Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered.
This weekend and continuing through Monday Americans will witness countless varied acts of praise for those who have died in America’s wars. Ball games, parades, pancake breakfasts, even Sunday church service (Laurence Vance, be on alert) – one or more of these will offer opportunities for just about any patriotic American looking for an opportunity to worship.
Apparently, about 1.3 million Americans died in the wars since 1775 (not counting suicides, apparently one every 65 seconds since 1999). It is worth considering: for what did they die? Was any of it worth it?
(Note: I will not, in this post, examine the costs and devastation for those victims of American military aggression, more by orders of magnitude – Memorial Day does not recognize those who died on the other side….For the most part, apparently, Americans don’t care. There is no American holiday for you!)
I will spend the most digits on this war, as even the most principled anti-war critic might consider it an appropriate war.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War in the United States, was the successful military rebellion against Great Britain of Thirteen American Colonies…
Certainly, if there was one war worthwhile in the history of the United States, it would have to be this one. Who on earth could possibly disagree (well, besides King George)?
“Hey, back here…I have a question: Whose independence was won?”
It seems fair to ask if the war was worth it. What if the war wasn’t fought? What was this “independence”? “Independence” for whom? Was life for the average American different than life for the average Brit twenty years after the war? One hundred years? Two hundred years? Was life for the average American different after the war than it might have been had this war not been fought at all, if the colonies remained part of the empire? What of the path of Canada or Australia? Did the American Revolutionary War result in a vastly different life for the average American than it did for the average Canadian or Australian?
I don’t recall reading about a Canadian war for independence. Let’s check:
Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.
Frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, but the British parliament and Cabinet kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982, when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.[
Canada Day? What? It sounds so…passive. No war, no blood, no glory? They just, kind of, decided? No rockets’ red glare? What do they do in place of fireworks? Trade pens? They call it a “birthday”! It is so…non-violent. No war, plus they got the greatest rock band of all time out of the deal.
What about the Aussies? Hold onto your vegemite sandwich; you won’t believe this. They don’t even know when they got independence; well not exactly anyway:
We only became independent of Britain on this day [March 3] in 1986.
You might think this statement absurd. Surely Australia has been independent for a lot longer than that? Let me provide a lawyer's answer: yes and no. Yes, Australia as a nation became independent at some unknown date after 1931. By 1931 it had the power to exercise independence but chose not to do so for some time.
An unknown date? Don’t they care?
They could have done it in 1931, but didn’t? No bullets, no crossing the Murrumbidgee covered in ice, no Valley Styx, no nothing? Were they upset that they didn’t get to fight a war? Did they declare a war, and Britain forgot to attend?
The Australian states, however, did not gain their independence from Britain at that time. Bizarrely, they remained colonial dependencies of the British crown, despite being constituent parts of an independent nation. This meant state governors were appointed by the Queen on the advice of British ministers and that it was the Queen of the United Kingdom (not the Queen of Australia) who gave royal assent to state bills.
So what happened in 1986?
On March 3, 1986, these acts, the Australia Acts, came into force. They state that the British government is no longer responsible for the government of any state and that the Westminster parliament can no longer legislate for Australia. Most important, they transferred into Australian hands full control of all Australia's constitutional documents. So March 3, 1986, is the day Australia achieved complete independence from Britain. Happy Australian Independence Day.
That’s it? What wimps!
Well, unlike the Canadians and Australians, at least the Americans got to stay out of the British wars for the intervening 200 years…wait, check that. More on this later, I think.
Back to the American Revolution: Will we ever know the true behind-the-scenes story?
