On Memorial Day, Remember What?
What Helps Soldiers, Civilians, Wealth, & Rights?
While I appreciate those who’re willing to kill foreigners and risk getting killed themselves in order to defend our country, actually, I wish they wouldn’t go do that. First, of course, killing is wrong. But second, it is not as effective as the pro-war crowd think.
by Jeffery J. Smith, 2012 May 31, Memorial Day
Us Vs. Them
Presently, the media make it easy for impressionable youth (heck, people of any age) to go to war. But there are aspects of war that should give anyone pause. Here are 17.
1) Whos the hero? While wanna-be heroes may think theyre going to kill the bad guy, more civilians get killed than combatants. Even if governments label everybody a combatant, more impartial observers like the UN report the overwhelming portion of victims of war to be women and children. Killing the defenseless is not the behavior of heroes.
2) Whos the enemy? What have most foreigners ever done to most Americans? While we refer to them and sum up millions of people with one word (the name of a particular nation), can you blame an entire nation for the acts of its few fanatics? If so, should innocents in America be attacked because US corporations provide weapons to bloody dictators, or contract out to companies that use slave labor, or operate in ways harmful enough to the environment that people are sickened and die? Of course not.
3) Liberator or Invader? The US takes sides in foreign civil wars, usually the side of the oppressor, not of the rebel. Certainly, some foreigners hail the occupying US forces, but many dont. Has any gung-ho American ever been invited by a foreigner to go over and help kill their neighbors? Nope. For the many over there who prefer justice (as they see it) to money, the US is the enemy. Thus US foreign policy is guaranteed to breed ill will against America, to the point where some attack the US (9/11). With more enemies and fewer friends, Americans are not safe but less secure.
4) A Justifiable War? Hawks point to defeating Hitler and winning World War II. Yet like many wars, it couldve been avoided. When the Nazi party was going down the tubes in the mid-1920s, Hitler was rescued by a huge infusion of cash from Henry Ford, other industrialists, and big landowners (AKA nobility). Where was our government then?
Imagine if it were a crime to aid and abet evil people and the law punished violators so they wouldnt be so eager to give such support again. Thereby wed prevent war rather than later have to wage it. But look what happens behind the scenes instead.
Us Vs. Us
5) Attacking their Own? While the armies of the US and any other superpower tend to invade, most nations armies neither invade nor defend but kill their own populations. Think of the thousands killed by Chiles Pinochet vs. no invaders killed by his military. Thats the norm, not defense against an invader. If youre pro-war, some of that blood is on your hands. People whore pro-war anywhere make it that much easier for warlords and tyrants to operate elsewhere.
6) What is being defended? A country? Isnt ones country also the land? War does not defend that. Even during peacetimes, militaries are horrendous wreakers of havoc to ecosystems.
7) Isnt ones country also ones people? Not only does war get your fellow country people killed, it also distracts the public from other issues; without vigilance, unscrupulous corporations follow practices that not only harm consumers, workers, and environments but kill them, too.
8) Isnt ones country also ones traditions and shared worldview? When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Yet accepting war corrodes the moral fiber of a people. It becomes a shorter step from killing foreigners to killing fellow countrymen. Indeed, it has happened here before, such as four decades ago at Kent State and over a century ago in Colorado when the military gunned down miners and their families. When others get branded as a threat, it gets easier for some to pull the trigger.
9) Is ones country the government? If so, then defending it and attacking the land, the people, and their rights does follow. Since wars are emergency situations, many citizens acquiesce to the demands of the state, and there are always certain personalities eager to wield power over others. Recently the Pentagon and its contractors, it seems, conducted an online “misinformation campaign”, turning the propaganda operations of the US DoD against US citizens (Propaganda firm owner admits attacks on journalists USA Today, May 24; to read more ). The US needs an enemy: a fascist then a communist then a drug cartel then a terrorist; are citizens next?
10) Bloody Lucre. While war is an emotional issue for the people, it is a financial boon for the elite. Wars do cost the lives and treasure of some, but they also enrich insiders. Firms and their investors who win contracts from government to make weapons, supply troops, build bases, etc, over-charge so much that they profit more than companies who produce consumer goods can. Those war expenses mean higher taxes on less powerful citizens.
