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A Morally Rudderless America

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A U.S. Navy pilot flying over far north Okanogan County, Washington, is in hot water for leaving contrails in the sky in the shape of a penis. According to a report from CBS News affiliate KREM, people on the ground saw the image and complained. One mother was “upset because she might have to explain the drawings to her kids.” The reporter assured listeners that “we’re deliberately not showing you those drawings because they’re offensive.”

For over half a century the U.S. government has sent our military (and plenty of military aid) to foreign countries, to kill and maim and torture, to overthrow democratic governments and shore up corporate dominance, to prop up brutal dictators, and ultimately to protect America’s global hegemony.

Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform rightly observed, “There isn’t a country on earth who is truly a threat to our peace and well being, but we spend a trillion dollars per year sowing discontent and chaos around the globe so we can keep our troops and navies occupied killing and bombing people as the profits flow to the military industrial complex.” War, as Major General Smedley Butler wrote, is a racket.

Over these many years the bodies have piled up, as have the endless failures and the resulting chaos. Americans respond to this by closing their eyes and mindlessly chanting paeans to our Empire. Military recruiters roam the halls of high schools, filling impressionable minds with nonsense about “serving your country” and “protecting freedom.” Military spending perpetually grows, as does the number of countries hosting American troops and bases. Meanwhile drones vaporize wedding parties and terrorize civilians in foreign lands.

When Madeleine Albright was asked about the deaths of half a million (!) Iraqi children at the hands of US sanctions, she said “the price is worth it.” The silence was deafening. Barack Obama – the “peace president” – boasted that he was “really good at killing people.” The nation yawned. But let’s not put an American mother in the uncomfortable position of explaining the male penis!

Such absurdity reminds us of the angry rant from Colonel Kurtz at the end of the film Apocalypse Now, when he marveled over the shameless hypocrisy of military commanders who “train young men to drop fire on people” but bristle at the sight of expletives written on the sides of airplanes.

A Navy pilot draws adolescent images in the sky, and Americans are morally outraged. Wouldn’t it be nice if more Americans — including the mainstream media — experienced moral outrage when U.S. pilots kill and maim people in overseas military adventures?”

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