Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

Perhaps I am just bitter that I don't get a day off for the second-tier American holidays, and perhaps I have lingering issues with the fact that I get memorial day and veteran's day confused (specifically, my grandfather was a radar officer in WW2, and thus we often did veteran's day things with him. He has since passed on. peaceful-like, so does he get memorial day now, or is that reserved for "shot in battle" types, and does he still count for veteran's day? These are the questions that fill my nightmares).

Anyway, Veteran's day is crap. Certainly, any day that the vast federal bureaucracy is not actively working to undermine my liberty is a good day, but there are plenty of unsung heroes to make holidays for without lionizing warriors.

Let me say this once- No living veteran, as a soldier, made America better. Now, certainly after they got back many of them led full and productive lives filled with varying amounts of joy, but the civilian aspect of their lives is not what veteran's day celebrates. It celebrates a time in the lives of these men when they took resources taken, at gunpoint, from the American people in order to destroy resources, at gunpoint, from foreigners. In one war a roundabout argument may be made that America's freedom was defended and in another war one can justify our acts of vengeance. Winning WW2 may have made the world a better place, but the truth is that the only power in that war who had any intent on violating our territorial integrity was on the back burner until the ideological interests of the ruling president could be satisfied. As bad as 9/11 was, Al-Qaeda has never been, even at their peak, a genuine threat to America and the Afghan war was nothing more than a nationwide act of vengeance.

Consider the following:

  • Since 2011, there are no living veterans of wars before the second World War.
  • World War 2: The Japanese attacked and we spent the next two years fighting Germans. Eventually we got around to the last foreign power who has dared to initiate a war against us and committed atrocities that are remembered to this day. This was the last time we bothered to declare war on anyone.
  • Korean War: We cut a nation in half, and then slaughtered our way through a backwards nation until pissing of someone strong enough to push back.
  • Lebanese Civil War: Christians and Muslims fight. Our government, which has no official religion, sends tens of thousands of soldiers to fight with the Christians against the Arab Nationalist Muslims.
  • Vietnamese War: We backed a regime that cancelled elections when the people who would have overwhelmingly won said election fought back. Added bonus: We bombed the tar out of neighboring nations just to make them bleed.
  • Dominican Occupation: A duly elected government was overthrown by a military coup who dissolved the constitution. When the Constitutionalists complained, we invaded to defend the coup and then sat on them for a year before flying home.
  • Invasion of Grenada: Duly elected government is overthrown by a man named Bishop. When the former government regains power four years later, we invade to avenge the death of Bishop.
  • Lebanese Civil War: Remember how we propped up the minority Christians in Lebanon to rule undemocratically over the majority Muslim population? That ended badly, so we went back in to shoot us some Palestinians (What were they doing there? Maybe they got lost). Then we got sick of it and left.
  • Libyan bombings of 1981 and 1986: We funded Anti-Gaddafi rebels, so in retaliation, Gaddafi funded anti-Government rebels in the West. So we bombed the tar out of him until he stopped, and continued funding Anti-Gaddafi rebels.
  • Iran-Iraq war: We worried that our oil supplies would be disrupted, so we sent the largest naval force since WW2 to protect the oil tankers, and blew up anyone who got in our way. This was what a war for oil looks like.
  • Invasion of Panama: A military leader that we had funded to run rampant around Central America decided to settle down and get into politics. So we invaded. The official answer to the question of why we invaded Panama? "Just 'cause".
  • Gulf War: Totalitarian oil state invades another totalitarian oil state, so American soldiers fight and die to protect the totalitarian oil state. Then we fly around the country menacingly for a decade, just to remind them that we could fuck them over at any moment.
  • Bosnia: Bunch of ethnic groups get sick of each other and try to separate, but end up genociding each other instead, so we carpet bomb the whole lot of them.
  • Somalia: A post-colonial relic amalgamating a whole host of tiny nations gets sick of living together and tries to separate, so we send in the marines, but then leave when it isn't fun anymore, so maybe this one doesn't count.
  • Haiti: A president who supported the practice of "Necklacing", putting a tire around the neck of a political opponent and lighting it on fire, is ousted by a military coup. Bill Clinton invaded, probably due to cross cultural confusion over the term (NSFW).
  • Operation Infinite Reach: If that name doesn't tell you that something is wrong with our military apparatus, then put your head back in the sand and wave your flag until you choke on it, you jingoistic twit. This is where Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical plant hoping that the headlines would knock his sex scandals off the front page.
  • Kosovo: A bunch of ethnic Albanians start claiming territory in Serbia on the principle of "all the cool kids are doing it". The Serbians are a bit put out by this and make the Lincoln-esqe decision to hold their country together. So we bomb the tar out of them.
  • War on Terror: Terrorists, the scourge of modern life, commit a terrorist act. So we invade a country and start bombing everywhere we think there might be Muslims. Ten years later we find the guy responsible, celebrate for a bit, and get back to the business of killing Muslims across two continents.
  • Iraq War: We fly heavily armed aircraft over a nation for a decade to remind them that we could fuck them up at any moment if they step one toe out of line while their belligerent neighbor keeps talking about how belligerent they are feeling today. They threaten that if anyone messes with them, they have a huge bomb. So we fuck them up. They were bluffing.
  • Libya bombing: Didn't even bother with the half-assed unconstitutional "war resolutions" on this one. We saw a chance to finally get a political opponent of America, so we bombed the tar out of his nation.
By my count, I see twelve times in the last fifty years that we intervened in civil wars that had nothing to do with us, and a majority of those times we intervened in favor of despotism. I see two times that we fought in someone else's war to protect American interests. I see two times that we just up and bombed some Muslims because we didn't like them.

I sure am glad that we are the great international force for good! Think of how much more arbitrary and violent this list would be if we were the bad guys!

Now, some of our veterans were draftees-- American citizens taken from their homes at gunpoint and enslaved for four years to do the hard, dangerous, and morally questionable work of murdering foreigners. They do not deserve our scorn, but our apologies, and certainly not a whole day celebrating their enslavement.

Also, I don't blame the servicemen nearly as much as I do our political leaders that got us into these wars. But whether or not they thought they were volunteering to defend American lives and liberties, what they actually did was fly around the world and kill people who had neither the desire nor, typically, the capability to cause any real damage to our nation.

When we get invaded-- or should a true despot ever take power-- then I will not only commend the actions of our soldiers, I will join them. 

Until then, ask yourself whether we should be celebrating the world's most expensive pack of killers, or if instead we should have a holiday for Jonas Salk, Edward Jenner, or Norman Borlaug.

(We have attacked all the countries in blue since 1950. Except the US, don't know why that is blue)

Postscript: One good thing came out of the 1986 Libyan intervention:

1 comment:

  1. I have to remember to refer people to this blog when November rolls around again.