[lit-ideas] Re: Willie Pete's Role Reversal
- From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 11:53:03 -0800
Before it completely goes there, I will also again wonder how you say that
these soldiers have not talked about their experiences?
The Library of Congress & the Smithsonian Folk Life Center started a few
years ago a project called The Veterans History Project. It was actually begun
because so many of our WWI and WWII veterans (and those who had helped on the
Homefront) were dying so fast and there were not really any satisfactory oral
history projects done to save their memories/thoughts/experiences.
But, if war is simply an extension of politics (who said that?), then is the
root problem more of a political one?
The vast majority of Americans (and Americans in particular) have no awareness of war or the
military. They do not personally know what war is.
The USA is one of the very few countries without complusory military service. Only 5% of
Americans are in the military. The draft ended in the early 70s (that's 30+ years ago). The
vast majority of Americans under the age of 40 have not dealt with military life. Americans
support wars... without any idea what war is.
This is in strong contrast to the Europeans, Russians, Chinese, and other Asian countries.
Within living memory, their entire society experienced war in their own cities and
neighborhoods. Americans have no idea what that is like.
The neocons (none of whom has ever been in the military) have promoted a glorious image of
war and got the US public to support the Iraq War. This happened with help from several
items: the Pentagon touted "surgical warfare" and "technological warfare" which "precisely
targeted" the "bad guys". How nice.
The media went along with this and admired how technical and clean the war could be.
Americans could wage a clean, beneficial war.
The American public is shielded from the actual nature of war: one group destroys another.
The winner stomps on the loser's home turf. War is male: the men rape the loser's women.
Loot, rape, kill. This was war for the Babylonians, the Romans, and now. War will never
Yes, it's a general political and social problem.
In addition, I imagine that in many places it does not occur to the people
who state 'all the military' is wearing speedos and running around like maniacs
(that is my term from what was said) to go sit at some of the VFW places and
chat with some of our military who have served in wars or elsewhere.
When I was at university in Germany, I worked summers on US military bases. Due to my
student visa, it was the only place I could work. I worked as a researcher for companies
that did studies on the military: the quality of training, and so on. We interviewed
soldiers and officers, both US and NATO.
I spent all day on the base and got to know many of the soldiers. I spent many evenings with
the soldiers as well. What goes on in a military base: well, it ain't Sunday school. I've
never seen a movie that comes close. The amount of hard drinking is staggering. The soldiers
are bored and they drink. The intense eagerness for war is a rush in the blood. The soldiers
are trained to kill without doubts, without second thoughts. Kill. Kill. Kill. And no
account of military life is complete without the bordellos. These aren't shy boys. A tank
crew all shares the same woman. And the fights. It was like some kind of John Wayne saloon
fight, to see over a hundred soldiers in a drunken brawl.
I have friends who were Gray Wolves. I have friends who were mercenaries in Africa. The
stuff they did was unbelievable. They don't tell it to brag.
Some of you know: I'm from Colombia. I was born in 1955, in the middle of one of the worst
civil wars in history. The Colombian Violencia was extremely brutal. Colombia has been in a
state of civil war for over 50 years now, as it evolved through Marxists revolutionaries,
billionaire drug lords, ultra-right paramilitaries, mercenaries, and so on. I have extensive
family relations in Colombia. I constantly hear about kidnappings and extortion. Americans
have no idea what it's like to live constantly armed, constantly prepared for violent
Is all of this in the Library of Congress' histories of war? Do the VFWs tell these stories,
when their wives and kids and neighbors are there?
The US media continues to shield the US public from the reality of war. American moms will
not accept that "their son" is doing that. Americans think that their soldiers are noble
knights who rescue damsels and surgically target only Bad Guys, and when it's all over, the
knights come home and continue as good men. Only Americans believe that. Every other country
knows different, because they've seen what soldiers do.
I'm looking forward to seeing Jarhead. A number of soldiers are saying that it's an accurate
movie of their experiences.
Some will say that war is war and the US should win wars, otherwise we just surrender.
Nonsense. We live in a globalized technological world. War isn't necessary. Europe, Russia,
China, Japan, and South America are moving into the 21st century of a globalized economy,
interwoven and at peace.
It's only a few failed areas that still have wars. And the neocons and their followers want
to wallow in those places in order to prove their manhood by letting others die for them.
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