Reflections on War – and Peace!
An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B.
Thank you to
all U.S. military personnel and veterans for your service to our country in the
cause of freedom! Sorry that our
leaders have gotten carried away so frequently in the past 50 years and sent
you into harms way without adequate justification. Overly aggressive wars that cause our military people to be
deployed for not wholly necessary reasons are wrong-headed. This is especially true when the motives of
our leaders who have sent them into harm’s way are deeply suspect. The extremely high costs of maintaining a
bloated military establishment threatens our freedom and makes our nation less
safe and more vulnerable to economic, financial, social and environmental
disasters. When we indulge in the
shortsighted expediency of debt financing of these huge military obligations,
it makes this situation worse. From this
point of view, international aggression can be seen to be a dang-fool course of
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Defense versus Offense
2. On American Militarism
3. Why Are There Wars?
4. Strategies for Peace
5. Mark Twain and the Wanton
Waste of Projectiles
6. The Permanent War Economy
7. The Subjectivity of
8. Are Americans “the Good
Guys”, or Ruthless Imperialists?
9. Counterproductive Aspects of War
10. The Fog of War
11. Proper Priorities
12. Considerations of Ideology
13. Seeking Truer National
14. Madness and Caddishness
15. Pathetic Aspects of
16. Political Aspects of War
Make Friends with Iran!
18. Fundamentalism: Action and
19. The Tragedy of War
20. The Absurdity of Deficit Financing of Wars
21. The Titanic Struggle between Capitalism
22. Sensible Strategies to
23. What Do We Do Now in Iraq?
24. The Dangers of Demagoguery
25. Demagoguery and McCarthyism
26. The Responsibility of
27. Truth and Consequences
28. True Patriotism
29. Support Our Troops!
30. The Corrosive Effects of
31. Militarism and Madness
32. Mercenaries in the Fray
33. Empirical Observations
34. Thinking Outside the
35. The ‘Right’ Is Wrong
36. Mission Possible?
37. Bait and Switch Strategies
38. Jingoism and Hopes for
39. War Propaganda
40. Emotional Intelligence in
41. Irony and Cynicism
42. The “Big Lie” Phenomenon
43. Culpabilities of Manichean
Righteousness and Brazen Presumption
44. Secrecy and Stupidity
45. Pretexts for War and False Flag Operations
46. The Mysteries of 9/11
47. The Nature of Ideas
My aspiration in
writing this manuscript has been to create a modern-day version of Thomas
Paine’s Common Sense, an influential
pamphlet that challenged the rule of the power-abusing monarchy of England back
in the year 1776. To readers, both men
and women, I submit the same caveats as Thomas Paine did back then (paraphrased
for more modern gender inclusion):
“In these pages
I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle
with the reader than that they will divest themselves of prejudice and
prepossession, and suffer their reason and feelings to determine for themselves
… and that they will generously enlarge their views beyond the present day.”
Thomas Paine (again paraphrased): “Who the Author of this Production is, is
wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the important thing is the IDEAS
THEMSELVES, and not the author. Yet it
may be necessary to say that the author of these words is not connected with
any Party, and under no sort of influence, public or private, other than the
influence of reason and principle.”
1. Defense versus Offense
award-winning film producer Ken Burns created an insightful seven-part series
about World War II. The first part was
called The Necessary War. The Second World War had been thrust
upon the United States by the gathering threats of world domination by fascist
Germany and imperial Japan, and by the horrific Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, so it is understandable that Americans regarded that war as “a
necessary war”. Yet it is easy to
imagine that it was NOT a necessary war from the standpoint of the
This is an
important idea. The International Military Tribunal that met at Nuremberg after
World War II enunciated the Nuremberg Principles concerning war crimes and
crimes against humanity. The Tribunal
stated it is the “supreme international crime” to wage a war of
aggression. If international law and
effective institutions and binding mediation were successful in preventing all
nations from starting wars, the world would be safer, saner, more just and more
MacArthur once made the compelling observation: “I
believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the
endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between
us honor this important perspective!
security matters, it’s good to have a strong defense. An overly aggressive offense, on the other hand, may be regarded
not only as the supreme international crime, and also as a reckless strategy
that tends to make everyone less safe.
It creates heightened risks of expanded violence, instability, military
overstretch, and blowback retaliation. Wars
also generally have unintended economic repercussions by misallocating
resources and creating large public debts.
This constricts a nation’s options for financing other vital domestic
authorities often use wars to distract citizens from domestic woes, discredit
people who advocate peace, and to suppress dissenters. These are socially undesirable outcomes, and
definitely contrary to our great national ideals.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2011 succinctly
stated: “In my opinion, any future
defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land
army into Asia or the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as
General MacArthur so delicately out it.”
Mark Twain would likely have made the droll observation that, with so
many “conservative” politicians and pundits having expressed the conviction
that we should attack Iran to decapitate its potential nuclear capability, the
line was getting curiously long at the psychiatrist’s office!
is becoming obvious that many of our national priorities are distinctly
misguided. We should devote more of our
resources to domestic priorities and to improving people’s lives rather than to
spending huge sums of money on wars and bombing campaigns and war preparations
and military occupations. And it is a pathetic travesty for neoconservative
ideologues to pretend that long-term military occupations are a form of
decision that would put American citizens enlisted in the military into harm’s
way should give much more weight to the impact of such a decision on three
specific groups of people whose interests are inadequately represented
today: (1) the current and future
taxpayers who will be forced to pay for the war in direct and indirect costs,
and in opportunity costs lost; (2)
those who will be required to fight, die, be injured, suffer severe
psychological damages, or face the rest of their lives with the negative
consequences of being inadequately appreciated veterans of violent wars; and, (3) the civilians in nations we fight
against, with special consideration given to the probable hardships and
collateral damage that will be inflicted upon them.
should be given to coldly calculated geostrategic considerations of resource
needs, ideological convictions, profiteering, enthusiasms for wars by entities
involved in the military-industrial complex, or the hot reactive emotional
nature of nationalistic fervor or religious zealotry.
journalist Tim Russert asked George W. Bush in February 2004 whether the war in
Iraq was in fact “a war of choice or a war of necessity”. Mr. Bush predictably said it was a war of
necessity. But his case was not
convincing in the least. The vast
majority of people in the world saw the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as
a gambit to ensure access to, and control of, the oil resources of the Middle
East. Most people in the world regarded
the war in Iraq as an unjust, illegal, unethical and rather imperialistic
incidence of violent aggression. That
would mean that, actually, the Iraq war was unnecessary! And the swiftly deteriorating developments
in Iraq in the past two years since 2014 make the aggressive adventurism seem
even crazier in retrospect.
“An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.”
--- Mark Twain
The Statue of
Liberty was once the most evocative symbol of America in the world, an
inspiring symbol of freedom, opportunity and justice. The George W. Bush administration managed to alter that
perception with symbols like shock-and-awe bombings, images of torture and
humiliation of inmates in Abu Ghraib prison, and drone air attacks against
people in Pakistan and other countries.
These are powerful symbols and images of arrogance, injustice, and
rashly unleashed power. Stories and
images of the humiliation and torture of prisoners reinforce these
perceptions. It is shocking to delve
into the actual chillingly sordid details of our national activities in these
regards, as revealed in Jane Mayer’s highly regarded book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a
War on American Ideals.
the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. should have focused a specific strategy on
finding Osama bin Laden and the criminals responsible for the terrible
terrorist attacks on our nation. George
W. Bush and Dick Cheney instead rashly “shifted their sights from
counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the
war in Iraq,” as stated in a June 2008 article in the New York Times. The
diversion of attention and resources from Afghanistan to Iraq involved costly
and highly counterproductive impacts.
It is my strong
belief that our country should begin acting as a more peaceable nation on the
world stage. We should never again
start unnecessary wars. We should make
an overarching commitment to the use of peaceful means to resolve
conflicts. We should adopt fairer and
more sustainable means of trying to gain economic advantages in the global
competition for resources. We should
invest more in peacebuilding activities and less in aggressive warfare and
military occupations. We surely should
stop using brute force to try to impose our economic system, our ideologies, or
our form of government upon others.
It would be a
good idea for us to make a dedicated commitment to solving our energy problems
by peaceful methods. We spent more than
$10 billion per month for many years on the occupations of Afghanistan and
Iraq. We would be far better off if we
had invested this money in programs designed to make Apollo-Project-scale
efforts to find alternatives to our addiction to oil, and to reduce our
reliance on fossil fuels, and we should have given more generous funding to
programs that emphasize energy conservation and efficiency.
be better ideas? Wouldn’t the best plan
be to put our efforts into breaking our addiction to fossil fuels, and to
mitigating our vulnerability to ‘Peak Oil’ depletion? Wouldn’t it be a much better plan to commit more money and
energies to reducing the extensive global threats posed by the impacts of
greenhouse gas emissions and related climate disruptions, rather than to
military occupations and profligate spending on armaments procurement and war
These Reflections seek to explore our current
military involvements and the nature of war throughout the course of history to
provide valuable insights into some of the most important conundrums we face in
a world of rapidly growing human numbers and steadily diminishing resources.
Dwight Eisenhower spoke the following insightful and
crucially important words at the end of his presidency in 1961:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of
unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial
complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists
and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing
for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the
proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with
our peaceful methods and goals, so that
security and liberty may prosper together.”
More than fifty-five years have passed since Dwight
Eisenhower spoke these words, and the lobby for the military-industrial complex
is more powerful than ever. Pentagon spending has soared
and Congress and the media have become complicit with deeply-entrenched
interests and right-wing think tanks in helping boost military spending and
encouraging “preemptive warfare”. Power was seriously abused by the
Executive Branch of government during G.W. Bush’s time in office. Civil
liberties and democratic processes were undermined by an intrusive and overly
secretive bureaucracy. Corporate oversight and accountability were
reduced. Our leaders misled us into tacitly supporting costly wars, occupations,
and reconstruction projects in the Middle East. And, as with the Vietnam War, once we committed our country to
wars with ill-defined goals, we stubbornly continue the wars for years to
perpetuate the interests that benefit from wars, and theoretically “to save face”.
It is becoming urgent that the American people
become more aware and knowledgeable, so that they will act to ensure that our
Constitutional republic and our civil liberties are protected. We must act to make certain that, as Abraham
Lincoln concluded in his Gettysburg Address, our nation “shall have a new birth
of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln did not recommend that we launch hubris-driven interventions to
forcibly export our democracy to other nations, or that we advance evangelical
dogmas like those promoted by American religious fundamentalists.
once famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever
My goal in this manifesto is to help elevate the
public discourse above partisan arguments and the distracting minutia of daily
headlines, and to advance more important and bigger picture perspectives. When we fail to accurately understand
history, it is dangerous; when we fail
to learn from it, we risk being doomed to repeat it. This is true for a very simple reason: human motives, conceits, avarice, and drives for dominance do not
change, so the actions, behaviors and gambits of those in power are never new
under the sun.
Inoculations against pathogens can help prevent
infectious diseases. In a similar
manner, a greater awareness and a renewed dedication to true justice and
peaceful coexistence could help prevent war and provide us with better
assurances of truer national security, and of more auspicious mutual security
between nations. Clearer insights, wiser political strategies, and more
expansive understandings are needed. So
are more enlightened approaches to our foreign policies and peace-building
efforts. Such things could inspire us
to a more propitious sense and sensibility, and to greater pragmatism. It might even provide us with valuable
revelations --- or a transcendent epiphany!
“You can’t depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of
3. Why Are
“The failure to dissect the cause of war
leaves us open for the next installment.”
The underlying causes of American involvements in
wars, military interventions and CIA-backed coups since World War II are
similar to the causes of wars and violent conflicts throughout history:
we fight for control, power, competitive advantages and economic
ascendancy. We also fight for
nationalistic pride and ideological supremacy.
The underlying struggle is primarily about getting access to energy or
other natural resources, or foreign markets, or cheap labor, or acquiring or
defending territory. We get into wars,
in part, so that bankers and the defense industry, and numerous contractors and
war suppliers can make bigger profits.
Corporations, investors and shareholders wield enormous influence in our
capitalist society -- and they seem to love growth in revenues and profits over
all other values.
The words of the underground Mole
reverberate in my mind:
“Be an early adopter -- oppose the
next war already!”
Wars generally involve a cascade of miscalculations
and unintended consequences. George W.
Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld made shrewd efforts to deceive the
public about their motives and to mislead the American people into supporting
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They used
misinformation, low-ball cost estimates, specious ideological arguments,
implausible claims, cherry-picked understandings, fear-mongering tactics,
jingoistic huckstering, excessive secrecy and appeals to patriotic duty and
nationalistic impulses. They exploited
divisiveness and mutual distrust in order to strengthen their domineering
control. Too often, our leaders have used
deceptive spin, propaganda and even outright lies to fool American citizens and
troops. Our soldiers are indoctrinated
with the conviction that their sacrifices in war are justified as righteous and
noble causes. A closer introspection
into the nature of the wars so far this century reveals that these perspectives
are contrary to a reasonable assessment of reality.
"I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters
for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war,
we're really talking about peace."
--- George W. Bush, June 18, 2002 speech
Herman Goering, the early head of Adolf Hitler’s
storm troopers and later of the German Air Force during World War II, told a
psychologist after the war during the Nuremburg War Crime trials that a
nation’s people can always be manipulated into supporting and fighting wars by
their political leaders. Goering said:
“Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the
policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag people along, whether it is a
democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist
dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the
people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and
denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to
danger. It works the same in every
This is sad, but true. For all of us, our thoughts and feelings and beliefs are strongly
influenced by a complex set of factors that will be explored at length in this
essay, for purposes that could be enlighteningly salubrious. Please read on!
Strategies for Peace
An editorial in the Cousteau Society’s Calypso Log once observed:
“If peace were waged with as much commitment and as much passion, and as
many resources as those spent on war, the environment could be protected rather
than squandered, and millions of people around the world could enjoy their
lives rather than living in fear, hunger, and poverty. The money that
goes into weapons of destruction could go into education, arts, science, health
care, clean sources of energy, affordable housing, and businesses and
technologies that improve the quality of life and the health of the
planet. An ethic of respect for all life could be nourished. It is
This brings up the age-old “guns vs. butter’
debate. One purpose of these writings
is to explore the profound underpinnings of this ideological and practical
conflict from many perspectives. My
hope is that better understandings can be harnessed to achieve increased hopes
for positive and peaceful change in the world.
Edward Stettinius, the U.S. Secretary of State in
1945, made this apropos observation:
“The battle of peace must be fought on two fronts. The first is the
security front where victory spells freedom from fear. The second is the
economic and social front where victory means freedom from want. Only
victory on both fronts can assure the world of an enduring peace.”
Extensive evidence indicates that we are failing
today on the security front because the deliberately manipulative exploitation
of fears and insecurities by our leaders has created growing insecurities in
peoples at home and abroad. An overly
narrow focus on our own security without giving adequate consideration to the
security of people in other nations has created increased risks of retribution
and ‘blowback’ in the form of violence against our troops and citizens abroad. It is creating dangerous instability in
Pakistan and intense opposition in Iran.
Our aggressive actions and correlated injustices help terrorists recruit
zealous believers to their causes. Since
our focus is too myopic, the costs of these strategies in blood and money is
terribly high, and it is one of the causes of increased feelings of insecurity
in the American people.
At the same time, we are failing on the economic and
social front by allowing capitalism to operate without more visionary national
priorities or adequate regulation or commitments to greater good goals. By creating ever-greater economic
inequalities, both domestically and abroad, a far-reaching validity is being
given to the grievances of the 99
Percenters in the widespread unrest expressed in such anti-establishment
activities as the Occupy movement. The
fact that almost all our foreign aid is military rather than being targeted
toward the goal of improving economic and environmental conditions in other
countries makes the world an increasingly dangerous place.
Franklin D. Roosevelt made a famous “Four
Freedoms” speech in January 1941. In
it, he said we should commit our societies to four essential human
freedoms. “The fourth is freedom from
fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of
armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be
in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor –
anywhere in the world.” Really? After so many years of participating in an
astonishingly costly arms race, and working to hype up Cold War fears, and now
incubating increasing fears of terrorists, and engaging in military
adventurism, and exacerbating insecurities on the international stage, these
words shake us to attention. Do more
weapons, troops, military spending and preemptive wars make us safer? Or do they actually make us less safe?
There is a trap
of arrogance in superior military power.
When we riskily rationalize aggression, we increase the probabilities of
violating the sovereignty of other nations.
Such attitudes create many enemies.
I believe that true mutual respect is necessary for real peace,
friendship and security.
Entire books have
been written about the advantages of ‘soft power’ over ‘hard power’, and I find
persuasive perspective in arguments that an emphasis on hard power is misguided
and dangerous. Nonetheless, a wide
variety of lobbyists for vested interest groups, along with stubbornly hawkish
conservatives, consistently use manipulative arguments, propaganda and
deception to hijack our foreign policy into spending more money on arms races
and military actions, rather than on mutual security and peace.
More than ninety
percent of our foreign aid goes for guns, not butter. In other words, we devote most of our foreign aid to military
goals rather than to good neighbor efforts.
It would be smarter to strive to buttress other countries against
poverty, desperation, radicalism, and accompanying political instability. We allow too much influence in foreign
policy decision-making to factions that militate for war, like companies that
provide war services and investors who see opportunities in war to gain more
profits from the manufacturing and sales of weapons and munitions..
John F. Kennedy declared in his inaugural address,
“Let us never negotiate from fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” Instead of our military aggression, let’s
demand that our leaders commit our country to making the world safer through
more generous non-military foreign aid and more equitable social justice. A better idea for the greater good would be
to find win/win solutions through cooperative problem solving. We should seek better opportunities to
create sustainable development, and a more collaborative equality-embracing
empowerment of women.
Victor Hugo wrote long ago, “There is nothing more
powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
Let’s truly commit our nation to trying to GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!
Twain and the Wanton Waste of Projectiles
Mark Twain was an outspoken member of the
Anti-Imperialist League, the first national American peace movement. He
was outraged at politicians who unethically capitalize on national tragedies to
push unrelated agendas. The battleship USS Maine was hit by unexplained
and mysterious explosions in Havana Harbor in early 1898, killing 260
people. Soon thereafter, the U.S. used this as a pretext to declare war
on Spain and intervene militarily in Cuba and the Philippines.
Mark Twain, in his anger at the U.S. occupation of the
Philippines, wrote these words in the year 1900, and they still have relevance
to our country today:
“… I have seen that we do not intend to free, but rather to subject the
people … We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. … It should, it seems to
me, be our pleasure and duty to make these people free, and let them deal with
their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an
anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any
Writing for The
Nation, John Nichols made this observation:
Mark Twain was no fan of war, which he described as ‘a wanton waste of
projectiles’, and he nurtured a healthy disdain for anyone who suggested that
patriotism was best displayed through enthusiastic support for military
adventures abroad. The phrase ‘our country, right or wrong’ was, he
argued, ‘an insult to the nation’.
But Mark Twain’s deepest disgust was reserved for politicians who played
on fear and uncertainty to promote the interests of what would come to be known
as the military-industrial complex. Describing how Americans were
sometimes goaded into war by their leaders, he noted: ‘Statesmen will invent
cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will
be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them,
and refuse to examine any refutations of them;
and thus he will by-and-by convince himself that the war is just, and
will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque
wanton waste of projectiles.” Ha! Mark Twain’s contemporary, the journalist
Ambrose Bierce, provided a poignant perspective on projectiles in his sardonic Devil’s Dictionary:
The final arbiter in international disputes. Formerly these disputes were settled by physical contact of the
disputants, with such simple arguments as the rudimentary logic of the times
could supply -- the sword, the spear, and so forth. With the growth of prudence in military affairs, the projectile
came more and more into favor, and is now held in high esteem by the most
courageous. Its capital defect is that
it requires personal attendance at the point of propulsion.
advances in military drone technology have eliminated this particular defect in
drone bombing campaigns, but this fact does not make drone assassinations any
more moral, or the motives for potential blowback retaliation any less
Permanent War Economy
The stimulative economic impact of World War II
helped bring the world out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Since
then, however, a stubborn ideological argument has gained outlandish influence
that contends a permanent war economy with profligate military spending is a
necessary way to make us safer, and to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
A full-cost accounting of lavish spending on the
military-industrial complex contradicts this conviction. Lavish military spending is a waste-oriented
and cost-maximizing perversion of the self-correcting mechanisms of the
free market system, which minimizes costs through competition. Chalmers Johnson investigated this topic at
length in the last book of his Blowback Trilogy. Johnson indicated that what he calls
“military Keynesianism” is a misguided ideology. This dogma holds that the stimulative debt financing of
wars, weapons, munitions and large standing armed forces is good for the
economy. In reality, such debt unfairly
and irresponsibly defers costs to the future and reduces funds available to
emphasize fairer, more far-sighted and more sensible priorities at home. Johnson called military Keynesianism “a form
of slow economic suicide.”
