The Pentagon as Pentagod

W.J. Astore

The other day, retired General Michael Flynn called for “one religion under God” in the United States.

Ah, General Flynn, we already have one religion of militant nationalism and imperialism, and we already have one god, the Pentagod, which is the subject of my latest article for TomDispatch.com.

First, one religion. This weekend I watched the New England Patriots play the Cleveland Brown during which a Pentagon recruiting commercial broke out. The coaches wore camouflage jackets and caps, the game started with military flyovers of combat jets, and there even was a mass military swearing-in ceremony hosted by a four-star general and admiral. That same general claimed during an on-field interview during the game that the military is what keeps America free, which might just be the best definition of militarism that I’ve heard.

(Aside: In a true democracy, the military is seen as a necessary evil, because all militaries are essentially undemocratic. The goal of a true democracy is to spend as little as possible on the military while still providing for a robust defense.)

Here’s an illustration, sent by a friend, of America’s one religion:

So, according to the NFL and the mainstream media, “all of us” need to honor “our” military and indeed anyone who’s ever worn a uniform, no questions asked, apparently. I wore a military uniform for 24 years: four years as a cadet, twenty as a military officer, and I’m telling you this is nonsense — dangerous nonsense. Don’t “salute” authority. Question it. Challenge it. Hold it accountable and responsible. At the very least, be informed about it. And don’t mix sports, which is both business and entertainment, with military service and the machinery of war.

OK, so now let’s talk about America’s god. As I argue below, it certainly isn’t the Jesus Christ I learned about by reading the New Testament and studying the Gospels in CCD. America has never worshipped that god. Clearly the god we worship — at least as measured by money and societal influence — is the Pentagod, which leads me to my latest article at TomDispatch. Enjoy!

The Pentagon As Pentagod

Who is America’s god? The Christian god of the beatitudes, the one who healed the sick, helped the poor, and preached love of neighbor? Not in these (dis)United States. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we speak proudly of One Nation under God, but in the aggregate, this country doesn’t serve or worship Jesus Christ, or Allah, or any other god of justice and mercy. In truth, the deity America believes in is the five-sided one headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

In God We Trust is on all our coins. But, again, which god? The one of “turn the other cheek”? The one who found his disciples among society’s outcasts? The one who wanted nothing to do with moneychangers or swords? As Joe Biden might say, give me a break.

America’s true god is a deity of wrath, whose keenest followers profit mightily from war and see such gains as virtuous, while its most militant disciples, a crew of losing generals and failed Washington officials, routinely employ murderous violence across the globe. It contains multitudes, its name is legion, but if this deity must have one name, citing a need for some restraint, let it be known as the Pentagod.

Yes, the Pentagon is America’s true god. Consider that the Biden administration requested a whopping $753 billion for military spending in fiscal year 2022 even as the Afghan War was cratering. Consider that the House Armed Services Committee then boosted that blockbuster budget to $778 billion in September. Twenty-five billion dollars extra for “defense,” hardly debated, easily passed, with strong bipartisan support in Congress. How else, if not religious belief, to explain this, despite the Pentagod’s prodigal $8 trillion wars over the last two decades that ended so disastrously? How else to account for future budget projections showing that all-American deity getting another $8 trillion or so over the next decade, even as the political parties fight like rabid dogs over roughly 15% of that figure for much-needed domestic improvements?

Paraphrasing Joe Biden, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you worship. In that context, there can’t be the slightest doubt: America worships its Pentagod and the weapons and wars that feed it.

Prefabricated War, Made in the U.S.A.

I confess that I’m floored by this simple fact: for two decades in which “forever war” has served as an apt descriptor of America’s true state of the union, the Pentagod has failed to deliver on any of its promises. Iraq and Afghanistan? Just the most obvious of a series of war-on-terror quagmires and failures galore.

That ultimate deity can’t even pass a simple financial audit to account for what it does with those endless funds shoved its way, yet our representatives in Washington keep doing so by the trillions. Spectacular failure after spectacular failure and yet that all-American god just rolls on, seemingly unstoppable, unquenchable, rarely questioned, never penalized, always on top.

Talk about blind faith!

To read the rest of my article, please go to TomDispatch here. Here’s my conclusion:

Yet, before I bled Air Force blue, before I was stationed in a cathedral of military power under who knows how many tons of solid granite, I was raised a Roman Catholic. Recently, I caught the words of Pope Francis, God’s representative on earth for Catholic believers. Among other entreaties, he asked “in the name of God” for “arms manufacturers and dealers to completely stop their activity, because it foments violence and war, it contributes to those awful geopolitical games which cost millions of lives displaced and millions dead.”

