Obit scribblers are calling John McCain a war “hero.” Well, I have to concede that unlike so many warmongering chickenhawks such as Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan and most other neocons, McCain did actually serve in the military. But the same could be said for nearly all top Nazis including Hitler and Goering; they fought in a war and they loved war. They were destructive persons who learned nothing positive from their military experience.
Of course, few of the pundits and politicians who are eulogizing McCain would wish to include Nazis in their hall of fame, nor would most of them care to designate most neocons as anything less than patriots. So what is it that might qualify someone as a hero, or as a war criminal? Having been in the military, I sometimes think about that. These are some thoughts that come to mind.
Heroism is sort of like morality, it’s usually defined by the powers that be. And a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. An example of that would be the five Marines in the famous photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima. What made them more heroic than the many thousands of other GIs who fought on that and other islands in the Pacific, you might ask. And the answer is: time and place, plus a photographer to take their picture. So they were in a dramatic photo, and that was at a time when the government needed heroes to sell war bonds.
Military discipline is such that soldiers tend to do as told, even under fire. It’s a military axiom that soldiers fear their sergeants more then they fear the enemy’s bullets, and I think there’s a huge amount of truth in that. Even though a sergeant may not be particularly fearsome, there’s a huge power structure behind him. Individual soldiers become part of the military machine.
My friend Van Dale Todd was in Vietnam and came back with medals. He didn’t seem to consider himself a “hero.” What he emphasized was that he’d been through an experience. “You don’t know what it’s like to see your buddies die!” he often said, and then one night he killed himself in front of me. That was in San Francisco, in 1972. In his diary he’d written, “How could killing humans have been fun? Can God forgive me?”
Many Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD. Many died before their time, some shortly after coming home, others years or even decades later, in their 30s or even in their 50s, not necessarily from physical injuries, but often from invisible damage they’d incurred during the war. I never met any who considered themselves “heroes.”
War criminals? Van never spoke of himself as being a “war criminal,” but he’d been trained to enjoy killing “the enemy,” and I think it bothered him immensely that he had enjoyed it. That, I think, was a major factor in his suicide. Certainly not the only factor. He took part in antiwar actions, and it shocked him to find nobody representing the power structure (news reporters or judges) would hear what he had to say. Of course, the corporate media makes a big show of honoring military personnel and veterans — but only as long as we go along with the bullshit, buy into their narrative and regurgitate propaganda. During the Vietnam War, media pundits used to tell us that the U.S. was there to defend democracy, and to back it up they’d say, “Ask a GI!” implying that people who’d been in the military believed in the war and would speak in support of it. Well, you probably know the rest of that story.
I often think of the characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey, wondering how those guys could be considered heroes. Socrates apparently thought they were; he held Achilles up as an inspiring example of a man who stood by his principles. That strikes me as really strange. In my view, Achilles was the archetypal spoiled brat who just wanted to have his own way. Then there was Odysseus, a notorious liar, who got tangled up in his own lies, and that’s basically what brought about the loss of his ships and the deaths of his crews on the way back to Ithaca. The leader of it all was King Agamemnon, a rather poor general, also a poor father who sacrificed his own daughter, and on returning to his home at the end of the war he was killed by his wife, which is about what he deserved. Those “heroes” were made of rather poor stuff, and a couple of their gods, Zeus and Athena, both of them deceitful schemers, weren’t too great either. The only person in the Iliad who comes off as genuinely heroic is Hector. It’s interesting that Homer, presumably a Greek himself, would present their enemy’s champion and other Trojans as being about the only decent persons in the whole story.
Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon and all the rest of them. Those were the men who fought the Trojan War, the elite officer class, that is. Homer called them heroes and sang their praises, but tongue in cheek, while carefully letting us know who those guys really were.
Originally published on 2018-08-29
About the author: Daniel Borgstrom is a child of the 1950s who joined the US Marine Corps (1959-1963), naively believing he was helping to defend our freedoms. Today he’s an antiwar activist and also a fan of film noir.
Source: Dissident Voice
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
War is not an anomaly, nor an exception to the rule, it has always been with us and it might always be. Militarism and its practice in war are subcategories of waste (the harmful things we produce such as pollution and bombs) and domains of accumulation themselves. They are also prerequisites for the expansion of capital and its market economy. Much is done to portray war as an inherent attribute of human fallibility or an unintended consequence. However, mainstream concepts associated with the promotion of the market economy are weapons of the ruling class. They are all laced with poison. ...
