Nobody Cares About Dead Soldiers: Patriotism and the Bolstering of National Security Policy
There is a society-wide civic dogma which props up the warfare state, and its conspicuous dishonesty is on full, naked display.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that US soldiers home from the war in Afghanistan are killing themselves at a rate of one per day. According to Pentagon numbers, “154 military service members committed suicide during the first 155 days of this year.” And “During the same period,” the article continued, “136 U.S. troops died in combat in Afghanistan.”
This week, the 2,000th US soldier died in Afghanistan.
According to the dogma – often described as patriotism or nationalism – ordinary Americans across the country should be livid. The dogma doesn’t imply that any of them should care about the vastly more numerous Afghans that have been killed and suffer unimaginably as a result of Washington’s savage decade-long war. They are the un-people. But the civic dogma, which claims to support the troops, does indeed suggest that daily suicides by our valorous army men warrants attention and outrage.
Notably (yet unsurprisingly), such attention and outrage is absent. This indicates the central falsehood of the civic dogma. It is clear that, for most citizens, supporting the troops is only important on the way into war. When national security policy is questioned by the minority who see it for the abomination it is, that is when the civic dogma matters most – not when troops are killing themselves and continuously dying in a war that not even the war-mongers seem to think worthwhile.
Patriotism and nationalism, close relatives of our natural human tendencies, are now handed down to us from above. The powerful revel in its magic: citizens believe fervently that “America” does good abroad and that soldiers defend our freedoms, and the helpful corollary is that national security policy is insulated from any harsh criticism. Those lives that our brave men and women in uniform end mercilessly don’t get talked about too much. Hypocrisy on a global scale is papered over. This civic dogma is accentuated when it is empowering and bolstering the state and its sustenance, but is absent when those glorious ones who have committed themselves to killing on the orders of Washington are in bad shape.
(h/t Dafina Mulaj)