Welcome to Soldiers are not heroes, they are tools of war‘s new blogsite.
The purpose of our blog is to provide a forum for people who don’t believe that putting on a military uniform automatically makes you a hero. We believe that people should be accountable for their actions, and that if you take part in something which is immoral, no matter how well intentioned you may have been your actions can’t be considered moral.
That’s not to say that soldiers can’t ever do heroic things, soldiers like all people are just human, and the stress and trauma of war can bring out the best or the worst in anyone. Soldiers can be honest, well intentioned people, or they can abuse their power over life and death to commit horrendous atrocities. People should be judged on individual merit, the term “hero” shouldn’t be cheapened by overuse or applied en masse to a group which includes some who signed up just to get a pay-check and others looking for a legalised opportunity to kill people of a different race or religion.
Referring to soldiers as “tools of war” isn’t meant to be an insult, rather a statement of fact. Soldiers sign away their rights and their power to make their own decisions to politicians who, most people would probably agree, can’t be trusted. They become agents of corrupt and dangerous interests. When their usefulness is over often they are just cast aside like broken toys, unrecognisable to their families and tormented by the things they have seen and done.
In the case of the western powers, and particularly the USA, war has become an industry, and a hugely profitable one. The USA’s military budget is larger than the next 10 countries combined. For a country which has been attacked on its own soil only twice in the last 200 years this is excessive. It isn’t for defense. We have no argument with people defending their homes and families, we do however take exception to large and powerful nations invading countries that are no threat to them under the pretext of humanitarian concerns only to gain access to their resources and markets.
Whilst our interest relates to all military organisations, we do feel it is important to challenge the exceptionalist notions behind western military interventions. Western foreign policy is not governed by principle. The USA has been militarily involved in over 50 countries since WWII. It has deposed representative democratic governments, supported fascistic regimes and even helped to train their death squads at the “School of the Americas”. The US and Great Britain continue to be allied with countries like Saudi Arabia which is far from being anything even close to a modern democracy. The US sponsored and encouraged Islamic militants in Afghanistan when it suited their interests in fighting against the Soviet Union, and again more recently it has supported them in Libya and is doing so in Syria.
The West chooses its allies and enemies on the basis of economic and strategic interests alone. The US government is controlled by corporate interests which have corrupted the democratic process in order to take money from the people to finance the expansion of its neo-liberal economic empire. This is bad for the taxpayer, bad for soldiers, and terrible for those countries and people who stand in the way and are crushed.
The myths of nationalism and militarism support and enable this process by labelling those who invade smaller countries as “heroes” and branding anyone who stands in opposition as a traitor, coward, or terrorist. More often than not the real interests of soldiers themselves are more closely aligned with those they are fighting than those who send them to war, yet nationalist rhetoric and propaganda is employed to create a sense of “us and them”, to bring “us” closer together and to dehumanize our “enemies”.
That’s not to say that there aren’t people or governments in the world that should be challenged. But, democracy can’t be created at the point of a gun, you can’t bomb it into existence. Even if you could, the people of the country need to own it themselves if it is to be worth anything. Countries need to find their own way, we can help, but an over-reliance on military solutions only creates more enemies and more failed states, leaving their citizens at the mercy of bandits and thugs. In doing so it sows the seeds for future conflicts, in the same way current conflicts have their roots in wars and interventions dating back decades. This may be good for the arms industry, but it’s making a mess of our world, is destroying our security and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
An ethical foreign policy would be based on what’s best for people, not what’s best for corporations. We “the people” need to take back our power, we need to withdraw the veneer of consent that our governments use to act in our name under the pretext of “defending freedom”, whilst actually spying on us and invading our privacy without probable cause. We do not consent.