“The Flying Leathernecks” (1951) is a Howard Hughes film starring John Wayne and Robert Ryan. It’s about a Marine fighter squadron at Guadalcanal during World War II. The narrator at the start gives us the philosophy and mission of America going to war:
“This is the story of a group of young American men who comprised the Marine Fighter Squadron, VMF 247, men representing and represented by the American flag which flew at the base of a sleeping volcano; unmistakable evidence that our country, then as always, would fight against aggression and all the aggressors that challenged the rights of free men.”
“All the aggressors” means anyone, anywhere and at any time that the U.S. government says; whoever, wherever and whenever the U.S. government identifies what it calls aggression and leads the country into a war, under the flag of defending freedom. This is Hollywood propaganda.
Foreign peoples have their own societies and systems. In our biased eyes, they may well be unfree for ideological reasons. There is also an unavoidable economic reason. Other societies, like our own, are far from perfect upholders of the rights of free men, because upholding rights is a costly business. Enforcement of justice costs money. The state’s monopolistic role in it makes it even more costly.
But these imperfect foreign systems are not all threats to the rights of Americans, requiring Americans to go to war. The Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Russians, the Filipinos, the Haitians, the Cubans, the Panamanians, the El Salvadorans, the Mexicans, the Guatemalans, the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans, the Chinese, the English, the French, the Syrians, the Libyans, the Iraqis and the Iranians do not have “the rights of free men”. Neither do we Americans. They are not threats to our own homemade ideas of liberty, requiring sacrificing ourselves in fights for freedom. That’s propaganda.
Actual invasions of rights elsewhere, in and among other countries, as well as the threats that they manufacture one against another, are not automatically threats to our system of rights. Self-defense against invasions of property rights is a limited concept of maintaining rights, not a boundless concept of extending rights worldwide. Anyway, the latter is propaganda. The actual purposes of meddling in foreign countries have little or nothing to do with extending justice to the affected peoples.
The State mobilizes public opinion in favor of war through events with large public signals, like the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the 38th Parallel, the Gulf of Tonkin, and 9/11. Lately the signals are terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Anthrax, Chemical warfare, genocide and nuclear proliferation. Pavlov rings the bell and we salivate. The State propagandizes. Our government justifies a war by using phrases like aggression against our rights and freedom. The public responds.
Apart from the Hollywood and Washington image, there is no purity and no nobility in fighting wars and making sacrifices that could have been avoided and that are not in self-defense; wars that are entered into with propaganda, calls for revenge, and battle cries ringing in our ears.
If Americans really believe and accept this, “…our country, then as always, would fight against aggression and all the aggressors that challenged the rights of free men”, it means we will have an empire until the costs break us and other countries unite against us.8:52 am on May 22, 2018 Email Michael S. Rozeff