American." They shake each one's hand and give them a small token of their appreciation.
Just one more way to say to these young people: don't listen to your conscience; what you are doing is noble, valued and appreciated by your country. In other words: stay in the border-land that is the fantasy in which the government wants you to remain so we can get you and others like you to do our dirty work.
Certainly, few of these returning service men and women ever joined the U.S. military so they could go to the Middle East and fight a constitutionally illegal war and kill innocent women and children. See the U.S. military offers incentives to get people to sign up. Educational benefits, for example, that will pay for an undergraduate degree, pilot training, law school and even medical school. In return the student is required to serve a certain number of years on active duty and then the active reserves.
So it would seem that the purpose of the USO is to keep our troops convinced that they are doing the "right thing." That they are "serving their country." That they are "defending their country" even though they are serving half way around the world in third-world countries that, even if they had the weaponry, couldn't possibly deliver it on U.S. soil unless they planned on doing it on camel back. Most importantly, they want our troops to feel that we support what they are doing. Which of course millions of Americans do not. This writer included. Hell, the government has most people feeling guilty if they see an American serviceman or woman and they don't personally go over and thank them. People do this automatically these days certainly without ever even asking themselves: what is it I'm actually thanking them for?
The American populous is conditioned, and well-adjusted. When I see these USO folks at the airport, and they begin with their cheerleading act and their gratuitous actions, I just simply feel ashamed. I feel ashamed that my government is so irresponsible and so arrogant with American lives. I feel ashamed that my fellow Americans are so socially uneducated; so sensory dull; so weak minded.
And having lived almost half my adult life overseas I can unequivocally say: the rest of world gets it and they are ashamed of us too.
As a parent I also have to ask myself: who are these parents that let their children join the U.S. military? When I see these young folks I want to go up to them and encourage them to get out as soon as possible. To do whatever it takes to get their lives back and not chance having to live it seriously injured or worse yet: being killed and not being able to live it at all.
An "other-than-honorable" discharge from the U.S. military is a small price to pay for one's life, wouldn't you say? Take it from someone who did just that and it hasn't affected my life one iota. Just more lies the U.S. government propagates. No private sector employer has ever, ever cared one bit about my military service. All they care about is whether I have the necessary education and skills to help them make a profit; which I do!
September 8, 2009
Don Cooper [send him mail] is a Florida native, Navy veteran and economist living and working in the Midwest.
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