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Soldiers Are Not Heroes

Updated on February 26, 2013
Freedom, Brought to You by McDonalds
Freedom, Brought to You by McDonalds

Soldiers are many things, heroes is not one of them. Soldiers are class traitors, they are hired killers, they are as an infamous Facebook page declares “Tools of war”.

On an issue that drives so many into an emotional frenzy, it is important that analysis remains cold, calculated and answers to logic only. In our media intensive society this is rarely the case. I myself speak as a subject of Great Britain and in the first instance I am referring to British culture. However, by extension the penetration of US cultural imperialism to our shores means I encounter almost as much of the death fetish of the US media and mass population.

Child Abusing British Army Protecting Freedom

On Heroism

The most apt place to start must be to understand heroism. First of all heroism is dependant upon bravery or courage, we would normally expect this to be selfless courage. It is something found in times of adversity. Generally speaking those we accept as heroes are associated with being the weaker entity in an asymmetrical power relationship. Therefore, when I think of heroes I think of figures like Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks standing up against state and societal oppression for the common good and the basic human dignity for a people. I also think of revolutionaries like Nelson Mandela taking on an unjust regime and thus being incarcerated, or Che Guevara fearlessly giving his own life for the poor and downtrodden.. I do not think the soldier who killed him at the behest of imperialism is a hero, he is by definition a hired killer, an assassin.

When in the occupied counties of Ireland the British army mowed down innocent civilians, including children, for demanding their basic human rights, I do not accept that those killers were heroes. The people who they murdered are heroes. What we have is working class people murdering other working class people at the behest of the ruling class and their political state.

It is also necessary to inquire what exactly it is that grants them hero status. If you are a troop worshiper, why is that so? What I mean is do they do it simply because they are a soldier or because they are a soldier of their own country. For British people largely think that British soldiers are heroes. Americans generally think that American soldiers are heroes, but do they extend this worshiping to one another? Almost never. They certainly do not extend hero status to the Syrian, Chinese, North Korean or Russian army. What we can deduce from this is that British people or American people do not view the majority of the worlds soldiers as heroes. Meaning that it is not the being a soldier that makes them heroic. It all boils down to nationalism and xenophobia, the jingoism of the mass media molding the subservient masses behind the wars of their own exploiters.

The Unsung Heroes

It seems to me that society continues to produce heroes. Unsuspecting people who receive no coverage, no praise, no accolades are quietly doing great things. They are protecting lives and freedoms. Humanitarian workers courageously go to places like Palestine bringing the essentials of life despite the best efforts of Israel’s finest heroes to prevent them.

Here in Britain our firemen risk their lives and take no-ones away. They collectively bargain for decent conditions and are vilified and demonised.

We used to have thousands of miners working in hellish conditions that would inevitably lead to the shortening of their lives, they did this to put food on the table for their families and to power the nation. They gave years of their lives and quality of life to electrify our country only to be slandered throughout the media and have the state turn violent upon them. When the miners stood up to a bullying Tory government who served only the bourgeoisie, those miners were heroes, heroes treated like the worst sort of scum and parasites.

We have overworked, underpaid nurses working in understaffed hospitals doing the work that keeps us, our children, our parents and grandparents alive. Their conditions come under attack. The bourgeois government squeezes every last ounce of blood and sweat it can from them. But when a nurse or fireman lose their live, their name is not read out in parliament, they do not make the news and no-one is any the wiser. If I were to mourn the passing of an employee of the state It would be those who save lives, not those who take lives.

On Freedom

But the troops protect our freedoms we are told. Having mentioned the Russian Army, I can safely say with total conviction that the Russian (then Red Army) did more for my own freedom than the British army ever has. For Britain has only been in one defensive war in modern times: World War 2. This is the single time our country was under threat of subjugation. And in this case it was the red army of the Soviet Union who fought over 80% of German troops. It was the troops of the Soviet Republics who lost more lives in the battle of Stalingrad than British and American troops combined in the entire war. It was the British army led by the old imperialist Winston Churchill who fought in defence of the colonies in Africa and Asia. It was my country that dug its heels in and refused to open a second front in Europe against Hitler. When the red army liberated Europe and drove Hitler to suicide it was they who secured the freedom of future generations in Britain and all over Europe. Do not mistake this for criticism of those conscripted by the British state in WW2, as that this certainly is not. It is a mere reflection on cold facts.

