Donald Rumsfeld spoke of the "honor code" to graduates of the military academy recently, and urged West Point graduates to rely on their honor code as their careers unfolded. Unfortunately, as has been proved by a long history, the so-called "honor code" has less to do with honor that with protecting a false reputation by lies and deceit and yet more lies. This false honor has been demonstrated repeatedly during U.S. military misadventures abroad.
Take for example the abuse of prisoners and violation of their human rights during the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations, as well as in the "War on Terror" in general. Any astute or even semi-astute consumer of the media news should have realized that some sort of probably illegal coercion and denial of human rights was going on, including torture. This fact was inferred for a couple of years by reports of obtaining of vital information by detained "terrorists". After all, when senior Al Qaeda operatives start "spilling the beans", some form of torture must have been used because there would be absolutely no incentive for those operatives to reveal anything if they were treated in a humanitarian way.
But when photos of prisoner abuse were published, the actual techniques of torture and humilitation of prisoners became documented and internationally publicized. Trouble was brewing for the military and pollitical authorities. What did the honor code instruct the military authorities to do? Did honor result in truth and justice? Absolutely not! The U.S. military went into the honor code and came out with lies on top of lies. False claims were made that the commanders in charge had no idea what was going on in their chain of command. Lies were promulgated that only a few renegade soldiers were guilty. More lies were concocted that the soldiers had received little training or bad training. Insulting lies were promulgated to say that this was not the "real America", when investigation showed these abuses to be not only systemic, but organic to the nature of the beast.
When trouble even seems to be brewing for the U.S. military, lies are always the first line of defense. Pat Tillman, a popular former U.S. football star enlisted in the Army and was sent to Afghanistan to serve in the Special Forces. Now, instead of hunting wide receivers for the Cowboys, he learned the ultimate man-hunt, including the killing of men whose primary mistake is being of military age and being born in the wrong country, making them enemies of America and subject to elimination. But, Pat Tillman was killed in action, and that spelled trouble for the military. Losing a very popular hero could detract from recruitment and the glorifcation of war. So, the military concocted a story, made up a lie, that Tillman was a "hero" and was killed while charging an enemy position in order to save the lives of his buddies. Very impressive, but an outright lie, and the committee that awarded Tillman the Silver Star for heroism should have done their investigation before the award instead of after it. Now we know that the enemy was not even present in the incident in which Pat Tillman was killed, and the American soldiers killed their buddy Tillman in their panic after a land mine discharged. Does Tillman’s wife have to give the Silver Star back? What an embarassment to honor! There is no honor in getting killed by panicky special forces who fire blindly into the dark upon hearing an explosion in a mine-infested country like Afghanistan. Do they give Silver Stars to all the maimed young Afghan children who lose legs or lives after stepping on cluster bomblets?
Honor based on lies is not honor at all. It is fraud. It is evil. It is DISHONOR. The U.S. military has smeared itself repeatedly with dishonor and disgrace. But, in the minds of too many, as long as it is America it is honorable, despite the true meaning of the word. You cannot lie your way to honor any more than you can install democracy at the point of a gun, or a howitzer. You cannot obtain honor by deceit any more than you can "liberate" a people by military occupation. You cannot honor your nation by torturing its enemies. To the degree that you humiliate your captives, you humiliate your own name.
The U.S. military honor code is as hollow and shallow as Donald Rusmsfeld himself. Rather than try to instill real honor, Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush and Rice and even Powell disgrace America with perpetual lies designed to promote perpetual war. True honor cannot be bought and sold, but dishonor carries a high price. The Bush Administration has sold out to the highest bidders and has taken U.S. military dishonor to new, obscene low levels that not even the corporate media can disguise.