Monday, November 12, 2012

VeteransDay Revisited

For this Veteran's Day, I am just republishing the personal portion of my post on the militarization of American society and my experiences related to the Vietnam War, from MARCH 28, 2012 (with a few additions and edits):

Ron Paul Blasts U.S. Policy in Farewell Address (Added 11/16/12)
-  Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars (Added 11/16/12)
Veterans Day Revisited (A Description of the Slow Slide to Fascism in the U.S.)
- Warfare Culture (Added 11/14/12)
- Iris Dement & George Carlin

Ron Paul Blasts U.S. Policy in Farewell Address

Added 11/16/12

Ron Paul farewell speech to the House of Representatives.

"Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty? Why is there so little concern for the executive order that gives the president authority to establish a 'kill list,' including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination? Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong." -- Texas Congressman Ron Paul

Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars
Added 11/16/12

When looking at the numbers of dead lost, from so many nations in WWII, documented by Oliver Stone in his new documentary, one wonders why it is that only the Jewish dead are presented as a "Holocaust" in the current American mythology.

OLIVER STONE: Generations of Americans have been taught that the United States reluctantly dropped atomic bombs at the end of World War II to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men poised to die in an invasion of Japan. But the story is really more complicated, more interesting, and much more disturbing. Many Americans view World War II nostalgically as the "Good" War in which the United States and its allies triumphed over German Nazis and Italian fascism and Japanese militarism. Others, not so blessed. Remember, World War II is the bloodiest war in human history. By the time it was over, 60 to 65 million people lay dead, including an estimated 27 million Soviets, between 10 and 20 million Chinese, six million Jews, over six million Germans, three million non-Jewish Poles, two-and-a-half million Japanese, and one-and-a-half million Yugoslavs. Austria, Britain, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania and the United States each counted between a quarter-million and a half-million dead.

Would we have dropped the atomic/nuclear bombs on Japan if Henry Wallace had been Vice-President, instead of Truman, under Roosevelt?  Would Wallace have fought against the effort to create a "state" of Israel on the lands of the Palestinians as Truman did?  The last question is not answered, but the documentary apparently addresses the first and explains why Truman ended up as President.

OLIVER STONE: The trailer looked pretty epic. From here to here—it’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, from 1940s to—it was a big job, four-and-a-half years, off and on. I did do three feature films and two documentaries during that period. But Peter was on the—we started in 2008, and it’s been four-and-a-half. 
We recently discussed Wallace and the bomb in 1997, when he was teaching at American University and I was there in one of his classes. And we talked about making a documentary of about an hour, hour and a half. He’s an expert on the atomic—on weaponry, and especially the atomic bomb. He founded the Department of Nuclear Studies in American—and Wallace is—Henry Wallace, as he can explain to you, is a key to the link: Would we have dropped the bomb? That’s the origin myths of this. Every school kid—still, my daughter in her school, in private school, in good school, is still learning this: We dropped the bomb because we had to, because the Japanese resistance was fanatic, and we would have lost many American lives taking Japan. This is one—there’s no alternative to that story. And we are beginning the process in chapter one, two and three of saying the bomb did not have to be dropped for strategic reasons and also because it was morally reprehensible. But strategically, it made no sense. 
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Kuznick, why? 
PETER KUZNICK: It made no sense because the Japanese were already defeated. They were looking for a way out of the war. United States knew they were defeated. Truman refers to the intercepted July 18th telegram as "the telegram from the Jap emperor asking for peace." The United States— 
AMY GOODMAN: From the Japanese emperor asking for peace. 
PETER KUZNICK: The Japanese, yeah, but that was called—he says "the Jap emperor asking for peace," is Truman’s exact words on that. Everybody else knew that they were militarily defeated and looking for a way out. But the people who knew that the best were the Russians, because they were trying to get the Russians to intervene on their behalf to get them better surrender terms, and also because—their strategy was to welcome American invasion and then to conflict heavy damages and then force better surrender terms. But once the Russians invaded, then that undermined both their diplomatic strategy and their military strategy. So that was what really ended the war. It was not the bombing. We had already been bombing Japanese cities. We had firebombed over a hundred cities. Destruction reached 99.5 percent of the city of Toyama. From the Japanese standpoint, whether it was 200 bombs—200 planes and a thousand bombs or one plane and one bomb didn’t change the equation. But the Soviet invasion fundamentally changed it, and that’s what forced the final surrender.

