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So... Don't Join The U.S. Army

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) By RDFollendoreIII

May 23, 2005

Americans are amazing in that we actually believe the television programs that we see on television.  We see Hollywood movies where the bad guys shoot endless streams of bullets at the heroes and we suspend our belief for the entertainment factor. The reality is that real bullets do real things and there is no acting. In Hollywood, the Rambo's survive these bullets and go on in some amazing way to stop the 'terrorists.'  The reality is that poster boys don't make it. This is partly because every battle in a war is essentially a group oriented killing project.  Individuals should not apply. Being as group oriented and deadly as war is, if you are absolutely emphatic about the idea that deadliness should not involve you then maybe you should consider the idea that you are not cut out for war. 

The analogy of war to sports is also inappropriate. In the spectacle of football, on any given play, the player who moves out of position may be giving away opportunities for a few points to their opponents. If they are on offence then they might even get trampled from behind by their own ball carrier.  In modern warfare, the degree of lethality being leveraged means that the 'poster boy player' that moves out of place, for any reason is likely to be killed. On the battlefield bravery tends to be giving better reasons to die than cowardice.  War does give favor to the fearful and the ugly and it is for this reason that the fearless and the pretty are usually the first to die.

No one comes from the disaster of battle without ugly scars. The scars may come from the memories of what was seen or done.  In land wars the objective view of the 'enemy' becomes subjective.  The scar may be realization of the enjoyment of killing. War is not a civilized activity. In terms of numbers, the innocent represent the highest percentage of casualties. Those troops who make it home to peace should be haunted for the rest of their lives. Those American friends and family members who are stupid enough to believe that soldiers should come home unchanged do not give their experiences legitimacy. Moreover, they are the ones who voted for the war as a solution in the first place. Those yellow plastic ribbons declaring 'Support Our Troops' may make Americans feel like they are united in standing behind those who go to war even though what they are really doing is perpetuating the myth of war. It is paradox that we feel good about the idea of supporting our troops when the truth is that by ignoring their  psychological wounds, we also like to smother them when they come home.

The fact remains that there are many reasons why a human being would voluntarily join the military knowing that they may be called upon to go into a battlefield and often the least of these is true patriotism. More often the original deciding factor was economic. There may not have been a better opportunity. The peer pressure may have been the motivating factor.  But ignorance is always a root cause. It strikes me as being ridicules that any one of us would think that if a man or woman were to to have thirty seconds to consider the nature of what was to happen to them before they die in battle, they would not have regret. There is no sacrifice, there is only the inevitability of the situation at hand. The very reason why we Americans are so good at war is because our military does not model its doctrine around sacrificial tactics. 

We Americans have become so willing suspend our beliefs so that we can feed our sense of entertainment that we seem to be eager to trade true patriotism for a sense of nationalism.  We Americans are never quite willing to say that our democratic experiment never quite worked, for the same reasons that we are still not owning up to the problem that so many deaths have been based on Weapons of Mass Destruction that were not there.  Maybe deep down we have become so nationalistic because we are concerned about being a fraud. If so then the solution is that we should abandon our ideas and our actions that are based on fraud. Our American 'Universe' seems revolve around our ideas of what people 'should' be like.  We then extend this embarrassing theme to that of forcing others to believe what war survivors should be like. Perhaps someone should suggest that this comes from guilt. We raise our children in the media and game rich environment that tells them psychological lies.  But the problem is not the games.  We simply don't choose to take the time to talk to them 'heart to heart' and tell them the truth.  Violence is not victimless and heroes do die for good, often before they are successful at doing any good.

Adults in the United States of America have the obligation to themselves, their family and specifically their children as well as to their country to wake up from this aurora of false Americanism.  The weight of the blame for the effects of this war is already on those who have not taken the time speak the truth about what has been going on.  If your child flew back in a flag draped coffin, or did not come home whole then you already know this. If you son or daughter is married to one of our troops over there then you will know this, that is if you don't already. If you are a parent who has a son or daughter already thinking about joining up, maybe it is too late, but then again maybe not.  Give it a try. If you don't you will probably will never get that chance again. Pat Tillman's family and friends will never the chance again and now they place the blame on the Army for letting their "poster boy" hero down. On the face of what war truly is and what the U.S. Army is oriented to do that is ludicrous.

There is no doubt that the U.S. Army is necessary, because war is sometimes necessary. That means soldiers can be necessary. What is not necessary are unnecessary wars and their subsequent victims who join the military to fight unnecessary wars. What is unnecessary are those who must  return to war zones knowing the truth of an irresponsible, immoral and blind war perpetrated by lies.   

I am reminded of an old vaudevillian joke that I am sure George Burns once told.  A man went to see the Doctor and said "My arm hurts when I do this." The Doctor replied "So don't do that. You're cured. That will be five bucks. Next patient please!" 

The equivalent to this is that someone comes to see you because they trust you and says, "I am afraid of my future and I am thinking about enlisting in the U.S. Army but I am worried about the war." In response you say, "Then don't be worried. Everything is now OK. Let's watch an action movie!" Perhaps instead what we should be saying is "So don't join the U.S. Army. If you have doubts about this then maybe there are legitimate reasons we should talk about." 



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