Advanced Essay #4: A Comparison of Old and New American Militarism

My goals for this paper was to reflect on the ideas of how America focuses on only winning wars and conflicts. Without thinking about the detrimental factors that can happen or continue to evolve through the action of militarism and violence. I think that this project was very well organized beginning with finding an image that could help lead me into the development of my paper. Honestly, I feel like it has helped me stay on focus also with my ideas and answering my essential questions. If I could change anything about this paper it would be to find possibly more sources and extent the word count.

The sound of prideful theme music fills speakers with trumpets, violins and other angelic instruments. You could picture a group of soldiers running or an American Flag nevertheless the real image was a fast-paced selection of previous wars that America intervened in. The commercial connects to a theme of strength, nationalism and militarism. Such as the image that I found that shows the prominent girl running in Vietnam on June 8, 1972 with no clothes. Surrounding her are other people from her country. Yet, in the far back there are soldiers just walking along guiding them from the rubble not even trying to help them. The young girl who is named Phan Thị Kim Phúc, is looking for faces that she might know or even her own parents. Running and crying pouring out all things she felt from her inside, out onto her scabrous skin. The image is split, to a top and bottom. The top image headline reads“Oh My God, Somebody Do Something!” Her mouth is open as she screams with her minuscule voice for help. In spite of her being the “enemy” she is also a small weak girl, confused and lost she gets the littlest amount of help--censor bars covering her developing breasts and genitals. In addition to the quote in the bottom of the second picture that reads “Ahhh… That’s Better.” Similar to the way we try to fix our problems here in America, with the smallest amount of effort unless it’s through militarism.

Continuing my research, I looked deeper into my picture and questioned why didn’t the soldiers help these people who were clearly struggling and looking for help? They are there to protect and serve, to be strong and also to take commands. The people who give the commands though, where are they and why don’t they tell the soldiers to aid when it is a crucial time. Considerably being that there was a major bombing, the goal was to kill. However, in some human error of course not everyone died so there were survivors. They are killing them without using their guns, letting them run in circles among 90+ degree weather after a napalm bombing. The natives are carrying their family members with bullet holes piercing their flesh as the soldiers casually walk and talk about the number of friends they lost while at this war. The number of U.S. soldiers who died in service to the number of Vietnamese casualties are in a large juxtaposition. The U.S. suffered a loss of 58,200 total to the total number of 882,000 Vietnamese deaths (Including adult male and female war causalities--15 years of age and older, plus 84,000* war deaths in children--under 15.) The only worries that the soldiers have are if they are going to die and how do they win this war. Primarily is America going to win if they sacrifice their life or would it be better to take someone else's.

In which ways are we wired in a mindset of militarism, to be the one and only way to obtain a victory? Specifically focusing through war, violence and militarism. A book titled The New American Militarism by Andrew J. Bacevich states in the Introduction on page 1, “Today as never before in their history Americans are enthralled with military power.”  Reviewing American History, particularly the wars and interventionists we were apart of, there's a common theme of countries wanting to be our friend. Generally for support and help but we are also a great ally for our powerful and brave military. Connecting specifically to WWII, we weren’t apart of the problem so we shouldn't of been in the war. Yet, because we are this “great, brave and powerful” country, other smaller countries want to be our friend. So therefore we put ourselves in the forefront of the problem, just for an alliance. Similar to a Pro-Imperialist political document that we reviewed in U.S. History class week from Judge, 1899. The image shows a progress of Uncle Sam in 6 forms with small captions and years listed underneath his feet. Starting at a miniscule baby up to an overweight man stretching from 1788-1899. In the last form he is holding a figure made out to image the U.S.S. Maine under his arm and smokes a cigar as he looks to the outstretched arms of foreign countries. The names of each country resides on the arm cuff reading, Russia, Germany and England. Analytically arguing that we kill thousands of others and our own troops just to fight for resources like oil or tobacco and alliances. There are more important things that we could force our energy into, such as fighting for all countries to become less violent. Yet, the fish rots from the head and in this scenario, America isn’t leading in a positive way so it’s difficult to suggest that we all become non-violent. However, we aren’t doing anything other than putting ourselves in a difficult position.

