America as a POW Nation

The political button in question (Photo by Tori LaGarde)

W.J. Astore

I wrote my latest article for TomDispatch.com (below) before the Capitol riot, adding a quick reference to it at the last minute in the first paragraph. Events at the U.S. Capitol as well as other recent violent events in America lend credence to the idea we’re all prisoners of war of a sort. Global wars may be invisible to most Americans, but domestic ones are all too plain to see. How do we make our “great escape” from a culture of incessant violence and permanent war?

“POWs Never Have A Nice Day.”  That sentiment was captured on a button a friend of mine wore for our fourth grade class photo in 1972.  That prisoners of war could never have such a day was reinforced by the sad face on that button.  Soon after, American POWs would indeed be released by their North Vietnamese captors as the American war in Vietnam ended.  They came home the next year to a much-hyped heroes’ welcome orchestrated by the administration of President Richard Nixon, but the government would never actually retire its POW/MIA (missing-in-action) flags.  Today, almost half a century later, they continue to fly at federal installations, including the U.S. Capitol as it was breached and briefly besieged last week by a mob incited by this country’s lame-duck president, ostensibly to honor all U.S. veterans who were either POWs or never returned because their bodies were never recovered.

Remembering the sacrifices of our veterans is fitting and proper; it’s why we set aside Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November.  In thinking about those POWs and the dark legacy of this country’s conflicts since World War II, however, I’ve come to a realization.  In the ensuing years, we Americans have all, in some sense, become prisoners of war.  We’re all part of a culture that continues to esteem warembrace militarism, and devote more than half of federal discretionary spending to wars, weaponry, and the militarization of American culture.  We live in a country that leads the world in the export of murderous munitions to the grimmest, most violent hotspots on the planet, enabling, for example, a genocidal conflict in Yemen, among other conflicts.

True, in a draft-less country, few enough Americans actually don a military uniform these days.  As 2021 begins, most of us have never carried a military identification card that mentions the Geneva Convention on the proper and legal treatment of POWs, as I did when I wore a uniform long ago.  So, when I say that all Americans are essentially POWs, I’m obviously using that acronym not in a legal or formal way, but in the colloquial sense of being captured by some phenomenon, held by it, subjected to it in a fashion that tends to restrict, if not eliminate, freedom of thought and action and so compromises this country’s belief in sacred individual liberties.  In this colloquial sense, it seems to me that all Americans have in some fashion become prisoners of war, even those few “prisoners” among us who have worked so bravely and tirelessly to resist the phenomenon.

Ask yourself this question: During a deadly pandemic, as the American death toll approaches 400,000 while still accelerating, what unites “our” representatives in Congress?  What is the only act that draws wide and fervent bipartisan support, not to speak of a unique override of a Trump presidential veto in these last four years?  It certainly isn’t providing health care for all or giving struggling families checks for $2,000 to ensure that food will be on American tables or that millions of us won’t be evicted from our homes in the middle of a pandemic.  No, what unites “our” representatives is funding the military-industrial complex to the tune of $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021 (though the real amount spent on what passes for “national security” each year regularly exceeds a trillion dollars).  Still, that figure of $740.5 billion in itself is already higher than the combined military spending of the next 10 countries, including Russia and China as well as U.S. allies like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Not only that, but Congress added language to the latest defense bill that effectively blocked efforts by President Trump before he leaves office on January 20th to mandate the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan (and some troops from Germany).  Though it’s doubtful he would have accomplished such goals anyway, given his irresolute nature, that Congress worked to block him tells you what you need to know about “our” representatives and their allegiance to the war complex.

That said, an irresolute Trump administration has been most resolute in just one area: selling advanced weaponry overseas. It’s been rushing to export American-made bombs, missiles, and jets to the Middle East before turning over government efforts to shill for America’s merchants of death to President Joe Biden and his crew of deskbound warriors.

Speaking of Biden, that he selected retired General Lloyd Austin III to be his secretary of defense sends the strongest possible signal of his own allegiance to the primacy of militarism and war in American culture.  After all, upon retiring, General Austin promptly cashed in by joining the board of directors of United Technologies from which he received $1.4 million in “stock and other compensation” before it merged with giant weapons-maker Raytheon and he ended up on the board of that company. (He holds roughly $500,000 in Raytheon stock, a nice supplement to his six-figure yearly military pension.) 

