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My Military Service, and Awakening To An Empire Of Lies

Of Lies and Empires

By Joey B. King


“I have decided to henceforth say nothing that is not true,” said the student.

“I’ll miss your voice,” replied the Zen master.

I discovered the writings of Jeff Knaebel a few years ago. He was a US citizen who left the country of his birth in the mid-1990’s for a life of voluntary self-exile in India. Knabel wrote a lot about truth and the nature of truth, likening a search for truth to peeling back the layers of an onion. Reading Knaebel got me to thinking about truth and lies in my own life. How old was I when I heard/told my first lie?  What are those lies and how did they affect me? Is it even possible to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Why it is so hard to find the truth? How many of us really want to find the truth?

MK Gandhi said that God is truth, and since no man can know the whole truth, God can not be completely known. Lies and partial truths are all around us as the Zen master’s words (above) clearly point out. Friends, family, and lovers have lied to me. I have lied to them. Empires are built on a series of generational lies.

Lies of Empires are particularly nasty because they almost always rely on violence and propaganda.

One lie of the Empire lie concerns transportation, especially in the area of efficiency.  Just like every small-town, 15 year-old American male, I could not wait to turn 16, so I could drive a car.

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote about a neighboring farmer who urged him to get a horse to save time on his trips to Boston. Thoreau correctly calculated that he saved time and money by walking from Walden to Boston. The farmer spent half his work-week paying for upkeep on the horse. Thoreau spent about 6 hours a week walking to Boston. The same economics occurs today with a car. I just never learned to calculate it properly until I was 40. The horse owned the farmer, in the same way as my car owns me.

When I got my first car, I had to pay for the maintenance, gas, and insurance too. My parents thought owning a car developed a sense of responsibility; instead, it encouraged wage slavery and addiction. I am a gas addict.

Speaking from an evolutionary standpoint, humans are supposed to travel, in harmony with nature, at a speed of about 3.5 miles an hour (around 15 miles per day). Bicycles boost that to 10-15 mph (100 miles a day). Human-powered transportation consumes about 2000-3000 calories daily. Cars can never approach that efficiency! War costs too that are imbedded in non-human powered transportation. In Iraq alone, thousands of people have been killed. The pump price does not include that. Big oil has the American military to insure the oil keeps flowing. In other words, the military costs are socialized and the profits are privatized.

A specific lie of the Empire that affected me personally occurred in 1979 when I was 17. Iranian students took over the US Embassy in Tehran. Mark Bowden, the author, makes the case that it was wrong for the students to overtake the embassy. My mom and I agreed.

Royalists celebrate the successful US-backed coup in Tehran, Iran, 1953

Even though it is wrong to attack an embassy, what my mom and I did not know in 1979 was important. We had no clue the US violated “neutral” territory first and lied to us and the rest of the United States.

In 1953, the Brits were afraid that the Iranians were about to nationalize the oil industry. CIA agents Kermit Roosevelt Jr., and Norman Schwarzkopf Sr. orchestrated the first illegal coup in CIA history from the US embassy in Tehran, and installed the Shah. The Iranian people knew the coup was planned from the US Embassy; Americans did not. You can draw a direct line from the CIA’s overthrow to Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. Events like this are called “blowback” in CIA jargon, and they never seem to do a good job planning for it.

When I started college in 1980, my Mom recommended that I join the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC), because she was worried there would be war with Iran. The Selective Service System was reinstituted as a response to the student uprising. My Army service was a direct result of 50 years of US government lies relating to Iran.

Has capitalism ever existed without exploitation? No. Today, American capitalism is kept afloat on the backs of Asian and Latin American wage-slaves using raw materials from those regions and from Africa. Christopher Hedges calls these capitalist “sacrifice zones.” MK Gandhi said, “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Capitalism is unlimited greed. The actions of addicts and capitalists are similar in at least one respect; neither can get enough. Capitalists will kill their customers, if they can get new customers to replace them.

