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Educational Legacy of War

Essay by   •  September 26, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,719 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,709 Views

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I remember growing up and playing various video games as a young child. Many of these video games were extremely violent games, games in which my friends and I could learn how to control a gun and kill enemies. In addition to those games, I remember seeing commercials for movies in the theater that were violent movies filled with scenes of fighting and defending oneself against the enemy. Regrettably, I suppose I was brought up to view war as a mediocrity in society. This is what Clarence Karier seems to talk about in his lecture on the educational legacy of war, about the lessons war has taught us.

Karier begins his lecture by explaining how society has a false belief in the myth about America being a peaceful nation. He continues to list the various wars that our country has been a witness to throughout the 19th century, as well as throughout the 20th century. Essentially, Karier is trying to convey to the audience how America has indeed been in the state of constant war, and is not truly a peace-loving nation. For if America were truly a peace-loving nation as we claim to be, we would not see our state and national governments in great debt because of military expenditures. We also would not have to live with the fact that America has gone from greatest creditor nation to greatest debtor nation in the world, and all within our lifetime too.

As Karier continues on through his lecture, he states that the second myth is the belief that war is temporary. He explains how once we experience war, we can never really ever return home, for those traumatic times of war are forever in the memories of the soldier and the community as well. Karier himself defines war as a heightened undemocratic experience in living from which much is learned. (Karier, 4) The lessons of war are taught to the living, they are found in our behavior long after the guns have ceased firing and these lessons are destructive to a democratic society.

The fundamental notion of war is that the end justifies the means. However, in war, we routinely violate civil rights and basic human rights to life. Therefore, these undemocratic methods of war result in undemocratic ends. War cannot therefore secure democracy. However, the American people seem to think that it can, for they have been somewhat tricked into believing so. We have been taught that we are a peace loving nation and that we only engage in war to defend ourselves.

Karier takes his lecture into explaining how things such as "open propaganda" have been effective in gaining the consent of the people to enter war. However, what the majority of the American society does not realize is that the government has control over media and has the power to say what can and can not be released for public knowledge. They can use this tool as a manipulating device to get the approval of the people to declare war on another nation. They try and get the public to dream of the American destiny to rule the world and have raised American society on things such as western frontier movies where cowboys fight to gain the frontier that is theirs. They have raised society on other movies as well, which educate the public to accept the lawfulness of the

National Security State. Not only have movies done this, but video games as well, teaching our youth about war and preparing them to be future soldiers.

Karier continues in his lecture to explain how agencies, such as the CIA have been a manipulating tool in society, keeping various things top secret from the public. They have the power to manipulate the media, such as television and newspapers. They can use higher education as a means of going about their operations, mainly experiments, including ones about controlling minds. The thing that is unusual about all of that is how the American people have come to accept this secrecy of the government and the principle that the end justifies the means. What most people do not realize is that our National Security State has been extremely destructive to our democratic values, traditions and institutions.

Karier comes to the conclusion that the most significant legacy of war is perhaps the education of the American people, which has taught our American society to accept the goal of world empire and believe that the National Security State is absolutely essential for American security. However, it is a fact that because of secrecy and the government hiding certain information from the public, that the American dream for democracy has been forsaken. As Giambattista Vico said " . . . the world of civil society has certainly been made by men, and that its principles are therefore to be found within the modification of our own human minds." (Karier, 28-29) That explains perfectly how the government, or the "men" according to Vico, has truly made society what it is, they have made their own history by controlling what the people know and don't know.

The conflict theory sees the social world in continual struggle. A conflict theorist would simply see war as a constant struggle between competing groups. Conflict theorists also believe that people are truly shaped by power, coercion, and authority. Therefore, they would strongly support the theory that the government has "made society" by controlling what is known by the American people. The government has used its power to manipulate the media and has kept things from the public about war and other military issues. The CIA has had 400 (and now possibly more) American journalists working for them. This proves how they have great power over the public, for they can control what will be printed in newspapers and magazines. It is obvious how they shape public opinion because of actions like CIA Director William Casey buying controlling interest in Capital Cities Communications Inc., which held a controlling interest in ABC, which linked the CIA Director with ABC.

Through actions like that, the CIA can control what information is broadcast to the public. Through controlling the media, the most misleading information that the government has given the American public is probably the belief that America is a peaceful nation. They have complete control of what we know about war situations; they can create panic and hatred towards another country if they wish to, or they can simply hide information and leave the country in complete ignorance. During the Gulf War, they allowed the release of stories about Iraqi soldiers tearing Kuwait babies from their incubators. This caused uproar with the public and caused many to become angered, creating a sense of nationalism in unified hatred and yearning for war.

The CIA has used colleges and universities for clandestine operations and have conducted various experiments on unknowing U.S. students. For example,

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