Archive for the ‘War’ Category

How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents

October 4, 2014
How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents.

The following article by Canadian author Richard Sanders first published in May 2002, prior to the onslaught of the Iraq war, carefully documents the History of War Pretext Incidents.

The anti-war movement must address the issue of the “pretext” and  “justification” to wage war.

Regarding the MH17 Malaysian airline crash, is the Obama administration in the process of “creating a war pretext incident” directed against Russia as part of propaganda campaign, which could lead the World into a World War III scenario?

As documented by Richard Sanders, the War Pretext Incident strategy has been used throughout American military history.

Of relevance, the “Responsibility to Protect under a NATO “humanitarian” mandate  has also been used as a thematic pretext to wage war (Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria),

The 911 Attacks and the “Global War on Terrorism” (Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan,…) not to mention the alleged “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Iraq) have also been used to justify military intervention. Both 9/11 and WMD are being heralded as a justification for waging war on Iran, based on allegation that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks and that Iran possesses nuclear weapons.

In the words of Richard Sanders [2002]:

“It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt [9/11] to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 19 2014

*      *      *

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott, Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 17

Pretext n. [Latin praetextum, pp. of praetextere, to weave before, pretend, disguise; prae-, before + texere, to weave], a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one; excuse.

Stratagem [Gr. Strategema, device or act of a general; stratos, army + agein, to lead], a trick, scheme or device used for deceiving an enemy in war.

Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going to war is a major first step in constructing public support for such deadly ventures. Perhaps the most common pretext for war is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. Such attacks, however, are often fabricated, incited or deliberately allowed to occur. They are then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers and build mass support for military “retaliation.”

Like schoolyard bullies who shout ‘He hit me first!’, war planners know that it is irrelevant whether the opponent really did ‘throw the first punch.’ As long as it can be made to appear that the attack was unprovoked, the bully receives license to ‘respond’ with force. Bullies and war planners are experts at taunting, teasing and threatening their opponents. If the enemy cannot be goaded into ‘firing the first shot,’ it is easy enough to lie about what happened. Sometimes, that is sufficient to rationalize a schoolyard beating or a genocidal war.

Such trickery has probably been employed by every military power throughout history. During the Roman empire, the causes of war — cassus belli — were often invented to conceal the real reasons for war. Over the millennia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent.

Pretext incidents, in themselves, are not sufficient to spark wars. Rumors and allegations about the tragic events must first spread throughout the target population. Constant repetition of the official version of what happened, spawns dramatic narratives that are lodged into public consciousness. The stories become accepted without question and legends are fostered. The corporate media is central to the success of such ‘psychological operations.’ Politicians rally people around the flag, lending their special oratory skills to the call for a military “response.” Demands for “retaliation” then ring out across the land, war hysteria mounts and, finally, a war is born.

Every time the US has gone to war, pretext incidents have been used. Upon later examination, the conventional perception of these events is always challenged and eventually exposed as untrue. Historians, investigative journalists and many others, have cited eyewitness accounts, declassified documents and statements made by the perpetrators themselves to demonstrate that the provocative incidents were used as stratagems to stage-manage the march to war.

Here are a few particularly blatant examples of this phenomenon.

1846: The Mexican-American War

CONTEXT After Mexico’s revolution in 1821, Americans demanded about $3,000,000 in compensation for their losses.1 Mexico abolished slavery in 1829 and then prohibited further U.S. immigration into Texas, a Mexican state. In 1835, Mexico tried to enforce its authority over Texas. Texans, rallying under the slogan “Remember the Alamo!”, drove Mexican troops out of Texas and proclaimed independence. For nine years, many Texans lobbied for US annexation. This was delayed by northerners who opposed adding more slave territories to the US and feared a war with Mexico.2

In 1844, Democratic presidential candidate, James Polk, declared support for annexing Texas and won with the thinnest margin ever.3 The following year, Texas was annexed and Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with the US. Polk sent John Slidell to Mexico offering $25 million for New Mexico, California and an agreement accepting the Rio Grande boundary. Mexican government officials refused to meet the envoy.4

PRETEXT John Stockwell, a Texan who led the CIA’s covert 1970s war in Angola, summed up the start of Mexican American war by saying:

“they offered two dollars-a-head to every soldier who would enlist. They didn’t get enough takers, so they offered a hundred acres to anyone who would be a veteran of that war. They still didn’t get enough takers, so [General] Zachary Taylor was sent down to parade up and down the border — the disputed border — until the Mexicans fired on him…. And the nation rose up, and we fought the war.”5

President Polk hoped that sending General Taylor’s 3,500 soldiers into Mexico territory, would provoke an attack against US troops.6

“On May 8, 1846, Polk met with his Cabinet at the White House and told them that if the Mexican army attacked the U.S. forces, he was going to send a message to Congress asking for a declaration of war. It was decided that war should be declared in three days even if there was no attack.”7

When news of the skirmish arrived, Polk sent a message to Congress on May 11: “Mexico has passed the boundary of the U.S. and shed American blood on American soil.”8 Two days later Congress declared war on Mexico.9

RESPONSE Newspapers helped the push for war with headlines like: “‘Mexicans Killing our Boys in Texas.’10

With public support secured, U.S. forces occupied New Mexico and California. US troops fought battles across Mexico and stormed their capital. A new more US-friendly government quickly emerged. It signed over California and New Mexico for $15 million and recognized the Rio Grande as their border with the US state of Texas.11

General Taylor became an American war hero and he rode his victory straight into the White House by succeeding Polk as president in 1849.

REAL REASONS The US secured over 500,000 square miles from Mexico, including Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, California and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

The war was a boon to US nationalism, it boosted popular support for a very weak president and added vast new territories to the US where slavery was allowed.

1898: The Spanish-American War

CONTEXT Cubans fought several wars to free themselves from Spanish colonial rule, including 1868-1878, 1879-1880 and 1895-1898.12 In 1898, Cubans were on the brink of finally winning their independence. The US government agreed to respect Cuba’s sovereignty and promised they would not step in.

“On January 24, [1898] on the pretext of protecting the life and safety of Mr. Lee, U.S. consul in Havana, and other U.S. citizens in the face of street disturbances provoked by Spanish extremists, the Maine battleship entered the bay of Havana.”13

PRETEXT On February 15, 1898, a huge explosion sank the USS Maine killing 266 of its crew.14

In 1975, an investigation led by US Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded that there was no evidence of any external explosion. The explosion was internal, probably caused by a coal dust explosion. Oddly, the ship’s weapons and explosives were stored next to the coal bunker.15

RESPONSE The Maine’s commander cautioned against assumptions of an enemy attack. The press denounced him for “refusing to see the obvious.” The Atlantic Monthly said anyone thinking this was not a premeditated, Spanish act of war was “completely at defiance of the laws of probability.”16

Newspapers ran wild headlines like: “Spanish Cannibalism,” “Inhuman Torture,” “Amazon Warriors Fight For Rebels.”17 Guillermo Jimpnez Soler notes:

“As would become its usual practice, U.S. intervention in the war was preceded by intensive press campaigns which incited jingoism, pandering to the most shameless tales and sensationalism and exacerbated cheap sentimentality. Joseph Pulitzer of The World and William Randolph Hearst from The Journal, the two largest U.S. papers… carried their rivalry to a paroxysm of inflaming public opinion with scandalous, provocative and imaginary stories designed to win acceptance of U.S. participation in the first of its holy wars beyond its maritime borders.”18

US papers sent hundreds of reporters and photographers to cover the apparent Spanish attacks. Upon arrival, many were disappointed. Frederick Remington wrote to Hearst saying: “There is no war …. Request to be recalled.” Hearst’s now-famous cable replied: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” For weeks, The Journal dedicated more than eight pages per day to the explosion.19

Through ceaseless repetition, a rallying cry for retaliation grew into a roar. “In the papers, on the streets and in…Congress. The slogan was “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain.”20

With the US public and government safely onboard, the US set sail for war launching an era of ‘gunboat diplomacy.’ Anti-war sentiments were drowned out by the sea of cries for war. On April 25, 1898, the US Congress declared war on Spain.

