Introduction: Jack Perry lives with his wife in Tucson, Arizona. He is a writer, traditional archer, amateur bread baker, and a Christian Buddhist. He was born in Southern California and travelled quite a bit after a stint in the U.S. Army.
Anthony Wile: Hi, Jack. We noticed your articles on LewRockwell.com and wanted to chat with you about them. You seem focused on an anti-war message. Were you ever in action?
Jack Perry: No. I was in the Army during the Cold War.
Anthony Wile: Tell us about you experience with the Army.
Jack Perry: My experience was that they work hard to get you in there, but once there, you're worth less than the equipment issued to you. I was in a serious training accident there, trapped in a burning vehicle. Know what the sergeants were saying? "The weapons! Don't forget the weapons!" Right. Don't worry about getting your seriously injured buddies out; make sure you get the weapons out. Probably so they don't have paperwork to do about weapons accountability.
That one incident colored my entire perception about the military and the U.S. government as a whole. That one incident is where I stopped being a True Believer. And that wasn't the last time I saw a serious accident where the military demonstrated how much they "cared," either.
Anthony Wile: How have your perceptions changed since you enlisted and then left?
Jack Perry: I'd say I've become even more suspicious about the military as a whole since then. I noticed that the military was literally throwing lives away in Iraq and look how the wounded were being treated at Walter Reed, for example. Did you know that around 20 veterans a day commit suicide?
Look, this was going on in the 1970s with Vietnam War vets – I saw that growing up – and now the VA comes out and acts like they've discovered America. Give me a break over here. The worst thing you can do in this country right now is enlist. You might as well put yourself on the suicide watch list and put the suicide prevention hotline number on your speed dial if you enlist. Yeah, "Support The Troops" – until you get out. Then they don't know you anymore. That goes for all vets, by the way. I've never been to one job interview where they asked if I was a vet.
Anthony Wile: What was a turning point for you?
Jack Perry: Like I said, a training accident where some crappy M-16A1 rifles were worth more than the soldiers carrying them. "The weapons! The weapons!" You'd have thought those weapons were made of solid gold. It didn't help that we were also training Guatemalan soldiers and I wondered what that was about. Yeah, well, I found out what they'd gone home and done. And so I played a small part in that. We are all responsible for these crimes as long as we support this, even if we do so by silence.
Anthony Wile: How did you live your life after the military? Did you go back to school?
Jack Perry: I've actually never been to college. When I got out of the Army, I was pretty much a nomad. I went where I wanted and had nothing but what I could carry in a pickup. I've been a truck driver, tow truck operator, electrical equipment repairman, and I've even worked in a fruit-packing shed. You can learn more about life by getting out there and living it than in college. Colleges teach you curriculum. Life teaches you life. It wasn't easy. But I've seen things and done things most people only read about in books.
Anthony Wile: Why did you start writing? You're very witty.
Jack Perry: Thanks! I started writing while living in Los Angeles; Hollywood, actually. Mostly poetry and short snippets about stuff I saw there. I used to post this on this bulletin board in the apartment building I lived in. They got up a betting pool to try and figure out who it was. But the political writing started about a year ago when I finally said, "I need to say something here. I just can't keep silent anymore." And I wrote an article, sent it off, and got it published. Since then, that's what I do.
Anthony Wile: How would you characterize your politics?
Jack Perry: Actually, I consider myself apolitical. I'm not attached to any political party. I need the flexibility to say, "No, this is wrong," or, "Excuse me, but this is what's right." The major problem we have in America right now is that people are so attached to their political parties they'll do what they know to be wrong. My own political beliefs are, basically, do what's right. And what's right? If your own heart cannot tell you what the difference is between right and wrong, well, you need to spend more time in prayer and meditation and less in the voting or public office.
Anthony Wile: How did you end up writing for Lew Rockwell?
Jack Perry: Lew was the first place I sent my very first article.
Anthony Wile: What do you think of the great war novels of World War II like Norman Mailer's Naked and the Dead?
