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What if they gave a War?

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Message Charles Sullivan
"What if they gave a war and no one came?" was a popular slogan during the Viet Nam war. It remains a timeless and powerful motto, and is as relevant as ever. It is still a mantra that evokes thought provoking responses and suggests some intriguing possibilities.

What if those who serve in the military were fully aware of what their government requires them to do? What if they understood the underlying purpose of war and refused to participate? What if military recruiters were unable to feed the war machine with our sons and daughters; our uncles and nephews, and our nieces? How could it continue?

It is no coincidence that those who make war never fight in them. It is the corporations that lobby for war because there are profits to be made; and profits to be kept. The politicians, of course, are owned by the corporations and do their biding.

American citizens have never been involved in making decisions about going to war. Whether or not to wage war is one of the most momentous decisions a people could make; and they have no voice in the process. Half a million people can demonstrate in the streets but the war machine keeps turning. Does this meet a thinking person's criteria for Democracy?

The people who fight them do not want war. Why would they? They have nothing to gain and everything to lose. War is the province of wealth and Plutocracy, not of the working people. It is not for us to ask why. It is for us to fight and to die. But what if we refuse?

Let us be clear about some things pertaining to war: Those who send our children into battle do not care about them. It is politically expedient for them to pretend to care; but they do not. Soldiers are culled from the working class. They are disproportionately poor-many of them people of color. In America, poor people are disposable; the rich are indispensable. Money and social status matters, but they should not.

Witness how the government abandons its soldiers and their families when they come home in flag-draped coffins or over-sized cardboard boxes; when they return with missing limbs and with psychological scars so deep it would require lifetimes to heal them. See how it denies the effects of Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome; and depleted uranium munitions. See how it cuts veterans benefits. It does not care.

The corporate media is an extension of the military industrial complex-a wing of the Pentagon and the corporate board room. It is a vital organ in a vast propaganda apparatus that is used to program the public mind; to deceive and to control the people-to ruthlessly exploit them for the Plutocracy. The war machine could not function without it.

The people who send others to war are cowards and pathological liars. It does not require courage or moral authority to send other people to fight and to die.

War is always about procuring wealth for those in power. It has nothing to do with noble causes. War is about two things: insensate greed and private ownership; and to a lesser degree-conquest.

Our political leaders have no moral integrity. They are beholden to corporate entities, and they are enemies of the people.

War is intimately related to class struggles. Labor history is a chronicle of this violent class conflict that is predatory in nature, with the rich preying upon the poor. When the government sends our soldiers to war it is a continuation of that struggle.

We do not live in a Democracy. If we did the people would have a voice in matters as momentous as war. We must learn to recognize the difference between Democracy and Plutocracy. If we lived in a Democracy our votes would matter; there would be choices other than the evil of two lessers, and the will of the people would prevail.

There is no aspect of corrupt government that is legitimate; no part that warrants our respect-none that deserves our cooperation. Let us see it for what it is-for what it has always been, and act accordingly.

It is said that government exists to serve the people. But in America it is now the other way round.

The people struggling under the oppressive weight of a corrupt and immoral government do not owe that government their allegiance. Indeed, they must not cooperate with it in any way. They must oppose it with all their will and conscience, and do everything in their power to undermine it. They must expose it for the fraud it is and hold it accountable to the people. Sucking the life blood out of the working people is not public service-it is parasitism!

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Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina.
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