So... the horrific, unbelievably inhumane bombing of Japan was not necessary, but that's who we are, and have repeatedly been, whether it be in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, or  many other countries since.

Veterans Day Revisited (A Description of the Slow Slide to Fascism in the U.S.)
I don't watch much TV. I rarely turn it on at my place, much preferring to find news and entertainment on the internet. Tuesday night, at my best and dearest friend's home, I watched PB'S' "News Hour" and two NCIS programs on CBS. The "News Hour" had an obviously propagandistic piece subtly demonizing Syria and the Assad government, ultimately insisting upon Assad stepping aside. The one and only guest on that segment was Andrew Tabler from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israeli foreign policy think-tank. WINEP is a simply another propaganda arm of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most incredibly powerful lobby in the US today for the interests of Israel (See Introduction to the Israel Lobby or the  The Israel Lobby for starters). There were no opposing guests to speak for the Syrian state, whose territory on the Golan Heights has been illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 war (never mentioned on "News Hour"). This is typical one sided PBS and NPR fare, even though they claim to be God's gift for unbiased information to the American public.

 It would have been adequately "fair & balanced," and much more informative and interesting, if they had included someone like Eric Margolis, or any of the stable of writers, on the same program as and antidote to PBS's (and NPR's) AIPAC/Neocon guest list.

 For another side of the story, see "THE DANGEROUS MESS IN SYRIA GROWS MURKIER" (or What's Left) and listen to Scott Horton's recent interview with Eric Margolis (now old) on Antiwar Radio. In the interview, Margolis states that the US, Britain, France, aligned with Israel and Saudi Arabia, along with right-wing forces in Lebanon, have been infiltrating armed fighters into northern Syria from the beginning, much like the French intelligence did to create the self-serving early Bengazi insurgency in Libya.

 The sound went out on PBS, so I switched to NCIS on CBS. The first hour was the usual, promoting the military police as a profoundly caring, justice seeking organization, just like most cop shows do for the police. The second, NCIS Los Angeles, was different. Like other police and military TV programs I have watched in the past, it ended up promoting not just killing willy-nilly, but in addition, the most egregious violations of Constitutional due process, simply because a Navy Seal Team had decided it was OK to kill a citizen because they thought he was a spy for the Taliban in Pakistan. No court order and no due process needed, because Seal Teams are all about honor and defending us. Ultimately, the powers that be in NCIS gave a wink and a knowing smile, and looked the other way, even though they knew the Seal Team members were involved in an extrajudicial killing of an American citizen on US soil without due process. I guess the message is that we need to forget the Constitution when, not just the Commander in Chief, but even teams of military commandos, decide amongst themselves that an American citizen on American soil needs to be "taken out" without formal charge or trial.

(See also The Permanent Militarization of America By AARON B. O’CONNELL)

 I thought about what a brain-washed and militarized society we have become--as TV has traveled quite a long way from the "I Love Lucy" shows of my youthful days. But hey, that's who we Americans are now--that's what we do--we kill people without regard to their Constitutional rights, or their rights as human beings. We tell only one side of the story. We threaten or make war upon nations and national groups at the command of the governing elites, Neocon think tanks and the corporate and "public" media, whenever they tell us those nations are "undemocratic," "kill their own people" (as we did in the most atrocious fashion during our own "Civil War"), and otherwise need a good thrashing. All this with no regard to the consequences for our own lives or for the lives of the people we attack. Constitutional protections of due process in a court of law, simply don't matter if the Executive Branch, the Military, or some other powerful group decides they don't. They are God.

