A passenger plane carrying 172 people from Tehran has been forced to make an emergency landing after almost being hit by Syrian air defenses in response to an Israeli airstrike over Damascus. Former UK MP George Galloway joins In Question to discuss.
The Trump “Vision for Peace” will never be implemented – and not because the Palestinians reject it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s enthusiastic public embrace of the plan belies the fact that the Israeli right detest it too.
The headlines are that, with US blessing, Israel’s dream is about to be realised: it will be able to annex its dozens of illegal settlements in the West Bank and the vast agricultural basin of the Jordan Valley. In return, the Palestinians can have a state on 15 per cent of their homeland.
But that is not the real aim of this obviously one-sided “peace” plan. Rather, it is intended as the prelude to something far worse for the Palestinians: the final eradication of the last traces of their political project for national liberation.
US President Donald Trump’s plan is neither a blueprint for peace nor a decree from the heart of the US empire. Rather it is a decoy, an enormous red herring created in Tel Aviv and then marketed by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Trump may think his vision could lead to a “realistic” two-state solution. Even many critics assume it envisions the establishment of a highly circumscribed, enfeebled Palestinian state. But for Israeli leaders it serves another purpose entirely: it provides diplomatic cover while they put the finishing touches to their version of a one-state solution inside Greater Israel.
Netanyhau has crafted a “deal of the century” designed to fail from the outset – and managed it through deeply partisan White House intermediaries like David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, and Kushner. For all of them, its purpose is to provide a fresh alibi for Israel and Washington to continue disappearing the Palestinians more than two decades after the illusions of the earlier Oslo Accords “peace” process can no longer be sustained.
Israeli bad faith
That this is intended as a grand deception should not surprise us. The current plan follows a tried and tested tradition of US-dominated “peacemaking” that has utterly failed to bring peace but has succeeded triumphantly in smothering and erasing historic Palestine, gradually transforming it into Greater Israel.
Trump’s deal is, in fact, the third major framework – after the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan and the Oslo accords initiated in 1993 – supposedly offering territorial partition between Israelis and Palestinians. The lesson of each has been that Israel and the US have returned after each inevitable and intended failure to offer the Palestinians even less of their homeland.
On each occasion, Israel (and before its creation, the Zionist leadership) has signed up to these peacemaking initiatives in bad faith, forcing Palestinians, as the weaker party, to reject them. And each time, that rejection has been weaponised by Israel – used as a pretext to steal more territory.
This plan is no different from the others. It is simply the latest iteration of a pattern of settler-colonial expansion sponsored by Western powers. But this time, if Israel succeeds, there will be nothing left of Palestine even to pretend to negotiate over.
UN partition rejected
The idea of division first took substantive form with the United Nations Partition Plan of late 1947. It proposed creating two states: a Jewish one on 55 percent of Palestine would supposedly serve as compensation for Europe’s recent genocide; and an Arab one, on the remaining 45 percent, would be for the native Palestinian population.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, knew that the Palestinians were bound to reject a plan premised on their dispossession. That was the very reason he signed on. He hated the limitations imposed by the UN on his emerging Jewish state – he wanted all of Palestine – but was only too aware that Palestinians hated the partition proposal even more than he did. He knew his good faith would never be put to the test.
Under cover of the ensuing, year-long war, Ben-Gurion sent his troops way beyond the partition lines, seizing 78 percent of historic Palestine and transforming the area into a Jewish state. In 1967, his successors would grab the rest, as part of a surprise strike against Egypt and other Arab states. And so, the 53-year-long occupation was born.
Oslo’s separation logic
Just as now with the Trump plan, the Oslo process of the 1990s was not rooted in the idea of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state – only of pretending to offer one. In fact, statehood wasn’t mentioned in the Oslo accords, only implied by a series of intended Israeli withdrawals from the occupied territories over a five-year period that Israel reneged on.
Instead, Oslo was seen by the Israeli side, led then by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, chiefly in terms of an “economic peace”. The new rallying cry of “separation” was intended to transform fragments of the occupied territories into free-trade zones to exploit a captive Palestinian labour force, and then to normalise relations with the Arab world.
Oslo’s only meaningful legacy – the Palestinian Authority, today led by Mahmoud Abbas – still clings to its primary role: as prison guard overseeing Palestinians’ confinement in ever-shrinking fragments of the occupied territories.
The Trump plan recognises that Oslo is now more an obstacle than a vehicle for further Palestinian dispossession. Israel has absolute control of East Jerusalem, the planned capital of a Palestinian state. The army and settlers have cemented Israeli rule over 62 percent of the West Bank – territory Oslo declared as Area C – that includes its best agricultural land, water sources and mineral wealth. Gaza, isolated from the rest of the occupied territories, is besieged.
The only thing left for Israel to do now is formalise that control and ensure it is irreversible. That requires making permanent the current apartheid system in the West Bank, which enforces one set of laws for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians.
Trump’s “Vision for Peace” is needed only because Oslo has outlived its usefulness. The Trump plan radically overhauls the Oslo process formula: instead of a supposed sharing of obligations – “land in return for peace” – those obligations are now imposed exclusively on the Palestinian side.
Under Oslo, Israel was supposed to withdraw from the occupied territories as a precondition for achieving Palestinian statehood and an end to hostilities. In reality, Israel did the exact opposite.
Under the Trump plan, Israel gets the land it wants immediately – by annexing its illegal settlements and the Jordan Valley – and it gets more land later, unless Palestinians agree to a long list of impossible preconditions.
Even then, Palestinians would only be entitled to a demilitarised, non-sovereign state on less than 15 percent of historic Palestine, amounting to a patchwork of enclaves connected by a warren of tunnels and bridges, surrounded by armed, fortress-like Israeli communities.
But even this vision of pseudo-Palestinian statehood will never come to fruition – something Netanyahu has made sure of. The Trump plan is a catalogue of the most unacceptable, humiliating concessions that could ever be demanded of the Palestinian people.
It offers them a state that would be unlike any state ever envisaged. Not only would it have no army, but it would have to permanently accommodate a foreign army, the Israeli one. Palestine would have no control over its borders, and therefore its foreign relations and trade. It would be deprived of key resources, such as its offshore waters, which include large deposits of natural gas; its airspace; and its electromagnetic spectrum.
It would be deprived of its most fertile land, its quarries, its water sources, and access to the Dead Sea and its related mineral and cosmetics industries. As a result, the Palestinian economy would continue to be entirely aid dependent. Proposed industrial zones in the Negev, accessible only through Israeli territory, could be closed off by Israel at a whim.
East Jerusalem, including its holy sites and tourism industry, would be sealed off from the Palestinian state, which would have its capital instead outside the city, in Abu Dis. That village would be renamed Al-Quds, the Holy, although the deception would satisfy outsiders only, not Palestinians.
Intentionally lacking specifics for the time being, the Trump vision suggests Israel and Jordan would eventually share sovereignty over Jerusalem’s most important holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The US appears ready to let Israel forcibly divide the site so that Jewish extremists, who want to blow up the mosque and replace it with a temple, can pray there – in a repetition of what happened earlier to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
No legal redress
There would be no Palestinian right of return. Abbas would need to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, retrospectively sanctioning Palestinians’ dispossession and colonisation.
The Trump plan demands that the PA strip the families of political prisoners and martyrs killed by the Israeli army – the Palestinian equivalents of Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko – of their welfare payments.
In an interview with CNN this week, Kushner made clear quite how intentionally contradictory his demands of Palestinians are. Before it can be recognised as a state, the Palestinian Authority is expected to enforce the disarmament of the Palestinian factions, including its militant rival Hamas.
But it will have to do so while behaving like some kind of idealised Switzerland, according to Kushner, who insists that it uphold the most stringent democratic standards and absolute respect for human rights.
He indicated that the PA would fail such tests. It was, he said, a “police state” and “not exactly a thriving democracy”.
The Trump plan’s proposed democratic Palestine, it should be noted, would not be eligible to partake of international justice. Should Israel commit atrocities against Palestinians, the PA would have to forgo any appeals to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which adjudicates on war crimes.
And in a final proof of its determination to ensure Palestinians reject the deal, the Trump administration has dusted off a forcible transfer plan long promoted by the former far-right defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Israel could then redraw the borders to strip potentially hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Israel of their citizenship. Such a move would constitute a war crime.
The Trump plan’s secret weapon is hidden in the “four-year clause”, as Kushner’s CNN interview makes explicit. He said: “If they [the PA] don’t think that they can uphold these standards, then I don’t think we can get Israel to take the risk to recognise them as a state, to allow them to take control of themselves, because the only thing more dangerous than what we have now is a failed state.”
Israel and the US know that not only will Abbas or his successor never consent to the White House’s nightmare scenario, but that they could never meet these preconditions even if they wished to. But if the Palestinians don’t concede everything demanded of them within four years, Israel will be free to start grabbing and annexing yet more Palestinian land.
And worse still, Israel, the US and Europe will seek to blame Palestinians for choosing apartheid over statehood. Apologists will say once again that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
In other words, if Palestinians refuse to disappear themselves in line with the Trump vision, it will be assumed that they consent to Israel’s permanent apartheid rule. Palestinians will have forfeited their right to any kind of state on their historic homeland, ever.
That is the real Trump vision, designed in Israel and soon to be rolled out in Palestine.
• First published in Middle East Eye
The title of this piece may seem stupid to many. They would respond that obviously the US is civilized. After all, we have a highly developed society and culture which is a definition of civilized. In addition, as a sign of our culture, they proudly point to our museums, theaters, and symphonies that, along with our colleges and universities, are among the best in the world.
Adjectives found in other definitions of civilized are humane, ethical and reasonable. Antonyms include barbaric, savage, and inhumane. Many of us would likely agree with the following sentence:
A civilized society or country has a well developed system of government, culture, and way of life and that treats the people who live there fairly.
Definitions or use of civilized thus allow room for interpretations. For example, I would certainly agree that the US has a highly developed society and culture. However, our highly developed system of government has been badly corrupted to benefit the wealthy and powerful. As a result of this corruption, our government and economic system unethically prioritize profit for the few over the interests of the many. Hence I would argue that having a highly developed society and culture does not necessarily imply fairness, and thus it isn’t necessarily evidence that the US is civilized. In addition, unlike much of Western Europe, the US has not implemented many of the human rights identified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For more evidence of our inhumane behavior, would a civilized society accept or allow:
- the genocide of American Indians or slavery;
- a large number of people, including families with children, to be homeless;
- a judicial system that is terribly biased against minorities and the poor;
- education to be so expensive that many students will be encumbered with huge debts often requiring decades to pay off;
- health insurance and pharmaceutical industries to make the cost of health care so expensive that many people cannot afford it;
- some employers to pay workers less than what is necessary to provide the basics for their families;
- some citizens being kept from voting based on their race;
- the horrific abuse of refugees and immigrants;
- industry to pollute the air, water and soil, threatening the health of people living nearby; and
- the future of coming generations to be seriously harmed through our government’s inaction or our continuing a lifestyle that leads to a climate catastrophe?