The U.S. permanent war economy suffers not only from
wrong-headed priorities, but also from high cost no-bid contracts, procurement
improprieties, and excessive spending on unnecessary military projects. The non-partisan group Business Leaders for
Sensible Priorities released a report in 2006 that indicated federal spending
priorities are scandalously wasteful and Pentagon financial management
practices are a big “embarrassment”.
The report also expressed the opinion that such spending priorities
effectively serve to undermine our true national security.
The federal government’s spending priorities include
significant amounts of waste and hidden fraud in military procurement. Much of this is entirely secret
(‘classified!’), and hence it is more susceptible to wasteful earmarks and
financial shenanigans. These squandered
funds represent a sustained non-productive use of capital and labor. They distort American values and divert
resources from more peaceful, just, and wholesome investments and goals. They represent an outrageous cost of lost
opportunities and subverted better priorities.
War may be the ultimate expression of competition,
but war gives us a compelling example of why fair and reasonable rules of law
are required to achieve greater good goals.
Wars and military occupations for ignoble purposes -- like resource
grabs and profiteering -- should be prevented.
They are simply too devastating to millions of people around the
Both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman
considered war profiteering to be a form of “treason”. Today, however, profiting from war seems to
have become standard operating procedure as a means of allowing defense
contractors, aerospace companies, war services corporations, and investors in
these enterprises to make profits from lavish spending on wars and war
Harry Truman chaired
a Senate committee during World War II that launched an investigation into
shady wartime business practices. They
discovered widespread “waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and
profiteering.” The gargantuan military
spending of the last decade is likely to be significantly worse. Truman argued that such behavior was at best
unpatriotic. We seem to be so
accustomed to war profiteering today that many people regard it as desirable
‘business as usual.’ But this does not
hide the fact that war is a scurrilous way to make profits, and one that we
should find honest ways to control with greater rigor and responsibility.
Rachel Maddow’s book Drift
expresses similar ideas with a marvelous clarity. It is “a must read!”
We cannot allow competition to be an economic
free-for-all. We cannot allow our
societies to be dominated by militarism, exploitive ‘disaster capitalism’,
manipulative marketing, predatory banking practices, unscrupulous profiteering,
arrogant supremacism, or narrowly reactionary demagogues. We also cannot devote an inadequate amount
of oversight to the players in our economic system; they should be subject to better accountability. An anything-goes-to-get-what-you-want
morality should not be sufficient justification for waging a war. And no nation should encourage the building
of an overly imperialistic empire.
Competition should not be allowed to devolve into a disregard for the
well-being of workers or the health of the environment, merely to advance
narrow advantages for capital, investors and speculators.
Important perspectives and considerations follow in
the chapters below. This economic
analysis has been done to debunk one of the insidious, unspoken
rationalizations for rapid escalations in military spending in the last fifteen
years: that such spending is necessary,
desirable and the best way to create jobs and economic growth. Arguments like this are disingenuous because
they ignore fairer and smarter ways of investing our energies and taxpayer
dollars. Such simplistic dogmas conceal
motives of amoral profiteering, illegal interventionism, injustice in
aggression, and dishonorable meddling in the sovereign affairs of other
Subjectivity of Perspective
Americans tend to think of themselves as generous,
optimistic, and fair-minded, and there are many ways this is true, but we also
have a poorly founded “we’re the good guys” delusion about the nature of our
foreign policies. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, shocked and
deeply fearful and angry, many Americans bewilderedly wondered “Why do they
hate us?” Our leaders jumped in with
simple-minded and emotionally manipulative theories about Islamic religious
extremists who envy or despise our freedoms.
But these politicians and the media did not provide us with more nuanced,
multi-faceted, honest, and accurate understandings. It was as if terrorists had attacked the Statue of Liberty or a
towering casino in Las Vegas, rather than some of the most distinct symbols and
citadels of unjust imperialism and brutal militarism in the world -- the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.
There is a
surprisingly large gap between our American self-perceptions and the way other
people in the world see us. In a study
by the Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2002, only 18% of Americans
considered “U.S. policies and actions in the world” as a main cause of the 9/11
attacks, while 81% of those in the Middle East saw it that way. Which of these perceptions is most
In a videotape
from the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, sent less than a month after the
hijackings, Osama bin Laden talked about the humiliation and degradation of the
Islamic world, and of innocent children being killed in Iraq, and of insecurity
in Palestine, and of infidel armies in the land of Muhammad. He did not say anything about hating our culture
or freedoms or democracy. Our leaders
made up that story to promote their own goals.
Americans “the Good Guys”, or Ruthless Imperialists?
Americans do not readily admit that we have a global
empire. We do not tend to think that
our actions are imperialistic in any way.
But a thorough and objective evaluation of our economic influence in the
world, and of the far-flung extent of our military bases, makes it clear that
we are operating one of the most extensive empires in the history of the world. It may not be as ‘vulgar’ as the old forms
of British colonialism and mercantilism, which our Founding Fathers regarded as
so despotic, but modern sophisticated schemes of ‘vulture
capitalism’ are even more unjust and unsustainable. These clever machinations include exploitive international
banking, privatization initiatives, corporate globalization, speculative real
estate development, surges of military interventionism, the exploitation of
pervasive war imagery, and other reckless forms of economic shock therapy. Some of the side effects of this new form of
imperialism are institutional bribery, cronyism in the government, and
reactionary social engineering. This is
the modern face of imperialism.
Any astute student of the lessons of history will
recognize that both the Roman Empire and the British Empire demonstrated that
imperialism and militarism pose grave threats to fair-mindedness and democratic
governance. One of the primary reasons
that our Founding Fathers instituted a system of checks and balances in our
government was to prevent tyranny of any kind.
Thomas Jefferson reputedly once wrote, “The price of
liberty is eternal vigilance.” We would be wise to remain vigilant
against various forms of authoritarianism that are encroaching upon American
society. Our greatest protection from tyranny is NOT in the amount of
weaponry that we can amass, but rather, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “in
the preservation of the spirit that prizes liberty as the heritage of all men,
in all lands, everywhere.”
When our leaders are intolerant of deviation from
their doctrines, and when they rudely suppress opposition, as George W. Bush
did -- they trample upon human rights and people’s dignity. This encroaching repression of citizens
leads us on a slippery-slope course toward an un-American, anti-democratic
acceptance of excessively unfair rule.
Donald Trump’s belligerent and divisive new approach to politics seems
even more dangerous.
George Washington warned his countrymen against
foreign entanglements. Even way back
then, an empire abroad was seen as a permanent temptation of our republic, and
one of its potential downfalls. It
would be an exceedingly good idea for a safer future to seek ways to make the
world fairer and more just, and to avoid the ruthless pursuit of foreign
policies that are oriented toward economic exploitation, increases in social
inequality, the growth in exports of weaponry, and meddling in the affairs of
A compilation of specific good ideas on ways to make
our societies better, safer, and more likely sustainable has been set forth in
the ‘Foreign Policy Priorities’ section of the Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.
One of the principal problems with empire building
is that huge risks accompany the inevitable decline and fall of an empire. The lessons of history show that there are
seven main characteristics that generally prevail during times of decline, as
summarized in Comprehensive Global
have been squandered and depleted;
corruption and mismanagement have become widespread;
unfair plutocracy becomes established that is characterized by an ever-growing
disparity between the influence and fortunes of rich people and everyone else;
populace grows complacent and is diverted by materialistic indulgences, lavish
forms of entertainment, sports spectacles and wars;
military, because of a dangerous arrogance of power, becomes bloated,
overextended and involved in costly and debilitating foreign wars;
public is divided by inegalitarian domestic policies and becomes effectively
disempowered and disenfranchised, so the populace becomes increasingly cynical
and apathetic; and,
is a massive influx of people and their customs from abroad that creates
divisive tension and disruption.
Think about this. Here are seven primary
characteristics of the decay of civilization, and the United States has been
channeling them here in the twenty-first century as if they were some sort of
virtuous Holy Grail!
Here is another crucial consideration. When empire-building adventurism eventually
encounters overwhelming hurdles and opposition, the rich and powerful become
increasingly jealous of all challenges to their great privileges, and
increasingly desperate to protect their prerogatives. To secure their advantages and increase their control, these
people demand that our leaders resort to ever-more authoritarian and repressive
measures against the populace.
“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
--- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Repression, power abuses, human rights violations,
and other despotic actions are symptoms of an underlying agenda that emphasizes
narrow political and economic ends.
These ends generally revolve around a simple and despicable goal: giving the powerful few a maximum
opportunity to accumulate power and wealth at the direct expense of the
many. John Perkins, who wrote the
compelling memoir, Confessions of an Economic
Hit Man, also wrote another book titled The
Secret History of the American Empire, which contains sensational
perspectives on the inside story of the U.S. role in world affairs. The book reveals how economic opportunism,
political corruption, corporate manipulations, and even assassinations are
forms of American corporate skullduggery that have severely impacted many
nations in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East since World War
II. Perkins concludes that positive and
revolutionary change is possible, and he furthermore indicates that such change
is increasingly necessary!
The Bush administration exploited the opportunity
presented by the 9/11 attacks to engage in a furious assault on our values,
principles, and civil rights. Extensive
details of this are revealed in the book Takeover
– The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American
Democracy. The American people
should strongly oppose such developments, for ignorance, brainwashing
(“perception management”), and apathy have the undesirable effect of allowing
ruthlessly ambitious people to advance a dangerous and unjust agenda.
Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the
longest-serving chairman ever of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned
against “the arrogance of power”. He
“The price of empire is America’s soul,
and that price is too high.”
Counterproductive Aspects of War
Aside from being right or wrong in
justification and motivation, offensive militarism is generally counterproductive
in its outcome. “Fighting terrorism”
with hyper-aggressive military forces is proving to be destabilizing and so
unjust that it is harming hopes for peace and the security of the American
people, as well as the security of peoples in many other countries. One reason that aggression is decidedly
counterproductive is that its injustice is clearly tangible to millions of
innocent civilians when they suffer physical, mental or economic harm. Military actions wantonly distort and damage
the economies and infrastructure of victim countries. War can also be a highly divisive influence between Americans,
and it can help unite our “enemies” abroad, so it is a lose-lose strategy.
Powerful anxieties exist among the peoples of the
world today, and it is almost certain that these stresses will get worse in
coming decades as competition increases for territory, minerals, crude oil, fresh water,
arable farmland, forests, fisheries, control, domination, and “the hearts and
minds of men”. It is easy to
suppose that the safest way to the future would be in minimizing
economic, social and environmental stresses.
Somehow we seem instead to be acting in ways that make these stresses
much worse. How can we correct this
misguided state of affairs?
For one, we should give higher priority to
international cooperation and the goal of achieving peaceful coexistence.
Communities should be strengthened against radicalism. Official policies should have the objective
of preventing countries from becoming “failed states” by helping ensure there
is not extreme destitution and alienation in communities where terrorists have
success in recruiting. We should make
smarter investments in the fight against poverty rather than spending so heavily
on military aggression and supremacy-oriented gambits.
Thousands of military personnel who speak Arabic and
Farsi were fired because of their sexual orientation as a result of the bizarre
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. We
should have honored and thanked such linguists for their contributions to
improving communication, facilitating mutual understanding, and helping reduce
extremism. The military discrimination
against gay people that was encompassed in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
unfairly led to the discharge of more than 14,000 highly qualified male and female service members due to their sexual
orientation. That was stupid, because
many of them served in crucially
The U.S. military has long demonstrated a strong aversion to
change. President Truman made an effort
to integrate the Army in 1948 by issuing an executive order to end racial
segregation in the armed services.
General Omar Bradley, the Army chief of staff at the time, flatly
refused, saying desegregation would ruin the Army. Because of the military’s reluctance and bureaucratic hedging, it
was not until 1954 that Truman’s order was implemented. Today, about 25% of enlisted people in the
Army are African-Americans, though they constitute only about 12% of the
general population. This overly heavy representation
of blacks in the military reflects the poor opportunities available to this
segment of our society in other arenas.
The participation by blacks in this dangerous military role is a
reflection of the appeal of an all-volunteer army to people in middle and
low-income categories, where they have fewer opportunities than people in
The speed with which the repeal of the “Don’t Ask,
Don’t Tell” policy went into effect, and the negligible negative effects of
that fair-minded change, point to a rapid shifting of our culture toward less
discrimination toward gays. Established
churches should stop being on the wrong side of history in their abominable
opposition to such fair-mindedness!
10. The Fog
Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense during
the Vietnam War. He admitted in the
film The Fog of War that American
leaders basically committed war crimes during the course of the war in
Vietnam. More than TWO MILLION Vietnamese people were killed in that
war. The famous Pentagon Papers
revealed that the Vietnam War was expanded by deceptions, routine lies, and the
suppression of information by the federal government. History seems to be repeating itself in the twenty-first century
with the evasions, prevarications, equivocations, deceptions, exaggerations,
propaganda and other forms of dishonesty that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
used in their rationalizations for attacking and occupying Iraq.
McNamara also conveyed the compelling insight that
people often do not understand other cultures or foreign ways of seeing
things. He noted that one reason for
this is because we don’t cultivate empathetic understandings of them. We
misjudge other peoples because we have a profound ignorance of their history,
culture, values, sensitivities, beliefs, nationalistic pride, personal dignity
and deeper perspectives. We apparently
cannot put ourselves in the shoes of others, as we clearly were unable to do
with the Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese wanted sovereignty and self-determination, not to
be a domino falling to the hegemony of Chinese communism!
Ideological beliefs often manifest themselves in a
kind of political fanaticism that can skew people’s perceptions of
reality. This was shown in the ‘domino
theory’, which used hyped-up fears of monolithic communism to get us to invade
Vietnam. That conflict proved to be an
extremely costly quagmire. Reckless and
inflexible ideology, augmented by groupthink and technocratic decision-making,
can produce horrible results. The
failure to take into account opposing points of view or the variability of
local contexts can be a serious one.
vitally important insight provided by Robert McNamara is that, if the United
States cannot persuade other nations that share similar interests and values of
the merits of proposed uses of military power, we should not proceed
unilaterally. We are not, after all,
infallible or omniscient, he pointed out.
We are, in fact, blinded by the premises of our solipsistic, self-centered
and distorted views of the world, as well as by the propaganda of corporations
and right-wing think tanks that rationalize war in order to profit from
Imagine that the U.S. were to be
occupied by a foreign power, for any reason whatsoever. Do you think that any Americans would find
it acceptable to live under ruthless tactics of foreign military forces and
police and security agents? Would we
have a stable society if war sent millions of people into exile and caused 40%
unemployment like there was in Iraq during our occupation? Isn’t it certain that our gun-loving and
freedom-embracing citizens would be radicalized into a powerful insurgency that
would oppose occupiers from the beginning?
As Robert McNamara noted, we do not have the God-given right to shape
every nation in our image, so we should not act as if we do!
A gripping film has been produced that is even more
provocative than The Fog of War. It is titled The Most Dangerous Man in America:
Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. This film makes it clear that dissent, personal conscience,
freedom of the press, and the courage of whistleblowers are crucial aspects of
Jared Diamond makes the cogent point in his
brilliant book, Collapse: How Societies
Choose to Fail or Succeed that the most troubled of all nations in the
world, in political and environmental terms, are ones that are overpopulated
and whose peoples are undernourished and desperate. Poverty is a national security threat not only for people who live
in failing states, but also for other nations that get embroiled in wars with
failing states, or are destinations for immigrants and refugees, or are
attacked by terrorists. Instability in
poor nations often leads to impulses for despotic regimes to take over, and
these regimes often “attack neighboring nations in order to divert popular
attention from internal stresses.”
It seems apparent that the U.S. acts heavy-handedly
in foreign affairs partially to divert attention from high levels of unemployment
and other domestic problems. I highly
recommend the insightful observations about political and environmental
instability around the globe that are contained in the final chapter of Jared
Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose
to Fail or Succeed. This chapter is
titled “The World as a Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today.” A polder is land reclaimed from the sea by a
system of dikes and pumping operations, as 20% of the land in the low-lying
Netherlands happens to be. By its
nature, a polder requires collaboration and working together with a reasonable
unity of purpose to achieve necessary common good goals.
A British Brigadier General described the American
occupation of Iraq as being characterized by “cultural insensitivity” that
bordered on “institutional racism.” Can
we know how the Iraqi people felt when they were subjected to what we
euphemistically call “collateral damage” during our massive air strikes and
helicopter gunship attacks? Can we
understand what anathema it must have been for them to have so many thousands
of foreign troops and security contractors heavy-handedly occupying their
country, patrolling the streets, breaking down doors, and shooting people with impunity on the roads and at
checkpoints? Can we empathize with how devastating our
occupation must have been, with air strikes taking place daily for years on
end, and with millions of people having been driven from their homes as
Iraq was veritably torn apart by our
military occupation, as well as by ferocious sectarianism and rampant local
corruption. Conflicts between Sunni and
Shiite religious fundamentalists escalated, and the violent tyranny of death
squads made life in Iraq terribly insecure.
The U.S. occupation exacerbated all of these outcomes. Matters were made
worse by poor governance and ineffective reconstruction efforts, and it was
pathetic for the U.S. to shortsighted lack of an exit strategy from the start
and to experience missing munitions, squandered funds, fraudulent corporate
profiteering, and incidents of violent arrogance by security contractors. See the film No End in Sight -- and think about it!
We have suffered from ‘ideological
blowback’ due to the stupidity and incompetence of what one Iraqi engineer
termed the U.S. reconstruction “joke that nobody laughs at”. According to former Iraqi Cabinet member Ali
Allawi, the United States manifested “rank amateurism and swaggering arrogance”
and “monumental ignorance” during the occupation. Our occupation was more a part of the problem than a solution to
A petulant George W. Bush once charged Congress
with “wasting his time” by trying to end the war in Iraq and pursuing
investigations into misuses of funds.
Really? You don’t say! Was it wasting the president’s time to have
Congress exercise its Constitutional oversight responsibilities after so many
years of fraud and corruption, and after so much gouging of taxpayers and so
much money squandered? Was it wasting
the president’s time to strive to overcome obstructionism to enact the will of
the majority of Americans to find a way to bring our troops home? Was it wasting his time merely because
opposition was fruitless, given that his militaristic foreign policies were
rubber-stamped by Republican majority loyalists in Congress from 2001 to
2007? Someone should have reminded
George that we still have a democracy!
(More or less!).
“A dictatorship would be a heck
of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.”
President Bush, July 27, 2001
George W. Bush liked to
harangue Americans with his opinion that terrorists hate our freedoms. But officials in the Bush administration
occasionally acted in ways that made it seem that they were the ones who
really despised the freedoms of American citizens. It was so danged inconvenient to George, apparently, for
Americans to use their freedoms to express dissent, to advocate peace, to
oppose military interventions, to criticize overly aggressive foreign policies,
and to demand better oversight and accountability.
The main architects of America’s war policy in Afghanistan and Iraq were
Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. In the
smog of war propaganda, the pronouncements of Donald Rumsfeld always stood out
in abstruse and smug self-assuredness.
Errol Morris, the producer of the stunningly revealing documentaries The Fog of War and Standard Operating Procedure, turned his sights to Donald Rumsfeld,
the Secretary of Defense during the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan
and Iraq. He wanted to find out what
lessons might be learned from the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld wars in the aftermath of
9/11. I watched the resulting
documentary, The Known Unknown, in
the rarified milieu of beautiful Telluride, Colorado, during the 40th annual
Film Festival held in this wonderfully well-preserved old mountain mining town
I had high hopes that Donald Rumsfeld’s attitude and loftily
intellectualized rationalizations for preemptive wars would have been tempered
after the passage of some years, and that in retrospect he would offer some
astute insights into the pitfalls and follies of hyper-costly U.S.
aggression. But Rumsfeld is no Smedley
Butler (“War is a Racket”) or Dwight
Eisenhower or even Robert McNamara, men who have seen the horrors of war and
admit to feeling a degree of regret for their roles in the carnage and ruinous
costs. Rumsfeld, in brash contrast, is
still an arch-Neocon who staunchly defends his rationalizations for war. The film is a disappointing assembly of
interviews by Errol Morris in which Rumsfeld more-or-less manages to defend the
dishonesty of his shrewd war justifications.
The Known Unknown ends with a final question about why Rumsfeld
agreed to make the film. Rumsfeld is nonplussed by the question and oddly declares, “That’s a cruel question.” Then he stammers out, “I have no idea!” This answer is even more dishonest than all
the other unrepentant and contradictory statements he makes throughout the
film. From a man intimately aware of
the Standard Operating Procedures involved in military occupations of
disastrously destabilized countries -- the violence, the wide-ranging
collateral injustices, the poorly accountable mercenaries, the kicked-in doors,
the checkpoint shootings, the harsh detentions, the cruel torture, the whole
litany of tragedies -- this concluding dishonesty is stunning.
