“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
What can I write about war that I or someone else hasn’t already written?
After all, people have been writing about war for centuries. I think it was Vonnegut who once said that trying to stop a war is like trying to stop winter. Turns out, he was half wrong: winter can be stopped – just ask climate change. Wars, on the other hand, persist, with no end in sight.
When I first sat down to write this evening, I aimed to write a rousing essay calling for people to organize and mobilize against U.S. Empire and global militarism, but I can’t. It just wouldn’t be honest. And writers should be honest, if nothing else.
In the post-9/11 world, war is an omnipresent force. To be fair, for some populations, that’s always been the case. Today, however, people around the globe, from Europeans ravaged by austerity to Palestinians ravaged by colonialism, are feeling the immediate impacts of never-ending war.
Refugees drown in the Mediterranean and starve in makeshift camps, while bombs are dropped by over 24 different nations throughout the Greater Middle East. Since 9/11, the U.S. alone has bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya. And that list will continue to grow with time.
Writing about the horrors of war seems beyond redundant at this point. I’ve written and talked about killing people, picking up dead bodies, watching dead friends get loaded into helicopters and flown away, never to be seen again, the smell of burning flesh, what it was like to watch my fellow marines take pictures and play with corpses. I’ve written and talked about the dozens of decapitated bodies I’ve seen, and the marines who purposely drove over them in our HUMVEEs, always smiling, sometimes taking pictures.
Remember, my generation was the first generation to go to war with the internet. And in a society that loves bright lights and superficial entertainment, it only makes sense that those fighting Uncle Sam’s wars in the 21st century would pack digital cameras along with our AR-15s and MREs.
Speaking of hollow displays of patriotism and the worship of state violence, how about those beautiful missile strikes? There’s nothing like a majestic missile soaring through the desert air! It’s a damn shame Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow weren’t on the receiving end. Fuck them, and every other yuppie-liberal who works at NBC. They are directly responsible for Trump’s victory, and everything that follows. Our billionaire-rapist-chickenhawk president who likes to eat chocolate cake while firing cruise missiles couldn’t have won the White House without the help of CNN and MSNBC. Always remember that.
In the meantime, who will the U.S. bomb next? And how long before the world is drawn into what could become the most devastating war in the history of humanity: WWIII? Those are the most important questions of the day.
But who’s asking those questions? I turned on CNN earlier tonight and Anderson Cooper and his panel of vapid morons were bantering on about Trump’s approval ratings. I can imagine future headlines reading: “What does a nuclear strike mean for Trump’s chances in 2020?”
I hate to rehash old wounds, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset with my liberal friends who disappeared after Barrack Obama was elected in 2008. They went home, and never returned. Today, the world is paying the ultimate price for liberal hypocrisy.
Remember, Barrack Obama’s first major foreign policy decision was to escalate the war in Afghanistan (the longest war in U.S. history) when he sent an extra 30,000 troops to Western Asia. For 8 years, liberals said absolutely nothing about Obama’s war in Afghanistan, his deadly and illegal drone program, or his use of special forces operations throughout the world, including the continent of Africa, where the U.S. has averaged over 3 operations a day for the last three years.
All of the power that went unchecked under Obama will be exploited by Trump and his team of corporate bandits. That’s the real world price the world will pay for liberal double-standards.
Earlier today, the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal in Afghanistan, a peasant nation ravaged by decades of Russian and American imperialism. Without question, the situation in Afghanistan is worse today than at any point in recent memory, with no end in sight.
Yet, no one will pay for those crimes. While Obama yucks it up with billionaire scumbag Richard Branson, George W. Bush paints pictures of wounded veterans. To be honest, I don’t know which is worse. What I do know is that these people should, at the very least, spend the rest of their miserable lives in solitary confinement.
One of the darker lessons I learned in the war is that psychological torture is much worse than physical torture. While physical torture can create psychological distress, simply playing with someone’s mind is the best way to completely destroy their physical being. Give me a prison cell, control over the temperature, florescent lights and loud music, and I can obliterate a human being in less than a month.
Indeed, human beings are capable of unimaginable levels of cruelty and barbarism. Undoubtedly, that’s the most important thing I learned during the war. Human beings are capable of anything and everything under the right circumstances.
That being said, if things don’t change, and soon, Syria is the future for all of us. The situation in the U.S., for instance, is ripe for madness and extreme violence: income inequality, racial segregation, collapsing public institutions, lack of trust in the media, social alienation, abrupt climate change, drug addiction and 330 million weapons, one for every man, woman and child in the good ole’ US of A.
Yet, I’m too stubborn to give up. Even if we’re doomed, and according to folks like Guy McPherson, we are indeed fucked, I’m still going to fight, resist and record my thoughts until the very end.
It’s hard to balance being a writer and an activist. On the one hand, as an activist, my primary goal is to motivate people and to encourage and guide them to become more involved. As a writer, my task, as I said above, is to simply tell the truth and to express what I’m feeling in the most honest way possible. Sometimes, those two things don’t match up.
Again, for me, it’s less about remaining “positive” and more about coming to terms with reality. I spent too many years involved with institutions and people who refused to see the writing on the wall. I promised myself years ago that I wouldn’t allow that to happen again. And I won’t.
So, here we are, sitting at the edge of extinction with all the toys and entertainment in the world, from live-streaming videos and handheld electronic devices to on-demand violence and virtual realities, yet some of us can’t even access fresh drinking water – just ask my friends in East Chicago, Indiana, or Flint, Michigan.
Oh, and let’s not forget the living world. Two days ago, U.S. Steel, the company that built Gary, Indiana (then destroyed it) dumped an unknown amount of hexavalent chromium — a toxic byproduct of industrial processes, into our beloved Lake Michigan. The week prior, more than 3,000 dead perch were found in a former U.S. Steel boat slip on the South Side of Chicago.
If the U.S. government was truly concerned with the safety of its citizens, it would send the next MOAB to 600 Grant St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219.a