REAL REASONS Within four months “the US replaced Spain as the colonial power in the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, and devised a special status for Cuba. Never again would the US achieve so much…as in that ‘splendid little war,’ as…described at the time by John Hay, future secretary of state.”21

Historian Howard Zinn has said that 1898 heralded:

“the most dramatic entrance onto the world scene of American military and economic power.… The war ushered in what Henry Luce later referred to as the American Century, which really meant a century of American domination.”22

1915: World War I

CONTEXT In 1915, Europe was embroiled in war, but US public sentiment opposed involvement. President Woodrow Wilson said they would “remain neutral in fact as well as in name.”23

PRETEXT On May 7, 1915, a German submarine (U-boat) sank the Lusitania, a British passenger ship killing 1,198, including 128 Americans.24

The public was not told that passengers were, in effect, a ‘human shield’ protecting six million rounds of US ammunition bound for Britain.25 To Germany, the ship was a threat. To Britain, it was bait for luring an attack. Why?

British Admiralty leader, Winston Churchill, had already commissioned “a study to determine the political impact if an ocean liner were sunk with Americans on board.”26 A week before the incident, Churchill wrote to the Board of Trade’s president saying it is “most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hopes especially of embroiling the U.S. with Germany.”27

British Naval Intelligence Commander, Joseph Kenworthy, said: “The Lusitania was sent at considerably reduced speed into an area where a U-boat was known to be waiting and with her escorts withdrawn.”28

Patrick Beesly’s history of British naval intelligence in WWI, notes: “no effective steps were taken to protect the Lusitania.” British complicity is furthered by their foreknowledge that: · U-boat commanders knew of the Lusitania’s route, · a U-boat that had sunk two ships in recent days was in the path of the Lusitania, · although destroyers were available, none escorted the Lusitania or hunted for U-boats, · the Lusitania was not given specific warnings of these threats.29

RESPONSE US newspapers aroused outrage against Germany for ruthlessly killing defenceless Americans. The US was being drawn into the war. In June 1916, Congress increased the size of the army. In September, Congress allocated $7 billion for national defense, “the largest sum appropriated to that time.”30

In January 1917, the British said they had intercepted a German message to Mexico seeking an alliance with the US and offering to help Mexico recover land ceded to the US. On April 2, Wilson told Congress: “The world must be safe for democracy.” Four days later the US declared war on Germany.31

REAL REASONS Influential British military, political and business interests wanted US help in their war with Germany. Beesly concludes that “there was a conspiracy deliberately to put the Lusitania at risk in the hope that even an abortive attack on her would bring the U.S. into the war.”32

Churchill’s memoirs of WWI state:

“There are many kinds of maneuvres in war, some only of which take place on the battlefield…. The maneuvre which brings an ally into the field is as serviceable as that which wins a great battle.”33

In WWI, rival imperialist powers struggled for bigger portions of the colonial pie. “They were fighting over boundaries, colonies, spheres of influence; they were competing for Alsace-Lorraine, the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East.”34 US war planners wanted a piece of the action.

“War is the health of the state,” said Randolph Bourne during WWI. Zinn explains: “Governments flourished, patriotism bloomed, class struggle was stilled.”35

1941: World War II

CONTEXT US fascists opposed President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) from the start. In 1933, “America’s richest businessmen were in a panic. Roosevelt intended to conduct a massive redistribution of wealth…[and it] had to be stopped at all costs. The answer was a military coup…secretly financed and organized by leading officers of the Morgan and du Pont empires.”36

A top Wall Street conspirator said: “We need a fascist government in this country…to save the nation from the communists who want to tear it down and wreck all that we have built.”37

The Committee on Un-American Activities said:

“Sworn testimony showed that the plotters represented notable families — Rockefeller, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn, Hutton and great enterprises — Morgan, Dupont, Remington, Anaconda, Bethlehem, Goodyear, GMC, Swift, Sun.”38

FDR also faced “isolationist” sentiments from such millionaires who shared Hitler’s hatred of communism and had financed Hitler’s rise to power as George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush, predecessors of the current president.39 William R.Hearst, mid-wife of the war with Spain, opposed a war against fascism. Hearst employed Hitler, Mussolini and Goering as writers. He met Hitler in 1934 and used Readers’ Digest and his 33 newspapers to support fascism.40

PRETEXT On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, killing about 2,460.41

FDR, and his closest advisors, not only knew of the attack in advance and did not prevent it, they had actually provoked it. Lt. Arthur McCollum, head of the Far East desk for U.S. Navy intelligence, wrote a detailed eight-step plan on October 7, 1940 that was designed to provoke an attack.42 FDR immediately set the covert plan in motion. Soon after implementing the final step, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.

After meeting FDR on October 16, 1941, Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote: “We face the delicate question of the diplomatic fencing to be done so as to be sure Japan is put into the wrong and makes the first bad move — overt move.” On November 25, after another meeting with FDR, Stimson wrote: “The question was: how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot.”43

The next day, an insulting “ultimatum” was delivered to the Japanese. The US intercepted a coded Japanese cable calling the ultimatum a “humiliating proposal” and saying they would now prepare for war with the US.44

The US had cracked Japanese diplomatic and military codes.45 A Top Secret Army Board report (October 1944), shows that the US military knew “the probable exact hour and date of the attack.”46 On November 29, 1941, the Secretary of State revealed to a reporter that the attack’s time and place was known. This foreknowledge was reported in the New York Times (Dec. 8, 1941).47

RESPONSE After Pearl Harbor, the US quickly declared war against Japan. With media support, “Remember Pearl Harbour!” became an American rallying cry. On December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the US.

As the war wound down, decoded messages revelaed to the US military that Japan would soon surrender. They knew the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unnecessary. Although nuclear weapons are commonly believed to have ended WWII, they were an opening salvo in the Cold War against the USSR.

REAL REASONS The US used WWII to maneuver itself into a position of superiority over former imperial rivals in Europe. In Parenti’s words the US “became the prime purveyor and guardian of global capitalism.”48 As the only nation wielding nuclear weapons, the US also became the world’s sole superpower.

1950: The Korean War

CONTEXT There is “extensive evidence of U.S. crimes against peace and crimes against humanity” KWCT committed after they occupied southern Korea in September 1945. The US worked to

“create a police state…using many former collaborators with Japanese rule, provoke tension…between southern and northern Korea, opposing and disrupting any plans for peaceful reunification. The U.S. trained, directed and supported ROK [South Korea] in systematic murder, imprisonment, torture, surveillance, harassment and violations of human rights of hundreds of thousands…, especially…nationalists, leftists, peasants seeking land reform, union organizers and/or those sympathetic to the north.”49

University of Hawaii professor, Oliver Lee, notes a “long pattern of South Korean incursions” into the north. In 1949, there were more than 400 border engagements. A US Army document states: “Some of the bloodiest engagements were caused by South Korean units securing and preparing defensive positions that were either astride or north of the 38th parallel. This provoked violent North Korean actions.”50

PRETEXT On June 25, 1950, the North Korean military were said to have moved three miles into South Korea territory.