Viewers cannot be expected to believe that Rumsfeld was unaware of his
ego-driven desire to spin history and ideology in the film, and to promote
Neocon rationales for the “war on terror” and the unaffordably costly military
fiascos of our wars in the Middle East.
The documentary film is thus a disappointment, as it provides neither enlightening
perspective nor an adequate indictment of the adverse consequences of
preemptive aggression. Rumsfeld is no
great American hero, no matter how he and war hawks continue to paint the story
of American militarism. The film
certainly is not convincing that the U.S. is righteous in its crusade against
“evil-doers” and others who oppose our superpower dominion and suppressive
efforts against opposition.
Errol Morris can be an incisive interrogator, and he had once told the
New York Times that he has an “endless fascination” with the extent to
which “people who engage in evil believe in some real sense that they are doing
good". In retrospect, it is hard
to imagine that Rumsfeld was doing the world an honorable service in his role
as one of the architects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that Iraq has been splintering into
regional war since the summer of 2014, the true sage is proven to be Mark
Twain, who was aware and courageous enough to declare that it’s easier and
smarter to stay out of wars abroad than to get out of them.
Those decade-long American wars will end up
costing as much as $6 trillion, according to the prestigious Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University. That is a stunning cost. History records that when Lawrence Lindsey,
the director of the National Economic Council under George W. Bush, had told The Wall Street Journal that the Iraq
war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had been harshly
criticized by the administration and was forced to resign. The White House claimed that Lindsey’s estimate
was a gross overestimation, and it even asserted at the outset of the war that
the conflict might finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues. George W. Bush and his boys seem to have
been very wrong on this and many other things.
11. Proper Priorities
Our political leaders put an absurd overemphasis on
security through lavish spending on war, armaments, munitions, high-tech
weapons, and war-service contractors. At the same time, they deny
disingenuously (and fail to adequately fund) the growing need to responsibly
improve our national security by creating fairer economies and more just
Simultaneous with our profligate spending on the
military, we have neglected the maintenance of our national infrastructure and
the basic needs of people here at home. As Joel Andreas wrote in his
edifying book, Addicted to War – Why the
U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism, “Cutbacks in social programs have caused far
more devastation in this country than any foreign army ever has.”
The “war on terror” has skewed our priorities far
out of balance. It allows politicians
to establish misguided and shortsighted priorities that ignore far greater
existential threats. It is undeniable,
in retrospect, that Americans would be much better off to have spent its
trillions of dollars in the past decade on different priorities than fighting
the war in Iraq.
prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the Iraq War debacle alone
will eventually cost our country an astounding $3 trillion. This figure includes all the deferred costs
of veterans’ health care and disability compensation, the replenishment of
military equipment, and the cost of borrowed money to finance all of this. Spending so much money on this terrible
misadventure is shocking and awful!
There is a gravely tragic irony in the fact that the
horrific hijacking of four airplanes on 9/11 has so effectively facilitated the
hijacking of our national priorities into costly, risky and broadly unjust
undertakings. We should now change
course, throw off the shackles of the hijackers, and champion priorities that
are smarter, fairer, and more far-sighted and peace abiding and humanitarian.
We could and should have invested in different
priorities to improve our societies.
According to author and finance expert John Talbott, terrorism is not in
the top 10 of the 25 Greatest Threats to Our Prosperity, as he assesses the
situation. We should, therefore, not
spend such outlandish sums on a poorly conceived ‘war on terrorism’.
Here are the Top Ten Priorities that come to mind to
help us achieve a truer prosperity:
(1) Implement energy efficiency and conservation measures, and find
renewable alternatives to fossil fuels in this era of peaking oil production
and resource wars and the need to leave a good proportion of fossil fuels in
the ground to prevent catastrophic changes in Earth’s climate..
(2) Revolutionarily reform our foreign policies to focus them on making
the world safer and more peaceable by supporting initiatives that emphasize
diplomacy, negotiation, cooperative problem solving, and the mitigation of
disparities in wealth, power and economic insecurity.
(3) Create a more fiscally sound government instead of indulging in the
irresponsible expediency of huge amounts of deficit spending. Profligate borrowing and spending is
fiscally imprudent, and since it is a shortsighted expediency that defers costs
to people in the future, it increases the likelihood our nation will suffer
more economic disruptions. The U.S. has
gone from being the world’s largest creditor nation to being the world’s
largest debtor nation in the last few decades, and our economy has been
subjected to serious hard times partially because of fiscal irresponsibility
and the imprudent tax breaks given during this time of war. Imperial overstretch, bubble economic
policies, regressive tax schemes and other shenanigans have made this state of
(4) Deal effectively with looming challenges caused by resource
depletion, habitat destruction, and unfolding risks revealed in species
extinctions and diminishing biological diversity.
(5) Undertake intelligent and far-sighted programs to reduce the risks of
“threat multipliers” that are related to crushing poverty and human-caused
(6) Boldly reduce the billions of tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gas
emissions that are being spewed into the atmosphere every year by people
worldwide, and take effective steps to minimize climate change impacts that
they are causing.
(7) Invest in programs designed to make our societies fairer, especially
programs that involve good quality public education, more even-handed legal
justice, universal health care, and fairer elections.
(8) Find ways to encourage fair trade and prevent the marginalization of
billions of people in the world, a trend that is exacerbated by ruthless and
poorly managed capitalism.
(9) Create effective incentives to shift people’s behaviors from wasteful
consumption and mindless materialism to more genuine, meaningful, wholesome,
sustainable and peaceful endeavors.
(10) Focus our understandings on the profound good sense found in
international policies that promote family planning programs, easy availability
of contraceptives, the rights of women to choose to have an abortion in the
first trimester of a pregnancy, and sensible initiatives designed to reduce the
rate of human population growth.
The unintended consequences of our wrong-headed
priorities, and of our actions and omissions, are likely to be dangerously
destabilizing in the years to come.
What is to be done? There are
many positive plans that we should be undertaking, and they will be further
explored below. Also, One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively
Transform Our Societies contains important ideas that would, if adopted,
have far-reaching and salubrious impacts for the common good. Check these out, together with the Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.
Considerations of Ideology
The 45-year-long Cold War ended with the
disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1989.
That historic collapse left the world with a single superpower, the
United States. An ideological movement
arose that held that the greatest safety for Americans could be achieved only
by making permanent a “full-spectrum dominance” of all other nations. Thus,
instead of achieving a socially-beneficial peace dividend in the form of
reduced military spending after the end of the Cold War, lobbyists for vested
interest groups succeeded in significantly driving up the amount of money that
we spend on the military. They were
ably assisted by Neoconservative ideologues, the right wing of the Republican
Party, and conservative think tanks like the Project for a New American
Our military supremacy ploys have been facilitated
by a dangerous and belligerent hubris, which has been disguised by deceptive
rhetoric. This arrogance helped get us
to invade Iraq, an action that proved to be one of the most costly blunders in
the history of American foreign policy.
After having been baited by Osama
bin Laden and other extremists, we acted with a reactive cowboy mentality and
responded in a manner that damaged our prestige and eroded our fairness
principles, our national safety, our civil liberties, our financial well-being,
and the greater unity of American citizens.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historians Will and Ariel
Durant wrote a magnum opus in a monumental eleven-volume series entitled The Story of Civilization. From the vast knowledge of history they
gained during their long collaboration on these books, they created The Lessons of History, a dazzlingly
insightful and almost poetic summary of historical understandings. In Chapter XI, ‘History and War’, the
Durants make a valuable observation:
the states of Europe freed themselves from papal overlordship and protection,
each state encouraged nationalism as a supplement to its army and navy. If it foresaw conflict with any particular
country, it fomented in its people hatred of that country, and formulated
catchwords to bring that hatred to a lethal point; meanwhile it stressed its love of peace.”
There are distinct similarities to these
stratagems in the machinations of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their
manipulative schemes to get the U.S. involved in wars abroad. “An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great
nation. We must take steps to ensure
our domestic security and protect our homeland.” Who said this? George W.
Bush? (No; it was Adolph Hitler!)
John Steinbeck wrote in his book about a 1940
expedition, The Log From the Sea of
“There is a war now
which no one wants to fight, in which no one can see a gain -- a zombie war of
sleep-walkers which nevertheless goes on out of all control of
intelligence. Some time ago a Congress
of honest men refused an appropriation of several hundreds of millions of
dollars to feed our people. They said,
and meant it, that the economic structure of the country would collapse under
the pressure of such expenditure. And
now the same men, just as honestly, are devoting many billions to the
manufacture, transportation, and detonation of explosives to protect the people
they would not feed.”
Sensational! Similar political dynamics are playing out
today. It would be giving our
representatives a lot more credit than they deserve to say that they really
have been honest in the last 15 years.
Our national politics are strongly affected by institutionalized bribery
in the form of corporate campaign financing and lobbying. A “culture of corruption” pervades
Washington D.C., and our national decision-making is perverted by simplistic
sound-byte deceptions, the stoking of hot emotions, influence peddling,
gimmicky sleight-of-hand accounting, and irresponsible deficit financing. Instead of honestly dealing with these
systemic problems, our leaders often use cold calculation to thwart reforms and
manipulate the public by using slick marketing and ideological propaganda. Occupy these thoughts!
An April 2008 New York Times story indicated that a
secret Pentagon campaign began at the start of the wars in the Middle
East. Investigative reporter David Barstow revealed
that the Pentagon used “propaganda pundits”
who were embedded on all major news networks.
This Pentagon program had the purpose of providing military spin to news
outlets, and to cover up war failings, and to try to convince the American
people to support wars no matter how costly or misbegotten they might be. One former participant in this effort called
this Pentagon perception-management program “psyops on steroids”. Like excessive secrecy, such ‘psychological
operations’ in the media undermine the proper functioning of a democratic
republic and skew our national decision making.
Famed war reporter
Joseph Galloway once wrote, “This program violated the
laws against covert propaganda operations mounted against the American public
by their own government. But in this
administration, there’s no one left to enforce that law or any of the other
laws the Bush operatives have been busy violating.”
A particular psychological profile is found
in leaders that promote wars. These
personalities exploit a kind of insanity that is sparked by economic crises,
intense social anxieties or other instability-provoking vulnerabilities. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are among the
most notorious examples of this demagogic propensity. This type of leader seems to have a monomaniacal drive for
dominance, grandiose convictions and overweening hubris, and they use
ideological arguments and ruthless suppression of dissent to rule with an iron
fist. How can we inoculate ourselves
against such despotism? This question
has become more visceral with the rise of Trump.
attitudes are often accompanied by contempt toward others. Greater respect and
cooperative collaboration is required today for our civilizations to evolve
toward implementing good solutions to the social, demographic, geopolitical,
ecological and resource-allocation challenges that are clearly intensifying
year after year. In light of the
increasingly urgent need for compromise and more harmonious win/win
problem-solving, it is foolish and dangerous to harbor prideful supremacism and
contemptuous tough-guy attitudes, and to give support to politicians who pander
to such self-serving, domineering and greed-driven ways of acting in the
begets extremism, and violence tends to beget violence in response. Exploitive economic policies on the
international stage that are enforced with humiliating military interventions
have the effect of stoking opposition and blowback retaliation and terrorist
attacks. To secure a prosperous and
safer world for rich people and middle-class people and poor people, for
Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and atheists, for people everywhere,
fairer and more enlightened economic and foreign policies should be
Truer National Security
There are many indicators that prove that the main
motivations for U.S. foreign policies are offense-oriented rather than being
focused on defense. Principal among
these indicators are:
(1) The fact that the U.S.
military pursues an objective of “full-spectrum dominance”.
(2) Our nation has preemptively
intervened with its military in many countries and shown a chilling disregard
for the lives of non-Americans with our bombings, harsh occupation tactics,
lack of accountability, and too often ‘trigger-happy’ security contractors like
those employed in Iraq by the “world’s most powerful mercenary army”, the
former Blackwater USA (now named Academi).
(3) We support despotic,
dictatorial and oppressive regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia when it suits
(4) We pursue a merciless
economic agenda that imposes severe sanctions against peoples whose leaders
refuse to kowtow to our demands.
(5) We ruthlessly use a new
variety of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in the form of CIA covert operations and
intimidation by aircraft carriers, heavy bombers, jet fighters, helicopter
gunships and missile-firing drone bombers.
(6) We maintain a nuclear arsenal
with an outlandish overkill capacity.
(7) While we occasionally close
military bases within the U.S., we are adding to the more than 700 military
bases that we have in over 130 countries abroad.
The U.S. military
should emphasize the defense of our country, and not preemptive attacks on
other nations. No matter how
persuasive the justifications are that politicians provide for attacking other
countries, it should become an inviolable principle that offensive aggression
is an unjust and unacceptable international crime. Our reluctance to personally target foreign despots like Saddam
Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi was bizarre in light of the
eagerness of our leaders to stoically bomb the hell out of the loyalist pawns
that did their bidding.
the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union both produced such an excess of
devastating nuclear weapons that the strategy was called Mutually Assured
Destruction (MAD). The U.S. still has
more than 7,000 nuclear warheads -- overkill! -- and a costly and dangerous
program to maintain them. This arsenal
should be reduced.
with policies promoting consumerism, rampant development, unchecked population
growth and militarism, we are contributing to accelerating damage to Earth’s
ecosystems. These activities could be
described as Collectively Assured Destruction (CAD). Both MAD and CAD have been driven by dominance ideologies, rash
empire building, and abuses of corporate, political and military power. Both authoritarian communism and inadequately
regulated capitalism have contributed to these risky states. It is becoming increasingly apparent that we
should boldly restructure our societies to prevent destructive activities, and
to mitigate the extent that we are all acting as reprobate ‘cads’!
We have spent more than $100 billion in the
last 30 years on “Star Wars initiatives”, despite the fact that this ‘Theater
Missile Defense’ system raises a complex web of geopolitical issues. It stimulates mutual insecurities around the
globe, stokes the international arms race, and also makes a risk-laden
militarization of space more likely.
Even one war in space could indefinitely encase our home planet in a
zone of whizzing debris that would make space travel excessively hazardous for
peaceful space exploration launches as well as for important scientific,
communications and weather satellites.
Aspects of Militarism
We should reject the hubris of our government’s
crusade to aggressively dominate the world. In the more than 700 military
bases that the U.S. has abroad, our military deploys a total of some 500,000
soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, civilian contractors and their
dependents. Many conflicts have
resulted when Americans abroad are involved in traffic accidents, public intoxication,
violence and rapes. There are also
6,000 bases in the U.S. and its territories.
We do not need all of this -- and we would be better off if we were not
spending so much money on maintaining this military empire. I suggest that we reduce military spending
by at least 5% in each of the next 5 years, and phase out 10% of our military
bases, here and abroad.
The U.S. is the world’s leading arms dealer. We export weapons to scores of
countries. This fuels conflicts and
wreaks havoc around the planet. While
our leaders boast about democracy and peace and security, we sell weapons to
dictators, human rights abusers, and countries at war, or countries that are
preparing for war, sometimes with each other.
A newspaper article asserted that 20 of our top 25 arms clients in the
developing world in 2003 were undemocratic regimes or governments with records
as major human rights abusers. Far from
serving as a force for security, stability or peace, American sales of weapons
frequently empower undemocratic and unstable regimes. Arms sales have increased dramatically in recent years. This is not a salubrious trend, and it is
not an export of which we should be proud.
Smart people say that additional taxes on arms sales would be wise, and
that the proceeds should be used for purposes of peacebuilding, non-military
foreign aid assistance and improving our own country.
We should create more dynamic international
institutions, and empower them to capably resolve conflicts. Let’s start with a powerful and generously-funded
U.S. Department of Peace. It would have
a mission of creating peace both domestically and internationally. Let’s create a Cabinet-level Secretary of
Peace to demonstrate our national commitment to the causes of
conflict-resolution and international cooperation. This would be a positive step toward truer national
security. It is one of my convictions
that we would be wisest to be open to visionary new ideas rather than
continuing to invest heavily in resisting such ideas. If we temper our
feelings with confidence, rationality and philosophical equanimity, we might
have a better chance of channeling our concerns, passions and moral energy into
constructive actions. This would help
us achieve desirable and necessary goals.
Political Aspects of War
National security through ever-increasing military prowess carries a
prohibitive price tag. Our military adventurism is a wasteful and costly
gamble, and it is also a high-risk game. Not only did we spend over $1
trillion on the war in Iraq alone, but almost 4,500 American troops died there,
and more than 33,000 were wounded. The U.S. made heavy use of contractors
in Iraq, so it should be no surprise that almost 1,500 of them were also
killed, and many thousands were wounded.
And more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed due to the war, while
millions were injured or displaced from their homes.
This is in addition to more than 2,300 American soldiers who have died in
the war in Afghanistan. Casualties of
Afghani civilians during our occupation are making politics there increasingly
unstable. The problems facing Afghan society are economic,
social and political in nature, so they require economic, social and political
solutions. The U.S. should play a more
constructive role in Afghanistan by engaging civil society rather than by
waging war. Unfortunately, over 90
percent of U.S. funding in Afghanistan is directed toward military purposes,
and inadequate focus has been given to non-military strategic options.
President Bush assured Americans just weeks before
attacking Iraq that such an invasion would “contribute greatly to the long-term
safety and stability of our world.” No
one could convince a reasonable person that this, or any of the Bush
administration’s subsequent war reassurances, proved to be true. A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) done
in July 2007, which contained a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence
agencies, provided an unambiguous repudiation of the contention by the Bush
crowd that the war in Iraq made us safer.
As the Islamic State brutally spread across Iraq from Syria in 2014 and
2015, the contention that our military involvements in the region would make us
safer seemed even more preposterous.
The Oxford Research Group had reached a similar
conclusion in 2007. This independent
British non-governmental organization reported that the U.S.-led “war on
terror” was failing because it was fueling an increase in support for extremist
Islamic movements. Military aggression
has contributed to social instability in the world, and to risky levels of debt
and daunting financial challenges.
These developments have adverse implications for the security and
well-being of billions of people.
It would likely have been much better if Mr. Bush
and his cronies had seen beyond their ideology and heeded Mark Twain’s wise
“It is easier to stay out than get
Instead of making the world a safer and more just
place, our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in an increased number
of terrorist incidents worldwide. They
have increased antagonisms toward the U.S. government and helped destabilize
the Middle East. They have increased
risks of retaliatory actions in the future from terrorists who are driven to
mayhem and martyrdom or who seek to wreak havoc on civilians. This explains why polls indicated that the
majority of people in the world regarded the U.S. as the worst threat to world
peace during the rein of the Bush administration. All of our leaders should do everything they can to genuinely
change such perceptions, and NOT merely by using public relations or
misinformation, propaganda,, dishonest spin, deceit or outright lies. The book Rogue
Nation provides a valuable perspective and a more detailed understanding of
Karen Hughes announced her resignation in late 2007
from her position as Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in
the State Department. “Nice try”,
Karen, in challenging circumstances.
Attempting to improve America’s image abroad was a real difficult
challenge when our foreign policy was so widely perceived to be unjust,
imperialistic and militaristic. Public
relations has a difficult time overcoming the negative aspects of our cultural
arrogance, military aggression, triumphalism and seeming condescension. Winning hearts and minds is hard when our
rhetoric and actions are so dissonantly mismatched. Effective diplomacy requires a lot more than we’ve given it!
I have a gut feeling that it is a singularly bad
idea to pursue strategies that create enemies faster than we can imprison or
kill them. It is costly, dangerous,
counterproductive and pathetic. Let’s
strive to make friends, not enemies!
Make Friends with Iran!
U.S. has acted with a hawkish bellicosity toward Iran for many decades. The stepped-up hostile rhetoric during the
Bush administration was partially a Neoconservative ploy to stimulate
nationalism and patriotism, and to rally Americans around our flag. We need to be vigilant to guard against the ratcheting-up of rhetoric
and rationalizations for war against any nation.
is a legitimate player in the Middle East.
It is more legitimate than the United States in the sense that it is
located directly between Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is folly to aggressively threaten Iran as the Bush administration
did. Iran and its domineering
Ayatollahs have been beneficiaries of our invasion and occupation of Iraq and
the elimination of Saddam Hussein. This
strengthened Iran’s position and the stature of battle-hardened Sunni
fundamentalists in Iraq, creating greater danger for our ally Israel. We should use honest diplomacy to boldly
integrate Iran into a more stable Middle East.
We should deal with
Iran strategically and diplomatically, and not as if we are on a dominance-oriented,
self-righteous, militaristic Crusade!