A National traumaA national trauma which the Serbs after the fall of the Serbian national state and the Ottoman occupation experienced after June 20th, 1459[i] can be compared with that felt by Judea’s Jews after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.[ii] Since Serbia soon found herself well within the Ottoman Sultanate and the European Christian states were on defense from the victorious Muslim Ottoman Turks, no light at the end of the historical tunnel was seen and the whole nation sank into deep despair for the next four centuries. In a sense, the ...
So, here's how it is:
1) There is still no evidence - that has been presented to the public - that Assad ordered a chemical weapons (CW) attack.
2) Yes, that evidence should be made public, discussed and debated by Congress, and a vote taken before we use force. I acknowledge that the War Powers Resolution gives the President the authority to use force for 60 days - but the interests of peace and stability are better served through a debate and a democratic process as opposed to a unilateral decision made in secret, especially when the military action is punitive and ...
What could cause Russia to invade Israel
At the time, Israel’s Prime Minister had flown to Washington, and was making a desperate bid to get Obama’s support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Only a few weeks earlier a discovery had been made that would serve to increase tensions on the question of sovereignty over the Golan – huge oil deposits were found on the Golan Heights, and verified by an Israeli company.
Yet, weeks later, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel having failed to secure Obamas support.
It wasnt long before the United Nations – including Russia – condemned Israels “occupation” of the ...
Since World War II most of the world’s conflicts have revolved around struggles for independence against Western and Japanese colonial/imperial regimes.Following formal independence, a new type of imperial domination was imposed – neo-colonial regimes, in which the US and its European allies imposed vassal rulers acting as proxies for economic exploitation. With the rise of US unipolar global domination, following the demise of the USSR (1990), the West established hegemony over the East European states. Some were subject to fragmentation and sub-divided into new NATO dominated statelets.The quest for a unipolar empire set in motion a series of wars and ...
It is unreasonable to ask taxpayers to pay billions more dollars for NATO’s budget because they get less and less peace, security and stability, says Jan Oberg, director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc’s security spending would see its biggest increase since 2014, by 4.3 per cent in 2017. This is a response to US President Donald Trump‘s criticism of NATO countries failing to increase military budgets.
Stoltenberg also said the alliance has combat-ready forces along Russia’s border.
“NATO’s four multinational battle groups in the Baltic countries and Poland are now fully operational, ...
The legal and diplomatic argumets for granting “Kosova” indepence, whether “supervised” or unsupervised, are totally spurious and unfounded. There is no basis in international law or international agreements or the UN Charter for dismembering Serbia by allowing a minority population to secede. The only argument is the argument of force, “the spoils of war”, seeing Kosovo as a spoil of war. This is the only “argument”. But since this is an unpalatable and unconvincing argument, it must be buttressed and camouflaged with the discredited and disproved “genocide” construct, which acts as a convenient obfuscating smokescreen. This argument runs as follows: ...
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
Andrew Bacevich has written a series of books on the topic of U.S. imperialism and U.S. military power. His latest work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East [the GME War] is the latest in this series and as with the previous works is clearly written and logically presented. It covers more narrowly than the previous works the military aspects of U.S. military endeavours in the Middle East (greater – as in including East Africa and Afghanistan et al). Generally he succeeds well and this work is a good ‘primer’ for anyone interested in a quick historical overview of U.S. ...
Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy. Here's a prime example of the "do as we say, not as we do" that is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week that the the US Justice Department demanded that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary's internal media.So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what ...
Bosnian Muslim Kasim Blekic was allegedly murdered by Bosnian Serbs but was, in fact, alive outside of Sarajevo.
One of the fundamental legal principles or concepts of jurisprudence is that before a person can be charged with a crime, evidence must be shown that a crime has occurred. This is known by the legal principle of “corpus delicti”, the body of a crime, meaning that there must be evidence that a crime has occurred before a defendant can be charged or prosecuted for the crime. The 6th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary (1990) gives the meaning of corpus delicti as “the ...
Unless We Learn Our History, We’re Doomed to Repeat ItPreface: I am a patriotic American who loves my country. I was born here, and lived here my entire life.So why do I frequently point out America’s warts? Because – as the Founding Fathers and Supreme Court judges have explained – we can only make America better if we honestly examine her shortcomings. After all:“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”Only when Americans can honestly look at our weaknesses can we become stronger. If we fail to do so, history will repeat …While Americans rightly condemn the Nazis as monstrous people, ...
