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BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence

GUEST 03 May 04 - 08:59 AM
Rapparee 03 May 04 - 09:14 AM
Amos 03 May 04 - 09:55 AM
George Papavgeris 03 May 04 - 10:07 AM
artbrooks 03 May 04 - 10:17 AM
Chief Chaos 03 May 04 - 10:42 AM
Teribus 03 May 04 - 11:10 AM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 02:05 PM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 02:53 PM
Chief Chaos 03 May 04 - 03:26 PM
Deda 03 May 04 - 03:30 PM
dianavan 03 May 04 - 04:03 PM
mack/misophist 03 May 04 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Pensive 03 May 04 - 05:25 PM
Big Mick 03 May 04 - 05:38 PM
Once Famous 03 May 04 - 05:44 PM
dianavan 03 May 04 - 06:01 PM
Little Hawk 03 May 04 - 06:01 PM
akenaton 03 May 04 - 06:02 PM
akenaton 03 May 04 - 06:11 PM
Deda 03 May 04 - 06:43 PM
Amos 03 May 04 - 06:49 PM
Peace 03 May 04 - 06:49 PM
Little Hawk 03 May 04 - 06:55 PM
George Papavgeris 03 May 04 - 06:56 PM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 07:00 PM
Amos 03 May 04 - 07:07 PM
George Papavgeris 03 May 04 - 07:15 PM
George Papavgeris 03 May 04 - 07:17 PM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 07:25 PM
George Papavgeris 03 May 04 - 07:27 PM
Bobert 03 May 04 - 07:30 PM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 09:28 PM
dianavan 03 May 04 - 09:58 PM
Bobert 03 May 04 - 10:13 PM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 11:07 PM
Amos 03 May 04 - 11:46 PM
LadyJean 04 May 04 - 01:03 AM
Chief Chaos 04 May 04 - 02:02 PM
dianavan 04 May 04 - 02:30 PM
Chief Chaos 04 May 04 - 04:39 PM
DougR 04 May 04 - 04:50 PM
Peace 04 May 04 - 06:24 PM
DougR 04 May 04 - 06:29 PM
Jim McCallan 04 May 04 - 06:52 PM
GUEST 05 May 04 - 11:37 AM
Little Hawk 05 May 04 - 12:22 PM
Chief Chaos 05 May 04 - 12:43 PM
Little Hawk 05 May 04 - 01:04 PM
GUEST 05 May 04 - 02:24 PM
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Subject: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 08:59 AM

The subject came up numerous times in other threads in the past week, so I thought I would start one on the subject specifically.

I don't know how many of you in the US watch NOW with Bill Moyers, but I usually watch it weekly. One recent fascinating program had a philosopher on it named Susan Neiman, who has attempted to write a history of the evolution of human concepts of evil. For those who might be interested, the link is here:

http://www.pbs.org/now/society/evil.html

Last week, they had an Indian woman on who spoke about the effects of militarism falling predominantly on the world's women in developing countries.

The anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the stories coming out of Iraq and the West Bank and Gaza, India and Pakistan, the list is almost endless it seems, yet honest discussions of militarism and it's culture of violence, even as it occurs or in the wake of it, are still rare in US society, because the only public face put on our military is a heroic one.

I'll be coming back to this thread later, but I'd be interested to hear if people have any books or articles to recommend that critique the US military's culture of violence, and how it influences a societal culture of violence.

Michael Moore tried making such linkages with 'Bowling for Columbine' but didn't succeed very well at it.

I look forward to reading people's opinions, and I will say up front, I would hope this thread doesn't get talken over by the Mudcat military veterans who seem to be getting increasingly bellicose in their attempts to shout down conversations on topics that are critique the military.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Rapparee
Date: 03 May 04 - 09:14 AM

GUEST, I won't contribute because a) I see no point in it, since YOU aren't receptive to rational discussion and b) I see no need to feed either your ego or that of your Beltway Bosses.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 04 - 09:55 AM

Sure there's too much militarism in our culture. Stipulated. Next question? Fundamentally there is a lot of gain in it -- financial gain. There are lots of careers in it. There are huge amounts of Federal money in it. And it is an amazingly complex organization. But aside from all that, is a military necessary? If so, should theybe trained? To do what? Does it surprise you that given the training in violence and its accomplishment, that some military people promulgate their training or act it out?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 May 04 - 10:07 AM

Simplistically speaking,

It takes a soldier to fire the gun.
To make it, you need a working man.
To feed him, the farmer will plow the land
- it all goes hand in hand.
But to feed the soldier, and the man
who makes the gun, you need more land;
and to get more land, of course, you need a soldier.

