Monday, October 03, 2011

Extort the Troops!

4 Oct. 2011

by Jeff Huber

I was plenty riled when Walgreens tried to shame me into doing my patriotic duty by contributing a dollar to send a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to one of our troops overseas.  “Don’t you want to support the troops?” the McJobette at the cash register asked me. 

I’d been waiting in line for several minutes to pay for two dollars and something worth of something or other because all of the people in front me who didn’t believe in the 21st Century who had taken the time to write checks for a few dollars worth of something else, so I was maybe more annoyed than I might otherwise have been.  Whatever the case, I decided to use the time I would have taken to write a check for two dollars if I wrote checks and something to give Ms. McJob and the people in line behind me an impromptu lecture on wartime economics. 
Praise the Lord and pass the chocolate.

Since 9/11, I explained, every American who wasn’t either too poor or too rich to pay taxes had “supported” the troops to the tune of well over $5 trillion, and the actual figure was probably closer to $10 trillion.  If $5 or $10 trillion wasn’t enough to buy the troops all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Mars Bars and Gummy Bears and Jujubes they could possibly hold then me kicking in an extra couple of bucks at Walgreens wasn’t going to help to keep their candy cache combat capable.    

The McJobstress gave me a baleful look and said, “So you don’t want to support the troops?”  Some guy in line behind me wearing a biker T-shirt and a ponytail muttered “f*****g liberal” as he reached for his checkbook.  

This war's for you.
Cashing in on our War on Evil is hardly a new thing.  I was sitting in a local tap-and-trough the first time I saw the Anheuser Bush “Coming Home” commercial, the one where troops returning from the war walk through an airport terminal to a standing ovation from the civilians who are waiting around to board for their delayed flights.  I shook my head and asked the bartender to replace my Budweiser with a Coors.  She asked why, and I said that if the Budweiser people wanted to use the war to sell beer they’d have to sell it to somebody besides me.

That’s when Virginia Beach legend “Drunk Dave” pried his nose from the bar and said, “Aw, man, they’re not trying to sell beer, they’re just trying to show their patriotic spirit.”  This is the same Drunk Dave who once claimed that he got a balanced view on politics because he listened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

To gain even further perspective on the events of the day, Drunk Dave often tunes in to G. Gordon Liddy’s program.  Dave is especially fond of the G. Man’s bumper music, most often war tinged, patriotic, twangy jingles by the likes of the abominable Toby Keith about how it’s the American way to put a boot in everybody’s bottom and sell a lot of records about it. 

One of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, that the anti-war movement has less traction than a curling stone is that it’s not only the defense industry parasites who are knocking down big war bucks.  It’s everybody.  One can’t pass a single merchandising venue in my area without bumping against some sort of trooper-dooper sales gimmick.  Granted, I live in an area (Hampton Roads) that contains the densest military population in the country, but given the advertising I see on what little television I watch it appears that Madison Avenue has cast its “support the troops” net from coast to coast. 

It’s the American way, I suppose, to use whatever’s available to gull one’s fellow citizens into buying fecal matter they probably don’t need, and why should war be any different from, say, body odor or erectile dysfunction?  After all, exploiting human misery and suffering has always been a core tenet of capitalism, hasn’t it? (Especially when the political right gets its way and eliminates all government regulation, eh?)

One might even be willing to grant that making money on war is downright virtuous, up to a point.  Unfortunately, the hideous truth at the core of “support the troops” commercialism is that it supports the neocons' Orwellian doctrine of “Long War” (aka “Persistent Conflict”).  Had irony not gone the way of truth, justice and honor during young Mr. Bush’s administration, it would delight at Persistent Conflict’s key internal contradiction: in order to keep the Long War going as long as possible, it must be fought in such a manner as to generate an infinite supply of enemies. Thus does the Long War doctrine defeat any rational claims that they contribute to our national security, yet national security is the fallback rationale for persisting in the Long War. 

And Irony would turn positively giddy over the sign that as of this weekend hangs behind the cash register of my corner 7-Eleven:

U.S. Armed Forces
We Don’t Start Wars
We Finish Them
Support the Troops

Jesus on a jet ski, there’s not trace of truth in that entire slog of slogans.

We do start wars.  We supposedly invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks even though none of its masterminds or hijackers were actually from Afghanistan.  We kicked the closest thing Afghanistan has ever known to a legitimate government out of power and replaced it with a gang of hoodlums and drug dealers who now constitute the second most corrupt government on the face of the earth.

We supposedly invaded Iraq because of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his role in 9/11 via his ties to al Qaeda.  None of these justifications turned out to be true.  We replaced Hussein with a gang of hoodlums who now constitute the fourth most corrupt government on the face of the earth.  

We instigated the bombing of Libya to remove a head of state who we legitimized by recognizing his government and replace him with a gang of hoodlums who promise to surpass Somalia as the country with the most corrupt government on the face of the earth.

Billions of American tax dollars financed the efforts of U.S. “non-profit” groups that fomented the Arab Spring movement that has set the Middle East afire, a circumstance that will abet the Long War policy goal of creating an inexhaustible supply of maniacs fighting among themselves to become even worse tyrants than the ones they deposed.

We’re presently mired in 120 wars throughout the globe, all of which we started or are involved in by our own choosing.  And we’ll never "finish" any of them because their very nature inhibits them from ever ending.  The only way we'll ever walk away from them is to just get up and walk away.  

