Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what the word myrmidons means. Until just a few months ago, I had never even heard of the word.
Here are some definitions of myrmidon from a few online dictionaries that you might find helpful, as I did:
noun, plural Myrmidons, Myrmidones [mur-mid-n-eez]
1 Classical Mythology. one of the warlike people of ancient Thessaly who accompanied Achilles to the Trojan War.
2 (lowercase) a person who executes without question or scruple a master’s commands.
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noun | myr·mi·don | \ ˈmər-mə-ˌdän , -dən \
1 capitalized : a member of a legendary Thessalian people who accompanied their king Achilles in the Trojan War
2 : a loyal follower; especially : a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously
1. Greek Mythology A member of a warlike Thessalian people who were ruled by Achilles and followed him on the expedition against Troy.
2. myrmidon A faithful follower who carries out orders without question.
n, pl Myrmidons or Myrmidones (mɜːˈmɪdəˌniːz)
1. (Classical Myth & Legend) Greek myth one of a race of people whom Zeus made from a nest of ants. They settled in Thessaly and were led against Troy by Achilles
2. (often not capital) a follower or henchman
I think there is no doubt that you now understand exactly what the word means. I will return to these definitions later.
I can’t think of a better way to describe a member of the U.S. military than a myrmidon. That is the first thing I thought of when I stumbled across the word.
The United States has been at war in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003. Thousands of U.S. troops have died in vain and for a lie. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis that most Americans don’t care a whit about have died.
But that’s not all. According to an unclassified White House report recently sent to Congress, “The Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” the United States is officially fighting wars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger.
Syria is in the crosshairs now. And it seems like the military/industrial complex, the neocons in the Trump administration, the Israel lobby, the Republican warmongers in Congress, and the conservative Christian militarists would like nothing better than a war with Iran.
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel are deployed in about 150 Countries or on U.S. Navy ships. U.S. special forces are deployed to over 70 percent of the world’s countries. The United States has over 1,000 foreign military installations.
The United States has never been closer to real war at any time since the Cold War ended.
Myrmidons, that’s why.
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It is U.S. soldiers who fight foreign and offensive wars.
It is U.S. soldiers who invade and occupy foreign countries
It is U.S. soldiers who bomb, maim, and kill for the state.
It is U.S. soldiers who fight unjust, senseless, and immoral wars.
It is U.S. soldiers who act as the world’s policemen, firemen, and security guards.
It is U.S. soldiers who make widows and orphans.
It is U.S. soldiers who destroy property and infrastructure.
It is U.S. soldiers who go to countries where they have no business going.
It is U.S. soldiers who serve as the president’s personal attack force.
It is U.S. soldiers who carry out an aggressive, reckless, and belligerent U.S. foreign policy.
It is U.S. soldiers who mete out death and destruction overseas.
It is U.S. soldiers who fight without a constitutional declaration of war.
It is U.S. soldiers who commit atrocities and war crimes.
It is U.S. soldiers who kill civilians and call it collateral damage.
It is U.S. soldiers who do the government’s dirty work.
It is U.S. soldiers who join the military, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them.
U.S. soldiers execute without question or scruple a master’s commands. U.S. soldiers are subordinates who execute orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously. U.S. soldiers are faithful followers who carry out orders without question. U.S. soldiers are followers or henchman.
U.S. soldiers are myrmidons.
We are continually told to support the troops and pray for the troops. The bombing, maiming, and killing that they do around the world is not their fault, they are just following orders.
Some blame the politicians; others fault the government. Some blame the defense contractors; others fault the military-industrial complex. Some blame the president; others fault the Secretary of Defense. Some blame the Pentagon; others fault the State Department. Some blame Zionists; others fault the Deep State. Some blame the Joint Chiefs of Staff; others fault the generals.
U.S. soldiers are just following orders. But that’s the problem. They are following orders. They are following orders that are immoral, unjust, unnecessary, foolish, disgraceful, unconstitutional, unethical, senseless, bad, and evil.
But they don’t have to. They don’t have to be myrmidons.
First of all, U.S. soldiers were not drafted. The draft ended in 1975, and no new draft orders were issued after 1972—years before most current members of the military were born. No one had to join the military. (And as I have argued elsewhere, the draft is no excuse anyway.)
Second, things are quite different now than at any other time in history. Any potential or current soldiers with a smartphone or a computer can, in ten minutes, find hundreds of resources about the evils of war and U.S. foreign policy. Yes, literally hundreds. No American has any excuse for being ignorant of the fact that U.S. soldiers engage in offense, not defense; U.S. soldiers are nothing more than the president’s personal attack force; and U.S. soldiers merely carry out an aggressive, reckless, and belligerent U.S. foreign policy.
And three, wearing a uniform is not a license to maim, kill, or engage in other immoral activities.
Who can stop U.S participation in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger? Who can prevent a U.S. war with Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea? Who can end U.S. invasions and occupations? Who can end the U.S. global empire? Who can end U.S. imperialism? The ones that do the fighting, make the widows and orphans, maim and kill, and die in vain and for a lie if something goes wrong, that’s who: U.S. soldiers.
Current and potential U.S. soldiers: Don’t be a myrmidon. Educate yourself. Think for yourself. Refuse to engage in immoral activity—no matter who tells you to do so. Civilians: Stop thanking the troops for their service. Stop honoring the troops. Stop encouraging young men to be myrmidons.