Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb.21: You may be next....

We glamorize war, even as we mourn the dead, we glamorize it as a kind of show biz. Perhaps the most obvious reminder of that was the most show biz general in history, General Patton. (He was also known as 'blood and guts' Patton. It was a label Patton hated because it it originated from soldiers who said that he spilled the enemies' blood and our (US soldiers) guts.)

But he loved attention.     That's why he always wore two revolvers. Wearing two plugged into the myth of the 'real men' of the cowboy west. The fact is that very few wore two guns. (And despite our movies, only a fool would have fired two guns at the same time.) The only reason for two guns was to have a greater magazine capacity. His guns could be loaded with only five shots, and were slow to reload.

In any case, the only side still using revolvers in World War Two was Britain. The rest of the world had   shifted to automatic pistols because they had twice the magazine capacity, and could be quickly reloaded. No, Patton wore two guns to look like an old west gunslinger. It was pure shobiz.

And they were antique guns dating back to the 1870s, Colt Peacemakers. Besides having low magazine capacity, they were slow to fire. But they conveyed the movie image of the old west.

And they were pearl handled. No serious shooter ever used a pearl handled revolver (except in movies.) It was too slippery. It was corny. It was nonsensical. But it worked. It projected the image of a man, a real man, of an old west that, in fact, never existed.        

Images and the imagery of words are important in war. As a child, I listened to Winston Churchill on the radio as he growled, "They want total war? All right. We'll give them total war."
"Wow!" I thought. "Total war. That'll show them."

I had no idea what total war meant. Nor did I ever meet anyone who did. But I heard the phrase many times as I overheard big folks talk. And they all nodded grimly as they heard it.

Actually, all wars are as total as the two sides can make them. The destruction of native peoples in what became the U.S. was total war.  The deliberate murder of innocent civilians has always been common in war. The barbarians who overran Rome did it. The Crusaders did it. The European empires did it all over the world. Italy did it to Ethiopia. Churchill did it to the Kurds in 1920. Germany did it in Spain, then from the skies over London. Britain, Canada and the U.S. did it to Germany. Then there were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both of those were essentially civilian targets.

The odd thing is that we have never admitted we did it. I vividly recall being questioned on this by a Senate committee. Despite all the evidence, they refused to believe we had ever done such a thing.  In that, they were loudly supported by The Canadian Legion, many of whom had done the bombing. I noticed, too, that Canada's military historians were strangely silent on the issue. They have always been reluctant to disagree with The Legion or to suggest that the Canadian forces ever, ever did anything wrong.  

We did it. We deliberately targetted civilians. It was not accidental. They were the targets. The idea was to destroy morale, and to kill civilian workers. And yes, the Germans and the Japanese did it, too.

Our side also massacred large numbers of German prisoners, a massacre that went on some time after the war. Here is one of many accounts of General Eisenhower's mass murder of German prisoners by deliberate starvation.

This account is much disputed. But the evidence in favour of it  is very strong. Some of it comes from Eisenhower's own diaries. I have no idea how many were killed. The figure of 1,700,000 sounds so high, I am inclined to doubt it. But I should not be surprised at something in the hundreds of thousands.

And that takes us to the question of the effect this has on many of those in the military.  Our films and news reports usually cast the fighting in heroic terms. Indeed, those in the military (our side) are routinely described as heroes, and the implication is the killing part doesn't bother them.

This was very evident as a journalistic practice after the Korean War, so we saw news stories like - "Korean War Hero gets parking ticket." (No. I'm not kidding.) Every veteran of Korea was automatically described as a war hero.

Our news media never covered the real story that the army itself was discovering. And, certainly, no film has ever suggested it.

Most people don't like to kill. American studies during World War Two suggested that some soldiers were aggressive and shot at the enemy. But many would shoot only if they were shot at first. A great many would shoot to be seen shooting - but would deliberately miss. And a large number would not shoot under any circumstances.

That is why it took some 60,000 shots to kill one enemy soldier in World War Two. In other words, soldiers are not granite statues with a lust for killing. They were and are quite decent people  with a decent respect for human life. And, yes, there are some who like killing. We have people like that in civilians life, too. But we don't call them heroes.

