|Air Show Napalm Simulation – Wiki Image|
I read frequently among the lesserly neuronal of the supposed honor of soldiers, of the military virtues of courage, loyalty, and uprightness – that in an age of moral decomposition only the military adhere to principles, and that our troops in places like Afghanistan nobly make sacrifices to preserve our freedoms and democracy. Is not all of this nonsense?
Honor? A soldier is just a nationally certified hit-man, perfectly amoral. When he joins the military he agrees to kill anyone he is told to kill, regardless of whether he has previously heard of the country in which he will kill them or whether the residents pose any threat to him or his. How is this honorable? It is cause for lifelong shame.
It is curious that so many soldiers think that they are Christians. Christianity is incompatible with military service, if any Christianity is meant that Christ would have regarded with other than repugnance.
The explanation of course lies in the soldier’s moral compartmentation. Within his own tribe or pack, these usually being denominated “countries,” he is the soul of moral propriety – doesn’t knock over convenience stores, kick his dog, or beat his children; speaks courteously, observes personal hygiene, and works tirelessly for the public good in the event of natural disasters. A steely gaze with little behind it and a firm handshake amplify the appearance of probity.
Sacrifice? GIs do not make sacrifices. They are sacrificed, sacrificed for big egos, big contracts, for the shareholders of military industries, for pasty patriots in salons who never wore boots. They fight not for love of country but to stay alive, and from fear of the punishments meted out to deserters. If you doubt this, tell the men in Afghanistan that they may come home on the next plane without penalty, and see how many stay. Troops are as manipulated as roosters in a cock fight, forced to choose between combat and the pot.
Always, to understand the bloody absurdity of the military, bear in mind the primitive, overriding instinct of mankind to form packs and fight other packs. It is the only drive that can at times take precedence over sex. Thus we have tribes, football teams, Crips and Bloods, religious wars, rabid political parties, and patriotism, this latter being far the worst. Men in particular live primed to form martial herds and rush mindlessly upon other herds, waving slogans, arguments, forty-yard passes from scrimmage, swords, naval artillery, or white phosphorous. Dogs. Ants. Soldiers. Humanity.
Nowadays a high moral pretext for war will be contrived, embodying saccharine goodness and nauseous piety. We kill them to make them free, butcher their families because they must be democratic. The race has accumulated just enough fragile decency to want a noble pretext before burning children. Yet the pack’s hostility to outsiders remains the primary drive behind wars, with reasons hung on later like Christmas ornaments.