And what freedom did I ever gain from the British strangling Malaysia’s revolution in the 50’s? What freedom did I gain from the bombing of Egypt in the Suez crisis? What freedom was ever secured for Americans by slaughtering millions of Koreans and Vietnamese? None. In fact it cost us freedom. It cost the billions of pounds and dollars that could have been spent on health and education, things that liberate the mind and body giving us the freedom to think and to live. Neither me nor you were ever made more free by taking away the most basic freedom of countless Iraqis and Afghans: their lives. Again they cost us freedom. It creates the pretext for draconian right wing governments to introduce patriotic acts, internment without trial and the intensification of state spying.

And we certainly did not bring freedom to the people of Afghanistan. It was the US afterall who brought the Taliban into power. It was they who armed them in the name of cold war geopolitics to overthrow the socialist government of Afghanistan that sent girls to school with boys and had a secular and safe society. It was the US regime and it's hired killers which took away that freedom in the first place. Saying the US gave Afghans freedom would be like if an evil doctor exposed you to radiation and gave you cancer. He then treats you and proclaims that he saved your life. This is what happened in Afghanistan.

But They Don't Choose War

One argument we will all have heard is that the troops do not choose where and when to fight. We are told that they sign up to protect and fight only where told.

It is true that they do not choose to declare war. But I must return to my earlier point, not since WW2 has Britain fought a defensive war or any war that can be said to relate to defending freedom. Instead we have had Malaysia, Suez, Ireland, Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan. We have the British still playing at being an imperialist power, while in actuality being the sidekick of the imperialist power: the United States of America. So people who sign up for the British army, like the US army are joining aggressive conquering armies. They are choosing to join an organisation that has a long history of murder and repression. But perhaps they are just simple boys who weren’t aware of our very recent history. In that case we are faced with two possibilities, they are either entirely wicked or entirely stupid, and neither is a feature characteristic of heroism.

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    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Yes Patriot Quest, I'm sure that the Vietnamese saw that the good old US of A was trying to do the best for them as they were blown into oblivion by the USA.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 4 years ago

      Hypocrisy destroys the creed that makes people kill to honour a given purpose. Killing for money, to make the rich wealthy and to grant ownership is servitude and the life of a mercenary. We paid and trained the dictators of the World to grant us free access to own them. We could care less about our own people as we trumped by the money we claim to made else where. No army arrived when Katrina drowned us but showed up in the hardest of places to reach Afghanistan. Hoping for wealth like all empires before we never learned of its downfall. If what you create today our monsters you will be fighting the monsters tomorrow.

    • chip1775 profile image

      Brett Wood 4 years ago from Atlanta

      You are right that all soldiers are not heroes. A hero is defined by his actions not his status. You fail, however, to respect perspective. A hero to an ally is most certainly a villain to an enemy regardless of their actions or intent. Also, a soldiers actions in battle cannot always be tied to a government's actions in general. A soldier can be put in a bad situation and still make heroic acts. Also, you blindly congratulate nurses or other type jobs and attribute selflessness as their virtue. If selflessness was their only intention they would do it for free. What a ridiculous argument. Quit picking on soldiers. If you don't like the politics then make your beef with the government.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      Different thinking John,.............were they democratically elected? Now they are starving, demoralized etc..................so who was trying to do the right thing for them?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      But why would you want to prevent a communist government in Vietnam if they were democratically elected?

      I thought the USA was intent on spreading democracy, not suppressing it!

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      John, we were trying to stop communism from invading Vietnam, this is what our soldiers believed and this is what the American people believed. We failed because our military were not given the green light to attack locations of known leaders, important military spots etc. thanks

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      No, you stated the excuse, which isn't the same thing as a reason.

      So what were you really doing in Vietnam, no excuses.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      I answered that question already...........your turn..............whoa just read a comment I am concerned with...........what did you mean Saddam didn't kill thousands of children? I know what you meant but I want you to explain your conspiracy theory please.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Coming from a country were grown men play rounders that's saying something!

      There, that's got the childish insults out of the way, now can we get back to a proper debate?

