HomeArticleThere Are No War Heroes. There Are Only War Victims.

There Are No War Heroes. There Are Only War Victims.

Yesterday President Donald Trump tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of our serviceman who was killed and his fellow servicemen who were wounded in Somolia. They are truly all HEROES.” Three hours later he tweeted it again, this time with the correct spelling of Somalia.

A few days earlier, at the climax of his phony, insipid feud with the Philadelphia Eagles, Donald Trump lectured Americans that they must always stand for the national anthem.

“We stand to honor our military and to honor our country, and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home,” the reality TV president bloviated. “We stand to show our love for our fellow citizens and our magnificent Constitution.  We stand to pay tribute to the incredible Americans who came before us and the heroic sacrifices they made.”

In both of these statements, President Trump was lying.

The US special operations soldier who was killed in Somalia (one of the “seven countries in five years” famously named in General Wesley Clark’s revelation of the US war machine’s plans for world domination) and the four others who were injured are not heroes. The US servicemen and women who have fought and died in America’s nonstop acts of military expansionism and wars of aggression are not heroes. They are victims. They are victims of a sociopathic power establishment which does not care about them, and never has.

If what I just wrote bothered you, it is because you have been conditioned to oppose such ideas by generations of war propaganda. If you believe that US soldiers are heroes, it means that you believe that they are fighting and dying for a noble cause; for your freedom, for democracy, for the good and the just. It turns the deaths of the fallen into a tragic but noble sacrifice in your eyes, which keeps you from realizing that they have actually been dying for the profit margins of war plutocrats, land and resource assets, and the neoconservative agenda to secure control of the planet.

There is nothing heroic about being thrown into the gears of the war machine and having one’s body and mind ripped apart for the advancement of plutocratic interests. But if your rulers can trick you into thinking that dead US soldiers died for something worth dying for, you won’t turn around and lay the blame on the war profiteers and ambitious sociopaths who are truly responsible for their deaths.

So they lie to you. Constantly.

People often counter this notion by pointing at World War 2, about which a case for the possibility of heroism in war can indeed be made. But the fact that this argument needs to reach back 73 years to the very brink of living memory in order to find a justifiable US war tells you everything you need to know about the weakness of that argument. Since 1945, when human civilization looked completely different and America itself was still an apartheid state, we have seen the US military spread around the globe, collapse nations, and butcher millions upon millions of people, all at the expense of the lives of US military personnel, and all without just cause.

The people whose lives have been used like Kleenex and discarded by the US war machine did not die for a good cause. They did not die fighting for freedom or democracy. They are not heroes. They are victims.

We need to talk about this. The way we can be shamed into silence for saying such things is truly toxic, because it prevents us from addressing the very real problem that the United States starts unjust wars constantly and spends soldiers’ lives like pennies. It probably is nice for the families of war victims to tell themselves comforting stories about how their loved one died fighting to make the world a better place, and normally I’d be happy to let them harbor that personal fantasy without saying anything to disrupt it, but people are dying here. Human lives are more important than the psychological comfort of those who would prefer to lie to themselves, whether it’s a grieving widow or just someone who doesn’t like thinking about how evil their government is.

Many of the men and women who fight and die advancing the depraved agendas of America’s unelected power establishment do so with good intentions. Many of them honestly, sincerely believe that they are forces of good in the world. But the longer we allow the delusion to continue that US military personnel are participating in something heroic, the longer we are necessarily perpetuating the delusion that acts of US military aggression are good and noble, and the more of these people will be needlessly killed, wounded and psychologically destroyed while enacting the corrupt will of evil people.

The correct response to news of a US serviceman or woman dying in combat is not gratitude and patriotism. The correct response is rage at the people who put them in harm’s way. The longer we continue pretending that their deaths are a glorious, noble sacrifice and not an unforgivable outrage, the longer those flag-draped coffins will keep flying home.

General Wesley Clark’s revelation has been coming true, but not in quite the way it was spelled out for him. The 9/11 attacks gave rise to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which has enabled the United States to build up a military presence inside the borders of any nation deemed to have terrorists in it, which has in turn been made much easier as the regime change destabilization inflicted upon places like Iraq and Libya have caused terrorism to run rampant and widespread.The violence in Somalia has continued largely because of a US destabilization campaign. Now it is full of US troops, and its president is a dual US citizen from Buffalo, New York.

US troops shouldn’t be there. US troops shouldn’t be anywhere but the US. People join the military with the understanding that they are doing it to protect and serve their country, not that their lives will be needlessly placed in harm’s way securing the belt of oligarchic imperialism. It’s time to stop pretending that globalist military expansionism and neoconservative power grabbing is a heroic cause to serve, and begin calling it what it is: the depraved misuse of a defense force that is causing the needless, meaningless deaths of human beings.

