Time to Question the Militarization of Our Children

by on June 17, 2021 · 12 comments

in From the Soul, Military, San Diego

by Ernie McCray

When we say to a veteran or to someone active in the military, “Thank you for your service” what are we thanking them for?

I ask this question for the children’s sake, for the many teenage warriors, fresh out of high school, who find themselves off somewhere in a land, that was never mentioned in their schooling, “making a difference.”

I mean after World War II came to an end, has there been any real reason for our country to be involved in war?

I can’t help but remember a neighbor of mine, a family friend, a kid a few years older than me, coming home from Korea an emotional wreck, staring into space.

Another childhood friend returned from Vietnam in the same condition and another came back in a casket having earned a purple heart for his bravery.

A few years ago, hanging out in Oceanside, I observed young jarheads with the same far-off look on their faces as my old friends, a look that says they’ve taken part in and have seen horrible things.

They were back at Camp Pendleton after toppling Saddam Hussain’s horrible regime and trying to get the upper hand on the Taliban in Afghanistan, an organization that replenishes itself like deer that grow and lose and regrow antlers throughout their lifetimes.

And I have to ask why we Americans, as a “civil society,” practically, in silence, condone our children being used in such a way?

We as parents and/or citizens without children have for far too long been complicit with swarms of sharp talking recruiters on our school campuses, seeking “The Few. The proud. The Marines” or someone who is ready to become “Army Strong” or “Forged by the Sea.” Ready to “Aim High… Fly-Fight-Win!”

It’s as though we aren’t aware that these enlisters have way more access to our young people than recruiters of other kinds and that they’re holding tightly to nice gigs that keep them out of “harm’s way” if they make their “quota” of enlistees to send Uncle Sam’s way.

Now I know that armed conflict is somehow in humanity’s DNA, that human beings have always found excuses to do harm to anyone perceived as their enemy, be it throwing a rock or a spear or shooting an arrow or a rifle or dropping a bomb or attacking from beneath the sea.

And it’s not going to end anytime soon or possibly ever but I feel we owe it to our children to address the situation.

A national conversation around military issues is way overdue like it had been until recently with matters regarding race and police brutality.

Questions need to be asked about why the military has such a huge budget when so much of what they are allocated could be better used towards ending the likes of racism, sexism and homophobia in our society – problems, by the way, that are inherent in the country’s armed forces and Selective Service System.

In fact, the military has a serious problem with sexual assaults against women, an assertion that has been made clear by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III who has said “Sexual assault and harassment remain persistent and corrosive problems across the total force.”

He expects every member of that force to be part of the solution and leaders — both civilian and military “to take direct accountability to drive meaningful change.”

Here’s where we regular citizens can jump in.

And, in that regard, we’re fortunate in San Diego to have two organizations that have led the way in matters concerning the military: Project YANO (Youth and Non-Military Opportunities) and COMD (Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft) which founded YANO.

Project YANO lets our young people know that they don’t have to join the military to “make a difference,” that there are other ways they can better themselves and serve their communities and the world as well.

And COMD has worked diligently locally and in alliance with other organizations in the country to question a “military-industrial complex” that has more power than should be allowed.

I would suggest to anyone who wants to promote or work in behalf of peace to check out these two organizations here and here.

For our children’s sake.

For peace’s sake.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks June 17, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Wow Ernie, I’m freaking impressed. Seriously, no joke.

I have a photo of my Uncle Kenny tucked into a poster frame on my wall. He was my step-mom’s baby brother (an unexpected after-menopause baby ) standing in fatigues and helmet next to ‘his’ giant supply truck in the jungle of Viet Nam with this extremely lost and scared look on his Japanese face. He was 19, and wrote letters to my mom telling her that when I get drafted to get me to Canada… That picture and a 1965 10-Dong coin he sent me is tucked into the frame of a 24×36″ poster given to me by the only anti-war protester who was in Mt. Shasta during the mid-1960s named Doris who incidentally had the FBI at the house more than once back then because she was part of the underground railroad to Canada… We became friends. It was curled up covered in cobwebs and dust when I pulled it off the wall for her when I was helping her move after 60 years of living there… The art shop did an incredible job restoring it without tearing it up or losing the colors…

It says: Visit FASCINATING Vietnam and across the bottom is ‘Fun Capital of the World.’ A green GI holding an M-16 is in the middle of the wording.