Since many people feel its OK to draft labor to become soldiers at low pay, lets also draft capital to become contractors at low pay. Once we make war unprofitable, will the powerful insiders desire to wage it? Will their propaganda machine publicize their arguments and push peoples buttons if theres no money to be made? Not too likely.
Safer Or Worse Off?
What makes it easy for the US to constantly wage war now is being the lone superpower and fighting much weaker nations. The US military is bigger than almost all other nations put together. The US has nigh 800 bases around the world and a big, mobile navy, hence much shorter supply lines than would any other invader have. It has a huge, hi-tech air force, and now drones.
11) Back to Bite? But the thing about technology is that it spreads; you cant put the genie back in the bottle. What happens when others catch up? Others wholl bear grudges? The US could be winning short-term victory at the cost of long-term defeat.
12) Self Destruct? Historically, every other empire that has followed this path — endless war, crushing debt, growing poverty, abandonment of old virtues — has collapsed. Will America be any different? Wasting ourselves in war — especially unwinnable trillion dollar wars — we will ensure that this will be the Century of China, not of the former land of the free, home of the brave. For those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
13) Not a Necessary Evil: Winning Without War
War has been described as another way to do business. Just as private parties pay for territory, capital, labor, and protection, so do governments wage war for those spoils. Happily, when society eschews war and chooses geonomics, it wins those goals peacefully.
* When government recovers the socially-generated value of land and resources, it discourages speculation in land and resources. Then the speculators superfluous demand for Land withers away. The price for turf and resources falls and more people become owner occupants, the sort of people whod often rather prosper than soldier.
* When government shifts its taxes off peoples efforts (onto things people dont produce like land and resources), then goods and services become more affordable, too. People can consume their way out of poverty and the demand of the formerly poor raises the returns to investors and workers (Capital and Labor).
14) Trade for Peace? When government shifts its taxes off imports (quits levying tariffs), people can trade more, and trading partners are almost never warring hostiles. One could do more good by voting for a free trader than by enlisting in a military.
* In an efficient economy and just society, people have much less motive to turn to violence and aggression, so the need for protection is drastically reduced, and the arguments of would-be war-mongerers fall on deaf ears, ending the drive by an elite for hegemony over the rest of the world.
The British Connection
This geonomic policy of recovering the values of nature in order to benefit all members of society is part of the platform of a British party, the LibDems ( to read more ). Their stance echoes that of the majority party of over a century ago when the British Parliament passed this tax aspect of geonomics into law. However, they never actually implemented it. World War I had just begun and they claimed economic reform would hurt the war effort. So war wiped out reform in Great Britain and it also wiped out actual cases in Germany where several small towns had changed over to a geonomic tax system.
World War I did not end so much as pause so the belligerents could retool for World War II. About the only good to come out of the first World War was the Christmas celebration of soldiers from both sides who threw down their weapons and exchanged gifts, sang songs, and played soccer. It lasted until the British officers threatened to shoot the British soldiers if the British soldiers did not get back to shooting their German counterparts.
15) Human Nature? That episode reminds one of how forgiving and trusting ordinary humans can be. A nations foreign policy could rely on threats and violence or figure out ways to appeal to whats best in all of us. How about establishing a Peace Academy and enrolling in that?
Here to Eternity
16) Disarm? Humans react emotionally to being killed by a criminal or a foreigner more so than to being killed via cancer from a polluter or from an exploding gas tank built by a car manufacturer. Yet in our global era, industry is killing more people as the enemy, studies show, is killing fewer. People could make themselves far safer by abolishing their militaries and cleaning up their environments than by ignoring environmental degradation and arming themselves to the teeth.
What is patriotism? Never questioning authority? But blind obedience over-empowers the state. As it has in the past, and is doing now, the US could turn against America in the future, worse than ever.
17) Matriotism? Couldnt patriotism be defending people from pollution-induced illness? Defending the land from loss of carrying capacity? Defending traditional rights from the encroachment of the elites privileges? And, fundamentally, striving to transform government into truly being by, of, and for the people?
As they say, war is too important to be left to the generals — and to the politicians. Remember the damage war does, at home and abroad. Consider the gains to be won from alternatives to war.
If you think killing foreigners is a good way to defend your country, please think again. A well-developed conscience will find a better way, a fair way to a just world for all. If were to remember anything this Memorial Day, let us remember that.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the Land Rights course, click here .
For the US Government …
As China, the US, etc confront corruption
For a nation always at war, a surprise
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