After President Barak Obama was elected I was hopeful that the shameful wars waged in the Middle East by his predecessors will come speedily to an end. Others had the same hope, and to express it the Nobel committee in Oslo awarded him the Peace Prize shortly after his election, based on nothing but his campaign promises and a naive dose of wishful thinking. As it now stands, Obama has the distinction of having continued to wage war while being a Nobel Laureate for peace. While it was not his fault that the Nobel Committee gave him a prize he clearly did not deserve, it is to his eternal disgrace that he did have the decency to return the prize.
I choose to think of Obama not as a cynical war monger but as a decent politician defeated by the machinations of government. One can argue the geopolitical reasons that have prevented him from putting an end to the bloodshed all one wants. The truth is simple, the bottom line for any president is to be reelected. A few thousand more dead are a small price to pay to that end.
Still, just think what a statement of integrity the returning of the Nobel Prize could have been. What and an admission of the impotence of the President of the United States to act upon his conscience and vision. And a clearing of his name from the stain of war.
I was so incensed about this that I wrote my war protest composition "Let There Be War", using historical recordings of presidents' war speeches and weaving them into a musical Requiem to peace.
But indicting the politicians who send young people to die in distant lands for nothing still only tells half the story of the crime of war. The soldier is not blameless. A soldier, when stripped of all the self-serving patriotic euphemisms, is nothing but a killer for hire, a mercenary, a hit man. In the current war now raging in Afghanistan, he was not conscripted against his will. He willingly offered his services to the bosses in the backroom who hired him to liquidate their real or perceived enemies, those threatening their turf. The turf now is the world and the bosses are not some two-bit wise guys but men in designer suits living in the White House or populating the board rooms of Haliburton, General Dynamics, and the rest of the Military-Industrial complex.
Their hit men don’t use silencers but smart bombs, and their protection victims are some faceless goat herders in a godforsaken land halfway around the world, that has never been and never will be tamed. But a racket is a racket.
A soldier, willingly contracting himself out to kill distant people who did him no harm, is never a hero. And whether he knows it or, like a brainwashed zombie, believes his handlers’ propaganda, he is in the end nothing but a hired gun, a small expendable pawn in the savage game that cynical ruthless men play for greed and power.
Hit men should not be celebrated for their senseless sordid deeds even if they are just dutifully following their bosses’ orders. Instead we should urge “Our men and women in uniform” (what a nicely sanitized politically correct euphemism for killers) in Afghanistan to consider the following: If you have any decency and common sense left in you, quit while you are ahead, seek another mode of livelihood before you are returned to your family along with a neatly folded rag.
And consider also the lessons of history. Each and every one of the 40,000 Americans soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam, each and every one of them died for absolutely nothing. Not a single benefit accrued to the United States from their dutiful senseless deaths. We know this now with hindsight. We shouldn’t have to wait long to learn the same lesson about the current senseless carnage in Afghanistan.
The Kvetching Factory
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with" (W.C. Fields)