We're in a spiral, folks. To break out of it it takes serious sacrifice, like whole countries disbanding armies and trusting their neighbours. I'd love for that to happen, but I can't see it happening. Can you? So we remain in the spiral.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: artbrooks
Date: 03 May 04 - 10:17 AM

An interesting way to set up a discussion. First, you define the conclusion: the US military's culture of violence, and how it influences a societal culture of violence and then you eliminate those who may argue a specific point of view. Yes, it does sound like something that only a Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft functionary could come up with.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 03 May 04 - 10:42 AM

Forget the military vets, worry about those of us that are still in! (just joking *BG*). Listen, if you want somebody to bash the military just look for a military person. I'm serious! A happy soldier is a bitching soldier!

The pay (16 yrs @ E-7 and I'm getting back most of what I payed in to taxes) doesn't compensate for the long hours, unexpected deployments, multiple moves across the country, etc, etc, etc.

The benefits aren't what you guys think they are.

I could go on and on and on.
Culture of violence? There are some initiations that get out of hand but I doubt that it's any worse than a fraternity/sorority pledge week or what goes on daily in gang initiations (called "jumping in" and you don't quit a gang and walk away)or what goes on between jocks at a highschool. You may not want to admit it but this sort of thing goes on daily in our culture regardless of whether we have a military or not. This is not an excuse for military people to act this way. The people who "act out" a things like a paratrooper earning his "wings" (what used to be called "blood winging") are violating military regulations and will be subject to discipline. We don't encourage it, we don't condone it, and unless there is something seriously wrong with the command, we don't cover it up. Why would we want our troops to act this way towards each other and risk having a percentage of our personnel disabled when we need them most?

Do we need a military? Cut it back to pre-WW2 levels and see what happens. After each war we have had a successive cut back in the military. Underfunded, undermanned, and making do with whatever Uncles Sam gave us for the previous war. This is well documented. After Japan attacked Pearl harbour we had personnel training with broomsticks shouting bang bang at plywood cut outs of tanks and other equipment. The size/strength of the military is up to those who analyze the current threats to America. Keep in mind that the first part of analyze is anal. There is a big picture to all this that none of us get to see.

And the reason that the vets get uptight is that they were there. You apparently weren't. These folks have served the country under the harshest conditions known to man and at the first sign of something bad (like the prisoner abuse) those that don't like the military, for whatever reason, bring out the big brush and slap us all as uncivilized, beastial, craven murderers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Teribus
Date: 03 May 04 - 11:10 AM

El Greko - 03 May 04 - 10:07 AM

"It takes a soldier to fire the gun.
To make it, you need a working man.
To feed him, the farmer will plow the land
- it all goes hand in hand.
But to feed the soldier, and the man
who makes the gun, you need more land;
and to get more land, of course, you need a soldier."

He's right of course, he is taking simplistic speach to the outer regions of idiocy. The little discourse up above completely ignores history, particularly when applied to Europe, even from the advent of cannon, gunpowder and musketry.

El Greko for the vast bulk of the time in which the nations of Europe evolved, your farmer, your working man and your soldier were all one in the same person. Now as trade grew, people prospered, the advent of the the agricultural revolution allowed greater productivity using fewer people, which disproves your line, "But to feed the soldier, and the man who makes the gun, you need more land;", the industrial revolution employed those people, more goods were produced and the nations continued to prosper. We are now at a point in time of around two hundred years ago where the farmer and the man who made the gun would not be the same man, but the soldier was still drawn from either the farmer or the working man. Around 170 years ago, in the UK a police force was created to look after law and order in the land, the requirement for a military establishment in the UK was minimal and levels were maintained on that premiss (The Britsh Army at the height of Queen Victoria's power was smaller than the standing army we have today)

Your idea on getting out of this spiral you see us all in is interesting - perhaps we in the UK should kick it all off - I'm sure many more would follow suit - all we'd have to do then would be to live with the consequences.

I'd love to know what trolling Guest's definition of a militaristic society is? Last one we had in Europe was Fredrick the Great's Prussia.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 02:05 PM

So has anyone read any of Chris Hedges, the NY Times war correspondent's books?