When Europeans came to the American continents, they viewed the indigenous people as being savages. However, consider the following prophecy:
Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.
The indigenous peoples understood that environmental protection was essential, that the lust for money was extremely dangerous, and that we had to consider how our actions would impact the future. We are finally beginning to appreciate these facts as the climate catastrophe becomes more obvious to all.
In addition, the immoral war crimes we have committed against other nations, including the indigenous nations, displays a shameful level of savagery and barbarism. For example, according to J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atomic bomb), Secretary of War Henry Stimson struggled with the moral issues raised by WWII and expressed dismay at the “appalling” lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the “complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan.”
Army General Omar Bradley, the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated this point:
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.1
Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, criticized the use of the atomic bomb:
It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.2
Unfortunately, we have continued with these savage and barbaric policies in, for example, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. We have also imposed sanctions on a number of nations such as North Korea, Venezuela and Iran that don’t comply with our policies, and these cruel and brutal sanctions are crimes against humanity. This unnecessary and illegal killing by the US of untold numbers while devastating countries and populations that were not a threat to it were hardly acts of a civilized nation.
- Speech to Boston Chamber of Commerce, 1948.
- I was there: The Personal Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His Notes and Diaries Made at the Time, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc ., 1950.
Try as I did, I found it impossible to send New Year’s greetings to friends in Iraq given the unthinkable and shameless actions of Trump and his regime in the last weeks. His decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qasim Soleimani at the Baghdad airport led to the Iraqi Parliament voting to expel all foreign troops from Iraq. Trump’s quick response to that was “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
In 1996,Voices in the Wilderness began visiting Iraq in defiance of the economic sanctions. The campaign bore witness to the crippling effect of US sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf war. Over thirteen years, approximately seventy delegations traveled to Iraq, enabling us to build lasting relationships with Iraqis.
Trump’s threats a few days ago to put sanctions on Iraq, “sanctions that would make Iran sanctions seem tame,” can only be called blasphemous.
This morning I am reading from a communication I wrote on November 8, 2002 from Baghdad :
Together with others in the Iraq Peace Team, I was invited to the home of a Muslim woman (well known to Kathy Kelly) who had gathered some of her friends to meet with us…While apologizing for seeming rude, the hostess asked us pointedly ‘Why are you here and not in your own country speaking to your president, to your own government?….How is it possible that you are allowing them to do this? What right does your president have to attack us, to ruin our country?’ With tears in her eyes, she asked,‘Where is your Christianity? We loved your Christianity.’
Her impassioned call to us, and that of the other Iraqi guests present, was ‘You need to see to your own house!’ A hard message we all need to hear again and again. God knows, we have attempted to reach the US media and government through demonstrations, vigils, fasts and acts of civil disobedience as well as letters and phone calls…. We can no longer afford to be silent; our silence has now indeed become complicity. We must find ways to counter this madness.
This was written just a few months before the US-led invasion of Iraq. I was in Baghdad with The Iraq Peace team, launched by Voices in the Wilderness as war against Iraq seemed more and more imminent. We intended, in the event of war, to live alongside ordinary Iraqi people, believing that all life is precious and valuable. Some of us remained in Baghdad throughout the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign.
Just two days ago on a bus returning from Philadelphia to New York city (I go weekly to be with my 94-year-old mother), I was finally able to compose a letter to two trusted and long-time friends in Baghdad.
I explained how wordless I had felt, at the beginning of the New Year. I said I felt horrified by recent US bombings and the assassination of Gen. Soleimani. Trump’s threats (even of imposing crueler sanctions on Iraq) were too shameful to repeat. And, I said, we allow this madness to continue! I pictured them trying to carry out their daily work and could only pray for their strength, stamina and renewed spirits.
Yesterday one of these friends replied:
Thanks so much for your warm words, happy New year for you and family, may God bless you by keeping your mother longer in good health.
As you said the words failed us, as we are passing very hard threatening time without knowing the reason for being the target of world politics over the last 4 decades with end result of complete collapse on all levels and the most important is moral damage of people with loss of hope, helplessness and frustration.
We need the support of all good will people in the world as we are simply human beings like them.
They say he came from a humble background, and worked himself up the ranks, becoming, as many believe, the second most powerful man in Iran. They say he had the chance to become the next Supreme Leader of the country.
Whenever I visit Iran, I am told how much he is loved by his people. He became the symbol of resistance against the West; the symbol of the strength and dignity of the nation which was attacked, colonized and starved by several Western capitals.
And now, Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani is no more. And the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is proudly claiming responsibility for his demise.
The statement from the Pentagon came promptly, and it was clear:
At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani… This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and interests wherever they are around the world.
Almost immediately, RT and others asked me to analyze.
I could not help but to define what was done at the airport outside Baghdad, Iraq, as a vulgar and brutal extra-judicial killing.
For the last two months, I have been flying all over the world, writing about (and filming) all those horrors that the Empire unleashed against the people with different cultures, living in various parts of the world.
The Middle East, China, Latin America.
It appears that all boundaries have been crossed. Washington and its NATO allies have lost all restraint, shame and decency. They actually never had much of those, but now they have almost none.
Everything appears to be primitive, as in a badly directed mafia film. If the rulers of the West do not like some country? In that case they simply attack it, starve and destroy it. As brutal as that. No U.N. Security Council mediations, no arguments, and no pretending that there should be some legal process.
It has been happening to Hong Kong, to Bolivia, Venezuela and West Papua. It has also been happening to Iran, as well as China and Russia, although those countries have proven to be much tougher to eliminate than Washington’s planners originally thought.
The same applies to individuals: people get murdered without second thought, some quickly, some very slowly and painfully. Julian Assange is one of them, being slowly tortured to death in front of the entire world, despite legal and medical experts protesting and demanding his release.
The killing of Qasem Soleimani and others in Baghdad was quick and totally unexpected.
The facial expressions of U.S. officials were absolutely shocking: as if mafia bosses were caught in a corner of some filthy den by a bunch of amateur journalists. Unapologetically, they grinned at the lenses, suggesting: “So what? What are you going to do now? Challenge us? Us? We’ll break your legs, or something…”
And nobody, absolutely nobody, really dares to challenge them! Not yet. Not at this moment.
It is one tested, bulletproof game. You destroy an entire country, or you kill a person, and then you show your piece; your well-maintained revolver, or two. You expose your guns and ugly row of teeth. You say, or you suggest without pronouncing it: “You have a wife, and two daughters back home, don’t you? You don’t want anything to happen to them, right?”
It is on that level now. It is not any better than that, don’t you see?
If you defend yourself – you die; your family dies. Or your family members get violated. Or both.
You like it? You don’t like it? You absolutely detested it? Who cares! The Empire has guns. It is all it has. The ability to kill and to rape. It has become dumb, degenerate. It produces hardly anything of value. But it has millions of weapons, as well as a monstrous propaganda machine.
Now, seriously: what can Iran do? What can a nation with thousands of years of culture do?
Can it defend itself? Honestly, if you think it can, then say it: how?
If it retaliates, it could be erased from the face of the earth. If it doesn’t do anything, it will lose face, self-respect, as well as the purpose to continue with its struggle for true independence and its unique form of socialism.
For years and decades, Iran has been a thorn in the eye of the West. Its allies have fought against Western-injected terrorism in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iranian ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has been defending the country against Israeli invasions, while providing social support to poor and needy citizens. Iran has been giving jobs and temporary shelter to many Afghan citizens, particularly those from Herat, people who have absolutely nothing left after the horrendous U.S./NATO occupation of the country. I worked in Afghanistan, and I saw tremendous lines in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat. Iran has even been deeply involved in Latin America, helping, building social housing in Venezuela, Evo’s Bolivia, and elsewhere.
And now, recently, it began moving closer and closer to two of Washington’s arch enemies: China and Russia.
Therefore, it has been decided in the annals of Washington and the Pentagon: Iran has to be stopped; destroyed. At any price. Meaning, any price which would have to be paid by the Iranian citizens.
I am convinced that this madness has to be stopped.
For Iran’s sake.
But also, because, if Iran is ruined, destroyed like Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan, someone will be next. First, most likely, Venezuela, and then Cuba. But then, perhaps, most likely, Russia or China, or both.
The Empire will not stop by itself.
If not opposed, it will get more and more emboldened.
It is a tremendous mistake to let it literally ‘get away with a murder’.
Today, a brave Iranian General has been murdered. Washington is smiling provocatively, cynically.
It is sending vibes to all corners of the world: “Stay on your couches in front of television sets. Be petrified. Do nothing. Or else!”
Yes, the world is scared. There are reasons to be scared. But the world simply has to act. These brutal, cowardly acts of degeneracy and fundamentalism/fanaticism committed by the Empire have to be stopped, sooner or later, in the name of our human race. Otherwise, soon, there will be no humanity left!
Vanessa Beeley is a British journalist who was invited to Canada in the fall of 2019 to present talks in seven cities on the conflict in Syria. The sponsors of her speaking tour were several anti-war groups, including the Geopolitical Economy Research Group, the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, and Peace Alliance in Winnipeg.
Beeley is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East, including dangerous zones in Gaza, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Syria. In 2017 she was a finalist for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. In 2018 the British National Council for the Training of Journalists named her as one of the 238 most respected journalists in the UK. In 2019 she was one of the recipients of the Serena Shim Award for uncompromising integrity in journalism.
Over a number of years, at considerable risk to her life, Beeley has travelled to Syria on several occasions to report on the conflict between the Syrian army and a variety of forces, largely foreign mercenaries, who are trying to overthrow the Syrian government. A United Nations report has stated that more than 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries may have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups.
In the course of her first-hand research on Syria, Beeley has also obtained information on the operations of the White Helmets, a supposedly “neutral, impartial and humanitarian” force dedicated to saving the lives of Syrian citizens in war zones.
In her various ensuing publications, with extensive documentation and photographic evidence, she has presented a compelling account of what is occurring in Syria. Fortunately, she is not alone in presenting such information. There are several other journalists who have done almost comparable first-hand accounts. These include Canada’s Eva Bartlett, and American journalists Max Blumenthal, Rania Khalek and Anya Parampil.
