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War’s Travesty: Profits for Them, Patriotism for Us

Sometimes our best intentions are sideswiped by reality’s imposition. I say this because today I was supposed to dedicate the entire day to music and had a mission of airing a Ghion cast to discuss the profound impact that music has on all our lives. Ah but lady serendipity had other plans as a chance meeting at my work with a random stranger turned an otherwise happy-go-lucky Saint Patrick’s Friday into moment to have a somber reflection on an issue that has shattered the lives of countless millions globally and destroys more lives that we can ever imagine.

What I am inferring to is war and its utter travesty. This is a matter that has weighed on my mind for as long as I can remember for I lost my grandfather before I ever met him as he was murdered in cold blood due to the repercussions of World War II. It was another war between Ethiopia and Somalia that served as the catalyst to my family and I leaving my native land Ethiopia and transformed a once privileged life in Bole into a life of hardship and struggles as immigrants in America. War has affected my life and has impacted my family for generations as far back as I can trace my lineage. My family tree is full of war heroes and once veterans right down to my father who was in the Ethiopian Navy and came to love America because of the interaction he had with US Naval officers during his days as a seaman.

I say these things to give a context to why I so adore the military and to make it absolutely clear that my stance against wars is not in any way a condemnation against soldiers who fought in them and veterans who continue to bleed as a result of them.This point is made all the clearer with another article I wrote titled Silent Salute” that details the affinity for the military and why I honor all veterans. In all honesty, my repulsion against wars did not really start in earnest until a year and a half ago when a slow dance with indigence led to chance encounter after encounter with homeless veterans who shiver in city corners and sleep on town pavements. It is this mugging by reality that turned me from a once war history buff into an avowed peace advocate. What I saw is what Hollywood propaganda by way of blockbuster movies never show and what war chicken hawk politicians barely mention as they push for wars their children never have to fight in.

And just like that another sublime encounter with a stranger as I was penning the previous paragraph shed light on the reason why I am writing this article. As people are celebrating St. Patrick’s day at this local eatery and a few folks are playing poker, a friendly fellow came up and said hello and introduced himself as Mickey. He told me that I am more than welcome to join the poker game to which I kindly declined and told him I was writing this article. Next thing I know I asked him if he ever served in the military to which Mickey said he missed the Vietnam war by a few days as his draft number was quickly approaching. Life is sublime in this way for Mickey’s story only highlights the utter folly of war as someone who was deployed a few weeks before Mickey died in Vietnam while Mickey was blessed enough to have missed war by a few days. Irony of it all, it was an earlier conversation that spurred this article as an exchange I had with a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam as I was serving him lunch is the locus of this missive.

I met this man earlier today by the name of David while working my shift at a deli I just started at this week. When I noticed that David had a Navy veteran hat on, I told him about my father’s service in the Ethiopian Navy back when Ethiopia had one of “Africa’s” largest navies and had a naval exchange program with the United States Navy. I conveyed to David my father’s profound love for America when he was but 19 years old and was a young pup serving overseas. My father’s deployment to San Diego way before he even met my mother was a date with destiny for he became American the first day he set foot in California. It was the Ethiopian-Somali war that gave my dad the final push he needed to start life over again in a new land, but really it was the essence of America that drew him to the USA the second he realized the blessing that exists here.

As I was telling this story to David, he too started to open up to me and told me about his war days in Vietnam as I sarcastically asked if the Navy was under the Marines with enough of a smile to let him know I was just exchanging military banter. We both laughed a bit as he told me about his encounters with “jar heads” and then pivoted to more pressing matters relating to the hell that war unleashes. At some point though, the conversation took a turn to the sublime as David took off his US Navy Veteran hat and showed me the label. The irony of it all, tens of thousands of American lives lost, hundreds of thousands of families broken, and millions of Vietnamese lives perished only for the war to end is a stalemate and now the US Navy hat that David was wearing was made in Vietnam.

I saw the anguish in David’s eyes and the mix of exasperation and anger that precise moment produced in his spirits. But I did not take his anger to be in any way related to some form of xenophobia or anger at Vietnamese people. David’s anger was rooted in the utter pointlessness of the war where untold millions were permanently silenced and many more forever broken only for rank opportunists to make fortunes while the masses suffer and continue to languish at this present moment. It was often said that the American Civil War was a rich man’s battle and a poor man’s war. This is true of every war for the wealthy few, especially the soulless executives and empty suits who sit at the head of the military-financial complex, continue to thrive as they make money in and money out—war is truly the biggest cash cow and hustle in the history of mankind.