How better than selecting him as SecDef to ensure that the “military” and the “industrial” remain wedded in that famed complex?  America’s secretary of defense is, of course, supposed to be a civilian, someone who can exercise strong and independent oversight over America’s ever-growing war complex, not a lifelong military officer and general to boot, as well as an obvious war profiteer.

War Is Peace

As Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich so aptly put it, “many Americans have made their peace with endless war.”  Within America’s war culture, peace activists like Medea Benjamin and organizations like Veterans for Peace are seen as not just “radical,” but genuinely aberrant. Meanwhile, an unquestioning acceptance of the fact that this country is now eternally at war across significant parts of the planet is considered normal, even respectable.  Certainly, not something to put real time or thought into considering.

As a result, warmongers like former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton are touted in some quarters as hard-headed realists. In seeing the world as a hostile place that Americans need to (but somehow, almost 20 years later, can’t) dominate means their heads are screwed on straight, unlike those screwy thinkers who advocate for peace.  But as Dorothy Day, the Catholic peace activist, once said: “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”  

That Americans mostly refuse to see permanent war as filthy and rotten, or to think much about it or the “defense” budget that goes with it showcases the triumph of a broader war culture here.  Whereas this country’s profligate and prodigal military complex has given us stunning failure after stunning failure overseas (just consider all those disastrous efforts to win “hearts and minds” from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq and on and on), it has proved stunningly successful in winning — or at least taming — hearts and minds in the homeland.  How else to explain the way those trillion-dollar-plus “national security” budgets are routinely rubber-stamped by Congress with hardly a murmur of protest?

In the twenty-first century, Americans are suffering a form of cognitive capture in which war has become the new normal.  As an astute reader at my blog, Bracing Views, put it: “Our desire to live without war is held in a stockade, and every day that we wake up and walk out into the yard that understanding is being broken down by the powerful monied elites.”

In America’s collective stockade of the mind, activism for peace is an aberration, while acceptance of the war state is second nature.  Small wonder that Biden’s proposed cabinet and administration features so many neocon-style policymakers who made their peace with war, whether in Iraq and Afghanistan or Libya and Syria (Antony Blinken as secretary of state; Jake Sullivan as national security advisor; retired general Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense; and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence).  Biden’s hawkish picks avidly place their faith in U.S. military power.  And they will be advising a new president, who once supported war in Iraq himself and talks not of reducing “defense” spending but of boosting it.

Perhaps you’ve noticed, in fact, how every president from George W. Bush in 2001 on has been proud to pose at some point as a “wartime” president.  Perhaps you’ve noticed as well that this country can’t or won’t close Gitmo, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, flooded with prisoners from the global war on terror beginning late in 2001, men who will likely be imprisoned until death does us part.

Perhaps this is why the U.S. government “tortured some folks,” as President Obama put it in 2014, and abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.  (Avril Haines, Biden’s proposed national intelligence director, once helped suppress evidence of just such abuse and torture.)  Perhaps this is why every president starting with George W. Bush has unapologetically smited evildoers around the world via robotic assassin drones.  (Remember, the drone assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Suleimani at Baghdad International Airport by one Donald J. Trump?)  Perhaps this is also why U.S. bombing never seems to stop and those wars never end, even when a president comes into office promising that they will.  After all, it’s so empowering to be a “wartime” president!

In his novel 1984, George Orwell put it simply enough when he coined the slogan “war is peace” for his fictional dystopian society. Randolph Bourne put it no less simply when, during World War I, he explained that “war is the health of the state.”  Rosa Brooks, who worked at the Pentagon, put it bluntly when she titled her 2016 book How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything.  What we have in America today is warfare as welfare, a form of man-made disaster capitalism, profitable for a few at the expense of the many.

Say it again: We are all POWs now.

The Time I Met a Real POW       

In the early 1990s, when I was a young captain in the U.S. Air Force, I served as an escort officer for Brigadier General Robinson Risner.  It’s not too much to say that Risner is held in awe in the Air Force.  A skilled fighter pilot and Korean War ace, he was a colonel and on the cover of Time magazine in 1965, just as the Vietnam War was ramping up, after which he was shot down and became a POW.  He later wrote The Passing of the Night, a harrowing account of the seven years he spent as a prisoner in the “Hanoi Hilton,” the sardonic name American POWs gave North Vietnam’s Hoa Lo Prison.

