Monday, May 25, 2015

Culture of War


A military air show is always a popular event. Often held on patriotic holidays like Memorial Day or July 4th, they always draw huge crowds of people to watch daring maneuvers of high tech military fighter jets and sometimes vintage aircraft as well. The technology is amazing and the skills of the pilots are impressive.

The ear shattering noise of the jet engines is other worldly. Whenever I hear those jets go by (I live near to where air shows are often held), I can't help wondering how those sounds are perceived in a war zone. Those sounds are quite likely the last sounds that people hear before they are obliterated. It really puts a whole different spin on the proceedings.

I get that people want to see what their tax dollars are paying for, and it might as well be done in an entertaining way. But how different are these shows than those May Day parades that the old Soviet Union would hold in Red Square, with tanks, troops and missiles hauled out for the home crowds to gawk over? Is it different than what we see in creepy films of North Korean Army battalions goose stepping in front of the maniacal cabal of dictators there?

We pride ourselves on our love for peace, but half of our economy is dedicated to financing the largest war machine in the history of humanity. Yes, the world is a dangerous place, but poverty, oppression and religious zealotry can not be effectively fought with a military inevitably designed to fight the last war. Other methods, diplomacy, foreign aid, international cooperation will ultimately be the tools that will most effectively lead humanity to a peaceful future.

Love of country is a virtue. Patriotism, so easily twisted and manipulated, has proven itself to be a very dangerous, and very different notion. The former can lead to a better world, the latter too often provides justification for war and immoral profiteering.



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