When Kenny came home what was left fit into a shoebox. His truck hit a mine on the way to supply a firebase. Incidentally, his family was kidnapped from their farm on San Francisco Bay and put into a US Concentration Camp in 1942. Since they couldn’t pay the property taxes being locked up in a cage surrounded by white men with guns, they of course lost the farm. And their car. And their bank account. She lost her virginity to rape by a guard. And of course they lost years of their lives but none of the family ever lost the trauma now called PTSD.

But he was drafted to ‘protect’ America from…the communist horde in that southeast Asian tiny country who had petitioned the US to help write a Constitution after those people valiantly fought the invading Japanese all alone all those years during WWII. Instead we supported the colonialist French who re-invaded and murdered…then the US invaded. And murdered.

Didn’t work out too well. And we’ve learned NOTHING since.

50 years since Daniel Ellsberg published the Pentagon Papers and as I look around the world what do I see? Apathetic fat consumers in front of TVs slurping up Big Macs and pizza while screaming about freedom and them damned socialist commie libbrls who hate america as the massive military machine continues the slaughter all around the world for the benefit of the rich who own the corporations that build the massive military machine.

Marine Brig General Smedley Butler was absolutely correct in his little book ‘War is a Racket.’ One year I bought up a bunch of used copies and sent them out for a Winter Solstice gift to friends and family…

The US Pentagon budget in 2019 equaled the combined military budgets of (in descending order of payout) China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil. Of course this does NOT included nuclear weapons which are under the Energy Department, all the black ops CIA crap etc etc, Homeland inSecurity, or the VA budget. But we can’t afford universal health care, or infrastructure repairs, or clean water, or not poisoned-from-pesticides food to eat, or…well, you get the picture obviously, Ernie!

That poster? I treasure it because it is timeless. The name Vietnam can be switched with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, on and on the list goes which of course does not include all the overthrowing and support of right wing dictatorships around the world that are still going on…and nobody cares it seems. There is hardly any anti-war protest in this country, just apathetic Big Mac munchers or those too stressed from poverty-level wages struggling to pay bills to pay attention.

We got rid of the draft but ended up with an economic draft because those walmart jobs are not a functional reality. If minimum wage had kept up with cost of living since 1968 it would be over $24 an hour now…but that would decrease profits and starve the military of fresh meat now wouldn’t it? Better to send all the paying jobs to slave factories in Asia I guess.

This is an EXCELLENT READ! Like you, Ernie, Ellsberg is still talking truth:

Celebrating Fifty Years Of Courage In An Era Of Apathy

By Danny Sjursen,

https://scheerpost.com/2021/06/14/celebrating-fifty-years-of-an-individuals-courage-in-an-era-of-apathy/

‘Where Have You Gone, Daniel Ellsberg?’
Nowhere. Now 90, he’s been here all along, still calling out our government’s bullshit.

He hasn’t gone anywhere, actually. He’s been here all along – poking small holes of decency in sick system, for five-plus decades. At 90, Dan Ellsberg is with us still, and still calling bullshit on a government that couldn’t act right if it tried, to a citizenry that couldn’t care less. Most of it, anyway; reminding me, at least – here at the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers’ publication, and just a month after Dan just dared the Justice Department to indict him for dropping yet another classified truth bomb about US nuclear lunacy….

…If that seems a bit much, a touch hyperbolic, ask yourself: why is it that there are so few Dan Ellsbergs, and so many war-profiting spin-masters, walking around not just Washington, but Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Wichita, Kansas?

