17 June 2017 03:22

The war machine is naked

The current regime is working overtime to reproduce myths and to perform rituals to promote militarism and the ongoing wars in and outside of Turkey.


Militarism needs myths, rituals and symbols to survive. Myths about enemies are needed. Myths about heroism are required. And, of course, medals and decorations are very useful. There is a big public relations machine behind militarism and it has to be watched closely to understand how militarism is propagated.

Next month a Medal of Honor will be awarded to James McCloughan in the US for his efforts in 1969. The US military is happy to announce this with headlines such as, “Vietnam veteran to receive Medal of Honor five decades later.” They are not concerned about the fact that the war in Vietnam was an imperialistic war that claimed the lives of millions of people. They do not care if this award is an insult to the millions and millions of people who have suffered ever since the war on Vietnam was started.

The military never stops reproducing its own myths. The truth about the war in Vietnam will not stop the award ceremony and it is certain that the Trump administration will make the most of this occasion. Since he was elected, Trump has used such occasions to pump up militarism. He praised the US military, told them how great they were and that they needed more investment, more weapons and so on.

But it should be clear that the Medal of Honor to be awarded to James McCloughan is not Trump’s doing. It was only approved by Trump. It was Obama who signed the provision for it and included it in the annual defence authorization bill. Obama would have given the medal, too. Obama was a firm supporter of the military and the drone war was started by his administration.

Once the myths, rituals and symbols, such as the Medal of Honor, are put aside, it is clear that the Trump administration will use wars and militarism to promote the interests of the filthy rich. The invasion of Iraq was very good for business. The ongoing war in Afghanistan has been very good, too. The war in Syria and the ongoing war against ISIS are also very lucrative.

Simply put, war is good for Trump. His administration is not as sophisticated as the previous Republican administrations and therefore the contradictions are easier to see. Take Qatar: The Trump administration says Qatar is sponsoring terrorism. Qatar has to be disciplined. But then Trump is authorising the sale of US weapons to Qatar. The logic is simple: The amount to be paid is over $21 billion. Weapons are good business.

The myths, rituals and symbols like medals are not used in the same way around the world. In Turkey, for instance, medals are not that important. Myths and rituals work much better. The current regime is working overtime to reproduce myths and to perform rituals to promote militarism and the ongoing wars in and outside of Turkey.

Turkey has never seen this much militarism since perhaps the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The government has just sent troops to Qatar and nobody really knows the number of troops and agents deployed in neighbouring countries that were turned into war zones.

All of this is madness and can only lead to pain and misery. One might expect a public opposition to the policy of militarism but the government of Turkey is bombarding the public with propaganda on a daily basis. Pro-government media outlets are full of conspiracy stories about Gülen, Western powers, and, of course, all those traitors inside Turkey. On Twitter, troll accounts are busy producing hashtags, such as #FETİHOrdusuKATARda, associating troops sent to Qatar with the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. Emine Erdoğan, President Erdoğan’s wife, speaks of new generations willing to die for their country at a Ramadan dinner, organised by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce. Her words are printed word by word in pro-government media. Posters appeared on the streets with slogans like, “We are all soldiers. We are all policemen.”

The resulting confusion is good for the regime in Turkey. The public relations machine in Turkey is working full-time. It has to because the war machine is naked. War is shamelessly promoted by the politicians. It is therefore important to expose the war machine and all those myths, rituals and symbols it produces. It is still important to honor the Vietnamese because some insist on honoring those who killed them.

Just this week Desmond Tutu reminded us that the world is still full of nuclear weapons. He reminded us that every nation would be better off in a world without weapons of mass destruction. These weapons and militarism are deeply linked with injustice. What the world needs now are justice and peace.