What sustained Risner through torture and those years of captivity was his Christian faith and patriotism.  I vividly recall a talk he gave at the Air Force Academy about his experiences and how that faith of his had sustained him.  I’ve never heard a more vivid evocation of the spirit of duty, honor, and country sustained by faith in a higher power.  I was proud to have a photo taken with General Risner, as we stood next to the trophy named after him and annually awarded to the top graduate of the Air Force’s Weapons School, the AF’s Top Gun, so to speak.

Risner was gracious and compelling, and I was humbled to meet a POW who’d endured and overcome as much as he had.  Yet, back then (to be honest), I never gave a thought to his actions as a fighter pilot leading bombing missions during Operation Rolling Thunder in Vietnam.  Since the U.S. government had chosen not to officially declare war against North Vietnam, whether his missions were even legal should have been open to question.  Lacking such an official declaration, one could argue that Risner and U.S. POWs like him did not enjoy the legal protections of the Geneva Convention.  Using American terminology today, Risner might then have been termed an “enemy combatant” to be held indefinitely, as the U.S. today holds captives at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, POWs who have little hope of ever being released.

To your average American captured by U.S. war culture, objections here are easy.  Of course, Risner’s bombing missions were legal.  Of course, he deserved to be recognized as a POW and treated decently.  America never goes to war without righteous cause, in this case the containment of Communism by any means short of nuclear weapons.  The North Vietnamese saw it differently, however, perhaps because it was they who were being bludgeoned and flattened by U.S. military power.

My point is neither to praise Risner nor to bury him.  Rather, it’s to bury war and the culture that breeds and then feeds on it.  The more Americans facilitate war (largely by ignoring it and so giving it our tacit approval), the more Washington funds it, the more other people die because of “our” wars and “our” weaponry, the more this country becomes a POW nation writ large.

My Friend’s Button Again

Remember my friend’s button, the one that insisted POWs never have a nice day?  As a POW nation writ large, it should apply to all of us.  America won’t have a nice day again until it extricates itself from war in all its manifestations.  There will be no nice day until Congress stops funding munitions makers and starts seeking peace and helping the sick and poor.  There will be no nice day until Americans hate war with all the passion now saved for “patriotic” flag waving.  There will be no nice day until presidents bless peacemakers instead of beseeching God to protect the troops

So, the next time you see a POW/MIA flag outside a federal building, don’t dismiss it as a relic of America’s past.  Think about its meaning and relevance in an era of constant global warfare and colossal military spending.  Then, if you dare, ask yourself if you, too, are a POW of sorts — not in the strictly legal sense that applies to formal militaries in declared wars, but in the sense of this country being captured by war in all its death, destruction, and despair.  And then ask yourself, what does America have to do, collectively, to break out of the POW camp in which it’s imprisoned itself?

Upon that question hinges the future of the American republic.

Copyright 2021 William J. Astore

Many thanks to UTEJACK for the “stockade” quote and the inspiration. Many thanks to Tori LaGarde for identifying the POW button in the 4th grade photo — and for the inspiration as well.

19 thoughts on “America as a POW Nation

  1. The POW/MIA flag at my local Post Office today was relatively low to the ground, since the US one was at half-staff. I was sore tempted to come home and return with a knife, so I could jump up and slash it. That flag has never represented anything to me but encouragement toward racist hatred of the people of Vietnam. [It represents a preposterous lie–that the Vietnamese continued to hold US prisoners beyond the official exchanges at war’s wind-down; not unlike our soon-to-be-ex-POTUS represents nothing but preposterous lies.] Check this out, Col. Astore: When I was stationed at Fort Ord, on the Monterey Peninsula (where you attended the “Defense Languages Institute” decades later) to do my final months in the Army, I helped publish a local “underground GI newspaper.” We called it POW, and I designed the masthead to include, in smaller font preceding the paper’s title, “Every GI is a…” I agree with your sentiment that this description could be applied to all of us these days.

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  2. I would rephrase this article’s title somewhat. Not so much “Prisoners of War” but Paying Patrons of the Hotel California:

    [snip]

    Welcome to the Hotel California
    Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
    Such a lovely face
    They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California
    What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
    Bring your alibis

    Mirrors on the ceiling
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device
    And in the master’s chambers
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember
    I was running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    “Relax”, said the night man
    We are programmed to receive.
    You can check out any time you like
    But you can never leave
    .”
    — The Eagles

    If “prisoners,” then “Prisoners of our own device.” We have devised our own prison; funded it at our own expense; constructed it with our own tools; incarcerated ourselves as its inmates; and subcontracted ourselves out to the Corporate Oligarchy as convict labor — all while mouthing endless alibis excusing our collaboration with our captors. Because nothing frightens us Americans so much as freedom.

