One of the many important discussions we do not see in our corporate media is the question, “Why is the USA the most violent nation of earth?” The answer is complex, and follows in this article, but first I will attempt to make the case.
The first thing I considered was to gather the latest data on murder rates per 100,000, and I did this for the ten major industrialized nations by GDP.
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But even more are killed overseas by our government.
Abroad of course, the USA goes to war more than any other nation. Declarations of war are not considered by our leaders to be necessary, even though the Constitution calls for it. We simply start dropping bombs on whichever country we like, whenever we like, for whatever reason we like.
Congress has not declared war since World War Two, although we have been at war in Korea, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Angola, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya since then.
There are a number of other wars in which the USA used surrogate troops trained, armed, supplied and provided political support by the USA, often with our leaders denying involvement. We’ve even backed large terrorists groups, such as the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and more recently similar groups in Libya and Syria resulting in the spawning of first al Qaeda and later Isis.
Millions of people have died in these wars and corporate media do not make this apparent to citizens, who are only told that we are after the evil ones. Never is it admitted that this always creates more “terrorists,” as the sons of mothers we slaughter and the fathers of children we slaughter later get weapons and come after our soldiers.
Why there is so much violence associated with the USA
When one asks why so many are slaughtered both within the USA and abroad by our government, one must first look into the culture of violence which makes it all possible.
A good starting point may be the birth of the nation, coming out of the British Empire as it did. The British established that they had a right to conquer any defenseless nation they deemed to be of use to the Empire. In my youth, 70 years ago, it was said that “the sun never set on the British Empire,” whose territories included parts of China, India, Africa, The Americas, Australia and Pacifica.
Wherever the British ventured, they slaughtered local populations, including Native Americans, to obtain new land and wealth for the Empire. The offspring US government continued the slaughter of Native Peoples, and continued enslaving Africans as had been the rule under British occupation.
The US government continued British-like policies of subjugating cultures seen to be relatively unable to fight back, obtaining Mexican border lands, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The American people were given phony justifications for this, if any justifications were given at all.
The entertainment industry in the USA has been critical to gaining support for violence and war. In my youth, personas of action movie star John Wayne would say of a person he had just shot, “He needed killin’.” Our popular video action stars to this day never think twice about killing someone who does them wrong in films.
We are told that the people killed are bad people, and it is justified for good people to kill bad people. This is a theme threaded through thousands of videos in our modern culture, in genres which include action, horror, westerns, adventure, crime, war and drama.
We identify with the good people, and this draws us into vicariously siding with them in supporting the killings. Americans grow up generally believing that at least under some circumstances, it is okay to kill bad people.
Guns ‘R’ Us
Nowhere else in the industrialized world is it easier to get a combat weapon designed to kill massive numbers of human beings. Our corrupt Congress is on its knees begging for handouts from the National Rifle Association in return for not addressing the fact that psychopaths routinely buy assault rifles with large clips of ammunition and gun down massive numbers of people. They are not required to register the weapons or to be checked against a list to see if they have been diagnosed as someone who is dangerously mentally ill or dangerously violent. At gun shows, anyone with the price of the weapon can buy it without anyone being the wiser.
Corporate media’s role
US mainstream media push the violent films and support the wars, framing the easy access to guns as a Second Amendment right, without questioning that the Founding Fathers didn’t even know what an ammunition clip was, let alone one holding twenty to a hundred rounds. They didn’t know what an assault rifle is. The difference between these and the muskets of their time is the difference between a Porsche and a bicycle.
Leading up to the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the New York Times daily published frightening stories on page one about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, dutifully acting as public relations flunky for President Bush. The other mainstream media fell into line, screaming for war.
Currently the TV networks, where most people get their news, call in military generals to give their viewpoints about our eternal ongoing wars in the Muslim world. Never do they bring in peace activists to give a second viewpoint, offering solutions not having to do with the profitable business of selling weapons and continuing the slaughter.
The other day I watched a discussion on CNN in which it was brought up with strong emotions that children had been killed in the truck terror incident in France, without anyone mentioning that there have likely been millions of Muslim children killed in the mayhem engineered by the USA. Only one side is given.
Summary and conclusion
We are a violent nation because our people are raised in an environment in which they are exposed to violence. Their history teaches that violence is good and patriotic. Their media teaches violence. It is difficult in such an environment, to see anything else.
Teaching peace, and waging peace in such an environment is difficult, but we must try. As a combat veteran I have long thought that the definition of “civilized,” should be changed to include “those who do not engage in war.”
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.