 How the hell did we get here???? Have we always been this way? Well, sort of, but it keeps getting worse (Are we just going back to the dark ages?).

 Back in the last "just war," WWII, we killed hundred of thousands of civilians by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and killed many more thousands of innocent women and children, while destroying priceless European architecture, in Dresden, Germany, just to make a point. Afterwards we ignored all that and tried the Nazis for their atrocities during the war crimes tribunals, and made war crimes of the German sort, violations of international law. Since then, only weak nations have been tried for war crimes, even though it is the US and the West that violate those same international laws routinely.

Back in 1967 and '68, I faced a decision. As a poor boy of 17-18, I had fallen into an even deeper poverty than I had known previously, when growing up in a lower middle class family that became divided by separation, and then divorce. When I tried to go off on my own to escape an untenable situation, my brother helped me buy books so I could attend the local community college, during a time when my life and mind were in great turmoil (for reasons I won't go into). In the summer of 1967, a friend and I hitch-hiked to Montreal, Canada, for the world's fair, and on to Boston and New York, and I came home a changed person, even more aware of what I considered to be a dishonorable war against the people of Vietnam, a people who had every right to seek self determination and to fight their own civil war, even if one side was socialist/"communist". In late 1967, if I remember it all correctly, my roommate, another dear friend, and I protested the Vietnam war by inscribing "Hell No, we won't go" on the college lawn (a nearly meaningless and ineffective statement, I must confess). We were two of very few there who spoke out against the War, even though just months earlier we had considered going to Israel as volunteers to help the Israelis in their struggle with the Palestinians. My good friend and roommate was Jewish and at the time we had been overcome by the false pro-Israeli narrative in the popular press. Such was the change in my own personal awareness of American Empire during that brief period of 1967 and 1968.

 To make a long and very personal story short, after the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive in January, 1968, a new draft of 48,000 men was announced in February. I faced the loss of my college deferment and ended up in the Army. I could have gone to Canada, but had no support or wherewithal to do that, and did not wish to saddle my Army-Airforce father with having a son who chose not to serve. I was not, and could not truthfully claim to be, a conscientious objector to all wars in the religious sense, because I was, and still am, essentially an atheist. Atheists, after all, couldn't possibly have strongly held moral and ethical convictions--Godless people are lost souls and excluded from the possibility of morality.

 In my induction papers, I told the Army that I would not participate in any war that was not similar to World War II, and the attack on America at Pearl Harbor, which appeared at the time to be a truly defensive war. They took me anyway, but after my father's early death, just after my 20th birthday, I engaged in various forms of resistance. It was a long, difficult, problem-filled rocky road that eventually kept me out of the much more threatening and problematic Vietnam War, and which left me with an honorable discharge, thanks to military friends who favored my sentiments. My life was eventually deeply affected by my choices, especially when I faced bosses who had served willingly and had killed innocent Vietnamese as if it were the honorable thing to do. Even though I received an honorable discharge, I most often had to truthfully state the facts of my Army experience in job applications, and particularly in cases when the boss was a Vietnam vet, it did not serve me well. They had their own bitterness, and revenge to exact on those who opposed the war and who questioned the ultimate value of their service.

 In any event, the fruitless and destructive Vietnam War produced many more war crimes against innocent civilians, including the dropping of napalm on villages and the massacre at Mai Lai.

 The point of this story, is that we all face choices, and as a nation, we need to create choices with more productive outcomes. Unfortunately, if Americans choose to not willingly participate in thoughtless, often criminal, always destructive and murderous, US wars against any defenseless nation, targeted for dubious reasons by our government, there can be a heavy price to pay. Others make a different choice, and they too, will live with it the rest of their lives, even if they are economically and socially rewarded for it. The targeted nations, however, live in a hell that most of us cannot even imagine.

