the call of duty?

A friend just told me her son has decided to quit college and join the army. She is, as I imagine most mothers to be in this situation, distraught. The question she asks repeatedly and can’t seem to get answered by the young man is, why?

What drives a young man with his entire future in front of him, to enlist? To purposefully put himself in harm’s way? To risk his life in a war based on lies & deceit? Is it answering a noble cause? Or another brainwashing by the marketing of war as video game? A need for structure and discipline? Some primal male instinct to be tested, to face the ultimate challenge?

I understand this is part of the bargain we make for living in this country…but there is little say, as we’ve seen time and again, in who, where, when and for what “cause” our children are sent to fight. My generation was taught that we fight to preserve our freedoms and those who would seek to oppress those freedoms. The Patriots of the Revolutionary War fought, so we were told, to end the oppression of the British, stop the crushing taxation, establish a country free of limitations because of class, religion or race, of equal justice for all and guaranteed basic freedoms.

Noble causes. So many things to be proud of and feel worth fighting for,  worth defending.

Starry-eyed youth, standing every morning for the Pledge of Allegiance…and meaning it. We would fight to the death to defend the rights and freedoms so many others gave their lives to defend. We would gladly take up arms to join the legacy of the heroes.

But as history proves time and again, we do not fight to defend our country or our rights or protect ourselves from the oppression of outsiders.

In this modern age, we fight to defend this country’s interests. An entirely different notion. And because this country’s interests are global, we send our children, our friends, our family to die thousands of miles away for imperialist reasons. And to protect the industrial-military complex/financial house of cards we’ve created.

The wars we are engaged in are not about defending our rights or protecting our freedom or way of life.

Iraq was not launched as a reaction to 9/11. By the principals own admission it was all bullshit. There were no WMD. It is not the stronghold of Al Qaeda. It is not a threat to our way of life. A small radical element may be…but that exists far stronger in other places.

Afghanistan? Are we there to flush out and bring to justice Bin Laden and his top cats…still on the loose a decade later? How many lives is it worth? Not just our soldiers but the civilians we seem to incapable of NOT killing. Do we call it quits when the number equals those lives lost in 9/11? Haven’t we eclipsed that already? How many Iraqis and Afghanis…men, women, children…have died? How many Americans more will die?

So let me ask you this…

Would you feel more secure knowing we’re going to continue sending soldiers and spending untold billions of dollars in two wars that really have no end game…

Or might you sleep a bit better had the country invested that money in technology to make our airports, ports and borders more secure?

Seriously. We talking 1.07 TRILLION* dollars spent on the combined wars which does NOT include the additional Obama ordered up.

How much protection at home would that buy? How much new scanning & surveillance technology, vastly improved intelligence and information infrastructure between gov’t agencies and actual training for the TSA could that buy?

You can have your prostate removed by a fucking robot but still need to take your shoes off at the airport? That’s really, really fucked up.

Countries need security forces. We need armies to defend our citizens our rights, our freedoms. I get that…I can, contrary to Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men,” handle the truth. Someone needs to stand on that wall and I’m very glad there are men and women who do. And should those walls be attacked, I would be among them. I would stand to defend my family, my friends, my country from oppression.

But I can’t get behind this other madness.

It won’t be long before the world corporations have there own standing armies. Blackwater or whatever they’re called now, is the template. Fine by me. Use your profit billions to outfit the mercs and privateers to defend your interests abroad.

Leave our kids alone. Let them join an Armed Forces that stands on the wall, keeps a vigilant watch and has a chance to live a full life after they’ve served their tour of duty.

Not come home maimed or in box because of some company’s bottom line.

*You can put this incomprehensible number in prospective here:


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