There was one person in a position to do a completely thorough job of telling the story of the revolution, as he had first-hand knowledge of every political action taken and attempted by the principle actors of the time. [From “The New Nation,” by Merrill Jensen]:
The one figure who, more than any other, represented continuity throughout the Revolution was Charles Thomson, the Irish-born “Sam Adams of Philadelphia.” He was elected secretary of the First Continental Congress by the radical element which had immediately sensed in him a fellow spirit. (Page 361, emphasis added)
Unfortunately, we will never know Thomson’s story. He destroyed his notes and manuscripts:
He gave as a reason, that he was unwilling to blast the reputation of families rising into reputation, whose progenitors were proved to be unworthy of the friendship of good men, because of their bad conduct during the war. (emphasis added)
Thomson destroyed his history because the facts would have been damaging to the reputations of the descendants of the founding generation.
The founding fathers were scoundrels!
There was a subset of the founders who thought it better to keep the gains of political power on the continent instead of sending the gains to Britain. These were the only “winners” of the Revolutionary War; just ask George Mason:
…“posterity will reflect with indignation that this fatal lust of sovereignty, which lost Great Britain her western world, which covered our country with desolation and blood, should even during the contest against it, be revived among ourselves, and fostered by the very men who were appointed to oppose it!”
Robert Morris exemplified this class, but he was not alone. Contrary to the myth of Morris being the financier of the revolution:
No attack on Morris was more extreme than that by William Lee who declared him a most dangerous man in America. He said that Morris was bankrupt at the beginning of the war, left the country bankrupt at the end of it, but that at the same time “amassed an immense fortune for himself….”
Morris’ class won their final victory in Philadelphia, 1787.
The War of 1812 was a two and a half-year military conflict between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies and its Indian allies.
The first war of (attempted) American Imperialism. From Justin Raimondo:
The warhawks, led by John Calhoun, were motivated less by outrage over British harassment of American persons and commerce than by the emerging delusion of Manifest Destiny that energized the earliest advocates of an international American empire. The Appalachian and southern states were the epicenter of this ultra-nationalistic agitation, and the editors of the Nashville Clarion gave voice to the imperialist impulse when they asked:
“Where is it written in the book of fate that the American Republic shall not stretch her limits from the Capes of the Chesapeake to Noorka Sound, from the isthmus of Panama to Hudson Bay?”
Imperialism was built into the Constitution. Don’t believe me? Ask Jefferson:
In 1809 Jefferson wrote his successor James Madison:
"we should then have only to include the North [Canada] in our confederacy...and we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation: & I am persuaded no constitution was ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive empire & self government."
- Jefferson to James Madison, 27 April 1809
Even in his later years, Jefferson saw no limit to the expansion of this Empire, writing "where this progress will stop no-one can say. Barbarism has, in the meantime, been receding before the steady step of amelioration; and will in time, I trust, disappear from the earth".
In this same letter to Madison, Jefferson writes of the possibility of securing Cuba as part of the expansion under this Constitution “so well calculated as ours for extensive empire…”
Canada and Cuba? Why not?
Of course, no war is civil. Additionally, it wasn’t a war for control of the government; it was a war of secession. The war was not necessary to end slavery, although that was the only positive result. I should write no more; ask DiLorenzo, here and here.
Don’t trust DiLorenzo? Think Lincoln was a pretty good guy? Ask Lerone Bennett, Jr.:
Lincoln or somebody said once that you can’t fool all of the people all the time. By turning a racist who wanted to deport all Blacks into a national symbol of integration and brotherhood, the Lincoln mythmakers have managed to prove Lincoln or whoever said it wrong. This is the story of how they fooled all of the people all the time and why.
From “Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.”
You would think that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” would actually respect the wishes of…oh, I don’t know…the people (a novel thought). Instead…well, you know.
I toss this one in as just one battle of the many fought by US soldiers while committing the genocide of American Indians.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army.
The Indians won this one. Most conflicts in that time and place went the other way, of course.
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain's Pacific possessions led to involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine–American War.
The Maine is best known for her catastrophic loss in Havana Harbor on the evening of 15 February 1898. Sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain, she exploded suddenly without warning and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry. Nevertheless, popular opinion in the U.S., fanned by inflammatory articles printed in the "Yellow Press" by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, blamed Spain.
