A message repeatedly making the rounds on the Internet shows a picture of an American airman, John Gebhardt, holding an injured Iraqi child on his lap. The accompanying text explains about his sympathetic provision of comfort to her and others. In addition, the reason that it is all the rage, especially amongst neoconservatives, is that the senders can, in their minds, use the depiction to "prove" that U.S. military personnel undeniably have magnanimous intentions. Subsequently, the message indirectly substantiates their position that U.S. armed forces are overseas fighting wars solely to improve the lives of foreigners and to protect American freedoms at home.
Yes, it is touching to see a kindly man reassure a youngster, but the scene and its description in no way verifies anything altruistic about American motives in the Middle East. Indeed, both could serve to remind people that the wounded child would not have been hurt to begin with, had U.S. warmongers not chosen Iraq as a site for a comprehensive invasion, that should never have been initiated in the first place. They, also, stand in stark contrast to other renditions of U.S. troop actions, which run the gamut from selflessly heroic to atrociously horrific.
For example, one graphic and disturbing image sums up the violence that is always at the heart of war. Titled "American Soldier showing a severed Iraqi arm hung in a mosque to terrorize the Iraqi resistance", it portrays a gloating American youth in fatigues flaunting his prize. The spoils of the hunt, his gruesome human arm, was hung against the wall of a house of worship like a rancid slab of meat.
In response to seeing the shot, I could not resist imagining an invading force coming to the U.S.A. to topple our government and gain control of our oil reserves. As such, I pictured that same mangled limb as the remains of an American resistance fighter, one's neighbor perhaps,strung up at the doorway of a town's church or synagogue.
Concurrently, I could conjure up the way that Americans would regard the foreign attackers, were they forced to prostitute their children to mercenaries - ones like those that were provided to Blackwater's warriors and paid for by the invading forces' government - in order to provide food for their families. Similarly, I could imagine how U.S. citizens would think about citizens of the invading country, so 'cozy' in their own lives, while their own homes, jobs sites, electricity plants, water supplies, schools, hospitals, transportation routes and other critical parts of their lives were blown up and contaminated with toxins, such as depleted uranium delivered from assorted types of projectiles.
Of course, government leaders can convincingly state anything as justification for offensive raids into foreign lands. They can mention the need to destroy weapons of mass destruction (that will never be found) through the use of one's own weapons of mass destruction, the desire to bring democracy to backwards peoples, the obligation to protect far-away populations from dangerous terrorists, the Orwellian wish to bring peace through war or any number of other outlandish excuses.
Simultaneously, they can give glorious pro-war speeches filled with half truths like Barack Obama's address at West Point aimed at gaining support for war expansion. (In connection, it is useful to remember Adolf Hitler once stating: "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.")
Yet propagandist talks, regardless of whether they are sincerely stated or even believed, can never undercut the facts. This was spelled out by Admiral Gene LaRocque: "I hate it when they say, 'He gave his life for his country.' Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don't die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them." Yes, we kill them in the bid to gain geopolitical control of energy stores and pipeline corridors that deliver the supplies, and we slaughter again and again ever more innocent civilians in the process.
In times to come, finite resources, such as uranium and fossil fuels, will be increasingly used up. Countries that either harbor the remaining supplies or that are en route for their delivery will be portrayed as hostile and dangerous to Western interests if they do not cave in to Western demands. Accordingly, various bogus reasons will again be fabricated as justifications for invading them and the affiliated costs will again be subsumed by the invading countries' citizens. The result was spelled out by Abraham Flexner: "Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both."
No, indeed, we cannot have both. We simply cannot afford the social, environmental, and financial price tag. At the same time, we cannot afford the lost funding for essential programs like universal health-care provision and infrastructure repairs at home. Similarly, we cannot bear the added costs to rebuild whole nations after devastating their landscapes. After war expenditures, there's just not enough money to spare for much else.