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The Big Dick School of American Patriotism

America's new military mystique and what we make of it

Nan Levinson, TomDispatch

big_flag.jpg?itok=jtV2VoaSThink of it as the 'Big Dick School of Patriotism' and understand that so many of our foreign policy failures show that having an oversized military doesn't solve problems, it creates them. (Product image: via Amazon.com)

March 17, 2015 | Let’s face it: we live in a state of pervasive national security anxiety. There are various possible responses to this low-grade fever that saps resolve, but first we have to face the basis for that anxiety -- what I’ve come to think of as the Big Dick School of Patriotism, or (since anything having to do with our present version of national security, even a critique of it, has to have an acronym) the BDSP.

The BDSP is based on a bedrock belief in how America should work: that the only strength that really matters is military and that a great country is one with the capacity to beat the bejesus out of everyone else. Think of it as a military version of 50 Shades of Grey, with the same frisson of control and submission (for the American citizen) and the assumption that a good portion of the world is ripe to be bullied.

Nan Levinsons new book, War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built (Rutgers University Press), is based on seven years she spent not-quite-embedded with military-related antiwar groups around the country. As a freelance journalist, she writes about the military, free speech, and other aspects of civil liberties, culture, and technology. She teaches journalism and fiction writing at Tufts University.

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Related:

The Washington Post Will Kill Us All, davidswanson, davidswanson.org

When you're starting wars … on the grounds that if you don't start a war now someone else could theoretically start one later, you have set up a logic of Armageddon. And it may kill us all. … But we won't all die, I feel fairly certain, without the Washington Post cheering death through the door.

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War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built ~ Nan Levinson, Described in FireDog Lake (FDL) Book Salon

  • Written with sensitivity and humor, War Is Not a Game gives readers an uncensored, grunt’s-eye view of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while conveying the equally dramatic struggles that soldiers face upon returning home. 
  • Militarization of America - We've Become a Failed State
  • The Big Dick School of American Patriotism

Militarization of America - We've Become a Failed State

  • Leaders in both war parties are now looking at ways to get around the Pentagon spending limits in order to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the military industrial complex and their agents in Congress who want to bring home the weapons production bacon - the only real job creation program in the nation anymore.
  • John J. Dilulio, Jr. | The Rise and Fall of the US Government

     

Bruce Gagnon, Organizing Notes / Rise Up Times

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airshow.jpgThursday, March 12, 2015 | The Wall Street Journal reported on March 10 that for now the Congress will likely stick to sequestration "spending curbs enacted four years ago, even though many GOP lawmakers believe the limits are harming the nation’s military readiness."

 

"But the choice to abide by the spending limits in the base budget highlights the importance of shrinking federal spending as a core Republican value in the document meant to enshrine the party’s top priorities. And it reflects a GOP calculation that a focus on slashing spending will help secure the support of the party’s right flank, whose recent defections have derailed other high-profile bills.

 

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire ... .

Full story ...

 

Related:

John J. Dilulio, Jr. | The Rise and Fall of the US Government, John J. Dilulio, Jr.  Moyers and Company  / Rise Up Times

Politics%20Banner.jpg

  • Afflicted by deep polarization among elites and mass mistrust of government, America’s repatrimonialized republic has descended into what Fukuyama terms a “vetocracy,” a paralytic liberal democratic regime in which not even clear and present fiscal, foreign or other dangers elicit sound and timely policy decisions.
  • America Is Not a Normal Country

 

The Washington Post Will Kill Us All

When you're starting wars … on the grounds that if you don't start a war now someone else could theoretically start one later, you have set up a logic of Armageddon. And it may kill us all. ... But we won't all die, I feel fairly certain, without the Washington Post cheering death through the door.

davidswanson, davidswanson.org

 

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dontiraqiran.jpg

16 March 2015 | "War with Iran is probably our best option." This is an actual headline from the Washington Post.

Yes it's an op-ed, but don't fantasize that it's part of some sort of balanced wide-ranging array of varied opinions. The Washington Post wouldn't print a column advocating peace to save its life -- as such an act just might help to do. And you can imagine the response if the headline had been: "Racism is probably our best option," or "Rape is probably our best option," or "Child abuse is probably our best option." Nobody would object: "But they've probably had lots of columns opposing child abuse. Surely they can have one in favor, or do you want to shut down debate?" No, some things are rightly considered beyond the range of acceptability. War, in Washington, is not one of them.

Now, war propaganda is illegal under the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights. War itself is illegal under the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter. But the Washington Post isn't one to worry about legal niceties.

David Swanson is an American activist, blogger and author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union."

Full story … 

Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

  • I think of all the My Lais that most Americans never knew existed and few are aware of today. I think about young American men who shot down innocents in cold blood and then kept silent for decades. I think about horrified witnesses who lived with the memories. I think of the small number of brave whistleblowers who stood up for innocent, voiceless victims. But most of all, I think of the dead … of all the massacres that few Americans knew about and fewer still cared about.
  • Part 1: My Lai 45 Years Later—And the Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan
  • Part 2: Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War
  • Seven Stories I Wish They'd Tell About the War in Vietnam

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: My Lai 45 Years Later—And the Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

On the anniversary of the infamous My Lai massacre, Nick Turse recalls the numerous, less-well-known atrocities that marked the Vietnam War, and asks which atrocities from Iraq and Afghanistan we will be remembering in 45 years.