Jack Perry: I think novels can be great, but we now have a fundamentally ignorant population in America that no longer reads anything beyond text messages. Look, we've got Christians out there that haven't even read the Bible, Buddhists who haven't even read so much as the Diamond Sutra. Therefore, how can you espouse that which you don't truly understand? Easy. The TV tells them. Movies tell them. "Life Coaches" tell them. So, war novels can tell people that war is horrible, but it cannot compete with certain movies that glorify it and wave the flag. The visual impact is just too much to overcome.
Anthony Wile: Do you think US intelligence in some sense sponsored or eased the way for the war genre after World War II?
Jack Perry: I know they did. The Department of Defense will only cooperate with movies that are pro-war. If you want to film on the deck of an aircraft carrier, you need their cooperation. Every movie made that has footage filmed on-location on military bases with military weapons has been approved by the Pentagon. Now, when other countries did that, we called that "propaganda." "Triumph of the Will," and all that. But when we do it, it's called Hollywood, see?
Anthony Wile: We noticed Norman Mailer wrote a huge book about the CIA. He always needed money and presumably there might have been some sort of relationship
Jack Perry: You might be surprised at who gets money from the CIA. Look up "In-Q-Tel," for example. Look up "Skybuilt Power." Yeah, here were these granolas saying, "Oh, look at us! We're building green energy wind turbines! We're so cosmic!" Right, and the CIA was buying those wind turbines through Skybuilt Power to outfit black sites in Afghanistan.
Anthony Wile: Tell us about the military-industrial complex.
Jack Perry: It's deeper than anyone knows or admits. It's all built upon the "These are good jobs!" shibboleth. Listen, I live in Tucson now. This city is predominantly liberal to the core. But on any given day, it sounds like we're in a war zone. Davis-Monthan AFB is running A-10s, F-16s and C-130s low-level over this city constantly. And the city basically kisses Davis-Monthan's bootie to make sure the base stays here. Why? Because those are GOOD JOBS! So, even the liberals dig the military. They need to change the bumper stickers they've all got on their Prius cars to say: "End War – Unless Doing So Costs Me My Job."
We have Raytheon here and they make missiles. And I happen to know that liberals work there, too. Now, they'll whine about this-or-that humanitarian disaster and won't ever admit that they play a part in that. Excuse me, but those missiles are used in wars. They kill people. So how can you occupy some moral high ground and pontificate to the rest of us about what's moral when you yourself don't even do what's moral? The military-industrial complex is now "Green," did you know that? Yes, and I worked in a place once that was staffed by liberals almost as a majority. But the CIA's money is spent there. They had private military contractors come in as prospective clients. Everyone thinks the military-industrial complex is a Republican, conservative thing. Excuse me, but it was a Republican that coined the phrase to begin with. But the liberals and Democrats are in just as deep as neocons.
Anthony Wile: Who runs America?
Jack Perry: Wall Street and the Pentagon. Listen, is it any wonder that the SAME people go from Wall Street, to government office, to Pentagon positions, and then back to Wall Street? We are all serfs in this equation, but we live under the illusion we're free. Free? How so? Can you declare that you take nothing from the government and, therefore, owe no taxes? Can you build your own home without a permit? Wall Street is collectively pauperizing the entire country and people think that's freedom.
The Pentagon starts wars with nations about 80% of Americans can't find on the map and people think that's freedom. And when you have a population as collectively ignorant as this one, this control is remarkably easy to maintain.
Anthony Wile: What is the ultimate aim of the Pentagon?
Jack Perry: The same as everyone else that was cut from the same cloth as them – like the Romans, for instance. It's about control and power and wealth. And all three of those are actually the same thing. Every major power in history has done this, without exception. No country has become immune to tyranny once it has amassed power of the status we call "superpower."
The Romans were a superpower. Look what they did, killing and enslaving entire nations. No nation has ever overcome the desire to wield such power in a way that enriched it while enslaving others. Find me one honest and decent nation in history that had the power of the United States. And, no, it isn't the United States, either.
