War Propaganda

If you step back a moment and think about it, you will realize that you are constantly being propagandized to approve of war — not just the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but war generically.

We should resist. War is killing, maiming and disfiguring human beings. It is so disgusting and horrible in reality that even the most "realistic" Hollywood movie sanitizes it. The news media sanitize it. The government sanitizes war because it doesn’t want you to see the coffins. Most of all, it doesn’t want you to see the bodies before they are put in the coffins. The Bush administration’s real beef with the Arab television station Al-Jazeera is really nothing more than the fact that Al-Jazeera shows the bodies.

No, the Bush administration doesn’t want you to see the bodies — not the bodies of our men and women, and not the bodies of Iraqi men, women and children. The administration wants you to see the war as an electronic game with bright lights in the distance and good sound effects, or close-ups of our brave warriors firing their guns at an invisible enemy. It doesn’t want you to see the torn flesh, blood, intestines, feces, urine. If you did, you might not support the war, and billions of dollars depend on your support.

The government line is that if you don’t approve of the war, you are disloyal. If you don’t agree to give the Pentagon whatever it says it wants, you are disloyal. If you don’t agree to surrender your civil liberties to the Patriot Act, you are disloyal. If you disagree with the Bush administration, you are disloyal. If you disagree with the chicken-hawk demagogues on radio and television, blathering about the war from the safety of their studios, you are disloyal.

This entire glorification of war — as if the whole and only purpose of the government and the country were to fight wars — smells of fascism. The news media glorify the war and militarism; we get the same dose on television, in the movies and in video games. If the American people aren’t careful, they will wake up one day to find out they’ve become a nation of mindless heel-clickers.

America should not be about war. War is justified only in self-defense. We’ve been involved in many wars, but the last war fought in self-defense was World War II. That was also the last war that was constitutional, with a formal declaration of war by Congress. Not one single poor soul of the more than 100,000 Americans who have died in the Cold War and the hot wars since 1945 has died in defense of America.

The sad thing is that when the last soldier leaves Afghanistan and Iraq — if that day ever comes — we won’t be any better off. Afghanistan will still be Afghanistan. Iraq will still be Iraq. There will be more graves, there will be more Americans without arms and legs, but nothing will have changed. Politicians will be searching diligently for more "bad guys" for the next generation to fight. First it was the fascists, then the communists, now the terrorists. Who’s next? God only knows.

We should not equate peace with weakness. We ought to be like the Swiss. Their policy is armed neutrality. They have a sound defensive force and can be in the field in 48 hours, but they will fight only if they are invaded. They do not send their sons to foreign countries to die for political or economic reasons.

We should emulate the Swiss. No American should ever kill or die except in defense of this country. And no corporation should be allowed to make a profit off the blood of American soldiers, as is now happening in Iraq and has happened in every war.

An old Marine general had it right when he said, "War is a racket." Let us all learn to hate it as it deserves to be hated.

Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.