The Folly of Soldier Worship

John Glaser, March 22, 2012

State doctrine holds that soldiers are intrinsically honorable. It is a conviction held by most of the public that those who wear a military uniform are to receive automatic society-wide praise for their service, irrespective of who they are or what they’ve done. If one dissents from the blind nationalist approval for America’s wars, it is fine to criticize the politicians, but soldiers generally can’t be at fault.

There has been plenty of commentary on the political and media treatment afforded to Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier who massacred 17 Afghan men, women, and children in cold blood. As far as criminal acts by military men, Bales is among the worst. But even for him there has been an excited effort to rationalize his unprovoked slaughter of innocents and to paint him as the victim. This is really just an illustration of the sickly dogma of this country to valorize its soldiers: merely by virtue of their military service, soldiers are held to be courageous, noble, heroic.

Like most aspects of state doctrine, this precept contradicts basic truisms and abundant facts. For example, numerous studies have concluded that violent sexual assault is rampant in the U.S. military. In 2008, an estimated 41 percent of all the women serving in the military were victims of sexual assault, a problem Rep. Jane Harman called “an epidemic.” In a January 2012 Pentagon report on “rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy” in the military, it was found that these crimes have increased 64 percent since 2006. The vast majority of cases go unreported though, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta estimated the number of cases was close to 19,000 in 2011. Rape and other forms of sexual assault are among the most derided and abhorred crimes in society, but their high occurrence within the military is ignored so that anyone in a uniform can be indiscriminately praised for their “service.”

Similarly, there is apparently a significant street gang representation in the U.S. military. Recent FBI investigations found that “Gang members have been reported in every branch of the U.S. military,” constituting “a significant criminal threat.” As of April 2011, the FBI has “identified members of at least 53 gangs whose members have served in or are affiliated with U.S. military,” including the Asian Boyz, Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, MS-13, Sureños, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Hells Angels, and many more. Hard statistics were not released in the FBI report, and this is not to say that all or even most of the U.S. military are or were a part of street gangs – of course not. But these findings are curiously absent in the public dialogue because people serving in the military lose their individuality to be arbitrarily elevated to hero-status regardless of their actual behavior.

But the society-wide inclination towards soldier-worship is a rot that runs much deeper than that. What does it say about a culture that idolizes and fetishizes a commitment to kill on the orders of politicians in Washington? Even setting aside what soldiers actually do throughout the American empire, that is an odd thing to admire. Politics is often ridiculed by the public as a fickle, foolish enterprise, but that criticism vanishes once the issue is war and those paid to carry it out. Then, state policy is the divine manifestation of goodness and freedom and honor. Nationalist themes uphold this system of belief, as I’ve written.

It is even more striking, like in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, when soldiers commit plainly savage atrocities and still receive the benefit of esteemed status resulting from the fact that they wear fatigues. The fate of Bales remains to be seen, but as I wrote immediately following the news of his crimes, U.S. soldiers have got off easy in the recent past for comparable acts.

To take just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples, soldier worship breaks down on the most cursory analysis. Every single Bush administration justification for invading Iraq in 2003 has been discredited and very few people, civilian or military, can articulate why we’re waging a war and occupying Afghanistan. Together, these two wars caused the death of many hundreds of thousands of civilians in addition to all the unspoken horror and suffering for which there are no statistics. How can it be that politicians are the only ones to blame for this and not those who actually carried it out?

In the famous funeral oration delivered around 490 BCE for fallen soldiers in the Peloponnesian War, the ancient Greek politician Pericles unwittingly revealed how completely senseless is the uncritical glorification of the military. He said, “even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valor with which they have fought for their country; they have blotted out the evil with the good, and have benefited the state more by their public services than they have injured her by their private actions.”




47 Responses to “The Folly of Soldier Worship”

  1. My thoughts exactly. When you started to cut a certain group of folks slack for murderous deeds, you inevitably must demonize another group, which dehumanizes them and in turn makes it easier to kill them. And for us not to care. Murder is murder and people are dead. How they lost their life is of almost no consequence. It certainly wouldn’t to me, if it were my family.

  2. The public actually do that even worse with cops.

  3. Bring back the guillotine . Guillotine 2012

  4. Actually I've found that most people now have a lot of distrust, if now outright contempt, for cops. Usually as the result of one or more encounters with a badge-toting bully looking to fill his ticket quota. Cops are a lot closer to the people, so run-ins with those bad apples are a lot more common than with their military counterparts, especially if there's no base nearby. When Camden, NJ recently laid off half of its police force due to budget cuts, local wags supposedly commented that crime would drop substantially as a result, since the cops were the town's #1 criminal element.