Our conundrums with Iran are partially a
backlash against our having helped overthrow Iran’s freely-elected Prime
Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. In
a CIA-sponsored coup code-named ‘Operation Ajax’, the CIA helped install the
Shah as ruler. The U.S. subsequently
supported the Shah and his brutal SAVAK secret police for more than 25
years. Many Iranians consequently regard
the U.S. as the “Great Satan”, and they hate us for this, and for the repression
and barbarous torture that accompanied the Shah’s rule. Our harboring of the Shah after he was
deposed, and our support for Saddam Hussein in the costly war between Iraq and
Iran (in which ONE MILLION people died between 1980 and 1988), contributes to
this Iranian sense of injustice and anger.
We have been acting
like an enemy to Iran for decades, even though it would probably be a much
better plan to start acting like a good neighbor, or even as a friend!
Barack Obama adopted a more nuanced position, as
embodied in a speech in Cairo in June 2009.
His more conciliatory tone may have deprived the hardliner Iranian
mullahs of some of their strength.
Pakistan, which has about 100 nuclear warheads, is much more dangerous
than Iran, and yet we are goading extremists there with our drone bomber
strikes and violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The Iran deal agreed to in July 2015 should be strongly
Neoconservative ideologues have advocated military
supremacy and preemptive war doctrines to achieve a variety of narrow
ends. They either do not realize, or
will not admit, that we need to make more committed efforts to negotiate
constructively with legitimate regional decision-makers in the Middle East. It is blockheaded to rely so exclusively on
the imposition of harsh economic sanctions on people in other countries, and on
military interventions when widespread violence results. There is also far-reaching risk associated
with the collateral outcome of creating millions of refugees. Furthermore, the use of clandestine covert
operations to destabilize other nations can turn out to be exceedingly
A key to a safer and more stable Middle East would
be to create a fair and lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians. We should seriously use our influence to
make this happen. President Bush spent
eight years with a ‘road map’ to peace figuratively “tucked in the glove
compartment”. Until President Obama toned down this strategy, the
U.S. unwisely spent much more effort ratcheting up its rhetoric and
preparedness to preemptively attack Iran over nuclear issues.
A Kyl-Lieberman amendment to the Defense
Authorization Bill of 2008 was passed in September 2007 that could have been
used as a green light for a preemptive attack on Iran. This amendment condemned the largest branch
of Iran’s military as a “terrorist organization”. The action got a strong reaction from Iran; the Iranian parliament responded almost
immediately by declaring the CIA and the U.S. Army as terrorist organizations. There is an ironic validity for such a point
An attack on Iran should not be considered for
any reason. We should also seek
ways to prevent any future war tactics that are designed to distract and divide
Americans. We cannot allow a ‘Wag-the-Dog-like’
scenario from developing in which Americans are manipulated into giving their
support for new preemptive wars. The
use of such actions to divert Americans from vitally important domestic
priorities would be particularly dangerous and objectionable. (“Wag the Dog” was a movie starring Dustin
Hoffman in which a war was fabricated to cover up a presidential sex
President Bush once spoke publicly about World War
III in connection with Iran. He did
this as a part of a campaign that was suspiciously similar to the misleading ruses
that were used to get us to invade Iraq.
He and Dick Cheney figuratively beat the drums in 2008, partially as an
electioneering ploy to hype up fears, prey on our pride, and use misleading
intelligence to maintain power. It is beyond imagination that we Americans are so fearful or
trigger-happy that we can even contemplate starting World War III.
Preemptive war does not promote peace. Imagine how severely threatened Americans
would feel if any country attacked and occupied both Mexico and Canada and
caused refugees by the millions to cross into our country. Imagine our response if such a country
rattled the saber with accusations about our activities in abetting a resistance.
of our misguided support of the Shah’s repressive regime was that it gave the
impetus to a reactive and harshly fundamentalist Islamic government to come to
power. This brought more injustice and
oppression to the people of Iran. The
belligerent and domineering religious fundamentalism in Iran would likely
weaken if we did not provide such powerful counter-support to it with our
threats and sanctions. Hardliners in
Iran have been strengthened by our attacks on Iran’s neighbors, just as the
influence of hardliners in the U.S. has been strengthened by the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. Other forms of blowback
retaliation are likely in the future if we do not change course.
A top foreign policy priority should be to
defuse Middle Eastern tensions. The
elections in Iran in June 2009 showed that the repressive regime there is
willing to take ruthless steps to destroy dissent and continue its
domination. But that regime’s days may
be numbered because of its harsh suppression of civil liberties, as the regimes
in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya were, and as the regimes in Syria, Bahrain
and even Saudi Arabia may be.
It is a dangerous misapprehension to
believe that the strength and security of the American people lies principally
in full-spectrum dominance, militaristic approaches, macho dude bravado,
ruthless occupations, and torturous clandestine operations. We have made serious strategic and tactical blunders in our costly
invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and it seems crazy to me to
continue brazen counter-supporting antagonism against Iran’s leaders.
Our ‘beating of
the drum’ for war with Iran in 2008 even included real war preparations. A second aircraft carrier strike group was
dispatched to the Persian Gulf area early in the year, ironically led by the
USS Abraham Lincoln, the same aircraft carrier upon which George W. Bush
bizarrely declared “Mission Accomplished” on May 1, 2003 after the invasion of
Lieberman from Connecticut was asked about Iran on national television in June
2007, and he said that “we’ve got to use our force, and to me, that would
include taking military action to stop them from doing what they’re
doing.” Really?! Are we mad?
We were thinking of stopping them from doing what they were doing? This suggestion was outrageously
foolish. Have we learned nothing about
how costly it is to rely heavily on intimidation and a domineering
McCain of Arizona hammed it up in a video taken of him on stage in April 2007,
singing “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys song
“Barbara Ann”. Good God! This is not humor; it is a form of severely irresponsible pandering to hard-right
hawks in the United States. No
presidential candidate should be so obtuse.
Even Hillary Clinton was hawkish enough during the 2008 Presidential
campaign to suggest that, if elected, she would “totally obliterate” the 70
million people in Iran if that country were to use a nuclear weapon against
us. And during the Republican
presidential primaries race in 2012, and in the lead-up to Election Day 2012,
most of the Republican candidates expressed belligerent stances toward Iran and
hyped up anti-Iran sentiment in the States for political gain.
Obama was a Senator, he suggested that the U.S. might need to intervene
militarily in Pakistan. I submit that
such ideas of American unilateralism and violations of the sovereignty of other
nations should be abandoned. The dangers
of an Islamic extremist coalition coming to power in nuclear-armed Pakistan are
great enough without our provoking such an outcome!
former ‘President’ Pervez Musharraf originally came to power in a military coup
in 1999. During a period of political
turmoil there, Musharraf declared emergency rule in November 2007 and suspended
the constitution, shut down independent media outlets, removed Supreme Court
judges, and jailed thousands of lawyers and activists. George W. Bush had characterized Musharraf
as someone who truly “believes in democracy”, but this was an authoritarian act
that moved his nuclear-armed nation closer to destabilizing political
turmoil. Staunch U.S. support for this
military dictator was of questionable merit at the time with respect to our
long-term interests in the Middle East.
We have been provoking Islamic extremists with our hubris-tainted
policies there for decades. When the
former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in late
December 2007, the event complicated the scene in this dangerously volatile
country. Our hundreds of drone bombing
attacks since then are a curious and unjust means of conducting foreign policy.
In 2008, more
than 20 retired generals defied military tradition and outspokenly criticized
the Bush administration war policies in Iraq.
They recognized that the three pillars of our democratic system failed
to create more sensible policies: (1)
the commander-in-chief ignored alarms raised by military commanders on the
ground; (2) Congress failed to properly
exercise its legislative responsibilities and oversight duties; and (3) the media abdicated its important
investigative and watchdog roles.
It should give
us pause for concern to consider the following quote from Chairman
Mao of China in 1950, concerning General Douglas MacArthur and the foolhardy
drive of American troops toward the Yalu River and North Korea’s border with
China: “An arrogant enemy is easy to
18. Fundamentalism: Action and Reaction
that were championing the ideal of secular government and religious pluralism
before September 11, 2001 were driven towards right-wing fundamentalism in
reaction to our aggression. A long
history of Arab humiliation and resentment is boiling over into more powerful
motives for opposition and discord. Our
lack of understanding of the perspective of Palestinians toward what they
regard as the 1948 ‘Catastrophe’ is a contributing cause for instability and
antagonisms in the Middle East. So is
the extent of our one-sided support of Israel’s aggression in the past 50
Terrorism involves the killing of civilians for
political reasons. Some say that the
U.S. has effectively indulged in state terrorism in the handling of its
preemptive wars. On the other hand, the
U.S. has ironically harbored terrorists when they happen to side with American
interests and ideologies. For example,
Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles were involved in a number of terrorist
activities, including being architects of the bombing of a civilian Cuban
airliner in 1976 in which 73 people died.
Nonetheless the federal government allows them to remain free on
American soil. This is worse than
“Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is
the terrorism of the rich.”
--- Sir Peter Ustinov
It seems clear to me that, as the only nation that
has ever dropped nuclear bombs on people, it should be our leaders’ obligation
to abide by international arms treaties and NOT to try so diligently to develop
new tactical nuclear weapons. U.S.
nuclear policy is “illegal, immoral, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully
dangerous”, according to the late Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense
during the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Our enormous and expensive Cold War nuclear arsenal should be reduced,
and we should more justly address national and international problems related
to resource usages, environmental challenges, mutual security, social issues,
peaceful coexistence and foreign policy.
Military solutions and bombs should yield to fairer and more pragmatic
is never a solution; it is an
--- Benjamin Disraeli
Tragedy of War
Modern warfare is, in many senses, a tragic failure
of civilization. Words cannot fully encompass its terrible
atrocity. War causes incalculable pain and suffering to countless
innocent victims that are killed, wounded, tortured, frightened, or scarred by
violence and hate. Horrible and indiscriminate munitions like Agent
Orange, napalm, depleted uranium ammunition and landmines are barbarous and
Dwight Eisenhower said this: “I hate war as only a soldier
who has lived it can; only as one who
has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
Warfare is not only colossally wasteful of resources
and lives, but also unnecessarily damaging to the environment. It creates
instability and long-lasting upheavals in both the societies of the country attacked
AND in those of the aggressor. We are seeing, just as we saw in Vietnam,
that war is mentally crippling and highly negative for many military personnel
and citizens of the aggressor, as well as those of the nation attacked. The number of American war veterans that are
being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder is in the hundreds of
thousands, and many are facing treatment delays and denials to save money on
veterans’ healthcare costs. And
thousands of troops and veterans of the Middle East wars have committed
suicide, a fact that points to another sad aspect of the accumulating problems
of our recent wars. Suicide has
become a tragic “hidden epidemic”, and it is often the result of combat-related mental health issues.
Violent conflicts are taking places in many places
in the world, and humanity simply must develop better means of resolving
conflicts and mitigating antagonisms that can lead to war and genocide.
One predominant paradigm of modern life is a
relentless striving for dominance. Many of our leaders seek to control
and dominate both U.S. citizens and foreign peoples. The human race seeks
to control and dominate nature, and to ignore the dangers of these
efforts. And men have sought to dominate women for thousands of years by
defending patriarchal religions, even taking the drastic step of burning
thousands of women to death ‘at the stake’ during the centuries-long
Inquisition. “Heresy”! (Horrible,
A political comedian once said that there is a “red
state syndrome” that provides religious support to politicians who are eager to
invade other countries, using other people’s children, while denying healthcare
to millions of kids at home. These
politicians, predictably, always say they are guided by God. Not so funny! We need to wake up to the negative impacts of forces of
domination and the ruthless ruses they employ. We would be wise to work
assiduously to create smarter approaches to peaceful coexistence. For this reason, I call for a new form of
Absurdity of Deficit Financing of Wars
Ambrose Bierce defined the undesirable condition of
IMPROVIDENCE as the “Provision for the needs of today from the revenues of
tomorrow.” Let’s stop being so
The federal government uses the irresponsible
political expediency of borrowing enormous amounts of money from people in the
future to help finance military, industrial, investor, consumer, and political
goals. They do this instead of
following more frugal and responsible strategies that involve paying
‘as-you-go’. This is a shrewd tactic
that greases the wheels of war and obscures the obvious truth that our wars
would be FAR LESS POPULAR if people recognized the actual costs, and had to pay
for them today. As it is, our deficit
financing has led to a startling increase in our national debt in the past 15
years. This will make it increasingly
necessary to devote a growing portion of the national budget to interest costs
on the debt. It consequently will
become even more difficult to afford to deal with important social, public
health, infrastructure, and environmental protection priorities in the future.
One honest and fair means of confronting this
problem would be to commit to ‘paying as we go’ by increasing gasoline taxes to
cover the cost of our military. This
would force people to realize that a main reason for our far-flung military
bases and deployments is our dependence on oil and a correlated strong desire
to control oil resources in the Middle East.
The cost of our wars and military occupations of
Iraq and Afghanistan would have been around $1 per gallon. How eager
would the American people have been for the doctrine of preemptive warfare if
they saw a direct correlation between the cost of these wars and the higher
amount they would have to pay at the pump for gasoline? How enthusiastic would they be for having
our troops stationed abroad in harm’s way if they actually had to pay for it
every time they went to the gas station?
In general, taxpayers should be required to pay in
full for government programs instead of allowing the costs to be foisted on
future generations. This would force our representatives to make
difficult choices in a more responsible way.
Once they, and we, were squarely faced with the necessity of finding the
money to pay for the full costs of government programs, it is almost certain
that there would be much less enthusiasm for such things as preemptive warfare,
corporate welfare, historically low tax rates on the highest income levels,
bureaucratic waste, pork barrel spending, and costly loopholes and
Another way to effectively encourage peacebuilding
and diminish support for war, and to help finance our defense and war-making
establishment, would be to enact taxes on arms sales and war profits. For more comprehensive understandings and
deeper insights in related economic issues, check out Existence, Economics, and Ecological Intelligence in
the Earth Manifesto. Also, see Comprehensive Global Perspective: An Illuminating Worldview,
Chapter 44 – The Nature and Wealth of Nations;
Chapter #45 – Capitalism and Democracy; Chapter #46 – Pathological
Aspects of Capitalism; and Chapter #47 – Particular Problems Associated with
Corporatism. And for bold ideas on how
we could intelligently, fairly and courageously
address the serious problems facing us here in the twenty-first century, I
again urge readers to review the compendium of ideas found in One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively
Transform Our Societies.
The Titanic Struggle between Capitalism and Communism
As a youngster I was led to believe that
communism was evil, and that people in other countries that were ruled by a
Communist Party were brainwashed by their governments. It wasn’t until many years later that I
realized that “brainwashing” turns out to be a nuanced and infinitely-varied
phenomenon to which people in all nations are subjected, to one degree or
another. In truth, deeply ingrained
biases and sympathies affect everyone, and our beliefs are conditioned by
genetic predispositions, parental influences, religious catechisms, partisan
spin, subjective personal experiences, educational biases, indoctrination,
think tank doctrines, and radio and television opinion-molding and advertising.
Communism is an ideology that arose in the
early years of the Industrial Revolution in reaction to the inequality,
injustices, labor abuses, dangerous workplaces, and sink-or-swim ruthlessness
that has been characteristic of capitalist economic systems. Capitalism idealizes freedom and
laissez-faire market economics at the expense of fairness and equality. Communism, on the other hand, idealizes
equality and centrally-planned economies at the expense of freedom. In practice, neither system has proved to be
tenable or fair in their ‘pure’ forms.
Both systems have, of necessity, become more egalitarian. Both have adopted varying degrees of
regulation in response to market economics, and both have been subject to
powerful corrupting influences and authoritarian impulses.
The business-as-usual status quo in capitalist
societies is primarily concerned with profits and narrow self-interest, so
vested interest groups strive to keep economic and political systems the way
they are -- or to change them in retrogressive ways. Entrenched interests are consequently allowed to impede progress,
oppose common-good reforms, and prevent changes that would be beneficial to the
greater good. Many of these vested
interests lobby to privatize government functions, and they basically advocate
the substitution of the bottom-line best interests of corporations for the best
interests of the people. And
corporations, as is argued very persuasively and in detailed instances in the
book The Corporation – The Pathological Pursuit of Profit
and Power, often act in ways that, in an individual, would be regarded as
The outsourcing of government activities to
corporations has almost doubled in the last decade. Often this has resulted in achieving different goals than vested
interests claim. Instead of greater
efficiency, better management and lower costs, there are often excessive fees,
spikes in costly no-bid contracting, price gouging, unfair cronyism,
incompetence, diminished accountability, and a significant amount of outright
The ideals of economic fundamentalism are
laudable: they hold that free markets
are guided by what Adam Smith called an ‘invisible hand’ that supposedly
creates the best conditions for the public good. Unfortunately, our economic and political systems are corrupted
by monopoly abuses, banking schemes, deceptive practices, unfair vested-interest
political influence, institutionalized bribery, pork barrel spending,
dishonesty, financial shenanigans, imperialistic abuses of power, and
distorting influences that militate for war and war profiteering. Giant corporations often cheat the public to
make bigger profits instead of improving their products or their production
methods, or they strive to gain large subsidies that perpetuate inefficient and
polluting industries. They indulge in exploitive “rent-seeking” behaviors
that do not create wealth, but merely grab a bigger proportion of the national
wealth for themselves. They also
generally treat workers unfairly, externalize environmental costs onto society,
and indulge in unfair tax avoidance scams by using tax loopholes and offshore
The established order is generally so entrenched
that opportunities for societies to be radically remade are severely
limited. Yet there is a growing need
for us to dramatically transform our societies, and I believe that radical
changes will be required in response to the gathering threats of debt crises,
increases in inequality, unsustainable resource depletion, unmitigated
pollution, ecosystem damages, species extinctions, climate disruptions, and the
dangerous influences of religious fundamentalism, human overpopulation, and
empire building. And these changes are
needed to increase the common good, not to Trump it.
Powerful people often work to change society in
ways that are demonstrably contrary to the common good. Rich and powerful people tend to favor the
radical engineering of societies along lines that are most profitable to them
personally. It is curious that a coup d’etat like the one inflicted on
the Chilean people by General Augusto Pinochet on September 11, 1973 has
certain characteristics in common with natural disasters like the December 2004
tsunami in southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as with the
‘shock and awe’ air attacks involved in the U.S. invasion of Iraq. All these events created collective trauma
and instability that gave corporations and politicians expanded opportunities
to impose radically undesirable economic and social changes.
These often come in the form of economic
fundamentalism, as prescribed in the ideas of Milton Friedman and his ‘Chicago
School’ of economics. This ideology
advocates deregulation, ‘free trade’ and the use of privatized services, strong
defenses of private property ownership rights, reductions in social spending,
and regressive tax cuts that favor rich people. These goals serve primarily to promote prerogatives that benefit
investors and small groups of hyper-privileged people, and they result in
socially undesirable things like crony contracting and aggressive exploitation
of resources and the squeezing of workers.
They also tend to stimulate materialistic consumerism and the
concentration of wealth, generally to the distinct detriment of the common
good. Despite the anti-establishment
rantings of D.J. Trump, these are still his goals, and working people should
not be fooled into believing he would improve their lots in any way. He believes American workers are paid too
much to compete in the world.
It is no real surprise that capitalism capitalizes
on catastrophe, but it is sad that such ‘economic shock treatments’ are
accompanied, all too often, by repressive measures and the suppression and even
torture of dissidents and others who oppose such measures. When legitimate (or at least legal) strategies fail, military action to
protect the interests of the powerful often follows.
Milton Friedman once said: “Only a crisis --
actual or perceived -- produces real change.
When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas
that are lying around. That, I believe,
is our basic function: to develop
alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the
politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” I heartily agree with
Friedman on this concept, but in dramatic contrast, I strongly advocate that we
keep excellent ideas for the greater good around, not just shrewd and narrowly
focused ideas targeted to benefit the few!
The provocative writer Naomi Klein points out that
crises tend to provide opportunities in victim countries for injuries to be
inflicted on the people “all at once”.
Niccolo Machiavelli, who championed unscrupulousness in his famous
advice to rulers in The Prince, might
have nodded enthusiastically at this idea.
After all, Machiavelli advocated that the ends justify whatever means
are necessary, and he also recommended that rulers effectively act immorally when they need to, emphasizing
that there is occasionally a need for the methodical exercise of deceit and
even brute force.
I encourage every person to read Naomi Klein’s
book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of
Disaster Capitalism for more extensive insights into these ideas. The circumstances that surround the banking
bailout in late 2008 are frightening for the lack of oversight and the
fox-in-the-henhouse nature of allowing the financial industry and its
facilitators in government to help set the terms of the biggest government
bailout in history. Banks have only
gotten bigger and more powerful since then, so smart action is required to deal
with the challenge articulated by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in December 2009:
“I want to be very, very clear: too big to fail is one of the biggest
problems we face in this country, and we must take action to eliminate too big
Predictably, not nearly enough has been done to
remedy this risk.
