The moderately calm trough between migraines finds me thinking -- in addition to realizing that it’s a rather interesting sensation not to be in pain -- about military matters, of all things. I have to say that at least during these moments of relative clarity, when my skull isn’t being shredded from the inside by some inexplicable biological can opener, I can be as calm and dispassionate about such topics as the next person. Well, perhaps “calm” and “dispassionate” are misnomers or mischaracterizations, but whatever. I can manipulate a computer keyboard when my head isn’t exploding, in any event.
Of course, giving thought to the military, and the over-militarized course down which we’re being so relentlessly goaded, runs the risk of re-igniting the seemingly terminal brain-ache that’s been keeping me company these days. Oh well.
Like most normal people, I have a nearly endless catalog of reasons to despise the military, and militarism in general; that being said, let me confuse the issue by pointing out that I am, myself, a veteran of the American war machine -- in this case, the United States Air Force, within which I was an active-duty firefighter during the second half of the 1980’s. This wouldn’t be of any real importance to anyone, I’m sure. I hardly give two shits about it myself, except for the fact that the very conscious decision not to take the GI career path (I would’ve retired toward the end of 2005) spared me a whole slew of insurmountable problems, not the least of which being the advent of the Chimpy regime and the snowballing series of catastrophes it has fostered and engineered. So, much like generations of poor dumb saps before (and after) me, I have played my anonymous bit part in the great and ever-present hoax perpetrated by the corporate-military combine. That gives me at least a partially legitimate basis from which to heap as much criticism and abuse on it as possible -- migraines permitting, naturally.
Two things mainly stand out in glaring relief when military thoughts come pounding through my intellectual transom: the astonishment that anyone would voluntarily participate in this madness, knowing what we do about the present political “leadership” and their program of destruction; and the fact that the infiltration of profit-motivated “private contractors” into traditional military spheres of organization and operations has rendered the present-day Pentagon machine virtually unrecognizable, to my jaundiced eye at any rate.
... As to the first point -- well, regardless of the circumstances or particular period of time, it’s always nothing less than flabbergasting that anybody is willing to quite literally sign their lives, limbs, and gonads over to the tender mercies of a sinister organization predicated on the projection of corporate power and death. Nobody in their right mind would even consider such a thing, you would think. But they do, in surprisingly large numbers. Now, I enlisted during the Reagan years, and while that doddering old fuck clearly was the undisputed prototype of today’s Neo-Con figurehead meat puppet, most of us in uniform who could actually think never once believed that Reagan would -- or could -- launch us all on a catastrophic adventure even remotely comparable to Bush’s messes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and who knows where else. Reagan’s relatively low-key military misfires (relative in contrast to Bush’s, of course), such as Lebanon, Grenada, and Libya, touched only a small fraction of us in the GI ranks. In fact, I was stationed in Germany at what was probably the high-water mark of the Cold War, during the peak of the US military presence in Europe, well before the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc began to collapse under its own dead weight. We never took the “Soviet threat” seriously, ham-handed indoctrination and constant training and war-gaming notwithstanding -- we were compelled to go through the motions, nothing more. Our prime areas of concern involved the universal problems of “peacetime” American GI life, 1980’s version: getting laid, getting loaded, and the difficulties caused by a weak US dollar against the West German mark. Being involved in an illegal war of aggression was literally the last thing that ever entered our crabbed, alcohol-drenched little minds. In fact, it never did.
Maybe it had more to do with the particular branch of the military than anything else, but nobody I knew was pursuing some sacred mission or trying to fulfill an ill-defined ideological agenda by offering themselves up for enlistment. I certainly wasn’t indulging in either of these absurd fictions -- I was motivated by that classic, rather unpredictable combination of youthful irresoluteness, boredom, and incipient poverty. These “principles” are still very much in existence, of course, perhaps even more than ever. But the fundamental implications inherent to the seemingly innocuous act of affixing a signature to the bottom of an enlistment contract are vastly different these days; even a cursory inspection of the Neo-Con program, as well as a passing acquaintance with what the psycho-killers in the Cheney/Rove regime have actually perpetrated over the past six-plus years, should leave absolutely no room for doubt about what’s in store for any nitwit stupid enough to join the military. This is precisely why my attitude towards today’s enlistees is as sourly ambivalent as it is. At less optimistic moments (which are becoming more and more frequent), I can’t help but think: anyone blind and/or dumb enough to mortgage their sorry asses to the Pentagon in this dangerous epoch -- specifically, after the Supreme Court first appointed George W. Bush to the Presidency -- pretty much deserves every horribly fucked-up thing that happens to them.
Yeah, I know -- that’s just a tad bit harsh, maybe even grossly unfair. It’s certainly conflicted. So what? Only a hydrocephalic baboon with a heart condition would be incapable of understanding what the present regime means for the minions caught on the lower rungs of the military’s ladder to nowhere, so bravely volunteering to be some sort of nameless sacrifice on the altar of Neo-Conservatism is, to put it mildly, just utterly ridiculous. Besides, my not-so-disguised contempt for the sick fools who offer up their blood and guts to the Fascist cause actually pales in comparison to that shown by the criminal regime they so guilelessly serve. Whether it’s the denial of benefits for those who literally contribute their pound of flesh for the Fatherland, or the bottom-line spectacle of privatizing the military and its multitudinous and frequently nefarious functions, never has officialdom been so thoroughly suffused with such sheer, unmitigated antipathy and scorn for the uniformed idiots who provide the muscle for their dangerously overwrought ambitions. Having once been counted among said gaggle of uniformed idiots, I can at least speak from experience -- a word that nearly all Repug politicos and technocrats are unable to apply to themselves, as far as military matters are concerned.
Sorry. I was going to comment further on the travesty of “private military contractors,” but my long-windedness has run headlong into the blurry, uncertain stirring of yet another migraine headache. I’m going to get medicated now -- I apologize for wasting everybody’s time.