But for the rest, especially the poor who sign up to serve out of equal parts honor and lack of opportunities, end up bearing the cost of war and the misery of compliance. We are a dual reality nation where the 1% use patriotism as disposable tissues for these gnomes and alternative humans do not give an ounce of care about this nation nor do they have any loyalty to anything but their bank accounts. For the rest of us, we are sold patriotism to cover up the horrors of war as yellow bow ties and “thank you for your service” give us the false sense of duty for the cost of war that very few of us bear. Then there are the veterans who suffer in silence as they serve honorably to protect their nation even as oligarchs and tyrants in suits and red ties in DC and Wall Street start wars to inflate their top and bottom lines.

The truth is that EVERY war, yes every war, is fought in order to preserve the wealth of the few even as they sell conflicts as a struggle between evil and good. What veterans understand is this one thing, anyone who served in a war will tell you this, all wars are hell and the enemies they fought are actually decent and honorable people. We are set against each other as antipathy is sold and the “others” are dehumanized so that we can accept the killing of men, women and children as a normal cost of freedom. But freedom is not enhanced through bullets and bombs for the same weapons that are used overseas on foreigners are eventually used by immoral governments on their own people.

We live on a planet that can feed 30 billion people let alone the 8 billion who currently call earth home. The only reason that there is suffering and strife on the scale that we have is because capitalism and imperialism demand scarcity in order to create profits. This is why wars are fought for conflicts create scarcity of food, shelter, and weaponry so that the few can keep selling their goods at the cost of humanity. The Vietnam War was thus fought under the lie of keeping communism in check but in reality LBJ and his cohorts perpetuated the war because it was a cash cow for Boeing, Northrup Grumman and the rest of the war industrialists that Eisenhower warned us about.

To the uber wealthy jackals, it’s profits for them, for the rest of us it’s patriotism and the two shall never meet. Those who worship at the idol of cash and maximizing revenues have no love in their heart for neither their fellow men or their nation. That is why they hire public relations experts and mass media mavens to sell the image that these greedy hyenas have decency in them. In reality these millionaires and billionaires we too often worship are all degenerates and indecent as they sell wars in order to live a life of utter opulence and decadence. If their malicious lifestyles did not impact the rest of humanity, I would say live and let live and not judge. But I accuse and judge as I do for the affluence of these neo-aristocrats, who live lives of royalty, is begotten at the cost of the rest of humanity.

Maybe one day we as a society, and humanity as a whole, will finally say no when some rich prick and the double-dealing politicians they employ come around espousing wars in the name of freedom and liberty. George Carlin once said fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity. Out of the mouth of comedians emerge truth and out of politicians and war pushers lies could only be found. Wars end as they always end, with the masses on all sides broken while plutocrats on both sides make more fortunes. The same plutocrat class who pushed for war during Vietnam are now gaining their ill gotten portions making hats and selling trinkets in this globalized economy while those who fought, from Hanoi to Fort Collins and beyond, wake up at nights with PTSD induced terrors.

No more! Enough death for the sake of profits and enough bloodshed for the sake of taking the resources of others. No more investing tens of billions more in weapons that only kill; how about we invest in people so that young men and women can seize opportunities at home instead of squeezing triggers abroad? How about we stop building yet more jets and tanks that our own military say they don’t need and want and take care of the people who ride in them and the veterans who got ran over by them? It is up to us as a people to stop letting forked-tongue politicians peddle patriotism in order to inflate the bank accounts of their oligarch masters on Wall Street and stop being deceived by movies that glorify wars while hiding the true cost of war.

As for me, no more do I regret having once lost the opportunity to attend West Point. For the longest time, one of my biggest remorse was losing the chance to be a cadet and in the process disappointing my father. I felt like I dishonored my ancestors in all honesty for I broke the long line of heroes who served their country. It was a veteran who I once ran into in South Carolina who said “your foolishness was God’s providence” when I told him how my youthful indiscretions shuttered the opportunity I once had to attend West Point. Sublime how these chance encounters go; one does not have to be a soldier in order to be a warrior for justice. We can all be in an army of love that can defeat the forces of darkness who perpetuate iniquity if we only realize that we are each other’s brothers and sisters and that war is killing our own family. #WarTravestyUS