Just as the nature of “economic shock therapy” is
unjust, and just as the fact that banking abuses create intolerable risks to
the financial stability of our economic systems, the injustice of unshackled
militarism and ‘preemptive war’ is dangerous for our security. We should strive to better control these
activities. To the extent that they
contribute to terrorism and are facilitated by demagoguery and fear mongering
and the abdication of traditional investigative reporting and watchdog roles of
a free press, we need to find ways to strengthen our society against these
weaknesses. The next five chapters deal
directly with these ideas.
Strategies to Defuse Extremism
One of the consequences of the U.S. willingness to
engage in offensive warfare is that we are fanning the flames of Islamic
religious zealotry. Harsh warfare that has been waged by the United
States in Iraq and Afghanistan has given a much more forceful impetus to
radicalism and dangerous cultural and religious conflicts between Christians
and Muslims worldwide. It has spawned
large numbers of newly inspired jihadists around the globe, as confirmed by a
July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, and is becoming ever more clearly
evident in mass casualty attacks in many countries around the globe.
Extremism signals, countersupports, and ironically
strengthens what it opposes. Injustice
sparks injustice, and violence fans violence. It seems clear to me that
U.S. economic and military policies have been primary causative factors in
sparking Islamic extremism and retaliatory blowback, like that suffered on
9/11. Not only did the U.S. support and empower both Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, but our economic sanctions, military bases, and
armed interventions in the Middle East have been a significant factor in
angering Muslims and giving credence to their perceptions that we are either
ruthless imperialistic infidels or representatives of the devil. This has provoked religious extremists and
contributed to the highly destabilizing influence of conflicts in Middle
To effectively encourage the possibilities of peace,
and to eliminate a main cause of instability in the Middle East, we should make
stronger efforts to create peace between Israel and its neighbors by helping
establish a secure homeland and better opportunities for Palestinians. To
do this, we should act more prudently, and with greater diplomacy and statesmanship,
and seek compromises that are fairer for all concerned parties. We should balance our foreign policy
initiatives, and continue to give Israel billions of dollars per year in
foreign aid only with the condition that they act boldly to help guarantee
fairness and peace in the region.
23. What Do
We Do Now in Iraq?
counterterrorism czar under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, wrote a book
titled Against All Enemies in which
he indicated it is essential that we protect our country against foreign
enemies as well as “those who would use the terrorist threat to assault the
liberties the Constitution enshrines.”
He made the important point that, instead of rashly invading Afghanistan
and oil-rich Iraq after 9/11, we should have followed three key policies: “First, the President would have engaged in
a massive effort to eliminate our vulnerabilities to terrorism at home and
strengthen homeland security. Second,
he would have launched a concerted effort globally to counter the ideology of
al Qaeda and the larger radical Islamic terrorist movement with a partnership
to promote the real Islam, to win support for common American and Islamic
values, and to shape an alternative to the popular fundamentalist approach. Third, he would have been active with key
countries not just to round up terrorists, end the sanctuaries, dry up the
money, but also to strengthen open governments and make it possible
politically, economically, and socially for them to go after the roots of al
Qaeda-like terrorism.” He added,
“Nowhere on the list of things that should have been done after September 11 is
The Bush Doctrine of preemptive warfare was used
to justify the attack on Iraq and the subsequent U.S. occupation. Again, the
rationalizations for war shifted disingenuously from finding alleged “weapons
of mass destruction” to deposing an evil dictator to rhetoric about spreading
freedom and democracy. The real threat
to the American people by Saddam Hussein was hyped up far beyond rational
probability. Not only were actual costs
of the proposed war ridiculously underestimated, but also Republicans in the
administration assured us, in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, that it
would be a “cakewalk war”. Reasonable
warnings and understandings about the occupation were ignored. Unrealistic outcome scenarios were advanced,
such as the expectation that the Iraqi people would accept American occupation
forces as liberators. The true reasons for the war were hidden. In connection with the
“war on terror”, dissenters have been intimidated and collateral injustices
have been intensified. Such actions are
unwise, unfair and irresponsible!
A number of Governors of various States expressed
heightened concerns about deployments of National Guard personnel to Iraq for
many years. They acknowledged that
people are more vulnerable to large-scale disasters at home when large numbers
of National Guard members are serving abroad. In the aftermath of any widespread
devastation caused by a major hurricane, fire, earthquake or terrorist attack,
people would have had less emergency assistance due to such deployments and
subsequent budget cuts imposed due to big war debts incurred. It’s clear that the Bush Doctrine of
preemptive warfare made us less safe at the time in this regard. We should not give so much emphasis to
offensive actions at the expense of maintaining good preparedness and balanced
By invading Iraq, “we broke it”, and it has been
extremely costly to fix it. We should
stop trying to impose our hegemony on Arab peoples. We cannot afford the high costs.
Our adventurism in Iraq harmed millions of Iraqi people because in too
many instances our military occupation was hard-nosed, ‘trigger-happy’,
humiliating and repressive. Once the
deadly conflict in Syria began spilling over into northwestern Iraq in June
2014, we began to see how profoundly our ability “to fix it” is severely
would have been wiser to follow the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq
Study Group in 2006, rather than following George Bush’s war strategies in
Iraq. Now that the U.S. military has
more-or-less finally left Iraq after so many long years of oppressive
occupation, we should make concerted efforts to achieve peace and stability
through on-going regional and international diplomacy.
Dangers of Demagoguery
The German film Triumph of the Will is an infamous piece of propaganda directed by
Leni Riefenstahl during the early years of film-making in 1934. This film was a mind-numbing cavalcade of
droning through clouds, political theater, prideful militarism, impassioned
harangue and exhortations to duty, loyalty and obedience. The film shows an astonishingly faithful
furor by the German people for their Führer,
Adolf Hitler. The film “catapults the
propaganda” by hailing order, discipline, sacrifice, work and conformity. Its indoctrination is effected through a
sweeping adulation of pageantry, glory, spectacle, pride, goose-stepping soldiers,
and obedience to authority. “Sieg Heil!”
Demagogues like Hitler offer simple-minded
arguments, and then repeat these arguments endlessly to make them insidiously
persuasive. Accompanying the rhetoric
of a demagogue, a drumbeat for war often disturbingly resounds deeply in the
recesses of our brains. Al Gore
perceptively observed in The Assault on
Reason that demagogic Republican
leaders “don’t actually offer greater security from danger, but their
simplistic and frequently vitriolic beliefs and statements can provide comfort
to a fearful society.” With the rise of
Trumpism, risks intensify.
A demagogue is
a person who uses passionate rhetoric to appeal to the emotions and prejudices
of the populace. At a time we really
need greater unity, healthy communities, and rational cooperation to solve
problems, a number of wily demagogues have gained notoriety by nefariously
exploiting people’s fears, gullibility and biases to advance policies that
divide people and hinder common good goals. Such people obstruct cooperation
toward achieving peaceful coexistence and undermine fair dealings and good
intentions by skewing national priorities into costly fiascos. The obsession with getting, holding and
abusing power is sometimes sedulously wrong-headed.
The political party of Adolf Hitler and
Josef Goebbels, the “Minister of People Enlightenment and Propaganda” in the
Third Reich, tried to advance a goal of a Thousand Years’ Empire and
supremacy. After the worst global
devastation in war in all of history, things sure didn’t turn out that
way. A similar fate befell the
Republican Party’s quest for a permanent political majority in the years from
2001 to 2006, and for many of the same reasons: gross injustices were perpetrated, increasing inequities were facilitated,
perverse priorities were adopted, and financial systems were seriously
abused. In pandering to economic
fundamentalists and coldly calculating right wing partisans and narrow-minded
religious fundamentalists, Republicans have acted with imperialistic aggression
in a kind of ruthless, twisted, narcissistic and monomaniacal Machiavellian
madness. (“Get an afterlife, guys!”)
BEWARE when leaders effectively say, “Be
afraid. Trust us.” It is shocking and awful that George W. Bush acted with such demagogic
contempt for rules of law and oversight by Congress. He and Dick Cheney resented constraints on their ability to use
power in a triumphalist, overweening, expansion-prepossessed and narrowly
partisan manner. The truly duplicitous
nature of much of President Bush’s rhetoric was revealed when he said, “See, in
my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again
for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” Truth, George? You played rather loosely with words!
who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
One of the most
compelling films on the Internet is Zeitgeist
Movie. I recommend that readers
watch it at zeitgeistmovie.com, when you have two hours to devote to the
undertaking. The film contains cogent
parallels to the film Triumph of the
Will. But it is much more
sophisticated, modern, and illuminating.
Its slant is a provocative one that casts suspicion on some cherished
beliefs of those who embrace certainties and dogmas. Part I of the film discusses the power of religious myths and
provides an illuminating exploration of the almost comedic absurdity of any
adherence to inflexible orthodoxy and religious absolutes. It makes a parody of convictions that it is
a sinful blasphemy to question the truth of dominant myths. Part II introduces the perplexingly
suspicious evidence about the official story of the 9/11 attacks and the wars
it spawned, and the actions of the U.S. government. Part III makes one think about what really goes on inside
international banking and the Federal Reserve and our economic
Demagoguery and McCarthyism
film Good Night and Good Luck is
about trusted broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and his eventual courage in
standing up to the Communist-fear-mongering of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the
1950s. Joseph McCarthy was a
Republican Senator from Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957 who was known as “tail
gunner Joe” because of his shrewd and calculating scheme of hyping up fears of
Communism to gain power and notoriety for himself.
McCarthyism is a legacy of blatant Republican
attempts in the 1950s to discredit people, blacklist them, ruin their
reputations, and use fear and intimidation to erode political opposition, devastate
dissent and destroy liberal causes. Demagogic McCarthyism was a factor that
contributed to the promulgation of rigid hard-line American foreign policies
during the Cold War. Even the liberal
“best and the brightest” of the John F. Kennedy administration were swept up in
the need to embrace overwhelmingly strong military stances. This contributed to the U.S. involvement in
the terribly misguided, unjust and deadly Vietnam War in which millions of
people were killed.
politics today is still heavily influenced by the need to talk tough and act
tough. This may be a result of powerful
psychological needs incited by fears, insecurities and pride. As a consequence, politicians find it
advantageous or even necessary to appear tough in the face of challenges to our
superpower dominance in an increasingly multi-polar political world. Hillary Clinton is more hawkish than many
liberals would like, and Trump is downright belligerent, although he expresses
isolationist sentiments in addition to nationalistic bombast.
President Barack Obama was a recipient of
the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009, but as he gave consideration to our next
move in the quagmire of the Middle East, he decided to follow advisors’
recommendations to escalate the war in Afghanistan after eight years of
deteriorating conditions and high costs.
He, too, has been strongly influenced by the need to act tough on the
Our hopes for
peace hinge on overcoming ignorance and reining in extremist elements and rogue
leaders. It would be a good idea for us
to develop a better and more practical balance between (1) the compulsions for
strength, toughness and obsessions for dominance, and (2) the growing urgency
of needs for better ways to be developed to achieve peaceful coexistence and to
prevent resource wars.
since the days of patriotism-questioning and liberal-baiting Joseph McCarthy
and the beginning of the Cold War, shrill voices of hawkish war proponents have
argued that if the U.S. shows ‘weakness’ on the international stage, our
enemies will take advantage of us and harm us.
The fact of the matter is that a state of peace is an equilibrium among
many forces. Since hubristic militarism
and a focus on imperialistic economic exploitation make conflicts worse and
stoke anger and wreak humiliation, they can serve to encourage retaliatory
opposition in the form of terrorist movements and committed insurgencies in
The exploitation of people’s insecurities in the
aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was undertaken in emulation of the cunning and
amoral tactics of Joseph McCarthy. Both
George Bush and Dick Cheney used reckless right-wing spin to manipulate the
public’s fears, this time of terrorists.
They skewed our foreign policy into inflexibly hard-line, costly and
deadly undertakings, including the longest two wars in our country’s
This new form of modern day McCarthyism belittled
and suppressed political opposition and people who have differing
perspectives. It demanded loyalty to ideologies and officeholders, not to
fair-minded principles. Fear and stoked nationalism have been used to
gain public support for banking and commercial interests as well as an
aggressive military. Right-leaning
politicians have perversely thrown in a number of social engineering
machinations, as a part of their ideological agenda, such as regressive tax
policies, misguided rollbacks of environmental regulations, anti-gay and
anti-women’s rights initiatives, and even religious evangelizing and absolutist
moralizing and Creationist dogmas.
The megalomaniacal drive of political
leaders, along with ethnocentric urges to assert superiority, may reflect
compensatory needs to deny insecurities and throw off feelings of
insignificance. These were factors that
motivated Germany to start World War II after the humiliation of heavy
reparations that were exacted in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat in World War
I. There are striking similarities to
these deep motivations and psychological impulses that have been demonstrated
by radical Neoconservatives and others in their efforts to amp up militarism
here in the 21st century.
Could it be that bizarre good-old-boys
eccentricities, or a Strict Father upbringing, or feelings of inadequacy, or
even a reaction to alcoholism were involved in drives that led George W. Bush
to launch unnecessary wars? Or was it
really just about the oil? Macho dudes
and demagogues, relent!
Responsibilities of Journalism and Investigative Reporting
It is one of the checks and balances in our
democracy for voters to be well-informed by the media. The healthy functioning of society and our
political system relies on a free press and journalistic integrity. When Big Media becomes beholden to
dominating corporate powers-that-be, democratic fairness can be
undermined. Journalists should adhere to higher standards of conscience,
objectivity, rationality, and balanced reporting.
Certain advances in technology have had
astonishingly far-reaching impacts on human society. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the
mid-fifteenth century revolutionized book printing and fostered rapid
development in the arts and sciences.
It also facilitated the extensive propagation of religious texts. This stimulated the mass transmission of
ideas, and dramatically changed the way people learn and communicate, so it
effectively “democratized” knowledge.
The last century has seen further extraordinary advances in public
communications, with radio, television, film, the Internet and social media all
increasing the flow of information.
Television has unfortunately become a
medium that can be used to sway people in manipulative ways. Al Gore speaks passionately about this Assault on Reason in his book of that
name. He explains how logic and reason
are under assault from forces of blind faith and narrow ideologies. Democracy falters in the wake of this
assault, due to the fact that democracy relies on citizens to be well-informed
rather than being duped by propaganda and shallow understandings of complex
People are subjected to a barrage of
carefully crafted spin transmitted into our brains through the medium of
television. Americans on average watch
television for a brain-numbing excess of 4 hours per day. Four hours per day! Four hours of PROGRAMMING that consists of
slanted news coverage provided by corporate media combined with sensationalist
stories and mindless entertainment, all of it interspersed with commercial
messages created by advertising agencies to convince us to buy things we
generally don’t need. When we watch TV,
we often give our attention to celebrity trivia, sports contests,
sensationalism, crime stories, shootings, scandals, fake “reality shows”,
political photos-ops and shallow sound bites.
These things distract us from vitally important perspectives.
The highly respected Edward R. Murrow would
be horrified by the extent to which we allow television to distract, delude,
entertain and insulate us today without providing adequate investigative reporting
and objective insights into the realities of the world we live in.
Some television programming is valuable, of
course. PBS stations are especially
good, as are the History Channel, Discovery Channel and National Geographic
Channel, which offer insightful understandings and rich insights into human
cultures and the natural world. Some
television programming attains high qualities of accomplishment. Together with
the auspicious trend toward wider distribution of documentary films, there is
hope that such forms of communication will make positive contributions to our
social evolution. The Internet, too,
offers tremendous potential for improving our understanding, and for acting as
a democratizing force in the world, though every blessing also contains an
element of curse, and there is plenty of echo chamber rancor, pornography and
other pathological aspects of the Internet.
I’ve got a ‘gut feeling’, as macho dudes
like to say, that all of us in our innermost awareness know what is true and
what is false. Just as native speakers of a language have an innate sense
of the propriety of grammatical usages of words (some people more than
others!), each of us has a natural capacity to feel what is true. We can intuitively detect deceptions, lies,
propaganda and “BS”. But we can also be
quite gullible. It
is clear that our native ability to
detect falsehoods can be overcome by seductive persuasion and demagoguery.
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to
--- Mark Twain, 1894
It turns out that confidence and depth of
conviction are poorly correlated to objective truth and accuracy of
understanding. While this observation
is most obvious with regard to the obtuseness of fanaticism, it is valid in
more subtle ways. Almost any judgment
that is framed in overly simplistic black-and-white terms reflects a pronounced
relativity of point of view, of circumstantial context, and of subjective
interpretations that make almost any ‘certainty’ contradictable or not
applicable from the perspective of differing points of view. Errors of perception can result, because of
poor reasoning and distortions caused by emotional hijackings.
Truth and Consequences
An old Italian proverb says: “Si non e vero, e ben trovato.” Roughly translated, this means: “Even if it’s not true, it still makes a
Jesus says to his disciples in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.”
There is some valuable and profound truth in this generalization, no
matter what one believes about the contention that Jesus was the virgin-born
son of a Zeus-like father, God.
President James A. Garfield offered a contrasting and ironic perspective
on truth; he stated: “The truth will set you free, but first it
will make you miserable.” Whoa!
Speaking truth to
power is, of course, a dangerous thing to do.
Woe! But ignorance rarely turns
out to be bliss. Our government sometimes
treats us like Jack Nicholson’s character in the film, A Few Good Men, when he yelled, “You can’t handle the truth!” I say, give us a chance!
The truth is rarely to be found in sources
of authority, especially when authorities represent narrow vested
interests. Our political leaders owe us
greater honesty. The “whole truth” is
important in a democracy to ensure us that the citizenry is well informed and
empowered to choose better governance and wiser courses of action. The truth is vitally important to us so that
we are able to maintain our personal freedoms and a degree of social justice
and egalitarian fairness. We must
demand the truth and attendant deeper understandings. We must insist on responsible government, together with greater
transparency and accountability. Too much
government secrecy undermines democracy.
The truth can be found by striving to see
deeply and clearly, and by striving to avoid dogmatic doctrines and orthodox
worldviews. The truth can inoculate us
against lies by revealing when ‘the emperor has no clothes’. The truth is not often found in blind
acceptance of conventional ideas or traditionalism or ideological
certitudes. I encourage readers to keep
an open mind!
Idealism, realism and pragmatism are ways
of dealing with facts. For instance, in
the great 1975 film, Three Days of the
Condor, Robert Redford’s character discovered a plot to invade the Middle
East for its oil. (Really!) He disparagingly asks an operative of the
CIA, “What is it with you people? You
think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?” Touché!
The response of the CIA operative, however,
is chilling. He basically says that
when Americans begin to run out of oil or food, they will not care how their
government goes about getting it, they will just want the government to do
whatever is necessary, no matter what is involved. Injustice, violence, war … whatever!
Such a perspective has a ring of
validity. But might is not right. The consequences of using military might to
achieve economic and political objectives, at a cost of terrible injustices,
will eventually prove to be calamitous to the greater good, just as it did when
Hitler tried to conquer the world. Peak
Oil and subsequent decline could become the most daunting challenge of this
century, but using military might to gain more access to dwindling fossil fuel
supplies is a shortsighted plan for many reasons.
Making smart investments in conservation,
efficiency, and cleaner energy alternatives is a much better plan. If this were more widely understood, I
believe the American people would support smarter steps to solve this problem
rather than following militant ‘geostrategic imperatives’ or drilling more
aggressively for oil in our coastal waters, no matter what the potential
environmental damages. Everyone should
be involved in the solution, and we should make behavioral changes. We can do this, if we develop a bigger
picture perspective before we get truly desperate. The best way to achieve this would be to institute properly
structured incentives, as advocated by the principals in the Risky Business
Project -- Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson and Tom Steyer.
I believe that there is
a bigger geostrategic imperative than dominating the world to get access to
oil. The real GEO-strategic imperative
is for us to begin leading sustainable lives and to sensibly recognize the
vital importance of a healthy natural world.
Here is another reason why we should begin acting more fairly,
peaceably, and in more ecologically sane ways.
True patriotism consists of questioning and opposing
abuses of power in one’s country, and not merely accepting them without
question. As Mark Twain once said:
“My kind of
patriotism and loyalty is loyalty to one’s country, and not to one’s institutions
Patriotism should not be an unthinking obedience to
the politicians in power. Patriotism in America should really be an
honest commitment to the principles and ideals this country represents.
This includes the primary concerns of our Founding Fathers: freedom,
justice, an expansive commitment to human rights, limited government
intrusiveness, and fair representation of the best interests of the
The misguided “war on terror” was rolled out with as
little sacrifice for the average American as possible. After the Vietnam War
and the unrest caused on university campuses by the military draft, a new
strategy of “all-volunteer” armed forces was implemented. The all-volunteer army used an overly heavy
emphasis on minority recruitment. This
allowed college students and those with better opportunities to be insulated
from the need to serve in the armed forces and potentially suffer horrible
personal consequences of war. In
addition, the ill-fated expediency of deficit spending has been used to
insulate most Americans from the real burdens and costs of wars.
