Enemies out of Friends

Let me just ask the question, right at the get-go:  Why is the U.S. is so intent on making enemies out of international friends?  Are we so short-sighted that we cannot see we are creating enemies our grandchildren’s grandchildren will have to deal with? 



Scene of a devastating Coalition strike at Hawijah, Iraq on June 3rd 2015 which reportedly killed up to 70 civilians.

Whenever a military munition goes off there are always identifiable bits that remain.  In a battlefield you always know who you’re enemy is.  The traces are everywhere, along with the bodies of your friends and family.  

Whenever a U.S. bomber crosses the sky, or a U.S. tank or HumVee roll across the terrain is there any question about where it came from?  Unless we were to wipe the entire population of a war torn region off the map there are always going to be survivors who remember who it was who laid waste to their country, their homeland, their family, their economy, their lifestyle. Those memories are not easily forgotten.  

Actually, if you look at the news from a week or a month ago, if you see headlines about the Albanian genocide, or Ethnic cleansing in Boznia, or any of literally a hundred or more ethnic centered mass extinctions you’ll realize that the offenses inflicted on groups of people are not forgotten.  The malice and hatred felt by those being oppressed and anihilated lasts for 50 years, 100 years ago, 200 years or more.  Certainly the antagonism between Arab and Jew which goes back 2000 years makes the point as well.  

Whenever man chooses to go to war instead of finding a peaceable solution to his arguments it is guaranteed generated during that conflict will arise again at some later date. 

Politicians have ways of making populations believe that war is the only solution.  You have heard the arguments yourself.  We just have to have the oil that lies under in the ground of those other nations.  We just have  to protect democracy by intervening in other nations’ affairs.  But each and every time we do so we create lasting enemies who will not be easily neutralized or re-friended.  We have a unique situation in being so far removed from other military powers — separated from our major enemies by two oceans.  But in the 21st Century, and with guerrilla tactics an ocean is not nearly as secure a safety buffer as we thought at the beginning of WW I.  And the global economy means that warfare against corporations or by corporations clouds the lines of loyalty.  

I have been noticing that over the past few years TV and movies have changed.  When I was young it used to be the Blacks and the Hispanics who were always the bad guys in dramatic fiction.  Increasingly today I see that Muslims and Arabs are taking their place as the workers of evil.  It’s as though Hollywood has bought Washington’s propaganda and has decided to sell the metaphorical “company line.”  Our young men and women are overseas dying while “keeping the peace” and “making the world safe for democracy” and it’s important to demonize the enemy to make it easier to hate them and to kill them.

It has long been a military training tactic to dehumanize the enemy.  Soldiers don’t like to kill people just like themselves.  There’s something, you see, about killing a human that makes other humans not keen on doing it. But if you’ve been taught and indoctrinated with ideas that the enemy is less “human” than you are it’s not as hard.  If you’ve accepted the idea that they do terrible things then it’s easier to ignore the terrible thing that you are being asked to do when the sergeant, or captain, or admiral, or President tell you those people need to die. 

All the while we are stoking up the war machine we are leaving behind wreckage. Lost lives; shattered families; deaths, injuries, incapacitations that pock the surface of foreign cultures and refuse to be erased, or softened, or mollified.  

Here in the U.S. we’ve never had a foreign power come stomping through our backyard, leaving bullet holes in concrete walls, and bomb craters in our streets.  Other countries are not so fortunate. The one of the most tourist-visited places on earth, the city of Paris it’s not all that hard to find buildings still bearing the evidence of WWI and WWII in their exteriors — brutal reminders of the reality that just because a war is over does not mean that everything goes back to being like it was before the trouble.

I doubt there’s any way to stop the demonization of Muslims and Arabs in this country.  I don’t blame it all on d. trump. This country has been making enemies for a lot longer than he’s been in office; and both political parties have skin in this game.  No one is innocent.  The military have their reasons for wanting it so. Corporations have their reasons for wanting it so.  A few voices raised over issues of human rights and equality aren’t going to change much.  

The thing is, however, that after we have demonized a people, how do we once again see them as just like us?  How do we once again welcome them to a conference table where they are given a listening ear and a sympathetic heart.  It just doesn’t happen. 

We need to think about what’s happening around us.  We need to be aware.

Maybe some day enough of us will reach a point where just knowing about it isn’t enough.