The one I have read was released around the time of the build up to the Iraq invasion, and is titled "War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning".

There is a second book that came out around the same time by Samantha Power, a former journalist for US News & World Report, that deals with 20th century acts of genocide, and how the US government and military dealt with, or more accurately, didn't deal with it in places like Bosnia and Rwanda. I hope to read it this summer, but I'd be curious to know if anyone has read that one either.

Hedges other book on war that came out just after the Iraq invasion, which I haven't read, is called "What Every Person Should Know About War". Here is an excerpt of a blurb from Publishers Weekly on it from Amazon.com:

"the bulk of it is concerned with battlefield carnage, madness and pathos. A gristly chapter on "Weapons and Wounds" details the bodily effects of artillery shells, incendiaries and several types of bullets. Questions like "What does it feel like to kill someone?" (exhilaration, then remorse) and sections on post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks probe the psychic wounds of war. A chapter on "Dying" covers topics like "Will I be frozen in the position in which I die?" ("You can be straightened out after rigor mortis has set") and "What will my last words be?" ("Many call for their mothers"). War correspondent Hedges, author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (whose introductory paragraphs look a lot like their counterparts in this volume), presents this anxiety-provoking information as a grimly factual account of the true face of war-culled from "medical, psychological, and military studies"-that America shies away from in favor of sanitized myths of glory and heroism."


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 02:53 PM

Sorry, I meant to also include this link to an interview with Chris Hedges at TomPaine.com:

http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/6657


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 03 May 04 - 03:26 PM

Okay folks,

A little question here:

General Smith is out in the countryside of Whateverland, raping, pillaging, plundering, torturing, maiming and killing. How many have to die before some of you say:

"Go and put a stop to this, oh maligned and malignant military!"

And after you have specified that number for me you can tell me how to stop General Smith and his Whateverland militia who are now using their rifles, bayonettes, tanks, bombs, etc. on our maligned and malignant military without injuring the pride of the Whateverland militia much less their corporeal forms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Deda
Date: 03 May 04 - 03:30 PM

I actually thought that Michael Moore did a pretty good job in Bowling for Columbine. He at least some serious and valuable questions out to millions of people. He pointed out that violence and guns don't necessarily go together. Canadians own as many guns as Americans but have far less gun violence. If you've seen the movie, you'll remember the bit about the American and Canadian cities facing each other, with very different societies.

Still, there are American guns in every corner of the globe, and somebody's paying, somebody's profiting. Amnesty International has a webpage about international arms trade , and certainly there is as much money in pushing guns and other weapons around the world as there is in pushing cocaine, heroin, etc. As Amos pointed out, there's a very great deal of money in it, which makes it nearly impossible to fight -- like corporate greed. And the US society isn't the only one that's sunk in violence. Iraq and Afghanistan were both putting on a heart-breaking show of violence, by men against women, by local warlords, by Saddam, even before the US showed up, and they haven't really calmed down any.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. I don't know if that's true or not, but there's an awful lot of love of money woven into the web of violence that's strangling the world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: dianavan
Date: 03 May 04 - 04:03 PM

It is a culture of greed, sex and violence. Perhaps its not only the U.S. but most of the world. The U.S., however, has outstripped all others when it comes to brainwashing its citizens and preparing their children to become violent warriors.

It started with television and now we have videos, computer games and the internet which de-sensitize children to violence and aggression. In fact, violence and aggression are rewarded. It is the perfect plan for creating a society which applauds armed aggression. It would take a very strong individual to resist the allure of material gain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: mack/misophist
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:09 PM

Two generals more or less said it all:

    "It is good that war is hell, lest we should come to love it too       much." - Sherman

    "Beware the military-industrial complex." - Eisenhower

The last is especially interesting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST,Pensive
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:25 PM

The United States isn't alone, nor has it pushed it as far as other places. Here's a little thing from Human Rights Watch -- the US never (at least in the last 100 years) used children as in its armed forces. And this list includes my own country, which, fortunately, is not stigmatised.

If a child, ANY child, is brought up in brutality and violence that child is far, far more likely to become a brutal and violent adult. The problem is not by any means limited to the United States, and anyone who thinks that it is is simply ill-read and ill-informed about the world and its problems.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Big Mick
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:38 PM

Wondered where you would show up next to set up a premise that only you can win.