These are brilliant strategies, but they are both
cynically calculating and discriminatory ones.
Our nation’s young people who are sent abroad are primarily from the
class of citizens that have little power and are largely disenfranchised, with
few good alternative opportunities and inadequate voices.
Those in power have been all too effective in
controlling our attitudes toward war. We allow military recruiters in our
high schools, for God’s sake, to sell our young people on the benefits of
volunteering to fight and kill in this new era of preemptive wars. The
“No Child Left Behind” law even mandates that every student’s contact
information must be provided to military recruiters.
When the economy was relatively good before the
recession began in 2008, it was proving to be difficult to find enough
volunteers for dangerous military service.
So 29% of the Army recruits in 2007 did not even graduate from high school. This was significantly above the Army’s goal
of 10% of recruits who have not achieved even this basic level of
education. The recruitment of people
who have felony convictions increased during the Bush administration, and the
maximum enlistment age increased from 35 to 42. And increased numbers of people who were overweight and less
physically fit were recruited.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
--- English poet Samuel Johnson
Military recruitment violations dishonorably
increased by 50% in 2007. Sexual abuse
of high school girls by authority-figure recruiters despicably occurred in a
number of documented instances. This is
a mere prelude to the far-higher incidence of sexual abuse of female soldiers
by men during their military service.
This should be regarded as extremely scandalous, like the heinous abuse
of boys and girls by priests -- or by coaches of high school and college sports
programs. Military authorities should
do a better job of screening those who enlist for tendencies toward brutality,
sadism, white supremacism, sexual abuse, misogyny, emotional imbalances, and
Once military recruiters convince young people to
sign up, the recruits are indoctrinated with strict ‘boot camp’ obedience, and
patriotic duty and nationalistic fervor.
Violence, prejudice and hate are subtly preached to them. Then our nation’s troops are sent abroad,
often for questionable purposes and under false pretenses. The fact that
support for war has been achieved by exploiting fears and insecurities of the
American people is ethically wrong, and so is the use of deceptive propaganda
and constantly changing rationalizations for war.
patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
--- Clarence Darrow
29. Support Our
In my opinion, we should support our troops by NOT
sending them into harm’s way for the wrong reasons, whether mercenary,
religious or ideological, or for reasons that are contrary to the sensible
Nuremberg Principles. We should not use
deceptive justifications to attack other nations. We should extricate our troops from places they should not
Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau once created a
political cartoon with a soldier discussing with his superior officer the issue
of how we should best support our troops.
Let’s see, if we cut military funding, our soldiers would be forced to
be brought home to safety; if we support funding, and continue to occupy Iraq
and Afghanistan indefinitely, our troops would face ongoing mortal danger. “Permission to think it through
denied,” the commander ordered in the Doonesbury strip.
Republicans pretend to strongly support our troops,
but they generally are too tepid in supporting adequate funding of veterans’
facilities and healthcare for the wounded and those who are damaged
psychologically. It sure didn’t seem
like the Bush administration showed a great amount of concern for our military
personnel when it decided to attack Iraq with a politically driven war plan and
committed an inadequate amount of resources to ensure the security of our
troops and Iraqi civilians from the start.
The occupation of Iraq was initiated with severe shortages of body armor
and equipment, and the plans for the occupation were incredibly poor Blunders were made by pursuing harsh
de-Baathification policies that alienated a significant segment of the Iraqi
people. Furthermore, repeated redeployments of troops were required that forced
an undue amount of hardship on those who did the actual fighting.
in the end is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of
soldiers by politicians, and of idealists by cynics.”
Many men and women in the military have made great
personal sacrifices for their country.
If history is any indicator, veterans who survive current military duty
are unlikely to be fairly appreciated and supported in the years after they
return home, especially those who are injured or incapacitated, or who suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many returning veterans will face domestic instability, unemployment,
homelessness, drug addiction, poverty, incarceration, heightened risks of
suicide and other social ills in the coming years.
Corrosive Effects of Power
Power corrupts, and the on-going abuse of our
military power makes all Americans complicit in the worst kind of corruption,
which is violence that kills and maims thousands of innocent people. Our
military strategy of relying on aerial bombings from warplanes, attack
helicopters and drone aircraft is outrageous to the extent it inflicts
“collateral damage” harm on innocent civilians and women and children.
Smart bombs? Give us a break!
They are not smart enough, and they certainly do not give the targets of
the bombings a fair trial, or a fair shake at determining guilt!
States has used its air supremacy to drop bombs on many countries in the past
65 years. This is not intelligent or
justice-oriented foreign policy. We
have already suffered deadly blowback in the form of retaliatory attacks in
reaction to our interference in the affairs of peoples in the Middle East, due
in large part to harsh uses of economic sanctions, aggressive military
occupations, and ruthless covert operations.
The history of
the CIA shows that clandestine activities have been used to help overthrow
democratically elected governments, including that of Iran in 1953, Guatemala
in 1954, Brazil in 1964, Greece in 1967, and Chile in 1973. We have also helped overthrow dictatorships that
our leaders didn’t like. The CIA was
created to develop long-range strategic intelligence, but it has failed in many
ways, leaving a “Legacy of Ashes”, and costing more than $40 billion annually.
of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation)
is an infamous police and
military training center in Ft. Benning, Georgia. Many of Latin America’s most notorious dictators
learned the latest “counterterrorism” techniques there. Often these tactics have been used against
‘leftists’ and people like farmers in El Salvador and autoworkers in
Argentina. I submit that we should formulate our foreign
policies more wisely, and act to ensure that they are fairer, more democratic,
and more definitively oriented toward justice and peace!
How can we marshal a penetrating
introspection into the truth when paternalistic authority figures, with media
collaboration, strive to persuade us to have faith in ideas that are
delusional, erroneous, illusional or demonstrably dishonest? Reason, as Al Gore notes, is generally better
for making good decisions than fear and emotionality. Reason can trump blind faith, and faith can trump fear, and fear
can trump reason. Rock, paper,
scissors! This circularity helps to
explain the cynical tendency of shrewd demagogues to profess faith in God and
enlist emotion and fear to trump reason, and then screw the hell out of
everyone for power, profit or political advantage.
“Unthinking respect for authority is the
greatest enemy of truth.”
--- Albert Einstein
Powerful people gain and maintain
advantages and special privileges at the expense of the public by tailoring the
truth to accommodate their ambitions.
They betray America’s democratic processes by using deception,
misinformation, secrecy, intimidation, influence peddling and the suppression
of open and honest debate. Our
idealistic principles are often betrayed by an odd-fellows coalition of rich
people, corporations, Big Government, right-wing think tanks, and religious
Militarism and Madness
The checks and
balances contained in our Constitution have been undermined in recent
years. The power of the Executive
branch was substantially strengthened after the attacks of September 11,
2001. Dissenters and those with differing viewpoints were initially
marginalized, as if advocates for peace and privacy protections are traitors,
even when those people were really being more truly patriotic to our nation’s founding
ideals than those who blindly obey. We
should reject authority figures who demonstrate tyrannical tendencies of
suppressing peace movements and non-violent protests against injustices and
inequality and clandestine surveillance.
During the Civil War, World War I, World
War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War, public fears and insecurities spiked,
and the executive branch of government was allowed to exercise more power. It responded in each of these wars by abrogating
the public’s civil liberties. In a
similar manner, the seemingly endless wars of the twenty-first century are
being used to justify incursions into privacy rights and domestic civil
liberties. The executive branch also
increases its powers in times of war at the expense of the people’s
representatives in the legislative branch of government.
Our great Constitution is a ‘covenant’ that
runs from our Founding Fathers to us, and then to future generations, and it
contains no exemption from applicability during times of war. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third
President of the U.S., was a strong believer in the idea that the powers of the
federal government should be vigilantly constrained, and that human liberties
should be expanded. He recognized that
representative democracy requires safeguards.
Noting the dangers of wartime usurpations of federal government
power, he said:
we wander from (these principles) in moments of error or of alarm, let us
retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to
peace, liberty and safety.”
The U.S. successfully made a rapid shift from a
war-focused economy to a peacetime economy after the end of World War II.
Millions of armed forces personnel were brought home and given good
opportunities under the G.I. Bill.
Educational benefits and other policies were implemented that helped
strengthen a growing middle class in America.
Let’s reduce the size of our standing military, and make sure that
similarly farsighted programs are put in place to ensure a fairer society.
Mercenaries in the Fray
Mercenary contractors were used heavily in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Contractors amounted to
less than 5% of the total force deployed in World War II and the Korean War,
and about 10% in the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. But the number of contractors employed in
the occupation of Iraq was roughly 100% of the number of military
personnel. This made it easier for the
federal government to fight an unpopular war by outsourcing and privatizing
many tasks. This expensive tactic may
be good for war services companies that profit from conflicts in war zones, but
it seems like an insanely costly and foolish plan to me.
Security contractors are expensive because the work
is dangerous. They are unfortunately
subject to inadequate command and control structures, and their roles are not
adequately accountable. It is
disturbing to find out that so many private armed security contractors in
occupied nations were hired by companies like Blackwater USA (now called
Academi), which was founded by Erik Prince, a conservative evangelical
Christian. It may have reinforced the
impression that the U.S. was on a religious Crusade.
It is noteworthy that a study of chaplains in the
military revealed that there has been a distinct infiltration of the military
by evangelical Christians. The culture
of authority, duty and sacrifice in the armed forces provides fertile soil for
evangelical involvement. It offers avenues for the advancement of religious drives
to convert others, and splendid opportunities for chaplains to take advantage
of government programs that offer steady pay, generous benefits and comfortable
pensions. This infiltration of the
military by religious folk is similar to infiltrations of the military by large
numbers of white supremacists. These
are negative developments.
Non-Christians in the military should not have their religious beliefs
trampled by evangelicals.
Empirical Observations about Empire
The U.S. has built a 21-building embassy
compound in the dangerous Green Zone in Baghdad. The construction cost more than $700 million, a price that was
significantly over-budget due to poor planning and shoddy workmanship. It is the biggest embassy on the planet, and
TEN TIMES larger than any other U.S. embassy in the world. Why did we build this compound, and the
accompanying huge military bases in Iraq?
Were we expecting to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and to have this embassy
serve as an Imperial Control Center, perchance?
It is as though we were emulating the First
Emperor of China, who conscripted many thousands of laborers over many years to
build a huge mausoleum for himself in Xian, China. The Emperor had the tomb filled with thousands of terracotta
warriors to protect him “in his afterlife”.
It is a bizarre delusion that the Emperor believed this would make him
safer! As destiny and poetic irony
would have it, soon after the Emperor died in 210 BCE, the outraged Chinese
citizenry looted and all but destroyed the large monument and its
contents. What will be the fate of our
own enormous monstrosity in Baghdad?
Mortar shells flew regularly in the vicinity even during the ephemeral
period when we had a surge-level number of troops occupying the country, so its
long-term destiny does not appear to be propitious. What, are our leaders mad?
Outside the Military Box
“All of us can do something, can ask
questions, can speak up. It is the
American thing to do.
It is the patriotic thing to do.”
Zinn (I concur!)
Honestly “thinking outside the box” can be
valuable. Let’s consider this: if military spending were to be
reduced by 5% in each of the next 5 years, more than $150 billion could be
saved. If half of this were to be applied against budget deficits, we
still would have $75 billion to invest in peace building, demilitarization,
infrastructure improvements, robust emergency-response systems and personnel,
planning for sustainable development, reasonable expenditures for Homeland
Security, and other important priorities.
Can we alter our foreign policy to be more
intelligent, generous-minded and farsighted?
Can we soothe passions and find common ground in policies that are more
rational, sensible, and fairly concerned with mutual security? Can we separate religious fundamentalism
from policy-making, and marginalize the dangerously anti-democratic, male
authoritarian and ethnocentric aspects of dominance ideologies and established
religions? Can we find ways to emasculate dangerous zealotry and its
wrongful rationalizations, which often assert that our side is good and right
while the other side is evil and wrong?
Can we prevent religious extremists from providing support to terrorists
-- or politicians -- in their drives to attack innocent people or to wage
Fundamentalism, whether economic, political or
religious, is about power and dogma and control. It is NOT about economic wisdom, democratic fairness, spiritual
truth, or the righteousness of any particular God. We need to find ways to marginalize extremism in all its
forms. In particular, we should prevent
any narrow form of fundamentalism from being enshrined at the center of power!
President Bush in conversation with Palestinian officials in 2003: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, <George, go and fight
those terrorists in Afghanistan.>
And I did. And then God would
tell me, <George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.> And I did.”
Really? The costs, George, of
this proclaimed religious fanaticism, have been terrible.
The Golden Rule should be an honored American
principle. It should be a guideline for
all foreign policy considerations. As
Will and Ariel Durant observed in their fascinating book, The Lessons of History:
“Somewhere, somehow, in the name of humanity, we must challenge a
thousand evil precedents, and dare to apply the Golden Rule to nations, as the
Buddhist King Ashoaka did in 262 B.C. Magnanimity in politics may be the
trust wisdom, and a great empire and little minds go ill together.”
Let’s demand positive change along the lines of the
ideas contained in the Earth Manifesto.
Let’s follow through to remove those from power who refuse to support
progressive ideas. The staunch Strict Father “strength” of the past 50
years cannot be trusted; it is too damaging to world peace and the
ecological commons -- and it’s making almost everyone in the world less
‘Right’ is Wrong
Preemptive warfare and rash military
interventions are wrong in many ways:
wrong from standpoints of international law, wrong from perspectives of
Golden Rule fairness, and wrong in the disrespect they show for the sovereignty
of other nations. These strategies are
counterproductive and pernicious because of their tendencies to create more
enemies. In a sense we are fighting
rich people’s wars while spilling poor people’s blood. This is unconscionable!
Hear this, supporters of radical right-wing
conservatism: We must stop ignoring the mutuality of security needs in
our foreign policy determinations. A
safer world cannot be achieved by overly heavy emphasis on military actions. A
higher priority should be given to cooperative efforts designed to create fair
domestic policies and just, enforceable international laws. Such laws should be oriented toward greater
fairness and less collateral damage, and should seek to diminish poverty and
injustice everywhere. We need to
minimize frustration, resentment and humiliation, instead of stoking them.
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in
the world, and moral courage so rare.”
--- Mark Twain
There are better ways to build true justice and
peace. As Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by
force. It can only be achieved through understanding.” Not only do we need a greater empathetic
understanding of the perspectives of others, but we also need to better
understand ourselves and our national motives.
By being honest with ourselves, and fairer to all concerned parties, we
can move beyond the ‘might is right’ mindset, and truly seek peace. Let us reject the subset of ideas and
convictions that have gotten us into the danger in which we find
ourselves. Let us seek a radically
different set of ideas, understandings, pragmatic diplomatic efforts and
progressive philosophies to reduce this danger.
Numbing routines, busy lives, unexamined motivations
and obsessive pursuits can hinder our progress in this direction. Could we possibly create more profound
commitments to non-violence through finding greater peace within our
selves? Some spiritual leaders contend that a national movement that
encourages transcendental meditation would help overcome our aggressive
impulses. Repeat the mantra after
mani padme hum.
‘Understanding’ implies recognizing truths that
are more than one-sided. It means
seeing truths that are more all-encompassing.
To achieve better understanding, we need to recognize the valid
perspectives contained in alternate points of view. To understand politics in the Middle East for instance, it’s not
enough to try to understand the mentality of the Israelis, or the psychology of
Arab feelings of inadequacy of influence or their history of humiliation and
accompanying anger. It is important to
also try to understand the mentality of Americans and our leaders, and the
motivations that underlie our actions.
We should also be aware of the psychology of the Strict Father
constellation of beliefs that drives us to support leaders who talk tough, act
strong, and are militarily aggressive, as if such attitudes are the best way to
make us secure.
The Israeli documentary The
Gatekeepers delivers a compelling message.
Every one of the last six heads of the Shin Bet Israeli Security Agency
(the Israeli equivalent of the CIA) declares that their leaders should be
willing to talk with adversaries. They
express opposition to right-wing elements in their government that advocate a
unilateral military strike on Iran’s suspected nuclear development sites. “I think, after retiring from this job, you become a bit of a
leftist,” says Yaakov Peri, who ran Shin Bet from 1988 to 1994. He and his colleagues generally favor a
two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the curtailment of
Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
They are not doves or bleeding hearts, but according to one reviewer, “…
their shared professional ethos of ruthless, unsentimental pragmatism is
precisely what gives such force to their worries about the current state of
The reelection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2015 seems
to have been helped by Netanyahu’s last minute appeal to right-wing extremists
by promising that no Palestinian
state would be established as long as he remained in office. This brazen declaration does not bode well
for peace in the Middle East.
The fear and anger of Americans in the wake of the
shocking 9/11 attacks gave great impetus to belligerent, vindictive and
self-righteous voices. These
influences, compounded with our reliance on fossil fuels imported from the
Middle East, make us desperate to do whatever it takes to protect our
overweening power and to prolong our addiction to oil through military means.
Right understanding is becoming ever-more
critically important. Right
understanding implies an accurate comprehension of circumstances, an
intelligent acuity of perception, and an open-minded interpretation of the way
things are that corresponds closely to a coherent, expansive, and ethical way
of seeing. It is NOT right
understanding merely to agree with orthodox doctrines, or to conform to
political correctness, or to accept simplistic explanations, or to embrace
self-justifying convictions of absolute certainty.
Right-wing conservatives by their very nature are
averse to change. They are obsessed
with control, so they generally favor actions and policies that address only
the symptoms of problems, not their underlying causes. This seems to be true for perspectives on
war, crime, punishment, terrorism, and even social issues like teenage
pregnancy and drug use.
Perhaps conservatives think they are being
farsighted when they endorse big increases in defense spending and advocate
harsh prisoner interrogation methods.
Maybe they think it is far-sighted to support stiff sentences to deter
crimes, or support privatized education, or strive to implement abstinence-only
sex education. Maybe they really believe
it’s proper to continuously support policies that facilitate increases in
economic inequalities. Some of them
must think it is sensible to continue to enforce costly and Draconian penalties
for smoking marijuana. Many of them
love to rail against what they consider to be pornography. And most of them are committed to striving
to outlaw abortions and even to discourage the use of contraceptives. So the way they see the world, they may
actually think they favor addressing underlying causes. I believe that a more comprehensive, honest
and fair evaluation of these complex issues contradicts and refutes such
To diffuse the potential contagion represented by
this dangerous cocktail of oppositional points of view, and indeed to prevent
the increasing likelihood of expanded conflicts in the Middle East, we should
take off our blinders and one-sided ways of seeing the world. Leaders on all sides should recognize and
admit the need for fair negotiations and win/win solutions to international problems. A reasonable modicum of mutual respect
should be cultivated, and lasting commitments to diplomatic solutions should be
made. And we should reject demagoguery,
“cowboy rhetoric”, Trumpism and extremism, and instead support honorable
efforts to promote peace and mutual security.
It is essential
for good foreign policy to re-evaluate our mission and the results of actions
in light of changing circumstances and realistic understandings. An unclear mission can lead to catastrophic
results. People are generally committed
to their own self-interest without having a strong concern for the interests of
others. It is, nonetheless, important
to understand the points-of-view of adversaries, as well as of allies. Both our domestic policy and our foreign
policy should intelligently assess the effects of our actions upon others, and
take into account concerns for the general populace, not just the interests of
rich people, giant corporations and investors.
solutions do not work without strong diplomatic and pragmatic political
endeavors. We should recognize
legitimate local grievances and work to reduce tensions. In addition to rejecting military aggression
as a strategy for solving problems, the U.S. should make a serious re-evaluation
of our policies and the politicians who advance them. An emphasis on military solutions should not be used to
adjudicate power disputes or advance imperialistic agendas. We should find ways to avoid blundering into
political and social quagmires abroad in countries whose cultures we do not
militarism, and both Islamic and Christian religious fundamentalism, have been
cast in the light of infamy by developments in “the war on terror”. It has become clear what can happen when
military missions are unclear, and when religious extremists try to force their
views on all.
37. Bait and Switch Strategies
The Bush cabal
stimulated the fears of Americans in the years from 2001 through 2008. It did this partially to promote military
dominance and powerful influence for the military/industrial complex. The role of profit-obsessed war-service
industries and investors is significant in this undertaking. The political capital gained from the national tragedy of September 11th
was used to ram through a neoconservative agenda in unrelated realms of
social, economic and environmental policies. This opportunity was exploited to make regressive
changes in tax policy and to implement distinctly misguided environmental and
energy policies. It was also used to
advance oppressive policies toward poor people, women, and gay men and lesbian
crying out loud!
abused by invoking enemies to justify surveillance programs and to harass
people, repress dissent, and manipulate the press. These are shrewd but
unconscionable tricks. Terribly, terribly shrewd. Coldly calculating and mercilessly
shrewd. It’s far-right thinking, to be
sure, but far from being right, or reasonable, or sensible, or fair, or acceptable.