Dr. Channing Liem, the former South Korean ambassador to the UN (1960-1961) wrote:

“For Washington, the question, ‘who fired the first shot?’ carried special significance…. Assistant Secretary of State for UN Affairs…[revealed] before the Senate Appropriations Committee, 1950, the US had devised a plan prior to the start of the war to gain approval from the UN to send its troops to Korea under the UN flag in the event that South Korea was attacked. It was imperative, therefore, that the ‘first shot’ be fired by the North, or at least that such an argument could be made.”51

ROK President Syngman Rhee triggered the war “with behind the scene support of John Foster Dulles,” the former-U.S. Secretary of State who met Rhee (June 18, 1950) just days before the pretext incident. Dulles told Rhee that “if he was ready to attack the communist North, the U.S. would lend help, through the UN…. He advised Rhee…to persuade the world that the ROK was attacked first, and to plan his actions accordingly.”52

Albert Einstein told Liem in 1955 that

“the US was manipulating the UN…. [It] was being exploited by the great powers at the expense of the small nations…. He went on to say great powers do not act on the basis of facts only but manufacture the facts to serve their purposes and force their will on smaller nations.”53

I.F.Stone was perhaps the first to expose how a US diplomat deceived the UN Secretary General into believing there had been an unprovoked North Korean attack.54

North Korea claimed the attack began two days earlier when ROK divisions launched a six-hour artillery attack and then pushed 1 or 2 kilometers across the border. They responded to “halt the enemy’s advance and go over to a decisive counterattack.”55

RESPONSE Secretary of State, Dean Acheson was “quick to seize the opportunity to blame the war on North Korea regardless of the evidence.” North Korea was accused of “brutal, unprovoked aggression.”56

The public was told that this ‘invasion’ was the first step in Soviet plans for world domination. Anyone opposing the war was called a communist. McCarthyism was on.

On June 27, 1950, Truman orders US troops to support South Korea, Congress agrees and the UN Security Council approves the plan.57

About three million civilians were killed, two-thirds in North Korea.58

REAL REASONS To maintain power, South Korea required major US military support. One month before the pretext, Rhee suffered a terrible electoral defeat. Opposing North Korea, diverted public attention from Rhee’s repression to the communist north.

The war was used to triple the Pentagon budget, boost NATO’s military build-up and create a new military role for the UN that could be manipulated by the US.

1964: The Vietnam War

CONTEXT Long before WWII, Vietnamese fought for independence from French Indochina. Resistance continued when Japanese troops occupied the colony during the war. Much of the region reverted to French control after the war. As early as 1950, the US aided French efforts to defeat the Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary forces. When France lost a decisive battle in 1954, the Geneva Accord recognized the independence of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam was “temporarily” divided. Ngo Dinh Diem’s repressive regime in South Vietnam was backed by thousands of US military “advisors.” A military coup overthrew Diem in November 1963.59

That same month, President Kennedy — who had resisted escalating the war — was assassinated. President Johnson took power and began intensified US involvement in Vietnam.

PRETEXT On July 30, 1964, enemy torpedo boats supposedly attacked a US destroyer, the USS Maddox, in North Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin. This lie of an “unprovoked attack” against a “routine patrol” threw the U.S. headlong into war.

The Maddox was actually involved in “aggressive intelligence gathering in coordination with actual attacks by South Vietnam and the Laotian Air Force against targets in North Vietnam.”60 They wanted to provoke a response “but the North Vietnamese wouldn’t bite. So, Johnson invented the attack.”61

The US task force commander for the Gulf of Tonkin “cabled Washington that the report was the result of an ‘over-eager’ sonarman who picked up the sounds of his own ship’s screws and panicked.”62

RESPONSE On August 5, 1964, although he knew the attack had not occurred, Johnson couldn’t resist this opportunity for a full-scale war.

Johnson went on national TV to lie about the Tonkin incident and to announce a bombing campaign to “retaliate.” The media repeated the lie ad nauseum. The fabricated assault was “used as justification for goading Congress into granting the president the authorization to initiate a protracted and highly lucrative war with North Vietnam.”63 Johnson asked Congress for powers “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression.”64

Before the war ended in 1975, about four million in Southeast Asia were killed.

REAL REASONS As during the Spanish-American war, the American business elite sought to acquire colonies from failing imperial powers.

President Dwight Eisenhower propounded the ‘Domino Theory’ in 1954.65 If South Vietnam ‘fell,’ then other countries would too, ‘like a set of dominos.’ The Vietnam War was a threat to all revolutionaries and their supporters.

The war also gave a huge boost to US war industries. Other US corporations wanted access to region’s markets and resources, like tin, tungsten, rubber.66

1983: The Invasion of Grenada

CONTEXT For decades, Eric Gairy dominated the tiny British colony of Grenada. Gairy “a vicious dictator…[was] the only Caribbean leader to maintain diplomatic relations with Pinochet’s Chile.” When his “notorious security forces” returned from training in Chile “‘disappearances’ became frequent.”67 ‘Gariyism’ was so bad that when Britain offered independence, Grenadans united to “shut down the country…prior to Independence Day, February 7, 1974.”68

The New Jewel Movement (NJM) led a successful uprising on March 13, 1979. The NJM “organized agrarian reform…, expanded trade union rights, advanced women’s equality…, established literacy programs and instituted free medical care.”69

The CIA “relentlessly used every trick in its dirty bag” including “an unending campaign of economic, psychological and openly violent destabilization.” Reagan met Caribbean leaders, the US urged “regional governments to consider military action” and CIA chief, William Casey, met Senate Intelligence Committee members “to discuss CIA involvement.” Gairy began “recruiting mercenaries from…the Cuban exile community in Miami.”70 (ER BS p.3-5)

In October 1981, a US military exercise simulated an invasion of Grenada ostensibly to rescue Americans and “install a regime favorable to the way of life we espouse.”71

In March 1983, Reagan exclaimed on TV that Grenada’s tourist airport threatened US oil supply routes.72

On October 19, 1983, NJM leader Maurice Bishop, and others, were put under house arrest during an coup by NJM’s Deputy PM Bernard Coard. Oddly, they were freed by a “well organized crowd…including counter-revolutionary elements…with anti-communist banners…. [led by] well known businessmen…. Who organized this rally, planned so well, and in advance?” Freed NJM leaders were whisked away and as a “crowd gathered…the soldiers, apparently panicked by explosions, opened fire.… something provoked them, leading to a massacre.” NJM leaders surrendered to soldiers and were soon executed.73

Significantly, “Pentagon officials informed Members of Congress that they had known of the impending coup…two weeks in advance.”74

The coup plotters were charged with the murders but their lawyer, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke believe them innocent of the murders.75 It seems the coup was hijacked by US interests to kill some NJM leaders, jail the rest and set the stage for an invasion.

PRETEXT In his Naval Science course, Captain M.T.Carson lists the invasion’s “stated reasons” as “protect Americans, eliminate hostage potential; restore order; requested by OECS [Organization of Eastern Caribbean States].”76

The US helped form the OECS, and then got it and the Grenadan governor to “request” an invasion. Under “potential problem,” Carson notes “Act fast with surprise and present world with fait accompli. If not, world opinion of U.S. invasion of tiny country will be critical. So: · “Get OECS to request action.” · “Get Governor Scoon to request action.” · “Emphasize students-in-danger aspect”77

Carson quotes a “medical school official”: “Our safety was never in danger. We were used as an excuse by this government to invade…. They needed a reason…and we were it.” MTC Most students “insisted” that they were “not…in any danger before the US invasion; only afterwards.”78

RESPONSE On October 22, 1983, “Operation Urgent Fury” was ordered.79 Three days later, the invasion hit like a cyclone.

The Organization of American States “deeply deplored” the invasion and the UN Security Council voted 11 to 1 against it.80

REAL REASONS Grenada threatened the US by providing a powerful example of viable alternative ways to organize social, political and economic structures.

