Thursday, January 15, 2009

Empire or Not

 write in response to Jim Mason, et al, who responded to my Dec. 28 letter to the editor.

As usual, most of the people who respond to my letter either in print or on-line refused to deal with the argument I put forward and instead resorted to ad hominem attack. To answer several people who responded on the Daily World Web site, anonymously of course, I served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970.

Mr. Mason writes that my letter was “beyond reason, … hateful, disrespectful rubbish.” Sorry sir, but that is not an argument.

I wrote not to deny any wounded soldier comfort, as Mr. Mason claimed, but out of my concern for all U.S. soldiers overseas and the thousands who will be sent tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow unless we break our love of militarism, our lust for hegemony and our absolute rejection of decency and reality.

I remember when the movie, “Star Wars,” came out how we all rooted for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leah. They were the “good guys” battling the storm-troopers of the empire. Today, we are the empire and we have turned our young men and women who volunteered for the military into the empire’s storm-troopers. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. We created Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, financed his operations and supplied him with the weapons that he and others now turn against U.S. forces. Iraq did not attack the United States. Saddam was our thug in the 1980s when he waged war against Iran. The people in both those countries who fight to repel the forces that invaded and occupy their countries have the right and the duty, under international law, to do so.

The United States Congress did not declare war as required by the Constitution. Bush lied. Cheney lied. Rice. Powell and Rumsfeld lied. Those men and women who volunteered for the military did not sign up to serve as storm-troopers for the emperor and his minions. In service to the empire our soldiers have slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, tortured prisoners in both those countries and elsewhere, and all the while we have turned our gaze away from the brutality that our military wages in our name.

These war crimes have nothing to do with what Mr. Mason and others have called “protecting our freedom.” Quite the contrary, these wars and the actions taken within the United States by our government, Republicans and Democrats, have reduced and endangered our freedoms: Habeas Corpus, gone; the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments shredded; Citizens spied on with impunity.

That sir is not protecting our freedoms. Our descent into empire is destroying our freedoms.

To make all these matters worse, parents in this country are grooming their own children for the slaughter and slaughtering in years to come. Our schools have become testing grounds for hero (certainly an overused word by now) worship. No longer are Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leah, who resisted Darth Vader and the emperor, heroes. Now the imperial storm-troopers themselves are the heroes as they smash and murder their way across the globe — at sea, on the ground and in the air.

Students are encouraged to write happy holiday letters to the “heroes protecting our freedoms.” Recruiters roam the halls of our schools baiting their nets.

Next year and the next and the next, when Clinton or Bush or Obama or whomever calls for more troops in service of the empire, our young people will march off, cheered on by their teachers, recruiters and parents, to kill in undeclared and illegal wars.

I’d like to see those young people educated and productive citizens rather than killed and killing in service to the empire.

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