Because the reports of these few investigative journalists vary dramatically from what is presented by the mainstream media in the United States, Canada and much of Europe, a malicious and concerted campaign has developed to malign and discredit these journalists, largely in the interests of US foreign policy regarding Syria. For so-called “experts” and journalists who provide media cover to Syria’s jihadist insurgency, the three American journalists had crossed a line. The ensuing character assassination campaign against the three American “rogue” journalists has been revealed in reportage by MintPress News.
These three journalists point out that a number of Western reporters have gone to Islamist-held regions in Syria and then presented views that the terrorists are justified in trying to overthrow the Syrian government. Because of this, Anya Parampil states that it is critically important to report on the life of ordinary Syrians not under terrorist control. According to Parampil:
This group of Syrians represents the vast majority of the country, despite the fact that we never hear from them in corporate media. It is my job, as a U.S. journalist with the privilege of working independently, to visit countries and speak to people impacted by the policies of Washington, particularly those who are excluded from the mainstream narrative. Unless we hear from these people, the U.S. public will be more willing to support military and economic war against the Syrian people. That is why CNN and other outlets act as though they’re invisible. The media has been weaponized against the Syrian people.
Max Blumenthal commented:
My ability to convey this reality back to the U.S. public was apparently such a threat to an unusually vocal echo chamber of regime-change fanatics that I was branded a Nazi … Their attacks were part and parcel of the Western campaign to isolate Syrians from the rest of the world, and all because their government held off a multi-billion dollar proxy war that would have transformed their country into an even more harrowing version of Libya if it had succeeded.
As for Beeley, as soon as her Canada speaking tour was announced, Huffington Post was alerted and in short order two highly defamatory articles on her appeared. The Post reporters, Emilie Clavel and Chris York, who have never been to Syria, present the standard mainstream media accusation that President Assad heads “the 21st century’s most murderous regime” and was basically responsible for the war and for the bulk of the casualties. To support their views, they rely on other writers who claim “Beeley was the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda.”
Beeley was scheduled to speak at the University of Montreal; when some criticism was voiced, a University spokesperson stated that “a university is a place of debates and one of its cornerstones is academic freedom.” Yet, after the defamatory reports about Beeley came out, her talk was cancelled. The Post’s Chris York tweeted that “The University of Montreal has cancelled a planned talk by Vanessa Beeley after it was pointed out that she is a conspiracy theorist, not a journalist.” Strange that after a US publication’s blatant propaganda attack on an experienced war correspondent, the University of Montreal now appears not to be a place of “academic freedom.”
After Montreal, Beeley was scheduled to speak in Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga, Regina and Winnipeg. Despite concerted de-platforming efforts in all these cities, she did manage to present her talks. It was only in Montreal, Hamilton and Winnipeg that it was necessary to secure alternate venues because of the pressure to block her presentations.
Beeley’s speaking tour ended in Winnipeg, and here she was denied a venue, at short notice, not only at the University of Winnipeg but also at the Winnipeg Millennium Library. On investigation, it turns out that the senior administration at the university had not been informed of Beeley’s talk, so the decision to deny a venue was made at some lower level, without proper authorization. As such, it would be unfair to blame the university for this matter.
In the case of the Millennium Library, a senior spokesperson stated that Beeley’s proposed talk “would not comply with [the library’s] guidelines.” When pressed on the matter, the spokesperson said that in his personal opinion the contents of the proposed talk could be construed as “hate speech” and as such Beeley would not be permitted to speak there.
Beeley was finally booked to give her talk on December 12, with practically no public notice, at the Winnipeg Chilean Association on Burrows Avenue.
I find it ironic that people writing in the comfort and safety at their desks in the US, UK and Canada about the war in Syria and the White Helmets are given more credence by officials in some public institutions than journalists such as Beeley and others who actually go to Syria to see the situation first-hand.
I attended Beeley’s highly informative session in Winnipeg and had a discussion with her before and after the talk. Her hour-long presentation was fully documented and supported by appropriate photographs. For anyone to criticize her presentation as “hate speech” is preposterous. It is a profound pity that Canadian university students and a wider section of the public were prevented from hearing her perspective.
I have always had a keen interest in foreign affairs and during my years of teaching at the University of Winnipeg, my courses often involved such matters. Since my retirement, I have had more time to devote to what is going on in the world. As such, during these years I have written and published a wide range of articles on a variety of issues, including matters involving Syria and the White Helmets.
In the case of the White Helmets, I immediately discovered that they operated only in areas held by Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra terrorist forces – and nowhere else in Syria. This being the case, how could they claim to be “neutral, impartial and humanitarian” when they were nowhere to be found in the rest of Syria?
The White Helmets organization was created and funded by US and British efforts back in March of 2013, with an initial input of $23 million by USAID (US Agency for International Development). Since then they’ve received over $100 million, including at least CDN$7.5 million. Max Blumenthal has explored in some detail the various funding resources and relationships that the White Helmets draw on, mostly in the US and Europe. Overall, the CIA has spent over $1 billion on arming and training the so-called Syrian “rebels” who in actuality constitute a variety of Al-Qaeda forces.
A disturbing aspect of the White Helmets is their close association with Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra forces. In several cases their headquarters are in the same building with these terrorist groups. Videos are also available that show their gross disrespect for the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers (several White Helmets were filmed giving the victory sign while standing on a heap of dead Syrian soldiers on the way to being dumped in the trash).
If the White Helmets devoted their activities solely to save the lives of people caught up in war zones, that would be commendable and beyond reproach, but that is not the case. A major part of their activities is devoted to media reports and public relations, and it seems that this is what draws a significant portion of their funding while constituting the primary reason for their creation. In fact, it appears the White Helmets use search and rescue activities as a cover-up to demonize Syrian President Assad and help terrorists overthrow the Syrian government.
As renowned journalist John Pilger put it, the White Helmets are a “propaganda construct,” an Al-Qaeda support group, whose prime purpose is to try to put a veneer of respectability on the vile head-chopping terrorists in Syria.
Given all this, I was astounded to discover that in the late summer of 2016, the federal NDP had recommended to the federal government that Canada should nominate the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize. In response to this I wrote an open letter to the NDP denouncing their ill-considered proposal. Fortunately, Stéphane Dion, our Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time, ignored their request. My open letter was posted by Canadian Dimension and it was later reposted on two other sites.
Then in the summer of 2018 Canada announced that it would take in a sizeable number of White Helmets just before the terrorist area in which they operated was recaptured by the Syrian army. I wrote an article denouncing this questionable course of action.
I discussed how Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and a former member of the CIA, in a detailed article stated that at the present time there is no bigger fraud than the story of the White Helmets. The story that’s been put forth is that with the Syrian army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still fighting in the country, the Israeli government, aided by the US, “staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation” of 800 White Helmet members, including their families, to Israel and then on to Jordan. Pleas were then put forth to resettle them in the US, Britain, Germany and other countries.
Near the end of 2015 I wrote an article that presented the background on the various terrorist groups, going back to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. I will cite a concluding paragraph:
When ISIS beheaded two American journalists, there was outrage and denunciation throughout the West, but when the same ISIS beheaded hundreds of Syrian soldiers, and meticulously filmed these war crimes, this was hardly reported anywhere. In addition, almost from the very beginning of the Syrian tragedy, al-Qaeda groups have been killing and torturing not only soldiers but police, government workers and officials, journalists, Christian church people, aid workers, women and children, as well as suicide bombings in market places. All this was covered up in the mainstream media, and when the Syrian government correctly denounced this as terrorism, this was ignored or denounced as “Assad’s propaganda.”
Being aware of this background, nothing that Beeley stated in her talk surprised me. What she stated was just an update to what I had already known. What was new to me was her account of the recent death of James Le Mesurier, a former British military officer, who founded the White Helmets in 2014. He was found dead in Istanbul this past November 11 and it is still uncertain if he was murdered or if he committed suicide. Almost immediately afterwards, Beeley wrote a lengthy and well-researched article about his mysterious death. I would like to include a reference to this, especially as an example of the quality of Beeley’s research and writing style. And yet this is the person who is accused of presenting hate speech and not worthy of being heard.
The thought has occurred to me that since my views on Syria and the White Helmets are identical to those of Beeley, suppose I proposed to give a talk at a Canadian university or public library. Would I, as a retired professor and senior scholar, be blocked in the way that Beeley was? Given the precedent of what happened to her, why should I be treated any differently?
Frankly, I can hardly believe what has happened. To me it is outrageous that a person of Beeley’s credibility as an investigative journalist and the author of a wide range of superbly documented articles and books should be barred from presenting a talk on a critically important subject at a Canadian university or a public library. What has happened to our supposed “freedom of speech”?
• First published at Canadian Dimension
When is a war crime not a war crime? When, according to British officials, that war crime has been given a makeover as a “charitable act”.
The British state is being asked to account for its financial and moral support for a UK organisation accused of complicity in the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. So far, it appears determined to evade answering those questions.
The target of the campaign is the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK), which describes itself as “Britain’s oldest Israel charity”. Noting its role in “building Israel for over a century”, the organisation boasts: “Every penny raised by JNF UK is sent to a project in Israel.”
In fact, donations to JNF UK were used to buy some of the 250 million trees planted across Israel since 1948, the year when 750,000 Palestinians were forced out at gunpoint from their homes by the new Israeli army. Those expulsions were an event Palestinians call their Nakba, or “catastrophe”.
Afterwards, the Israeli army laid waste to many hundreds of Palestinian villages, turning them into rubble. Forests planted over the villages were then promoted as efforts to “make the desert bloom”.
Subsidised by taxpayers
In fact, the trees were intended primarily to block Palestinian refugees from ever being able to return to their villages and rebuild their homes. As a result, millions of Palestinians today languish in refugee camps across the Middle East, evicted from their homeland with the help of the forests.
JNF UK raised the funds for a parent organisation in Israel, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), which enforced the expulsions by using the donations to plant the forests. The Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian population was effectively disguised as a form of environmentalism.
Britain and other Western states appear to have accepted that barely concealed deception. They have long treated their local JNF fundraising arms as charities. JNF UK received charitable status in 1939, nearly a decade before Israel was created as a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestinians’ homeland.
The forests are still managed with money raised through tax-deductible donations in Britain and elsewhere. Since 1990, donations to JNF UK have been eligible for Gift Aid, meaning that the British government tops up donations by adding its own 25 percent contribution.
In effect, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages has been subsidised by the British public.