  5. My sister is a marine, she was arrogant & self centered before & when she got out of bootcamp her EGO increased tenfold. The way she speaks about afghans even before getting shipped out this week is disgusting. She says the afghans don’t even care about their country because they don’t “follow our orders”. I said it’s their country & they are tired of war,no reason to even be there occupying with immunity

  6. I live in Texas so perhaps that explains what I've experienced. I suspect that in more conservative places its more common to worship cops, which is pretty much what they do here. It's why they keep electing anybody who promises to "get tough on crime" and why cops can beat, tase, and kill people with impunity most of the time. You might enjoy reading this for keeping up with this issue. It's the best blog on the internet for police issues imo: http://www.theagitator.com/

  7. With regard to the governmental police departments it must always be kept in mind that the primary function of government police is to serve as a civilian occupation force. The police, like the military, answer to and serve only to the politcial and financial elite. Their purpose is certainly not to protect the public from criminal activity.

  8. And on top of it all Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is also a stock or 'securities' fraudster who has avoided restitution by joining the army.
    I have reason to believe officers other than him have been involved in stock fraud as well.A letter to Barack 'Barry Soetoro Obama from securities fraudsters with apparent connections to the White House have brazenly appealed to the sleazy Soetoro aka Obama only shortly after he was appounted as U.S. representative of Goldman Sachs – I mean appointed U.S.pResident.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46815403/ns/us_news-l

    NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO — Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan, left for war without paying his part of a $1.5 million judgment for defrauding an elderly client in a stock scheme, and remains shielded from the obligation as long as he remains in the military, legal experts said……

    'Pump and dump'
    Hamilton-Shea was "the kind of place where you learn to cold call, to 'pump and dump,'" said Joseph Dehner, a lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio, who specializes in cases involving rogue brokers and firms.

    Pump and dump refers to a practice in which firms artificially raise the prices of stocks they hold by aggressively selling shares to clients and then selling their own shares.

    At least three Hamilton-Shea brokers who worked briefly with Bales pleaded guilty to violations of securities law after he left Florida to work in Ohio at Quantum Capital Corp., according to records from FINRA. Quantum also owned Hamilton-Shea……

    ……………………..
    Note that this sob story to Barack 'Barry Soetoro' Obama is written by a Mr.Mark Faulk who was directly involved with and profited from the fraud himself along with an old well connected ex Viet Nam military 'man' or money launderer named Bud Burel who besides threateningh my life for denouncing his frauds has connections to Obama nemesis Sheriff Joe Arpaio,Geico billionaire son Patrick Byrnr of Overstock.con and even deceased Castro cigar assination fiasco figure Robert Maheu ! Also to a former Rothschild attorney in the UK among others ! Just follow the letter to Obama link and see how many politicians Faulk brazenly sent cc's to saying many military lost money and his claim of so-called 'naked short selling' is a brazen lie to distract from illegal pump and dump they all profited from ! National Taxpayers Union founder James Dale Davidson began the 'naked shorting' lie in 2002 to distract from his biotech frauds Genemax and Endovasc.The lie was later used in 2008 by ex SEC Chair Chris Cox who even claimed Fannie Mae Freddie Mac and even Goldman Sahs shares collpsed because of 'naked short selling' ! War fraud and stock fraud go hand in hand !
    http://thenakedtruthbook.com/?p=44#comment-6505

    Dear President Obama,

    CMKM Diamonds and its shareholders respectfully ask that our government act responsibly in seeking justice in one of the largest singular frauds ever perpetrated in our financial markets…

    The company’s stock was promoted to mostly blue-collar, Main Street investors on huge billboards with “Got CMKX?” written across them, company sponsored NHRA race cars, and lavish parties thrown with shareholders’ money. Homes were lost, marriages ruined, and lives destroyed. Many CMKX shareholders lost everything, enticed by former CEO Urban Casavant’s false promises to create a “million millionaires” and by stories of gold, diamonds, uranium, and even platinum mines. Casavant even convinced dozens of our soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq to invest in CMKX, giving them false hope of providing for their families while they were defending our country. One investor (a retired New York firefighter who was at the World Trade Center on 9/11), who lost everything, put over $200,000 of his own money into CMKX in hopes of using the return on his investment to open a retreat for the widows of firefighters who perished on 9/11.

