Soldiers Wear the Flag
Written by SK Light.
“What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.”
“War is organized murder and torture against our brothers.”
Director Clint Eastwood released his new film American Sniper.
The movie explored the military exploits of the deadliest American Sniper, Chris Kyle. Though it may have not been Eastwood’s intention, in the eyes of some, the movie glorified and condoned the murders committed by Kyle.
And even though Kyle admitted loving to kill and for viewing all Iraqis as savages, many still do not consider him a murderer. After the film aired, tons of semper fi, hoorah patriots even climbed out of the woodwork and begged for more ‘sand-nigger,’ ‘rag-head’ blood.
This is tragic because a lot of people think the same way. Many Americans accept and condone this kind of dehumanizing barbarism. They just do not see any soldier as a murderer or evil-doer, regardless of the truth.
Instead, they unthinkingly praise all troops as heroes.
The Chris Kyle example illustrates the riotous devotion people have to watching men kill other men. This arises because modern culture suffers from chronic, dangerous troop worship, which is based in the tribal mentality, and is what this article will, in part, hope to defeat by scrutinizing soldiers.
This, according to observation, is how people behave or believe in terms of their tribal-warrior mentality.
Americans, and other cultures across the world, sanctify and celebrate soldiers in an endless march of pomp and honor. But most of these well meaning citizens do not analyze the soldier’s job under the lens of truth. They do not comprehend the evil, atrocious nature of warfare. They find ways to justify the unjustifiable. They relish and gleefully accept gallons of spilled blood under the banner of national defense and security. Then they join the soldier in the belief that a distant, unknown ‘enemy’ is hostile, wretched and subhuman without attempting to understand him or commiserate with his plight. In essence, they enter into a wild-eyed, hate-induced trance and disregard reality.
And thus if someone condemns Kyle, or any other soldier for the reasons mentioned, that person’s neighbors and friends shame and mock and threaten them for their disloyalty.
The soldiers, therefore, wear the flag. They bear it like a magical artifact, symbolic of their untouchable, inscrutable nature, of their noble place within the tribe.
But the troops are made of flesh and blood.
They are not exempt from the judgment of right and wrong. They are not godlike. They are human. Like anyone, their behavior deserves attention and scrutiny. The uniforms, medals, ranks, and social gratitude only pretend to camouflage and shield them.
People believe that soldiers fight for rights, guard the republic, and defend freedom. People believe that no higher honor exists.
But actually the troops represent the lowest common denominator; they are the most repugnant. They are murderers-for-hire. They are the cowardly welfare recipients with titles and stripes.
Soldiers do not see themselves in this light though.
The soldier enters his voyage into brutish immorality by way of deceit and propaganda. This occurs gradually, as he absorbs the nonsense and lies, and he learns and recites tales of heroism, adventure and camaraderie.
Then, as a proud victim of his own indoctrination, he begins to salute his ‘brothers and sisters’ in arms, and he hallucinates military duty as honorable and noble, and he believes that those who stand against him—whether foreign or domestic—should be silenced or slaughtered.
However, on inspection, the arguments and complaints against soldier behavior and morality appear one-sided, mean and disrespectful. The arguments seem to dismiss any good that soldiers accomplish.
This is a fair critique. Let us examine these arguments and scrutinize the soldiers.
The primary difference of opinion in support of troops states, “the military defends freedom and national security, and soldiers kill to protect us.”
This argument assumes that people enjoy freedom as a result of the courage and sacrifice given by soldiers.
But the very government soldier’s works for always, everywhere deprive people of freedom. The strange brown people living thousands of miles away do not threaten freedom; at least, not to the degree as government.
As Proudhon observed, government undermines freedom immediately by regulating, spying, controlling, assaulting, robbing, caging and murdering its own citizens. A quick glance at democide statistics validates the carnage and murderous destruction foisted on mankind by governments, for which the troops have always zealously and obediently supported.
