Monday, December 31, 2007
The Dumbest Generation
By Richard E. Noble
If we start off with the premise that man is basically a dumb, stupid, ignorant, moronic beast that has somehow evolved over centuries into what he now is, then how one man was able to lead other men off to war is not all that difficult to discern. But if we believe, as many would have us believe today, that man was originally, from the get-go, an intellectual giant among the animal kingdom; part animal, part God; a creature running a close second - with only the angels in heaven and in hell being his chief competition - in all created things, then the question becomes more perplexing.
Why would any intelligent man march off - usually ill-equipped, ill-advised, mismanaged, mistreated and misdirected - to some foreign country where he has the very good chance of being killed?
It seems that back in the days of the kings and Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan the motivation was, for the most part, personal gain. One of the big attractions of war back in those early days was rape, pillage and plunder. I can see that the intelligent male of our present day and age might be encouraged to risk his life with these motivations in mind. In the world that I see today many might be willing for the advantage of rape alone - never mind the pillage and plunder.
In addition to raping, pillaging and plundering in the good old days, slavery was considered a legitimate opportunity. Slaves, especially those acquired during war were universally recognized as a legal and acceptable spoil of any war. No one questioned one man’s right to own slaves way back when, not even the Pope. The One True Church believed that Just Wars and slaves were all a part of God’s plan.
So to return home from a war with a number of slaves at sword point, each carrying a treasure chest of pillage and plunder was a good thing in days of yore.
It wasn’t all that great for the slaves and all those who were raped, pillaged and plundered. But throughout history, and even today, those people do not get a lot of TV time or newspaper column space. We call a lot of that sort of thing today - collateral damage, improper logistical calculations or simply - unfortunate.
But, all of this aside, what is curious to me, is when did men start fighting for nothing - I mean, for free?
Today in our own country we have soldiers who go off to war for very little money. Sometimes their families are left behind to live on charity. What happened to all that rape, pillage and plunder business?
But it has also occurred to me that even in the good old days of slaves, rape, pillage and plunder there were many people who fought for none of these reasons. Those who were being raped, plundered and pillaged for example; they were fighting in self-defense. So there were always soldiers who were fighting in the name of self-defense, patriotism and moral principle. Those that fought for patriotism, self-defense and moral principle, never got paid all that much. The Pirates, Conquistadors, Huns, Vandals and Visigoths and those who promoted aggressive war of one sort of another were the ones who garnered all the pillage and plunder. But in today’s world, it seems to me that neither the soldiers of the plunderer or the plunder-ee get paid very much. Even the German soldiers in World War II didn’t make any really big bucks. And the pay for the mercenaries at the French Foreign Legion, though substantially above the mean for soldiering, has never been what anyone would call extravagant.
Why is that, and how did that happen?
Somewhere along the line, soldiers started working for wages instead of pillage and plunder. That was obviously a bad decision on their part.
If the soldiers of the Greatest Generation had returned from their war and instead of joining the VFW (an organization started by ex-officers and successful businessmen to counter the negative accusations of disgruntled regular soldiers), they had joined the AFL or the ClO, ot the Teemsters, soldiers might be in a much better bargaining position today.
The VFW always seems to be in favor of any war - no matter what the soldier’s pay or benefits might be. They never seem to look ahead to the next war and start negotiating on behalf of their members beforehand.
We should all know by now that war for America is not only inevitable but designed. It has been a basic part of the agenda since Harry Truman and Winston Churchill dropped the Iron Curtain and established the Cold War shortly after World War II ended. We can’t live without it. It is good business and without it, we just won’t be able to maintain the style of life that most of us have become accustomed to. Today it is Baghdad and tomorrow it will be someplace else. It was the Cold War, and now it is the Islamic War or the War on Terror - next it will be the Yellow Peril once again, or maybe we will even bring the Russians back. But you all know as well as I do, there will be War.
But why is it that when it is too late; after everybody is dead or limb-less, the VFW and others of their persuasion always seem to step up and start belly-aching. It never works. It didn’t work for the guys fighting for their back wages after the American Revolution or the Civil War, or for the World War I Bonus Army. The World War II guys did get the GI Bill, but Vietnam and Agent Orange and the Post War Syndrome stuff didn’t seem to whip up a good deal of civilian compassion.
If we are going to have war forever - let’s forget who’s at fault or what the cause - moral or immoral - let’s get paid for it guys. How about it?
The Generals get good money. Is their blood any redder than yours? Baseball players and basketball players are finally getting good money - even if they are black for god’s sake. Arms makers have been making good money ever since war began. No arms manufacture has ever been asked to manufacture bullets for free because its country is at war. I have never read anywhere that an arms manufacturer has donated all of its profit from a war to the VFW or the disabled veterans fund. In fact, the exact opposite has always been the case - investigations into war profiteering, misappropriation of funds by politicians and government agencies - even trading with the enemy for God’s sake. If it is not unpatriotic for all these folks to turn a profit on war what about you poor slugs?
How about it, you guys? When are you guys going to stop taking thank-yous and lOUs and start screaming; SHOW ME THE MONEY! You know, you will either get it, or they will slow down this war business mighty quick.