    Let us not, therefore, eschew all responsibility by calling ourselves “Prisoners of War.” Rather, let us admit to slavishly serving as overseers — cops, guards, and soldiers — for the Global Corporate Oligarchy’s US Plantation. “Wardens of Our Own Exploitation.”

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    1. Great use of Eagles lyrics here!

      I can’t agree, though, with your implication that if we live in the U.S., we’re complicit in the war machine. I’ve protested war all my life. However, short of a lottery win, I have no means to change my country of residence, but that doesn’t make me a willing slave.

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  3. Sadly, the defense, or war, industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, many of them high skill and highly paid jobs, all over the country. It is a shame that these talents can’t be put to use in products and services that would better contribute to the well being of people in both the US and the world.

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    1. Yes. As Upton Sinclair wrote some time ago: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” So set up a political economy and government structure where deliberate ignorance and misinformation pays, while truth and understanding don’t. Such a system will perpetuate itself indefinitely, right up to the point where national bankruptcy causes it to collapse.

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    2. Jerry S, that’s the tragedy of USA in a nutshell. We see how far Dennis Kucinich got in running for POTUS, right? The game is rigged to make peaceniks out to be “unpatriotic,” if not downright “treasonous” (while a certain POTUS commits treason against the Constitution and is vigorously defended by most members of his party). How you ever read “The War Prayer,” by Mark Twain? Only runs a few pages but packs a punch.

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  4. About a certain type of American who found electoral success in politically profitable POW-ism:

    Before Inferno’s Gate

    My friends, if I might have a word or two
    About a subject that just slipped my mind …
    No, wait! I’ll have my staff get back to you

    About how many houses, and what kind,
    My wife might own in various disguise
    To keep the tax-man guessing, vexed, and blind.

    My friends, I never meant to criticize
    The Black Messiah preaching to the choir
    Or spread those “Foreign! Muslim! Traitor!” lies

    Of which, my friends, you know you never tire.
    So when I spit and drool you never flee,
    But sit, engrossed, around your TV fire.

    I’m John McCain, I think you’ll all agree.
    Abandon hope all you who’d vote for me.

    My friends, if I might speak in a cliché
    And utter static noise with “clarity,”
    Or coin a phrase used endlessly each day

    I say with not one trace of irony
    That I was held a prisoner before
    But suffered grim and stoic and silently

    Until I found it useful to implore
    Some voters to accept my vicious lies.
    I’ve therefore learned an easy way to score

    Cheap points about my “private” jet that flies
    At altitudes from which I take the view
    That those who weep should simply dry their eyes.

    My friends, I’ve got three words to share with you:
    A noun, a verb, and P. O. W.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2009

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And again . . .

      Up Yours, John McCain

      Well, “Up Yours!” Mad Dog John McCain,
      And what’s that stench I smell?
      Why could it be an albatross
      That you wear like a bell:
      A dead, decaying necklace that
      Suits leper losers well?

      I do hope that you keep it up
      Attacking us who learned
      In Southeast Asia lessons that
      You’ve only ever spurned
      An asinine amnesiac,
      Your coming loss you’ve earned

      That fetid, feathered bird you wear
      So proudly on your chest
      Sure ought to help you win two states
      And that’s about the best
      That fools like you could hope to win
      While losing all the rest

      Just like a bomber pilot you
      Just shit on those below
      And never see the ground beneath
      Where people you don’t know
      Look up and curse the vapor trail
      From hot air that you blow

      And do team up with Holy Joe
      The Judas Lie-berman
      Who trashes “his own party” for
      The Faux News Murdoch clan
      And Zionist Likudniks who
      Promote the fascist plan

      Each day we’ve lost two more GIs
      Through years that number four
      Now with your “surge” you’ve doubled that
      With killed and maimed galore
      Among Iraqis — Afghans, too —
      And still you cry for more!