Carson lists these reasons: · “Chance to eliminate Communist regime and replace with pro-U.S. government” · “Demonstrate U.S. military capabilities” · “President Reagan commented that U.S. military forces were back on their feet and standing tall.”81

US military morale was damaged two days before the invasion when 241 Marines were killed in Lebanon.82

The Wall Street Journal said the invasion made Grenada a “haven for offshore banks.”83

1989: The Invasion of Panama

CONTEXT The Panama Canal has dominated Panama’s history. US military invasions and interventions occurred in 1895, 1901-1903, 1908, 1912, 1918-1920, 1925, 1950, 1958, 1964 and 1989.84

In November 1903, US troops ensured Panama’s secession from Colombia. Within days, a treaty gave the US permanent and exclusive control of the canal.85

Former Panamanian military leader, Manuel Noriega, recruited by US military intelligence in 1959, attended the US Army School of the Americas in 1967 and led Panama’s military intelligence the next year. By 1975, the US Drug Enforcement Agency knew of Noriega’s drug dealing. He met, then-CIA Director, George Bush in 1976.86

In 1977, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos, signed a treaty to return the canal to Panamanian control in 1999. Other Americans undermined the treaty using “diplomatic…and political pressure, through to economic aggression and military invasion.”87

In the early-1980s, Noriega’s drug smuggling helped fund the contras in Nicaragua. He took control of Panama’s National Guard in 1983 and helped rig elections in 1984. Falling from US favour, the US indicted Noriega for drug crimes in 1988.88

On April 14, 1988, Reagan invoked “war powers” against Panama. In May, the Assistant Defense Secretary told the Senate: “I don’t think anyone has totally discarded the use of force.”89

PRETEXT On December 16, 1989, there was what media called an “unprovoked attack on a US soldier who did not return fire.”90 The soldier was killed when driving “through a military roadblock near a sensitive military area.”91 Panama’s government said “U.S. officers…fired at a military headquarters, wounding a soldier and…a 1-year-old girl. A wounded Panamanian soldier…confirmed this account to U.S. reporters.”92 The wife of a US officer was reportedly arrested and beaten.

RESPONSE George Bush called the attack on US soldiers an “enormous outrage”93 and said he “would not stand by while American womanhood is threatened.”94 Noam Chomsky questions why Bush “stood by” when a US nun was kidnapped and sexually abused by Guatemalan police only weeks earlier, when two US nuns were killed by contras in Nicaragua on January 1, 1990, and when a US nun was wounded by gunmen in El Salvador around the same time.95

The US media demonized Noriega and turned the “‘Noriega’ issue into an accepted justification for the invasion…. Colonel Eduardo Herrera, ex-Director of [Panama’s] ‘Public Forces,’…said: “If the real interest of the US was to capture Noriega, they could have done so on numerous occasions. [They] had all of his movements completely controlled.”96

On December 20, 1989, “Operation Just Cause” began. More than 4,000 were killed. US crimes included indiscriminate attacks, extra judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, destruction of property (like leveling the Chorrillo neighborhood), use of prohibited weapons, erasing evidence and mass burials.97

A US-friendly president, Guillermo Endara, was soon sworn in on a US military base.

REAL REASONS The Carter-Torrijos Treaty was torn up and the Panama’s military was dismantled.

A right-wing, US think tank stated in 1988 that: “once [Panama] is controlled by a democratic regime….discussions should begin with respect to a realistic defense of the Canal after…2000. These discussions should include the maintenance, by the US, of a limited number of military installations in Panama…to maintain adequate projection of force in the western hemisphere.”98

The invasion was a testing ground for new weapons, such as the B-2 bomber (worth US $2.2 billion) that was used for the first time.

The invasion also: · rectified “Bush’s ‘wimpy’ foreign relations image” · gave a “spectacular show of U.S. military might in the final months before the Nicaraguan elections, hinting…that they might want to vote for the ‘right’ candidate.” · “sent a signal…that the US…[would] intervene militarily where the control of illegal drugs was ostensibly at stake. · “demonstrated the new U.S. willingness to assume active, interventionist leadership of the ‘new world order’ in the post-Cold War period.”99

CONCLUSIONS

There are dozens of other examples from US history besides those summarized here. The “Cold War” was characterized by dozens of covert and overt wars throughout the Third World. Although each had its specific pretexts, the eradication of communism was the generally-used backdrop for all rationales.100

Since the Soviet Union’s demise, US war planners have continued to use spectacular pretext incidents to spawn wars. Examples include Iraq (1991), Somalia (1992), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995) and Yugoslavia (1999).

Throughout this time, the US “War on Drugs” has been fought on many fronts. Lurking behind the excuse to squash illicit drug trafficking, are the actual reasons for financing, training and arming right-wing, US-backed regimes, whose officials have so often profited from this illegal trade. The CIA has used this trade to finance many of its covert wars.101 The “War on Drugs” has targeted numerous countries to strengthen counter-insurgency operations aimed at destroying opposition groups that oppose US corporate rule.

Military plotters know that the majority would never support their wars, if it were generally known why they were really being fought. Over the millennia, a special martial art has been deliberately developed to weave elaborate webs of deceit to create the appearance that wars are fought for “just” or “humanitarian” reasons.

If asked to support a war so a small, wealthy elite could shamelessly profit by ruthlessly exploiting and plundering the natural and human resources in far away lands, people would ‘just say no.’

We now face another broad thematic pretext for war, the so-called “War Against Terrorism.” We are told it will be waged in many countries and may continue for generations. It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.”

Notes

1. “History of Mexico, Empire and Early Republic, 1821-55,” Area Handbook, US Library of Congress.

2. Shayne M. Cokerdem, “Unit Plan: Manifest Destiny and The Road to the Civil War.”

3. P.B.Kunhardt, Jr., P.B.Kunhardt III, P.W.Kunhardt, “James Polk,” The American President, 2000.

4. “Diplomatic Approaches: U.S. Relations with Mexico: 1844-1846,” LearnCalifornia.org, 2000.

5. John Stockwell, “The CIA and the Gulf War,” Speech, Santa Cruz, CA, Feb.20, 1991, aired by John DiNardo, Pacifica Radio.

6. Betsy Powers, “The U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48,” War, Reconstruction and Recovery in Brazoria County.

7. “The White House and Western Expansion,” Learning Center, White House Historical Association.

8. Powers

9. White House Historical Association

10. Stockwell

11. P.B.Kunhardt, Jr., P.B.Kunhardt III, P.W.Kunhardt

12. Ed Elizondo, “History of the Cuban Liberation Wars,” Oct.2, 2001.

13. Guillermo Jimpnez Soler, “The emergence of the United States as a world power”, Granma International, Aug.7, 1998.

14. Bill Sardi, “Remember the Maine! And the Other Ships Sunk to Start a War” Oct.16, 2000.

15. Michael Rivero, “Dictatorship through Deception,” New Republic Forum, Dec.24, 1999.

16. Rivero

17. J. Buschini, “The Spanish-American War,” Small Planet Communications, 2000.

18. Soler

19. Buschini

20. Buschini

21. Soler

22. Howard Zinn, “History as a Political Act,” Revolutionary Worker, December 20, 1998.

23. Woodrow Wilson, Message to Congress, Aug. 19, 1914, Senate Doc.#566, pp.3-4, World War I Document Archive.

24. Greg D.Feldmeth, “The First World War,” U.S. History Resources, Mar.31, 1998.

25. James Perloff, “Pearl Harbor,” The New American, Vol. 2, No. 30, December 8, 1986.

26. James Perloff

27. Winston Churchill, cited by Ralph Raico, “Rethinking Churchill,” The Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories, 1997.

28. Harry V.Jaffa, “The Sinking of the Lusitania: Brutality, Bungling or Betrayal?” The Churchill Center.

29. Patrick Beesly, Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-18, 1982 cited by RR

30. Peter Young, “World War I,” World Book Encyclopedia, 1967, pp. 374-375.

31. Wendy Mercurio, “WWI Notes, From Neutrality to War,” Jan.2002.

32. Patrick Beesly, cited by Ralph Raico

33. Winston Churchill, cited by Ralph Raico

34. Howard Zinn, “War Is the Health of the State,” A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present, Sept. 2001.

35. Zinn

36. Steve Kangas, “The Business Plot to Overthrow Roosevelt,” Liberalism Resurgent: A Response to the Right, 1996.

37. Gerald MacGuire, cited by Steve Kangas

38. Dale Wharton, Book review of The Plot to Seize the White House (1973) by Jules Archer, Eclectica Book Reviews.

39. Webster G.Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, “The Hitler Project,” George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, 1992.

40. David Nasaw, “Remembering ‘The Chief,’” interview, Newshour, Sept.7, 2000.

41. Joseph Czarnecki, Richard Worth, Matthias C. Noch and Tony DiGiulian, “Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941,” The Battles Of The Pacific.