Several books and articles came out in 2011 on the subject of happiness. One fact was common to these works; there is not any measurable increase in happiness in the USA above $40,000 annual income. Every major religion has said that material wealth does not make you happy.

It could be argued that the monetary system itself is the biggest lie of Empire.

The economist and author John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The study of money, above all other fields of economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise of evade truth, not to reveal it.” Henry David Thoreau said, “Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.

We only have enough space to scratch the surface, so I’ll make a few recommendations for further investigation into money.

First, I would recommend the book, “The Man who Quit Money” about Daniel Suelo who has lived without money in Moab Utah since 2000. Studying the lives of other renunciates has been helpful for me.

Second, I would recommend the website It totally opened my eyes.

Third, there’s a great radio program called “Unwelcome Guests.”

Fourth, go to the web archives of independent radio program Against the Grain (March 7th edition) and listen to an interview with David Hawkes. In the interview, Hawkes argues about money:

“…I think Enlightenment certainly sees itself as sweeping away superstition and replacing it all with rationality…(However) It may be that what seems to be the disappearance of magic from the (western) world, …is actually the result of the complete triumph of magic. It may be that there is nothing but magic in the world anymore. And the reason why we don’t see it is because we have no vantage point outside it from which we might view it.”

Another big lie of the Empire is: “the US is a peaceful nation.” No country likes to think of themselves as war-mongers. That is why Rev. M. L. King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech was so controversial.

I once heard an interview with Joe Kline who was pitching a book of his. He said, “We’ve had 60 years of peace and prosperity,” and I about fell out of my chair. Has any country had more conflicts than the US since 1945? The US can not call itself a peaceful nation. Yet, few within the Empire itself see it as violent. It is a triumph of propaganda.

Sadly, I have contributed, through my taxes or my military service, to the war machine of the US. I served the Empire for 3 years as a paratrooper on foreign shores. I trained in Panama, Germany, Italy, and Turkey. For that, I am sorry. I was young and unaware of how my service was part of a violent Empire. I was fortunate to have never served a day in combat.

The first step to end the Empire non-violently is for its citizens to recognize the lies that hold the Empire together and shed the light of truth.We can see some evidence of change on the horizon. The Occupy movement proved that there is an awareness that the Empire is built on lies. In an interview, the Republican strategist Frank Lunz said he feared the “1%” slogan that the Occupy movement had coined. The Occupy movement was aware that violence upheld the lies of the Empires. No one had a plan for Occupy “part II,” but it will come, and we have no idea what shape it will take. The cost of maintaining the violence and propaganda systems become too great for the system to bear. Every other Empire has faded, and the last one will soon fade as well.

Joey King was Distinguished Military Graduate from Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. He graduated from the following Army schools: Airborne, Ranger, Pathfinder, Air Assault, Infantry Officer’s Basic Course, Jungle Expert (Panama Canal Zone), and the Infantry Officer’s Mortar Platoon Officer’s Course. He was served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and in Vicenza Italy. He was a platoon leader and company executive officer. He resigned from the active army in July 1987 and later resigned from the Individual Ready Reserves saying:

I, 1LT (First Lieutenant) Joey B King SSN# ——-, wish to resign my commission in the Individual Ready Reserve as soon as possible. My 6-year obligation ended 1 Dec 90, however, I was unable to resign at that time due to the Iraq War.

I am resigning because of a personal conviction that war is an unacceptable means of resolving differences among nations. 

Joey B. King

First Lieutenant Infantry

Since leaving the US Army he has been active in: 

  • Buddhist Peace Fellowship
  • Truth-in-recruiting in Middle Tennessee
  • Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking
  • Veterans Day Parade Nashville
  • Stop the Bombs Oak Ridge TN
  • School of the Americas Watch
  • Participated as an international election observer in El Salvador March 2009
  • Contributor to the 2012 book, “Why Peace”
  • Chair of Veterans for Peace Middle Tennessee/Nashville 2006-present
  • National Board of Directors Veterans for Peace 2009-2012

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