 Most often, in the absence of an equitable draft, now (morphed into and) referred to as the "volunteer Army," it is the poor, due to their circumstance, and other people with few options, who end up fighting these rich men's wars. Without an equitable draft, one that would not permit the purchase of college deferments by the wealthy, low income people are sucked in by what is really a "poverty draft" in order to find income producing work and the self esteem so easily bestowed upon them by the upper classses and the one percent--those who will never have to risk their lives doing the devil's work--and who can live their often successful lives as if the wars never happened.

 To the other veterans I offend: In a world of media propaganda and lies, I understand why you did what you did, and the honor you were seeking. I also understand and most honor those war veterans who came to realize the falsehoods that drove them to war, and the shame some feel for killing innocents, but mostly I understand the contempt they must feel for the officials and government who stole their lives to send them into wars based upon falsehoods, as currently is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 It is time for all, veterans and non-veterans alike, to wake up to the carnage, cultural dysfunction, and reactionary "terrorist" hatred, that we Americans are inflicting upon the world through our senseless wars. They leave us and other nations impoverished and serve no one other than the military-industrial complex, the one percent and their global war on the national self determination of others. Too often today, the "State" of Israel, which was imposed upon the Palestinians and Arabs in 1948, and which has been violating international laws and the rights of Palestinians ever since, is the ultimate beneficiary, while we pretend it is in our national interest.

 In fighting the ever widening wars on "terror," which are the logical result of our own aggressive, oppressive, and wildly destructive wars on many nations, and beyond the important issue of degrading our own ethical and moral principles, we have decimated our own Constitutional rights to privacy and due process as American citizens, thus enabling the current slide into fascism. Today, President Obama thinks nothing of killing American citizens without judicial warrant simply on the advice of questionable advisors, while allowing the killing of others in foreign lands who resist, including many civilians, with drones directed from afar. He is cheered on by even more savage and "right-wing" militaristic Christian fundamentalists, and AIPAC oriented Republicans, who would likely be even more improvident and immoral were they in the oval office.

(Good Lord, did I write this in Baker City, Oregon, the heartland of right-wing, militaristic, mindlessly patriotic, relentlessly religious, not to mention classist, American culture?  Yep.)

Added, 11/14/12
An American Legacy: Her Deadly Warriors-in-Chief
By Gary Brumback 

Excerpt. . . .
  • 3. Warfare culture. The triumvirate is adept at creating and sustaining a culture in which continuous military interventions is accepted and expected. Besides relying on spreading lies (e.g., WMDs), half truths and propaganda through corporate-controlled mainstream media, on infiltration into the educational system at all levels, and on entertainment (e.g., war movies) the triumvirate has mastered the art of what we psychologists call “operant conditioning”, continuously pairing a negative or less favorable item with a more favorable one until the former becomes more like the latter. That explains, for example, why basketball fans will without reservation watch a game played on an aircraft carrier
  • 4. Upside Down Incentives. CEOs and U.S. presidents are addicted to them. An upside down incentive, as you can probably guess, is one that rewards bad behavior and/or punishes good behavior. Never having to worry about being prosecuted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court because it is an absolutely feckless entity and because the U.S. refuses to be a signatory member of it is the most egregious upside down incentive for a U.S. warrior-in-chief.
  • 5. Global enticements. Globalization is the contemporary euphemism for imperialism. The globe is one giant opportunity for market expansion, resource exploitation and political manipulation. The prospect of installing or protecting dictatorships in the pretext of spreading and defending freedom is just too much of a temptation for CEOs and U.S. presidents alike to resist. The duplicitous and hypocritical Ike with his farewell address warning of the very military industrial complex over which he had presided was a supreme master of secret military operations carried out by the CIA to replace democratically elected presidents with dictators who protected corporate investments and operations and opened up for them rich resources like oil and minerals.
  • 6. The powerful corpocracy. The first five circumstantial factors are all part and parcel of this sixth one, the powerful corpocracy. It took me about 10 years to study and then write a book about what the corpocracy is, what it does, and how it can be ended and democracy reclaimed. A U.S. president is a member of the corpocracy and is influenced by it, especially when it comes to making decisions about military interventions.

Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free


George Carlin - It's a big club and you ain't in it