42. Steve Fry, “Author: FDR knew attack was coming,” The Capital-Journal, June 12, 2001.

43. Henry Stimson, cited by Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbour, 2000.

44. Percy L.Greaves, Jr., “What We Knew,” Institute for Historical Review, Winter, 1983, p.467.

45. “The MAGIC Documents: Summaries and Transcripts of the Top-Secret Diplomatic Communications of Japan, 1938-1945,” GB 0099 KCLMA MF 388-401.

46. Paul Proteus, “Part One: Pearl Harbour,” America’s Phoney Wars.

47. Rivero

48. Michael Parenti, Against Empire, 1995, p.36.

49. “Final Judgement of the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal,” June 23, 2001.

50. Oliver Lee, “South Korea Likely Provoked War with North,” Star-Bulletin, June 24, 1994.

51. Channing Liem, The Korean War (6.25, 1950 – 7.27, 1953) – An Unanswered Question, 1993.

52. Liem

53. Albert Einstein cited by Channing Liem.

54. I.F.Stone, Hidden History of the Korean War, 1952, cited by Channing Liem.

55. Liem

56. Lee

57. Jim Caldwell, “Korea – 50 years ago this week, June 25-28, 1950,” ArmyLINK News, June 20, 2000.

58. Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings, Korea: The Unknown War, 1988, p.200, cited by Robin Miller, “Washington’s Own Love Affair with Terror”

59. Sandra M.Wittman, “Chronology of US-Vietnamese Relations,” Vietnam: Yesterday and Today.

60. Rivero

61. John DiNardo, “The CIA and the Gulf War,” aired by Pacifica Radio.

62. Rivero

63. DiNardo

64. Joint Resolution, U.S. Congress, Aug.7, 1964, “The Tonkin Bay Resolution, 1964,” Modern History Sourcebook, July 1998.

65. Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Domino Theory Principle, 1954,” Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954, pp.381-390. (News Conference, April 7, 1954.)

66. Eisenhower

67. Ellen Ray and Bill Schaap, “US Crushes Caribbean Jewel.” Covert Action Information Bulletin (CAIB), winter 1984, p.8

68. Jeff Hackett, “Burying ‘Gairyism.’” Bibliographies

69. Preface to Maurice Bishop speech “In Nobody’s Backyard,” April 13, 1979, The Militant, Mar.15 1999.

70. Ray and Schaap, pp.3-5

71. Ray and Schaap, p.6

72. Clarence Lusane, “Grenada, Airport ’83: Reagan’s Big Lie,” CAIB, Spring-Summer 1983, p.29.

73. Ray and Schaap, pp.10-11

74. Ray and Schaap, p.5

75. Alan Scott, “The Last Prisoners of the Cold War Are Black,” letter, The Voice (Grenada), April 20, 2001.

76. Capt. M.T.Carson, USMC, (Marine Officer Instructor), “Grenada October 1983,” History of Amphibious Warfare (Naval Science 293), Naval Reserves Officer Training Corps, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

77. Carson

78. Ray and Schaap, p..8.

79. Carson

80. “Failures of U.S. Foreign Policy,” Alternativeinsight, Sept.1, 2001

81. Carson

82. Alternativeinsight, Sept.1, 2001

83. Anthony Arnove and Alan Maass, “Washington’s war crimes,” Socialist Worker, Nov.16, 2001.

84. Zoltan Grossman, “One Hundred Years of Intervention,” 2001.

85. Commission for the Defence of Human Rights in Latin America (CODEHUCA), This is the Just Cause, 1990, p.115.

86. Richard Sanders, “Manuel Noriega,” Press for Conversion!, Dec. 2000, p.40.

87. CODEHUCA, pp.117, 108

88. Sanders

89. CODEHUCA, p.108

90. Richard K. Moore, “The Police State Conspiracy an Indictment,” New Dawn Magazine, Jan.-Dec. 1998.

91. Noam Chomsky, “Operation Just Cause: the Pretexts,” Deterring Democracy, 1992.

92. Chomsky

93. Alexander Safian, “Is Israel Using ‘Excessive Force’ Against Palestinians?” Fact sheet: Myth of Excessive Force, Nov.9, 2000

94. Chomsky

95. Chomsky

96. CODEHUCA, p.106.

97. CODEHUCA, passim

98. Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), “Panama: A Test for U.S.-Latin American Foreign Relations,” Interhemispheric Resource Center Bulletin, May 1995

99. FOR

100. William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, 2000.

101. Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, 1991.


Richard Sanders
is the coordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) and the editor of COAT’s quarterly magazine, Press for Conversion! For a free, sample copy, contact ad207@ncf.ca or visit their website:
www.ncf.ca/coat  

 

October 3, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 10/3/2014 at 08:09:30

The New War, the Forever War, and a World Beyond War

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October 3, 2014 — A statement on the current and enduring crisis, by the coordinating committee of WorldBeyondWar.org

This statement as PDF.

SUMMARY

The following is an assessment of the current ISIS crisis. The statement examines: (1) the social context of the destructive violence in Syria and Iraq — where we are; (2) viable nonviolent alternatives — what should be done; and (3) opportunities for civil society to advocate and push for those alternatives — how we can make it happen. The alternatives and pathways toward achieving those are not only preferable from a perspective of humanity, but proven to be more effective.

Graphic beheadings and other quite real stories of horrors committed by a new enemy — ISIS — have led to increased support for U.S. involvement. But a war on ISIS will make things worse for all concerned, following, as it does, a pattern of counterproductive action. Through the course of the so-called global war on terrorism, terrorism has been on the rise.

Nonviolent alternatives to war are abundant, morally superior, and strategically more effective. Some but not all are: apologies for past actions; arms embargoes; a Marshall Plan of restitution for the Middle East; meaningful diplomacy; appropriate conflict resolution responses to terrorism; addressing the immediate crisis with humanitarian intervention; redirecting our energies at home; supporting peace journalism; working through the United Nations; and de-authorizing the war on terror.

No solution by itself will bring peace to the region. Many solutions together can create a strong web of peacebuilding fabric superior to continued war. We cannot expect to make all of the above happen immediately. But by working toward those ends we can achieve the best results as quickly and as lastingly as possible.

We need teach-ins, communications, and education of all sorts. People should know enough facts to give their positions context. We need demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins, town forums, disruptions, and media productions. And if we make this a part of ending the whole institution of war, rather than just a particular war, we may move closer to not having to keep opposing new wars all the time.

WHERE WE ARE


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Public opinion on wars in the United States follows a tragic pattern, soaring — sometimes to over a majority — in support of a war when it’s new, and then predictably sinking. During most of the 2003-2011 U.S. war on Iraq, a majority in the U.S. said the war should never have been begun. In 2013, public opinion and pressure played a prominent role in preventing the launching of a new U.S. war on Syria. In February 2014, the U.S. Senate rejected legislation that would have moved the United States closer to war with Iran. On July 25, 2014, with the U.S. public against a new U.S. war in Iraq, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that would have required the President to obtain authorization before launching a war (just as the Constitution already requires) had the Senate passed the resolution too. At that distant date of a few months back, it was still possible to talk about an “antiwar mood,” to applaud the Catholic peace group Pax Christi for its historic decision to reject “just war” theory, to celebrate the state of Connecticut’s creation of a commission to transition to peaceful industries, to point to public supportfor taxing the rich and cutting the military as the top two solutions whenever the U.S. government and media discussed a debt crisis, and to envision a less-militarized future approaching.

But support for U.S. drone strikes remained relatively high, opposition to Israel’s war on Gaza with U.S. weapons remained weak (and in Congress and the White House virtually nonexistent), the CIA was arming Syrian rebels against the overwhelming preference of the U.S. public, and the proposed missile strikes into Syria had not been replaced with any significant effort to create an arms embargo, negotiate a ceasefire, provide major humanitarian aid, or otherwise reject a war-focused foreign policy and economic agenda that had merely been put on hold. Moreover, public opposition to war was weak and ill-informed. Most Americans lacked even a roughly accurate idea of the destruction their government had caused in Iraq, could not name the nations their government was striking with drones, didn’t study the evidence that their government had lied about chemical weapons attacks in Syria and threats to civilians in Libya, didn’t pay much attention to the human rights abuses or support for terrorism by U.S.-backed kings and dictators, and had been long trained to believe that violence arises out of the irrationality of foreigners and can be cured with greater violence.

