War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses and the losses in lives.
– Major General Smedley Butler
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear-kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor-with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
– General Douglas MacArthur
I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected that I was just part of the racket all the time. Now I am sure of it.
– Major General Smedley Butler
Today is remembrance day. It is officially the day when we remember those who have been killed in active military service.
For my family and I, and for the countless other families of servicemen and women who have died in armed conflict, every day is remembrance day.
When my brother Jani was killed on the 15th on July 1991, I had many thoughts running through my mind. But looking back, I can only remember two of these thoughts very clearly. The first was: ‘I can never truly be happy again’. This thought has become a belief and a self-fulfilling prophecy that haunts me to this day. But I am working on changing this. The second thought was: ‘No other family should ever have to go through what we are going through now’.
This post is written with that second thought in mind.
Like most young boys, I grew up with the macho stereotype and ideas that were based on militarism. I am no longer a young boy. I am a father now and over half-way to becoming an old man. It is fair to say that I no longer hold the views of my boyhood. I have learned a few things about life – maybe not many things, but a few important things nevertheless.
One of these things is that war is unnecessary. It is something that is imposed on the unsuspecting masses by the control system (which incidentally, is comprised of people who do not themselves go to war or send their children to war). Another, is that war is a racket. It is not about right and wrong or good versus evil, but about power and profit. Of course, looking at things at a superficial level and taking the pro-war propaganda at face value would have you believing otherwise. That is not my concern now for I am beyond swallowing propaganda or submitting to the will of war-mongering demagogues.
As with anything else, we all have our own ideas and opinions on war, and we often have good reasons for holding these views. My own experience has convinced me that war is a racket. But my views are based not only on my experience alone. I have also taken into account the words of those who have been on the front lines and met the ‘enemy’ face to face. The quotes of Major General Smedley Butler and General Douglas MacArthur that appear above are just some of the words that I have taken into consideration. But today, it seems that more and more military personnel and veterans are speaking out against what they have realised as being unjustified and unnecessary military interventions. There seems to be a common theme behind this ever-growing chorus of voices and it seems to be that “the ‘enemy’ is not my enemy and war is a racket”.
You can also access the stories and views of soldiers and veterans who oppose militarism and unjust wars by using the links below:
- Breaking the Silence – A website where Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
- Refuser Solidarity Network – A website about Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve against the Palestinians in the occupied territories
- Veterans for Peace UK – A website about British ex-servicemen and women who oppose war and support world peace
- Battlefield Casualties – An initiative to bring an end to the recruitment of children aged 16 and 17 into the British Armed Forces
- Ben Griffin – The twitter account of ex-SAS member and now peace activist Ben Griffin
- Veterans for Peace (International) – The website of an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members, and allies
So what about the fallen? Are we to not honour and remember them? Are we to regard their actions as somehow wrong and bad? This is something that each of us will have to decide for ourselves. For my part, knowing my brother and my father (he too was an army officer) as I do, I cannot help but feel the utmost love and respect for them. I know that they did what they did because they thought it to be the right thing. They endured heartache and hardship in the hope that their actions could somehow make things better for everyone else. They stood for peace. I cannot fault them for any of these things. Unfortunately, they trusted the establishment – an establishment that cares neither for right and wrong or for the people who mistakenly do its dirty work for them.
The mindset of the establishment as regards its military personnel is best summed up in this quote by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger :
Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.
Thank you Mr. Kisinger, but neither my father nor my brother were dumb or stupid. Their downfall was their trust and obedience to people like you. But even with all of that, they are far greater men than you could ever hope to be!
So to all of you I say, on this remembrance day and every other, please do remember and appreciate those who have given up their lives in the hope that it will bring a better world for us all. But also, please remember that the best way to honour the fallen is to ensure that we never again provide even more well-intentioned, idealistic and youthful cannon-fodder to take their place.
Let us remember then on this and every other remembrance day that war is a racket and say once and for all: TO HELL WITH WAR!