“War Is Hell”
-General William Tecumseh Sherman, USA
“War is a Racket”
– Major General Smedley Butler, USMC
“Americans are an ahistoric people. We come to new situations asking ‘what’s the problem?’ when a more appropriate inquiry might be, ‘what’s the story?’ And the way we now get the news…strengthens this tendency toward the here and now at the expense of a longer view.
“It is a momentous thing to use American military power. The lives of Americans, allies, adversaries, and frequently innocents are put at risk. And when we engage our military force we almost inevitably embrace a moral responsibility for the final outcome of whatever conflict or issue we have touched.”
– Lt. General Michael V. Hayden, USAF, NSA, CIA
“For the soldier’s trade,…is not slaying, but being slain. This…the world honors it for. A bravo’s (soldier of fortune’s) trade is slaying; but the world has never respected bravos…: the reason (the world) honors the soldier is, because he holds his life at the service of the State.”
– John Ruskin
Republicans are NOT serving our Veterans: (North Dakota House and Senate Majority) Republicans voted to allow cuts to state funding that long-term care facilities count on to match federal Medicaid cuts, breaking promises to our seniors; veterans programs have been subjected to two round of senseless, across the board budget cuts. Additionally, they stripped funding for veterans caskets, training dollars for PTSD service dogs, and education funding for Vietnam veterans affected by Agent Orange. The mental health and addiction crisis in our state is not going away. Our state has refused to expand services to meet the growing needs in our communities. This includes our Veterans. 20 Veterans a day die by suicide in our country. ND residents join the military at the highest per capita rate in the Country, but when they come home, many Veterans do not have access to services they need…”
-Jessica Petrick , USA Veteran (Iraq); Dem/NPL Candidate for ND House, District 34 (Mandan)
When the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States, Donald Trump, desecrated the memory of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan this Summer and Fall, in responding to the grief of Khizr and Ghazala Kahn over the death of their son, fallen in service to the United States, Mr. Trump also desecrated the honor and sacrifice of every single American who has risked or given their lives at the service of our country.
There are no excuses for what Donald Trump said about the Khans and their Muslim heritage, but there are a number of explanations to be found in his behavior, and the behavior of the Republican Party of 2016 which nominated him to discharge responsibilities of the Commander in Chief of U.S. Armed Forces.
The first explanation was provided by Mr. Kahn when he held up his copy of the U.S. Constitution at the Democratic Convention and offered to lend it to Mr. Trump. This was not a mere emotional display. Captain Khan, like every member of our Armed Forces, takes an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the President of the United States. His father, Khizr, was reminding the Republican Candidate for President that those legal principles, not the lofty delusions of a self-anointed savior from the corporate world, are what define a civilized country like America.
Members of Congress and the Executive Branch also take an oath to uphold the Constitution, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton patiently explained to the Republican House members on the Benghazi Committee. Republican attempts to criminalize Secretary Clinton’s government service, however, merely added fuel to the fire of presidential candidate Trump’s crude appeals to threaten her with a jail sentence.
It is worth remembering in this context that one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite, and successful references to his democratic opponents was that they were “November Criminals,” i.e. those who had agreed to an Armistice with President Wilson’s United States, and the Entente Powers in 1918, rather than see their country be overrun and devastated.
Hitler’s political strategy, as we now know from historians like Alan Bullock, Robert G.L. Waite, and Gordon Craig, was to “play the democratic game” until he got control of the German Army as a personal instrument, by requiring an oath to him, not a constitution.
Fortunately for Americans, our soldiers and officers have historically seen themselves as servants of the people of the United States as embodied in our Constitution, not a separate, corporate entity like the Prussian Army. But today’s Paul Reveres need tanks, planes, nuclear submarines, and computers, not just a horse and a lighthouse. So, the modern corporation was here to stay, once President Abraham Lincoln decided he needed Railroad Barons in the North to defeat Plantation Kingpins in the South. Small wonder the man rarely smiled.
