check out: http://nationalpriorities.org A website that tracks military and other spending.
The TV is on late at night, playing through the darkness of the house, playing with my sleep. A new war dawns over and over and over on the small screen. An explosion thousands of miles away illuminates the living room. I press the mute button. Why listen to the sounds of destruction, when for Americans at least, peace can be accomplished by remote control?
Immense sums have been invested to prepare our soldiers against the new death, which is the same as the old death, but our billions cannot protect them against the enemy’s ubiquitous homegrown ingenuity. A mere glance at the history of war shows that the number of boys who are allowed to grow to manhood is limited by old men, who pretend to know nothing about their power to sacrifice young men. Death and destruction are the enemy’s fault; blame them. For reasons of equality this reduction now includes women, and those who died in Afghanistan and Iraq arrive in my living room on C-17 transports, or so I am told by a reporter, since they only descend to earth after midnight, in deep secrecy.
Our killers have been cautioned to stifle expressions of excitement and pleasure after successful killings, because a ‘clinical, surgical’ war is just and good: our soldiers’ blank faces prove that we are superior morally to the enemy, for whom the act of mass murder yields a collective religious exaltation. Do the victims care? Count our deaths as a victory for democracy and we won’t mind being blown apart like watermelons during target practice.
The human body is less aerodynamic than a potato: a potato is ejected from a mud house that has just been shattered by an American rocket, a house that was someone’s world. Not a big fat American world, but someone’s world. Contrary to protocol, “We got that sucker big time!” escapes from the ecstatic mouth of the soldier who called in the air strike. None of the body parts, bits of a radio, plastic tubs and buckets, nor a thin mattress land in the darkness of my house, but the debris collects somewhere in that bottomless pit called television, where hundreds of thousands of dead bodies go. It’s the New Hades.
The dog lies with her head on the pillow. She watches whatever I watch, at this moment a video loop that leads up to the destruction of a tank whose extravagant price is unknown to those who paid for it. Fated to die a thousand deaths on the news channels of the world, its passengers shared stifled fear, Ritz crackers and stale Cheese Whiz: their Last Supper. Did they suspect that the sacrifice they were about to make was not meant to protect Americans or their home towns, but to serve lies cooked up on Profit Street by the old men of the meddling West?
At the moment of their obliteration, do our soldiers suddenly comprehend that the men who run the show in Washington, D.C., don’t have the skill to decide what necktie to wear to a press conference? Will it dawn on these baby ducks in warrior’s costume that it’s the TV show made for the public that counts; that the old males who have sent them to wander aimlessly in the world’s ideological vortices, don’t give a fuck what happens to them?
Americans are hampered by religious instruction that has never been clear to them. “Thou shalt not kill,” is not, and never was, a universal call to disarmament and nonviolence. God simply reserves murder, especially mass murder, for himself. In legal terms, the taking of life belongs to The State. The State is composed of old men, who are the true gods and love blood sacrifice.
Citizen shoppers are intercepted at a shopping mall by a reporter who asks them, “Do you support to our dead troops?” an act of magical thinking stunning in its stupidity. The shoppers say, “Thank-you for killing bad people of a different religion who live somewhere on a map that is utterly blank to us; thank-you for being killed so that we no longer must fear dangers that do not exist.” Amen.
Fighter jets land in my living room, as if the carpet is the deck of a spacious aircraft carrier that is docked under a blue sky – somewhere in America. Kids tie yellow ribbons to a chain-link fence, as did the youth of Rome and Carthage. The trick of war is to produce suffering on a level that is unendurable for civilians and soldiers alike, and to keep it up until the other side gives up, but inevitably, we end up doing this unendurable thing to ourselves.
A WWII veteran dredges for anecdotes that will please the media. He sits in a Walmart parking lot, in a wheelchair, next to a van with a lift. Weighed down by the manly jewelry of war that oppress his sunken chest, the old man mumbles for reporters as if he a puppet whose strings are being operated off camera:
“The Good War years were the best of years of my life.” Nostalgia penetrates the TV screen like a patriot’s sweat, and I know I’m being told that today’s ruinous war will be remembered with deep affection by future television production companies.
“We got those slant-eyed suckers big time!” the old soldier does not tell his fellow Americans. He does admit that the shock from Japanese bombs burst his eardrums and that his buddy’s body danced like a rag doll, animated by bullets from a Japanese fighter plane: a second buddy survived to spend the rest of his life rotting in a VA psycho ward, very far off camera. War is, after all, a demonstration of the wonderful effects of applied physics.
“The war was wonderful,” the old man says. “My memories help me to sleep.”