The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us there is no new thing under the sun. You can find the truth of the human condition in the Bible. Every major power in history seeks to enrich itself and enslave others. Or kill them if they resist. It's because of greed. Every religion – Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, all of them – warn us repeatedly about greed. Because from greed proceeds all the murders, wars, crimes, and so forth. Is it as simple as that? Yes, it is. Overcoming greed takes tremendous self-discipline and religious devotion. Many people can't do it. How less so an entire government composed of people dedicated to the principles of greed?
Anthony Wile: Does the US seek to win wars?
Jack Perry: No. We don't need to win wars to profit from them. See, towards the end of World War II is when the defense contractors saw the money to be made off of wars. That's when the expensive weapons like B-29s began to be realized as huge money makers. But if a war ends, then how will you sell more of those weapons? The value is in the destruction of the weapon, because then it has to be replaced. Do you follow what I'm saying here? That's why the Cold War was an "arms race." It was the constant replacement of weapons because the military told us they were "obsolete" just a few years after they were manufactured. And we needed to keep up with the Soviets.
Davis-Monthan AFB here is also known as "The Boneyard" because it's where the Air Force has junked the decades worth of crap they badgered us into buying. There it sits out there, a tremendous monument to waste and the stupidity of mankind. But something funny happened at the end of the Cold War. How could money be made with the Soviets gone? Easy. Begin having little wars all over the planet and then you create cash flow potential for the manufacturers of the cruise missiles and bombs. Has anyone noticed that since the end of the Cold War, we have been involved in one war or another ever since? Right. We have been at war for 25 years now. We are not seeking to win these wars. We only need to keep them going to sell weapons and occupy certain territory long enough to extract natural resources or just maintain a foothold.
Anthony Wile: How can the military-industrial complex be reduced or removed?
Jack Perry: People need to overcome pride and greed. This mindless patriotism must first be shed for the sin that it is. These wars happen because people support them. They think it's "unpatriotic" if they don't. Excuse me, but what's "patriotism"? And why was it wrong for the Germans in 1939, but it's ok for us to do the SAME right now? What was the difference between Germany invading Poland in 1939 and us invading Iraq in 2003? Many people forget the Germans invented a false-flag pretext to invade Poland, just like we did in Iraq. Since we refuse to repent from that, this just keeps going on and on. We'll probably end up committing ground troops en masse to Syria within the next few months. And for what? Because Assad ran Syria?
You see, patriotism is based on pride. It's also a form of idolatry that is no different than the Romans that made gods out of their emperors and demanded people sacrifice to them. That's what the Roman persecution of the early Christians was over, you know. They refused to offer sacrifice to the Roman emperor and, thus, were unpatriotic. Yet, many conservative Christian churches today have forgotten that and support every war this country gets into. They revere the flag as if it is some kind of holy relic. And what is that but idolatry? People need to first shed patriotism. That's number two.
Number One is shedding greed. I'm not saying everyone has to renounce all possessions and live like ascetics. But I'm saying this way of life we've got here has a price. Ok, those are good jobs over there at the Acme Missile Factory. But those missiles can only be manufactured and purchased if they are used. Listen, at some point, we need to become self-reliant as a nation. This thinking that we're all owed this "American way of life" is built on borrowed time, credit, and falsehoods. If you look into history, we had a pretty good life before we got into worldwide wars. That period of time is what produced the best American literature. And literature, by the way, that became classics in world literature. Is it any wonder we haven't produced another Walt Whitman in this age? Is it any wonder we haven't seen another Thoreau? I'm not saying it was perfect. But since World War One, our culture has begun to decline as our power as an empire has increased.
When I say we need to shed greed, I mean we need to start understanding the difference between what is ours and what belongs to someone else. Respecting private property rights should extend worldwide. Meaning, you don't get to tell other countries how to run their affairs or just fly over and drop bombs on them.
Anthony Wile: Can it happen in your lifetime?
Jack Perry: I don't know. I think some people are beginning to wake up. It takes a paradigm shift in what we truly value. Do we value human life, or do we value killing other people and watching it on TV, chanting, "USA! USA! USA!"? Do we value the rights of others to have their own property even if we do not agree with them? Or do we take it away from them and justify it as "national security"? But I'll tell you this. Nothing lasts forever. The Romans didn't. And neither will the United States.