And it’s time to start getting angry about it.

____________________________

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalor buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • I had some random thoughts about this history of violence while at work this morning as follows: Taking WW2 as a justified starting point for current ideology, ie fighting fascism, which just feels right – in fact of course those fascists arose to power as a result of the economic climate and lack of better international treaties and so on. There then follows decades of striking earlier in order to avoid economic chaos and mass warfare – led chiefly by the dominant west (USA mostly) – so in a sense, theory is – its better to get in there and kill a few hundred or thousand rather than have a global war at a later date. Having swallowed this, we are back at square one, where idiot imperialist psychopaths run the whole show in some sort of supposed Darwinist claptrap very open to repeating the mistakes of the past – and so it goes on!

  • I was surprised when I first read Zane Gray. I expected a simple cowboy story. What I read was a story about a world war one veteran trying to recover from the horrors of war only to get into a fight to save the Salmon runs on a wild river in Oregon. We have a long history of people trying to fight amerikun imperialism. I fear we are running out of time. I’m thankful for your voice!

  • The rights of Americans do NOT include being dictated to by the President on ANYTHING. Trump’s asinine stupid obsessions with our stolen “national anthem” are utterly absurd. NO American is required to stand, salute or give fealty to the flag or the national anthem. And why should we? The individual right to determine one’s own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness far exceeds the immoral demands of a fascist President. It is not illegal to refuse to stand and it is in fact, immoral to do so. To show support for the Empire and it’s fascist policies, illegal occupations, senseless slaughter and destruction, and racist agenda is to support illegal and immoral actions. The height of true patriotism is to refuse to be bowed by propaganda and deception. Standing up against your own country and the group-think mantra that “all must obey” tinpot dictator decrees is patriotic. But stupidly parroting illegal and immoral “obedience” to “your country” is traitorous. The real “hero’s” in today’s Amerika are those that refuse to submit. They are vilified by the immoral President and press and parroted by the unthinking, uncaring, ignorant masses of idiots that think Trump shits gold from his ass. Fuck them. Fuck all of them. I refuse to submit to fascism.

  • Being in the military does not make anyone a “hero”. Serving overseas does not make anyone a “hero”. Fighting for the Empire does not make anyone a “hero”. Dying for Empire does not make anyone a “hero”. Pat Tillerman’s brother understood this – despite the death of his breath at the hands of American forces (killed by his own men) he pointed out the obvious – he died for no good reason at all. He was not a hero. Nor did he go to heaven or was he with his “Creator” now as some claimed. These are all myths, lies and deceptions, the pretense that when we “fight for our country” we are “defending our country” while standing on foreign ground. It’s all bullshit and propaganda that works to convince mothers and fathers to continue to sacrifice their sons and daughters on the altar of Empire. It’s fucked up beyond belief. I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years on my blog writing comments like this, but it doesn’t matter. There is no shame in telling the truth. Amerika is filled to the brim with brain-dead morons that have no identity, no thought, no awareness that hasn’t been repeatedly told to them. They’ve become unthinking, uncaring parrots that incessantly repeat the absolute insanity of the Empire. Being ignorant is not a crime, but being willfully stupid is.

  • I’m in 100% agreement. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t, at least twice or three times, engage in a conversation in which I sat, “Military people who are killed in combat are not heroes who fought for our freedom or security. The ‘fight’ to protect the interests of the oligarchs who actually run this country and who consider them to be nothing but replaceable disposable pieces if the designed program to further increase their won wealth and power.”
    When I make that statement, or something similar, some people get it right away and some require some serious explanation. And, for those who have lost family members in these unjust, mostly undeclared, wars, I explain that the feeling they should feel is anger.
    Idiots like Trump, who insist on standing during a national anthem that should not even precede sporting events, are creating a false narrative that, if all swallowed it, would turn this country, 100%, into a real life example of Pied Piperism at its extreme.

  • This is one of your best articles Caitlin, because it is not only truth, but truth that is rarely spoken. Many need to join you in speaking out about this taboo topic because ‘people are dying’ and North America is profiting from murder. We are either humane, or we are disposable. That is the choice we are left with.