By the way, you indicate you don't like folks that disagree to hijack the thread. You would like to have this thread be what you want it to be? Is that sort of like the Memorial Day/Veterans Day threads where we only asked that you allow those of us who wanted to say thanks and pay tribute to those that died, to let us? Let's see .... Oh ..... that's right ... you told us to bugger off and that you wouldn't let us do that because it didn't fit with your agenda. Right? And I pointed out that we could start a thread to debate the points that you wanted to make, but could we just respect his one. But your response was to basically tell us to fuck off because you were not going to allow it. You are a hypocrite.

The US culture is not violent, but it surely has its violent aspects. Have you noticed that much of the violence in video games, as an example, is created in other countries? Have you bothered to study the history of the world to see that violent culture is not an American invention? Or is the object just to paint the US in a certain light. We could talk about Ireland, England, Germany, Cambodia, China, Japan, Russia, et al, and find all the militaric and violent culture we want.

If you really were interested in the subject, as opposed to trying to set up a premise that suits you, you would be discussing the historic precedents for what seems to be happening in the US, and what it seems to portend for us. I would enjoy that conversation as it would seem to be germane to the times.

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Once Famous
Date: 03 May 04 - 05:44 PM

Well dianavan, to effing bad.

This greedy, violent, and wonderfully sexy country is just fine with me. Plenty of people are still doing whatever they can to find their American dream.

Material gain? That's what people all over the world leave the hell holes they live in come here for, along with free public education that is second to none for their children, and the opportunity for a better life.

You America bashers sicken me, especially the ones who don't live here. Everyone here knows that this country is not perfect, but I'm sure enjoying living here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: dianavan
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:01 PM

Mick - I disagree when you say that America is not a violent culture. Other countries may have the means to create and produce violent computer games, etc., but nowhere is it so readily available to so many children. Didn't the video game arise from computerized military scenarios?

I remember a communist who admired the ability of the U.S. to brainwash its citizens so thoroughly with television. In Russia, he said, we have t.v. but we haven't figured out a way to get one into every home.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:01 PM

You could say that about any number of places, Martin. I have thoroughly enjoyed living in places as diverse as Canada, the USA, Cuba, and Trinidad. They all have lots of really good features, if you concentrate on the positives, and they all have some serious problems too.

Material gain? Well, that's part of life, but it's not the crux of life. At least not to me.

I think there is way too much glorification of militarism and violence in the USA, and there always has been. It's one of the drawbacks of American society, but there are many good points as well.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: akenaton
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:02 PM

Martin....A lot of people are leaving their hell holes,in an attempt to put an end to our "Greedy violent and sexy????" countries.
These hell holes by the way,were mainly dug by Western Imperialists...Ake


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: akenaton
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:11 PM

Sexy????....I suppose you mean the wankers who get a buzz out of abusing their hooded ,naked and helpless brothers


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Deda
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:43 PM

It seems to me that the violent tones within this thread, the bashing and flame-like tenor, comes in from the right, not from the left.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:49 PM

Premise: Video game technology was first developed in the military to augment training of military people.

Actual rationale: Military development funding is often the only way to bring a new technology into actuality.

Flawed conclusion: Therefore all video games are military in nature and breed militarism.


However, i think there is a good deal too much enthusiasm for militarism in certain segments of Western culture today -- including French, English, American, German, Russian and even Canadian versions thereof.

However I do not feel it is accurate or just to paint such sweeping and negative generalizations over a whole people, anymore than it is fair to accuse anyone who wears a turban of being a jihadist.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Peace
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:49 PM

Mommy, it's back!


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:55 PM

The real problem is the giant penguin attack. Next to that, this is a minor issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 May 04 - 06:56 PM

Ah, Teribus, I did admit right up front that the ditty is simplistic. And I will happily accept the "outer limits of idiocy" label too, inasmuch as that the idealism required to get us out of the spiral would border on madness, practically speaking. So I think we agree. But the main point I wanted to make - that the cause is greed of some form or other - is valid.

I know we crossed pens (keyboards?) on this recently, so I'd better explain a little more: I contend that armies exist largely for one of two reasons: Either to conquer/obtain more resources/land/power over others, or to protect that which is already "ours". In other words, it is all about property/owning/having. Even religious wars are about either protecting the beliefs we have or forcing them on others (power over others). There might be some exceptions to this, hence my use of the word "largely".