One wonders, on such commemorative occasions – amidst two decades-worth of ongoing wars now so (deliberately) abstract as to be almost invisible – what’s appropriate (or left) to say about the whole thing.

continued at link…
_____

Keep it up, Ernie! I hear ya! Other people do, too!

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Ernie McCray June 17, 2021 at 12:43 pm

Thanks so much, man. What you’ve written here tells the story so well. I wish everyone was so versed in what’s been going on for way too long when it comes to our military involvements throughout the world. Peace, my brother.

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Avatar Chris June 17, 2021 at 12:51 pm

This is a hard one to respond to. I am proud of my military service and have no regrets despite all the bad things that can be said about it. The fact is, we will always have a military and will never reach a point where we don’t need one. That’s just a non-starter. And there certainly are both good and bad things about serving in the military. I both have friends who did recruiting AND classifier tours and they’re the first to admit (after they’ve completed said tours) they have brought in people they knew would ultimately not make it and even be a possible danger to others in their units. I remember one of my neighbors (when I lived in Clairemont) joking that he prayed he would never wind up on the same ship with a couple individuals he got in (he worked at the San Diego MEPS). So yes, there is some very dirty handed tactics to get young people in, often with no regard for the well-being of the individual or the safety of those around the individual. And there are plenty of other negatives which is too long to list here.
That being said, plenty thrive and go on the successful lives post military career. In fact I’d say more do than don’t. For many, the military truly was a stepping stone to a better life. Others truly wanted to serve their country and enjoyed doing so. And, not all wind up in a war zone even during wartime. It really depends on the branch and their rate/MOS. Also, of those who DO experience boots on the ground combat, not all of them come back in some stressed out zombie state. That’s a stereotype that pretty much all combat veterans find offensive.

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Avatar Ernie McCray June 17, 2021 at 1:20 pm

I hear you, Chris. Thanks for weighing in. You’re right, the wars aren’t about to end. I just think when we converse about such matters, we find solutions of some kind, deeper understandings of matters. We gloss over things in our society and it’s hard to improve as a people if we act as though nothing is happening.

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Avatar Rick Jahnkow June 17, 2021 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for remining folks of the work done by COMD and Project YANO. We’ve appreciated your many years of help with educating youths on this issue. It’s also important to note that military veterans have been some of the most effective and engaged voices within these groups. Many such voices can be heard in the video at http://www.beforeyouenlist.org, including an ex-recruiter!

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Avatar Thomas Gayton June 18, 2021 at 1:55 pm

We must stop funding the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.

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Avatar Chris June 19, 2021 at 7:06 pm

What does that mean exactly? Like dismantle the military? That’s a non starter.

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks June 19, 2021 at 10:20 pm

Dismantle? No, but cutting the gluttonous SOB way the hell back and put it on a diet seems like a real good idea to me.

Thomas: realize that the US Military is the richest Socialist entity on the planet. At 1.4 trillion $$ a year including nuclear weapons etc etc that are NOT included in the Pentagon budget (re-read my reply paragraph 9), AND the black ops tens of billions suspected but of course that is all secret because we the people are too dumb to understand it.

We could easily chop it down to $400 billion and still be outspending Russia and China combined… Excuse me, can’t afford free education through graduate school and free health care LIKE NICARAGUA CAN? I mean, Nicaragua has a better country for its people than this one? Two months paid maternity leave for moms? Look it up yourself.

CHOP THE BUDGET. Imagine what $900,000,000,000 dollars could do for the people of this country.

Here’s another one you should read, Chris. I’ve included a cut…

Want Socialism? Try the US Military

Some of our top brass denounce socialism, but they run the most socialist organization on earth.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/06/09/want-socialism-try-us-military

…This May, 124 retired generals and admirals published an open letter claiming that President Joe Biden stole the election. Traditionally, this letter would have been unthinkable, but a sizable contingent of former flag officers—people whose decisions once held lives in the balance—has gone full QAnon, writing: “Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”

(A small but telling note: the letter employs the phrase “Democrat Congress,” a grammatical barbarism that has done duty as a rhetorical device for Republican operatives for at least 40 years, demonstrating that the signatories are rabid political partisans rather than constitutional scholars).

