NBC’s ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ Continues an Inglorious Tradition of Glorifying War


Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, José Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Betty Williams – TRANSCEND Media Service

As Nobel Peace Prize laureates, we call on NBC to cancel this reality TV show that likens military combat to Olympic athletics.

During the Olympics, touted as a time for comity and peace among nations, millions [in North America] first learned that NBC would be premiering a new “reality” TV show. The commercials announcing “Stars Earn Stripes” were shown, seemingly endlessly, throughout the athletic competition, noting that its premier would be Monday 13 August, following the end of the Olympic Games.

That might seem innocuous since spectacular, high-budget sporting events of all types are regular venues for airing new products, televisions shows and movies. But “Stars Earn Stripes” is not just another reality show. Hosted by retired four-star General Wesley Clark, the program pairs minor celebrities with US military personnel and puts them through simulated military training, including some live-fire drills and helicopter drops. The official NBC website for the show touts “the fast-paced competition” as “pay[ing] homage to the men and women who serve in the US armed forces and our first-responder services”.

It is our belief that this program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence. Military training is not to be compared, subtly or otherwise, with athletic competition by showing commercials throughout the Olympics. Preparing for war is neither amusing nor entertaining.

Real war is down-in-the-dirt deadly. People – military and civilians – die in ways that are anything but entertaining. Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly, as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence. War, whether relatively shortlived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.

Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.

The long history of collaboration between militaries and civilian media and entertainment – and not just in the United States – appears to be getting murkier and in many ways more threatening to efforts to resolve our common problems through nonviolent means. Active-duty soldiers already perform in Hollywood movies, “embedded” media ride with soldier in combat situations, and now NBC is working with the military to attempt to turn deadly military training into a sanitized “reality” TV show that reveals absolutely nothing of the reality of being a soldier in war or the consequences of war. What is next?

As people who have seen too many faces of armed conflict and violence and who have worked for decades to try to stop the seemingly unending march toward the increased militarization of societies and the desensitization of people to the realities and consequences of war, we add our voices and our support to those protesting “Stars Earn Stripes”. We, too, call upon NBC stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize, 1976
Betty Williams, 1976
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984
President Oscar Arias Sanchez, 1987
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, 1992
President José Ramos-Horta, 1996
Jody Williams, 1997
Dr Shirin Ebadi, 2003

Go to Original – guardian.co.uk

[Note from TMS editor]: Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.


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3 Responses to “NBC’s ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ Continues an Inglorious Tradition of Glorifying War”

  1. The ingenuity (I frankly feel it is more the “stupidity” – sorry guys) of all those Nobel Peace Prize people, makes my blood boil. Such “IRRESPONSABILITY”, hypocrisy, ignorance and lack of vision should be very worrying to all of us.

    “Stars Earn Stripes” was born from the sheer lack of vision, responsability and awareness of our Laureates. What else can USA surprises with, if not a programme like “Stars Earn Stripes”????

    “When” have these Peace “experts” criticized the entire world for allowing USA to install nearly 700 military bases – half of them with nuclear capability – “outside” of the US? “when” have this Peace “elite” commented on the nearly half a million scientists in American Universities on whom the Washington Administration lavishes billions between salaries and funds for them to invent new, faster, more powerful, more lethal bombs and a collection of other military toys? “When” have our Peace experts expressed an opinion on the multi-million – and billion – contracts between the USA Armed Forces and CIA with USA Universities, for scientists to “help” them invade, kill, occupy and control the world? “when” did any of the listed Nobel Prize winners speak about the “permanent” UN Security Council, specially appointed (and self-appointed) to organize wars in the world on a “permanent” basis???
    or,”when” did any of them speak about the “non”-permanent member countries, “honoured” with the invitation for helping the permanent FIVE organize or stage wars world wide? or allow them to test new weapons?

    Why was Angola in the Security Council? simply because they agreed to 27 years of Civil War? why has now Pakistan been invited? for – allowing US drones to be tested in Pakistan and making it easy for NATO lorries to transport weapons to the Taliban and drugs on their return journey. All concealed under a few boxes of edible goods.

    Without Peace Laureates speaking the Truth, “Stars Earn Stripes” will be not just a TV programme but a Real Horror Show forever.

    Even the last sentence in our distinguished list proves they don’t understand the programme. “We, too, call upon NBC stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.”

    a)”… pays homage to no one…” is incorrect. It pays
    GREAT homage to professional murderers and to weapons.
    b)”……those who live and die in armed conflict”. This
    is a tacit approval of wars.
    c)”..guns of war fall silent”. Guns are ONLY of war, there
    are no other. And guns “never” fall silent. This would
    bankrupt all weapon manufacturers. We never hear of
    failed guns or bombs businesses.

    I repeat: “guns “never” fall silent”. The end of an armed conflict only means those concerned, have managed to establish a new armed conflict elsewhere.

    I apologize profusely if I’ve offended some of you.


    • Dear Alberto, I do understand your anger toward weapons/bombs, their manufacturers, etc. But these Nobel Laureates are not responsible or to blame for any of it.

      What if any of them did some of the things you defy them for not having done? I did not do anything that you mention either, but that does not invalidate my work (whatever it may be) for peace, social justice, and so on. The same goes to you and everybody else.

      I do think you were a bit disrespectful and unfair turning your guns, if you will, toward the wrong group of people. Criticism ought to be fair and constructive to be of value-however candid, honest and sincere, which is your case.

      My view, for what it is worth…