Wednesday, July 22, 2009

America’s Betrayal

Even though many consider it as morally wrong and evil, a great number of Americans embrace war. They believe that history has dictated that we always have had war, and therefore, we will always have war; a belief that war is necessary to protect us against evil. This misbelieve is one of the reasons, along with unbridled patriotism, nationalism, and unquestioning loyalty to our government, many Americans accept deception, misrepresentations, and will endure sometimes obvious and outright lies by America’s leadership on issues of war and peace.

War destroys and takes lives, not only of combatants, but of noncombatants as well. That is the factual evidence and the essence of the holocaust of war.

The immorality and evil starts in the build up to war. Americans simply refuse to believe that a President of the United States, in order to drum up support for a war would mislead, deceive, and lie to them. They tell themselves: after all, we are talking about putting America and Americans at great risk and in harms way; they would not do that if they did not honestly feel it was necessary.

When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences by Eric Alterman is a good book that informs why and when American Presidents feel compelled to deceive. The fact is America’s Presidents and America’s congressional leadership will use deception, misrepresentations, and lies that do put America at considerable risk, and Americans in positions where they will lose their lives. From George Washington to George W Bush, and particularly from folks like Robert McNamara, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell, all of them unacceptably and unnecessarily have caused the needless slaughter of countless millions of lives. The latter committed their betrayal of Americans out of their loyalty to the President.

Moreover, for those Presidents and leaders who are candid, forthright, and not belligerent, Americans will consider them weak. As Alterman states: Former President Jimmy Carter, who earned a reputation for being painfully honest in public life, meanwhile, is considered a kind of political misfit within these same media circles, in which many seem more comfortable with a politician who ignores painful truths than one who confronts them.

Many Americans consider President Obama weak because he believes that it is better to talk than to kill. One of the interpretations of this phenomenon is that Barack Obama lacks the necessary leadership skills and experience to do the job.

Time passes and memories wane; history conflates into generalities; and America convalesces from the holocaust of our wars. The young get old and most do not forget, while the young have no realistic knowledge of the past, except from the condensed version in a history book, and when they are old have their own experiences with which to deal. What will history make of America’s leadership and the consequences of their decisions?

Daily there always seems to be an existential reminder of the immorality of war. It is always with me, staring me right in the face: primarily Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Korea and Vietnam. Memorial Day is that annual day of remembrance that always brings it all home.

Recently, I made my frequent visit to my hometown’s Center Cemetery; a ride on my bicycle that always provides great reflection on the events in my life. I don’t want time to pass without recognizing the events of my life that have dramatically influenced and changed of my life. Old guys do that sort of thing. Buried there are many friends and classmates who at the time of their passing were young or old, and also, there lies Matthew Bean. One of those existential reminders.

Matthew Bean was shot in the head by a sniper on May 19, 2008, during a door-to-door search in Iraq while trying to save three captured U.S. soldiers who were members of his unit, the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, in the Sunni Triangle region of Iraq.

Matthew was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and an Army Commendation Medal, which is not much of a replacement for a man’s future and for taking all his possessions. Those trinkets are totally meaningless; our military treat Americans like children. They present our soldiers or their families with pretty ribbons and shiny, glistening medals, imbuing Americans with the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.

Matthew Bean is typical of the young men -- and women -- serving our country. Americans have asked them to sacrifice their lives based on distortions of the facts by our government. Our leaders postulate impending doom for America if we don’t take military action, which is as an immoral action as any other immoral act one could make.

Just look at the picture of Matthew Bean, because for most of us that picture is all we have, and tell me with all honesty: Is Iraq or Afghanistan worth the life of this young man? Do not just look at this man as the object value of a handsome young man who so happened to have lost his life, after all lives are lost in war, without profoundly understanding what his family and we have lost in our community and country as a result of his death. Think of the lost contribution that Matthew may have made to make this a better country. Whatever the outcome in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will not make us a better country. It is not what has been, but what could have been if only America had chosen different courses of action. Matthew’s grave is a metaphorical marker for what could have been as well as what could be; that is the reality of war and of every Memorial Day.

Americans talk often about proprietorship. In this era of economic upheaval, it is discussed often. Americans are concerned over their ownership and right to control personal property without government interference. Yet, we without the blink of an eye allow our government to take away life. Ones life is the essence of proprietorship, and yet, in the conduct of waging war, Americans allow our government to take away legal title of a person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

No one should ever forget, young or old, that our government is not always faithful to our wellbeing. I assure you that I will never forget.

Our American leadership have and will betray us.