Chris Hedges’ latest book, The Greatest Evil Is War, is a terrific title and even better text. It doesn’t actually argue a case for war being a greater evil than other evils, but it sure does present evidence that war is tremendously evil. And I think in this moment of nuclear weapons threats, we can consider the case pre-established.
If I were to just read the admirable recent study of U.S. military suicides from the Costs of War Project, my inclination would immediately be to join with President Biden and start proclaiming the war on Afghanistan a success, or with Obama in announcing that the Korean War was a success after all, or with the general U.S. establishment in declaring all wars a noble “service” of some sort. One of the factors that the study suggests may contribute to suicides among recent veterans of U.S. wars is the failure of the rest of us to declare the abominations they’ve taken part in to have been worthwhile. If people are going to refrain from killing themselves if we just pretend to find their wars heroic and glorious, it seems the least we can do, and really not much at all to ask for.
KO: I wanted to begin by disclosing that I had the great honour of working with Cheryl in hospice care as medical social workers and grief counselors for several years. Her compassion, intuitive empathy and healing manner taught me invaluable lessons on how to approach death and grief.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to Matthew Hoh, former U.S. Marine Company Commander, about the high rates of veteran suicides. Hoh served two tours in Iraq as a Marine and with the State Department. He resigned his position as a State Department political officer in Afghanistan in 2009 in protest over the Obama Administration’s escalation of the war.
I recently interviewed an Afghanistan veteran about his transition from US Army soldier to Revolutionary Communist. Mason Bliss deployed twice to Afghanistan, in 2011 and in 2013. Since separating from the US Army in 2015, he has been organizing as a communist, raising the consciousness of the masses and fighting back against the system he once defended, US imperialism.
On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.” This pledge is hammered into the American psyche at every turn. But there is a hidden, dark history that shows that the politicians are in fact no friend to service members–but their greatest enemy. An easy way to prove this truth is to look at how they so quickly betray and abandon their soldiers after purposely ruining their lives, and even after using them as literal lab rats.