Random Thoughts

Patriotism and War

History is often a lying propaganda and myth by the victors to be fed to the naive young and old, to covertly numb them into ignorantly internalize and succumb to the nefarious agenda of the power elite. Nowhere on earth has this been successfully achieved than in America, which perfected this from the outset. According to historian Charles Royster, Charles Thomson, the longtime secretary of Congress refused to publish a history of the Revolution despite knowing more than anyone else about the administration and politics of the Revolutionary War and before he died he burnt his papers. In his words," I could not tell the truth without giving great offense. Let the world admire our patriots and heroes. Their supposed talents and virtues (where they were so) by commanding imitation will serve the cause of patriotism and our country. I shall not undeceive future generations."

While hypocrisy is the keynote of human nature, fortunately a minority of honest and curious professional academic historians in America have vigorously documented the true facts in the past decades. Outstanding books which are a must read for every American citizen include, Chomsky & Herman's "Manufacturing Consent", Chomsky's "Understanding Power", Chalmers Johnson's "Blowback" & "Perils of Empire", Howard Zinn's "A Peoples' History of the United States", Ray Raphael's "A Peoples' History of the American Revolution", Joseph Ellis's "The Founding Brothers" and "His Excellency", Henry Wiencek's "An Imperfect God", Charles Beard's "An Economic History of the American Revolution" and Gore Vidal's "Empire". Thomas Pakenham's "A Scramble for Africa" and Robert Hughes "A Fatal Shore" document the earlier sordid tales of the European and British Empires.

America has used this trick of metamorphosing history to create a cohesive group think to pursue its goals of hegemony. Even defeated empires like Japan still falsify the truth of their atrocities on Koreans and Chinese. This led to the recent anti-Japanese riots and outbursts in China whose leaders are using ultra-nationalism to divert attention from the regime's failures and tyranny. A similar form of patriotic appeal was used by the British Labor party to counter the public opposition to the current war in Iraq. The price they paid was still only a reduced margin of victory and did not result in a significant gain for the anti-war Liberal Democrats. The Bush victory in 2004 is another example of how appeal to patriotism and religion can influence an ignorant jingoistic electorate to vote against their economic interest and lend a patina of legitimacy to a previously illegitimate president indulging in an illegitimate war that is bankrupting the nation and literally bleeding its youth.

War has been a means of improving the economy by increasing employment and spending by budget deficits. It also serves to enrich the leaders' crooked cronies. Wilson despite his promises to keep America out of WW1dragged it into the war because major financial and armament interests had loaned so much money to Britain that to ensure the payback of those loans, they needed a British victory. Thus tens of thousands of Americans had to die to enrich the powerful wealthy. They were enticed by the lies that this war was the war to end all wars. During WW2, we were far from neutral and massive assistance was provided to Britain. The ship Lusitania, carrying some American passengers was sunk by a German U-Boat. It was also carrying huge American arms supplies. American economic policies and embargoes on scrap metal and oil were purposely designed to hamper Japan's economy and war effort and to provoke hostilities. Thus FDR covertly led America into war. I do not wish to imply that the motives of Germany or Japan were any better. In fact they were worse. The problem was that the then reigning hegemon Britain, had thrust an onerously inequitable treaty on defeated Germany after WW1 with the help of its allies France and America. The end result of the wars was the bankruptcy of Britain, collapse of the British Empire and the coronation of the new hegemon, America. The new Emperor repeated the old mistakes which led to the defeat of its rival the Soviet Union, but has bankrupted itself in the process and led to the emergence of the defeated Japan and Germany as the two crutches without which the old invalid Uncle Sam cannot take a step.

Even the American Revolution was not an insurrection of the oppressed poor like the French and Russian Revolutions. It was a calculated provocation of the gullible masses that were used to achieve the ends of a wealthy class that resented their lack of power despite their wealth. Another motive was the large debts of the Southern planters to London merchants because of their profligate lifestyle in imitation of the British nobility. Some hoped that a victory over the British would abolish their debts. The rich rarely took up arms themselves. They like current politicians sent the children of the poor to become cannon fodder. Congress refused to provide enough money or materiel to the Continental Army and cheated the soldiers out of their pensions and pay and later on passed laws to enrich the speculators at the cost of the veterans. The merchants hoarded and profiteered while the privates of the Continental army wore rags and walked barefoot leaving bloody footprints in the snow during the winter at Valley Forge. The most shameful tragedy is that nearly 20% of the Continental Army consisted of free blacks who were betrayed by America after the war. The British were equally shamefully disgusting in that they betrayed the blacks after luring them with the promise of freedom. They starved the blacks at Yorktown, when short of rations and sent blacks infected with smallpox into the rebel camps to decimate the Continental army. The commander in charge was one that any educated Indian-American would remember, Lord Cornwallis. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison never raised a finger in the war and Washington who led and fought with the Black Army, sent the predominantly Black Regiment into the vanguard for a suicidal attack on the Yorktown garrison for hand to hand combat and after the victory demanded the return of any slaves that sought refuge with the British under their promise of freedom.

Another thing that war always does is bring out cruelty and inhumanity in people. One needs to cultivate a certain callousness to kill or maim an enemy stranger. Ideology and fanaticism provide the initial motive. The hate and ferocity are necessarily reciprocated by the enemy. This leads to both sides dehumanizing each other. Sooner or later torture, rape and wanton killing become the norm as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bagram prove. They are the natural reaction of unthinking brainwashed young persons physically threatened by death by ambush and mentally incapable of understanding their enemies ideas or speech, but capable of knowing them only by color or appearance. They are neither unique, nor the first. The same things occurred earlier and more often in the Indian Wars, during slavery, in the American Revolution, in the war with Spain and the Seminoles that brought us Florida, in the unprovoked aggression against Mexico that gave us Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California, the unprovoked Spanish American War that gave us Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines and Cuba, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and currently in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is not an indicting tirade on American atrocities. All armies become inhuman and wars make us so. The criticism of America is not so much of its sins and follies which are inherent to human nature, as much of its holier than thou propaganda of freedom, democracy and the false image of the shining city on the hill and thus its shameless hypocrisy which successfully blinds and numbs the world and so-called educated immigrants from India, who either don't care to learn the truth or having learnt it support these policies without the slightest remorse. The defense that we all have is Hinduism is a religion of personal salvation and Christianity condones slavery and exploitation. I thank providence that I am completely immune from the plague of religion, but confess that I am only an armchair activist. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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