Monday, 19 October 2009

U.S. Navy Isn't Just for America Any More

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US Navy adThe U.S. Navy has unveiled a new recruitment video commercial boasting that it is now a “global force for good.” Apparently, the U.S. Navy isn't just for America any more. The implication in the video is that the U.S. Navy is no longer just for protecting the nation's shores, but has a much more vast mandate for global service and foreign military interventionism.

The video focuses upon “the call to serve,”  and it uses that theme to meld the different missions of serving as global cop and global social worker as well as protecting American shores: “The call to serve. I will commit to carry it close to my heart until my country is safe and the anguish of those less fortunate has been soothed.” That is, the job of the U.S. Navy extends beyond protecting the United States of America to improving the lot of those in foreign lands who are "less fortunate" than we.

Moreover, the rather less-than-subtle message of the video is that you should enlist to serve the globe, or you are essentially a shiftless slacker and a coward. The deep-voiced and solemn announcer tells the viewer that “The call to serve has no form, yet I have clearly seen it in the eyes of men and women infinitely more courageous and more driven than most.” The video ends with a rousing call: “And for those who choose to answer the call, for their country, for their fellow man, for themselves, it is the most powerful force on earth. America's Navy, a global force for good.”

The Navy submitted the video via YouTube, and the government description of the video is almost chilling: "Whether protecting the ideals of our nation or soothing the suffering of another, there is no place on earth we can't be found. For we are an undeniable force. To be counted upon. To be reckoned with." No place on earth? The most powerful force on earth?

The Navy recruitment advertisement is almost an unintentional satire reminiscent of Paul Veerhoven's Hollywood rendering of Robert Heinlen's Starship Troopers. Verhoeven's satire of Heinlen included slick video newsreels that talked about service as well, a government propaganda advertisement where recruits say “I'm doing my part.”

Heinlen's original novel extolled the virtue of mandatory government servitude in the military as a precondition to voting in elections and attainment of citizenship. Ironically (or perhaps not ironically), Heinlen's Starship Troopers is on the reading list of the U.S. Naval Academy.

(Hat tip for this story: Lew Rockwell's invaluable blog)

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