    The company’s stock was promoted to mostly blue-collar, Main Street investors on huge billboards with “Got CMKX?” written across them, company sponsored NHRA race cars, and lavish parties thrown with shareholders’ money. Homes were lost, marriages ruined, and lives destroyed. Many CMKX shareholders lost everything, enticed by former CEO Urban Casavant’s false promises to create a “million millionaires” and by stories of gold, diamonds, uranium, and even platinum mines. Casavant even convinced dozens of our soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq to invest in CMKX, giving them false hope of providing for their families while they were defending our country. One investor (a retired New York firefighter who was at the World Trade Center on 9/11), who lost everything, put over $200,000 of his own money into CMKX in hopes of using the return on his investment to open a retreat for the widows of firefighters who perished on 9/11……

    Sincerely,

    Mark Faulk, CEO

    CMKM Diamonds, Inc.

  9. Cops are a lot closer to the people, so run-ins with those bad apples are a lot more common than with their military counterparts, especially if there's no base nearby.

    Unfortunately, a huge (and still growing) percentage of today's cops are recent combat veterans, which goes a long way in explaining their violent, criminal, anti-social behavior. Odds are that even if you don't live in proximity to a military base, the skin-headed prick-with-ears with a violent temper who pulls you over for a minor speeding infraction is the same psychopath who just did back-to-back tours with your state's national guard [sic] in Iraqghanistan, committing God-only-knows-what kind of mayhem and atrocities. In other words, next time you're victimized by a badged psycho-bully, you might as well say that you're being victimized by military storm trooper.

    As far as cops being "closer to the people" is concerned, that might by physically true, but not in a good way. Given the fact that the average citizen is much more likely to be victimized by a cop than a soldier (at least for now; I expect that will all change in a few years), "closer," in this case does not mean "more of a kindred spirit."

  10. EXACTLY

  11. Wow – I had heard about him defrauding the couple in Ohio, but I didn't realize that being in the military gave him legal protection from having to pay the $1.5 million judgment…

  12. Apparently being in the military gives you legal protection from a great many things, including being a mass-murderer, rapist , torturer and shyster.

  13. It would be very strange for war profiteer Jane Harman who,with her deceased husband Sidney, have
    made so many untold millions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to over emphasize rape in the military.It would seem that just like Joe Lieberman,if anything, she would have a vested interest in covering it up.
    Only shortly before Sidney and Jane bought Newsweek for a buck to use as a vehicle to promote their very profitable Zionist war frauds and anti-Islamic hate propaganda as exemplified by their 'reporter' Asra Nomani, a strange death occured in Kuwait of an Al Sabah,(Kuwait),royal family),connected stock promoter whose lies about and promotion of the Harman International
    stock,(NYSE), of Jane and Sidney Harman added much to their company's share price and they must have sold quite a few shares at the time themselves just as I presume did members of the Al Sabah Kuwait royals who also ran the Securacom stock and security fraud that guarded Dulles Airport on 9/11 as well as had something to do with security at the WTC.Strangely enough it is mentioned in the fine print of an SEC filing for Securacom that they were also given some employment at the U.S. Los Alamos nuclear research site in New Mexico ! Personally ,I as an American, think that that was about as good an idea as inviting Iran's or Israel's nuclear researchers or sabateurs on to the site as having the idiot Bush son Marvin and his jihadi Al Sabah family stock fraud buddy on the premises !
    Anyway I provide a link to what I wrote about Jane Harman and her Kuwait Al Sabah partners in stock fraud as well as a link to my blog that links to articles on the ArmourGuard U.S. Afghanistan Embassy guards' trafficking in prostitution including sex slaves in Afghanistan that Joe Liebnerman and Barack 'Barry Soetoro' Obama covered up along with the msm media such as Jane Harman's 'Newsweak .'of course.

    I'll provide links below.:
    http://www.phillyimc.org/en/911carl-levinsenator-

    9/11,Carl Levin,Senator Jane Harman International,Kuwait Securacom, Marvin Bush,Al Sabah,Dulles Airport ,WTC

    by Tony Ryals | 07.29.2009
    After all they are royalty,both Sheikh Sabah al Sabah of Kuwait and Queen Jane Harman of Venice, California,aren't they ? And now one of the Sheikh most loyal subjects and leader of the Kuwait orchestrated illegal Harman International NYSE pump and dump to defraud American small investors is dead.Just goes to show as that old saying goes dead men or dead subjects of the Sheikh can't tell tales………..

    ……………………….
    http://wolfblitzzer0.blogspot.com/2011/09/afghani

    Afghanistan 'Liberation':Barack Obama,Joe Lieberman Protect U.S. Kabul Embassy Wackenhut slave prostituton traffickers,vodka orgies

  14. How ironic. It would seem that the Normans brought all sorts of hell with them: Their language, their "laws" and punishments, and their mindset. It would seem that "castle America" really is just an overgrown plantation with French "guilty until proven innocent" as the rule.

