Blogs > Liberty and Power > “We Perpetuate War by Exalting Its Sacrifices”

Feb 9, 2012

“We Perpetuate War by Exalting Its Sacrifices”

Rachel Maddow is using her nightly MSNBC show to agitate for a ticker-tape parade in New York City to honor the Iraq veterans and celebrate the end of the war in that country.

What could be more ridiculous? Has she forgotten that the invasion, war, and occupation – which laid waste to Iraq, killed over a million people, unleashed sectarian violence/cleansing, and created four million refugees – was against a country that had never threatened Americans and was based on bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks?

What’s to celebrate? Victory? There is nothing that could be described as victory. The invasion and aggressive war guaranteed certain disgrace for the United States. But even in conventional terms, there was no victory. An authoritarian and corrupt government was left in charge -- a government that is close to Iran, which is demagogically portrayed as America’s (and Israel’s) mortal enemy. (I have no problem with the Iraq’s affinity for Iran, but America’s ruling elite can’t be thrilled about it.) The refugees have not returned to their homes. Half of them left the country. The place is a shambles.

Again, what’s to celebrate?

It will be said that, politics aside, the troops made sacrifices that should be honored. Nonsense. First, they made no sacrifices for “the country.” The country didn’t “call.” They might have thought that it did, but in fact their sacrifices were for opportunistic politicians and the military-industrial complex, who’ve all done quite well, thank you very much. The troops weren’t protecting “our freedom.” On the contrary, the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of Arabs and Muslims endangers Americans by provoking a desire for revenge. That’s why 9/11 happened in the first place.

So the vets weren’t serving the country. They were serving the imperial government, which seeks global hegemony for political and economic reasons. At best, the military personnel were fooled. At worst, they just enjoyed kicking Arab ass.

But shouldn’t they be honored anyway? it will be asked.

The last word was provided by Paddy Chayefsky in his great antiwar movie, The Americanization of Emily:

“We perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.

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