What of the Philippines?
McKinley had God on his side. How could anyone compete with God? McKinley confessed to a visiting delegation of Methodist ministers…
…that he fell to his knees and prayed for enlightenment and that God told him it was his duty to uplift, civilize, and Christianize the Filipinos.
In 1898, Filipino freedom fighters had expected that America would aid them in their patriotic revolution against their Spanish colonial masters. Instead, the Americans short-circuited the revolution and took the country for themselves. Related American military actions left more than two hundred fifty thousand Filipinos dead. Over the next seven years, many Filipinos came to associate the Americans with torture, concentration camps, rape and murder of civilians, and destruction of their villages.
From “The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War,” by James Bradley
The White Man’s Burden (aka Kipling’s poem for American Imperialism) made its first overseas leap. See, the Americans fought to Christianize the Philippines, because the Spanish weren’t Christian…wait a minute.
World War I (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918.
After 100 years, there is still no coherent explanation as to why this war was fought. There is even less justification to explain American involvement – were those trenches along the 49th parallel?
Woodrow Wilson wanted to make the world safe for democracy. He offered his infamous “Fourteen Points,” virtually none of which survived Paris in 1919. But he sounded good.
Many historians credit Wilson with ensuring an uneven treaty in Paris. This sowed the seeds for continued conflict, once all participants caught their breath. The lasting benefit of this war was the certainty that it would be continued; whatever the realities of the burdens placed on Germany at Versailles (driven by the blood lust in the populations of the victorious democracies), the propaganda effect within Germany helped bring National Socialism to the fore.
World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, though global related conflicts begun earlier. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people, from more than 30 different countries.
Anything but a “good war.” With roots in Woodrow Wilson’s interjection in World War I, Stalin’s desires to expand communism throughout Europe and Asia, and Roosevelt’s many attempts to get involved – most notably Pearl Harbor (and, once involved, prolong the war), it is no wonder that somehow Hitler gets all the blame. Did I forget to mention Churchill?
And Hitler wasn’t going to conquer the world (that was closer to Stalin’s goal, actually); we wouldn’t all be speaking German (although I will take the beer, especially the Hefe Weizen).
See “The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II, by Viktor Suvorov; “Freedom Betrayed,” by Herbert Hoover; “The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable,” by George Victor; “1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof; “The Last Lion,” by William Manchester. And never forget Buchanan.
Why? Because, well, just because….
The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), at one time supported by China and the Soviet Union. It was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II.
If you want to read of the misery of the soldiers, try this. Then imagine that they could have been at home instead; I’m sure many of them did.
The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and known in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
You know, the dominoes of communism would fall if Saigon fell. Good thing that didn’t happen…wait, check that.
The Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) was a war waged by coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
Because Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11; unlike the aggressor, he also had no weapons of mass destruction. So he deserved it.
The Iraq War was an armed conflict in Iraq that consisted of two phases. The first was an invasion of Iraq starting on 20 March 2003 by an invasion force led by the United States. It was followed by a longer phase of fighting, in which an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the newly formed Iraqi government.
The War in Afghanistan (2001–present) refers to the intervention by NATO and allied forces in the ongoing Afghan civil war. The war followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in an effort to dismantle al-Qaeda and eliminate its safe haven by removing the Taliban from power.
You see, the terrorists were, for the most part, Saudi. That’s why the US government had to invade Afghanistan. (But don’t ask about Building 7…or the Pentagon…or Pennsylvania….)
That pretty much covers it. Oh for twelve (and I’m sure I missed a few).
Now, I suspect a few of you are thinking I am taking this all too lightly – making fun of serious events. Let me be clear: virtually every American soldier who died in a war died for a lie. I ridicule the lies, not the deaths. However, I do not absolve the soldiers, either.
Happy Memorial Day.