On the latest episode of The Portal, the two men talk about the consequences of a public being shielded from battle.
- On The Portal, Eric Weinstein discusses the consequences of Americans not seeing the reality of the wars we wage.
- His guest, former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, says that every war ensures that innocent civilians will die.
- Both men agree that the public should be exposed to the reality of war instead of being shielded from it.
Extreme Ownership | Jocko Willink | TEDxUniversityofNevada<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d2c7ab2f5f273d610795074c1bfc9ad"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ljqra3BcqWM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Weinstein believes we each have personal responsibility to investigate the consequences of our actions. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I think that it is irresponsible of us as a nation to allow this much insulation of the home front from the raw facts of what we're doing abroad. If you take my assessment that the United States is the most dangerous machine ever constructed, we do not have the right to wield that power if we're not interested in what it looks like and what it means."</p><p>A mature relationship with your country means recognizing the horrors your country perpetuates. It means knowing that any time your government deploys troops, some tragedies are going to occur within the population being attacked. </p><p>Willink replies that two forms of will are needed in war. The first is the will to kill, not only your enemy, but collateral damage as well. "If you think you can pull off a war without killing innocent people, you're wrong." This puts the onus of the "why" on every soldier's shoulders. The reason behind the war has to be justified. </p><p>The will to die is also required. If you're not prepared to face this potential outcome, "you have to stop and think about what you're doing." </p><p>Weinstein pivots to the media's role in accurately portraying information to the public—including photographs. News outlets have long shied from the actual casualties of war even though, as Willink says, there are hundreds of thousands of photographs online of what we've done in Iraq. </p><p>Weinstein recalls the infamous "<a href="https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a48031/the-falling-man-tom-junod/" target="_blank">Falling Man</a>," which is making the rounds this week on the anniversary of 9/11, of one of the many people that jumped from the towers before they collapsed. He notes that it ran once in a morning edition, then was effectively banned from publication. "It didn't become the iconic photograph of 9/11." </p><p>Beyond the toppling statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Americans have few visual memories of what we've been doing for nearly two decades (outside of the Abu Ghraib torture photos), whereas from Vietnam we have the same set of ten photos "seared into our minds." Weinstein concludes, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It seems to me that we're developing a fragility as a people that is incompatible with our lethality."</p>
A soldier from the Korean White Horse Division, on an offensive north of Bong Son, kneels beside the bedraggled mother and children of a suspected Vietcong family, huddled at the edge of a field. Vietnam, 1966.
Photo by © Tim Page/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images<p>Weinstein then invokes the <a href="https://www.apnews.com/9231894fd9bf451e92a6ba64e3c68dc2" target="_blank">Mexican cartel drug wars</a> on our southern border. In 2018, 35,000 people died in these undiscussed battles occurring just miles from our nation, yet few Americans understand the violence involved (or the ways in which America is implicated, such as our addictions fueling the illegal trade). </p><p>Willink states that it is likely that Americans are simply refusing to click on the links associated with these wars, though Weinstein holds the media accountable for refusing to publish them. If we were regularly shown what other nations are experiencing, perhaps our collective empathy could be invoked. Then we would hold politicians sending troops to war accountable. At the moment, that's not happening on any broad level. </p><p>Instead, the media focuses on America's interior bubbles, splitting every topic into left and right. Little is said of the protective glass covering the entire nation. We'd rather not look, so we're not shown. Reality isn't clickbaity enough. A vicious circle continues. </p><p>I've thought long about this topic, having practiced and taught yoga for decades. Inside of some studios you'll hear the airiest of philosophies: the universe is conspiring in your favor, love is at the root of our nature, we're peaceful at heart, and so on. Such sentiments could only be spouted in a culture of privilege. I often wonder how many yogis recognize that the only reason we're able to spout these ideas is due to having the military force on the planet. </p><p>Historically, yoga and war were intertwined; one reading of the <em>Bhagavad Gita</em> is enough to recognize that. Amazingly, modern yogis cite those passages as pure metaphor, displaying blatant ignorance of the historical society that created that document. We rewrite the past to suit our present desires. </p><p>And that's a shame, for all of us. Empathy is only possible through understanding. Media companies earn ad revenue from ego-driven clickbait, not the murder of innocent children trapped in the crossfire. Sadly, it appears the only way we learn is when wars occur on our soil—a reality we haven't faced for over 150 years. Ignorance remains bliss for those doing the ignoring.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>