Backing from MPs
Britain’s continuing sanction of these crimes – and others – is being belatedly given scrutiny by human rights activists in Britain.
A campaign launched in 2010 called Stop the JNF – backed by various Palestinian solidarity organisations – has aimed to shame British officials into ending JNF UK’s charitable status.
The campaign gained parliamentary support a year later, when 68 MPs signed an early-day motion condemning the JNF’s activities and calling for its charitable status to be revoked. The motion was sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn, then a backbencher but now leader of the Labour Party, and attracted cross-party support, though no Conservative MPs backed it.
Nonetheless, the campaign has faced institutional resistance every step of the way. Over the past six years, appeals to the Charity Commission, a department of the British government, to intervene and remove JNF UK from its list of registered charities have been repeatedly rebuffed.
Rather than seeking explanations from JNF UK, British officials have largely ignored the evidence they have been presented with.
Trees ‘a weapon of war’
The campaign has highlighted one specific and egregious example of the JNF UK’s work. The organisation raised donations to create a large recreation area west of Jerusalem called British Park, which includes forests, over three Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the Israeli army after 1948. A sign at the entrance reads: “Gift of the Jewish National Fund in Great Britain.”
Many of those who donated to the project, often British Jews encouraged to drop pennies into the JNF’s iconic fundraising “blue boxes”, had no idea how their money was being used.
The Stop the JNF campaign included testimony from Kholoud al-Ajarma, whose family was expelled from the village of Ajjur during the Nakba. Today, the family lives in the overcrowded Aida refugee camp, next to Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
KKL-JNF planted trees at British Park on land to which Ajarma’s family, and many others, still have the title deeds. In doing so, the group violated the protected status of such lands in international law.
In her submission, Ajarma wrote: “It was British pounds that helped destroy my village. The Jewish National Fund is not merely planting trees. These trees have been used as a weapon of war, a weapon of colonisation.”
Israeli scholar Uri Davis has observed that the establishment of British Park “ought to be classified as an act, and as a policy, of complicity with war crimes”.
4,000 protest letters
The Charity Commission’s barrister, Iain Steele, conceded in a submission that it was possible the JNF had violated the Ajarma family’s rights by creating British Park on their land.
Nonetheless, the Charity Commission has on two occasions refused to consider revoking JNF UK’s charitable status. Rather than addressing the merits of Stop the JNF’s arguments, the Charity Commission has evasively claimed that the campaigners, even the Ajarma family, are not affected by whether the JNF is registered as a charity.
In June, a commission official even wrote to the campaign with an astounding defence that appears to strip the term “charitable” of all meaning. He wrote: “In simple terms the test for charitable status is a test of what an organisation was set up to do, not what it does in practice.”
The commission’s apparent reasoning is that, so long as the JNF includes fine-sounding words in its mission statement, what it does in practice as a “charity” does not matter.
In April, Stop the JNF appealed the commission’s decision not to revoke JNF UK’s charitable status to the First-tier Tribunal. The judge, however, told them that neither Ajarma nor the campaign itself had a legal right to be heard. He concluded instead that only the attorney-general could overrule the Charity Commission’s decision. In October, the attorney-general rejected the campaigners’ claims without investigating them.
In an attempt to revive the case, Stop the JNF has submitted more than 4,000 letters of protest to the attorney-general, calling on him to reassess the organisation’s continuing charitable status.
A parallel call was made to the advocate-general of Scotland, which has a separate legal system.
‘Intense political controversy’
The JNF did not respond to questions sent by Middle East Eye about its role in planting the forests, its charitable status and other criticisms of its involvement with Israel.
The establishment’s apparent unwillingness to confront JNF UK’s historical record is perhaps not surprising. The JNF was one of the key organisations that helped to realise a British government promise made in the 1917 Balfour Declaration to help create a “Jewish home” in what was then Palestine.
Two years later, Lord Balfour declared that the colonisation of Palestine by Zionist Jews from Europe was “of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 [Palestinian] Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land”. Little, it seems, has changed in official British attitudes since.
Steele, the Charity Commission’s barrister, successfully urged the First-tier Tribunal not to get involved, arguing that it would be “drawn into matters of intense political controversy, for no obvious benefit to anyone”.
Surely, Ajarma and many millions more Palestinians would strenuously dispute that assessment. They would have much to gain should Britain finally demonstrate a willingness to confront its continuing role in aiding and comforting groups such as the JNF, accused of complicity in crimes against international law in historic Palestine.
As Stop the JNF organisers wrote in their own letter to the attorney-general: “These people [Palestinian refugees such as the Ajarma family] are not defined by the JNF as recipients of their charity, but they have human and legal rights which the actions of this charity unacceptably violate.”
Reminiscent of dark regimes
The campaign has not only focused on JNF UK’s historic role in dispossessing Palestinians. It points out that the JNF is still actively contributing to Israel’s own grossly discriminatory and racist policies – another reason it should be barred from being considered a charity.
One such Jewish community, Hiran, is being established on the ruins of homes that belonged to Bedouin families. They were recently forced out of their village of Umm al-Hiran – a move the legal rights group Adalah has described as “reminiscent of the darkest of regimes such as apartheid-era South Africa”.
On its website, JNF-KKL congratulates “Friends of JNF UK” for supporting the establishment of nearby Hiran Forest. The JNF claims the forest will “help mitigate climate change” – once again disguising ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as a form of environmentalism.
Funding the Israeli army
JNF UK’s annual accounts in 2015 also revealed that it contributed money to the Israeli army under the title “Tzuk Eitan 9 Gaza war effort” – a reference to Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2014, whose death toll included some 550 Palestinian children.
A United Nations commission of inquiry found evidence that Israel had committed war crimes by indiscriminately targeting civilians – a conclusion confirmed by the testimonies of Israeli soldiers to Breaking the Silence, an Israeli whistle-blowing group.
Equally troubling, an investigation last month by Haaretz reported that, under Israeli government pressure, the KKL-JNF has been secretly directing vast sums of money into buying and developing land in the occupied West Bank to aid Jewish settlers, again in violation of international law.
The funds were allegedly channeled to Himnuta Jerusalem, effectively the JNF’s subsidiary in the occupied territories, disguised as funds for projects in Jerusalem.
Veteran Israeli journalist Raviv Drucker observed that KKL-JNF was rapidly converting itself into a banking fund for the settlers. He added that its “coffers are bursting with billions of shekels [and] the settlers’ appetite for land is at a peak”.
Given the lack of transparency in KKL-JNF’s accounts, it is difficult to know precisely where the funds have come from. But as more than $70m has been spent by KKL-JNF over the past two years in the occupied West Bank, according to Haaretz, the funds likely include money raised by JNF UK.
In any case, research by Stop the JNF suggests JNF UK has no objections to making “charitable” donations to settlements in the West Bank. Its accounts record contributions to Sansana, a community of religious settlers close to Hebron.
Settlements are considered a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
No ‘duty’ towards equality
As the JNF UK states on its website, every penny raised in Britain is “sent to a project in Israel” – much of it via the JNF in Israel.
KKL-JNF is a major landowner in Israel. Under a special arrangement with the Israeli government, it owns 13 percent of Israel’s territory – often lands seized from Palestinian refugees. The arrangement includes a provision from 1961 that the primary aim of the JNF in Israel is to acquire property “for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties”.
In 2004, KKL-JNF explained its role. It was “not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state. The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”
In marketing and allocating lands only to Jews, the legal group Adalah has noted, the JNF in Israel intentionally rides roughshod over the rights of a fifth of the country’s population who are Palestinian by heritage.
In other words, the JNF is integral to an Israeli system that enforces an apartheid-style regime that prevents Israel’s Palestinian minority from accessing and benefiting from a substantial part of Israel’s territory.
Violating British law
This institutionalised discrimination has been made even more explicit since Israel last year passed the Nation-State Law, which declares: “The State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and strengthening.”
As the Stop the JNF campaign notes, British charities should abide by legal responsibilities enshrined in UK legislation, such as the 2010 Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on “colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin”.
The JNF UK is clearly failing to abide by this core legal principle. It is operating in a foreign state where it has helped, over many decades, to fund activities that grossly violate both British law and international law. The evidence compiled by Stop the JNF indicates that JNF UK has itself been complicit in aiding the commission of war crimes, both in Israel and the occupied territories.
It has also given financial and moral succour to its parent organisation, which has crafted a system of apartheid that confers superior land rights on Jews over Israel’s Palestinian minority.
British taxpayers should not be subsidising institutionalised discrimination and crimes abroad – even more so when they are being dressed up as “charitable acts”.
• A version of this article first appeared in Middle East Eye
To those candidates who are putting themselves forward as MPs to become a voice within the UK Parliament — would you stand up for Julian Assange and for those who. in speaking truth, have the audacity to challenge the dialogue of power?
I am disappointed that my question relating to the arbitrary detention of Julian Assange was not presented at the Hustings meeting at Kirbymoorside. I consider it to be a question of such vital importance for all those who share a common belief in justice, truth and commitment to democracy and freedom of speech, so I have chosen to re-present a significantly fuller version of the question by using an open letter form.
The treatment of Julian Assange, arguably one of the world’s most brilliant, courageous and outspoken personalities, raises serious concerns in so many ways that we urgently need an open discussion on it. These areas include: unlawful arbitrary detention, the law on asylum and extradition, democracy, sovereignty, torture, free speech, and state violence.
The initial investigation against Julian Assange, which originated in Sweden, never reached the stage of prosecution and all investigations have since been withdrawn. Julian Assange has also served time in prison for skipping bail by seeking asylum within the Ecuadorian Embassy because of the well-founded fear that he would be extradited to the United States. In such circumstances skipping bail and seeking asylum was a rational and fully justified decision. Nevertheless, our judicial system chose to punish him by giving him a prison sentence in Belmarsh — a prison reserved for Britain’s most dangerous and violent offenders.
That sentence has now been served which brings into question why Julian Assange continues to be detained. Within the UK extradition of political prisoners is prohibited. Therefore, questions arise as to the legality of this extradition order and what the justification is for his continued detention, especially within a top security prison. Julian Assange is charged with espionage, which by any definition, comes under the umbrella of political activity. Along with Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange is charged with publishing information regarding US war crimes in Iraq. The UK is a sovereign kingdom and signatory to international human rights laws, over and above its relation with the US. For UK laws to be subverted at the behest of a foreign government raises a further serious question. Just who is being represented here: the citizenry or some other power?
In 2016 a UN Working Party on arbitrary detention determined that the detention of Julian Assange was unlawful. How this same Working Party in 2019 would view his forcible extraction from the Embassy and his subsequent detention at Belmarsh Prison can only be speculated upon.
Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on torture, has stated that the current treatment of Julian Assange — of being under surveillance and placed in solidarity confinement, both during the latter years within the Ecuadorian Embassy and within Belmarsh Prison — amounts to psychological torture.
Julian Assange is a researcher and publisher. His crime has been to publish truthful information relating to serious war crimes committed against civilians, including journalists and children, by US forces within Iraq. Clearly this revelation is embarrassing for the US — which along with the allied military forces invaded Iraq on a contrived pretext — at the time deemed illegal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The devastation of this war has been disastrous for civilians throughout much of the Middle East as this toxic war mentality kiled hundreds of thousands, created a huge refugee population, and contributed to terrorism that has expanded into Europe and beyond. Definitively, telling, writing, and publishing the facts was a moral obligation. There is a glaring irony here given that within the UK “it is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment ‘not’ to reveal information relating to a serious crime if one becomes aware of it.”1
The state has normalised war just as it has normalised the extremes of wealth and power. The oligarchy has relegated a large segment of the population to a marginal economic existence. The so-called democracy has been subverted to the whims of transnational corporations, banks too big to fail, the military industrial complex, the pharmaceutical medical monopoly and special interest groups. The violence inflicted upon Julian Assange for his factual revelations should serve as a warning to all publishers, journalists, writers, artists, whistleblowers and anyone of integrity who values human rights, justice, honesty, and democracy.
Freedom of speech is what protects us all from tyrannical governments. It brings them into check when they acquire too much power. A government which represents those with money and power serves only to foster a climate of corruption and fear. It does nothing to address the increasing division between rich and poor and the growing population of those who find themselves afflicted by poverty or sent to fight wars of aggression.
Julian Assange was a leader in researching facts, exposing corruption, crime, and injustice. He became a teacher for those who value original thought and inspired critical thinking. Without such people our world is poorer.
My question therefore is: Where do you stand with regard to the treatment of Julian Assange and others who are willing to risk their freedoms in speaking truth and revealing information that the state finds embarrassing, including that of war crimes and crimes against humanity?
- See Craig Murray, “Violence and the State“, December 3, 2019.
West Point Professor Tim Bakken’s new book The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military traces a path of corruption, barbarism, violence, and unaccountability that makes its way from the United States’ military academies (West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs) to the top ranks of the U.S. military and U.S. governmental policy, and from there into a broader U.S. culture that, in turn, supports the subculture of the military and its leaders.
The U.S. Congress and presidents have ceded tremendous power to generals. The State Department and even the U.S. Institute of Peace are subservient to the military. The corporate media and the public help maintain this arrangement with their eagerness to denounce anyone who opposes the generals. Even opposing giving free weapons to Ukraine is now quasi-treasonous.
Within the military, virtually everyone has ceded power to those of higher rank. Disagreeing with them is likely to end your career, a fact that helps explain why so many military officials say what they really think about the current wars just after retiring.
But why does the public go along with out of control militarism? Why are so few speaking out and raising hell against wars that only 16% of the public tell pollsters they support? Well, the Pentagon spent $4.7 billion in 2009, and likely more in each year since, on propaganda and public relations. Sports leagues are paid with public dollars to stage “rituals that are akin to worship,” as Bakken appropriately describes the fly-overs, weapons shows, troop honorings, and war hymn screechings that precede professional athletics events. The peace movement has far superior materials but comes up a little short of $4.7 billion each year for advertising.
Speaking out against war can get you attacked as unpatriotic or “a Russian asset,” which helps explain why environmentalists don’t mention one of the worst polluters, refugee aid groups don’t mention the primary cause of the problem, activists trying to end mass-shootings never mention that the shooters are disproportionately veterans, anti-racist groups avoid noticing the way militarism spreads racism, plans for green new deals or free college or healthcare usually manage not to mention the place where most of the money is now, etc. Overcoming this hurdle is the work being taken on by World BEYOND War.
Bakken describes a culture and a system of rules at West Point that encourage lying, that turn lying into a requirement of loyalty, and make loyalty the highest value. Major General Samuel Koster, to take just one of many examples in this book, lied about his troops slaughtering 500 innocent civilians, and was then rewarded with being made superintendent at West Point. Lying moves a career upward, something Colin Powell, for example, knew and practiced for many years prior to his Destroy-Iraq Farce at the United Nations.
Bakken profiles numerous high-profile military liars — enough to establish them as the norm. Chelsea Manning did not have unique access to information. Thousands of other people simply kept obediently quiet. Keeping quiet, lying when necessary, cronyism, and lawlessness seem to be the principles of U.S. militarism. By lawlessness I mean both that you lose your rights when you join the military (the 1974 Supreme Court case Parker v. Levy effectively placed the military outside the Constitution) and that no institution outside the military can hold the military accountable to any law.
The military is separate from and understands itself to be superior to the civilian world and its laws. High-ranking officials are not just immune from prosecution, they’re immune from criticism. Generals who are never questioned by anyone make speeches at West Point telling young men and women that just by being there as students they are superior and infallible.
Yet, they are quite fallible in reality. West Point pretends to be an exclusive school with high academic standards, but in fact works hard to find students, guarantees spots for and pays for another year of high school for potential athletes, accepts students nominated by Congress Members because their parents “donated” to the Congress Members’ campaigns, and offers a community college-level education only with more hazing, violence, and tamping down of curiosity. West Point takes soldiers and declares them to be professors, which works roughly as well as declaring them to be relief workers or nation builders or peace keepers. The school parks ambulances nearby in preparation for violent rituals. Boxing is a required subject. Women are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted at the three military academies than at other U.S. universities.
“Imagine,” writes Bakken, “any small college in any small town in America where sexual assault is pervasive and the students are running virtual drug cartels while law enforcement agencies are employing methods used to curb the Mafia to try to catch them. There isn’t any such college or large university, but there are three military academies that fit the bill.”
West Point students, who have no Constitutional rights, can have their rooms searched by armed troops and guards at any time, no warrant required. Faculty, staff, and cadets are told to spot missteps by others and “correct” them. The Uniform Code of Military Justice bans speaking “disrespectfully” to superior officers, which creates an appearance of respect that one would anticipate fueling just what Bakken shows it fueling: narcissism, thin skin, and general prima donna or police-like behavior in those relying on it.
Of West Point graduates, 74 percent report being politically “conservative” as compared to 45 percent of all college graduates; and 95 percent say “America is the best country in the world” compared to 77 percent over all. Bakken highlights West Point Professor Pete Kilner as an example of someone who shares and promotes such views. I’ve done public debates with Kilner and found him far from sincere, much less persuasive. He gives the impression of not having spent much time outside of the military bubble, and of expecting praise for that fact.
“One of the reasons for the common dishonesty in the military,” Bakken writes, “is an institutionalized disdain for the public, including civilian command.” Sexual assault is rising, not receding, in the U.S. military. “When Air Force cadets chant,” writes Bakken, “while marching, that they will use a ‘chain saw’ to cut a woman ‘in two’ and keep ‘the bottom half and give the top to you,’ they are expressing their world view.”
“A survey of the top echelon of military leadership indicates widespread criminality,” Bakken writes, before running through such a survey. The military’s approach to sexual crimes by top officers is, as recounted by Bakken, quite fittingly compared by him to the behavior of the Catholic Church.
The sense of immunity and entitlement is not limited to a few individuals, but is institutionalized. A gentleman now in San Diego and known as Fat Leonard hosted dozens of sex parties in Asia for U.S. Navy officers in exchange for supposedly valuable secret information on the Navy’s plans.
If what happens in the military stayed in the military, the problem would be far smaller than it is. In truth, West Point alumni have wreaked havoc on the world. They dominate the top ranks of the U.S. military and have for many, many years. Douglas MacArthur, according to a historian Bakken quotes, “surrounded himself ” with men who “would not disturb the dreamworld of self-worship in which he chose to live.” MacArthur, of course, brought China into the Korean war, tried to turn the war nuclear, was in great part responsible for millions of deaths, and was — in a very rare event — fired.
William Westmoreland, according to a biographer quoted by Bakken, had a “perspective so widely off the mark that it raises fundamental questions of [his] awareness of the context in which the war was being fought.” Westmoreland, of course, committed genocidal slaughter in Vietnam and, like MacArthur, attempted to make the war nuclear.
“Recognizing the staggering depth of MacArthur’s and Westmoreland’s obtuseness,” writes Bakken, “leads to a clearer understanding of the deficiencies in the military and how America can lose wars.”
Bakken describes retired admiral Dennis Blair as bringing a military ethos of speech restriction and retaliation into civilian government in 2009 and generating the new approach of prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, prosecuting publishers like Julian Assange, and asking judges to imprison reporters until they reveal their sources. Blair himself has described this as applying the military’s ways to government.
Recruiters lie. Military spokespeople lie. The case made to the public for each war (often made as much by civilian politicians as by the military) is so routinely dishonest that someone wrote a book called War Is A Lie. As Bakken tells it, Watergate and Iran-Contra are examples of corruption driven by military culture. And, of course, in the lists of serious and trivial lies and outrages to be found in military corruption there’s this: those assigned to guard nuclear weapons lie, cheat, get drunk, and fall down — and do so for decades unchecked, thereby risking all life on earth.
Earlier this year, the Secretary of the Navy lied to Congress that over 1,100 U.S. schools were barring military recruiters. A friend and I offered a reward if anyone could identify just one of those schools. Of course, nobody could. So, a Pentagon spokesperson told some new lies to cover up the old one. Not that anybody cared — least of all Congress. None of the Congress Members directly lied to could be brought to the point of saying one word about it; rather, they made sure to keep people who cared about the issue out of hearings at which the Secretary of the Navy was testifying. The Secretary was fired months later, just a couple of weeks ago, for allegedly making a deal with President Trump behind the back of the Secretary of Defense, as the three of them had varying ideas on how to acknowledge or excuse or glorify some particular war crimes.
One way in which violence spreads from the military to U.S. society is through the violence of veterans, who disproportionately make up the list of mass shooters. Just this week, there have been two shootings on U.S. Navy bases in the U.S., both of them by men trained by the U.S. military, one of them a Saudi man training in Florida to fly airplanes (as well as training to prop up the most brutal dictatorship on earth) — all of which seems to highlight the zombie-like repetitive and counterproductive nature of militarism. Bakken cites a study that in 2018 found that Dallas police officers who were veterans were much more likely to fire their guns while on duty, and that nearly a third of all officers involved in a shooting were veterans. In 2017 a West Point student apparently prepared for a mass shooting at West Point that was prevented.