Which country has the most arms manufacturers? Which routinely and proudly leads the world in weapons exports? And which spends more on wars and weaponry than any other, with hardly a challenge from Congress or a demurral from the mainstream media?

And as I stared into the abyss created by those questions, who stared back at me but, of course, the Pentagod.

27 thoughts on “The Pentagon as Pentagod

  1. The Wyoming and North Dakota references took me back a few years (I got out on 7 Nov 72, just a bit more than 49 [seemingly short, like last year] years ago). I was in the 1st Geodetic Survey Squadron out of F.E. Warren AFB (Cheyenne). Among our regular jobs (almost all traveling to somewhere – TDY) were all ICBM missile sites, at least once a year (because the soil shifted that much around aiming points, not to mention tractors colliding with pylons (for turning angles to azimuths from the site’s “A point” on top, to the side of each silo – So Wyoming, South and North Dakota, Missouri and elsewhere, even Canaveral and Vandenberg. Essentially we put in mathematical gun sites, setting latitude, longitude, elevation, azimuths and so forth to constitute a “geodetic position.”

    We preferred the non-missile site jobs because they were in more places, off base and usually very interesting. But one of the people I worked with in Minot and Grand Forks jobs, shooting astro positions in the middle of winter and the middle of night (shooting on stars), was a guy who had done the same on Redstones in Turkey in the late 1950’s. These were the missiles Kennedy bargained with the Khrushchev to remove as part of the pull back from the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mostly they were not only obsolete by then anyway, they were not that ready. At any time, he said, maybe only 40% were ready to fire. Not that that wouldn’t have been all too many and all too destructive, but it tells you something about the development of technology, especially technology that gets paid for before you can fully make sure of it. Or, to follow your theme, a way to really waste a ton of money and justify more in the pipeline. In they end they became a fig-leaf force pull-down that really wasn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thinking of the audit that proved impossible, which is an accounting of how much money is spent, but not of purpose, I’d like to see a specific justification for every item on the military budget, not simply a statement that “it will protect us better” or “it will replace a system that is X years old”, or “so we can defeat them over there instead of here”, I mean a real explanation of how in what scenario this or that thing is a necessity.

    Overall, the ultimate justification must explain how all of the systems in coordination will let us better avoid a nuclear war, as opposed to making it more likely one will be started.

    Related to that last thought, I’d like the military to explain how it can come up with a “fold-back”, that is, a way to de-escalate any confrontation so that nuclear war doesn’t start when the whole structure of the military is set around moving up from one level to the next in order to prevail. Where is the circuit breaker in the system that is built to confront an opponent that can match everything we have?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That should be important not just to justify monies but to prove (or not) that Pentagod really does have a plan. This lack of accountability is a clear pointer showing incompetence. If you can’t specify the usefulness in audit you haven’t a plan to “win” anything.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Likely your finest column in recent memory, thanks so much for voicing once more the Sermon on the Mount and the incredible 180* militaristic US policies and initiatives of the past 40+ years.
    We have lost our way, and only a few (You and Tom Englehardt, Andrew Bacevich, Heather Cox Richardson,
    Thomas Friedman–) have persistently and eloquently tried to redirect us.
    As a fellow Vietnam Vet, an anti-war, anti-MIC retired physician, a Protestant agno-Christian, I applaud your
    efforts…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. General-President Eisenhower identified the crux of the matter in his warning about the Military-Industrial Complex upon retiring in 1961.
    “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience.
    The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.
    We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
    Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”

    For the Politicians, it’s only Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! They don’t think about the Future World their Children and grandchildren will inherit.

    We can only do what we can do, and for the last 2 weeks, I sent this Message to the 100 US Senators.
    It took unorthodox methods and a lot of Time, to bypass the embedded email system restricting incoming email exclusively to residents of their States, writing from CanaDa’s Capital.

    It would take way too much of my Time to send it to the 435 Members of the House.
    I sent it only to Representatives Delgado of NY and Kinzinger of Illinois.

    Good Day Senator……….,

    I sent this Message with Edits since, to the Republican Senators last week in the chance some may have witnessed my highly visible activities at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City.

    Watching from CanaDa, it gives me no pleasure to see Americans tearing each other and America down.
    Everyone, no matter what Political stripe, should know, if that direction is not changed, America and the World will not be in a good Future place.

