25 May 2009

Here's what it's good for

Which military holiday is it again? They all seem alike to me.


I'm a little confused. Apparently the United States has only fought one war in its history. At least, that's what I gather from the endless paeans to soldiers "dying for our freedom." It occurs to me that if Adolf Hitler didn't exist, America would have to invent him.

There was the Civil War, of course, but if you'll recall about half the country was actively fighting against human freedom in that one. Curiously it's the same part of the country most actively involved in canonizing the military now.

Perhaps when I hear that I'm just managing to miss the last clause. You know, "fighting for the freedom of American business to exploit whatever it wants." Yes, I'm sure that's what they mean to say.


Of course, the deification of the military has some rather alarming consequences. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy largely persists because he-men in the armed forces apparently believe having to serve with out gay people will cause their penis to shrink. The proper response, as Stephen Suh pronounces in so many words, is to tell these folks that they will eat their veggies and like it, or kindly sod off. This doesn't happen, because the alleged civilian control is exceedingly deferential to whatever the sainted military man demands.

Then there is the increasing Christianization of the military, covered by the wonderful Jeff Sharlet in the May issue of Harper's. This was probably a smarter choice for right-wing Christians all along; rather than try to break through in the political arena, where you'll have to face criticism and dissent, it's better to take over the only unassailable institution in American public life.

A few weeks ago I was musing about the improbability of civilian resistance against the government's army. I was, at the time, referring to crazy righties who dislike paying taxes so much they're going to abandon civilization and fight a guerilla war through the mountains. But it's important for lefties as well. Because of the above fact, our democracy survives only insofar as the military accedes to the new government taking power. If, by some stroke, we were ever able to elect a genuinely left-wing government, we would have to aware of the possibility that the military, egged on by business interests, would move in to overturn it. Yes, it is a longshot, but it's a possibility that everyone, even moderate liberals, should consider when analyzing the out-of-control leverage granted to the military.

This nightmare scenario becomes more likely should the American right as a whole continue to lose popular political power and turn as a refuge to the one place where they'll always be welcome.