On Veterans Day we’re supposed to support the troops and wave the flag but as a veteran I say fuck that.
It’s the anniversary of the end of WWI, the supposed war to end war, commemorated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. WWI brought modern industrial warfare from the Third World colonies to Europe and the shock and horror animated a generation of writers and artists who vowed never again. Of course, twenty years later the outbreak of WWII made a mockery of the sentiment.
In the US we celebrate it as Veterans Day but Remembrance Day is observed in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Celebrated since the end of WWI, Remembrance Day actually marks Armistice Day–the day on which the hostilities between the Allies and Germany ceased on the Western Front.
I actually like Remembrance Day. Veterans Day is another one of those PR constructs where instead of remembering the horrors of war and vowing not to repeat our predecessors mistakes we promote more war by pimping out members of our armed forces as useful props. And, as we saw with W. Bush’s administration–support the troops means support for American imperialism.
The American economy revolves around war, with endless conflict being seen as a lucrative business model for weapons manufacturers. Of course, they can’t just come right out and say that they need to slaughter a bunch of people in order to create value for shareholders, hence the need for advertising, PR and propaganda.
Since February 2022, we have been living through the worst propaganda campaign in my lifetime over the conflict in Ukraine. You can see this dynamic where in the post Russia-gate era, MSNBC-watching Democrats have been conditioned to promote confrontation with the Kremlin and dismiss political opponents as “pro-Putin” traitors. There is no room for even the mildest of dissent. For American imperialists, the answer is clear: a call for diplomacy with Russia is “appeasement” (Bill Kristol) and “appalling” (Max Boot). Taking these neoconservative naysayers’ side was none other than the former Democratic “Revolution” leader Bernie Sanders, who declared his opposition to any resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
Give peace a chance? Hardly.
Republicans have historically been the more bellicose party but since the 2016 election of Donald Trump, Democrats have embraced fantasies about anything to do with Russia: a Manchurian, Kompromat-compromised president and the hope that Robert Mueller will prove it; Russian bots swinging elections and fueling anti-racism protests; Russia bounties on US troops in Afghanistan; Russian microwave weapons injuring US officials; Russia fabricating Hunter Biden’s laptop. Accordingly, Democrats have also embraced the national security state officials behind these deceptions, and the Cold Warrior outlook that guides them.
However, if you think Republicans, if they take over the House or Senate, will be anti-war, despite presumed new Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy statements about oversight in Ukraine, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
Instead, what members of both parties are going to do is to push for more weapons and more provocations, while talking about prosecuting President Putin at the ICC. They’re pushing policy recommendations that would plainly necessitate regime change in Russia but won’t admit it because the insanity of the proposition is self-evident. The wishes of the American people have nothing to do with such foreign policy decisions and their needs are routinely dismissed. The wisdom of spending trillions of dollars to overturn elections, invade foreign countries, kill disfavored people abroad, and build a police and surveillance state at home is rarely discussed.
The end of the Cold War gave hope that America could come home and we could be at peace. Rather than war we could put the vast resources to use on health care, education and public infrastructure. But for the military/industrial/complex (MIC) the idea of peace was horrifying and instead we got a war on drugs, a war on terror and now a new and improved Cold War against Russia and China.
The real problem for our country is that both parties are controlled to a large extent by the MIC, and to continue to prosper they and their financiers depended on a steady supply of enemies, existential threats and fear. Meanwhile, the MIC and their political sock-puppets have become diabolically gifted at selling war. The RAND Corporation, an influential member of the military industrial complex, published a report in 2008 advocating war against a major power as a way to stimulate the U.S. economy. The report did not specify the target, but at the time the main candidates were thought to be Iran, Russia, or China. Accordingly, the media and public relations industry close to the MIC launched a subtle marketing campaign to generate public consent for this new and improved idea.
Sometimes it’s not particularly subtle.
On this Remembrance Day we ought to remember how it is that the war to end war was just the beginning.