For me, the most fascinating part of Memorial Day is watching and reading what mainstream media types say about all the U.S. soldiers who have died in U.S. foreign wars. The standard litany, which is what I find so fascinating, is: “They died serving their country and defending our freedom.”
It’s a bromide that is inculcated into every single American, beginning from the first grade and continuing all the way up through adulthood. Most media figures who repeat it undoubtedly are convinced it’s true. It’s a classic example of the power of government indoctrination to mold a child’s mind into believing something and it then becoming permanent through adulthood.
Consider major wars since World War II in which U.S. soldiers have died:
1. Korean War. This was nothing more than a civil war. At no time did North Korea ever attack the United States. At no time were American freedoms in danger of being taken away by North Korea. This was nothing more than a foreign civil war in a land thousands of miles away from the United States, one that the U.S. government decided to intervene in.
At the time, the war was sold as part of the U.S. national-security establishment’s Cold War anti-communist crusade. U.S. officials maintained that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow, a conspiracy in which the Reds were supposedly coming to get us here in the United States. Unless U.S. soldiers were sent to fight and die in Korea, they said, the United States would be in grave danger of falling to the communist hordes that were supposedly coming to get us.
It was all one gigantic lie or, at the very least, one ridiculous Cold War mistake. The North Korean Reds were never coming to get us. They are still not coming to get us. In fact, the biggest fear of North Koreans is that the U.S. government is coming to get them by resuming its war against them, bombing their entire country and people to smithereens, as it did during the Korean War.
That means that the 38,652 U.S. soldiers who were killed in Korea, many of whom had been conscripted (i.e., enslaved), did not die protecting our freedom because our freedom was never threatened or in any danger. They also did not die serving their country. They died because their government sent them thousands of miles away to assist one side in a violent civil war.
2. Vietnam War. It’s no different with the Vietnam War, where more than 58,220 American men, many who whom were conscripted, were killed. The Pentagon and the CIA maintained that unless U.S. soldiers stopped the communists in Vietnam, the dominoes would begin falling and the Reds would ultimately take over America, again as part of the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow.
It was, again, a great big lie or, at the very least, a great big Cold War mistake. The Vietnam War, like the Korean War, was nothing more than a civil war. North Vietnam never attacked the United States. It never tried to take away the freedom of the American people.
Once North Vietnam won the war, the dominoes never began falling and the United States never turned Red, even if it did adopt socialist programs in the form of the welfare state, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Thus, the notion that U.S. soldiers died in Vietnam protecting our freedom is palpably ludicrous. And so is the notion that they died serving their country. They died in Vietnam because the Pentagon ordered them to go there and kill or be killed. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, dying in a foreign civil war thousands of miles away from the United States on orders of one’s government is not equivalent to dying for one’s country
3. Iraq War. Like North Korea and North Vietnam, Iraq never attacked the United States. In the Iraq War, it was the U.S. government that was the aggressor. It attacked a poor, Third-World country with the aim of ousting its ruler from power and installing a pro-U.S. regime.
What did regime change in Iraq have to do with protecting the freedom of the American people? Nothing! The freedom of the American people had nothing to do with the Iraq War. The 4,424 U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Iraq were not defending our freedom or serving our country. They died because the Pentagon ordered them to Iraq to effect regime change there.
4. Afghanistan War. The Taliban regime never attacked the United States. Some Americans have convinced themselves that the U.S. government attacked Afghanistan because of supposed complicity of the Taliban government in the 9/11 attacks. Not true. The George W. Bush administration attacked Afghanistan because the Taliban regime refused to comply with his unconditional extradition demand for Osama bin Laden, notwithstanding the fact that there was no extradition treaty between the two nations. If the Taliban regime had extradited bin Laden to the United States, there never would have been a U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Therefore, what did the war in Afghanistan have to do with protecting the freedom of the American people? Nothing! That’s because the Taliban regime never tried to take away the freedom of the American people. The 2,386 U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan did not die protecting our freedom. And they were not there serving our country. They were there serving the Pentagon, a massive military entity that is part of the federal government, an institution that is separate and distinct from our country. (Note that the Bill of Rights expressly protects the country from the federal government.)
So, why then do so many mainstream media types continue maintaining the lies that undergird all these foreign wars? (For analysis on the two world wars, see here.) Again, I think it’s a testimonial to the power of indoctrination and propaganda. I also think though that there might be an element of guilt involved here. Many of these mainstreamers supported these wars, which now makes it extremely difficult for them to accept the truth — that U.S. soldiers they supporting sending into these foreign wars died not for freedom and not for their country. Instead, they died for something ignominious — simply because their government ordered them to go thousands of miles away to fight and kill people who never attacked the United States. They died for lies, deception, anti-communist myths, or just regime change. And with all due respect, that’s nothing worth dying for.