Monday, March 21, 2005


I’ve been seeing ads for the Army a lot lately. You know, the ads that are kind of like the trailer for a movie, and then you’re supposed to go see the thrilling conclusion at (I’ve also been seeing Navy ads that play up the whole “get your degree” in the Navy—the ones where the narrator says “wear your school colors proudly” as the camera pans past guys with camo makeup on—it’s the very picture of masculinity)?

Well, surprise, surprise, those ads kinda bug me. Not necessarily because they try to make a loathsome activity (i.e., fighting in a war) look cool and exciting (I’m quite sure that it is actually very exciting—until your arms get blown off), although that’s a big part of it. I mean, the very problem with selling peace rather than war is because peace is the absence of conflict and conflict, as any beginning fiction class will tell you, is what makes something interesting.

On that note, I should mention that I also saw a commercial for the Peace Corps recently. The thing is, I didn’t look up to see it until it was almost over and the Peace Corps logo was on the screen. So I can’t really comment on it, but I did see an ad for peace—or rather, I am aware that someone is trying to advertise helping people rather than killing them.

But I’ve seen many more military ads than Peace Corps ads. And that’s the point I was trying to get to—why don’t we see peace and cooperation glorified in the media the same way that we see war and conflict glorified? And I don’t really know the answer, but it seems to me that if there were a Dept. of Peace, we could have lots of ads and propaganda that would make peace and peacekeeping attractive to young people.

Department of Peace

If there were a Dept. of Peace, the Secretary of Peace would argue for huge expenditures for canvasses, paint, paper, ink, orchestras, gardening tools, books, etc.—the tools of peace. Who knows, maybe Bush will create a Peace Department. But that would only be to confound progressives and it would be an Orwellian type of agency that would merely be an extension of the “Defense” Department. In fact, since everything that comes from the Bush admin. is the opposite of what it purports to be, the Peace Dept. would actually be just a way to funnel more money to arms makers and the like, but under the guise of seeking peace.

Self-Defense Force

It seems to me that we should not have a standing army—and I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that, but I think I have a pretty good idea. And that idea is, we shouldn’t have a military machine built up during peacetime—i.e., there shouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of soldiers in training or on duty during peacetime. And I say that for two reasons: 1) it costs a lot of money to do that, and that money could be put to far better use than maintaining an army we’re not even really using (i.e., to provide health care, education, shelter, etc. for our citizens) and 2) it would make starting wars a really big hassle, which would be a great thing.

Oh, well that’s stupid, some will say. We have to have a standing army, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Other countries have standing armies, just waiting for us to drop our defenses. Oh please…other countries have standing armies because we have a standing army, not the other way around. In other words, we don’t need any more military force in peacetime than that required for self-defense. We need a self-defense force, and that’s it.

And here’s something that most Americans wouldn’t want to contemplate and I don’t have the energy to get into right now, but this article talks about the domestic threat of a standing army…

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