      Like what were you really doing in Vietnam?

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      hahha comrade joe, your statements should anger me but they make me laugh, Coming from someone who thinks soccer is a sport tickles my funny bone!

    • Comrade Joe profile image
      Author

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      Yes you could have flattened the Vietnamese with a nuclear bomb, But what would that prove? That your boys had took a beating and couldn't get the job done.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Saddam didn't kill thousands of children!

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      attempting to hold freedom for others was the excuse.............at this point in history I wish we would protect our own values and try not imposing them on others. Of course part of vietnam may be thanking us as the Saudis thank us now for holding off Saddam. Is there any country in the world I truly believe we should fight for? yes and that would be Israel. I feel for them as I do my own country. I consider them my brethren and believe God will punish us if we do not protect them.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Why were you in Vietnam in the first place?

      It isn't American, it owed you nothing.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      comrade Joe, hahahahehehhohoho, We both know what that screwed up vietnam business was all about. And we both know we had the capability to level them at any moment, our loss was due to faint hearted politicians and not the fighting men of the U.S.

      John, do I ever question why 911 happened?????? not sure what type of dark sinister plot your driving at here?

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Patriot, But you were talking about the spirit before you won independence!

      Do you never question why 9/11 happened?

    • Comrade Joe profile image
      Author

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      The blood of Americans, particularly in the military is the blood of Africans and Mexicans. The American revolutionaries had the blood of Brits and Irish. Not that anyone would ever accept that this is at all relevant to the discussion. There were people who thought the same things you do about Ancient Greece & Rome, the British Empire and in Nazi Germany, but we all know how those ended up.

      Now the people in Vietnam who gave your boys a helluva whipping , securing their own independence ,their blood is largely the same - so the Vietnamese must be the greatest and most heroic army around.

      I am actually worried that you might believe the things you say.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      I doubt you will get it John, your argument is valid on paper, but it doesn't take into account the spirit that was born into every child after we won independence. Those stories stayed with our families forever, they are just now starting to fade and when we believe they are gone something like 911 happens and millions of front yards in America began waiving the American flag! Bumper stickers said I support our troops! Left and right said lets go get them! That my friend was the proof our military and the people behind them call them heroes!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      When you fought for independence you were probably entitled to be called heroes, nobody was making you fight and it wasn't a case of the biggest budget winning either.

      I very much doubt that today's intake have the same blood in them as the founding fathers (which incidentally was largely British blood!).

      To all intents and purposes the war for independence was a civil war - brother against brother.

      Erm, it's not up to me to delete this hub but I very much doubt the author will take you up on your very kind offer!

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      John, now your getting somewhere, you said I made the mistake of what we spent for military giving them the supremacy.............now you are getting closer to why we call them heroes...........those who fight today have the same blood in them as those who secured this country away from England..............we had no money, few weapons, few bullets, and few people compared to the war ships, calvaries etc of England..........we had something and still do that they will never have....................pure will! The will for freedom brought every man together to form a coalition and later a fighting spirit the world is still in Awe off...............go ahead and delete this hub........cause you got your answers.......LOL

    • Comrade Joe profile image
      Author

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      Archer I am quite amused by your post. You say that my case is illogical, yet begin your comment by saying heroism cannot be classified before then going on to make claims that certain acts by troops were heroic. Nothing could be more illogical and self-contradictory.

      My point is that WW2 was an anomaly. It was the one defensive war in a history of imperialistic aggression. I have respect for the people conscripted and forced to fight, they were victims. But it does nothing to counter my argument.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Patriot Quest - you mistake spending two and a half times as much on "defence" as the next nine largest military forces in the world combined as some sort of superiority in ability. Even your own generals say that if the British Army had as much money thrown at it as the US does then we would be totally unbeatable.

      That's not something I'm particularly proud about but it is what it is.

      You seem rather proud that you could have subjugated another race purely on the grounds that they weren't American and didn't share the USAs rather warped political viewpoint.

      Archer, not surprisingly you seemed to have missed the point entirely. Is a man a hero for following orders when not following them would result in his certain death?