It is a sad irony that the 9/11 terrorist attacks
strengthened the reactionary political right in the U.S. The politics of
the “war on terror” have had the effect not only of facilitating war, but also
of enriching wealthy people at the expense of the common good and peaceful
coexistence. This is a dastardly
misfortune for the majority of people on Earth.
In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, most people in
the United States and the world became more effete pawns of politically
influential arms merchants, war profiteers, multinational oil companies,
privatization and outsourcing interests, neoconservative ideologues,
nationalistic supremacists, the gun lobby, and reactionary religious
extremists. Costly consequences have
resulted. The amount of money we are spending on the Pentagon, troops,
munitions, warfare, reconstruction, spying, covert operations, the CIA, and the
FBI is staggering. And there are 16
different intelligence agencies in the U.S. government. Is all of this necessary?
and Hopes for Peace
War hawks gained support for invading Iraq by using
several unsavory strategies. In addition to using deceptive
rationalizations and exploiting people’s fears and fabricating stories related
to the “evil dictator” Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, they
took advantage of desires for revenge and nationalistic drives for
superiority. Having sold the war to the American people, the military
then censored reports and information from the battlefield and distorted the
facts of how the war was going. The Bush administration refused to allow
news coverage of coffins coming home of soldiers who had died. The
military brass even seems to have covered up the details of the ‘friendly-fire’
killing of Pat Tillman. What the hell
really took place in that case?
“The U.S. military itself invariably conducts its
own investigations into any charges of excessive use of force, and the
investigations are normally oriented toward covering up what happened.”
--- Chalmers Johnson, in Nemesis:
The Last Days of the American Republic
Something is terribly amiss when we allow so-called
“chickenhawk” leaders who avoided military service to their country, and yet
are staunch proponents of aggressive uses of military force, to be the very
people that make decisions to wage wars. This is onerous particularly
when the missions of the aggression are unclear, and when the wars are based on
manipulative jingoistic impulses and distortions of intelligence and facts. George W. Bush’s taunting “bring ’em on” bravado foolishly put our
troops in greater danger.
Dick Cheney once explained that he had “other
priorities than military service”. I’m
sure! Many other people might have had
other priorities too, but they had fewer options than Dick Cheney, due to the
economic inequities and uneven opportunities in our society. Dick Cheney’s ideological enthusiasm for
sending troops abroad at a terribly high cost is particularly obscene in light
of the substantial conflicts of interest he had in his strong ties to business
interests that profit from war, like his ties to Halliburton and its
The hubris of
misguided American foreign policy may finally be starting to have the effect of
reducing support for the agenda of the Christian Right. This is a glimmer of a fortuitous trend, and
it is one that bodes well for religious moderates and progressives to put more
distance between themselves and the reactionary elements within their faiths. A
rejection of domineering right wing conservatives would be healthy for
democracy because it would strengthen support for a valuable separation of
church and state, and at the same time it would reinforce the right to privacy
that protects citizens from government intrusion.
A solution to the Palestinian problem needs to be
found in order to achieve peace in the Middle East. I highly recommend that all readers watch the documentary film, I Have Never Forgotten You, which
provides viewers with a compelling understanding of the horrific consequences
of the Holocaust during World War II.
The film provides valuable insight into the honorable integrity,
extraordinary anguish, and deep humanity of Simon Wiesenthal, a man driven to
make people aware of the genocide committed against millions of Jews in Nazi
concentration camps. Simon Wiesenthal
helped track down and apprehend many German war criminals who had played roles
that contributed to the Holocaust.
The terrible tragedy of the Holocaust gives a
powerful raison d’etre, a reason for
being and right to exist for the country of Israel as a haven for Jews, who
have suffered not only this genocide, but also many other persecutions and
pogroms in nations throughout the world over the centuries. Of course, giving territory to the Jews was
far from a perfect solution, because it was a calamity to many Palestinian
people whose lands were appropriated to provide a homeland for the Jews. To make this ‘right’ at this point in
history, all nations should help make an epoch-defining effort to atone for the
injustices done to the Palestinians.
Just as the world helped the Jews in 1948 by giving them a homeland, a
more secure homeland should also be created for Palestinians. A big outpouring of international support
for Palestinian prosperity and economic security is needed.
Remember that only by sowing justice can we
harvest peace. That’s my story, and I’m
sticking to it! We need to find ways to
all get along better together. This
requires collaboration and compromise and commitments to diplomatic
negotiations and win/win solutions.
This can be accomplished. All
parties should try harder to move respectfully toward a lasting solution of the
Israeli/Palestinian problem and the horrific conflict in Syria.. Only by doing this will the tinderbox in the
Middle East be made less volatile and inflammatory. This would help truly establish more secure foundations for
39. War Propaganda
“Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to
foreign policy is facilitated by war hawks that make use of hyped-up threats,
misleading rhetoric and deceptive propaganda. The media is complicit in
this, because they often get caught up in supporting the Establishment’s war
efforts. The majority of newspapers and
television and radio stations in the U.S. actively promoted the lies and
manipulations of the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of
Iraq. Catherine Austin
Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing under President George H. W. Bush
wrote: “George Orwell once said that omission is the greatest form of lie. That’s the best description I know of
corporate media today.”
The so-called Yellow Press was created more than 100
years ago to boost newspaper sales by hyping war. “Yellow journalism”
refers to widespread practices within media organizations that include fear
mongering, sensationalism, exaggeration and hawkish jingoism. I call on all journalists to be more
responsible and to demonstrate greater integrity.
The “best and the brightest” would no doubt
encourage more comprehensive news coverage and better investigative reporting
by the media, and stronger protections for courageous whistle-blowers. They would also likely support increased
diversity of news sources and opinions and the prevention of further
conglomeration in the media like that which has given Rupert Murdoch
outlandishly manipulative influence and Roger Ailes a domineering stage for
conservative propaganda on Fox News.
A big dilemma of the news business is that
public ownership of newspaper and media corporations subjects them to an
overriding need to try to make bigger profits every year. Faced with declining classified ad revenues
due to Internet competition by sites like Craig’s List, newsrooms have been
forced to cut costs, so they have developed reporting that is based to a
greater extent on opinion and entertainment value. As a result, hard news and investigative reporting and public
interest information have declined. In
the breach, ‘faux news’ and government and corporate propaganda have
expanded. This undermines valid and
As the future unfolds, will the media act
as a force for truth, enlightenment and democracy, or one of collaborative
deception and indoctrination? Will the
media be controlled by operatives who abuse their power and use fear to
manipulate people and have goals of shortsighted profit making? Will the slow demise of newspaper newsrooms
and non-partisan reporting accelerate trends toward Orwellian domination of
thought by right-wing front groups or Big Brother government or demagogues like
Trump? Or will countervailing
influences contribute to awareness, revolutionarily positive change, smart
reforms and fairer democratic governance and accountability? We’ll see!
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
Breathe deep and let go. Let’s ponder for a
moment the social dynamics of the typical American high school, because such
settings are instructive microcosms of the world. There are many cliques
in high school, like the student body leaders, football players and other
athletes, cheerleaders, cute popular girls, effeminate guys, macho bullies,
thespians, studious types, nerds, band members, spoiled rich kids, and so on.
Consider that the best student leaders in high
school were those who had social skills and charisma, and who reflected
qualities that could be described as “emotional intelligence”. The very
last type of person that young adults should elect for student body leadership
is the macho bully type. On a national
level we need to be able to filter out all the clever manipulations that result
in leaders being elected who pander to the macho bully in us all.
One of the most stubbornly effective lobbyist
organizations in the United States is the National Rifle Association. It
strongly opposes sensible gun laws such as a ban on assault weapons and
background checks for everyone who buys a gun. The unbalanced, wrong-headed
and negative influence of this aggressive right-wing industry should be
reduced. This is an excellent reason to get the detrimental influence of
Big Money out of our political process, as recommended by Clean Money
advocates. See Chapter #49 of the Comprehensive Global Perspective for
further details on Clean Money campaigns and the salubrious effect they would
likely have on politics and our lives.
Many conservative leaders staunchly defend
extreme interpretations of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights,
advancing the interests of the gun lobby.
But they also ironically support efforts by some who want to erode
protections of free speech contained in the First Amendment, or of fair trial
and habeas corpus rights contained in the Fourth Amendment. They also seem willing to look the other way
and ignore Geneva Convention agreements against torture, and to support the
abrogation of international arms control treaties, and indeed to commit crimes
under international law by waging wars of aggression.
Militant forces are the driving energy
behind our nation’s refusal to ratify
the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. This is a sad
state of affairs because our endorsement of this agreement would have helped
eliminate the indiscriminately deadly use of landmines. Princess Diana was involved in the
humanitarian project to rid the world of landmines, and in her honor we
Americans should step forward and endorse the Mine Ban Treaty, which most of
the nations in the world have signed.
Listen to President George W. Bush, when he gave a
commencement address at West Point Military Academy in May 2006: “Like the Cold
War, we are fighting the followers of a murderous ideology that despises
freedom, questions all dissent, has territorial ambitions and pursues
My eyes roll.
My mouth sags open. When Bush
said this, he seemed more disposed than terrorists to vaulting ideological
ambitions and the unopposed power to impinge on the freedoms of American
citizens. Why are the American people
so gullible as to allow such leaders to follow perverse domestic and foreign
policies such as the ones put in place by right-wing conservatives?
The Cold War was a struggle between the United
States and the Soviet Union for economic, political and military
dominance. Ideological foundations that
sustained this fear-exacerbated conflict include a battle of ideologies that
was framed as a struggle of capitalism against communism, and thus of Freedom
(equality be damned) against Equality (freedom be damned). It was also a fight between proponents of
the rights of capital against the rights of workers, and between those who
espouse unbridled competition against those whose economies are organized
according to more centralized planning.
No matter what else can be said about it, the Cold
War was extraordinarily costly. It was
a social and environmental calamity for both the Soviet Union and the United
States. The opportunity costs of the
enormous expenditures involved are hard to fully fathom, but the world could
have been much saner if more resources had been devoted to fairer and more
salubrious purposes. The Cold War
helped bankrupt the Soviet Union, at terrible cost to the people of that
country, and it consumed huge amounts of energy and resources. Hindsight tells us that, if we could have
devised a better way to defuse such strife instead of having so adamantly
stoked it, the vast majority of people in the world would have been better off.
The Western world is still mindlessly crowing about the
valiant victory of capitalism over godless communism. But we are deluded to fail to recognize that this was a Pyrrhic
victory, one that has left us with a bloated and entrenched military-industrial
complex that can hardly be honestly regarded as good, moral, necessary, right
Neoconservative foreign policy was a form of
crackpot imperialist adventurism. It
was driven by our addiction to oil and military domination, and by our failure
to prevent entrenched energy, defense and war service industries from having
overwhelming influence in Congress and the White House. Vast fortunes are made on fossil fuels and
weapons systems and profligate government spending, and this state of affairs
is facilitated by a type of propaganda known as the ‘Big Lie’.
The “Big Lie” Phenomenon
“Big Lie” is a term first coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf, and it was made famous by Josef Goebbels, the
propaganda minister for the German Third Reich. The idea was simple enough:
if you tell a ‘big lie’ often enough, most people will come to accept it
as the truth. During World War II, the
U.S. Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor organization to the CIA),
described how the Germans used the Big Lie:
“Their primary rules were: never
allow the public to cool off; never
admit a fault or wrong; never concede
that there may be some good in your enemy;
never leave room for alternatives;
never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for
everything that goes wrong; people will
believe a big lie sooner than a little one;
and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later
Some say that the “war on terror” is the most
pernicious modern example of the Big Lie phenomenon. This offensive has been sold to the American people as an
undertaking designed to make us safer, yet this can be seen in the larger
context to be a gambit of global hegemony, just as Adolf Hitler’s invasions of
other countries were. The war on terror
has inadvertently created a more dangerous and less stable world. Many of our national actions since September
11, 2001 have been misguided and illegal under international law. We have indulged in preemptive wars of
aggression and military occupations of two entire nations. It is revealing that the attacks on
Afghanistan and Iraq were being evaluated as possibilities well before 9/11.
The “war on terror” is a classic example of a Big
Lie because it creates fear embodied in an exaggerated myth. The purpose of this pathetic tactic is to
exploit circumstances to advance the goals of narrowly focused interest
groups. The five most significant
deceptions promoted by the Bush administration in the run up to the wars in the
Middle East are these:
(1) It claimed that no one could have imagined
terrorists hijacking airplanes to be used as missiles; (2) It asserted that Saddam Hussein was
partially responsible for the 9/11 attacks;
(3) It implied Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were
an imminent threat to the U.S.; (4) It
denied that these wars had anything to do with control of oilfields in Iraq or
a Unocal oil pipeline across Afghanistan;
and (5) It claimed these wars would be fought to make Americans safer.
Culpabilities of Manichean Righteousness and Brazen Presumption
leaders tend to portray issues in terms of good guys -- us! -- and
“evil-doers”, who are an amorphous and ambiguous group of demonized
“others”. Yet, the fact of the matter
is that the U.S. has a sordid and ignominious past that includes a bloody role
in international affairs. In addition
to CIA backing of numerous military coups abroad over the years, our government
has routinely interfered in the affairs of nations worldwide. We staunchly support regimes that repress
their citizens, like the regime in theocratic Saudi Arabia, which is an
extremely undemocratic country. The
U.S. has many times used clandestine operations to foment regime change abroad. This has not been done in the interest of
democracy or justice, but in furthering the interests of corporate power,
profiteering, hawkish supremacy or unalloyed ambition. These drives have been accompanied by deeply
amoral and unfair policies and attitudes that smack of being preachy,
unbalanced, overly macho, hubris-filled and even swaggeringly monomaniacal.
The intelligence agencies and secret police
of the old Soviet Union were often regarded as merciless, with their Gulag
prisons and all. But fewer people are
aware of the nefarious role that the American CIA has played in international
politics. Recall again that the CIA
helped topple Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh
in 1953 and install the despotic Shah, whose notorious Iranian secret police
known as the SAVAK ruthlessly repressed the people of Iran for more than 25
Consider Saddam Hussein. Evil?
He killed thousands of his own people, and waged a war against Iran from
1980 to 1988 in which ONE MILLION people died.
He invaded Kuwait in 1990, and when a coalition of forces led by the
U.S. vanquished him from Kuwait in February 1991, he caused hundreds of Kuwaiti
oil wells to be blown up and set on fire, committing one of the most egregious
environmental crimes in all of world history.
So, how did Saddam Hussein get into
power? Oops! -- he was able to take
over the Iraqi government in a palace coup after years of help from the
CIA. How did he get the chemical and
biological weapons that were used in the war against Iran and later against
Iraqi Kurds? Surprise! -- they were
probably obtained from U.S. sources during the Reagan administration, when the
U.S. covertly sided with Iraq by providing arms for the Iraqi war of aggression
Why did Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait in
1990? Some have said it was related to
Saddam’s meeting with April Glaspie, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, which took
place eight days prior to that first Gulf War in 1990. In that meeting, Ambassador Glaspie is
purported to have encouraged Hussein’s ambitions, saying, “… we have no opinion on your Arab-Arab
conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.
James Baker (then Secretary of State) has instructed our official
spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”
Consider Osama bin Laden -- he was the
epitome of evil, right? How did he gain
the stature of arch villain? Let’s see,
here are the facts: The U.S. government
opposed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. We gave money and arms to the mujahedeen,
who were Muslim guerrillas that fought the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
for many years. Osama bin Laden was a
wealthy Saudi who supported the mujahedeen, so the CIA assisted him in his
efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Soviet invaders that Muslims regarded as
“infidels”. We supported Osama bin
After the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in
defeat in 1989, the ruthless Taliban came to power. We congratulated ourselves on the covert operations of “Charlie
Wilson’s War” that helped bring down the Soviet Union, and then we abandoned
Afghanistan to a fate of turmoil and oppression. The Taliban were a vicious group of backward looking, woman
oppressing and terrorism-supporting rulers who regarded Americans as the new
foreign infidels once the Soviet invaders had been vanquished. So it can be seen that our government has actually
created many of its own international woes, and we should now demand that
smarter and fairer plans be undertaken.
Secrecy and Stupidity
American economic sanctions and military
interventions in the Middle East have given credence to Islamic fundamentalists’
characterization of Uncle Sam as “the Great Satan”. The United States has posed more of a threat to the Muslim world
than the Soviet Union did. This is one
reason Osama bin Laden and other terrorists committed themselves to making our
foreign policies in the Arab world prohibitively expensive. In this respect,
they have been remarkably successful.
We cannot accept the deceptions of our
leaders that have resulted in spending well over one trillion dollars on a
broad “war on terror” that ignores fairer priorities, truer justice, graver
threats, and smarter courses of action.
Part of the reason we have gotten into the
dangerous foreign predicaments we are involved in today is because the Bush
administration was one of the most secretive ever. Our nation perpetrated many incidents of punitively harsh
interrogations and merciless torture in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and in an
untold number of other places where CIA “prisoner renditions” were used. This stunt involved the kidnapping of
suspects -- some of them entirely innocent -- to send them to secret prisons
abroad. We should commit our nation to
never again using punitive Gestapo-like ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques. Torture and ‘confessions’ that are coerced
do not yield reliable information, and they endanger the safety of our troops
who could be tortured in reprisal if taken prisoner. Indeed, they make our nation less secure by increasing the
probabilities of blowback retaliation in reaction to these provocations.
Long-term incarcerations in the prison at
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba are a symbol of harsh imprisonment, and thus
an additional stain on our reputation as a country that abides by international
laws and treaty agreements.
A Brigadier General who taught “prisoner of war
interrogation” to soldiers in the U.S. Army for 18 years once said that torture
tactics are not only morally wrong, but that they undermine our values and put
our national security at greater risk.
Politicians who play loose with waterboarding and brutality in
interrogations have abused their powers for sometimes-repugnant ideological
Daviel Levin, a former U.S. Acting Assistant
Attorney General, agreed to be waterboarded to determine if he would find the
practice to be a form of torture. Levin
“knew that those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him
at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die; still, with all that reassurance, he could
not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror,
could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who
exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and
name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn’t
drowning. Waterboarding, he said, is
torture. Practically, it is
torture! Legally, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture!”
The late journalist Christopher Hitchens also
voluntarily underwent a session of waterboarding. He noted that the technique is essentially a slow drowning. He concluded, “… if waterboarding does not
constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”
Nonetheless, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and
Attorney General Michael Mukasey were unwilling to admit that waterboarding is
torture. The Bush administration fired
courageous Daviel Levin who had voluntarily undergone the practice. Levin was viewed as ‘too independent’, even
though he was just honorably trying to evaluate the true impact of the
procedure. The administration seems to
have preferred loyalty to its policies rather than honesty to the American
people. The President and Vice
President should have stopped circumventing the rule of law and the balance of
powers, and instead honored the Mission Statement of the Department of Justice,
which is “to ensure public safety” and “to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all
Americans”. Torturing detainees did not
accomplish these goals!
The U.S. spends more money on munitions and
“intelligence” that any country ever.
But our leaders have misused this power to crush ‘evil enemies’,
claiming that God is on our side. The
ends we have pursued conflict with democratic fairness, true justice and moral
rectitude. Altogether, these
developments are wrong-headed. We
should begin a new era of more intelligent, just, open and respectful foreign
policies that adhere to domestic and international rules of law. We should shift our course, and stop
violating international agreements.
Many people advocate that we become members of the International
Criminal Court and support the prosecution of individuals who cause war crimes,
genocide and crimes against humanity.
We are challenged to think about what is
being done in our name by the CIA and personnel in U.S. military intelligence,
and by prison guards and administrators.
Some say that “a few bad apples” were responsible for the Abu Ghraib
prisoner humiliation scandal. A close
investigation, like that done by Errol Morris in his documentary film, Standard Operating Procedure, reveals
that the photographs taken probably show only the tip of the iceberg of abuse,
humiliation and violence against prisoners.
The infamous pictures taken in Abu Ghraib by prison guards are deeply
disturbing, but one must realize that corrosive corruption starts at the top of
the chain of command. If there are no
photos, it doesn’t happen? If the
waterboarding videos have been destroyed, then it’s “no harm, no foul”?
War crimes are mainly the responsibility of
policy deciders, not just the sadistic acts of stress-crazed pawns who are used
as scapegoats for those higher up. The
military hierarchy is generally effective in covering up the truth of horrid
crimes that occur in the conduct of war -- the beatings, brutality, harsh interrogation
tactics, and vile punishment procedures, occasionally of people who are
completely innocent. Extensive
corruption, and fog-of-war power abuses, and rationalizations that say “shit
happens”, and sexual humiliations of prisoners, and intimidation by vicious
dogs, and various other psychological atrocities are an incidental
boots-on-the-ground expression of military supremacy gambits and the “shock and
awe” arrogance of power and domination.