Therefore the only way to do without armies is to espouce the bankrupt idealism of "no ownership"; indeed, to do so collectively(!). I believe this is impractical. Therefore - we are buggered/stuck with the need for armies...

But - while I am practical, and not about to lower my fence in case my neighbour covets part of my garden, I can still hanker after an ideal world. Grant me that. Dreams cost nothing after all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:00 PM

I've read papers that actually argue that militarism and war are responsible for human progress. These authors try to make the point that war and militarism have increased progress rather than impeded it. They point to the airplane and World War One as an example.

This is nonsense. Violence has had some influence on humanity development, but has held it back rather than helping it the other way. I'm sure that the veterans here will argue that war has helped humankind more than peace has, but that's the sort of thing they'd be expected to say.

The US and its greedy warrior culture has caused violence around the world as long as it has been in existence.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:07 PM

Guest:

More sweeping negative nabobbery, without specifics, without comparison, without context.

The US has also caused succour and relief around the world, caused economic upturns around the world, caused economic downturns around the world, caused poetry to be read around the world, caused idiocy around the world, caused beauty and fine illuminating moments around the world and caused despair and boredom and apathetic indifference around the world. I guess we're just a great big happening crowd, huh? Wish we could get some representatives into Cosmos Central -- then we'd really see widespread influence...

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:15 PM

GUEST, warrior cultures have always caused violence around the world. The Romans did. Alexander the Great did. Genghis Khan did. And so on. Nothing new or ground-breaking in that.

Did war ever produce more overall (for both victor and vanquished)benefit than the losses incurred? Mmmm, dunno but I doubt it.

Conflict (not just war) can focus energies towards new solutions, which can produce benefit. But to keep the balance sheet profitable, conflict has to remain non-damaging, non-destructive.

Does the US have a militarist, "greedy warrior" culture, as you say? I can't see it. A gung-ho culture, yes in part. A "strongest is right" culture, yes in part again. A "me first and damn the good of the many" culture, yes in part once more. I won't tar everyone who has a US passport with the same brush, but the overall signals are there. But militarist? I don't think so. This is not a latter-day Sparta.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:17 PM

Ans Amos just put it better than me, and using fewer words too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:25 PM

I didn't mean warrior cultures in that way. We know that tremendous advances have been made due to actions taken by the military organizations of the world. Don't you find it important that women can now participate in that culture as equal members?


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:27 PM

Yes, it is important, but it shouldn't require wars to achieve.
That it did require a war, is an indictment on our species.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Bobert
Date: 03 May 04 - 07:30 PM

Militarism is just yet one more control mechanism by the Ruling Class. And it's win/win for them in that they also use it to destribute wealth in their favor... Hey, it's their world and they're gonna do what they gotta do to kerp it that way, even if it means tunring militarism and nationalism loose on the working working class. It's quit a tight-rope that Boss Hog walks knowing that if the working class evr gets wind of the game that is bring played upon them, then Boss Hog's got some big troubles on his hands...

Jusat another thought. One of the first threads I ever started here was on the concept of a Department of Peace and though I found myself very much in the minority of its value, there seemed to be a few folks who thought it impractical because it didn't have the same profit potential as war.

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 09:28 PM

As I said over in the Nader thread, the Mudcat warriors are starting to get a bit restless, and frequently use this peacenik's posts for target practice Bobert, so don't take it personally. Not too many true peace lovers around here, though there are plenty of apologists for war and violence.

See ya round, Bobert.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: dianavan
Date: 03 May 04 - 09:58 PM

I guess we will have to give Guest the old, "shunning" treatment. Do not reply to threads started by Guest. Do not comment on Guest's posts. I have no use for cowards. Most cowards are also bullies. Do not give Guest any power or satisfaction.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Bobert
Date: 03 May 04 - 10:13 PM

Well, GUEST, this ol' hillbilly ain't smart 'nuff to know when he's being told to shut up. I ain't never worried too much 'bout these folks 'round here 'cause most o' 'um got good hearts. Sometimes their heads ain't quite caught up yet but that's jus' a matter of time. "er not. But hey, ya jus' gotta keep on pitchin'. Yeah, sure, I know that sometimes they just had 'nuff o' me and ignore me but guess what, sometimes I get 'nuff o' me, too. An' sometimes I get 'nuff o' one of them Catfolk and just try not to get in no scratchin' fight wid 'um 'til they get's their sanity back... 'Er I get mine back...

