Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm just going to say it; I'm anti-military.  

I love my wife, I love Jesus, and I love America, but do not like the military.

But saying that you're anti-military is sort of like saying that you're anti-business.  What sort of business?  Multi-national corporations running child-labor sweatshops in the back alleys of Indonesia?  Or the nice couple who run the deli and specially order weird cheeses for me?  That's sort of like how it is with my "anti-militarism."  

Just as there are very different things that we call, "business." there are very different things that we call "military." 

We refer to the bureaucrats at the Pentagon as, "the military."  I don't much like them because they dream up stuff like, "Future Force" and "Global Reach" and "The Pinon Canyon, Multi-National, High-tech, 6.9-million-acre, Weapons-Testing, 51st, flippin' State." 

We also refer to the command structure at major bases as, "the military."  I don't much like them either; the Army brass at Fort Carson who buckle under the pressure from defense contractors and the elected officials who work to advance their corporate economic interests and ensure their own career futures by abusing our young men and women, sending them to dog-and-pony Open Houses and elementary schools to do their dirty work for them.

But I also refer to the 18-year-old kids who greet me at the Pinon Canyon Open House as, "the military." I do like them. They remind me of myself when I served during the Viet Nam era.  I knew very little about the political justifications for the war.  I knew practically nothing about the weapons industry and war profiteering. And I knew even less about the personal ethical responsibility implicit in my participation in the military-industrial-complex. Say what?  I just did my job and tried to have some fun, and maybe learn something that could I use in the next phase of my life.

Many of the "troops" that train at Pinon Canyon are kids who are not yet considered responsible enough to drink.  But some of them have been in situations that I'm not sure I could survive, physically or psychologically. They are, quite literally "our kids" since they come, disproportionally from rural America. They return from combat to discover that most people have paid little attention to the wars.  But for them its horrors are a reality that they can't forget. Of course I'm not anti-them!

They often suffer from what has been labeled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.  Like labels attached to previous wars, "shell-shock" and "battle-fatigue," "PTSD" is a euphemism which fails to capture the truth. It actually describes the condition of having physically survived hell and being barely able to function in society with the mental and  spiritual damage that has been suffered. It manifests as domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide. I have nothing but compassion for them.

There's a big difference between supporting these young people and supporting the military-industrial complex.  Weapons development and  manufacture, military training and engagement in wars of occupation make up over half of our economy.  Feeding the war-machine comes at the expense of other areas like health care and education. It is being financed by borrows from China, all to enrich defense contractors.
Five-star general and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower tried to warn us in his final words upon leaving office.  He said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Even the people who have the most obvious reasons to be "anti-military" understand that it doesn't apply to the young men and women in uniform. In 2011 the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, PCEOC, which represents ranching families who had their multi-generational ranches taken from them by "the military" understand the difference between the Pentagon bureaucracy, and the kids who serve.  In 2011 they urged the Trinidad City Council to write, in their own words a resolution expressing the support of our community for the troops. They persuaded the council not to take bribes; not to sign a "Covenant" which the Fort Carson brass had suggested would result in local contracts. They argued that support for our kids in the Army should be unconditional.

The city didn't sign the "covenant' which had been created by the psy-ops manipulators in Washington.  Instead they wrote up a resolution, in their own words, honestly and sincerely expressing their support the troops, and since they are our representatives, our community support as well.  

So, I don't like the Pentagon and don't like the arms merchants and I don't like the politicians and Army brass that play along. But I do love and support the troops.