Humiliated male prisoners on leashes led by
female guards? This is a repulsive
image. Is this how some Americans think
men in the Arab world should be treated?
Think about it. There is hardly
a better reason to AVOID getting involved in wars. We degrade not only others with our wartime involvements and
behaviors, but also our own soldiers -- and ourselves.
It is not just those caught in our
oppressive operations that are degraded and harmed. Our troops have suffered a large number of terrible
injuries. Hundreds of thousands of American
military personnel are coming home from the Middle East with deep psychological
wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the fear, trauma,
horror and deep sense of helplessness associated with wartime experiences.
Our foreign policy deciders have not only cost
us huge sums of money and damaged our moral standing in the world, but they
have ruined the lives of millions of people.
We keep trying to sweep this failure of misguided undertakings under the
carpet. From now on, let’s try harder
to PREVENT wars! Let us commit our
nation to war prevention and diplomacy, NOT pre-emptive invasions. I plead this case to the successors of
George W. Bush and his war enthusiast cohorts.
Sow justice to harvest peace!
Pretexts for War and False Flag Operations
A false flag operation is a type of ruse that has
taken many forms over the years. One
type is a covert operation used to make it appear that some group has attacked
a nation so that the leaders of that nation are able to use the incident as a
pretext to launch a war, or advance an agenda to gain more control, power,
domination, or narrow political ambition.
One famous instance of a probable false flag
operation was a fire that broke out in the German Parliament building, the
Reichstag, on February 27, 1933. Adolf
Hitler had been appointed as Chancellor of Germany just one month before the
fire, and he used the incident to invoke emergency government powers on THE
VERY NEXT DAY after the fire. He rammed
through a “Reichstag Fire Decree” that immediately suspended many civil
liberties in Germany. Democracy was
thus basically abolished overnight in a more or less legal manner. An Enabling Act soon followed that gave
Hitler powers like that of a dictator.
These acts led eventually to the devastating German aggression of World
War II. Serious evidence points to
perfidious Nazi collaboration in the setting of the Reichstag fire, though
Communists were scapegoated for the conflagration.
Let us not make the dangerous mistake of deceiving
ourselves into believing that the U.S. is immune from being subjected to a more
repressive regime. We could be only one
Reichstag-fire-like incident away -- one day away! -- from a reactive enabling
law of our own that would seriously erode our civil liberties and reduce
democratic representation in government.
If we want to heighten that risk, Trump’s the guy!
The Bush/Cheney cabal used the threat of terrorism
after 9/11 to undermine civil liberties of the American people. They advanced their agenda using the Patriot
Act, the Military Commissions Act, the suspension of habeas corpus, the
suppression of dissent, domestic spying, the use of harsh ‘enhanced
interrogation techniques’, and evasions of rules of law through uses of
‘signing statements’ and FBI ‘national security letters’. The federal government also violated the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
artists and intellectuals, blamed liberals, tried to undermine critical
thinking in public education, cut funding for public broadcasting, and helped
facilitate an increased concentration of the media in corporate hands so that
giant corporations would dominate television, and right-wing personalities like Rush Limbaugh would dominate talk radio.
characteristics of our right-leaning leaders in recent years ominously resemble
the fascist dictatorships in the past century. The hallmarks of fascist
dictatorships have been: belligerent nationalism, deceptive propaganda,
judicial manipulation, harsh punishments, aggressive expansions of prisons, extensive corruption, crony favoritism, the
oppression of workers, expanded corporate power, a pandering to religious fundamentalists, role rigidity, male
dominion, homophobia, anti-gay legislation, racism, sexism, opposition to
abortion, and the cultivation of divisiveness, fear, prejudice and hate.
We Americans should remain alert to the dangers to
us and our children from a serious usurpation of emergency powers by our
government that would severely limit our civil liberties. We should avoid provocations or miscalculations
with countries like Iran and Russia. We
should act to prevent false flag operations that could materialize in the form
of a staged terrorist act or even a radioactive mushroom cloud. There is a grave danger that we may not be
able to trust that our government will someday actually be on the side of doing
everything in its power to prevent this!
Some of the last actions of Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf demonstrated how
desperate the struggle for personal political survival can become, and how inimical
such developments can be to citizen liberty.
Sinclair Lewis wrote the 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here, about “Buzz”
Windrip, a southern politician who campaigned on family values, patriotism and
defending the flag. Windrip portrayed
any person who was concerned with individual rights and freedoms as being
anti-American. He basically was
advocating a form of totalitarianism.
And, yes -- it could happen here.
Sinclair Lewis would have agreed with the idea frequently misattributed
to him: “When fascism comes to America,
it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying the cross.” That’s a scary idea!
In the run-up to all American wars of the past
century, war plans and preparations have been made in advance, and war
propaganda has been promulgated and propagated preparatory to launching the
war. These preparations have been
followed by a pretext that is used to get the nation into war. This pretext has generally been so suspiciously
convenient and so surrounded by mysterious circumstances, that the pretexts can
be seen in retrospect as a type of cunning calculation that falls into a
category of cultivated ignorance (‘letting it happen’), or of intentional
provocation, or of outright orchestration by means of a covert false flag
The pretext for getting the U.S. into a war against
Spain in 1898 was the mysterious bombing of the USS Maine in the harbor of
Havana. The pretext for the U.S. to
become involved in World War I in 1915 was the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by
a German submarine. The pretext for our
entry into World War II was a surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941.
Perhaps most damning, the U.S. used a pathetic
pretext to get involved in the war in Vietnam.
This was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. This was either a direct American provocation of the North
Vietnamese or a false flag attack that Wikipedia describes as having been “declassified
as a deliberate contrivance of information to provide a pliable justification
for declaring war on Vietnam”.
This brings us to a closer consideration of the
pretext for our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq: the 9/11 attacks and the soon-thereafter declared “war on
The Mysteries of 9/11
When trying to either solve a ‘Who Dunnit?’
mystery or get to the bottom of a crime, readers and investigators know that
it’s important to look at all the motives, means and opportunities of those
suspected of committing a crime. It is
also significant to evaluate all available clues and forensic evidence and to
assess the character and veracity of all suspects. Misrepresentations, distortions, and inconsistencies in the
evidence must be considered.
Have you ever served on a jury? American citizens have a civil duty to serve
on criminal juries from time to time, and it turns out to be an educational
experience in collaborative decision-making and Constitutional democracy. Jurors are given the responsibility of
acting as judges of the evidence. The
process reveals how a unanimous consensus can be reached among twelve people
who are empowered to listen without prejudice to all testimony, and to evaluate
it, and to respectfully debate the details, express their opinions, and work
together in deliberations that are designed to reach a just decision.
Prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and
experts all have their individual biases, so it is up to the jurors to
evaluate, make reasonable judgments, and come up with a verdict based on all
the direct and circumstantial evidence in the context of the pertinent laws. It does not matter where individual jurors
fall on a continuum of personal perspectives, ranging from law-and-order
hard-liners to sympathetic empathizers, from conservatives to liberals; all of
the jurors agree to give fair consideration to the case.
All witnesses are sworn in, solemnly swearing that
they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is quite amazing how much conflicting
‘truth’ jurors hear. It makes one
wonder about the nature of truth, and the surprising extent to which people
prevaricate, equivocate, tergiversate -- i.e. distort the truth! In almost every case, the defendant pleads
“not guilty”, no matter how convincing the evidence of likely actual guilt.
Most Americans would probably agree that one of
the most egregious crimes so far this century was the 9/11 hijackings and
attacks. These crimes resulted in the
deaths of more than 3,000 people in the World Trade Center buildings and the
Pentagon and on the hijacked airplanes.
It would be logical to try to find out exactly what happened, and who
perpetrated this crime, and who helped plan it, and who helped finance it. These issues are important to people
everywhere, because in a rush to judgment and retribution the United States
invaded Afghanistan, and then followed up with a bait-and-switch attack on
Iraq. Furious bombing campaigns ensued
that devastated property and killed untold numbers of innocent civilians.
of looking into all the facts of 9/11, and judging them on their merits, a
media circus of confusion and outrage unfolded. Secrecy shrouded the details of the terrorist attacks. Officials of the federal government
obstructed an investigation for many months before an official investigation
was even approved.
urge you to think about this issue like a dispassionate juror, and to give this
matter some serious consideration. Read
Richard Clarke’s book, Against All
Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror.
Since Richard Clarke was the counterterrorism czar under Bill Clinton
and during the first year of the Bush administration, he well knew that the
administration studiously ignored the gathering threats of an attack, and
indeed was highly motivated before the attacks to find reasons to invade
Iraq. Subsequent information has also
come to light about motives for U.S. support of an attack on Afghanistan well
before 9/11 (it concerns a UNOCAL pipeline across Afghanistan, “a top priority
of the Bush administration from the outset”).
in mind the context that the militant Neoconservative think tank, the “Project
for the New American Century”, had a powerful influence on high-level
government officials in the administration of George Bush. The 1997 “Statement of Principles” of the
Project for the New American Century conveyed serious enthusiasms for
increasing levels of military spending and dominating projections of U.S.
military power. Section V,
euphemistically titled Rebuilding
America’s Defenses, included the chilling observation that the supremacist
goals endorsed by this think tank would likely take a long time to achieve,
“absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor.”
would be extraordinarily cynical to suppose that any American would ever
conspire to assist a group of terrorists in perpetrating a lethal attack
against thousands of innocent people in our nation. But there is cogent evidence pointing to the possible heinous
culpability of officials in our government looking the other way as the 9/11
hijackings happened, or even of having had a hand in helping make them
happen. I challenge readers to remain
open-minded on this topic. I know, I
KNOW, I know: it would be too dastardly
for serious consideration to imagine that any American could contemplate such
treachery; no group could be so stupid
as to take such a monumental risk of being exposed as the most damnable
traitors ever; no one could have
carried out such skullduggery, or been so successful in keeping it a
secret; one would have to be a
completely crazy conspiracy theorist to be able to imagine any possibility
whatsoever of such preposterous perfidy.
our leaders have not been adequately forthcoming with the people. They definitely created suspicion that they
were not telling the whole truth to the American people. Why did the Bush administration put up such
strong resistance to an investigation into the circumstances that led up to the
9/11 attacks? Why? After months of opposing an investigation,
the administration was finally forced to cave in to pressure to look into the
attacks by creating the 9/11 Commission.
Then it appointed Philip D. Zelikow as Executive Director of the
Commission, despite the fact that his impartiality was seriously compromised by
his intimate connections to the administration -- and by his authorship of a National Security Strategy “white paper” in 2002 that
specifically advocated pre-emptive war and unilateral actions without
hesitation, “if necessary”. Many other
conflicts of interest arose that indicate Zelikow’s role in the Commission was
not appropriate for finding out the whole truth.
Then the administration stonewalled the inquiry by the
Commission for many weeks. There was
little official cooperation with the Commission. The Pentagon “ordered five key witnesses not to testify” about a
classified military planning effort known as Able Danger. And George W. Bush refused to testify under
The Commission did a poor job of answering a significant
portion of the more than 400 questions posed by the ‘Jersey Girls’ spouses and
other members of September 11 families.
When the Commission’s report was eventually published, it contained
significant omissions and distortions.
It was a unanimous report, meaning that any detail that was too
controversial was required to be omitted.
The report did not even mention the inexplicable collapse of Building 7
of the World Trade Center complex! And
the Commission astonishingly dismissed the question of who had financed the
attacks as being “of little practical significance”. Really, members of the jury?!
The issue of who paid for the suicide terrorists flight training and
expenses has NO BEARING on who might have been behind the scenes and involved
in the atrocious attacks?
I urge people to watch the compelling Internet film, Zeitgeist Movie (at zeitgeistmovie.com). The film manifests a ‘triumph of the will’ in its
sheer audacity of provocative political theater, valuable skepticism of
religious dogma, humor, bold analysis of 9/11 mysteries, mind-challenging
suspicions, and Libertarian perspective of the bankers who control the
financial markets in the world. The
film brings to mind this observation by President John F. Kennedy:
enemy of the truth is very often not the lie:
deliberate, continued, and dishonest;
but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
is most people’s natural tendency to deny any possibility that the CIA, the
Pentagon, or others in the federal government could have been complicit in the
9/11 attacks. But if one spends some
time perusing the “Top 40 Reasons to Doubt the Official Story of September 11,
2001” (found at 911Truth.org), or listening to Richard Gage’s astounding Power
Point presentation of Explosive Evidence
– Experts Speak Out at “ae911truth.org”, a bizarre story emerges. Richard Gage, the founder of Architects and
Engineers for 9/11 Truth, provided compelling analytical insights into why the
official story of the 9/11 attacks “can’t possibly be true”. Check out the documentary film, 9/11: Press for Truth for startling
information about the timeline of terrorist threats that led up to the
Another compelling avenue of information can be found in the
provocative book by Michael C. Ruppert entitled Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of
the Age of Oil. How could it have NO practical significance, if it turns out to
be true, that operatives in the Pakistani Secret Police (the ISI) were involved
in wire-transferring money to Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 terrorist ringleader who
crashed the first airplane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center
The facts that the U.S. spends $40
billion every year on 16 organizations involved in intelligence, and that there
are thousands of people with top-secret clearances, could imply that it’s
possible for clandestine operators to have been involved in the collapse of
Building 7 in World Trade Center complex.
There is extensive forensic evidence that thermite and explosives may
have been used to topple Building 7, which was not hit by an airplane but nonetheless
collapsed a full eight hours after the North and South Towers fell. Building 7 collapsed in a manner exactly
consistent with the way a building falls into its own footprint during a
controlled demolition, as can be seen in videos of the collapse. There are more than 666,000
government employees who hold top-secret clearances, so a it’s not impossible
that a few of them in the inner echelons could have been involved in complete
“Conspiracy theory” conclusions abound concerning the government’s
role in the 9/11 attacks. This is
partially due to the simple reason that so much of the official 9/11 story
seems to be so full of holes. Let us
contemplatively join President Bush reading The
Pet Goat in a Florida classroom with second-graders on 9/11, and consider
the emotions that roiled him as he sat stunned for 7 full minutes after being
informed by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that “America is under
attack” after a second airplane had flown into World Trade Center Buildings. Why had the President ignored the CIA’s
Presidential Daily Briefing a month before 9/11, in which hijacking of
airplanes was mentioned as a danger?
(It was titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’”) Why had our air defenses stood down while
the hijacked planes were en route to their targets?
An honest and curious juror would give skeptical consideration
to reading the synopsis found at 911Truth.org of the Top 40 Reasons to Doubt
the Official Story of September 11, 2001.
And then that juror might even join those who are still calling for a
new and truly independent investigation.
an aside, make no mistake about it: the
9/11 Commission Report did contain some valuable perspectives. The chapter “More Than a War on Terrorism”
clearly indicates that bombers and troops are not enough to combat
terrorism. The authors of this chapter
note: “Long-term success demands the uses of all
elements of national power: diplomacy,
intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid,
public diplomacy, and homeland defense.”
Several of the
Commission’s recommendations have still not been implemented, including
sensible oversight of homeland security by Congress, the improvement of public
safety communications, and a better integration of the vast U.S. intelligence
community under a coordinated national intelligence agency. Bureaucratic resistance to smart reforms
sometimes wholly exceeds the power of common sense, even at the expense of
improved national security!
47. The Nature of
A frog placed in a pot of water that is slowly brought from
room temperature to a boil is reputedly unable to detect the subtly increasing
temperature and will be poached to death without realizing its
predicament. I don’t particularly
believe this, and I like frogs too much to want to conduct an experiment to
confirm it. But in an allegorical
sense, such a story is quite tantalizing.
Every person is conditioned to their own unique worldviews by
their upbringing, their education, their peer exposures and the culture they
live in. Mass communications like
newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, books and the Internet also
have powerful influences. Since this is
the case, there are two countervailing curiosities: (1) that so wide a variety of viewpoints can develop which range
along generalized continuums from conservative to liberal, regressive to
progressive, conforming to rebelling, selfishly uncompassionate to generously
empathetic, and extremely closed-minded to rationally open-minded; and (2) that each community and national
culture tends to develop prevailing premises and dominant worldviews and a
Zeitgeist of the times that reflects frames of reference that are powerful
determinants in the aggregate expression of each society over time.
To be less abstruse, just think of it this way: there are subtle impacts of prevailing
narratives, propaganda, persuasive advertising and doctrinaire spin to which
people in a society are exposed.
Imagine, for instance, how much different it must have been to have
lived in the bleak communist Soviet Union during the Cold War than it was to
have lived in a consumer-mad capitalist American city. Or imagine how different it must be to live
in Ayatollah-dominated Iran today than to be living in the Bible belt of the
United States, or in an advanced metropolitan area in more progressive
Emotions and inculcated faith have an astonishingly
influential impact on people’s supposedly rational thought processes. Fears, insecurities, drives to belong, and
pressures to conform are easy for our representatives and their puppet-string
animators to exploit. (I refer to
powerful wealthy people, of course.)
The insiders that effectively control our economies and political
processes manipulate us by framing debates to their narrow advantage. They use their ideological influence to
control people and maintain their dominion and special advantages. They reassure us that good times will trickle
down to the majority of Americans one of these days, along with some benefits
from the huge tax breaks we give to rich people. Keep these ideas in mind as you are exposed to news stories,
political arguments, and war enthusiasms here in the twenty-first century.
should be a last resort. Resource wars
should be prevented. We should kick our
addiction to fossil fuels by adopting a program like the Apollo Alliance’s
“Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence”.
coexistence should be given a higher value and priority. The motives for
war should be limited to absolutely necessary ones, like justified
self-defense, rather than offensive ones like economic domination, resource
accessing, profiteering or getting rid of foreign leaders who defy our
demands. Foreign policy should more seriously honor mutual security,
sovereignty, statesmanship, and constructive diplomacy. We cannot allow
our leaders to mislead us into war for partisan purposes, or for ones that are
provocative, diversionary, radically unjust, mercenary, or in violation of international
rules of law.
Militarism is a poor path to peace. U.S. foreign policy revolves
around harshly penalizing peoples whose leaders do not agree with us, and
alternately rewarding leaders of countries that support us, even if they
harshly repress their own people. The largely secret relationship between
the Bush family and the dictatorial ruling family of Saudi Arabia is
shocking; some say it was treasonous to
our democracy. Read House of Bush,
House of Saud for more information on this.
Americans have become a
bit numb and complacent to the terrible injustices of wars that are being
fought in our names. Our society today
provides an odd contrast to the 1960s, when America was a hotbed of protest,
exploration, outrage, and political demonstrations for peace and love. Today, the outrage over war and injustice
has yet to coalesce into enough momentum to get us to significantly reduce our
military spending, even though many people who voted for Barack Obama in the
year 2008 cherished hopes that he would pursue this goal.
It seems at times as if an
Orwellian mind-control movement has succeeded in overwhelming our natural
senses of fair play, even among those aware of the horrors caused by merciless
ambition, fear-manipulated compulsions and overarching greed.
Many Americans’ engagement in public life has atrophied as we
have become obedient consumers and investors eager to gain maximized returns,
and most are not deeply engaged citizens.
And with good reason, for it seems futile for the nearly 5 million
Americans who contributed $200 or less to political campaigns in 2014, to
support candidates they wanted to represent them, to have been outspent by the
100 biggest donors.
To be better citizens, we should evolve from being merely good
consumers to more community-oriented participants in our democracy. If we focus human creativity on bright ideas
for problem solving, and keep the common good foremost in mind, we might be
able to prevent dangerous states of poverty, humiliation, resignation and despair. The shining light of rationality and reason
reveal that “war approaches” -- like the war on terror, the war on drugs, and
wars for oil -- are approaches that are simply too counterproductive and costly
and risky to be continued.
Clear thinking, freedom of expression, moral courage and good
conscience could help us overcome the obstruction of those who support our
nation’s war agenda. And let’s demand
honest campaign finance reform!
Individual liberties can be protected and our national safety can be
better ensured if we are somehow inspired to embrace the greater social
good. Let’s roll!
to this poetic perspective, quoted by the wonderful poet David Whyte in his
I know the
truth – give up all other truths!
No need for people anywhere on earth to struggle.
Look – it is evening, look, it is nearly night:
What do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?
The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,
the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet.
And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we
who never let each other sleep above it.
A Poem by Marina Tsvetayeva ~
In conclusion, let’s find better ways to create peace and to
vanquish injustice and war. Let’s
support higher values and bigger picture understandings, and choose to seek
mutually beneficial means of achieving peaceful coexistence, wiser priorities,
fairer justice, and a more sane treatment of our beautiful and providential
Thanks for reading, and for your consideration of
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain,
First published online in 2008;
modified a number of times between then and August 2016.