      You have no honor left to lose
      You sold that long ago
      For dreams of fighting ‘Nam again
      And just as badly, so
      Your plans for poor Iraq amount
      To nothing we don’t know

      You’ve nothing new to add of worth,
      Just more of what we’ve had:
      A litany of lies and death
      And “leadership” so bad
      That more of what you offer could
      But make more widows sad

      Please go away and save us all
      The boredom of your screeds
      We’ve seen and heard enough from George
      And all his lousy deeds
      We really do not care for you
      And your pathetic needs

      So “Up Yours!” Mad Dog John McCain,
      And you can kiss my butt
      Your stupid brain has slipped some gears
      And left you in a rut
      Espousing war that no one wants —
      Except the senile nut

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2007

      Liked by 1 person

    2. And again . . .

      A Disowned Heir Transparent

      You pose some interrogatives
      About the waste of life
      That our vain cretin leaders spend
      Fomenting needless strife
      To further their own prospects for
      Advancement in this life

      In answer to your questions, I
      Have only this to add:
      That we must send more youth to die
      In service to a cad
      Because if we do not he will
      Get really, really mad

      You see, it matters very much
      That this vain man should feel
      Empowered by position and
      Entitlement to steal
      Since all his life George never had
      One clear thought to reveal

      And now his erstwhile heir assumes
      That he can do the same:
      Just pose and make up flimsy lies
      In search of cheesy fame
      Ignoring what the people want
      And sloughing off the blame

      No matter, John McCain exhorts:
      He’s just himself to hear
      This two-bit twerp Napoleon
      Has nothing much to fear,
      He says, from voters poised to toss
      Him out upon his ear

      He’s conjured up an image stern
      That he thinks kings project
      While undeceived, the public sees
      The drug that they inject
      Into their naked scrawny butts
      That they strive to protect

      The generals can’t save them now
      Nor can the troops that bleed
      For George and John ignored advice,
      Refusing to pay heed,
      In their lust to “command” a war
      Two countries do not need

      So, yes, more young and old must die
      If just to buy some time
      For George and John to double down
      And drop another dime
      On those who see no miracle
      In store to mask the crime

      If they knew what to do, they would
      Have done it long ago;
      But since they didn’t, thus they can’t,
      As most of us well know
      Yet still they bluster blizzards of
      Their bogus fog and snow

      A one-trick dog-and-pony team,
      The misfit and his heir
      Have made a trademark of deceit
      Invoking empty air
      To witness their new martyr shirts
      Made chiefly out of hair

      So, by all means, let war go on
      Lest if it should expire,
      What would the mercenaries do;
      Whom would Dick Cheney hire
      To take the blame for George and John,
      Two boys who play with fire?

      This may not answer all you’ve asked
      About the tragic dead
      I only know that more seem doomed
      Because all thought has fled
      From George and John and Dick and those
      With neither heart nor head

      But now succession looms and John
      Perceives his hour has come
      To sit upon a worthless throne
      That he sees as a plum
      Reserved for him alone but which
      Is hardly worth a crumb

      Since endless, pointless war accrues
      No kudos for the king
      Now John McCain will get to reap
      The wages of a fling:
      A disowned heir transparent to
      Not much, if any thing

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2007

      Liked by 1 person

    3. And again . . .

      Mad Dog John McCain Bombs Again

      Get a life, John McCain: Now. Tonight.
      We’re so sick of you and all your slogans trite
      Face it: you lost back in ‘Nam
      So you’ll never sell your scam
      That if given one more chance you’ll do it right

      You couldn’t fly a plane to save your ass
      Now you want to peddle jokes of bombing crass
      Seems your time spent in the clink
      Never caused you much to think
      Of the people down below whom you would gas

      Not a pretty sight, your abject lack of grace
      Seems some stitches you should once again replace
      Then each time you kiss the bum
      Of some vicious right-wing scum
      You’ll get less shit on your sagging, lifted face

      Don’t you know when you’re not wanted, John McCain?
      Have you no conception of the grief and pain
      That your hero George has wrought
      Even though he never fought
      In the war that you forgot for your own gain?

      Why on earth do you suppose that we would choose
      Such a reckless fool as you to light the fuse
      Of another needless crime
      That you’d start to pass the time
      Just until you show another way to lose?

      One can summarize your policy insane
      As a take-off on the Third Reich’s brutal bane:
      “Where our soldier plants his boot
      On some foreign country’s loot
      Why then, there forever after he’ll remain”

      Not a dollar for a doctor, school, or job;
      Yet more billions for some bombs that you can lob
      At those hapless foreign souls
      Whom you brutalize for polls
      Claiming that your “straight talk” lies persuade the mob

      Oh, I hope you get that nomination soon
      Then your party can collapse into a swoon
      From the stench that fills the air
      Of that albatross you wear
      Dead as your career: you clueless, crude cartoon!

