Friday, August 7, 2009

News from

Militarizing the Homeland

by: Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

In Miami, Army recruiter Sgt. Eric Lamb speaks with a potential recruit. (Photo: Getty Images)

"My very first recruiting officer was G.I. Joe," says Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner, an Iraq war veteran who was an aerial intelligence specialist in the US Army Reserve.

Award-winning journalist and Associate Editor of the Nation Institute's Nick Turse writes in his book "The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives": "As a product of the 1980s G.I. Joe generation, I can attest to the seductive power of those three inch action figures in selling the military to young boys."

In an interview with Truthout, Turse observed, "Only later would I learn just how enmeshed G.I. Joe's manufacturer, Hasbro, was with the military. One instance of this close association came to me in 2003 when the Department of Defense shared the specifications for their Future Force Warrior concept with the toy company, even before awarding the contract to General Dynamics. More important to the military these days are its ties to video game manufacturers. The latter turn tax-payer-funded combat simulators into first-person shooters that, in effect, pre-train youngsters in small-unit military tactics and irregular warfare."

Turse also talks of the Microsoft Xbox game "Close Combat: First to Fight," which was originally a training tool developed for the US Marine Corps by civilian contractor Destineer Studios. His book reveals that the game "was created under the direction of more than 40 active-duty Marines, fresh from the frontlines of combat in the Middle East [who] worked side-by-side with the development team to put the exact tactics they used in combat into "First Fight."

"First to Fight" is but one of many video games that the US military has availed itself of on an extensive scale to indoctrinate, desensitize, dehumanize and ultimately recruit young people into the vocation of legitimized violence in the name of heroism and patriotism.

"It might sound crazy to anyone who is not a veteran, but video games and movies, especially recent ones, make death and dismemberment seem like ordinary things. You are desensitized to them. While growing up I used to think people at the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) were crazy, trying to censor violence and stuff like that... I was like 'Oh, well violence is real life,' but there's a huge difference between witnessing first-hand any sort of violence and sitting in a movie theater watching someone faking a death. Reality and pretending are two way different things. It's disturbing. You can ask any combat veteran, things like video games and cartoons like 'G.I. Joe,' dressing in camouflage and running around in the woods, even being in the Boy Scouts definitely makes children idolize soldiers ... and not idolize them for standing up for their country but just for wearing the uniform and being a tough guy. It's a sign of masculinity that a lot of young boys and young men want to achieve, and they do it through the wrong way."

Goldsmith and Prysner are not alone in having responded favorably to the powerful combined influence of the entertainment industry and corporate media. There are innumerable others who have been lured into joining the military for the promise of violence that it offers.

The process of brainwashing and desensitization by the military begins affecting children in the US from a very early age. It is not insignificant that little boys wear camouflage and run around playing with toy guns whenever they get an opportunity.

Goldsmith also attributes his inclination towards violence to the Boy Scouts. A story in The New York Times describes the new Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America as "training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence - an intense ratcheting up of one of the group's longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters."

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