Persuading War

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Views: 2799
2799

How do you persuade a man who has a wife and children and who works hard but can barely make ends meet to take a pay cut and go do something that has a high probability of getting him killed or seriously injured?

Clearly, it is not in a man's self-interest to go to a foreign country and fight in a war, the outcome of which won't affect him or his family. So how do you persuade him to do it?

The answer lies in the nature of the human being. We are mind-directed creatures. We act on the basis of our beliefs. Therefore, if you can control what people believe, you can control what they do. That's the whole purpose of advertising, for example - to instill in people's minds the belief that a product or service will be beneficial to them.

Persuading people to go to war is much more complicated and involves identity, which is constructed of beliefs. When we are born, we don't know who we are or where we are. We only know we've just been pushed out of the warm womb into the drafty world of giants who can pick us up by our feet and whack our backsides. We protest the only way we can - by yelling.

The first beliefs that will come to constitute our identity come from parents or caregivers. Any psychiatrist can tell you how important these beliefs are and how difficult they are to shed. Then we begin to add more from our peers, from the culture and from education. So, we learn we are Americans, and just what are Americans? Well, we are told about that largely through history, through stories told by our own family and stories we read or see in the movies.

And once we identify ourselves as Americans, then we will act as we believe Americans, as we have defined them, ought to act. It was not in my self-interest to go into the Army. I had a good job. I had already decided against the military as a career. But, as an American, I believed it was my duty, so I went, and if the Army had said to go to Vietnam, I would have gone without question. My identity as an American was based on my beliefs, and part of those beliefs was that every American had a duty to take his turn on watch.

Millions of men have gone to war because, as Americans or British or French or Germans or Russians or Japanese, they believed it was their duty. The danger lies in the fact that unscrupulous men, through misrepresentation and propaganda, can motivate people to go to war even though it is not in their country's interest, much less their own. Unless there is an invader threatening one's home and hearth, it is never in the interest of an individual to go war - unless he decides to be a mercenary.

It is an evil paradox that men with the lowest motives can launch wars by appealing to the highest ideals of better men.

The millions killed in all the wars were nobodies as far as the leaders who sent them into war were concerned. They were cannon fodder. They all shared in common the fact that their political leaders were willing to sacrifice them for greed or ego. For all practical purposes, all of the dead in wars are unknown soldiers in the war leaders' eyes. The dead are known only to the people who loved them.

The trick is to remember to make the distinction between America in the abstract and America in reality. The America in the abstract is made up of all our experiences, memories, stories, legends and myths. The America in reality consists of what exists right at this moment. 

And what exists right at this moment is a corrupt federal government with a foolish man in the White House. What exists at this moment is a military-industrial complex with a vested interest in war and conflict. What exists at this moment are unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What exists at this moment is a government solicitous of corporate welfare, but one that doesn't give a hoot about the individual American.

Rudyard Kipling said it so well when in a poem he wrote: "If any question why we died / Tell them, because our fathers lied." Be alert when you hear politicians talk about abstractions like patriotism, national security and international stability. They are trying to control you by controlling your mind.

Charley Reese is an American syndicated columnist. He is known for his plainspoken manner and his conservative views. He was associated with the Orlando Sentinel from 1971-2001, both as a writer and in various editorial capacities.


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
Views: 2799
 
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Older Comments:
HUDD FROM CANADA said:
..Doin Phine? No war was necessary unless it was in self defence. Going and bombing a nation that cannot come and bomb you the same is invasion and colonization. Why are you in Canada? If you weren't a hypocrit amnd true to your word you would write from either Afghanistan or Iraq. Hurry, Steven Harper Bush's poodle, awaits you! Come on join the Canadian troops in Kandahar, what the heck are you waiting for? The war to be over?

Your ignorance and crass hate toward Islam and any progressive forces in society is scary. .. I wouldn't have given up on you because of an intrinsec belief that all humans irregardless of backgrounds are fundamentally good. You proved me wrong.
So long!
2006-06-06

AHMAD F ALAM FROM UK said:
Mind numbingly obvious. But those most in need of understanding it will not.
2006-06-05

DOIN PHINE said:
This article is the biggest piece of .. I've read in a long long time. Not because of its ant-american slant, but in the general terms in which soldiers are regarded upon by leaders and the military. Sometimes he might be right, but with most of the time this is not the way the leaders fell about their soldiers. Sometimes wars might have been waged that were not necessary, that is of course easier to judge in an historical sense, then in the immediate. Wars have been necessary for the West. The Americian War of Independance, The American Civil War. The World Wars to fight fascism. The Cold War to protect democracy against communism. The Wars of Tours in 732, and In Vienna in 1683 were all necessary wars. The list of unnecessary wars is also long. Only in hindsight will we know the implications of the War on Terrorism. If the Cold war is an indication, it was a necessary war!
2006-06-01

IAN FORBES FROM USA said:
The author asks, "How do you persuade a man who has a wife and children ..do something that has a high probability of getting him killed or seriously injured?" Quite easily, in the case of most Americans if one considers the quality of these individuals who join the US armed forces who fall into one of three categories: (i) The largest group comprise individuals from the dredges of humanity, from poverty stricken dysfunctional families and broken homes, accustomed to violent crime, drugs and have criminal histories and serious mental problems, social misfits who figure joining the forces will at least give them three square meals a day, a chance to travel overseas where they look forwards to enjoying sexual exploits (as in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq) or have a legal excuse to kill, maim and murder people. (ii) Then you have the immigrants, overwhelmingly Latinos, and all they are trying to do is get a Green Card and also be able to provide their families back home. Most are illegal and with the new policy of the US to "help" illegal recruits become legal, naturally after skipping the border from Mexico, the most desperate with no skills will head for the nearest army recruiting post. These do make up substantially the cannon fodder that the army needs. (iii) Then you have the gung ho Gi Joe farm boys from the bowels of the bible thumping US Midwest, where fire brand Baptists and Evangelical preach a special brand of "kill them all and let God sort them out" Christian values. These hay bailing, tobacco chewing, truck driving red necks, who daddies and grandpas also with brief military stints in their farm careers, devoid of any meaningful education other than what the church lady taught and what they learned from the local preacher which was more than just ABC, as we well know from the sea of sexual molestation law suits against the Church. These deflowered boys now try to reclaim their manhood by massacring children, women and men. Yes, we are in a big a mess.
2006-06-01