So don't quit on me, GUEST... Hey, we make a little progress now and then. Poor ol' DougR come a long way. Teribus won't never change but why should ne, he's on Bush's payroll... The rest of 'um???

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 11:07 PM

TomPaine.com: When a country prepares for war and goes to war, there are changes in that country's politics and culture. You write that a myth emerges -- a seductive myth as leaders spin out a cause. You write that a patriotism, a "thinly veiled form of self-worship appears." What do you mean by this myth, this cause, this patriotism and what you then say is an intoxicating result?

Chris Hedges: Well myth is always part of the way we understand war within a society. It's always there. But I think in a peacetime society we are at least open to other ways of looking at war. Just as patriotism is always part of the society. In wartime, the myth becomes ascendant.

Patriotism, national self-glorification infects everything, including culture. That's why you would go to symphony events and people wave flags and play the "Star Spangled Banner." In essence, it's the destruction of culture, which is always a prerequisite in wartime. Wartime always begins with the destruction of your own culture.

Once you enter a conflict, or at the inception of a conflict, you are given a language by which you speak. The state gives you a language to speak and you can't speak outside that language or it becomes very difficult. There is no communication outside of the clichés and the jingos, "The War on Terror," "Showdown With Iraq," "The Axis of Evil," all of this stuff.

So that whatever disquiet we feel, we no longer have the words in which to express it. The myth predominates. The myth, which is a lie, of course, built around glory, heroism, heroic self-sacrifice, the nobility of the nation. And it is a kind of intoxication. People lose individual conscience for this huge communal enterprise.

TP.c: You write there are different war myths -- myths that fuel conflicts. What type of myth do you see animating the discussion today in the United States as it looks at Iraq?

Hedges: Well I think the myth is remarkably similar from war zone to war zone. At least, as it pertains to how the nation that prosecutes a war looks at itself.

We become the embodiment of light and goodness. We become the defenders of civilization, of all that is decent. We are more noble than others. We are braver than others. We are kinder and more compassionate than others -- that the enemy at our gate is perfidious, dark, somewhat inhuman. We turn them into two-dimensional figures. I think that's part of the process of linguistically dehumanizing them. And in wartime, we always turn the other into an object, and often, quite literally, in the form of a corpse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 04 - 11:46 PM

GUEST:

A very coherent description; I also enjoy Tom Paine.com's descriptions as they stand in your quotes. The myth of being the hero does not work well when it is built on premeditated violence, much in the way that the self-defence plea will not stand when premeditation is present. But the myth can be so attractive thaty people will overlook that little difference while they are plastering their vehicles with decals. The logical structure is something on this wise:

1. We were brutally attacked by terrorists; this was Evil and brutal.
2. We attacked Iraq because Saddam was associated with terrorist plots or weapons or some thing.
3. The Iraqis bomb our Humvees even though we overthrew the government fair and square; therefore they are terrorizing us.
4. Therefore our war in Iraq is now a war against Evil, and we are of the Good.

Of course this syllogism is about as rational as a TV advertsiement. But never mind, let's watch some TV...


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: LadyJean
Date: 04 May 04 - 01:03 AM

There is an idiot in the White House, an idiot with something to prove.
If we had a reasonable man in the White House 9/11 might not have happened. Or our troops would be looking for AlQuaeda terrorists, which wouldn't be such a bad thing. They aren't nice people.
The entertainment industry gives the public what they want. The public have been falling for tales of heroism in battle since 'omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre.
My father was a combat veteran. He wound up among Russian troops at the end of WWII, when the fighting got truly nasty. Dad was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever known.
Now Hollowfox and I know a man who claims to have been a Navy Seal. He never was. He is violent and aggessive, and a first rate asshole. People who fight don't, necessarily, love it, and people who love fighting, don't, necessarily fight. Chicken hawk George W. being a prime example.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 04 May 04 - 02:02 PM

No answers to the question huh? I thought so. You want to demonize the "warriors" but when the feces hits the oscillating breeze generation unit who the hell do you call? Ghostbusters?

Sometimes diplomacy doesn't work. I hate war. Nobody I know wants to go kill anybody. Yeah, we'd like to skin the folks responsible for 9/11. That's how I feel and I won't apologize for that.