It could be that your countries are so willing to make war because you are so willing to sell your blood, arms and legs at such a cheap price. Patriotism and good wages are not mutually exclusive in a Capitalistic society as they well could be considered in a Socialist or Communist society.
I can understand a left-wing, liberal, Socialist or Communist society asking its citizens to fight for free or minimum wages and benefits - do it for the Fatherland type thing, but in this individualist, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, everyman is responsible for his own success, failure, children, family, health, mortgage, loans and credit cards, supply and demand, bottom-line, sorry but we’ve got to downsize culture - I don’t see why a soldier should not “capitalize” on this we-need-you situation. If they won’t pay you when they don’t need you, and you don’t get the money when they do need you - when the hell do you ever expect to make anything?
A third alternative could be more bombs and fewer boots - which is also good. Better more of them than more of you. That’s what Truman said. And he never lost a night of sleep over it either - he said so, himself. He obviously didn’t read John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
Forget the benefits, promises, reasons and motivations; concentrate on the wages? The Generals and officers seem to obviously have a better negotiating team than you soldier types.
They always seem to do all right. Police and firemen seem to have figured something out. Even meter-maids do better than active duty American soldiers.
A civilian right now, driving a truck in a war zone gets some danm good money - if he lives - and I think his chances are better than the average soldier. But a soldier truck-driver gets squat, dead or alive. I think that American truck-driver soldiers should contact a Teamster organizer. The Teamsters might embezzle some of the pension fund, but look at the Government and the Social Security Trust Fund. Do I need to ask; Who’s looking out for you baby?
Florence Nightingale went off to help the wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. Do you know why? Because the British sent off an army to fight in Russia with no medics or nurses or doctors - without any bandages even. Florence got the girls back home together to gather up all of their bed sheets and come and follow her to the war zone. Is it any wonder that we are still talking about Florence and her girls today?
Then, of course, we are still singing the praises of the Charge of the Light Brigade also - “Into the Valley of death rode the five hundred”. Do you know why the five hundred rode into the valley of death? Because they were ordered to do so by a dimwit British General who didn’t know his ass from his elbow. The Charge of the Light Brigade is recorded in nearly every history book as one of the stupidest blunders in the history of war. But, the poem is great. I get all excited every time that I read it - not about war ... about poetry.
If a soldier in the Crimean War got wounded, he most likely bled to death. And if it were not for a couple of new style civilian reporters, William Russell and Thomas Chenery, neither Florence nor the English public would have ever heard about it.
Now, I ask myself, did the British government think that none of their soldiers were going to get wounded when they sent them off to Russia and the Crimea to fight a war? It could have simply been over confidence, I suppose. What do you think? Does that sound stupid to you, or am I just being picky?
Today we have the folks back home chipping in to buy gas masks and body armor for their brave boys and girls. We have soldiers going to the dumps over in Baghdad trying to find steel plates to weld onto their “armored” vehicles. After this war is over - if it ever gets over - we have a whole foreign country that we are going to have to rebuild from the Social Security Trust Fund and the cancellation of the hot lunch program down at the school house. We are going to have another whole army of mentally broken and physically disabled to care for and support. Did our government not think about any of this?
Of course they did, even George Bush’s father - the Mystical Father of Oblivion, the god of war - thought about it. He said so, when they asked him why he didn’t go to Baghdad in the first Bush war.
When we went into Vietnam, even Drop-the-big-one MacArthur said it was stupid; but we did it anyway. Why?
Because America needs War - any war! It can be a Right war or a Left war. It can be a good war or a bad war. We don’t even have to win. We just have to keep it going. One long war or a never ending group of short wars - it don’t matter. Read War and Anti-War by Alvin and Heidi Toffler, or Waging Modern War by Wesley K. Clark for a blue print.
The last generation may go down in the history books as the Greatest Generation - but this generation will undoubtedly be labeled the Dumbest Generation in all of American history.
While huge sums of money are being returned to the richest 1% in America - a group who owns as much or more than the entire lower 95% - while huge multinational corporations pay no taxes and ship their good and bad paying jobs overseas - while aggressive invasions are being euphemized as pre-emptive protective measures; while every domestic program is being raped and ravaged - while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer - our patriotic Republican government in Washington is going to borrow to pay its bills and spread the payment out over milk, bread, and potatoes for all of us 95 percent.
Well, the top five percent will pay more for their bread, butter and potatoes too, but the middle class restaurants where they eat will absorb most of it - they can cut the pay to the dishwashers and waitresses.
This means that the rich not only get their tax money back, but they get to pay lower wages to their foreign employees, collect higher interest on their investments and transfer the cost of the war to the ninety-five percent back home; loan their tax refunds back to the government at interest by buying the treasury bonds being sold by the Federal Reserve in million dollar increments; and the poor, the middle, the brave and the stupid will pay the bill.
The German soldiers and civilians (excluding Jewish Germans) under Adolf Hitler did better than this. Look it up. It’s true. Hitler at least took care of those he thought to be his own kind.
The Greatest Generation, now followed by the Dumbest Generation – we can all stand up and take a bow.