Piero Scaruffi compiled this list of mass murders:
Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000
Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians deliberately killed in WWII plus 3 million Russian POWs left to die)
Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1932-39) 7,000,000 (the gulags plus the purges plus Ukraine’s famine)
Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000
Bear in mind these statistics reflect all murders committed by governments, not just their own citizens. It is also important to note that they do not represent the precise, current state of affairs.
But presently the American government is in the process of clamping down on its citizenry by militarizing police forces and allowing them kill with impunity (as in the case of Eric Garner or Michael Brown, among the most recent and notable examples).
One could therefore argue that the American government is spiraling downward, in the direction of becoming a mass murderer of its own tribe. The body count is rising—notwithstanding the fact that America also boasts a larger prison population than any other country, many of who committed victimless, nonviolent crimes.
That said, if governments cause the most loss of freedom and most death, a soldier’s target should be the real betrayers of freedom. The target should be the individuals responsible for enslaving the tribe and engineering war. But the target should not be the slaves and soldiers of other tyrants or tribal leaders thousands of miles away.
Another argument, along the same lines, suggests that being in war permits self-defense.
Despite the difficulty of reconciling invading a country with self-defense, soldiers routinely murder innocent people in the lands that they invade. They are not innocent of evil by pretending their rules of engagement justify occupations or the execution of the people residing in those lands, or that the rules of engagement are even followed.
For example: in the older, notorious video Collateral Murder, divulged by Bradley Manning and introduced by WikiLeaks, an American gunship mows down a group of innocent people. Turns out most of the victims were reporters holding cameras; they were noncombatants.
What made this incident even more disgusting was the soldiers doing the killing were rejoicing and cheering as they sprayed ammunition into the group of people.
If someone watching the video did not know better, they would safely conclude that these men were playing Medal of Honor or Black Ops rather than engaging in wholesale butchery.
Another video, published on YouTube entitled, American Soldiers Enjoying Killing People in Iraq, shows young soldiers celebrating and cheering as they fire on civilians driving across a road. These soldiers also find it humorous when they launch a rocket into the fray. Near the end of the video, the soldiers congratulate themselves on slaughtering the ‘enemy’ while at once shaming the corpses.
As an aside, this video contains potential evidence that ‘insurgent’ snipers fired upon the soldiers, but the people driving by were unarmed, and ran for cover during the ambush. It did not appear that they were soldiers recklessly driving into the battlefield to engage in a firefight.
If video evidence fails to convince anyone of innocent people’s deaths, just look at the secret cables unveiled by Bradley Manning. They catalogue the deaths thousands upon thousands of bystanders, which is part of the reason Manning received 35 years in federal prison for treason.
One website, www.iraqbodycount.org, contains information and numbers regarding the innocent dead (in part from the cables manning released).
The page cites 134,279 – 151,575 civilian casualties to date (as of the time I am writing this article).
These deaths include soldiers shooting innocent protesters at Fallujah, boxing in and bombing retreating soldiers and civilians on the Highway of Death, and the endless drone bombing campaign in the Middle East (which has caused a mind numbing number of dead women and children). And this is just in Iraq. The numbers do not include the other locations in the Middle East where the American Government has intervened.
The aforesaid body bags containing innocent people remain obscure and elusive because the media and authorities refer to the “accidental” dead as “collateral damage.”
Therefore, troop defenders refute claims that the soldiers commit murder by dismissing it as a consequence of war. “War is just war,” they say.
But this argument fails.
Claiming that war is war without examining what constitutes it is the epitome of intellectual dishonesty. People simply suffer from the illusion that because war is called war everyone that dies “accidentally” is justified. This is a platitude without substance. It is a non-argument, and is ingrained in tribal conditioning.
In reality, war is a euphemism for mass murder; war is the large scale act of people killing people, regardless if a specific death was “intentional.” There may be other political complexities and subtleties involved, but to deny the essence of war is to deny reality. To say that war is natural, is to deny the fact that people have to choose to don a camouflage costume and shoot at other people or drop bombs; just like people had to choose to enslave blacks in the 1800’s.
In addition; the troops defend their actions by suggesting they “just follow orders.”