It is for certain that war has helped in the development of technologies. They may have evolved without the war but the urgency of developing the technology might not have been as great. The money needed to develop the technology might not have been spent because the price would have been thought to be too high.

If you don't stand for something, pretty soon you won't have anywhere left to stand!


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: dianavan
Date: 04 May 04 - 02:30 PM

Chief Chaos - I will attempt to answer your question.

Its not a matter of numbers. Its a matter of careful negotiation and planning by an international community.

Its a matter to be decided by skilled diplomacy not by a government that thinks they can, "go it alone" guided by God.

Its should not be decided by the captains of industry whose aim is primarily economic or a Commander in Chief who accepts no responsibility for the private contractors who have been hired to carry out interrogations.

It is certainly not the responsibility of a military with inadequate training, low pay, few benefits, and a vague chain of command.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 04 May 04 - 04:39 PM

Dianavan,

Never said it was, and again, I don't think the Iraq fiasco is right. But then again, your answer is not exactly specific. We, the military, are blamed for not taking action, and blamed for taking action and you can't have it both ways.

The question was posed to those who would like to blame the military for all the evils in the world. The few that would like to call all military baby killers. We're all jumping up and down frothing at the mouth to feel dead, burnt bodies, veins in our teeth shouting kill! Kill! Kill!

It's bullshit of course.

The unfortunate thing about wars is that they are sometimes necessary. All the diplomacy in the world is worthless unless your stick is bigger than theirs. It's plain that the embargos enforced against Saddam did nothing but hurt his people and open up all sorts of opportunities for corruption. They sure as hell haven't done anything to Castro.

If you want something bad enough, like preventing the systematic brutalization and genocide of a minority population by a majority population, chances are your going to have to have an armed intervention to establish peace. Chances are even higher that somebody is going to decide to attack members of the peace keeping force which will then have to decide to get the hell out, allowing the genocide to begin again, kill the offenders by returning fire, or hunt them down and bring them to trial which exposes more of your personnel to the possibility of getting killed.

The world is beautiful, man can be quite ugly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: DougR
Date: 04 May 04 - 04:50 PM

Question: how did I know, without first looking, that GUEST posted this thread? I swear I did!

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Peace
Date: 04 May 04 - 06:24 PM

You knew Doug, because you know that GUEST loves to troll. He did not initiate a debate about peace, because who would be stupid enough to think that peace is a bad thing? It was a debate about the military. He is, of course, against the military, because the militaries of the world represent everything that is evil to him. Little does he seem to be aware that the military of the US, Canada, Australia, Britain go where the civilian leadership tell them to go. Often, they go against their own better judgment, but they go. For that, GUEST hates soldiers. He should be looking at the civilians who send them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: DougR
Date: 04 May 04 - 06:29 PM

Mebbe so, mebbe so, brucie.

After giving it some more thought, I think you are positively, absolutely correct. (you might want to clip and keep this message because it might be the only time in print that I agreed with you on something. BG)

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Jim McCallan
Date: 04 May 04 - 06:52 PM

It would seem also that you at least give lip service to the idea that Bush was wrong in sending them, DougR

Jim


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 04 - 11:37 AM

No one is calling the military baby killers, and I for one am sick and fed the hell up with vets coming into the threads and acting like victims. That baby killer, they spat on us crap has no place in a serious conversation about militarism and the culture of violence.

Or as you vets are so fond of saying, get the hell over it, and deal with where we are at today.

There are many, many serious, thoughtful people on this planet, who do blame militarism and the culture of violence for most ills we face today, because that militarism and cultures of male violence are two root causes of the vast majority of human suffering on this earth today. The others are the greed and avarice of the global ruling elite, and it's mirror opposite, grinding, inescapable poverty.

I mentioned the Chris Hedges book because it is the most lucid account I have ever read of the allure of war, and the addiction to violence that is so prevalent today. The reason why his book is so right on, is because he himself has suffered the addiction as a war correspondent. But because he also happens to have overcome his addiction, he speaks with a power few Americans can match.