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Silent Salute 

To the soldiers who sacrificed
Did their duty without asking
I express outrage against injustice
Over immoral wars and endless carnage
I am speaking out for you in the process
Veterans in the end understand one thing
Their fellow men were never their enemy
To this day fierce rivals from past conflicts
Embrace after the last bullets have been fired
Soldiers salute and do their duty that is best
The sorrows they go through alone
Trauma induced by bodies and reduced humanity
Only to come back home and encounter Satan’s embrace
Flash backs prompting cold sweats
Bullets and blood droplets
Too much for the mind to process
Those who die in wars are fortunate
It’s the veterans, the survivors
Who carry the burdens of these remembrances
Fallen comrades and innocent children
Indiscriminately swallowed whole by turbulence
Tears mixing with blood stains
Cries drowned out by battle drums
War is humanity’s utmost blemish
Concealed by propaganda and theatrics
Patriotism birthing negligence
Our conscience is subverted into ignorance
As we enjoy disengagement’s bliss
Veterans suffer depression’s kiss
Politicians, profiteers and Hollywood
Glorifying war horrors by bending reality
Obfuscating suffering with special effects and rhetoric
But to the soldier their truth is the opposite
Rat-tat-tat-tat bullets shattering God’s presence
Untold masses disappearing into graves and silence
We wave flags thanking them for service
They shiver alone bearing the cost of compliance
Final judgments by way of triggers and buttons
Only to come back home
Shock and awe replaced by shock trauma
Nightmares that never end
Being continually transported back to mayhem
The battle field redrawn into the mind’s synapses
Piercing quietness with shrieks and terrors
Spouses who grow estranged
Children unable to comprehend
Concern pixelating into absence
Loneliness the only friend that remains
The proud and few become islands
Invisible wounds breaking cognizance
This is why so many end up homeless
Many more embracing suicide’s cuddle
Despair muffles life and blends into darkness
To be met by society’s mind numbing indifference
We step over them daily
Once warriors turned into the indigent
Salutes being returned with diffidence
Yet in this silence I stand for you
May God forever bless you
Where you are broken
May you mend into fullness
Sergeant Black in DC
Vietnam War survivor
Gunny Stevens in Greenville
Korean War survivor
Derrick in Colorado
Iraq War survivor
Frank in Ankeny Iowa
World War II survivor
Countless others who I have met
Had the honor of sharing meals with

May your struggles be fleeting

But your blessings be eternal
In silence I salute you


My life has been a journey
Full of moments implausible
I used to joke not too long ago
That I was the Ethiopian Forrest Gump
Then the surreal took a turn to the truly sublime
As my life was touched and injured by malevolence

Always one to be outspoken
God gave me a talent to reach people
And communicate in ways that moved them
It was in this light I got involved in darkness
And thought I could make change through politics

I decided to be a disciple of false prophet
worked harder to get the “first black President” elected
than most who were getting paid for it
as I busted my ass for free uttering “Yes We Can”
to the point of driving myself into a rut of exhaustion
I could trade war stories with his hardest campaign staffers

I believed in America we had the freedom of expression
Irony that my exodus would erupt
Because of the very man I broke my back to elect
It seems demagoguery pays well
But speaking too loudly of unity
And exposing the hypocrisy of our government’s policies
Those are electric rails that burn violently

Many will disregard my plight
Too many will choose to believe otherwise
I too, not long ago, refused to comprehend
The dangers of authority with unlimited powers

We have grown too accustomed to the tyranny of the few
As we give up liberties for security
that is intentionally disrupted
Freedom is a chimera and a pretense completely
We don’t understand the pervasive nature
of powerful bureaucracies that see us as the enemy
for nothing is more dangerous to tyranny
than the masses who finally awake and rise up
to the excesses of a corrupt and corrosive regiment

I had the audacity to question authority
Lo and behold my life was derailed completely
I could not explain in twenty books
though I met many who stood witness
like officer Beaufort with Fairfax PD
and one of Obama’s state directors
of the predicaments that I faced
As I high tailed it from DC to South Carolina
To get away from harassment
It was an exodus in my own country
That revealed to me the true nature of a collective struggle

What I experienced was poverty that saw no color
Of hopelessness that defies the isms that divide us
Black and white became inconsequential
the schisms of religion and denominations disappear
when everyone is fighting hunger and despondency
As fathers and mothers of all hues and complexion
I observed barely able to feed their own sons and daughters

It was my travels and travails that taught me a lesson
Though it’s hard to speak a common language
When the status quo is pervasively trying to divide us
Humanity is the connective tissue that binds
I shed politics instantly in light of my circumstances
In the process I got mugged into reality

Life’s most painful lesson taught me of snakes in our midst
Who prosper through our disunion
And exposed the repulsive nature
of demagogues before us
who pretend to be about us
while making a killing stoking our individual grievances

I went from seeking justice through the prism of race
To seeing injustice is an onerous burden
that derails indiscriminately
equality is found at the bottom rungs of society
The same oppression that tramples on the hopes
The aspirations of brown people in Chicago
Are the very same repressions that crumbles the dreams
Of Caucasian farmers in Kansas
The very same forces that snuff out hope globally

Don’t let hucksters on TV deceive
They get paid to blind not edify you
They prosper through our misery
Sowing grievance to individual races
In order to bamboozle the masses

The mass majority protesting with anger and despair
Yet it’s divide and conquer that pits one brother against another
If all people irrespective of ideology could gain cognition
Their voices are pleading for the same outcome and recognition