For decades, much of the world seemed to believe the fairy tale that the United States was a neutral broker, working for a solution to the issues plaguing Palestine and Israel. The U.S. sponsored endless rounds of negotiations, ostensibly looking for an end to these issues.
Before this writer points out the nonsense of that belief, allow him to state two, self-evident (one would think) truths:
(1) No broker is needed. All that is required is for Israel to adhere to international law. This means removing all the illegal settlers, ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip, allowing all Palestinian refugees to ...
There are horrific realities of history that must not be questioned, distorted or denied by anyone with even the slightest integrity or sense of decency.
The slaughter of millions of Jews in the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Chelmno and Sobibor during the Holocaust of World War II falls squarely in this category.
So does the fundamental fact that this ultimate crime against humanity was perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its multinational fascist accomplices.
Any attempt to deny or to attempt to trivialise or minimise the enormity of this genocide, or to rehabilitate its perpetrators in any way whatsoever, is, simply ...
Following the death of President Tito in 1980 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia slid towards chaos. In the 1990s the plunge accelerated into civil war and one of the regions most affected was Kosovo from which Serbia withdrew after a NATO bomb and rocket offensive from 24 March to 11 June 1999. That blitz involved over 1,000 mainly American aircraft conducting some 38,000 airstrikes on Yugoslavia that killed approximately 500 civilians and destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure of the region.NATO said its air bombardment was essential to halt repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and justified the ...
One of the most disturbing aspects of the past two years of Donald Trump foreign policy has been the assumption that decisions made by the United States are binding on the rest of the world. Apart from time of war, no other nation has ever sought to prevent other nations from trading with each other. And the United States has also uniquely sought to penalize other countries for alleged crimes that did not occur in the US and that did not involve American citizens, while also insisting that all nations must comply with whatever penalties are meted out by Washington.The ...
When the Warsaw Pact ended, after the collapse of communism, some optimists might have expected Nato to be broken up too.After all, the Labour Party in Britain had been opposed to Nato in the mid-1980s. But that was not to be. The US, which had always dominated Nato, quickly began to reinvent Nato and furthermore to expand it.Following the end of the Warsaw Pact many central and east European governments wanted to join Nato.This of course was music to the ears of the US military manufacturers. Indeed, the chair of the expand Nato committee, Bruce Jackson, was technical director of ...
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]SaveSave
The June 20 Gray Falcon commentary “Failure to Communicate” has this excerpt, that led me to an extremely anti-Russian and anti-Serb article, from a venue which has previously slanted in that direction:“The latest example of this ‘flipping the script’ is a New Republic feature comparing Putin to Milosevic. In reality, it is the West acting towards Russia the same way they acted towards the Serbs two decades ago. I’ve argued before that Putin is aware of this, though the Russian public and media in general may not be.”Whether the issue is the Caucasus or Ukraine, bombing Russia hasn’t been considered, unlike ...
As President Trump affirms publicly his commitment to friendly relations with Russia at an economic summit in Hanoi, (the first President since Franklin Roosevelt to do so), the press backs the special prosecutor seeking to indict him, while NATO continues to ramp up its forces on Russia’s borders with Europe by bringing in tanks and other ‘defensive’ weapons. Although the United States was founded on Christian principles, and has one of the highest percentages of people practicing a religion of any Western country, most Americans seem not to realize that their country is building a case for nuclear war with the ...
A Liberal Democracy, a Market Capitalist Economy and the Permanent Wars
Western Kosovo Meta-Mythology and Serbian Ethnohistory
Only Fools and Liars will Blame Assad
Donald Trump – A Super Zionist?
Independence and Self-Determination: Weapons for Empire Building or National Liberation?
For 68 Years NATO Failing to Create a Peaceful World
Kosovo: The Spoils of War
Winston Churchill on the Palestinians
America’s War for the Greater Middle East – A Military History
Manipulation: The US State Department’s New Program to Take On Hungarian Media
Corpus Delicti: How the Western Mainstream Propaganda Lies on Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Secret History: The U.S. Supported and Inspired the Nazis
Croatia Must Not Whitewash the Horrors of Jasenovac
From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of Referendums
Does Washington Rule the World?
NATO – A Dangerous Alliance
Twisted History Against Russia and Serbia
Trump and the Wolfowitz Doctrine
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS