Depending on the context, the small word “why” can be totally innocuous or it can be just about the most subversive and even sacrilegious word one can utter. This is probably why I love this word so much: it’s ability to unleash tremendous power against all sorts of sacred cows and unchallenged beliefs. So, today I want to ask everybody why so many people feel the need to thank veterans for their “service”?
But first, let’s debunk a few myths:
First, let’s begin by getting myth #1 out of the way: the notion that Americans don’t like wars. That is totally false. Americans hate losing wars, but if they win them, they absolutely love them. In other words, the typical US reaction to a war depends on the perceived outcome of that war. If it is a success they love it (even if it is a turkey-shoot like Desert Storm). If it is a deniable defeat (say the US/NATO air operations against Serbian forces in Kosovo or the total clusterbleep in Grenada) they will simply “forget” it. And if it is an undeniable defeat (say Iraq or Afghanistan) then, yes, indeed, most Americans will be categorically opposed to it.
Next is myth #2: the truth is that no US serviceman or woman has fought a war in defense of the US since at least WWII (and even this one is very debatable considering that the US forced Japan to wage war and since the attack on Pearl Harbor was set-up as a pretext to then attack Japan). Since 1945 there has not been a single situation in which US soldiers defended their land, their towns, their families or their friends from an aggressor. Not one! All the wars fought by the US since 1945 were wars of aggression, wars of choice and most of them were completely illegal to boot (including numerous subversive and covert operations). At most, one can make the argument that US veterans defended the so-called “American way of life,” but only if one accepts that the said “American way of life” requires and mandates imperialist wars of aggression and the wholesale abandonment of the key concepts of international law.
Finally, there is the ugly dirty little secret that everybody knows but, for some reason, very few dare to mention: the decision to join the (all volunteer) US military is one primarily based on financial considerations and absolutely not some kind of generous “service” of the motherland for pure, lofty, ideals. Yes, yes, I know – there were those who did join the US military after 9/11 thinking that the US had been attacked and that they needed to help bring the fight to those who attacked the US. But even with a very modest degree of intelligence, it should have become pretty darn obvious that whether 9/11 was indeed the work of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda or not (personally I am absolutely certain that this was a controlled demolition) – this atrocity was used by the US government to justify a long list of wars which could not have possibly had anything to do with 9/11. Hey, after all, the US decided to attack Iraq (which self-evidently had nothing to do with 9/11) and not the KSA (even though most of the putative hijackers were Saudis and had official Saudi backing). Besides, even if some folks were not smart enough to see through the lies and even if THEY believed that they joined the US military to defend the US, why would the rest of us who by 2018 all know that the attack on Iraq was purely and solely based on lies, “thank” veterans for stupidly waging war for interests they cannot even identify? Since when do we thank people for making wrong and, frankly, immoral decisions?!
Now let’s look at another basic thing: what is military service? The way I see it, military personnel can roughly be split into two categories: those who actually kill people and those who help those who kill people kill people. Right? If you are a machine gunner or a tank driver, then you personally get to kill people. If you are a communications specialist, or a truck driver, or an electrician, you don’t get to kill people yourself, but your work is to make it easier for those who kill people to kill people. So I think that it would be fair to say that joining a military, any military, is to join an organization whose main purpose is to kill people. Of course, that killing can be morally justifiable and, say, in defense of your country and fellow citizens. But that can only be the case if you prepare for a defensive war and, as we all know, the US has not fought such a war for over 70 years now. Which means that with a few increasingly rare exceptions (WWII veterans) ALL the veterans which get thanked for their service did what exactly? If we put it in plain English, what fundamental, crucial decision did ALL these veterans make?
In simple and plain English, veterans are those who signed up to kill people outside the US for money.
Sorry, I know that this sounds offensive to many, but this is a fact. The fact that this decision (to join an organization whose primary purpose is to murder people in their own countries, hundreds and thousands of miles away from the US) could ALSO have been taken for “patriotic” reasons (i.e. by those who believed in what is most likely the most lying propaganda machine in history) or to “see the world” and “become a real man” does not change the fact that if the US military offered NO pay or benefits, NO scholarships, NO healthcare, etc. then the vast majority of those who claim that they joined to “serve” would never have joined in the first place. We all know that, let’s not pretend otherwise! Just look at the arguments recruiters use to convince people to join: they are all about money and benefits! Need more proof? Just look at the kind of social groups who compose the bulk of the US military: uneducated, poor, with minimal career prospects. The simple truth is that financially successful folks very rarely join the military and, when they do, they usually make a career out of it.
As somebody who has lived in the US for a total of 21 years now, I can attest that folks join the military precisely for the same reasons they enter the police force or become correctional officers: because in all those endeavors there is money to be made and benefits to enjoy. Okay, there must be, by definition, the 1% or less who joined these (all violent) careers for purely lofty and noble ideals. But these would be a small, tiny, minority. The overwhelming majority of cops, correctional officers and soldiers joined primarily for material and/or financial reasons.
By the way, since that is the case, is it not also true that the soldier (just like the cop or the correctional officers) has ALREADY received his/her “gratitude” from the society for their “service” in the form of a check? Why do folks then still feel the need to “thank them for their service”? We don’t thank air traffic controllers or logging workers (also very tough careers) for their service, do we? And that is in spite of the fact that air traffic controllers and logging workers did not choose to join an organization whose primary goal is to kill people in their own homes (whether private homes or national ones) which is what soldiers get paid for.
Let me repeat that truism once again, in an even more direct way: veterans are killers hired for money. Period. The rest is all propaganda.