Today’s article is a potluck of observations. Please fire away in the comments section if I stimulate some thoughts!
- My wife today noticed how the weather is now militarized. An “arctic invasion” of cold air is coming our way, or so the Weather Channel warned. Do we need a new “Weather Force” to meet this “invasion”?
- The other day at the gym, I was watching the impeachment drama on two TVs tuned to Fox News and MSNBC. For Fox News and its parade of Republican guests, the impeachment was a “hoax.” For MSNBC, it was a foregone conclusion Trump is as guilty as sin. I mentioned this to my wife and she had the perfect comment: “The truth needs its own channel.”
- A reader wrote to me about a piece I wrote in 2008 about all the “warrior” and “warfighter” talk used by the U.S. military today. It got me to thinking yet again about the rhetoric of war. Back in World War II, when we fought real wars and won them, we had a Department of War to which citizen-soldiers were drafted. After World War II, we renamed it the Department of Defense, and after Vietnam we eliminated the draft, after which you began to hear much talk of warriors and warfighters. In the 75 years since 1945, America has fought many wars, none of them formally declared by Congress, and none of them “defensive” in any way. The longest of those wars (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) have been utter disasters. Which is not surprising, since wars based on lies and fought for non-compelling reasons usually are losers. So, how do you buck up the morale of all those volunteer troops while encouraging them not to think about the losing causes they’re engaged in? Get them to focus on their warfighter identities, their warrior “cred,” as if it’s a great thing for democracies to fight constant wars.
- The New York Times endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar today as the Democrats best prepared to serve as president. Looks like Jimmy Dore is right: establishment Democrats would rather lose to Trump than win with a true progressive like Bernie Sanders.
- The other day, I went to my local post office and saw the POW/MIA flag flying. It got me to thinking: Who are the POWs/MIAs we need to remember today? Don’t get me wrong. As a retired military officer, I think we should remember America’s POWs and MIAs. But I see no reason to fly flags everywhere to remind us of those veterans who were prisoners of war or missing in action. Sadly, the POW/MIA flag is associated with conservative activism and reactionary views; it also can serve as a distraction from the enormous damage inflicted overseas by the U.S. military. As Americans, we are constantly told by our leaders to focus on American victims of war; rarely if ever are we encouraged to think of war itself as a disaster, or to think of the victims on the receiving end of American firepower.
More on the POW/MIA issue: In the early 1990s, when I was a young captain, there were persistent rumors of American POWs who’d been deliberately left behind by our government. These rumors were strong, so strong that the George H.W. Bush administration had to issue denials.
What are we to make of this? One thing strikes me immediately: an often profound mistrust of our government exists within the military. Our government has lied to us so often that some of my fellow officers believed it was lying again when it said there were no POWs remaining in Southeast Asia. We just assumed our government was so wretched and dishonest that it would abandon our troops to their fate.
This is nearly 30 years ago but it’s stayed in my memory — the suspicion back then that those commie bastards still held U.S. troops and our own government was part of the cover-up. (All those Chuck Norris and Rambo movies didn’t help matters.)
For more on this: The POW/MIA issue is still very much alive and is discussed by H. Bruce Franklin in his article, “Missing in Action in the 21st Century,” available at hbrucefranklin.com. As Franklin noted recently to me, “What we now think of as the Trump base was organized originally in this [POW/MIA] movement.” Now that’s a fascinating comment.
What say you, readers?