  15. I once lived in a Texas town where the sheriff, SOB that he is, has sat perched in his catbird seat for well over two decades. He slithered in using those same tortured phrases about being tough on crime and today is believed to still be in power for all the dirt he has on people. What goes around comes around.

  16. Makes you wonder why so many cops live in communities outside of where they usually prey upon their victims.

  17. Police work attracts authoritarian types, the kind who are dangerous when armed with authority.

    The fact that so many cops are ex-military doesn't bode well, does it?

  18. back on topic…..i’ve read recently that one congresscritter is pushing a bill that would either exempt active-duty military from tsa searches, provide for separate lanes thru security, or allow servicemembers to move to the front of the line. this regardless of traveling on orders or in uniform (or not). as i understand it, the current system of bumping ‘regular’ flyers from flights to allow military to fly in the event of overbooking is a voluntary system specific to each airline. the new bill will be a federal law. private snuffy, taking 30 days leave from filing papers in order to fly to thailand for a little underage sex, mustn’t stand in line like the poor proletariat.

  19. [...] [...]

  20. Distrust and dislike of cops is at an all time high from what I've seen. Being a libertarian, this is a wonderful thing. It's a big crack in the state's armor, and being the highly enlightened institution that they are, they seem to be making all the wrong moves to change the trend.

  21. I suspect that in more conservative places its more common to worship cops, which is pretty much what they do here.

    It's that way in my neck of the woods also. I expect it will remain this way for quite some time. Baby boomers and those before them grew up at a time when government enforcers were still considered peace officers in most parts of the country. It was also a time when those same enforcers had respect for their fellow citizens. While this no longer reflects reality, most boomers and older generations have no dealings with government enforcement and still hold on to their anachronistic belief system.

    However, there is a chance that as government enforcement personnel become more and more hostile, belligerent, and abusive towards "civilians" (their term for those of us not employed by the government) this unrealistic belief in the goodness of government enforcement may slowly change.

  22. Cops have always been the enemy of the people.

    An awful lot of boomers got arrested, harassed, and beat up by cops in the 60's and 70's, whether for smoking pot or protesting the war. Didn't know anyone back then who did not hate pigs. But then, so many boomers seemed to have forgotten everything once they got a little older, like the ones who are shocked, shocked I tell you, when they find out kids in their local high school are doing drugs. It can't happen here!

    But not all boomers got stupid.

  23. As a veteran, I am opposed to anyone who thinks that telling me the truth is going to hurt my feelings.

    Our soldiers are not so fragile that a vigorous public debate about the evils of war should cause them to lose the ability to fight. If they are, than our society is already a failure.

    So let's get rid of this imbecilic idea that what you say or don't say has anything to do with "supporting our troops" – Unless you are sending material supplies to our troops you are not supporting our troops and unless you are sending material supplies to terrorists, you are not supporting them either.

    A military that needs high approval ratings from the public is a disgrace. Only the politicians who are trying to have our military do a job which they are not trained to do need the public to give approval to the war effort.

    On the other hand there are plenty of liberals out there who want the benefits of cheap oil and cheap electronic goods to continue yet look down their noses at the men who make it possible for the dollar to retain its status as an international reserve currency. So we must see that anything the troops do wrong is in fact a reflection of a larger laziness inherent in a society that runs on consumerism.

  24. An awful lot of boomers got arrested, harassed, and beat up by cops in the 60's and 70's, whether for smoking pot or protesting the war. Didn't know anyone back then who did not hate pigs. But then, so many boomers seemed to have forgotten everything once they got a little older, like the ones who are shocked, shocked I tell you, when they find out kids in their local high school are doing drugs. It can't happen here!

    While you make a good point, surely you realize that those you speak of were a very small portion of the population. On top of that, for the most part those incidents took place in large urban areas, not in small town America. In most of small town America government enforcement was still in Andy Griffith mode.

