VERIFIED: Where Wars Do — and Don’t Come From

Where wars DO come from:

It is not civilizations that promote clashes. They occur when old-fashioned leaders look for old-fashioned ways to solve problems by rousing their people to armed confrontation.–Kenichi Ohmae, The End Of The Nation State, (New York: The Free Press 1995), p. 11.

Why of course the people don’t want war. … That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along –Head Nazi Hermann Goering

Mr. Bertie Felstead: “A German began singing All Through The Night, then more voices joined in and the British troops responded with Good King Wencelas… the next morning, all the soldiers were shouting to one another, “Hello Tommy, Hello Fritz” … The Germans started it, coming out of their trenches and walking over to us. Nobody decided for us – we just climbed over our parapet and went over to them, we thought nobody would shoot at us if we all mingled together… There wouldn’t have been a war if it had been left to the public. We didn’t want to fight but we thought we were defending England. England’s Oldest Man Remembers The 1915 Christmas Truce

People do not make wars; governments do. –U.S. President Ronald Reagan

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials… made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. …an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that …led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses. –Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith, False Pretenses: Iraq THE WAR CARD Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War, www.publicintegrity.org

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. …The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose–especially their lives. …the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die. That is their motto The Anti-war Speech That Earned Eugene Debs 10 Years in Prison, Socialist Party convention in Canton, Ohio, 16 June 1918

By contrast, where wars DON’T come from:

…we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came…They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight. Crazy Horse/Tashunkewitko

The Aztec strategy of war was based on the capture of prisoners by individual warriors, not on working as a group to kill the enemy in battle. By the time the Aztecs came to recognize what warfare meant in European terms, it was too late. Aztec

New England’s first Indian war, the Pequot War of 1636-37, provides a case study of the intensified warfare Europeans brought to America. Allied with the Narragansetts, traditional enemies of the Pequots, the colonists attacked at dawn. … The slaughter shocked the Narragansetts, who had wanted merely to subjugate the Pequots, not exterminate them. The Narragansetts reproached the English for their style of warfare, crying, “It is naught, it is naught, because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” In turn, Capt. John Underhill scoffed, saying that the Narragansett style of fighting was “more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies.” Underhill’s analysis of the role of warfare in Narragansett society was correct, and might accurately be applied to other tribes as well. Through the centuries, whites frequently accused their Native allies of not fighting hard enough. -James W. Loewen, LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME, (New York, NY: Touchstone 1996), p. 118

Why We Fight

It’s no Kony 2012!

I’m enough of a cynic to know that no one learns anything from the past, at least Eugene Jarecki can sleep well knowing he was right.

While Jarecki’s documentary “Why We Fight” was released in 2005, it (sadly) seems just as fresh as it did seven years ago. Featuring: John McCain, the late Chalmers Johnson, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Gore Vidal, Joseph Cirincione, Karen Kwiatkowski and the family of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(Hat tip to Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich)

To Mark This Solemn Day, I’m Having a Luau

Today’s hardest-hitting news story: “You’ll Never Guess What The Obama Kids’ School Is Serving For Lunch Today.”

How could you, Sidwell?

Don’t care? Well, you should. It’s a “heavily Japanese-inspired menu, which includes Asian mushroom and oriental noodle soup, garlic roasted edamame, teriyaki chicken, and other more generally Asian options.”

Hellooooo! It’s Pearl Harbor Day, when we should shun all things Japanese. I went out and spit on my Honda this morning, and there will be no garlic-roasted edamame under my roof until midnight.

A minor point, but I’m sure you noticed it: the Obamas and other Washington elites send their children to a school run by the Quakers. Maybe a reporter with time to kill will look into that incongruity someday.

Join Ralph Nader and Lawrence Wilkerson on US Government Reactions to 9/11

On Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St NW; (14th and V St NW), Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public.

Ralph Nader and Busboys & Poets will host a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on Monday, September 12, 2011. Looking at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in a forthright way that promotes forward thinking.

Roundtable participants will include:

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mike German, policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the ACLU and former FBI agent.

Bruce Fein, adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and former executive editor of World Intelligence Review.

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and people’s lawyer.

(HT: Matthew Zawisky)

You Can Be My Wingman Any Time

Here’s David Sirota on the Hollywood-Pentagon bromance:

In June, the Army negotiated a first-of-its-kind sponsorship deal with the producers of “X-Men: First Class,” backing it up with ads telling potential recruits that they could live out superhero fantasies on real-life battlefields. Then, in recent days, word leaked that the White House has been working with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow on an election-year film chronicling the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

A country questioning its overall military posture, and a military establishment engaging in a counter-campaign for hearts and minds — if this feels like deja vu, that’s because it’s taking place on the 25th anniversary of the release of “Top Gun.”

That Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, made in collaboration with the Pentagon, came out in the mid-1980s, when polls showed many Americans expressing doubts about the post-Vietnam military and about the constant saber rattling from the White House. But the movie’s celebration of sweat-shined martial machismo generated $344 million at the box office and proved to be a major force in resuscitating the military’s image.

Not only did enlistment spike when “Top Gun” was released, and not only did the Navy set up recruitment tables at theaters playing the movie, but polls soon showed rising confidence in the military. With Ronald Reagan wrapping military adventurism in the flag, with the armed forces scoring low-risk but high-profile victories in Libya and Grenada, America fell in love with Maverick, Iceman and other high-fivin’ silver-screen super-pilots as they traveled Mach 2 while screaming about “the need for speed.”

A Time article from 1986 noted:

The high-flying hardware turns Top Gun into a 110-minute commercial for the Navy — and it was the Navy’s cooperation that put the planes in the picture. The producers paid the military $1.8 million for the use of Miramar Naval Air Station near San Diego, four aircraft carriers and about two dozen F-14 Tomcats, F-5 Tigers and A-4 Skyhawks, some flown by real-life top-gun pilots. Without such billion-dollar props, the producers would have spent an inordinate amount of time and money searching for substitutes, and might not have been able to make the movie at all.

The partnership has been profitable for both Hollywood and the Pentagon. Top Gun, which has raked in $160 million so far at the box office, is the year’s highest-grossing film. Its glorified portrayal of Navy life spurred theater owners in such cities as Los Angeles and Detroit to ask the Navy to set up recruiting exhibits outside cinemas where Top Gun was playing to sign up the young moviegoers intoxicated by the Hollywood fantasy….

But there is a catch. Before a producer receives military assistance for a TV or movie project, the screenplay is reviewed by officials at the Department of Defense and by each of the services involved. The Pentagon ends up rejecting many projects that come its way on the grounds that they distort military life and situations. An Officer and a Gentleman, which like Top Gun dealt with naval aviation training, was turned down because of its rough language, steamy sex and, to the military mind, inaccurate view of boot camp. The Pentagon said no to WarGames because the military contends that a teenage computer hacker could never crack the U.S. strategic defense system. Even Rambo’s lone-wolf heroics would have failed to pass muster, despite later praise from President Reagan. The Pentagon guidelines do not condone “activities by individuals . . . which are properly the actions of the U.S. Government.”

Nick Turse covered the “military-entertainment complex” here and here.