    • profile image

      Archer 4 years ago

      You can't classify heroism. The ignorance and self importance of this author makes me sick. What of WWI when both sides were bombing each other with lethal gas? They didn't run away from death, that's heroic. Are you going to say Nazi Germany was a hero for standing up the the rest of the world? I noticed you brought up the unjust attacks carried out by America in Vietnam and Korea, but what about D-Day? The heroic beachhead assaults those American troops were involved in? What about the Jews that hid among animals and the dead? With radar your RAF crippled the Nazi's air powers, the Reds didn't do that. I met Alfred V. Rascon in an airport last year and listened to his story. He is a perfectly nice man who nearly died in Vietnam from using his body to block the shrapnel of multiple grenades while treating wounds and carrying his fellow soldiers to safety. And what of today You will never understand war until you, yourself are thrown into it. I'm in America's army and haven't had to kill anyone yet, but I've been shot at and pinned down by larger forces and I've lived in "the shit." That's not my definition of a hero, but to each his own. I'm guessing we're each buying into different propaganda, but that's no excuse for an attack on a group. Universal statements can never be proven and therefore are illogical viewpoints to hold.

    • Comrade Joe profile image
      Author

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      Yes and the law was the law in Nazi Germany too.

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      Our military "MIGHT" come after its own, Our military has certainly been used against the people that violated the law. Do not give quarter to someone because they are poor or have a skin color. The law is the law and when broken someone will pay the consequence. Our military has fought wars it did not want to fight that's for sure. So yes they accepted orders. Seems the point was not made clearly. The American military can NEVER be beaten by any other country. Do you think we lost Vietnam? yes on paper we certainly did. Can they beat us in a heads up war? of course not. We could have dropped one single bomb and ended Vietnman any day and you know this. Politics got in the way of winning. Regardless Americans in general have a fighting spirit the rest of the world has no heart for. Our pride and our God leads us to victory over our enemies. ....for that we take deep pride and call our children and our forefathers heroes!

    • Comrade Joe profile image
      Author

      Comrade Joe 4 years ago from Glasgow, United Kingdom

      @Patriot Quest. I would first of all echo what John has said. And I would also add that they did not give any freedom to the millions killed, many completely innocent civilians. Their most basic freedom was taken away. You cannot attempt to force a political and economic system on a people who do not want it and then try to dress this up as freedom. This is what we call imperialism.

      You may say the US military was not fighting to kill, but that is the effect of what they did. No matter the motive, the objective result was mass murder.

      Hitler and the Nazis thought that they were right, that they were fighting to protect Germany. But what they thought of their motives, or you think of the US motives is irrelevant. What is relevant is the material reality, that is the effect of their action.

      You may think the US military would not turn on it's own people. Well that is quite the naivety. The army, like the police are directed by the state. It is the state who makes the decision of who to attack. Whether it uses the army or the police the result is the same. And US history is littered with the state using its forces to attack its own people - almost always poor people and usually black. When directed by the puppeteer the puppet will do the bidding, and your beloved troops are mere puppets.

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 4 years ago

      Patriot Quest. What makes you so sure that the Vietnamese wanted your kind of freedom?

      What makes you think any of us want your kind of freedom come to that.

      What about all the countries where your "heroes" have overthrown legitimate governments and replaced them with tyrants? Are they really heroes?

    • Patriot Quest profile image

      Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

      When you asked about vietnam etc. you certainly never got the point, our military wasn't fighting to kill people, they were fighting to help others obtain the same "type" of freedom we have here in the states. We do not count communist or socialist country military as hereos because as you state they protected your soil but they do not protect YOU! meaning if told by their government they will kill their family members as if they were terrosist about to set off a nuclear bomb. This will not happen in the U.S. ...........our soldiers are heroes because they fought for basic human freedoms,...........these freedoms are the things that make countries great, enable people to freely think, plan, and deliver to make themselves and others lives better!

    • profile image

      Humanbot 4 years ago

      I believe that we are.

    • profile image

      Bob 4 years ago

      You are all a bunch of morons. If these find , brave young men and woman both past, present and future did not defend us from threats both domestic and abroad, you would be living under tyrannical law.

    • profile image

      Humanbot 4 years ago

      Brilliant - thank you, this is refreshing. I have always contended that the first most dangerous force in the world is a government that arms you and convinces you it's ok to kill. The second most dangerouse force is the religious jealots who agree.