Many have urged us to recognize the evidence and not accept the media presentations of atrocities like My Lai or Abu Ghraib as isolated incidents. Bakken asks us to recognize not just the pervasive pattern but its origins in a culture that models and encourages senseless violence.
Despite working for the U.S. military as a professor at West Point, Bakken outlines the general failure of that military, including the past 75 years of lost wars. Bakken is unusually honest and accurate about casualty counts and about the destructive and counterproductive nature of the senseless one-sided slaughters the U.S. military perpetrates on the world.
Pre-U.S. colonists viewed militaries much as people living near U.S. military bases in foreign countries often view them today: as “nurseries of vice.” By any sensible measure, the same view ought to be common in the United States right now. The U.S. military is probably the least successful institution on its own terms (as well as others’ terms) in U.S. society, certainly the least democratic, one of the most criminal and corrupt, yet consistently and dramatically the most respected in opinion polls. Bakken recounts how this unquestioning adulation creates hubris in the military. It also maintains cowardice in the public when it comes to opposing militarism.
Military “leaders” today are treated as princes. “Four-star generals and admirals today,” Bakken writes, “are flown on jets not just for work but also to ski, vacation, and golf resorts (234 military golf courses) operated by the U.S. military around the world, accompanied by a dozen aides, drivers, security guards, gourmet chefs, and valets to carry their bags.” Bakken wants this ended and believes it works against the ability of the U.S. military to properly do whatever it is he thinks it should do. And Bakken courageously writes these things as a civilian professor at West Point who has won a court case against the military over its retaliation for his whistleblowing.
But Bakken, like most whistleblowers, maintains one foot inside that which he is exposing. Like virtually every U.S. citizen, he suffers from World War II mythologizing, which creates the vague and unargued assumption that war can be done right and properly and victoriously.
Like a huge number of MSNBC and CNN viewers, Bakken suffers from Russiagatism. Check out this remarkable statement from his book: “A few Russian cyber agents did more to destabilize the 2016 presidential election and American democracy than all the weapons of the Cold War put together, and the U.S. military was helpless to stop them. It was stuck in a different mode of thinking, one that worked seventy-five years ago.”
Of course, the wild claims of Russiagate about Trump supposedly collaborating with Russia to try to influence the 2016 election do not even include the claim that such activity actually influenced or “destabilized” the election. But, of course, every Russiagate utterance does push that ridiculous idea implicitly or — as here — explicitly. Meanwhile Cold War militarism determined the outcome of numerous U.S. elections. Then there’s the problem of proposing that the U.S. military come up with schemes to counter Facebook ads. Really? Whom should they bomb? How much? In what way? Bakken is constantly lamenting the lack of intelligence in the officer corps, but what sort of intelligence would concoct the proper forms of mass murder to stop Facebook ads?
Bakken regrets the U.S. military’s failures to take over the world, and the successes of its supposed rivals. But he never gives us an argument for the desirability of global domination. He claims to believe that the intention of U.S. wars is to spread democracy, and then denounces those wars as failures on those terms. He pushes the war propaganda that holds North Korea and Iran to be threats to the United States, and points to their having become such threats as evidence of the U.S. military’s failure. I would have said that getting even its critics to think that way is evidence of the U.S. military’s success — at least in the realm of propaganda.
According to Bakken, wars are badly managed, wars are lost, and incompetent generals devise “no-win” strategies. But never in the course of his book (apart from his World War II problem) does Bakken offer a single example of a war well-managed or won by the United States or anyone else. That the problem is ignorant and unintelligent generals is an easy argument to make, and Bakken offers ample evidence. But he never hints at what it is that intelligent generals would do — unless it is this: quit the war business.
“The officers leading the military today appear not to have the ability to win modern wars,” Bakken writes. But he never describes or defines what a win would look like, what it would consist of. Everybody dead? A colony established? An independent peaceful state left behind to open criminal prosecutions against the United States? A deferential proxy state with democratic pretensions left behind except for the requisite handful of U.S. bases now under construction there?
At one point, Bakken criticizes the choice to wage large military operations in Vietnam “rather than counterinsurgency.” But he does not add even a single sentence explaining what benefits “counterinsurgency” could have brought to Vietnam.
The failures that Bakken recounts as driven by officers’ hubris, dishonesty, and corruption are all wars or escalations of wars. They are all failures in the same direction: too much senseless slaughtering of human beings. Nowhere does he cite even a single catastrophe as having been created by restraint or deference to diplomacy or by excessive use of the rule of law or cooperation or generosity. Nowhere does he point out that a war was too small. Nowhere does he even pull a Rwanda, claiming that a war that didn’t happen should have.
Bakken wants a radical alternative to the past several decades of military conduct but never explains why that alternative should have to include mass murder. What rules out nonviolent alternatives? What rules out scaling back the military until it’s gone? What other institution can fail utterly for generations and have its toughest critics propose reforming it, rather than abolishing it?
Bakken laments the separation and isolation of the military from everyone else, and the supposedly small size of the military. He’s right about the separation problem, and even partly right — I think — about the solution, in that he wants to make the military more like the civilian world, not just make the civilian world more like the military. But he certainly leaves the impression of wanting the latter too: women in the draft, a military that makes up more than just 1 percent of the population. These disastrous ideas are not argued for, and cannot be effectively argued for.
At one point, Bakken seems to understand just how archaic war is, writing, “In ancient times and in agrarian America, where communities were isolated, any outside threat posed a significant danger to an entire group. But today, given its nuclear weapons and vast armaments, as well as an extensive internal policing apparatus, America faces no threat of invasion. Under all indices, war should be far less likely than in the past; in fact, it has become less likely for countries throughout the world, with one exception: the United States.”
I recently spoke to a class of eighth-graders, and I told them that one country possessed the vast majority of foreign military bases on earth. I asked them to name that country. And of course they named the list of countries still lacking a U.S. military base: Iran, North Korea, etc. It took quite a while and some prodding before anyone guessed “the United States.” The United States tells itself it isn’t an empire, even while assuming its imperial stature to be beyond question. Bakken has proposals for what to do, but they do not include shrinking military spending or closing foreign bases or halting weapons sales.
He proposes, first, that wars be fought “only in self-defense.” This, he informs us, would have prevented a number of wars but allowed the war on Afghanistan for “a year or two.” He doesn’t explain that. He doesn’t mention the problem of that war’s illegality. He provides no guide to let us know which attacks on impoverished nations halfway around the globe should count as “self-defense” in the future, nor for how many years they should bear that label, nor of course what the “win” was in Afghanistan after “a year or two.”
Bakken proposes giving much less authority for generals outside of actual combat. Why that exception?
He proposes subjecting the military to the same civilian legal system as everyone else, and abolishing the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Good idea. A crime committed in Pennsylvania would be prosecuted by Pennsylvania. But for crimes committed outside the United States, Bakken has a different attitude. Those places should not prosecute crimes committed in them. The United States should establish courts to handle that. The International Criminal Court is also missing from Bakken’s proposals, despite his account of U.S. sabotage of that court earlier in the book.
Bakken proposes to turn the U.S. military academies into civilian universities. I’d agree if they were focused on peace studies and not controlled by the militarized government of the United States.
Finally, Bakken proposes criminalizing retaliating against free speech in military. For as long as the military exists, I think that’s a good idea — and one that might shorten that length of time (that the military exists) were it not for the probability that it will reduce the risk of nuclear apocalypse (allowing everything in existence to last a bit longer).
But what about civilian control? What about requiring that the Congress or the public vote before wars? What about ending secret agencies and secret wars? What about halting the arming of future enemies for profit? What about imposing the rule of law on the U.S. government, not just on cadets? What about converting from military to peaceful industries?
Well, Bakken’s analysis of what’s wrong with the U.S. military is helpful in getting us toward various proposals whether or not he supports them.
Ruinous and deadly wars throughout history should have given people everywhere down through the ages cause and pause for thinking about what has happened and why it has happened. While many people presumably have and continue to do just that, what they know and understand is usually controlled by their nation’s power elite. That is never more the case than in America from its beginning and continuing. The power elite (aka the ruling class) in the “Devil’s Marriage” between Corporate America and Government America that make up America’s corpocracy essentially control what most Americans know and understand about what the corpocracy has done, is doing, and plans to do next.1 As if that sort of exploitative wrongdoing were not enough, the power elite’s evildoing is ruining America and the world.2 America, as the world knows, is the greatest threat to peace.3
This article wrenches itself free of America’s corpocracy and gives readers an unvarnished review and examination of America’s wars since the time America “was born in the womb of war.” In one of my books I wrote about America’s “oldest professions,” warring and spying.4 If they are allowed to continue, one or more forms of doomsday will visit humanity later this century as some experts forecast.5 To rescue the future, America first needs to rescue itself from its power elite. In my newest book, “911!” I spell out in detail a rescue plan and who need to be the rescuers.6
The purpose of this article is straightforward: to make a convincing argument that war is neither unavoidable nor just nor inevitable. I start by “enlisting” (that word is not really meant to have military connotations) the “reinforcement” (ditto the first parenthetical) of luminaries down through the ages and what they have said against war. Following them, I am on my own with the support of my research and analysis to present my argument full blown. I end by giving my explanation for why war happens, why it seems to be inevitable and why it need not be inevitable.
Luminaries Against War Down Through the Ages
It is more rather than less discouraging to know that many notable people down through the ages have voiced their disapproval of and disgust over the habit called war. If the “voices heard” in this section of the article had instead been a roaring cheer for war, this article might never have been written!
Edward Abbey: Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.
Alfred Adler: To all those who walk the path of human cooperation war must appear loathsome and inhuman.
Aeschylus: In war, truth is the first casualty.
Aesop: Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
Anonymous: A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
Issac Asimov: Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.
Major General Smedley Butler. War is a racket.
Albert Camus: We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives…inside ourselves.
Bennett Cerf: The Atomic Age is here to stay–but are we.
Agatha Christie: One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
Clarence Darrow: True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
Bob Dylan: Come you masters of war. You that build all the guns. You that build the death planes. You that build the big bombs. You that hide behind walls. You that hide behind desks. I just want you to know I can see through your masks.
Barbara Ehrenreich: No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell raising remain the true duty of patriots.
Albert Einstein: War is an act of murder.
Abraham Flexner: Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
Benjamin Franklin: There never was a good war or a bad peace.
Chris Hedges: The failure to dissect the cause of war leaves us open for the next installment.
Herodotus: In peace sons bury fathers, but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
John Lennon: All we are saying is give peace a chance.
