Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rejecting Militarism

Peter King writes about Larry Fitzgerald's USO tour to Iraq:

"In every stop on the four-player tour [...] of U.S. military bases in Iraq, the playoff hero told the crowd some version of this: 'Thank you. If it wasn't for you doing what you do, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. I just want you to know how much I appreciate all the sacrifices you're making -- and I'm not alone.''"

I know many people believe this: that the U.S. military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are necessary for Larry Fitzgerald to make millions of dollars catching passes. But I see it as a non sequitur that perpetuates a militaristic culture that glorifies war. This is why I can't share in Nathan Schneider's hope that

"There must be a way to honor such sacrifices as war brings out in people while abhorring the pointless insanity that occasioned it, abhorring it so completely that it can never possibly happen again."

I think this sort of mythology (that soldiers occupying a foreign nation make our necessary lifestyles possible--a belief many hold as a secure article of faith, one that is difficult to refute, yet also difficult to prove) contributes to a culture that sees warfare as necessary and honorable. The conventional wisdom that we are able to live our lives as we do because of soldiers grants a necessity to warfare that I do not accept. I want to reject militarism at all levels.


  1. I think it is true that the military (and the infernal School of the Americas) makes our affluent lifestyle possible. I'm no historian but it seems to me that war usually is about access to resources and labour. It's not as necessary now with globalization—workers and resources can be exploited without the need for Marines or death squads—but resistant elites (e.g. the Baath Party) are still liable to military action. Without militarism I think our lifestyle would be much lower on the food chain, and that's as it should be

  2. I considered putting the "necessary" in quotations or italics, because that is part of the myth--that the lifestyle that militarism supposedly allows for is an essential, required lifestyle. That's why specific references as King/Fitzgerald make are so jarring--that a foreign occupation and all that comes with it (civilian deaths, soldiers away from their families, billions of dollars) is important because it preserves...a world in which individuals can make millions of dollars playing a game. Now, I enjoy games, and I enjoy watching others play games; I think, in fact, that games are important. But to juxtapose the two--a thanks because military occupation "supposedly" (I don't even concede this) is necessary to allow Fitzgerald to make millions catching passes--just seems to call attention to the insanity of it all.

  3. Ah, I see. Yes. It's a more difficult tradeoff when you think of the arts and culture that are made possible by obscene wealth (however obtained). That's a hard one for me. No Michelangelo without Medicis.