Support for a new war was driven by graphic beheadings and other quite real stories of horrors committed by a new enemy: ISIS. [1] This support is as likely to be short-lived as support for other wars has been, barring some dramatic new motivation. And this support has been exaggerated. Pollsters ask whether something should be done and then simply assume that the something is violence. Or they ask whether this type of violence should be employed or that type of violence, never offering any nonviolent alternatives. So, other questions could produce other answers right now; time is likely to change the answers for the better; and education would accelerate that changing.

Opposition to the horrors of ISIS makes perfect sense, but opposition to ISIS as a motivation for war lacks context in every way. U.S. allies in that region, including the Iraqi government and the so-called Syrian rebels, behead people, as do U.S. missiles. And ISIS isn’t such a new enemy after all, including as it does Iraqis thrown out of work by the U.S. disbanding of the Iraqi military, and Iraqis brutalized for years in U.S. prison camps. The United States and its junior partners destroyed Iraq, leaving behind sectarian division, poverty, desperation, and an illegitimate government in Baghdad that did not represent Sunnis or other groups. Then the U.S. armed and trained ISIS and allied groups in Syria, while continuing to prop up the Baghdad government, providing Hellfire missiles with which to attack Iraqis in Fallujah and elsewhere. Even opponents of the Saddam Hussein government (which was also put into power by the United States) say there could have been no ISIS had the United States not attacked and destroyed Iraq.

Additional context is provided by the manner in which the U.S. occupation of Iraq temporarily ended in 2011. President Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq when he couldn’t get the Iraqi government to give them immunity for any crimes they might commit. He has now obtained that immunity and sent troops back in.

ISIS has religious adherents but also opportunistic supporters who see it as the force resisting an unwanted rule from Baghdad and who increasingly see it as resisting the United States. That’s how ISIS wants to be seen. U.S. wars have made the United States so hated in that part of the world, that ISIS openly encouraged U.S. attacks in an hour-long film, provoked them with the beheading videos, and has seen huge recruitment gains since the U.S. began attacking it. [2]

ISIS is in possession of U.S. weaponry provided directly to it in Syria and seized from, and even provided by the Iraqi government. At last count by the U.S. government, 79% of weapons transferred to Middle Eastern governments come from the United States, not counting transfers to groups like ISIS, and not counting weapons in the possession of the United States.

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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Parliament and Congress Have No Power to Legalize War

September 27, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 9/26/2014 at 10:17:37

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Congress has fled town to avoid voting for or against a new war. Many of the big donors to Congressional campaigns would want Yes votes. Many voters would want No votes, if not immediately, then as soon as the panic induced by the beheading videos wears off, which could be within the next month. Better to just avoid displeasing anyone — other than people who notice you running away.

The standard for legal-ish cosmopolitan respectability in the U.S. now has become getting five kings and dictators to say their on your side as you start bombing a new country.

But the British Parliament is still at the level of believing an actual vote by a legislature is appropriate. Do Americans remember that their beloved founding fathers put war powers in the hands of the legislature because of the ugly history of royal wars in Britain? Times have changed.

But if we want to actually comply with the law, we have to admit that neither Parliament nor Congress has the power to legalize attacking Syria. This is because both the U.S. and the U.K. are parties to the United Nations Charter, which bans war with very narrow exceptions — exceptions that have not been in any way met.

And if you want to get really serious about laws, the Kellogg-Briand Pact has never been repealed, the U.S. and U.K. are parties to it, and it bans all war without exception.

Now, you can interpret the Kellogg-Briand Pact to allow self-defense because the right to military self-defense, even when it’s unlikely to actually work, is just so obvious to your way of thinking. And the U.N. Charter explicitly allows military self-defense. But here’s the problem: There’s nothing defensive about attacking Syria, and President Obama himself described it as “offense” in an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC.

Another word for “offense” is aggression, which the Nuremberg tribunal called “essentially an evil thing . . . the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Asked about Congress’s responsibilities on Tuesday, Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) claimed that presidents could fight defensive wars without Congress but needed Congressional authorizations for offensive ones. In fact, offensive wars are not legal by any common understanding. Asked, then, about international law, at an event at the Center for American Progress, Kaine reportedly said that bombing Syria, as distinct from Iraq, was “complicated” and that he was not sure “how they would do that, perhaps using principles of self-defense or defending Iraq against other threats. I think we’ll find out more about what the administration says about that after the UN General Assembly,” he said.

Only in America. Only the White House gets to invent legal rationale for blatant crimes, with the law makers and enforcers prepared to accept the rationale before they hear it.

Prior to the U.N. meeting, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote to the U.N. arguing that it is legal for the United States to attack Syria because it is legal for Iraq to defend itself. By this logic, if Canada experienced a violent rebellion, it would be legal for China to attack the United States.

It’s fun to pretend that the rule of law doesn’t matter to you because you have all the weapons. It’s fun to take two-month vacations from Washington. Just don’t count on everyone voting you back next year.

 

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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End endless war.

September 24, 2014

Watch World Beyond War director David Swanson oppose the latest U.S. war on U.S. television here.

If you’re in the U.S. join our friends at RootsAction and Win Without War in registering your opposition here and here.

If you’re in England join our friends in the Stop the War Coalition protesting in London here.

A protest is being planned in Washington on Thursday as well. CodePink should have the info soon  here.

Let us know about any other events anywhere in the world and we’ll post them on the World Beyond War website.

Take this opportunity to introduce others to the World Beyond War movement and encourage them to sign their names and get involved at WorldBeyondWar.org

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

Sign the Declaration of Peace.

James Foley on the Dehumanization of War: Acclaimed Filmmaker Haskell Wexler Shares 2012 Interview

September 15, 2014

AMY GOODMAN
DEMOCRACY NOW! / VIDEO INTERVIEW
Published: Sunday 14 September 2014
Haskell Wexler comments on President Obama use of James Foley’s name and on James Foley.

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In his address on Wednesday night, President Obama invoked the memory of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were recently beheaded by the Islamic State, as he outlined his case for expanded military actions in Iraq and U.S. airstrikes against the group inside Syria. We speak to Academy Award-winning filmmaker Haskell Wexler, who worked with James Foley in 2012 in Chicago while he was making a film about protests against the NATO Summit. “For the President to use Jim’s name and other journalists as reason to pursue the stated military policy to ‘degrade and destroy the Islamic State so that it is no longer a threat’ is an insult to the memory of James Foley and to the intelligence of the American people,” Wexler wrote this week. We speak to Wexler and hear James Foley in his own words, from a video interview he did with Wexler.

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ABOUT AMY GOODMAN

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

Obama Charged with ‘Imperial Hubris’ Unmatched Even by Bush

September 13, 2014
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Following his announcement to bomb Syria without congressional approval, president slammed for total disregard for constitutional safeguards regarding war-making

 

pilloried.jpgPresident Obama told the American public on Wednesday night that he will order significantly expanded military operations against the Islamic State in the Middle East, including more U.S. troops to Iraq and a bombing campaign in Syria. Anti-war voices and progressive critics were thoroughly unimpressed with the announced strategy as they issued warnings of the disaster to come. (Photo: CD / Public Domain)A day after President Obama told the American public he was preparing to bomb targets inside the sovereign state of Syria and that he did not need congressional approval to do so, critics are lashing out against what Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale University, described as “imperial hubris” on Friday.

In his scathing op-ed in the New York Times, Ackerman writes:

President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as theIslamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written.

This became clear when White House officials briefed reporters before Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation on Wednesday evening. They said a war against ISIS was justified by Congress’s authorization of force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that no new approval was needed.

