All the United States Military commercials advertise an opportunity to “defend freedom abroad.” That we employ our Armed Forces to “protect human rights the world over.” This country gets right up on its soapbox and cries out of all the humanitarian efforts we’re involved in. And demands that the rest of the world follow our example.
Too bad that’s all bullshit. The fact is the United States has not once entered a war to protect oppressed people, to stop genocide, to get food to the hungry, or to overthrow a tyrant.
Take Desert Storm, for example. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and few people will argue that. He was even a genocidal tyrant, for as most people will remember, he was using chemical weapons on the Kurds within his own country. We put a stop to this with Desert Storm. But, that wasn’t the reason for the war. That war started because Saddam invaded Kuwait, a particularly American-friendly oil-producing and exporting country that ships a good sized portion of the oil to the United States. Helping the Kurds was only a nice side effect. “Oh, by the way, while we’re pointing guns at you, would you mind letting up on the Kurds a bit? ‘Preciate it.”
Another very good example would be World War II. Everyone knows about the Holocaust, and even though there’s some surprisingly ignorant people who have tried to say it never happened, most people are at least smart enough to know better. We did not enter WW2 to save the Jews from eradication. We didn’t even enter the war to save the Allies already getting their asses kicked in Europe. We got into that war because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If you’re wondering why this meant fighting Germany and Japan at the same time, it’s because if Germany was left to conquer all of Europe, we’d have a much stronger opponent coming at us from the Atlantic. And that nearly happened anyways, despite our involvement in Europe – it was dumb luck that Hitler was stupid enough to try to invade Russia (in the middle of winter) before finishing off the already bombed-to-hell Britain. And also dumb luck that the Russians retreated and burned any food supplies on their way so the Germans have nothing to eat on their march to Moscow. You just have to admire the crazy bastards for that.
We knew about the Holocaust long before we entered the war. And our opinion of that was: “well, I guess it just sucks to be a Jew, doesn’t it?” Maybe people thought that if we stayed out of the war, Japan and Germany would just let us be. But, fortunately for the Jews (and the rest of Europe) the Japanese got itchy trigger fingers and shot us first.
In both cases, the United States got some really great PR for stopping genocides. And in both cases, it was just a nice side-effect of us protecting our own greedy asses.
Now you can also apply this to the current wars in the Middle East, except it’s worse – we’re not protecting anything of ours, just taking from them more than what we had before. Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda (aside from maybe cheering them on,) nor was he developing WMDs. So why did he tell the UN inspectors that were looking for WMDs to piss off? Well, he was a tyrant… he has his image to consider. How can you hold your head up and oppress your people while your pants are down and the UN’s rubber-gloved finger is giving you a cavity search? (Two points to anyone who answered “with a rifle in one hand, a glass of gin in the other, a long t-shirt, and a shit-eating grin on your face.”) Yet we did overthrow Saddam, and we did hand him over to our newly appointed pocket government (who is more than willing to let our American oil companies come in and appropriate some oil derricks,) and he did get the rope. Certainly is something to feel good about, especially when every goddamned reason we went to war with Iraq in the first place turned out to be a load of shit, isn’t it?
So keep this all in mind every time you watch the news and hear about an oppressive regime taking over [insert-random-African-or-Asian-country-name-here] and your great humanitarian military sits back and does nothing. Oh, wait… you don’t see that sort of thing on the news, do you? It’s too depressing; it won’t get good ratings.
She asked to take my hand
I turned, just keep on walking
But you'd do the same thing in the circumstance
I'm sure you'll understand
- Nine Inch Nails, Survivalism