    My last Corporate Business Card read, “National Marketing Representative, Mining Division, Dominion Engineering Works Ltd.” of Montreal. I was 29, going on 30.
    I quit that Position, and the very next Day, February 1, 1975, I was BORN AGAIN, making me 77 going on 46 years learning the ways of the Spirit.

    I sold all my possessions 7 months later and on September 1, 1975, entered the US to discover the Spirit of ’76.
    I had shoulder length hair & beard with a back pack on my back.
    Below are incidents from only 3 Days in the Life during that 14 month Journey of Faith throughout the US.

    Arriving in Trenton, NJ 3 days later, just by happenstance, found myself in a Black part of Trenton at 1:30 am, in a crowd of some 25 Black Youths.
    White People rarely went there in Daylight.
    The scene started off well as I was being peppered with questions. Eventually 1 Youth came out of that crowd, telling me my back pack was his, and he was taking it.
    Thanks be to God, I walked out of that scene with my back pack, unmolested.
    I mention this because the leading indicators point to more Americans having to deal with that kind of situation if the direction is not changed. They may not be as prepared as I was in 1975.
    I describe exactly how that came to be in my Blog article,

    ANGELS TO THE RESCUE

    I spent Time at Arizona State University in the Spirit of ’76, being a regular at The Cardinal Newman Centre just off Campus.
    One Day the Priest asked me to go to the old Church and ring the Bell to call The Faithful to Worship.
    With every fibre of my being, with all my vibrations, praying to the Angel of the Bell, thought, ¨Lord, let the sound of this Bell rise above the noise and the din of the city traffic. Let the sound of the Bell rise above all the petty hatreds, squabbles, conflicts and jealousies. Lord, let this Bell proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land!¨
    The priest came running over in a panic. His hands were covering his ears as he shouted, ¨Stop it! Stop it! You´re ringing that Bell too loud.¨ They never let me ring the Bell again.

    PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND


    I would expect, as an American Leader, you would share the sentiments in my prayer to the Angel of the Bell.

    1976 was one of the best years of my life touring the US. Everywhere I went, people received me like a king.
    I was highly visible at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City.

    The night President Ford won the nomination, the compressed crowd in the Lobby of The Crown Centre Hotel was looking up to the Secret Service restricted Mezzanine, having the President’s Podium set up, expected The President to be standing there any minute.

    The Secret Service called me out of the crowd for questioning.
    I was surprised when the SS Agent led me to stand at the President’s Podium, and questioned me in view of everybody below.
    With long hair, beard, wearing my trademark #13 jersey, it was a Revolutionary Image to be standing at the President’s Podium in the year of America’s Revolutionary Spirit of ’76.
    I was even more surprised when the SS Agent asked me if I was Jesus Christ?
    Having no illusions about that then and now, immediately answered “NO!”
    The Secret Service has the record of that scene in my CV buried in their Archives.

    The Kansas City Times, September 13, 1976, ‘Prophet Chooses Park For Vigil’
    “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of BABYLON,” he said.” […] He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”

    That 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter.
    The World is waking up to see Americans may hasten “its days are numbered” part of the 1976 Vision, and waits with bated breath.

    The Kansas City Times, ALL SOULS DAY, November 2, 1976, ‘Prophet Plans Appeal of Conviction’
    The TV movie ‘THE DAY AFTER’ Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust was shown 7 years later to the month, November 20, 1983. The Final scene in the Movie pauses at the same picture frame The Kansas City Times published on ALL SOULS DAY.

    SIGNS OF THE TIMES

    I thank God I’m still alive at 77, and able to point to the Historical Newspaper Records in the US and CanaDa Coast to Coast spread over many years.

    Peace
    RayJC

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I would have chosen capitalism as our one god but I guess that isn’t too far removed from the military mission anyway, high class muscle for American corporations, in the words of Gen Butler.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. William, I see this Intercept article is corollary to you pushing the envelope further with your incisive insights ‘The Pentagon as Pentagod.’

    ‘The War Party
    From Bush to Obama, and Trump to Biden, U.S. Militarism Is the Great Unifier’
    https://theintercept.com/2021/11/21/america-militarism-foreign-policy-bush-obama-trump-biden/

    It’s a long article, and I could have cited many paragraphs as an intro, but as a Canadian, the following to my mind, is proof positive, the US is not an honest Broker in the Middle East but the front for Israel.