Anthony Wile: How can the US population become less militaristic and more educated about its manipulation?
Jack Perry: They need to turn off the TV and READ!!! I can't say that strongly enough. People! Every time you turn on the TV to the major networks, you are being lied to. Even the commercials are lying to you.
"Buy this!" "Vote For Dorky McDoofus!" "Here, take this medicine. It might make you wet your pants and jump off a bridge, but take this medicine anyway because it'll make you happy." "Depressed? Ask your doctor if Plutoniumzor is right for you!" "Hey, kids! Eat this cereal!"
See, you have to pull the plug on all of that. Education is a personal responsibility and effort. I've read thousands of books and still read about two to three books a week. No one makes me. I've never been to college.
So I don't buy anyone's excuse that they don't have time, or no money, or no way to educate themselves. I did it and I haven't got any money. There are public libraries, people. Get off your butts, turn off the TV, and wake up. Because by the time you figure out what's going on may be too late. Maybe it already is.
Anthony Wile: Are wars ever worth fighting?
Jack Perry: Not any we've been in for well over a couple hundred years now.
Anthony Wile: Is war a means of domestic social control?
Jack Perry: Sure. It kills off the segment of the population most likely to rebel. Those that survive usually support militarism and the government afterwards.
Anthony Wile: Is the US an empire?
Jack Perry: Of course it is. Two hundred years into the future, schools will teach about "The American Empire" just like schools now teach about "The British Empire."
Anthony Wile: What's the best way to deal with militarism – to leave the US, to try to live free in an unfree world?
Jack Perry: Here's my advice. Turn off the TV, read, meditate, pray and realize that the United States is impermanent. It will not last forever. Don't buy anything just to buy it. Live simply. Live a life that affirms life, not one that justifies the taking of it. Walk with God. Find His paths. Speak up against wars when you hear the media beating the war drum. But don't become attached to any outcome. Things will come to be and then pass away. But if you center yourself in your spiritual practice, you will be unmoved by this. You will see this for what it is and refuse to be a pawn of militarism.
Anthony Wile: Any other comments you want to make, thoughts you want to share?
Jack Perry: We're living in an era of uncertainty. But when that is the case, you need to center yourself in a practice. Be that a spiritual practice or whatever, you need to center yourself. This government will not save you or provide for you that which only you yourself can provide. What, the government will enlighten you or bring you peace? Good luck with that, say I. Self-reliance means not relying upon the government, among other things. We've been at war for 25 years now. Had enough yet?
Anthony Wile: Other writing you'd like to mention?
Jack Perry: Well, I'm always looking for writing gigs. I have a book I'm looking to publish. But as for the writings of others, here's my list of what I call "The Backpack Books" – books I'd have if I could only take what fit into a backpack: The Holy Bible, The Buddhist Bible, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and a blank journal with plenty of pencils. See, it's important to write for yourself. You need to center yourself in your practice. Whether you alone read it, or you share it, write. Meditate, pray, read and write. You will wake up.
Anthony Wile: Thanks for sitting down with us.
Jack Perry: It has been a pleasure. God bless and keep you.
Jack Perry makes a number of good points in this interview but two stand out. The first is his observation that the most important centers of power are Wall Street and the Pentagon – and that powerful people travel socially and professionally between these destinations.
He further states that "we live under the illusion we're free" and it is a testimony to how malleable people are that so many have believed this for so long. The Internet has made it a good deal easier to see through all kinds of sociopolitical and economic memes but understanding one's own manipulation and doing something about it are two different things.
Jack's solution is similar to ours: human action. Education is key and Jack's advice simple and cogent: "Turn off the TV and READ! … Every time you turn on the TV to the major networks, you are being lied to. Even the commercials are lying to you."
A wide frame of reference is the best protection against insularity, ignorance and fear. Knowledge creates more and better lifestyle choices. In these challenging times, comprehending one's options from a sociopolitical and economic standpoint is most necessary. Here at The Daily Bell we strive to promote a wider frame of reference. Our thanks to Jack for expanding what we understand.