The screed goes on, asserting that “we are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776,” a claim that makes us wonder how the signers ever graduated from their service academies, since a little incident called the American Civil War is an important part of the academies’ military history curricula.

They also question “the mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief.” Given the endorsement of the letter by a raving lunatic like Lieutenant General William Boykin and convicted Iran-Contra criminal Vice Admiral John Poindexter, one just might infer a degree of psychological projection on the part of the signers. continued at LINK above…

Intelligent concepts backed by facts. How original! This ain’t from the corporate MSM…

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Chris June 21, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Ahhh yes another article about the military being a socialist organization. Truth is, yes it is in many regards but in others it’s the antithesis. An organization like the military needs to be in some regards.

Here’s an interesting point counterpoint blog:
https://www.debate.org/opinions/is-the-military-socialist

While I agree much of the funds could be better used in more needed programs, I don’t agree with the degree you think the budget should be cut. I think it’s safe to say we don’t have a lot of middle ground on this one.

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Avatar kh June 21, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Effective recruitment is essential to maintaining a standing army without a draft… I don’t take as much issue with that in principal. I don’t recall them being a strong presence in high school or college, and I lived in an area ripe for recruitment– higher education wasn’t a priority for many.

My issue is with how that standing army is used for unjust causes and mission creep, and the exploding budget that ensues. I support our troops. Our leaders should support them by sending them into endless wars, overthrowing governments, and nation-building.

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Avatar kh June 21, 2021 at 2:17 pm

*by NOT sending them into endless wars…

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks June 24, 2021 at 10:05 am

There seems to be a serious disconnect between the reality of what this country and it’s gi-freaking-gantic murderous military machine says it stands for and what it actually does. And there is nothing standing in the way of it but a few real investigative reporters and the whistleblowers whom have actual critical thinking skills and standards of ethics that finally catches up to them…unlike too many that don’t.

For those of you who are too young to remember the amazing patriot Alaska Senator Mike Gravel reading the Pentagon Papers into the official record so the deceit and blatant and deliberately-told lies of both Democrats and Republican politicians about the US War on Viet Nam didn’t disappear into some DC locked vault, the investigative reporter Robert Perry’s website ConsortiumNews is publishing the truth as written by (still living) Sen. Mike Gravel. Part 1 & 2 have been released:

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/06/21/revealing-the-pentagon-papers-in-congress/

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/06/22/revealing-the-pentagon-papers-in-congress-2-getting-the-papers/

And for those of you who think ‘oh, that’s OLD news and doesn’t apply because we’re different now’ you really should buy and read the the book written by another human that turned into a truly patriotic hero and whistleblower who had to flee the torturers that run this country before they locked him away as the same kind of military & political leaders wanted to do to Daniel Ellsberg. His book is titled PERMANENT RECORD by Edward Snowden. I’ve read it.

And for context, one needs to first read WAR IS A RACKET by Marine Brig Gen. Smedley Butler who laid out in 1935 exactly what we are dealing with now. At the end of reading these three reads one has to truly ask oneself what has changed? The only thing I can see is that suppression of the truth is even more widespread and viciously enforced.

Then as now just about everything you have been told by ‘official’ government sources’ are lies and propaganda. THIS is why the US military needs to be cut off at the knees, de-funded to the point where it is manageable and not a juggernaut crushing everything in its path that wants to find their own way of living; one not controlled by sociopaths running corporations.

We can do better, we should do better, and there are those of us who are STILL fighting to free us like Daniel Ellsberg at 90 years old who was one of the bad guys helping this terrible engine of destruction…until he just couldn’t any longer. As did Gen. Butler. As did Edward Snowden.

Who controls what you read, see, and hear? “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the US public believes is false.” — William J. Casey, CIA director ’81-’87

sealintheSelkirks

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