  25. Before the Iraq war gas was around $30 per barrel.After the invasion and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents and with Dick Cheney's Haliburton paid at least $100 million to place a meter to monitor the flow of oil out of Basra that was never done,it skyrocketed to over $100 per barrel.So it looks like our military was greatly responsible for illicitly enriching the petroleum traffickers who encourages that illicit war and consequent war crimes and they paid the price.Many of those suckers we call our soldiers,including women,are now dead,homeless and crippled for life with no support from either the petroleum traffickers, who hide their illicit profits in offshore accounts including Sheik Mohamed Al Rashid bin Maktoum's Dubai,who sent $100,000 to Mahemed Atta at Jeb Bush pal Wally Hilliard terrorist flight school at Huffman Aviation in Venice,Florida and had those checks cashed at Titan Corp employee ,(torturers at Abhu Graib),Makram Chams Kwikchek in Venice,Florida,even according to official 9/11 Commission Report.
    Probably just as in Viet Nam,U.S.personnel are selling our Afghanistan weapons stockpiles to the Taliban and pocketing the cash for their own offshore accounts and on and on……
    And Titan Corps Ms.Michelle Leonhart who Barack Barry Soetoro Obama appointed to head the DEA
    is rhus like Titan or Level 3 itself in the cocaine trafficking business.It's Florida based Skyway Communications penny stock fraud ,(that illicitly promoted their worthless shares by claiming to be pioneers in airplane to ground cell phone calls even though they apparently already existed based upon all the passengers of the planes who made calls to their loved ones before disappearing on 9/11),was captured by the Mexican army in Ciudad Del Carmen,Campeche,Mexico in 2006 with over 5.5 tons of cocaine on board ! And on and on……..Taliban ? If we can just protect ourselves from the folks mentiomned above,not to mention the Israelis of ICTS International who 'guarded' Logan Boston Airport on 9/11 and still control airport 'security' around the U.S. with their Huntleigh airport rent-a-cops that were even at Detroit airport on Christmas 2009 when the ICTS International war criminals allowed the 'Islamic' croch bomber' to board flight 253 from Schgiphol Amsterdam that they still control…..and on and on……Yes we need protection from the CIA's Barack Barry Soetoro Obama as well as the CIA's Republican fascists and NATO and the European and Isaraeli fascists etc. etc….and on and on……

  26. Warriors are a noble caste. What is being confused here with warriors are cannon fodder disposable war cattle of punked peasants warrior wannabes fooled and encouraged into believing they can be made warriors rather then being born as , by the wielders of the conceptual power.

  27. The amazing thing is that so called small government "conservatives" are in favor of this military madness. Soldiers, cops, firefighters, they're all just another form of a government union thug.

  28. We in IN have term limits 8 and out!!!!

  29. That would be a wonderful thing to see.

  30. Most of us will be buried in a BOX. I want to get out of that BOX while I'm living, and look past the politicians at those who buy the politicians, the rich boy's gang, the 0.1%ers who profit off of the cannon fodder of human remains. I want to draft the richest trillion-ire first; the second richest second; and on down the line to the last millionaire, including all in ALEC, oil, military industrial complex, wall street, prison industrial complex; all those Slavocracy network mobsters- and send them to Afghanistan to fight the Mothers of dead children in hand-to-hand combat. War might end when rich people end as no one would be left to benefit. Let's try it…

  31. It is Wall Street's army – it doesn't do anything for us, except oppression and tax hikes.

    We don't care about them.

  32. Women would not want to go through what happens when you say you have been raped — unless they had been. It's absurd to say that military women would make this up. Military culture is misogynist and dehumanizing. Raping or assaulting women or harassing them just naturally goes along with that. Sounds like you may have been accused. Hostile defensiveness about this issue often comes from people who would either assault or harass women or lie about their friends doing it. I grew up in a military family and know what it is like.

  33. I'm okay with worshiping the grunts, but the brass get away with worse crimes and incompetence than any comparable executive corps in the world. Did we liberals NOT tell them Iraq would be a quagmire, and did they NOT to a man, except for the guy who got fired for agreeing with us, salute the Bushco flag and swear it was a can-do sitch? They've been wrong about every conflict since Patton's march to the Rhine.

  34. When did Ms. Harman acquire a shred of credibility on antiwar.com? Whom we gonna quote next as an authority? Peale? Feith? The Kagan Bros?

  35. How many of these guys are gonna go postal when they get home?

  36. Thank you for having the courage to speak your mind. I feel really uneasy whenever I hear automatic praise of soldiers. I don’t necessarily completely dislike soldiers, especially since many of them have been misled into war. But its extremely dangerous to praise a profession that has a high potential to commit heinous acts. Brilliant article also.

  37. [...] There are several reasons why the Boston Massacre is not analogous to the recent massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (& Co.). But this Hancock quote holds an irony I couldn’t ignore. I wrote about a similar theme here. [...]

  38. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks!

  39. Very appropriate, the picture of Bill the Butcher from "Gangs of New York" wrapping himself in the US flag.

  40. I'm okay with worshiping the grunts

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  41. The amazing thing is that so called small government "conservatives" are in favor of this military madness.

  42. I totally agree. Getting interaction into a blog post, helps the actual blog post gain more traction

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