War Pabulum: The Perils of War as a Master Narrative

I continue to be amazed at the dominance of war in America’s master narrative. “War is a force that gives us meaning,” notes Chris Hedges in his book by that title. Even nuclear war, apparently, as America pursues new nuclear bombers, submarines, and missiles at a cost approaching $2 trillion over the next 30 years.

The whole idea of nuclear “modernization” is insane; it’s like modernizing the methods of the Holocaust and broadening them on a planetary scale. Of course, Congress looks at nuclear weapons as job creators, as if we can’t spend money on better schools or health care or renewable energy.

War will always find a way in America, or so it seems. If we’re truly looking for New Year’s resolutions, how about saving the planet, and trillions of dollars, by resolving to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons? Because “us” versus “them” will make no sense once those nuclear warheads start exploding.

Bracing Views

IMG_0919 Photo by Paul Nadar (1891), from a French postcard

W.J. Astore

I was reading the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin and came across the following commentary by her:

“A hero whose heroism consists of killing people is uninteresting to me, and I detest the hormonal war orgies of our visual media … War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous.  By reducing the choices of action to ‘a war against’ whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off.  This is puerile, misleading, and degrading.  In stories, it evades any solution but violence and offers the reader mere infantile reassurance.  All too often the heroes of such fantasies behave exactly as the villains do, acting with mindless violence, but the hero is on the ‘right’ side and therefore…

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12 thoughts on “War Pabulum: The Perils of War as a Master Narrative

  1. “A-men!!” Thank You. We truly and deeply MUST turn ourselves around, away from weapons and toward enriching all forms of life – and we must do this NOW.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. William, I wasn’t following you when you wrote this, but the Prince of Peace has some recorded thoughts on ‘US vs THEM’ and ‘either you’re for us or against us.’

    As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
    And for their sake’s I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the Truth.
    Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

    That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
    And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
    I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and has loved them, as you have loved me.

    It’s not as black or white as Bush saw it. The Christ said, ‘whoever is not against us is for us.’ He was saying that in the context of one of his disciples seeing someone not of the group, preaching and doing miracles in Jesus’s name and he forbade him.

    That was then, but the great Silent Majority Today is not against or for these Days, still having to made up their minds, and making a choice.
    As the Signs of the Times point to a possible dystopian post-Apocalyptic World, everyone has to pick a side in this context, as it’s written,
    “These things say the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God;
    I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
    So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
    Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
    I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see……….”
    Revelation 3:14-22


  3. The line that caught my eye was: “Because “us” versus “them” will make no sense once those nuclear warheads start exploding.”

    It seems most people don’t get it that we are never going to fight a war with a nuclear power such as Russia or China. This talk of engaging in war with one of our ‘peers’ is nonsense. I don’t want to get into nuclear war strategy because it gets pretty convoluted and out right scary. I will just say that it is time to start teaching the children how to make peace not war. Seems that all history is about some war that was necessary and justified. This is what is taught in school and we wonder why the adults are so fond of war or at least the posturing. I am not saying to let other countries walk all over us, but that is hardly the case with the U.S.

    I began hearing this song in my head as I read your article. It is by Jackson Browne about 1974.

    Before The Deluge”

    Some of them were dreamers
    And some of them were fools
    Who were making plans and thinking of the future
    With the energy of the innocent
    They were gathering the tools
    They would need to make their journey back to nature
    While the sand slipped through the opening
    And their hands reached for the golden ring
    With their hearts they turned to each other’s heart for refuge
    In the troubled years that came before the deluge

    Some of them knew pleasure
    And some of them knew pain
    And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered
    And on the brave and crazy wings of youth
    They went flying around in the rain
    And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered
    And in the end they traded their tired wings
    For the resignation that living brings
    And exchanged love’s bright and fragile glow
    For the glitter and the rouge
    And in the moment they were swept before the deluge

    Now let the music keep our spirits high
    And let the buildings keep our children dry
    Let creation reveal its secrets by and by
    By and by…
    When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

    Some of them were angry
    At the way the earth was abused
    By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
    And they struggled to protect her from them
    Only to be confused
    By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour
    And when the sand was gone and the time arrived
    In the naked dawn only a few survived
    And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge
    Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

    Now let the music keep our spirits high
    And let the buildings keep our children dry
    Let creation reveal its secrets by and by
    By and by…
    When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

    here is the live performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhQM41vBKvs

    That “thing so simple and so huge” is whatever one may imagine, be it nuclear war or the next pandemic. The sand is almost gone and that seems appropriate for this time of year when it is only days before the next one. I can only hope that “light that’s lost within us” is still there and not extinguished.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you’re right about that “never.” But at least one AF officer I worked with, a bomber pilot for STRATCOM (the new SAC), proudly said he trained so as to fight and win a nuclear war.

      Going toe-to-toe with the Russkies, or the Chinese, is more than a contingency to some of these self-styled warriors.


      1. Aren’t bombers obsolete for dropping nuclear bombs? Though we have stealth versions, they would be slow to arrive. If they could make it through any defense, it would only be to take out more targets than ICBMs/SLBMs hadn’t already reduced to ashes…overkill.

        To the topic of war in general, there is among males a “wow” factor over physical demonstrations of power. As a little boy says “wow” when he sees something explode, as a young male says “wow” as he sees a target torn apart by a high caliber bullet, as a pilot says “wow” when he sees a building explode from his smart bomb, there is a visceral satisfaction that is innate and must be kept in mind, guarded against. We saw it in the video revealed by Manning of the helicopter crew almost giddy as they “took out” what turned out to be innocent people on the ground in Iraq. They were eager to be given permission to attack, to use overwhelming power against the powerless.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks for the link and the lyrics WJSCOTT2.
      Like so many of the Protest songs from the 60s, and like this one even before, this one is also Prescient looking at Today’s World the MASS Media projects onto the MASSES.

      Reading these lines, “And when the sand was gone and the time arrived In the naked dawn only a few survived” I was mindful of the Testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy.
      “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
      Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and FEW THERE BE that find it.”


  4. A most profound comment, WJ. And the Jackson Browne lyrics are apropos indeed.

    What makes you say “never” about a war with Russia or China? Is all the current posturing merely kabuki, then? I fervently hope so.


  5. I wonder what ever happened to the “ban the bomb” demonstrations, such as those in the early and mid ’60s? Did the world simply become too complacent? Did it become not-trendy to protest nukes?


    1. People do not protest when they have all the material comforts and food in their bellies.

      IF and when it comes to the knowing the Economic Privation in the US, the American People, through their governmental power structure, impose on the ordinary People of other Nations, as appears more likely than ever before, of ALL the Nations on Earth, there are more guns in American hands than for any other People.
      Once the Fireworks start……….?


      Since the US is the BIGGEST ARMS MERCHANT this World produced, there may be some Justice and Judgment on America coming.

      As for me, I am at Peace understanding and Believing this Mystery of The Christ Spirit in my physical flesh,
      For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
      And deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

      For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
      Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
      For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted.


      1. If my historical knowledge is correct, though, Ray, many of the “ban the bomb” people, as well as Vietnam protesters, for instance, were not wealthy, but definitely weren’t destitute. They were people with the leisure to protest.


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