But if someone obeys orders to murder they are still culpable. They still pulled the trigger. If a Mafia soldier makes a hit and suggests that he was just following orders, all sane people laugh at that claim then convict him of murder anyway.
Why not follow the same procedure for troops?
Certainly, the commanders issuing the orders are also responsible, but “just following orders” is not an excuse to forgive injustice and evil, and anyone who makes that claim has jeopardized their moral integrity.
Likewise, the argument that states “criticism should be focused on the politicians, not the soldiers” is not sound.
The politician’s greed and murderous ambitions trump all levels of evil, but without the soldiers to carry out their machinations, war ceases to exist. If soldiers stopped going to war, bloodshed ends.
The statement “just following orders,” then, attempts to downplay or lessen the gravity of their action as if it was just a minor detail of duty. But arguments such as this amount to empty rhetoric intended to conceal evil and displace blame.
For example, the Nazi soldiers were just following orders when they slaughtered the Jews. So, with these arguments, should they not have been held accountable on the premise that they were just following orders?
The argument from following orders is usually marshaled alongside the argument that states everyone would be living in a worldwide Germany were it not for the American intervention in World War II, thus absolving American soldiers of wrongdoing.
This argument is tricky. In one sense it could have been true. If America had not entered the war, perhaps Germany would have won and everyone would have lived under a worse tyrant.
However, this argument also acts as a red herring.
Just because the soldiers would have helped prevent a nasty tyrant from taking over, it does not eliminate the fact that the American government is still a tyrant in its own right, which steals freedom from its citizens. This argument cannot explain away the fact that the American government still enacts war and hurts innocent people. It does not remove the fact that all soldiers still “follow orders” to kill whoever governments say, whenever they say.
If a serial murderer intervenes and protects a woman from being raped, the murderer is not absolved from his original crimes. Thus the same is true of the troops.
The above arguments may not cover all possible defenses of soldiers, but they represent the primary arguments. A volume could be dedicated to debunking the myth of the soldier as hero and defender…but it would begin with observing the psychology of the tribal mentality, which brings the original problem around full circle.
The tribal mentality of America, and many cultures, have produced and secured the myth that soldiers are inscrutable heroes who do no wrong, especially in times of warfare. It is the same myth that brings the semper-fi, hoorah patriots out of their hidey holes to condone and accept the murders committed by Kyle.
But as acknowledged, the tribal mentality only conceals or evades the truth about the actions taken by soldiers. Soldiers work for government to make war on other tribes, but the tribe itself is comprised of rulers who subvert and enslave its own people.
The soldiers also enter into a process of indoctrination through their recruitment ceremonies (and original tribal conditioning,) which helps paint the enemy as subhuman, without the soldier considering the plight of the ‘enemy.’
The rest of the tribe joins in on this belief and praises and condones and worships the soldier as hero (which is why so many fail to criticize soldiers on obvious logical grounds).
Of course, this happens simultaneously and all people involved become devoted and hysterical. Then they forget to question the nature of the soldier’s duty. They only know that the soldier kills for him. That Chris Kyle killed for him. That soldiers defend the tribe by destroying anyone or anything they are ordered to, for the sake of security and defense.
They do not look at the situation in an objective manner. They do not analyze how soldiers fail to protect freedom.
Then they work themselves up into such a pitch and fervor that all that matters is blood and carnage and destruction.
Therefore when one considers viewing American Sniper to cheer and praise the soldiers, or one decides to join the military and become a hero, perhaps they can take a step back and remember why the soldier wears the flag, perhaps they can bring themselves out of the hysteria of the tribe, and admit that destroying brown people in distant places is not as righteous or noble an ideal as they first suspected.
And now they see their true selves, bloodied and dirtied, stuck within the tribal mentality; but they can also break free of it and scrutinize the soldiers with integrity, as they deserve to be, as murderers and cowards should be, without hesitation.
The world deserves this much if the tribal insanity and absurdity of troop worship is to be stopped and condemned forever.