soldier, memorial day
Displaying flags and placing flowers on the graves of military members might be two of the more traditional Memorial Day methods of showing tribute to those who have fallen in battle; but perhaps a new tradition must be initiated — one that would constitute the highest form of respect. It's time, beginning with Memorial Day 2016, to prevent any further unnecessary deaths by exposing the lies of the American empire in corporate and defense profiteering as the now-exclusive driving factors behind its push for war on all fronts.

Before jumping to assert this would somehow disrespect those who have died, understand it is precisely because the lives of U.S. troops are precious that we should not allow anyone to die for less than the most noble cause. And the imperialist goals of a crumbling empire simply do not embody a laudable reason to put lives on the line. Exposing mendacious pro-war propaganda for what it is could swiftly change the minds of future soldiers considering devoting their lives to military service.

Plenty of past examples of unabashed pro-war propaganda can be found in narratives invariably regurgitated by mainstream media acting as the government's cheerleader.

When Russia delivered humanitarian aid to victims of ethnic cleansing in Ukraine, the United States attempted to present the move as an invasion. But its inept propaganda quickly became apparent when evidence to back up the claim never materialized — it was nonexistent because it wasn't true.

Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko's ultranationalist goals to clamp down on the people of Eastern Ukraine who wished to retain their Russian culture was quickly reinforced with military action. As thousands of civilians were killed and millions fled the violence, Russia sent a convoy of aid in medical supplies and food. But due to lingering Cold War resentment by the U.S. government, the aid convoy suddenly became a Russian invasion — properly touted as such by every corporate media outlet and, of course, by then-Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as well as John Kerry.

"Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against Ukrainian armed forces," asserted Rasmussen in August 2014. This was backed by Kerry, who claimed of the Russian aid convoy in a flagrantly hypocritical statement, "This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of in terms of its pretext. It's really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century ... You just don't invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests."

Not only did neither official present evidence of their claims, but the most telling confirmation the contrary was true developed just two days ago with the announcement Rasmussen will now act as "non-staff" advisor to none other than Ukrainian president Poroshenko.

But the public quickly believed the bold-faced lie — precisely as the U.S. assumed it would based on its previous enormous successes in fooling the public by proffering only half- and untruths to promote military action.

Invading Iraq after the attacks of September 11, 2001, received similar public support, when the U.S. hammered its claim Saddam Hussein had been stockpiling 'weapons of mass destruction' — despite actual evidence to the contrary from the International Atomic Energy Agency. President George W. Bush later disgustingly, unapologetically quipped during a black-tie press event, "Those weapons of mass destruction gotta be somewhere."

Muammar Gaddafi's demise was similarly inevitable when oil-rich Libya moved away from the petrodollar toward the gold dinar. Though Gaddafi indeed headed a dictatorship, the U.S. took propagandizing to new lows by claiming the 'brutal' dictator provided Viagra for Libyan troops to perform "systematic rape" of innocent civilians. A reporter who asked for actual evidence of these crimes was directed to International Criminal Court documents — however, of 77 total pages, 17 through 76 were wholly redacted, leaving putative evidence out of public reach. Though the fervent push to set up a central bank in Libya should have clued in the American public, it took the declassification of Hillary Clinton's notorious emails to break previous pro-war mythology.

After 9/11, the U.S. government waged a disinformation campaign claiming the capture of Osama bin Laden necessitated the invasion of Afghanistan. Further propaganda has since declared the United States is rebuilding the war-ravaged country, but as journalist John Pilger noted, just 3 percent of aid to Afghanistan "is used for reconstruction."

As James Corbett pointed out in a breakdown of numerous pro-war and pro-military action propaganda campaigns, the U.S. created false or misleading angles to back its interests in the invasion of Grenada, in Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, World Wars One and Two, the Spanish-American War, Uganda (with the sham "Kony 2012" pseudo-documentary), and many others.

Recently, renowned journalist Seymour Hersh revealed — despite the U.S. goal of deposing Syria's president — the Joint Chiefs of Staff indirectly aided Bashar al-Assad's regime by sending 'intelligence via Russia, Germany, and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.'

Hersh also claimed the 2013 sarin chemical attack in Ghouta had been staged as an excuse to draw the U.S. into Syria at the behest of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — and that Hillary Clinton had approved sending the deadly chemical to rebels to pull it off. Turkish news daily Zaman later confirmed Hersh's reports.

In the past month, Wikileaks revealed evidence the latest acting president of Brazil, Michel Temer — installed after a contentious and highly questionable coup — has been an intelligence informant to the U.S.

While Americans continue to believe the troops always fight to preserve freedom, the PATRIOT Act, USA Freedom Act, the worsening Surveillance State, and general curbing of longstanding and natural liberties inside the United States prove otherwise. After all, if freedom really existed, would the U.S. government approve and then consistently reaffirm the right under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to arbitrarily and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens anywhere in the world without explanation or even counsel?

This Memorial Day, honor those who have died during military service by refusing to buy U.S. pro-war propaganda — no matter how brazen or insidiously subtle it may be. Save the lives of potential soldiers by showing them evidence that what they're really fighting for has nothing to do with either defense or freedom.