These studies are what led to the discovering of a medical condition called Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. It was not caused by cowardice as had been commonly believed. It was caused by decency. It was caused by the horrors they had seen and, sometimes, had inflicted.

Armies around the world instantly realized what they had to do.  They had to break any traces of human decency in their militaries. One way to do this was to teach them contempt for others, starting with women. It became a common practice in many armies. They also had to be taught hatred, and a sort of racial superiority to any likely enemies. That would justify the killing. And in this, news media and the film industry were a big help.

It was very successful. By the time of Vietnam, the U.S. fired only 30,000 shots for each person killed.  Things were even better when the U.S. invaded Grenada with an aircraft carrier, a hundred or so aircraft and 7,000 soldiers. Grenada had no army, navy or air force; and it had a population about half that of metro Moncton. The western press and the film industry were extravagant in their praise. Clint Eastwood appeared in a heroic film about it. President Reagan said, "America stands tall again."

The war was, of course, quite illegal. By no stretch of the imagination was Grenada a threat to the U.S. But nobody in the private news media raised that question.

And that takes us to the Island of Lesbos in Greece. Go back to the beginning of this. Take another look at the faces of those 'racially inferior' children who are ' a threat to American democracy'. Take a look at the men, the women, the babies. Look at the ones on the beach, and the ones whose bodies are floating in the sea. There are so many thousands of people like them on that Island that there really is no room left to bury the dead.

There are thousands of children who have not seen a schoolroom, and probably never will. There are a great many of them who will never even see Spring. They live in tents, or just in the open. There is little in the way of sanitation. There is no help for them from the United States, though it has plenty of money to send weapons to ISIS and cluster bombs for Saudi Arabia to drop on Yemen.

Take a good look at those people. Do they look so terribly different and more evil than you and your children? What has put those people onto that island and herded thousands of others into countries that don't want them? Look at the floating bodies. Why was it so terribly important for them to leave home?  Think of the hundreds of thousands of others who have died in their homelands, who are starving to death (with the help of the U.S, Britain, France and, yes, Russia). And with Canadian help.  (But we're not actually killing them....not that's okay.)

Who are the ones who want this total war so badly that they are willing to fight a total war, murdering at least several hundred thousand so far, and destroying the lives of tens of millions of innocent men, women and children? Who are the ones who want something so badly  they are willing to risk the whole population of the earth?

Are we doing it to bring democracy to Syria? Get real. And even if we were, could it possibly be worth this price in human lives and suffering? If we really wanted to spread democracy, we might start closer to home with people who want it. I think of countries like Guatemala where we destroyed democracy.
As for fighting ISIS, the U.S. with the help of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, has helped ISIS more than fighting it.

Would we be doing this even if the region had no oil?

And to cut to the chase, how will a defeat or a victory in these wars benefit you or me? The answer is it won't. It's not being fought for us. (And don't kid yourself that Canada is not in this war. That's doubletalk from Ottawa. If you are involved in any way to benefit somebody's war, you are in it.)

There are a small number of people in this world who will be richer or poorer as a result of this war. These are the major players, mostly in Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.S.. China, in the oil industry.

Any people who could do what they do are without moral standards of any kind. They are killers and thieves greater than all of those now serving in America's massive prison system. They know well that they are murdering and destroying even the lives of the living. And they don't care.

And us? We're conditioned by the private news media, by film and by TV to believe the lies they tell us about how the other side is the bad guys, and we're the good guys. They make war glorious. It's not. Not on either side.
Nor am I a big fan of patriotism. Patriotism is an invention of the nation state to make us obey and to serve whoever controls the nation state. Right now, many nation states are controlled, even owned, by big money. And I feel no urge to be patriotic toward billionaires.
And this I think takes us to Nov. 11, our remembrance day. But it's not really a remembrance day. It's a day of glorification or war. The dead become heroes by virtue of dying. (Would you call that body of a Syrian child on a beach a hero?)
All the symbolism of Remembrance day is glory - the mounties at attention, the regimental cadet band, the patriotism. Did our soldiers in Afghanistan die out of patriotism to Canada? What did that war have to do with patriotism or even with Canada? And if it did have somehing to with them, then Harper must have been unpatriotic in pulling them out.

