The day after is a good time to reflect on what you’ve done. Whether it’s drinking, casual sex, or Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day American newspapers, both conservative and liberal, are littered with variants of “thank you for your service.” The jingoistic lie that seventeen years of endless war has somehow kept us safe grates on me every time I read it. In fact, the opposite is true. Destroying Iraq, Libya, and Syria has not made us safer. It has made the world a more frightening place and invited retaliation by those radicalized by our militarism. Creating a ring around Iran and supporting ruthless regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, the Philippines, and elsewhere has not strengthened our democracy. It has hastened the appearance of our own Orange Mussolini.
The military today is a mercenary force. People enlist for money and the many benefits we refuse to give other citizens – among them free college education, healthcare, and preferential hiring. Some serve because they have no qualms about traveling halfway around the world to kill those doing no harm to us. Please, let’s not paint them with the same brush as the Greatest Generation.
Instead of saying “thank you for your service” I would ask our warriors what, in fact, they have done to protect me. Did killing an entire Iraqi family at a roadside checkpoint make me safer? Did killing thousands of innocent civilians by drone make me safer? What enduring signs of success in Iraq and Afghanistan can you point to with pride and say — “I did that!”
There are no satisfactory answers to any of these questions. There is only the objective truth that the endless wars go on, benefiting no one but defense contractors, destroying lives and nations. No matter how many parades and flags and speeches we throw at this reality, the truth remains – the blood on the hands of American warriors has served no purpose, and our national veneration serves only to protect them from the remorse that any other man would be expected to show when accounting for his sins.