MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In the attacks of 9/11, the US government found the ideal motivating factor to pursue wars across the globe (particularly in the Middle East): fear.
Yes, there were terrorist attacks in the United States. And those attacks were all the more affronting to those in the US because since the Civil War, this country has been largely immune to any attacks on US soil (with a couple of notable exceptions, such as Pearl Harbor). We have come to see ourselves as immune to foreign attack, whether committed by nations or non-state terrorist organizations. Unlike most of the rest of the world, we have not seen our streets and sidewalks crushed by tanks and our cities bombed into rubble.
Meanwhile, according to journalist and researcher Nick Turse, the US is expanding its military action, particularly in low-level intensity conflicts, around the world. Political figures will claim that this military warfare is necessary to protect us from state enemies and terrorists alike. However, the reality is that for the most part, the US conducts war to protect its hegemony over regions of the world that supply it with raw materials, inexpensive labor and lucrative markets for corporations.
One need not look beyond the Middle East to see an example of an entire region that was first colonized by Europe in the early 1900s. The only thing that has changed since then is that the oil-rich region was carved up into nations that are still largely under the hegemonic control of the West. When oil-rich nations such as Iraq or Libya become troublesome to the US, they are "liberated" at the costs of hundreds of thousands of civilians, soldiers and US lives to ensure the ongoing availability of fossil fuel. The "dictators" are replaced with Western-friendly governments installed by the US and nations of the European Union (particularly the UK and France).
Our wars are frequently disguised under the propaganda sloganeering of fighting terrorism and "tyranny." This "sells" much better than portraying the reality of people dying and being displaced in massive numbers to ensure that wealthy people in the West -- particularly in the US -- can continue to enjoy a prosperous lifestyle. Except on rare occasions, we have not actually initiated wars to liberate the oppressed; we have fought to enrich the wealth of those who benefit from the resources that are "liberated" to our control. Western nations don't have to administer colonial governments anymore; they just have to conduct coups, install puppet governments and preserve the appearance of creating independent free nations.
The US learned from the Vietnam War that a military that depended on a draft could undermine the ability of the US to sustain wars, due to large-scale opposition. So it shifted to a "volunteer army" that would eliminate the offspring of the wealthy from eligibility, ensuring that only "motivated" soldiers -- generally motivated by economic need -- would enter the armed forces.
However, even this voluntary army has developed dissenters -- in particular wounded, traumatized and discarded veterans. These soldiers -- who often initially believed in the jingoistic flag-waving and staged words of tribute that celebrated the military -- found that their government was eager to honor them with lofty words, but not so eager to provide follow-up care or take any interest in their plights. These soldiers were brought in under the illusion that they were serving their country, but in effect, they were fighting to protect the standard of living enjoyed by a small sliver of wealthy people.
This week Truthout is highlighting a book written by Mark Wilkerson about an Iraq War veteran, Tomas Young, who died at the age of 34 years after enduring years of painful paralysis caused by an AK-47 gunshot while patrolling in Sadr City. In great pain and deteriorating health, Tomas spent the remainder of his life vociferously speaking out against the Iraq War. Phil Donahue, who produced a documentary about Tomas, calls him "a warrior turned anti-warrior."
On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, Tomas wrote a compelling, lacerating letter to the war criminals -- including George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -- who launched the Iraq War. The letter includes these words:
I write this letter on behalf of some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded...
You [Bush and Cheney] may evade justice, but in our eyes you are guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder, and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans -- my fellow veterans -- whose future you stole....
[All of us] were sacrificed by you [Bush and Cheney] for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
Empires enrich those in power. Empires aim to subjugate, not to set free. Empires aim to amass the wealth and plunder of the world, not to distribute it amongst the planet's inhabitants.
Tomas Young is one of the many victims of the US's endless wars -- wars geared toward ensuring the profit of empire at the expense of humanity.
Not to be reposted without the permission of Truthout.