Honoring veterans, not militarism

Americans believe we are the “good guys” that promote peace and democracy around the world. We believe that the military is the reason we have freedom, individual rights and democracy. We believe veterans sacrificed to defend this freedom and keep us safe. We we tell ourselves these stories on Memorial Day.

Unfortunately these stories are not true. Our many wars and military interventions have been about protecting commercial interests, expanding territory or opposing other ideologies and economic systems, not defending freedom or democracy.

As a nation we are dominated by militarism. Militarism is the excessive emphasis on military preparedness and military spending. It is militarized foreign policy dominated by threats and demands rather than negotiations. Militarism exalts military service as the highest expression of patriotism and service to country.

Opposing militarism is not unpatriotic. I do not denigrate the sacrifice of combat veterans. Their sacrifice should be remembered. But these memories should motivate us to say “never again” to unnecessary wars. Real support for the troops is avoiding unnecessary wars.

As a military veteran, I reject the militaristic bullying in Venezuela, Iran and Korea. I would say to Congress and the president, Don’t do this. Not in my name.

I ask my fellow veterans to join me. Stand up. Speak out. Not in our name. Not in the memory of those who died serving their country.

Philip Anderson