Anti-war movement in the US during aggression against Vietnam was not because millions of Vietnamese were dying. It developed because body-bag numbers were rising.
A Gpolit.com Exclusive!
Many wonder why the citizens of hegemonic countries keep quiet when their ‘democratically elected’ ‘modern’ governments go on to destroy other weaker countries and at times, entire civilizations. The issue becomes somewhat intriguing when the mighty nations vouch by principles of equality, freedom, democracy, altruism etc. They sometimes even stretch it to their actions drawing legitimacy from religion and spirituality. Remember the Bible sessions of Bush Jr.? A sizeable section of humanity watches aghast, as militarily powerful nations go on rampaging from one country to other.
Why do their masses agree with such brutality ???
In ancient times, royalty and the privileged used to keep slaves. In America, slavery formally ended as recently as in 1865. A casual look at the treatment of non-whites today in the USA at the hands of law enforcement officials is enough to give one an idea about the mindset of the empowered today. There is a good chunk of humanity which thinks that it is superior and entitled enough to demean, torture and even kill in hordes. Forget the reasons of Iraq invasion (the decisions were made by certain powerful interests); just recall what the ordinary soldiers were doing in Abu Gharib prison and the graphic pictures leaked thereof. It would be a mistake to think that the attitudes have changed. When they attack a country, they do so with the righteous swagger of a knight and attitude of Chenghez Khan.
Colonialism was the raw power projection of hegemons aiming for maximum profits for their aristocracy and trading classes. Military annexation was followed by the colony being turned into a raw materials production backyard. Centuries of exploitation are well documented. India gained its independence only about seventy years ago in 1947. The economic fabric of the country was bleached irreparably.
The colonial powers however learned a lesson very well – It paid to be militarily razor-sharp. Military projection as a tool for easy economic dividends has continued till this day. Their citizens are aware of their history when they were the ‘rulers’ of such and such country. Do they feel superior on account of that? Yes, they do. Just follow any racist rant on the social media and the issue will be crystal clear. Or ask any South-East Asian worker in an Arab country about their treatment. The airs of superiority inherited from culture and history are hard to get rid of.
Interpretation of history and culture
The history of colonial era was written by self-anointed scholars from Europe who travelled to distant lands, caught hold of local tomes and documents and interpreted them as per the convenience of the colonial powers’ necessities. Hence the ‘fall of Bastille’ (1789) marked ushering in of ‘equality’ for the ‘endowed’, but an armed uprising against the British in India(1857) was termed ‘mutiny’ and ‘rebellion by disenfranchised aristocracy’. Local knowledge, traditions and culture were presented as being inferior and great romance and altruism was associated to concepts of ‘white man’s burden’. (It is another story that the burdened white man had Bible in one hand but invariably a blazing six-pack in the other) The genocide of native Americans (some estimate it at 100 million) was helped along by distribution of purposefully disease infected blankets by the settlers. Devoid of their natural resources, the malnourished natives were again blamed as having ‘low immunity’ against various afflictions. The narrative is constantly and meticulously changed to keep bleeding hearts, if any, amongst the masses in check. All actions of depredatory nations and their citizens remain beyond reproach.
If ever any of their citizens raise their voices against wars of aggression, a common refrain is to bring up the holy cow ideal of ‘patriotism’. The majority is silenced by being asked to support the troops who are fighting for their ‘freedom’ and ‘way of life’. Hollywood churns out grand productions where western ‘heroes’ make great personal sacrifices to crush evil doers in lands ranging from North Korea, Russia, China, Middle East etc. Their governments, their armed forces, their leaders can do no wrong, is the common theme. The wrong doers are all in distant lands. Their great nation is fighting the villains and the diehard patriots are cheering. The mood is akin to that when exterminating vermin. Who cares if one and a half millions Iraqis are dead; let us support our troops.
The farce of sovereignty
The concept of sovereignty is for the west and its allies, and is savoured with much gusto. No one is supposed to question this ideal. This ideal, propagated by their great political scientists, helped avoid wars between the developing nation states of Europe! But when it came to Yugoslavia, the ideal was conveniently shoved aside and a new concept of ‘right to protect’ and ‘ethnic self-determination’ was conjured out of the blue and the country dismembered into small ‘manageable’ statelets. Now each one of them is being encouraged to join the supranational entity of ‘European Union’. Their ‘European identity’ is at the forefront of propaganda. Just in case they feel insecure, further insurance can be bought at attractive premiums by way of NATO membership. Wow!
North Korea, which had a quarter of its population annihilated only a few decades ago, is despised by major nuclear powers for securing its sovereignty by a nuclear tipped middle finger. The impoverished nation is projected as being a threat and its leader insane (on lines of Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein). Both Libya and Iraq, once prosperous secular nations, lie in ruins today, but the sentiment in western public is that they brought it upon themselves! On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is allowed to bomb with impunity the poor Yemen. Sovereignty is for the privileged. The privileged citizens are aware that there are ‘lesser’ nations where ‘problems’ exist and where their ‘benevolent’ governments are doing ‘noble’ deeds. What if a couple of millions lesser mortals die.
The innocent bystander myth
The populations of marauding countries are no unwilling participants. They have a stake in military interventions and warmongering by their respective countries, by virtue of which they lead hedonistic lifestyles. They have not been brainwashed by their governments or some secret financial cartels. They are the direct beneficiaries of the rapine and plunder. They love the media which helps in maintaining this picture. They choose which side to be on.
Anti-war movement in the US during aggression against Vietnam was not because millions of Vietnamese were dying. It developed because body-bag numbers were rising. Now nobody bats an eyelid when western drones and aircrafts destroy one country after other.
Their citizens are aware of the same. But they demand the ‘Kardashians’ and ‘double cheese double bacon Mac’. Don’t interrupt the party please.