Can we blame the “U.S. Armed Forces” for having started these unending wars?  You bet your bippy, we can.  Oh, the “troops” aren’t to blame.  It was the Pentagon brass who helped Dirty Dick Cheney and Dandy Don Rumsfeld cook the intelligence and manufacture the propaganda that got us stuck by the zipper in Iraq.  And the felonious four-stars—David Petraeus, Richard Myers, Pete Pace, George Casey, Mike Mullen and Ray Odierno, just to name the top row on the wall of the pogues’ gallery—have been as thick with the military-industrial warmongery as ticks on a wild dog when it comes to peddling pro-war propaganda designed to obliterate withdrawal timelines.    

These Colors Can't Think
The troops, for the most part a captive audience of Armed Forces media and their true-believing superiors, have been brainwashed even worse than the rest of the nation.  A 2006 Zogby poll showed that almost 90 percent of American troops serving in Iraq thought the war there was retaliation for Saddam Hussein’s role in 9/11. 

Lying to the troops, and exhorting them to finish wars that cannot be won, and exploiting them for the benefit war profiteers cannot in any way be defined as “supporting” them.

But try telling that to the likes of Lady McJob or Drunk Dave or the yahooligan who posted the Bush Coming Home commercial on YouTube and called it “Probably the best commercial ever made.” 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.   


  1. Commander, this is an F.Y.I.


  2. Thanks, EL. Maybe that explains the black sedan parked in front of my house.

  3. Stay safe.

    People are finally "taking it to the streets".

    We are all going to be a threat to something or other..... before too long.



  4. In "War is a Racket" old Smedley Butler points out that even the makers of socks and under wear get big profits from wars. Not that "out of the ordinary" for candy makers to get in on the big bucks of war. Sad, but not that amazing unfortunately.

  5. You're right, Charlie, nothing new about war profiteering. I bet if I could find something about in Thucydides if I looked hard enough.

  6. Too bad the part of the UCMJ re: disobeying unlawful orders doesn't apply to the 4 stars at the top. Or at least it doesn't if the people responsible (whoever they are) don't enforce it.

  7. "A 2006 Zogby poll showed that almost 90 percent of American troops serving in Iraq thought the war there was retaliation for Saddam Hussein’s role in 9/11. "

    This is amazing.

    If the poll was done in 2011 I wonder what the result would be, still so high? Lots of troops support Ron Paul and RP is a major disabuser of war propaganda. It must be weird to have discussions if you are active military -- camps of thought have probably developed and I can't imagine how they would get along, except by agreeing not to talk to each other.

  8. A few follow on comments if I may.
    Odds are that the "biker guy" in line with you has never been in any military. The same goes for Mr. Toby (I'm a country singer) Keith. One could add to the list of non-military, yet "super" patriots John (4F) Wayne of movie fame and even "saint" Ronnie of Raygun. It has struck me as somewhat odd that many of the USA's "super" patriots have never been in any military, yet they sell themselves as more patriotic than those who DO wear the uniform. I first noticed this when I was in the Marines and it was worse after my time in Vietnam.
    Well, it just shows, once again, that talk is cheap. It is too easy for any 4F or multi deferments types to be "more patriotic" than even the troops in uniform. I must be so against the stereotype of a former Marine as more than a few times some of the "super" patriotic clowns have asked to see my DD214 as they could not believe that I had been in the Marines. It is fun to go against the stereotype. Blows their small, closed minds.
    I agree with the comment by freeman about the UCMJ and unlawful orders. Even in boot camp we were taught that one.
    Great article, keep them coming.

  9. Charlie, there is a famous old movie which shows some super-patriots from the German WWOne perspective.

    All Quiet on the Western Front

    The super-patriots all around town are portrayed as having a major influence on the teenagers in Germany. This is a classic and it lives up to its billing. The story is top but the film-making is primitive because it was one of the first-ever "talkies" having film-length dialogue.

    Be sure to avoid the 1970s remake -- the original is the one to watch. It's also free on youtube etc because the movie is officially public domain now due to its age.

  10. Forget lady McJob, try telling it to some fat specimen of Alabama citizenry who should no better.

  11. Ah, sweet home, Skippy!

  12. Well, the money has to get laundered somehow. And those Afghan weddings aren't going to blow themselves up.

    The War Nerd has an interesting take on military spending as a weapon in the new Cold War:

    China Joins the Yacht Club

  13. I've known for 35 years that the engines that pull the troop trains into battle were war profiteers. In the neighborhood I grew up in the dickhead w.p.s were more concerned with their golf swings than they were the health or reputation of the country.

    Not sure whether Coors or Bud is any better.

    any microbrewrys around?

  14. Empire,
    Yes, the original movie version of "All quiet on the Western front" is an excellent movie. I just saw it last week, I believe it was on TCM on the old cable box here in central Louisiana. I read the book many long years ago .
    The anti-war spirit must be kept alive. Now, if we could just find a way to take the profits out of war.........

  15. Nunya,

    Regarding Bud v. Coors, yeah, one's as bad as the other, I finally realized. That's perhaps one of the many reasons I quit drinking altogether. Now, if I have a no-alcohol malt beverage, it's made by Guinness or a German outfit.


  16. Charlie,

    Sorry I took so long to publish your comment. I'm still not quite savvy with the new blogger interface.

    I can't remember when I read All Quiet but it made quite an impact on me.