Basil O’Connor. The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies.
Anne O’Hare McCormick: Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but capacity to prevent it.
Charles Eliot Norton: The voice of protest…is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum…is bidding all men…obey in silence the tyrannous word of command.
George Orwell: Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. War is peace.
Harry Patch, Last surviving WWI soldier: War is organized murder, and nothing else.
Alexander Pope: O peace! how many wars were waged in thy name.
Ayn Rand: Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity is good motives.
Jeannette Rankin: You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
Bertrand Russel: War does not determine who is right, only who is left.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery: War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.
Butler Shaffer: In this war – as in others – I am less interested in honoring the dead than in preventing the dead.
Bruce Springsteen: Blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed.
President Donald J. Trump: From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars.
Charles V of France: Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball.
Howard Zinn: We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.
Say and think what you will about President Trump, I do not recall any of his predecessors publicly having made similar statements and then tried to back them up with executive orders. Any US president must be very careful in opposing the “deep” state or risk being assassinated. Recall what happened and why to JFK!7
About America’s Wars: Unavoidable and Just?
A Critique of its Wars
I answer here these two questions for each of America’s seven overt wars that I discuss. Was it avoidable? Was it just? The first criterion is self-explanatory. The second could be ambiguous without an explanation. The criterion of justness is preferable to that of legality because the foundation of all law is a consideration of what is just and moral behavior. Moral behavior is doing what is right. Immoral behavior is doing what is wrong. Simple as that.
Born in the Womb of War: The American Revolution
The “Founding Fathers” founded nothing. They invaded a land already occupied and slowly began slaughtering the occupants. The invaders were America’s original wrongdoing and evildoing power elite. They mostly descended from England, a belligerent and imperialistic country that endlessly pursued war such as its 100-year war with France.8
These original power elite of America were already creatures of habit and heritage and clearly in no mood to kowtow to King George, so they started America’s first war. It was a totally avoidable and unjust war. To be sure, they presented King George a long list of grievances in their Declaration of Independence, but by signing it they had no intention of relying on state craft to seek a nonviolent resolution. Their “olive branch” petition sent later to the King, moreover, was clearly insincere and the King knew it, since he got it after he was sent the Declaration of Independence.9
Seeking a settlement with “Mad King George” would not have been as ludicrous as it may seem. His troops, fighting far away on foreign soil would never have prevailed in the long run even if they had won. Instead, they would have eventually dissolved from exhaustion, lack of resources, and sense of futility in the face of continued resistance and civil disobedience from the colonists. The American Revolution was thus a Pyrrhic victory for the revolutionaries, leaving over 25,000 of them dead and as many wounded, and predisposing the new nation to a future of warring as a habitual means to further its own colonizing and global exploitation.10
The late historian Howard Zinn made it clear in his writings that President Lincoln provoked the attack on Fort Sumter that launched the Civil War not with the primary purpose of freeing the slaves but to make sure to maintain the ability to expand the nation’s territory and with it, greater markets and resources.11 Lincoln, in other words, was an early practitioner of imperialism by deadly military means.
The very Lincoln memorialized in the nation’s capital was also a racist as he clearly indicated in a speech he gave in Charleston:
I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.12
Whatever his motives might have been, and whether he spoke with a forked tongue depending on the audience, his decision to start the Civil War was deadly, unnecessary, and morally outrageous. Moreover, he prevented the balkanization of America into two smaller Americas each too small to wreak havoc, ruin and death on the rest of the world at the hands of America’s power elite over the ensuing centuries.
WWI was a result of multiple causes; namely, idiotic revenge over the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, rivalries among imperialistic nations along with their lust for more international prestige and more global territory, and mediocre leaders who let the war happen, a war that left 10 million soldiers from the involved countries dead.13
That Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on the U.S. are two tragic and memorable incidents that undoubtedly lead many people to believe that WWII was unavoidable and just. Not according to Zinn, though, who raised and answered several key questions. Was the U.S. involvement for the rights of nations to independence and self-determination? To save the Jews? Against racism? For democracy? No, not at all based on his review of the evidence. The U.S. involvement in WWII had no such high-minded purposes, and Zinn concluded that WWII proved the no war can be just.14 Zinn’s research along with many others’ historical accounts of WWII provide clear-cut evidence that FDR deliberately provoked Japan into attacking and knew the attack would prompt Germany into immediately declaring war on the U.S., which they did do.15
Appalling, too, is the fact that America’s power elite were profiting from financing and helping to rearm Hitler’s war machine after it was depleted by WWI.16 What is even more unforgivable is the U.S.’s atomic bombing of two populous cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings, the first of their kind and the last so far on human beings, were totally unnecessary. Our government knew that Japan was prepared to surrender before the bombings, but our government bombed anyway to scare its newly created enemy, Russia.17
Fourteen countries were neutral during WWII.18 Not the U.S., where war is a racket!
Vietnam War and the Unprecedented Carnage
That the French left Vietnam after 10 futile years of trying to colonize it should have been a clear signal to our government that any attempt to dominate the country would also be doomed to failure. But our power elite, licking their chops over the prospect of securing a gateway into the markets and riches of Southeast Asia, and motivated to stop the spread of Communism, ignored the signal.
It is so ironic and so sad that Ho Chi Min, who deserved to be the beloved leader of a unified Vietnam, emulated America’s Declaration of Independence in writing one for a unified Vietnam, which we did everything atrociously possible to prevent, yet a unified Vietnam nation eventually prevailed.19
The U.S. warriors and their cheerleading imperialists went berserk in ravaging Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Here is an absolutely horrifying tally of the losses to innocent countries and their peoples:
“–Seventy-five percent of South Viet Nam was considered a free-fire zone (i.e., genocidal zones).
–Over 6 million Southeast Asians killed (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).
–Over 64,000 U.S. and Allied soldiers killed.
–Over 1,600 U.S. soldiers, and 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers remain missing.
–Thousands of amputees, paraplegics, blind, deaf, and other maiming created.
–13,000 of 21,000 of Vietnamese villages, or 62 percent, severely damaged or destroyed, mostly by bombing.
–Nearly 950 churches and pagodas destroyed by bombing.
–350 hospitals and 1,500 maternity wards destroyed by bombing.
–Nearly 3,000 high schools and universities destroyed by bombing.
–Over 15,000 bridges destroyed by bombing.
–10 million cubic meters of dikes destroyed by bombing.
–Over 3,700 US fixed-wing aircraft lost.
–36,125,000 US helicopter sorties during the war; over 10,000 helicopters were lost or severely damaged.
–26 million bomb craters created, the majority from B-52s (a B-52 bomb crater could be 20 feet deep, and 40 feet across).
–39 million acres of land in Indochina (or 91 percent of the land area of South Viet Nam) were littered with fragments of bombs and shells, equivalent to 244,000 (160 acre) farms, or an area the size of all New England except Connecticut.
–21 million gallons (80 million liters) of extremely poisonous chemicals (herbicides) were applied in 20,000 chemical spraying missions between 1961 and 1970 in the most intensive use of chemical warfare in human history, with as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese living in nearly 3,200 villages directly sprayed by the chemicals.
–24 percent, or 16,100 square miles, of South Viet Nam was sprayed, an area larger than the states of Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island combined, killing tropical forest, food crops, and inland forests.
–Over 500,000 Vietnamese have died from chronic conditions related to chemical spraying with an estimated 650,000 still suffering from such conditions; 500,000 children have been born with Agent Orange-induced birth defects, now including third generation offspring.
–Nearly 375,000 tons of fire balling napalm was dropped on villages.
–Huge Rome Plows (made in Rome, Georgia), 20-ton earthmoving D7E Caterpillar tractors, fitted with a nearly 2.5-ton curved 11-foot wide attached blade protected by 14 additional tons of armor plate, scraped clean between 700,000 and 750,000 acres (1,200 square miles), an area equivalent to Rhode Island, leaving bare earth, rocks, and smashed trees.
–As many as 36,000,000 total tons of ordinance expended from aerial and naval bombing, artillery, and ground combat firepower. On an average day U.S. artillery expended 10,000 rounds costing $1 million per day; 150,000-300,000 tons of UXO remain scattered around Southeast Asia: 40,000 have been killed in Viet Nam since the end of the war in 1975, nearly 70,000 injured, and 20,000 Laotians have been killed or injured since the end of the war
–7 billion gallons of fuel were consumed by U.S. forces during the war.
–If there was space for all 6,000,000 names of Southeast Asian dead on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC, it would be over 9 sobering miles long, or nearly 100 times its current 493-foot length.”20
This carnage was encouraged by the diabolically evil Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. “Kill anything that moves” he once told General Alexander Haig.21
Just think for a moment about the unprecedented carnage of Vietnam caused by the U.S. No nuclear bombs were dropped on that helpless, innocent nation and its neighbors, yet over 6 million Southeast Asians were killed by the bloodthirsty U.S.22 “Only” about 199 thousand people were killed by the two U.S. atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.23 If justice were to be served instead of being a travesty, any living perpetrators of the Vietnam War would be permanently locked up in solitary confinement.
Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars
Nothing more need be added to this finding: Early in December of 2016 CODEPINK conducted “The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War.” Two days of testimony and documentation provided indisputable evidence: Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded not to combat terrorism but to gain control of hydrocarbon resources.”24
More Questions About War
Would not a war of self-defense unravel the argument that no war is unavoidable or just? No, the best defense against modern warfare initiated against the U.S. is prevention through the U.S. having the right kind of foreign policies in place over time. Unfortunately, the administrator of our foreign policy, the Department of State, is a subsidiary of the Department of Defense War. Foreign policies are militant military policies.
Would the draft have been abolished after Vietnam if the government was convinced that all future military interventions must be just or avoidable? No, the draft was abolished precisely because the government knew future military interventions could not meet these two standards and more protests on the magnitude of those against the Vietnam War would surely follow.
The more just and avoidable a war would there not be few exemptions granted from battle? No, in any American war to date the elite have avoided it like a plague. And how many politicians have gone into battle? They are spineless creatures that send others to their graves. They ought to be the pall bearers for every person killed from their wars and then held accountable.
