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Thu Jul 24, 2014, 01:21 PM

Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:00
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

Militarism is like a lethal virus that takes as its first victim both historical memory and any sense of moral and social responsibility. In the United States and Israel, at the present moment, it is no longer one strain of ideology that permeates these societies; it is a general condition that gives meaning to almost all aspects of life. Incapable of thinking beyond military solutions to social problems, militarism absolves individuals and governments, if not the general public, of the horror produced by the weapons it builds; moreover, just as it erases the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it suggests that the hundreds of children killed in Gaza is a military necessity.

The apostles of militarism offer jobs to the public that engage in the production of organized violence; they preach war as a cleansing solution, while they sanitize language of any meaning, erasing the suffering, misery, and horror inflicted by their drone missiles, jets, Apache helicopters, and bombs. All that has to be invoked are the words "collateral damage" or "military necessity" and the death-laden actions produced by the new militarists disappear into the dark vocabulary of authoritarian doublespeak. War is no longer a source of alarm, but pride, and it has become an organizing principle of many societies. Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.

When children are killed by Israeli missiles while playing on a beach in Gaza, the horror and sheer brutality of the murderous act is wiped away by the crude argument that such needless slaughter is a military necessity. There is no defense for killing children, regardless of whether it is done by the Israeli state, the United States, Hamas, or anyone else. We live in a time in which political illiteracy and moral tranquilization work in tandem to produce the authoritarian subject, willing to participate in their own oppression and the oppression of others. Thus, the silence over filling our prisons with poor people of color, treating desperate immigrant children as if they were vermin, and allowing elected officials to replace reason with forms of militant religious fundamentalism. What kind of moral arrangements does a society give up when there is no outrage over the fact that the United States supplies billions of dollars in armaments to other states and thus is complicit in the killing of young children and others through acts of state terrorism?

The militarists come from various political parties and are hooked into a market-driven logic that disdains thinking about social costs or the despair they create. They are unadulterated agents of cruelty and their power serves a corrupt form of casino capitalism that breathes and breeds the ideology and policies of the military-industrial-surveillance complex. In the United States, trillions are spent on wars that were based on and initiated with lies. At the same time, social services are cut, schools abandoned, infrastructures ignored so that the military can build F-35 jets at the cost of $200 million apiece - pieces of junk plagued by mechanical failures and a sober witness to the United States' unwillingness to use the money of war and violence to build a decent, democratic society in which vulnerability and care become the watchwords rather than violence and war. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25136-killing-machines-and-the-madness-of-militarism-from-gaza-to-afghanistan

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