Invisible borders erected before us
that makes us yell past each other
they fracture us into encampments
to keep us enslaved in perpetual stasis
Separating common allies into adversaries
Colonialism is practiced in America too
Tribalism, dividing one from another
In order to plunge the masses into affliction

It took a cognitive dissonance of the harshest kind
A blow where my life was turned inversely
An injury of the deepest cut
Soul sucking heartache drenched in tears
To make me see the ways of injustice
And understand with clarity the ways of the wicked

From taking part in writing one of his most renowned speeches
That Obama uttered as if he wrote it personally
As he seduced the masses at his South Carolina speech in 2008
I was invited to cover the DNC convention in 2012
Fifty feet from the President in Charlotte
Summoned to Chicago for the launching of Organizing for America
Three votes away from being his state delegate
Recognized for being an invaluable asset to his election

All the sudden I was caught in a maelstrom
seen as a nuisance for having the temerity to demand justice
For the land of my birth and the policies of this government
as they flood my native land with weaponry
backing thugs and stealing the resources of the people

It’s the foreign policy of our nation
that makes the lives of many in Ethiopia unbearable
and those globally quiver in the darkness of dejection
Don’t think what is done in our name overseas
Is not practiced on all of us here in America
Our government transformed and morphed
into a front for the corporate agenda
patriotism and the suffering of veterans used
to mask the naked greed of vile billionaires

Now I understand the fraudulence of our politics
And the dangers of a power unchecked
A media that pays lip service to keeping politicians honest
As they get drunk and party with the same officials they parrot
Washington DC a swamp of incestuous relationships
Literally fucking each other as they screw all of us
Where influence is traded like currency and condoms
It took the cruelest cut and a Jobian predicament
An exodus of unreal proportions
From DC to Greenville on a greyhound bus
For me to see the despotism of my own government

I too once disregarded the plight of others
Dismissed their “ramblings” as theories of conspiracy
Until theory coagulated into reality
All the sudden I discovered to my biggest dismay
the dangers of a junta in DC run amok
Crooks work by deflection
Pickpockets succeed by the thump of distractions
The powerful have perfected the playbook
Of creating confusion and hatred
In order to fleece the entirety of all of us

And no I’m not speaking of a third world government
I’m not alluding to dictators in foreign lands
The truest threat to liberty
Is the very government we keep voting into power on a regular basis
Every four years, they all come around promising hope and change
Leaving nothing but change in our pockets
and hope turning into sandwiches we feed our children
yet partisanship blinds us to this duplicity
turning on each other based on party and isms
while the rich and powerful laugh at us collectively

It seems that every revolution
Devolves into the same despotism
that gave birth to it in the first place
and the revolution of 1776 is no different
As the corrupt politician and wolves in DC
Keep using the lies of national security
To hide the scope of their economic thievery
If you want the essence of terrorism
Look to those who rob people of their life’s saving
By means of bogus monetary and fiscal policies

Wake up my brothers and sisters regardless of your ethnicity
Skin is superficial it’s our struggle that unites us as a people
Stop fighting each other and realize the ties that bind
Or else you too in time will experience your own exodus
As dissonance mugs you into cold reality
For you are only one paycheck away
Another manufactured recession
Before you understand that poverty is color blind

Let my experience be a cautious tale
Disregard politics and isms
Forget the barriers meant to cleave you from one another
Trust not the politicians who sow discord for a reason
Regardless of their political party or identification
Their sole purpose is to bleed you into subservience
Collecting checks from their rich overloads
While giving you smiles and fraudulence by the boatload

Stop worshiping the famous and powerful
who make a living from the burdens they rail against

Reclaim your sovereignty from those who prosper from dissension
Regardless of race, gender, religion or lack of it
Unite around the concept of humanism above all
In the end stand with your neighbor
The enemy is not the one you are led to believe

As for me I am blessed
Though I don’t understand God’s will
And the pain of losing everything
Having nothing but my faith in God’s promise
Walking in solitary sorrow
Is painful in ways I could never have imagined

Yet I trust things will work in His accord
Struggle I have seen many
And this too shall pass in due time
What was taken will be restored
I’m not talking about money
For what I yearn for is equality for our children
Consequences I fear no longer
Let me die speaking my truth
Instead of cowering in lies for the sake of existence
It’s through an exodus that I found my purpose
In the end, it will be God’s will that will be done::

~ The two poems are excerpts from Serendipity’s Trace, a book of our common struggles and connective hopes. Search “Serendipity’s Trace” on Amazon or “Teodrose Fikre” to find the the book  or click on the picture below ~



Teodrose Fikremariam
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Teodrose Fikremariam

Writer at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal.
Teodrose Fikremariam
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