How about words of praise for “peacetime” presidents?
I caught only a couple of minutes of mainstream media coverage of the Zelensky visit, and I suppose that makes me lucky. In that brief period, I heard Zelensky described twice in positive terms as a “wartime” president. As if it’s a great thing to be the leader of Ukraine during a devastating war.
Remember when George W. Bush took a fancy to being described as a “wartime” president in the aftermath of 9/11? The mainstream media seems to fancy the term as well. What a wonderful, praiseworthy thing it is to be a wartime president! Look at how Zelensky dresses so simply, in olive drab, as if he just stepped out of a command post. What a guy.
When I caught that media coverage yesterday of Zelensky’s visit, which included a quick meet and greet with Joe and Jill Biden with Marine Corps guards saluting in the background, I was with my brother. My brother Stevie is mentally ill. But as I watched the coverage on TV, in my brother’s room, I reflected that he’s far saner than those media types gushing about war, and a far wiser and more honest soul than the so-called leaders I was watching at the White House.
There’s nothing like being a “wartime” leader that makes certain people gush. Obviously, many leaders love it too, since wartime grants them far more authority in the cause of waging and “winning” the war. And all this is treated as the height of sobriety and sanity within our war-crazed society.
When is the mainstream media going to praise our leaders for being peacetime presidents? Jesus Christ, after all, was the Prince of Peace. We need some princes of peace today. Then again, look what they did to Jesus.
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.
Back in July, my wife and I visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. At the shrine, there’s a simple, moving, memorial to the Sandy Hook children (see photo above).
Rarely has the Biblical phrase, “Jesus wept,” been sadder or more appropriate. Christ said to suffer the children to come unto me, for they are the kingdom of heaven. How have we as a society lost this message?
Children are our innocents; they are also our future. Yet far too many of them are mistreated–even murdered.
The Sandy Hook children are martyrs to an American society that is saturated in violence. A society that claims to put its trust in God even as it resolutely ignores His teachings.
We have to do a better job of protecting our children from our all-too-violent tendencies. As a friend put it, we need to do better than to hope our children are safe. We need to knowthat they are safe.
We need to know because the agony of more lost innocents is too much to bear.