Nick Turse, The Daily Beast

/1363712614224.cached.jpg03.16.13 | Forty-five years ago today, March 16, roughly 100 U.S. troops were flown by helicopter to the outskirts of a small Vietnamese hamlet called My Lai in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Over a period of four hours, the Americans methodically slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians. Along the way, they also raped women and young girls, mutilated the dead, systematically burned homes, and fouled the area’s drinking water.

On this day, I think back to an interview I conducted several years ago with a tiny, wizened woman named Tran Thi Nhut. She told me about hiding in an underground bunker as the Americans stormed her hamlet and how she emerged to find a scene of utter horror: a mass of corpses in a caved-in trench and, especially, the sight of a woman’s leg sticking out at an unnatural angle which haunted her for decades. She lost her mother and a son in the massacre. But Tran Thi Nhut never set foot in My Lai. She lived two provinces north, in a little hamlet named Phi Phu which—she and other villagers told me—lost more than 30 civilians to a 1967 massacre by U.S. troops.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War.

Full story ...


Part 2: The Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War

Fifty years after the first US troops came ashore at Da Nang, the Vietnamese are still coping with unexploded bombs and Agent Orange.

George Blackthe Nation

battle_of_khe_sahn_otu_img.jpgAmerican troops in action on Hill 875 at Dak To (fall 1967), one of the bloodiest engagements of the war (US Army Heritage and Education Center)

February 25, 2015  |On a mild, sunny morning last November, Chuck Searcy and I drove out along a spur of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail to the former Marine base at Khe Sanh, which sits in a bowl of green mountains and coffee plantations in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province, hard on the border with Laos. The seventy-seven-day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968, coinciding with the Tet Offensive, was the longest battle of what Vietnamese call the American War and a pivotal event in the conflict. By the off-kilter logic of Saigon and Washington, unleashing enough technology and firepower to produce a ten-to-one kill ratio was a metric of success, but the televised carnage of 1968, in which 16,592 Americans died, was too much for audiences back home. After Tet and Khe Sanh, the war was no longer America’s to win, only to avoid losing.

I learned later that this ravishing forested landscape was something of an illusion. In defense of Khe Sanh, the US Air Force dropped 100,000 tons of bombs on the surrounding mountains, stripped the forests bare with Agent Orange and incinerated them with napalm. Since the war, the Vietnamese government has replanted this barren and eroded land, part of a national effort to rehabilitate the portions of Vietnam that were devastated by herbicides—an area the size of Massachusetts.

George Black, a writer in New York, is editor-at-large for the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), an independent nonprofit news organization. He is working on a book about the history and culture of the Ganges.

Full story … 

Related:

Seven Stories I Wish They'd Tell About the War in Vietnam, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 (VFP) (Twin Cities) 

  • A World Storytelling Day Event
  • 7 p.m. March 20, 2015, Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN

Seven Stories I Wish They'd Tell About the War in Vietnam

  • A World Storytelling Day Event
  • 7 p.m. March 20, 2015
  • Macalester Plymouth United Church
  • 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN

Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 (VFP) (Twin Cities)

20229527c1c240439ddbc81bf821d95e.jpgIf you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

2015%20Storytelling%20Day%20%28Viet%20Nam%29%20banner.jpg2015 begins a large commemoration of the War in Vietnam, to thank and honor veterans, and to highlight the accomplishments of many agencies and allies during that time.  While it is right to remember those who were asked to sacrifice, it is wrong to use it as cover to lie us into further wars.

Aligned with www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org, the March 20 event features 7 storytellers/musicians, mostly veterans, Gerald Ganann, Catrina Huynh-Weiss, Steve McKeown, Gary Melom, George Mische, Dick Foley, and Chante Wolf.  They'll tell the tales likely to be left out at www.vietnamwar50th.com, stories like the lie that was Gulf of Tonkin, Kent State, Hugh Thompson and My Lai, the courage and strategy of draft card burning, Dr. King's Vietnam speech, Fulbright Hearings, Pentagon Papers, the Secret War in Laos, rape in Vietnam, homeless veterans, and the treatment of soldiers exposed to Agent Orange.

Co-sponsored by Macalester Plymouth United Church Peacemakers and Making Meaning of Vietnam, www.makingmeaning ofvietnam.com, it's also endorsed by Veterans for Peace Chapter 27, www.vfpchapter27.org.  It is free, but participants will be given opportunity to make a donation to efforts to remedy the impacts of Vietnam era Agent Orange exposure.

For more information, or to assure you have a seat at the event, contact Larry Johnson at 612-747-3904 or larryjvfp@gmail.com.  Larry is immediate past President of Veterans for Peace 27, serves on the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers Leadership Team, and is one of the storytellers who helped start World Storytelling Day.

World Storytelling Day, March 20, www.freewebs.com/worldstorytellingday/, begun in March 2003, creates events each year in 25 or more countries.  Most are less direct than this, celebrating more the joy of telling and listening to "the people's stories", but the inherent undertone has always been, "If I can hear your story, it's harder for me to hate you." The theme this year is "Wishes."

Flyer Available here: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0c8c5605a31be52f12c57ef56/files/WSD_flyer_2015.pdf

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