But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks.

And Ackerman’s not alone.

Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told the Daily Beastthis week that Obama’s claim of authority to bomb ISIS targets in Syria was “on its face” an “implausible argument.”

“The 2001 AUMF requires a nexus to al Qaeda or associated forces of al Qaeda fighting the United States,” explained Chesney, but “since ISIS broke up with al Qaeda it’s hard to make” the case that authority granted by the AUMF  still applies.

And as The Nation magazine’s Zoë Carpenter reports:

The White House’s dismissal of the need for congressional approval is also in conflict with positions Obama himself expressed as a presidential candidate. “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama declared to The Boston Globe in 2008.

The situation in Iraq and Syria does not appear to meet that standard. Obama acknowledged on Wednesday that “[w]e have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland.” Meanwhile, intelligence sources say that the threat from ISIS has been grossly exaggerated. “It’s hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems—all on the basis of no corroborated information,” former State Department counterterrorism adviser Daniel Benjamin told The New York Times.

According to Ackerman, the president has put himself in a perilous position.

“The president seems grimly determined to practice what Mr. Bush’s lawyers only preached,” the Yale professor concludes in his op-ed. “He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war. In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.”

And Carpenter says that in addition to defying Congress and his constitutional obligations, Obama should also be worried about the implications for his new strategy under international law. She writes:

It’s worth noting that the legality of an extended cross-border campaign isn’t only a question of the separation of powers. As Eli Lake noted at The Daily Beast, the White House has not explained the basis for the strikes under international law.

While the administration’s current attempt to circumnavigate Congress is hypocritical as well as potentially illegal, it’s also consistent with the way Obama has exercised US military power before. As Spencer Ackerman notes, he’s extended drone strikes across the Middle East and North Africa; initiated a seven-month air campaign in Libya without congressional approval; prolonged the war in Afghanistan; and, in recent months, ordered more than 1,000 troops back into Iraq. Promises of no boots on the ground notwithstanding, Obama’s war footprint is large, and expanding.

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Videos: How Do We Get to Peace? With David Swanson, Jill Stein, Kristin Christman, and Steve Breyman

August 19, 2014
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The 16th annual Kateri Peace Conference in Fonda, N.Y., was organized around these three quotations of Buckminster Fuller:

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”

“I’m not trying to counsel any of you to do anything really special except dare to think. And to dare to go with the truth. And to dare to really love completely.”

“Love is omni-inclusive, progressively exquisite, understanding and compassionately attuned to other than self.”

Watch the discussions of each quotation below or here, and check out the video of Jill Stein singing and jamming on a boat on the Erie Canal!

 

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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The Coming CLASS War

August 17, 2014
ANDREW SHENG
Published: Sunday 17 August 2014
War today has turned into a class war dealing with creed, clan, culture, climate, and currency. Because of this type of war, the US is slowly becoming widely unpopular as the rest of the world has become increasingly alienated from the US-centric international order.

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The eighteenth-century German military strategist Carl von Clausewitz defined war as the continuation of politics by different means, and, like the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, believed that securing peace meant preparing for violent conflict. As the world becomes increasingly tumultuous – apparent in the revival of military struggle in Ukraine, continued chaos in the Middle East, and rising tensions in East Asia – such thinking could not be more relevant.

Wars are traditionally fought over territory. But the definition of territory has evolved to incorporate five domains: land, air, sea, space, and, most recently, cyberspace. These dimensions of “CLASS war” define the threats facing the world today. The specific triggers, objectives, and battle lines of such conflicts are likely to be determined, to varying degrees, by five factors: creed, clan, culture, climate, and currency. Indeed, these factors are already fueling conflicts around the world.

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Religion, or creed, is among history’s most common motives for war, and the twenty-first century is no exception. Consider the proliferation of jihadist groups, such as the Islamic State, which continues to seize territory in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram, which has been engaged in a brutal campaign of abductions, bombings, and murder in Nigeria. There have also been violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar and southern Thailand, and between Islamists and Catholics in the Philippines.

The second factor – clan – is manifested in rising ethnic tensions in Europe, Turkey, India, and elsewhere, driven by forces like migration and competition for jobs. In Africa, artificial borders that were drawn by colonial powers are becoming untenable, as different tribes and ethnic groups attempt to carve out their own territorial spaces. And the conflict in Ukraine mobilizes the long-simmering frustration felt by ethnic Russians who were left behind when the Soviet Union collapsed.The third potential source of conflict consists in the fundamental cultural differences created by societies’ unique histories and institutional arrangements. Despite accounting for only one-eighth of the world’s population, the United States and Europe have long enjoyed economic dominance – accounting for half of global GDP – and disproportionate international influence. But, as new economic powerhouses rise, they will increasingly challenge the West, and not just for market share and resources; they will seek to infuse the global order with their own cultural understandings and frames of reference.

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Of course, competition for resources will also be important, especially as the consequences of the fourth factor – climate change – manifest themselves. Many countries and regions are already under severe water stress, which will only intensify as climate change causes natural disasters and extreme weather events like droughts to become increasingly common. Likewise, as forests and marine resources are depleted, competition for food could generate conflict.This kind of conflict directly contradicts the promise of globalization – namely, that access to foreign food and energy would enable countries to concentrate on their comparative advantages. If emerging conflicts and competitive pressures lead to, say, economic sanctions or the obstruction of key trade routes, the resulting balkanization of global trade would diminish globalization’s benefits substantially.

Moreover, the social unrest that often accompanies economic strife could cause countries to fragment into smaller units that fight one another over values or resources. To some extent, this is already occurring, with Iraq and Syria splintering into sectarian or tribal units.

The final key risk facing the world concerns currency. Since the global economic crisis, the expansionary monetary policies that advanced-economy central banks have pursued have caused large-scale, volatile capital flows across emerging-economy borders, generating significant instability for these countries and fueling accusations of “currency wars.”

The extra-territorial use of regulatory and tax powers – particularly by the US, which has the added advantage of issuing the world’s preeminent reserve currency – is reinforcing the view that currencies can be wielded as weapons. For example, the US has effectively balkanized global banking by requiring all foreign banks operating there to become subsidiary companies and requiring international banks with US-dollar clearing accounts to comply fully with US tax, regulatory, and even, to some degree, foreign policy (for example, refraining from trading with US enemies).

Hefty fines imposed by US regulators for breaching the rules – notably, the recent $8.9 billion settlement by BNP Paribas – are already causing European banks to re-think their compliance costs and the profitability of operating in the US. Meanwhile, American courts have forced Argentina into another national default.

But perhaps the strongest message is being sent via targeted sanctions on Russia’s oil, finance, defense, and technology industries, as well as on Russian officials. With this approach, the US and its allies are sending a clear message to anyone who may disagree with US policy: avoid using the dollar and dollar-denominated bank accounts. Some financial activity has already been driven into the shadows, reflected in the use of Bitcoin and other currencies that are beyond the reach of US regulators.

A recent example of the disaffected seeking an alternative to US leadership is the establishment of a New Development Bank and a contingent reserve arrangement by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The problem for the US is that, in this case, the disaffected are five of the world’s major emerging economies, wielding combined resources that exceed those of the Bretton Wood institutions. It is highly unlikely that BRICS bank transactions will be denominated in US dollars.

In a recent speech, US President Barack Obama declared that the question is not whether the US will lead, but how it will lead. But, as creed, clan, culture, climate, and currency cause the world to become increasingly alienated from the US-centric international order, such declarations may be excessively optimistic. Indeed, in the coming CLASS war, no one seems quite sure whom to follow.

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ABOUT ANDREW SHENG

Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow of the Fung Global Institute and a member of the UNEP Advisory Council on Sustainable Finance, is a former chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is currently an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His latest book is  From Asian to Global Financial Crisis.

The Waste of War

July 22, 2014
JEFFREY D. SACHS
Published: Tuesday 22 July 2014
Rather than solving a single underlying problem, the chaos is growing, threatening an ever-widening war. Is this the result of too many governments shooting first, and thinking after?

