Friday, January 13, 2012

'Why do we fight?'

'Why do we fight' is the title of a series of propaganda films from the US war department during world war two. The famous Hollywood director Frank Capra was 'enlisted' to direct this effort which was aimed solely at the men and women in the US military to fight the country's enemies in Europe and the Asia Pacific. The Roosevelt administration realised that broadly speaking the American public had little or no idea why they were waging war, the attack on Pearl Harbour notwithstanding.
Capra's series had many faults: the segment on Japan played heavily on racial stereotypes and prejudices.
Why does GuamDiary bring up Capra's 'why do we fight?' Look at today's headlines in the US and foreign press: a photo of four marine urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters.
The horror and the endless discussions which either, one way or another, excuse the soldiers although everyone agrees they should be punished, or simply sidestepping an endemic problem that has plagued the US military and any administration occupying the White House.
During Vietnam, we had 'My Lai', in Iraq, Abu Gharib and Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan, well ...
The US military in no way has an adequate programme to 'educate', some say 'indoctrinate' its troops in 'why do we fight?', other than a raw gut appeal to the meanest instincts of stereotypes, skimming the edges of racialism, which has but one goal--total dehumanisation of the enemy. Since the 'enemy' is no longer human, well, anything goes, and boy does it. And when the YouTube exposes the results of US pride the Marines engage in acts stripped of any human qualities, well, the whole bandwagon of excuses and inadequate explanations pump up the hype that deserves no further explanation.
Yep, the four Marines will be disciplined, but not the officer corps going all the way to the top for condoning, perhaps encouraging, this 'way we fight'. And in the end, the question 'why do we fight?' is no clear than Capra's attempt 70 years ago to give cogent reasons why.

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