    It’s a wonder to me how Americans can tolerate overwhelming bipartisanship on any issue affecting Israel, but it’s evident there is no bipartisanship on the many serious issues confounding Americans, except on more money for the Weapons of Death and Destruction year after year.
    Is there any significance to the FACT the Israeli Star of David is on the backside of EVERY American Dollar?
    I think the US Dollar is the Biblical ‘Image of the Beast’ in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

    “In September, after Biden asked for the increased funding to “replenish” the rockets used by Israel during its siege of Gaza earlier in the year, the House authorized a whopping $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome system in a “blowout” 420-9 vote. “Thank you to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, for the sweeping support for Israel and commitment to its security,” said Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, taking a swipe at the tiny group of eight Democrats and one Republican who voted against it. “Those who try to challenge this support received a timeless answer.” That money is in addition to the $500 million the U.S. gives to Israel for missile defense every year as part of a nearly $4 billion annual package.

    I was an active participant in the discussion of ‘WHAT A TRAVESTY! Iron Dome Subsidy’ in the Blog of Richard Falk, International Law Scholar and former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Rights under the Israeli Occupation, posted September 25. He is one of the Jews Zionist Jews hate the most.
    https://richardfalk.org/2021/09/25/3612/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the link to Jeremy Scahill’s article, Ray. He’s right of course. The war party rules in America. It’s such a profitable racket! Well, profitable for them, not for us and the world.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Unfortunately, Bill, because of Public apathy and complacency, compounded by the widening gulf between “US” and “THEM,” I think the World is coming to the final stages of knowing what the Biblical dynamic, ‘what you sow, so shall you reap’ really means in THIS Material World.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. How totally bizarre! I can’t even imagine how anyone could convince 80 people to break into and loot a big store. I can’t imagine knowing 80 people who were degenerate enough to be persuaded. I’m sure they’ll catch some of them, but… How would a store even.protect against something like that?

            Like

    2. Had read the intercept article last night, Ray, and you’re right—compelling stuff. In addition to fronting for Israel, the U.S. is, of course, hand-in-glove with the Saudis, which would seem to make no sense. But I guess the considerations of $$$ and oil override everything else.

      Like

      1. The Iran Nuclear Deal had all the safeguards necessary to prevent any surprise development of Nukes like Israel already has.

        The Abraham accords are not Peace Treaties, but covers for increased US arms sales to inflame the Middle East.
        As the US floods the Middle East with so called “conventional weapons” it is rigid in wanting a re-write of the Iran deal to include conventional weapons Iran needs to defend against the US armed to the teeth anti-Iran coalition.

        Iran will never agree to that, and most probably has the Iranian version of Israel’s Samson Doctrine if push comes to shove, like Israel is planning for to happen in the near term.

        THE NUCLEAR QUESTION? IRAN – DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?

        Like

  7. Armageddon was derived from Har Mediggo, located in Occupied Palestine when Jesus walked the Land 2000 years ago. Israel disappeared from among the Nations some 650 years earlier.
    Har Mediggo/Armageddon still exists Today in Occupied Palestine.

    US media is not covering it, but Israeli Media is, as this World may may be arriving at THE END in the US WAR PLAN brought out within 2 weeks of 9/11, to change the regimes of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and at THE END, Iran.

    General Clark is never invited on the MSM and given exposure to talk about this US History. US media never inform Americans the tensions with Russia started when the Ukrainian Russian friendly government accepted the better terms offered by Russia to bail out Ukraine’s failed Economy that that offered by the IMF, the EU and NATO. In that Timeline the US orchestrated the regime change of the Russian friendly government, replacing it with an anti-Russian Neo-Nazi government.
    Putin recognizes that existential threat by NATO to Russia if Americans don’t, with US MSM being the Propagandists for the Military-Industrial Complex.

    These are links to articles in The Times of Israel from Yesterday and Today. Where are the voices in the US with these threats to the Lives of MILLIONS if not BILLIONS of People?
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-us-general-says-iran-very-close-to-bomb-plans-are-ready-if-diplomacy-fails/
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-will-not-sit-idly-if-iran-drags-out-nuke-talks-while-advancing-program-envoy/
    This report is removed Today: LIVE: “Gantz says Israel developing military strike options against Iran”
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-says-itll-amp-up-pressure-on-iran-if-it-does-not-start-cooperating-with-iaea/

    As I see it, Iran was complying completely with the intrusive Nuclear Deal because the US Banking System seized all Iranian Funds in Western Banks making all the People of Iran suffer. Because of Iran’s compliance, Iran’s money was returned to Iran.

    Trump reneged on the Iran Deal in spite of Iran’s compliance on the Nuclear issue, but the US wanted Iran’s Conventional Defensive weapons added to the Nuclear Safeguards as the US floods the Middle East with offensive Weapons aimed at Iran.

    NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!

    Liked by 1 person

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