Excesses of Railroad Barons, become “Robber Barons,” brought demands for reform in the next half century to rein in overweening corporate power, even as our military was employed by Congress to eradicate Native Americans and their cultures. These folks inconveniently occupied land coveted by people from other cultures, known today as “immigrants.”
The labor of these oft despised immigrants was sorely needed by the great capitalists of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, whose ambitions were shared by politicians of Empire like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. However, American immigrants from all parts of the world in 1900 were sick and tired of being cannon fodder for uses of corporations we used to call “Habsburgs” [Austria-Hungary]; “Hohenzollerns” [Prussia- Germany]; the Manchu Dynasty of China, or the British Empire, from whom the 13 Colonies first separated in 1776. And they voted accordingly, owing to their experiences in the “old country.”
The sons and daughters of these immigrants also voted for Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal as they began to recognize the similarity between a rapacious Wall Street and corporate misbehavior that reminded them of the misbehavior of aristocrats of birth and wealth in Europe and Asia.
Pearl Harbor changed all of that. After December 7, 1941, Americans began to realize that we could no longer retreat from militarized evil from around the world; we would, instead, have to become the world’s foremost military power, and somehow hang on to our cherished freedoms and respect for due process of law in the process.
The organizing capital and industrial power of the modern corporation, despite any greed or arrogance [see Bruce Catton, The War Lords of Washington, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1948] would have to be employed in order to win World War II with Germany and Japan, and then the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In order to ensure that Americans would not slip back into another form of isolationism, the Defense Department under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower saw to it that a military installation or corporate ancillary was located in every Congressional District [Senator J.W. Fulbright, The Pentagon Propaganda Machine,1970]. The full impact of this revolving door between military service, private industry and Congress is analyzed by Gordon Adams [The Politics of Defense Contracting: The Iron Triangle, 1982].
Corporate power was not enough in 1941, however; a time when “corporate worship” was at an all time low, owing to the Depression of 1929. The manpower, and womanpower of all those despised immigrants from Europe and Asia, Native Americans, and African Americans, would also be necessary to emerge victorious in these global conflicts. And these folks no longer tolerated being treated solely as cannon fodder, commodities rather than human beings.
German Americans, their Teutonic heritage vilified during both World Wars, served loyally as one quarter of American forces in 1917-1918 and 1941-1945 [see Frederick C. Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty: German Americans and World War I, 1974; La Vern J. Rippley, The German-Americans, 1976].
Japanese Americans, whose families languished in concentration [“internment”] camps in California, fought with great bravery in Italy.
Native Americans, despite massive oppressions of the American government, brought their warrior traditions to the defense of the United States with the USMC Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, and to all branches of our Armed Forces ever since.
The Tuskegee Airmen were allowed to represent African-Americans in World War II, as their brothers and sisters have done in greater and greater numbers ever since [see Bernard C. Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military, New York: Macmillan, 1986]. This, despite seething hostilities of racial prejudice at work from the beginning of our Republic [see Winthrop Jordan, The White Man’ s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States, New York: Oxford U. Press, 1974].
Historic racial hatreds of whites toward blacks were cynically resurrected by Republican Party leadership in 2009 upon inauguration of an African American President, Barack Obama, solely for reasons of power. Their sowing the winds of the “Birther” fraud and Tea Party anarchism has wrought the whirlwind of Donald Trump’s corrosive candidacy.
We now see our fellow Muslim Americans, the Khans, responding bravely to age old tactics of divisiveness, based on race, ethnicity and religion, employed by “The Donald,” a child of corporate executive delusions of power. Mr. Trump has heretofore been insulated from the consequences of his words and deeds by his “male privilege,” his “white privilege,” and his privilege by “divine right of money bags [Aldous Huxley].” The only thing that stands between him and his fantasy of grasping the reins of the most powerful executive position in the world is the common sense of the American people.
Previous challenges to Americans and our military have been in the context of protecting ourselves and the world from villainy that originated from beyond our shores. This fall we find that our major task is to protect our land and the rest of the world from villainy that has sprung from amongst ourselves. I dare to believe we are up to the task.