In 1983, the National Film Board of Canada produced a 57-minute film, "Anybody's Son Will Do". Arguably the best anti-war film ever made, and tailored for public television, it scared the hell out of the U.S. military machine, which has done its best to "disappear" it. For years it has been nearly impossible to find a copy, but some kind soul has posted it on YouTube where it can be seen in six segments.
The film shows the process by which young men become psychologically engineered to kill or die on command. While the model used is the U.S. Marine Corps, it's made clear that the modern techniques for creating soldiers are refined, dehumanizing and universal.
Military forces will take boys as young as the law allows, as witness African militias that, unrestrained by regulation, recruit children as young as ten. People into their twenties, having begun to think for themselves to too great a degree, tend not to be sufficiently malleable. In the U.S., recruitment below age 17 is not legal. However, as war has become ever more computerized, need is growing for tech-savvy recruits who can kill coolly and indiscriminately from great distances, as if playing video games. The military has become very good at video games.
What this leads to in the real world is exemplified by this recently publicized footage of the slaughter by U.S. military of 12 civilians. The video has been a much-needed awakening for many. But as distressing as the carnage itself is the callousness with which the people go about their work: "Alright, hahaha, I hit 'em... Nice, good shooting.... Thanks"
What is also tragic is that it represents precisely what the U.S. military wants to make of recruits who will be
reeducated -- brainwashed -- to see it as manly, patriotic, heroic. And what youngsterwith percolating hormones, negligible life experience and no basis for critical thought doesn't want to be like that?
Go to http://www.americasarmy.com/ and click on "America's Army Graphic Novel" to see what age group and level of education the Pentagon is aiming for. The "novels" are 28-page comics with text bubbles over GI Joe action figures and brightly colored noise representations: "KRR-AKK", "BLAM", "RATATATAT, CHAKA CHACKA CHAK...".
And now with their arcades open to the public, the military has its foot in the door of the minds of younger children who, if asked, would likely insist they can tell the difference between video games and reality.
As for "Anyone's Son Will Do", DVDs of it should be in every junior high and high school in the country. Parent-teacher associations should have screenings. With any luck, it might get us headed toward a day when a common sight will be bumper stickers "Support Our Peace Makers".
Bill Willers is emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh now living in Middleton, WI. He is founder of Superior Wilderness Action Network (SWAN) and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He posts occasionally online at OpEdNews, Common Dreams, Counterpunch and Dissident Voice.