So in which ways could or can militarism steer us towards a better future for our country, if it even can? Quoted from Michael Abtello, a rifleman in the Afghanistan war, who was interviewed for a document by PBS: Mortal Wounds of War, “I’ve lost more friends to suicides then I did in combat.” Mr. Abtello was in the forefront of the war, in addition to joining directly after the falling of the Twin Towers. In other words he joined after a time that our country was in dire need for pawns to play on a battlefield under a muddy fog, not knowing who the real enemy was. It was a dangerous time and just as in previous wars we fought we thought that this ambush into the middle east was going to help us get a victory.

Thinking back about our history in wars or conflicts from the Vietnam War, the Afghan War or to the Spanish-American War it seemed as if we tried to solve all of them by lugging out each one until we reach another conflict. Expanding on the Spanish-American War, we shipped out a boat (The U.S.S. Maine) to Cuba and it somehow was blown up. Causing us to take up our problems with Spain through smaller colonies such as the Philippines and Cuba. President Mckinley signed a joint resolution for war with Spain on April 19, 1898 and troops were deployed by May 25th. The war was proclaimed a victory by then President Theodore Roosevelt. Yet, according the timeline document on The United States in the Philippines, guerrilla warfare was persistent until 1915. This totalled of 16 years that we stayed at war, after a declared victory and the payoff from Spain though the Treaty of Paris of $20 million for the Philippines on December 10, 1899. Even researching about a war from over 100 years ago there’s the same theme of America joining conflicts that we had nothing to do with and/or creating problems.

Focusing back on my main questions:

(1) In which ways are we wired in a mindset of militarism being the one and only way to obtain a victory, specifically through war, violence and militarism

(2) In which ways has or can militarism steer us towards a better future for our country, if it even can.  

I think we are wired in a mindset of militarism being the primary way to obtain a victory from our youngest ages. Examples reside in every average middle-class American home, technology. Whether it is a game (Call of Duty, Modern Warfare) , a computer--social media or even more basic games that wrap around your imagination (playing toy army). Which can develop in the mind that accessing high levels of violence is normal or okay because it’s an idea that’s been with every American since they were born. For the children born in 2000, they’ve technically been at war all of their life (beginning with the War on Terror in Afghanistan evolving to Iraq, Yemen, now Syria and etc.) Therefore, I do not think that militarism can steer us towards a better future for our country. We are still dealing with conflicts from the mid and late 90s, so I question how are we going to move into the 22nd Century if we are still stuck in the 20th. As a country we have advanced through medicine, technology, science and societal barriers but we can’t proceed to a lifestyle of isolationism, peace and nonviolence. In conclusion, quoted from Mike Felker during our class Veteran Panel, “‘If you don't shoot us, we won’t shoot you’. So we said ‘heck why not. Didn’t see the point in the war and all anyway’. ” America could simply follow the pre-kindergarten rule that entails to treat others how we would want to be treated.

Works Cited


Online Documents

  1. "Statistical Information about Casualties of the Vietnam War." National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, Aug. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2016. <>

  2. Hirschman, Charles, Samuel Preston, and Vu Manh Loi. “Vietnamese Casualties During the American War: A New Estimate”. Population and Development Review 21.4 (1995): 783–812. Web… <>

  3. Faulker, Mike. "Veteran's Panel: The Vietnam War." Veteran's Panel. Science Leadership Academy, Philadephia. 4 Mar. 2016. Address.

  4. "Moral Wounds of War." PBS. PBS, 28 May 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2016. <>

  5. Bacevich, Andrew J. "Introduction." Introduction. The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. 1. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

  6. Butler, Clay. Oh My God, Somebody Do Something! 1997. Oh My God, Somebody Do Something! Web. 10 Mar. 2016. <>.

Paper Documents

  1. Set A: Cartoon 1  Judge, 1899

  2. The United States in the Philippines, 1898-1915; Timeline