If a particular war were just or unavoidable, besides not abolishing the draft, there would be very few conscientious objectors, draft dodgers or deserters. But just the opposite happened during WWII and Vietnam, the last war relying on conscription. During WWII there were roughly 21,000 deserters (one was executed) and 45,000 conscientious objectors.25 During Vietnam, there were nearly 420,000 deserters.26
If a particular war were just or necessary, its warrior-in-chief would not have granted conditional or unconditional pardons or amnesty to war resistors over the years. Yet in the 20th century over 1,000 draft dodgers during WWII were pardoned by President Truman; Vietnam War draft resisters and deserters were offered clemency by President Ford; and hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War draft dodgers were given unconditional pardon by President Carter. Perhaps even warriors-in-chief can have pangs of doubt or guilt over sending young men unnecessarily to battle.27
What about military interventions for humanitarian reasons, to prevent massacres and to liberate people from ruthless despots, for example? Americans learn in their youth from school textbooks that America always has good intentions towards other nations.28 But that is sheer propaganda deliberately foisted by the power elite on the rest of us to protect their own self interests. No war can be legitimized as well-intentioned and humanitarian. To quote Einstein once again, “War cannot be humanized. War can only be abolished.”29 Finding and using a genuinely humane intervention requires creative diplomacy and a moral conscience, not military might.
Wars do not liberate civilians from oppressors. Wars kill the civilians, and tyrants in their lands often follow by ruling puppet regimes that suit the self-interests of America’s power elites. Throughout history wars on the average have killed more civilians than combat soldiers. The civilian casualty rate rose to 85% of all casualties during the Iraq War and probably is approaching 100% from drone killings wherever the drones drop bombs.30
The power elite profit more not by defeating the enemy, but by keeping the war winless and endless.
I would think that only a psychopath or a diehard war rationalizer would argue that war is moral. How can any war justify such universal values as caring for others, fairness and justice gleaned from a search through time and places by a lawyer turned ethicist (an odd switch)?31
What about the lesser standard for behavior, the law that the corpocracy ignores, such as Articles 1 and 3 of the Constitution; 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments; all laws protecting human nature such as homicidal laws against murder; and international laws such as the 1928 Kellogg–Briand Peace Pact? I would think only people like the U.S. president’s legal counsel would make the legal case for war, torture, and the like.
MAD: The Safety Valve?
The ultimate war is nuclear war. One insane rationale for stockpiling nuclear warheads and threatening to use them in escalating international conflicts is called “MAD,” or mutually assured destruction.32 Would not a sane policy require making peace treaties instead?
Born to Kill?
Ever hear of a newborn baby with a weapon clutched in its tiny hand? We must learn why to kill and how to kill other human beings. If killing were instinctive, our species would either be extinct by now or substantially depleted. Were it natural, there would be neither PTSs nor suicides.
Here is what a former Army ranger had to say about the crucial role of military training in learning to kill: “Military training is fundamentally an exercise in overcoming a fear of killing another human.”33 This enterprising ranger subsequently formed a consulting group, “Killology Research Group,” a bunch of “Warrior Science Group consultants dedicated to protecting our families and our children and to the strong defense of our country.”34 Nothing surprises me anymore.
And that is why I was not surprised to read later how the military came up with the idea to tell its soldiers the Vietnamese were sub-humans so the Vietnamese could be killed without any guilt or remorse. Soldiers were told the Vietnamese were “gooks, slants, slopes, and anything to make the soldiers think the Vietnamese were not humans.”
Think about it. Our government takes our youth, often under-privileged and poorly educated, and turns them into killers so that politicians can stay in office and the business drivers of the corpocracy can keep on driving and thriving, not dying.
About War as an Act of Murder
Its First Implication
I have no basis for disputing Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, who claimed that “war is an act of murder.” If you agree, are you prepared to accept the implication that the people who promote war, that the people who provide the means for war and that the people who authorize war are surrogate murderers? And should they not be incarcerated for the rest of their lives as international war criminals instead of being honored?
A Second Implication
Silent Americans are a dependable prop for America’s power elite. Silent Americans thus become the accomplices of America’s international war criminals. If justice were to be served, should not silent Americans share the blame?
Yet Another Implication
We are all warriors. When America is at war, whether an official or unofficial war, it is being carried out in our name, “America,” not in the names of those members of the power elite who actually are responsible for starting and sustaining the war. America’s wars, in other words, are our wars, whether we like it or not, whether we are silent or not. When little children are bombed to smithereens by our bombs, we are the bombers. Loved ones who survive blame America.
What causes war and is war inevitable?
War boils down to behavior, what people do when they tolerate, promote, prepare for, authorize or execute war. Behavior always has two interacting causes, the person and the person’s context, or situations, circumstances and conditions that influence what the person does. By far the most influential part of the context of the corpocracy’s power elite are their countless props that they create for themselves. I call them props because they prop up the power elite’s power. Without their props the power elite would be powerless and there would be no more wars by them. Not being held accountable for their international war crimes is one of the stronger props. I devote a whole chapter in my book, “911!”, to enumerating and explaining all the props, and most of my plan for rescuing America from its power elite focuses on legally and peacefully removing all the props.35
A different explanation of war’s inevitability is given by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former high-level official in the Reagan administration who subsequently has studied and explained America’s corpocracy even more than I have done. He attributes the inevitability of war to the power elite’s ideology of manifest destiny of ruling the world.36 While their ideology does indeed influence their resulting war-oriented behavior, singling out and seeking to counter or end any ideology would be futile. Ideologies are strongly held beliefs that have hardened into concrete. Concentrating on eliminating their ideological belief of manifest destiny would be akin to trying to chisel away several thousand people encased in concrete!
If we can accept seven U.S. wars as an acceptable sample of all wars, then no war is either unavoidable or just.
There are two ways to end war. One, knock down the numerous props supporting the power elite so that a “power rectangle,” not a “power triangle,” represents the distribution of power.37 Two, let doomsday in one form or another end war and everything else. If the first doesn’t happen, the second one will.
- Brumback, GB. The Devil’s Marriage. Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Author House, 2011.
- Brumback, GB. “Real America, an Endangering and Endangered Ruination”, Dissident Voice, March 28; OpEdNews, March 29; Headline News, March 29; PopularResistance.Org Daily Digest, March 31; Greanville Post, April 2; Transmedia Service, April 6; Uncommon Thought Journal, April 8, 2016.
- Post Editorial Board. U.S. Is the Greatest Threat to World Peace: Poll. New York Post, January 5, 2014.
- Brumback, GB. America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
- Spratt, D. & Dunlap, I. “Existential Climate Related Security Risks: A Scenario Approach”, BT Policy Paper, May 2019.
- Brumback, GB. “911!”, Independent Self-Publishing, 2019 (readers can go to Amazon Books, enter “Gary Brumback’s “911!” book” and continue until “Look Inside).
- See the following references regarding JFK’s assassinations: Fetzer, J. JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn’t. Voltairenet.org, June 13, 2010; Roberts, PC. JFK Turned to Peace and was Assassinated. Institute for Political Economy, July 20, 2018; and also, Talbot, D. The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. Harper Perennial, 2016.
- Wikipedia. List of Wars Involving England.
- Wikipedia. The Olive Branch Petition.
- Wikipedia. United States Military Casualties of War.
- Zinn, H. A People’s History of the United States, Harper Perennial, 2005.
- Ibid. p.
- Zinn, H. Howard Zinn on War, Seven Stories Press, 2000.
- Zinn, H. A People’s History of the United States, Harper Perennial, 2005.
- See, e.g., Dietrich, D. “The Pearl Harbor Deception”, American Patriot Friends Network, December 2008; Petras, J. “Provocations as Pretexts for Imperial War: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11”, Global Research, August 3, 2014; and, Swanson, D. “The Ancient Mythical Rites of Pearl Harbor Day”,. OpEdNews, December 5, 2018.
- See, e.g., Dobbs, M. “Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration”, The Washington Post, November 30, 1998; and, Paul, J. & Kuznick, P. “D-Day: How the U.S. Supported Hitler’s Rise to Power”, Therealnews.com, June 8, 2019.
- Kohls, GG. Dr. “The Hiroshima Myth. Unaccountable War Crimes and the Lies of US Military History”, Global Research, July 31, 2013.
- Chepkemoi, J. “Countries Who Remained Neutral in World War II”, World Atlas, July 26, 2018.
- Alpha History. “Ho Chi Minh’s Declaration of Independence (1945)”, Alpha History, undated.
- Wilson, SB. “Remembering All the Deaths from All of Our Wars”, Counterpunch, May 27, 2016.
- Branfman, F. “The 10 Most Ghoulish Quotes of Henry Kissinger’s Gruesome Career”, Salon, February 13, 2016. For more literature about Mr. Kissinger try this sampling: Anderson, JL.”Does Henry Kissinger Have a Conscience?” The New Yorker, August 20, 2016; Branfman, F. “The New Face of Evil: Why Henry Kissinger is Still Relevant Today”, OpEdNews, April 23, 2013; Falk, R. On (Not) Loving Henry Kissinger, TRANSCEND Media Service, May 23, 2016; and, Hitchens, C. The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Twelve, 2012.
- Wilson, SB. Op. Cit.
- atomicarchives.com. “The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, Atomicarchives, undated.
- Behan, R. “Yes, It was Blood for Oil: Codepink Nails the Truth About George Bush’s Wars”, OpEdGeneralNews, December 17, 2016.
- The estimate of WWII deserters is from Wikipedia The estimate of conscientious objectors during WWII is from the Living Libraries of the University of California at Irvine.
- Giraldi, P. “Deserters, Traitors and Resistors: A Long Tradition of Those Who Walked Away From War”, Huff Post, September 22, 2014.
- For President Truman’s decision, see Crotty, R. “The Draft Dodgers of 1944”, National Archives, September 16, 2010. For President Ford’s decision see Bates, M. “President Ford’s Clemency Program for Draft Dodgers and Deserters”, Free Republic, December 27, 2006. For President Carter’s decision see Lescaze, L. “President Pardons Viet Draft Dodgers”, The Washington Post, January 22, 1977.
- Fitzgerald, F. “America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century”, Little Brown & Company, 1979.
- Einstein, A. Original source unknown.
- Eckhardt, W. “Civilian Deaths in Wartime,” Security Dialogue, 2008 (1), 89-98.
- Josephson, M. “Teaching Ethical Decision-Making and Principled Reasoning. Ethics: Easier Said than Done”, 1988, 1, 27-33.
- Noble, S. Anarchy and Near-Term Extinction, Dissident Voice, June 18, 2014.
- See Killology Research Group. A Warrior Science Group Partner.
- Opcit. “911!” See Chapter 5, Pp. 53-74 for a thorough discussion of the power elite’s props.
- Roberts, PC. “Why War Is Inevitable,” OpEdNews, May 26, 2014.
- Opcit. “911!” My discussion of the power triangle and power rectangle as symbols for the distribution of power in a nation see Pp. 3-4 and 104-105.