Chris Hedges also is the son of a Presbyterian minister who became a pacifist and anti-war activist after fighting in WWII. Hedges also studied at Harvard Divinity School. For those who would like to read a much different perspective on militarism than is being offered by the pro-militarism Vietnam vets here in Mudcat, from an excellent writer and thinker who has also been "in the trenches" in MANY wars, I have found a few more interviews with Chris Hedges I am linking to below.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week622/hedges.html

Chris Hedges NOW interview with Bill Moyers


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 May 04 - 12:22 PM

Chief - The most sensible thing for the USA to have done about Castro, starting in 1959, would have been to be friendly with him and to help him set up a new and prosperous society in Cuba. Castro's heros, philosophically speaking, were the founders of the USA, such as Washington and Jefferson. Castro threw out an almost unbelievably corrupt government under Batista. The corruption and brutality of Batista's government had created such hostility in the general Cuban population that it resulted in enormous popular support for the revolutionaries. Castro was seen as a progressive force in many mainstream American publications prior to his entry into Havana, and he was a progressive force.

The mistake the USA made was to decide to make Castro an enemy. Castro came to New York (I believe it was in '59, but it may have been in '60), hoping to establish friendly relations, work out trade arrangements, etc. The US government wouldn't even talk to him! Instead, he got to meet the American press, some Europeans at the U.N., and that was it. He had been ostracized in a very deliberate way by Washington, and he knew it. He subsequently went to the Russians for help, because there was simply no other "game in town". He was forced to go to the Russians in order to survive.

That need not have been done. The reason it was done was this: Castro had nationalized the ownings of the big American sugar companies, and had kicked the American Mafia and their casinos and whorehouses out of Cuba...and given the country back to its own people!!! This meant he offended a lot of very rich and powerful people in the USA, and those people fund and lobby in Washington. They back the Democrats and the Republicans and provide campaign funding.

Castro had committed absolute sacrilege as far as they were concerned and he had to die for it.

A great shame. The nation that once said it was: "of the people, by the people, for the people" has become the nation that is "of the rich, by the rich, for the rich". It does not promote democracy, it seeks out markets.

Castro was George Washington, about 200 years later, but he made the mistake of assuming that he would be treated as an equal, instead of treated like a "dirty wetback" who had the effrontery to challenge Big Business.

Never get in the way of the corporations. They will crush you or turn you into an international pariah.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Chief Chaos
Date: 05 May 04 - 12:43 PM

LH Wasn't really questioning the reason for our embargo. Think its rather stupid after all these years of not working and not being supported by other countries anyway. If things happened to improve in Cuba it might be helpful to us in that we might not have to constantly monitor for and rescue refugees looking for a better life.

I'm also of the opinion that the US should, by our own constitution, not be deciding what kind of government other people should have. And like others I have a hard time with supporting the continued embargo when we're dealing with vietnam and china.

Guest-
from your own first post:

-I'll be coming back to this thread later, but I'd be interested to hear if people have any books or articles to recommend that critique the US military's culture of violence, and how it influences a societal culture of violence-

I have been trying to make the point that it is not the military which influences a violent society, but a violent society which is part of the military.

I know that you feel we are the root of all evil in the world. And if we military vets highjack your post, well tough shit! Because of us this is a free country. Try having an anti-government post in China and see how long you live.


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 May 04 - 01:04 PM

Yup, Chief, it's pragmatism, that's all. The USA (like all countries) is concerned about strategic resources, trade, marketing, and military positioning. Who the USA makes a friend or trades with has absolutely nothing to do with how democratic or undemocratic that country is. The USA does business with China because China is the world's number one source of cheap, well-made, manufactured goods. It makes no difference whether China is a dictatorship or not.

When something pragmatic happens that is NOT in the financial interests of the USA (such as Castro nationalizing the sugar industry and throwing out the casinos and whorehouses), THEN the US media will focus on specific "moral" issues in order to demonize Castro, but those moral issues will have nothing really to do with it. (Castro was far less immoral than Batista...)

Likewise, Saddam's immorality and brutality had nothing to do with the US government's war on Iraq. It was done for pragmatic reasons alone, and clothed in moral rhetoric to get ordinary people onside.

The USA is similar to other big powers in this respect, it just happens to be the biggest right now, that's all.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Militarism & the US culture of violence
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 04 - 02:24 PM

The United States is not a free country because the military is keeping us safe. The United States is a free country because we have a system that is intended to keep the citizenry safe FROM the military taking control of the executive and other branches of government.

The US is a free country because we have a system where we change leaders every 4-8 years, without the military seizing control of the process.

You are one dumb idiot if you believe democratic freedom is protected by the military. The lawyers, maybe. But the military? NO.


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