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2007, 2008

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, John McCain again. You may recall I said this about him, Mike:

    Something about John McCain’s death has made some people crazy. He’s neither deserving of being lionized as the irreplaceable senator nor demonized as the ultimate warmonger.

    To me, the word that comes to mind for John McCain is “limited.” The military is all that McCain really knew. His record at Annapolis was abysmal. As a pilot, it seems he was reckless. As a husband, his fidelity was limited. Not having a great intellect or much patience, he preferred military action as THE solution. As a politician, he mostly stuck to the party line, despite the “maverick” sobriquet that he really didn’t deserve.

    I will say this: The way in which he’s being lionized says much about our American moment.***

    And then I noted how McCain had effectively opened a door for Trump to run through. Though Trump preferred a lazy ride down an escalator instead. No real running for Trump!

    https://bracingviews.com/2018/08/26/opening-a-door-for-trump-is-part-of-john-mccains-legacy/

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  6. When you posted this at TomDispatch I just happened to be putting some Tommie Bass Salve on the stripes that were left on my hide, from a family member who opened that verbal can of whoop ass as I stepped on their conceptual ideology about how the military makes America great . This story was a life saver thrown at the the proper time. It’s not an easy task to try to untangle their personal feelings they are so energetically invested in. They have set up a defensive wall that is hard to breach with even the most reasoned approach. This piece is filled with facts that should be an effective cross examination to their personal reasonings. These folks won’t sit for an explanation, so it is my hope that one day they will be able to sit open mindedly with a print edition of this story. The usual response I get once they look out over their wall is a burst of violent fire and then a retreat out the door. So, I’ve decided that the printed piece sealed in an envelope with a love stamp on it might just get them to start to tear down that wall….I can attest that there are places such as Bracing Views that help heal the soul and steel the conviction that this is not delusional thinking that has infected my mind. It is right thinking that will produce right action.

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    1. Some pundit posted today on CNN.com that they’ve “had it” with interviewing conspiracy theory/off the deep end-wingnuts. One literally cannot hold a RATIONAL discussion with these folks concerning the issues of the day. My only comment on the CNN piece is: what the hell took you so long to wake up to this reality?? A fellow member of Veterans For Peace is fond of pointing out that recognizing the truth about US militarist policies challenges the core belief system one has been encouraged to embrace all one’s life, i.e. that “we’re always the Good Guys.” Apparently many, many people prefer to live in an illusory world, a fantasy world, rather than face a painful enlightenment.

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      1. I think you’ve hit the crux of it, Greg. Many of us reached the conclusion long ago that what we’d been taught about our country simply wasn’t true, and that was indeed a painful realization. It caused sadness and anger. At that point, one can choose to be constructive or destructive. OR, one can continue to live in a fantasy world.

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  7. Here’s some words to a Bob Dylan piece about the cost of war. It’s not the whole gruesome tale, but I enjoyed playing it and badly singing it on my route while I delivered the mail during the early days of Iraq/Afghanistan when I just had to let some steam off after I read the sordid details. I had a whole anti-war set and I’m sure the delivery was as annoying to the ears of my residents as the war data was to my psyche! But this one song always gave me the chills and it is a harsh telling of one of wars possible outcomes. John Brown is the song and this is the part I’d like to yak about…

    “Don’t you remember, ma, when I went off to war
    You thought it was the best thing I could do?
    I was on the battleground, you were home acting proud
    You wasn’t there standing in my shoes”

    “Oh, and I thought when I was there, God, what am I doing here?
    I’m a-tryin’ to kill somebody or die tryin’
    But the thing that scared me most was when my enemy came close
    And I saw that his face looked just like mine”

    I like to remind people I speak with who want to defend the practices of our MIC; to insert themselves and most of those who support wars of aggression into that space occupied by “Ma”…
    All ….Back home acting proud …. that’s an easy way to believe one is showing support …standing at attention before the Stars and Stripes
    All the while being released from wars reality
    Never knowing anything about it, really; because it’s not us filling the shoes on the battlefield or in an enemy prison camp, or military hospital ward.
    I’ve never served so this is not a perspective based on actual experience; but I will venture to say that the face of the enemy really is a lot like mine and I wonder if the combatants really do sense that they are somehow just fighting some form of themselves ?

    Liked by 2 people

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