Sunday, August 12, 2012

Truth in advertising

When we watch our soldiers fight in most Hollywood movies, we are led toward some conclusions, all of which support military recruitment:

  • If the good die, which they rarely do, it is always noble and not shrieking in agony.
  • Anyone who dies shrieking in agony is a coward from the other side, a bad guy.
  • Our heroes make a comeback from their wounds. They are not vegetables drooling on some mat.
  • No American hero loses bladder and bowel function when they are merely shot or bombed. 
  • Mostly, the great ones sweat and bleed and win and act with pure integrity, certainly never killing little girls or doing other dirty business.
  • The soldiers from the other side are predominately evil and insanely religious or unquestioning in their loyalty to tyrants.

It is not in the least surprising that recruiting literature, or, indeed, most of what is written about military life, does not describe the wounds soldiers suffer or the ways in which they die. 
--Kent Shifferd (2011, p. 37)
These are the notices I get from the Pentagon:
  • The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
            Master Sgt. Gregory R. Trent, 38, of Norton, Mass., died Aug. 8 in Bethesda, Md., from wounds suffered July 31 in Baktabad, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire. 
            Trent was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.
            For more information please contact the U.S. Army Special Forces Command public affairs office at 910-689-6187.
  •             The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
            They died Aug. 8, in Sarkowi, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest.  These soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
            Killed were:
            Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y., and
            Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo.
            For more information related to this release, media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at 719-526-7525 and 719-526-5500.
  •             The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
            Spc. Ethan J. Martin, 22, of Lewiston, Idaho, died Aug. 7 in Koragay, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered enemy small-arms fire.
            Martin was assigned to 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
            For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the U.S. Army Alaska public affairs office at 907-384-2072 or 907-384-1542. 
These men died in the 11th year of a godforsaken occupation of a country that was bombed back into the Stone Age by the Soviets in the 1980s and we made the rubble bounce from October 7, 2001 until now. It is past time to leave, soldiers will continue to die up until such day as the last one leaves, and the Afghans will then sort out their country for themselves, violently in all likelihood. Our dead have meant nothing. Afghanistan, like Iraq, will go its own way and take no orders from the US.

The so-called War on Terror has resulted in more than 6,000 American military dead, the 9th most in US history, which averages 1.72 per day. By contrast, 173 police officers were killed in the line of duty in the US in 2011, far fewer.

And while all politicians and media workers portray American soldiers as pure heroes, this is not how the world sees it. Every day we occupy someone else's homeland we generate many more enemies determined to strike back when they can, guaranteeing more destructive conflict for generations to come. This is omitted from the fawning pro-military pronouncements from everyone official but in fact, the military is emphatically not making the country safer when it bristles with heavy weapons in other people's lands.

Parents and teachers and guidance counselors need to protect their children from the military and the ones who fail to do so are far more responsible than the children for what happens to them. When will we take this seriously? When will we learn other methods of managing our conflicts? When will we refuse to let our youth bleed in foreign jungles and mountains and deserts? When will we finally create enough jobs so every young person who wants to work can do so? We could do that in 2013 if we shifted enough funds from DoD to civilian jobs. But the parents, teachers and guidance counselors have to insist on it. At least the Grannies for Peace are on the job.

Shifferd, Kent D. (2011). From war to peace: A guide to the next hundred years. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

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