A Christmas Story

Women Toy Soldiers

It appears that the mainstream media has surrendered (temporarily) its position as the number one cheerleader and stenographer of the Pentagon and assorted war hawks in the outgoing Trump and incoming Biden administrations. The new candidates for those roles? A seven-year-old girl and her mom. Here’s how it played out. On the day after Christmas, ABC ran a “news” segment with the improbable title “There’s good news tonight.” Was that good news a government campaign to rescue the one in five adults and one in four children facing starvation and bring permanent relief to the twelve million renters facing eviction in the next month and the three million homeowners facing foreclosure? Not exactly. How about some form of wage replacement for almost thirteen million people who have been laid off? Not that either. What about the fifteen million workers and their dependents who have lost their employer-provided healthcare? Sorry about that, no relief in sight.

Why be reminded of other folks’ troubles the media cautions its viewers. Far better to end an evening news broadcast with a “feel good” story guaranteed to make listeners believe that one of America’s major problems has been solved —[Host] “You know those little green soldiers that have been popular toys for decades? They are finally being updated to look like a modern, more inclusive military thanks to one little girl with a big idea.”  The big idea? Find a toy company that will make female toy soldiers.

Little Girl

And so she did. A small toy company whose owner was savvy enough to spot a once in a lifetime marketing opportunity with loads of upside — like free publicity on a major TV network in prime time. He described his new toy line as the ‘perfect’ way to “give girls some more options when they’re playing…a tool to help kids be the hero of their own story.”

Mom had her fifteen minutes of fame next — “What a cool question,” she burbled quickly followed by a string of pieties about the how the world would be a better place if little girls grew up knowing they had the same opportunity as the boys to fight and die in America’s endless wars — “[It’s about] speaking up, about children having a voice, about equality, about women’s empowerment.”

Sorry mom but there’s nothing even remotely empowering about young women joining young men as sacrificial lambs in the empire’s perpetual war machine. Let’s take a quick look at the calamitous effects of the last thirty years of U.S. war making on young Americans: the most tragic — the 7,000 U.S. service members killed in action. But they’re not the only deaths we should mourn, even though the U.S. media considers them the only deaths that count.  One-half million civilians, local military and police, opposition fighters, humanitarian workers, journalists, and U.S. service members have perished in U.S. wars since 2001. (Watson Institute at Brown University, “The Costs of War,” 2018). No mention either of the ravaged lands and ruined lives that follow in the wake of U.S. “humanitarian” interventions.

War extracts another terrible toll on survivors. Ignored in the U.S. media but well-known in the rest of the world are thirty million refugees ripped away from their homes and livelihoods and forced to wander from place to place in a fruitless search for safe havens.

Soldier and Baby

Is it any wonder that thousands of vets return home with indelible memories of the carnage they witnessed and more often were compelled to participate in? Many of them spend the rest of their lives coping with PTSD, depression and a range of other physical and psychological problems. Twenty-two commit suicide every day.

Since 2001, 2.7 million service members have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other US-created war zones. Over half have deployed more than once. A million vets from all U.S. wars have had their claims of permanent mental or physical disability approved. Sadly, many more are suffering from disabilities the military refuses to recognize.

The derangement of U.S. wars is not limited to the soldiers who serve. The multiplier effect is visible in their families who must cope with their loved ones’ absence, live with the fear of their death and greet the changed people who often return.

Vets Protestin

In virtually all measures of a good life, vets rank well behind their civilian peers. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer higher rates of suicide and mental illness, drug and alcohol dependence, car crashes, and homelessness. Family life is seldom the same for vets who often experience higher rates of divorce, homicide, child abuse, and child neglect. The military has even taken note of the horrendous consequences seen in some army families. According to the VA’s own records, child abuse in Army families is three times higher in homes where one or both parents were deployed. (VA report, July 2010)

Do we really want our daughters to believe that the measure of a woman’s empowerment is her participation in the unjust wars of the empire? That the bridge to strength and independence is an equal opportunity to be killed or maimed? What would have been really “cool” was a little girl searching for toy female peace activist figures. But in the U.S. where war games are a national past time (and passion) peace is not “good news” is it?

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