Why I Hate the Star-Spangled Banner: How It Perpetuates Our Glorification of War – Part Two
By Tom Calarco
Why do you think Americans crave war, as Sebastian Junger, producer of documentaries about war like his Oscar-nominated Restrepo, suggested in a recent story on Medium?
Why i hate the star spangled banner – Not only did the CIA destabilize the governments of Iran and Guatemala, helping to install military dictatorships and in the latter, leading to the genocide of its indigenous people, but it moved into Vietnam, taking over the colonial presence of France, after its military had been defeated. It was part of the U.S. containment policy to halt the growth of Communism represented by Vietnam leader, Ho Chi Minh. At the same time, the U.S. installed a puppet leader in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and the CIA assumed control of the lucrative illegal heroin traffic in Southeast Asia that had been operated by the French.
It was in the aftermath of an escalating Cold War, an increasing stockpile of nuclear weapons and an arms race that had been ongoing since the Soviet development of the atomic bomb in 1949 and intensified with the development of Soviet rockets capable of launching satellites, that Eisenhower made his farewell address and John F. Kennedy became President.
The end result has been major wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East; well over 100 other military engagements of varying sizes; just as many additional conflicts which we have supported through military aid; extermination of possibly as many as 30 million human beings! And we talk about the Nazis. Of course their efforts were much more blatant and direct, and based purely on genocide; our motives generally have been economic.
Most wars in the past were fought because of religion, and there are still elements of that today. But to say that capitalism, as one pundit claims, prevents wars is a joke. It actually has been the major catalyst of warfare since the 19th century. The profit motive has taken over our lives and our leaders. Everywhere we go, there are advertisements trying to sell us something; every political decision is influenced by paid lobbyists or campaign contributions; every research study funded by vested interests. It does not matter who dies so long as someone is getting paid.
Such a dog-eat-dog system has increased the hostility in our nation. Just take a ride on any of our metropolitan highways and observe the driving habits of the average person, trying to get ahead, cutting in an and out, riding on the bumper of the car in front at speeds upward of 70 miles an hour.
Consider the increasing militarization and use of violence in law enforcement, those entrusted to keep the peace and protect us. Now they use painful tasers and even tanks, thanks to a law passed in the 1990s that provides them with Army surplus weapons. What seemed like a crazy satire of a SWAT team invasion in the film Brazil in the early 1980s has turned out to be a forecast of the future — SWAT teams were used about 3,000 times in 1980 but their annual use today has skyrocketed to 50,000. Now you hear about strip searches and tortures, and killing of unarmed individuals by police officers, some even being shot in the back like Walter Scott in South Carolina.
Since 1945, the U.S. has manned as many as 1,000 military bases in nearly 40 nations, with between 200,000-to-750,000 personnel depending on what wars it might be fighting. This does not include its global naval fleet patrolling the oceans, its global air force and intercontinental missiles, or its network of spy satellites overseeing the business of other nations and our designated enemies. For 70 years, the U.S. has maintained and continues to maintain a military fortress that’s currently supported by more than $700 billion annually.
For more than two decades we have been mired in a conflict in the Middle East with only a brief respite during the Clinton years. George Bush, the younger, rectified that by using the lie of WMDs to involve us in hostilities that have no end in sight and which have cost us more than $3 trillion since the beginning of the Gulf War. But they have cost us much more, thousands of veterans devastated by PTSD committing suicide every day and bringing back into our society the violence that they were conditioned to in the Middle East wars. Ironically, these men and women who killed innocent men, women, and children in the name of freedom have become our heroes. But freedom for whom?
Yes, the “Star-Spangled Banner” is more fitting today than ever. It’s set a standard that we seem to want to emulate. It has moved us from a place where once everything was beautiful from “sea to shining sea,” to a place where violence is just around every corner, and where like most things today, everything has become privatized.
Unseen by most of us, private armies operated by corporations have developed. You’ve heard the names from time-to-time in the news: Blackwater (now known as Airscan, changing its name after four of its employees were convicted of murder), Aegis, Dyn Corp, MVM, KBR, among others, some of them directly affiliated with the intelligence community. In the not too distant future, they will be fighting the wars, perhaps against us, the people. The bottom line will become the only determining factor over who lives and who dies, and we will once again be back to a world where the survival of the fittest rules supreme and life once again becomes for most, “short, nasty, and brutish.”
That’s why I cringe when I hear the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I’d prefer “brotherhood from sea to shining sea” rather than “bombs bursting in air.” A world where there are no private armies bent on protecting the profits of the profiteers and corporate plunderers, a world where war will cease when as President Kennedy said, “the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”
Writer Name : Tom Calarco
Writer Bio : Tom Calarco is a freelance writer and author of seven books about the Underground Railroad. He has also published fiction and been a journalist for 30 years. The article you are about to read was recently published in the online journal, Medium.