  • I just read your “tell it like it is” anti-“hero” article at opednews. This is a poem I wrote during the senseless Vietnam War that may interest you;

    A MEDAL FOR A SON

    Your mother watched
    her pre-natal diet
    for your sake,
    while your father
    sweated to pay the bills.
    Each heart rejoiced
    with pure delight
    through years
    of nurturing.
    Bed-time stories;
    playing catch;
    bumps and bruises,
    booster shots.
    In sickness, health,
    and major-minor mishaps,
    all bound together
    till death do us part.
    “Son, take your vitamins;
    mind your manners.
    Hurry!
    We’ll be late for church.”
    Ah, then school at last
    where freedom reigned,
    and the important thing was
    to get along with the group.
    But soon, the bauble bursts
    and the TV scene
    shows hate, not love,
    as Blacks lash out,
    and cold assassinations
    vie with a brutalizing
    undeclared war
    for your attention.
    Then, on to the highest school
    where instilled dissent
    ruptured the mind,
    and freed the will
    for aimless wandering.
    Free at last! No restraints!
    barefoot, bearded,
    flowers held in hand,
    peace and love
    at any price.
    Old tarnished world,
    split!
    You who made it so,
    split too!
    Damn the war!
    damn the draft!
    damn the track
    you’ve put me on.
    I want out – now!
    Temporarily lost,
    the bewildered mind
    free from the bonds of convention,
    smells the sweet flowers of oblivion
    and trips into the never-never land
    of no worries, no frustrations, no reality
    But dreams get busted
    and reality crowds in upon you;
    the old world demands its pound of flesh.
    Greetings! from the draft board
    starts the immutable forces
    that work their ways against you.
    War, barbarity,
    and primeval violence
    soon push aside
    the youthful values
    nurtured from the cradle.
    It’s kill or be killed
    though you know
    that killing kills the killer
    and dealing death
    becomes a way of life.
    For what? For naught
    is the cry of a youthful mind
    that sees no sense
    in the mutual killing
    of pseudo enemies.
    They too, caught up
    by the same monstrous forces
    that use youths for shields
    are loathe to die
    for similar reasons.
    But, lo you died
    despite our natal care,
    for dubious, unknown causes
    and denied for reasons
    too difficult to explain.
    So, we went to Washington
    where the President duly solemn,
    and extravagant with praise,
    awarded you posthumously
    with an encoffined trinket
    symbolizing the ultimate absurdity,
    a medal for a son!

    I am a retired educator and WW II veteran. The poem and graphics are included in a book that is in production by Austin Macauley Publishers in N. Y. titled THE DIARY OF A DYING MAN that includes other anti-war sentiments, such as:
    Would you rather be a live coward or a dead hero.? I would like to present the question to President Trump
    and the corporate puppets in the U. S. congress.

    Wouldn’t it be fair for those who start wars to have to fight them?

    Frank Sganga
    386-410-5950

  • You are not a whit wrong in this assessment, Caitlin – and one can see the road being taken by coat-tail hanger-on Australia as it apes the military power/behaviour of Washington (DC). Give us a count of the number of ordinary enlisted services personnel – non-officer class – children of both the US politicians (as Michael MOORE in one of his docu-movies did some years ago) and their Australian counterparts. You won’t find any. You may find some among officers – those generally from “the ruling class” are well-protected from most front-line action in any event!

  • ‘When will they ever learn? …when will they ever learn?

  • Yes, woefully true… Though it is true, many of our armed forces personnel truly believe they are doing what they do for the good and never question their orders. They have no idea how they are being used and manipulated by their psychopath leaders. They have no idea of the true agenda of their missions. They are told from early indoctrination that empathy is not an option and that any attempt to the contrary we be harshly treated. The same now is happening with our youth who are being desensitized to violence and killing through war games and Hollywood (they are bringing on a fresh batch of fodder). Conversely, there are many military personnel who do know what they are doing is wrong but are afraid to do anything about it! And, then there is that third group who don’t care as long as they have their paycheck – this mentality puts them on par with most politicians and government officials. But there is another group that provides all the resources for war and killing, and for them they are quite happy to remain in their security blanket and turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions/deeds. This is all kept in place by a corrupt media who spew out propaganda like confetti so that the public is also blind to the reality of the world. Though, I do see a glimmer of a silver lining way in the distance, shown recently by many coming out to boycott Israel for their actions against the Palestinians. And that’s important as Israel thinks they are the capital of the USA. Then as soon as you criticize Israel you are called anti-Semitic and instantly reminded about the holocaust. In actual fact the Palestinians are primarily Semitic while the Israelis and primarily Khazarian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazars). So, anti-Semitic really means you are anti-Arab. The only road we have left open is the hope that the public awakens soon than later. America’s political and financial world is totally corrupt and unless this is dealt with it will only get worse. So, the fight is on….. Good luck, and know there are millions who are behind you….

  • Blessings on you for writing this stellar commentary! Those of us who have seen what war has done to those we love have been preaching this forever! We have lost so many valuable lives for the glory of empire and capitalism, all so they could pocket all the wealth available, with not even a thought to the destruction of lives!
    One bold shot of truth!

  • Brilliantly stated and woefully true. The anti-war movement needs to rise. Public outrage at the crimes of the unelected powers to use bodies like kindling is required for our this to end. Awake en mass!

leave a comment