Since I was born, just before the United States entered World War II, this nation has been at war almost continuously and today has a military presence in over 100 countries. Nothing in this warrior nation is more celebrated than the image of the noble, patriotic and fearless warrior willing to sacrifice all in combat. Two myths support this image. The first is that warriors consciously decide to fight for their nation, freedom and noble ideals. The second is that patriotic citizens left behind will do anything to help the warriors. The stories in this book explore these myths.The notion that warriors are fully conscious of the reasons they are fighting is a convenient fiction for the high command and its political supporters. The truth is that most soldiers are drawn into war by a series of circumstances they neither understand nor control. Many are enticed by promises of education and advancement. They seek the shelter of an institution that guarantees them employment in a world of limited opportunities. They are part of the poverty draft. They believe stories that arouse fears of immanent danger, such as the fiction disseminated by the White House before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was responsible for 9/11. Or they never give much thought at all to what they're doing in the military or in life. Surely the most conscious soldiers wrestle with the conflict between the official image of the noble warrior saluting the flag and the dark emotions they inevitably experience: doubt, pain, hatred, denial and self-destruction. Some find their way to a conscious understanding of the history, politics and economics that underlie war and decide to protest and resist it. Perhaps in genuine wars of liberation from foreign occupation soldiers are more conscious of their role. But many freedom fighters on the other side of the imperialist cannons take up weapons while still in emotional shock after watching firsthand the destruction and death caused by invaders and many stay mired in unforgettable grief for the rest of their lives.The second myth, that everyone must support the warrior, is a pernicious one in the United States where it is an effective tool justifying the survival of the military-industrial complex. The military budget ostensibly grows to “support our troops” even though the biggest spending items are high-tech weapons and the national security apparatus. At the same time, too many of the warriors who survive the frontlines are permanently disabled, homeless, and internally scarred for life. They are collateral damage and fall through the holes in the porous U.S. “social safety net.” Myths about noble warriors are as old as human history and combatants throughout the world no doubt experience contradictory emotions similar to those felt by the imperial U.S. soldier. But global media conglomerates now spread these myths and sell war propaganda as entertainment. A new global culture of war is emerging around the “good soldier” who fights the “bad guys.” In its place we need to build a culture of peace by uncovering the harsh truths about war and the injustices of empire.