As a very young child, I knew some them who went to World War Two. Bertie was mentally-retarded and underaged. He joined because the boots clicked when he walked. He died in his first action, screaming for his mother. Leslie was  young, too. He died when HMCS St. Croix was torpedoed. As with many who joined in 1939-40, he did it to escape the depression.

Then, there were all those who suffered PTSD (we'll never know how many). Wars don't produce all that many heroes. What they produce is victims. We should most certainly remember them on Nov. 11. But the remembrance should be a real remembrance. We should remember the victims. We should apologize. We should remember their sacrifice. But we should not glorify their victimization, and therefore submit generations to come for more wars.

At this point, someone will mutter - 'but we had to stop Hitler." That sounds good. But it's not why we went to war. We didn't care about the Jews. And, if Hitler had to be stopped, why did the west give him the Olympic Games? It was well known, even then, what he was doing to Jews and Romas and others. And where do you think Hitler got the money for his rise to power? Much of it came from Britain, the U.S. and Canada - from the same kind of people who now fund ISIS while pretending to be fighting it.

Words have meanings that are real, and meanings that create false images. Communism has a real meaning, but it's one that most people don't understand.   (And I'm not saying I do understand it. I have a vague idea.) But the word is commonly used to mean mass killing and slavery which, I suspect, is how the word capitalism was used in countries that called themselves communist.
Fascism is another word that is commonly tossed about. And, oh, it's a baddie. I agree that it's a baddie. But very few people know the meaning. In fact, the government system of New Brunswick has strong elements of fascism, and they will be even stronger if Canada accepts the Trans-Pacific trade deal. The US can accurately be called a fascist state today.

Patriotic is an emotional word. It conveys a sense of goodness, citizenship, and decency. But the that's not what it means. Hitler's leading Naziis were all very patriotic. ISIS is patriotic. It simply means a strong attachment to one's nation. In any war, usually both sides are patriotic.

Us humans have a bad habit of looking at what it going on in the world and thinking of it in fuzzy words like patriotic, heroic, glorious.... That's why many people vote Liberal or Conservative. They don't actually know what either label means. But one of them will hold an emotional attraction while the other won't. (Hint - the Liberal Party is not liberal. And the Conservative party is not conservative.)

News media commonly misuse those words, sometimes to be deceiving, sometimes because they don't know any better.

We have to get serious about looking at this world, and really seeing what is happening - not thinking about movie images. We are carrying out mass murder and social destruction in the middle east. That's what is happening in this world. It's being done by and for a very small group of extremely wealthy people who have no moral values of any sort.

As well, after Russia and China, we are on the menu. In fact, they have been nibbling at us for many years.

Forget honour and glory. If you must use them, save them for those who hunger for them - tin-pot dictators like the 'kings' of Saudi Arabia and tin-pot billionaires like Donald Trump.

Take a hard look at this world, and see what's really there. Time is very, very short.


  1. When the US planners of the American Empire mapped out how they were going to control countries, they decided for the most part, that rather then occupying countries like British and French empires did, the US would control markets, then having done that, they could control the capital, labour and resources of each country they wanted to dominate. That is how the US has controlled Canada and with the TPP if the Canadian Government ratifies it, they will be putting the finishing touches on the destruction of our sovereignty. The US pressuring Canada to ratify the TPP is a must for them. It is the greatest power grab in recent history. It is gold for the American Corporate elite and for Canadians, it is the final push to destroy Canada as a sovereign nation. The Global Neoliberal family, awaits Canada's arrival with glee! Great post today.

  2. I'm afraid you're right. It will destroy Canada as a nation. For those who sign, governments and nations will effectively cease to exist. This is the big step to world rule by a handful of corporate bosses.

  3. I'm afraid you're right. It will destroy Canada as a nation. For those who sign, governments and nations will effectively cease to exist. This is the big step to world rule by a handful of corporate bosses.