Donald Trump has just gotten caught saying those who served, and especially those who died in combat, were “losers” and “suckers.” Not a terribly astute thing to say when you’re the Command-in-Chief of the US Empire.
Now, obviously, the men and women who have served in this nation’s military have not been losers and suckers; while some have been folks forced into the military just to have any kind of a future due to lack of economic alternatives, some have been the finest men and women in our country. Most have served honorably by the terms of the military. There is much of which to be proud of these men and women.
By Trump denigrating the military, however, he has encouraged many to respond to him in a dichotomous fashion: they reply, Trump bad, my relatives and loved ones who served in the US military, good. I don’t think this is a good way to do this; I think we need to develop much more nuance to address the situation.
One of the things being done, however, is to equate all US wars, and to generally say that serving in the US military at any time is good. I argue this doesn’t hold.
In the 20th Century, there has been only one war that can even come near being called “good” and “necessary”: World War II. Now, no war is ever good, and there is untold death and destruction unleashed—and that was certainly true in WW II—but it was fought after being attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, and with the real fear that the US was to be invaded with the chance of subjugation by the Axis alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan. Because the US was attacked by a foreign power, arguably, the US had no choice but to fight back. The horrors projected by our troops, and the difficulties and horrors suffered by them, were as close to being justified as we’ve seen since the US Civil War.
Yet military proponents have lumped all the other wars with World War II, seeking to transfer the necessity and honor of fighting World War II onto the other wars, whether they deserved this or not. So, I think we need to separate World War II out from any of the others; no other war deserves the “respect” due to the Marines, soldiers, sailors, aviators, merchant seamen, and coast guardsmen of WW II.
The other wars, either individually or collectively—the US war in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century; World War I; the “incursions” in Central America before World War I and between the world wars; Korea; the invasions of the Dominican Republic (1965), Granada (1982); Panama (1989); Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos between the 1950s and 1975; Desert Storm (1991), the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and any others I might have missed, including CIA-led coups such as in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973) and the hundreds of operations they attempted, such as the invasion of Cuba in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs—do not deserve this same level of respect. In fact, in my opinion, these deserve our condemnation.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the men and women who served in the wars, invasions, occupations, coup attempts, etc., don’t deserve respect. They were acting in general good faith to accomplish what they believed were “good faith” and lawful missions, despite whatever they did. Now, this is not to absolve them personally of the bad things some of them did—intended or unintended—but to recognize they thought they were acting to serve the best interest of the United States. For that, they deserve personal respect.
What must be understood, however, is that in each of these wars/invasions, etc., besides World War II, and despite the lies we were told by governmental leaders, not a single one was fought to protect this country or its people from invasion and tyranny; not a single one. They each were fought to project US power and to attain domination over these other countries. The evidence is overwhelming: the US has not taken these actions to promote freedom and democracy (no matter how many times it has been claimed), but to dominate these other countries; whether by direct physical invasion and occupation, or through indirect control of its economy, polity, military and culture, the US has acted to subjugate these countries and their peoples. In fact, the best way to understand this is to recognize that the United States has a global empire, and its military and other strengths are not to protect the American people, because no one threatens them, but to dominate the rest of the world. And, in fact, they will divert resources away from the American people to advance the interests of the US Empire; most recently, to the tune of about $750 billion a year, more than most of the countries of the world combined.
Once we understand that the US has an Empire, and that it works to advance its interests even when they come at the direct expense of the American people as a whole, then we can better understand what’s been going on since the end of World War II: the US has been trying to dominate the world.
(Now, the Soviet Union, before its collapse in 1991, also had an Empire and it defended its interests, especially from the US, hindering the US efforts. It was no saint. But the US has been trying to destroy the Soviet Empire and then, once successful, trying to make sure it never revives. These US efforts, especially in Eastern Europe, continue to date.)
The point is that those who served in the US military since World War II—including myself, a US Marine from 1969-73—have each been serving a metastizing cancer on the world. No matter how honorable our intentions, no matter how noble our pursuits, no matter what, this is true.
So, honor your loved ones and the ones who served for their personal ideals and attributes. They deserve that.
But also keep in mind that our country failed them; we taught them that military service was noble, that they were serving the needs and concerns of the American people, that they were advancing the well-being of good people around the world. And we taught them to obey the sociopaths that run the US Empire. They were no bigger “losers” or “suckers” than most of us—and that’s the problem; it’s just that they wore the uniform.
HONOR THE WARRIOR, NOT THE WAR
NOR THE SOCIOPATHS THAT DIRECT THE US EMPIRE
Kim Scipes served in the USMC from 1969-1973.
Originally published in The Veteran