 
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Karl Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Yet when we look around nowadays, we can’t help but wonder whether tragedy will be followed by yet more tragedy. Here we are, at the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, and we find ourselves surrounded by cascading violence, duplicity, and cynicism of the very sort that brought the world to disaster in 1914. And the world regions involved then are involved again.

WWI began with a mindset, one based on the belief that military means could resolve pressing social and political issues in Central Europe. A century earlier, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz had written that war is “a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means.” Enough politicians in 1914 agreed.

Yet WWI proved Clausewitz tragically wrong for modern times. War in the industrial age is tragedy, disaster, and devastation; it solves no political problems. War is a continuation not of politics, but of political failure.

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WWI ended four imperial regimes: the Prussian (Hohenzollern) dynasty, the Russian (Romanov) dynasty, the Turkish (Ottoman) dynasty, and the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) dynasty. The war not only caused millions of deaths; it also left a legacy of revolution, state bankruptcy, protectionism, and financial collapse that set the stage for Hitler’s rise, World War II, and the Cold War.

We are still reeling today. Territory that was once within the multi-ethnic, multi-state, multi-religious Ottoman Empire is again engulfed in conflict and war, stretching from Libya to Palestine-Israel, Syria, and Iraq. The Balkan region remains sullen and politically divided, with Bosnia and Herzegovina unable to institute an effective central government and Serbia deeply jolted by the 1999 NATO bombing and the contentious independence of Kosovo in 2008, over its bitter opposition.The former Russian Empire is in growing turmoil as well, a kind of delayed reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with Russia attacking Ukraine and violence continuing to erupt in Georgia, Moldova, and elsewhere. In East Asia, tensions between China and Japan – echoes of the last century – are a growing danger.

As was the case a century ago, vain and ignorant leaders are pushing into battle without clear purpose or realistic prospects for resolution of the underlying political, economic, social, or ecological factors that are creating the tensions in the first place. The approach of too many governments is to shoot first, think later.

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Take the US. Its basic strategy has been to send troops, drones, or bombers to any place that would threaten America’s access to oil, harbors Islamic fundamentalists, or otherwise creates problems – say, piracy off the coast of Somalia – for US interests. Hence, US troops, the CIA, drone missiles, or US-backed armies are engaged in fighting across a region stretching from the Sahel in West Africa, through Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond.All of this military activity costs hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. But, rather than solving a single underlying problem, the chaos is growing, threatening an ever-widening war.

Russia is not handling itself any better. For a while, Russia backed international law, rightly complaining that the US and NATO were violating international law in Kosovo, Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

But then President Vladimir Putin took aim at Ukraine, fearing that the country was about to drop into Europe’s pocket. Suddenly, he was silent about obeying international law. His government then illegally annexed Crimea and is fighting an increasingly brutal guerrilla war in eastern Ukraine, through proxies and, it now appears, direct engagement of Russian forces.

In this context, the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is terrifying not only for its brutality, but also in its intimation of a world gone mad. At the time of this writing, those who aimed and fired the missile remain unknown, though Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine are the most likely culprits. What is certain, however, is that the violence unleashed by Putin’s war on Ukraine has claimed hundreds of innocent lives and brought the world a step closer to disaster.

There are no heroes among the great powers today. Cynicism is rife on all sides. The US effectively violates international law by resorting to force without United Nations sanction. It sends drones and secret forces into sovereign countries without their approval. It spies relentlessly on friend and foe alike.

Russia does the same, inflicting death on Ukraine, Georgia, and other neighbors. The only constants in all of this are the easy resort to violence and the lies that inevitably accompany it.

There are four major differences between now and the world of 1914. For starters, we have since lived through two disastrous wars, a Great Depression, and a Cold War. We have had the opportunity to learn a thing or two about the stupidity and uselessness of organized collective violence. Second, the next global war, in this nuclear age, would almost surely end the world.

The third major difference is that today, with our wondrous technologies, we have every opportunity to solve the underlying problems of poverty, hunger, displacement, and environmental degradation that create so many dangerous tinderboxes.

Finally, we have international law, if we choose to use it. The belligerents in Europe and Asia 100 years ago could not turn to the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly, venues where diplomacy, rather than war, can be the true continuation of politics. We are blessed with the possibility to construct peace through a global institution that was founded to help ensure that global war would never recur.

As citizens of the world, our job now is to demand peace through diplomacy, and through global, regional, and national initiatives to address the scourges of poverty, disease, and environmental degradation. On this hundredth anniversary of one of the greatest disasters of human history, let us follow tragedy not by farce or more tragedy, but by the triumph of cooperation and decency.

How America’s Sporting Events Have Turned into Mass Churches That Give Blessings to Imperial Wars

July 13, 2014

The religious reverie—repeated in sports arenas throughout the U.S.—is used to justify our bloated war budget and endless wars.

Boston – May 30: Memorial Day festivities before the Red Sox game against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on May 30, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit: Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com

BOSTON—On Saturday I went to one of the massive temples across the country where we celebrate our state religion. The temple I visited was Boston’s Fenway Park. I was inspired to go by reading  Andrew Bacevich’s thoughtful book “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” which opens with a scene at Fenway from July 4, 2011. The Fourth of July worship service that I attended last week—a game between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles—was a day late because of a rescheduling caused by Tropical Storm Arthur. When the crowd sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” a gargantuan American flag descended to cover “the Green Monster,” the 37-foot, 2-inch-high wall in left field. Patriotic music blasted from loudspeakers. Col. Lester A. Weilacher, commander of the 66th Air Base Group at Massachusetts’ Hanscom Air Force Base, wearing a light blue short-sleeved Air Force shirt and dark blue pants, threw the ceremonial first pitch. A line of Air Force personnel stood along the left field wall. The fighter jets—our angels of death—that usually roar over the stadium on the Fourth were absent. But the face of Fernard Frechette, a 93-year-old World War II veteran who was attending, appeared on the 38-by-100-foot Jumbotron above the center-field seats as part of Fenway’s “Hats Off to Heroes” program, which honors military veterans or active-duty members at every game. The crowd stood and applauded. Army National Guard Sgt. Ben Arnold had been honored at the previous game, on Wednesday. Arnold said his favorite Red Sox player was Mike Napoli. Arnold, who fought in Afghanistan, makes about $27,000 a year. Napoli makes $16 million. The owners of the Red Sox clear about $60 million annually. God bless America.

The religious reverie—repeated in sports arenas throughout the United States—is used to justify our bloated war budget and endless wars. Schools and libraries are closing. Unemployment and underemployment are chronic. Our infrastructure is broken and decrepit. And we will have paid a crippling $4 trillion for the useless and futile wars we waged over the last 13 years in the Middle East. But the military remains as unassailable as Jesus, or, among those who have season tickets at Fenway Park, the Red Sox. The military is the repository of our honor and patriotism. No public official dares criticize the armed forces or challenge their divine right to  more than half of all the nation’s discretionary spending. And although we may be distrustful of government, the military—in the twisted logic of the American mind—is somehow separate.

The heroes of war and the heroes of sport are indistinguishable in militarized societies. War is sold to a gullible public as a noble game. Few have the athletic prowess to play professional sports, but almost any young man or woman can go to a recruiter and sign up to be a military hero. The fusion of the military with baseball, along with the recruitment ads that appeared intermittently Saturday on the television screens mounted on green iron pillars throughout Fenway Park, caters to this illusion: Sign up. You will be part of a professional team. We will show you in your uniform on the Jumbotron in Fenway Park. You will be a hero like Mike Napoli.

Saturday’s crowd of some 37,000, which paid on average about $70 for a ticket, dutifully sang hosannas—including “God Bless America” in the seventh inning—to the flag and the instruments of death and war. It blessed and applauded a military machine that, ironically, oversees the wholesale surveillance of everyone in the ballpark and has the power under the National Defense Authorization Act to snatch anyone in the stands and hold him or her indefinitely in a military facility. There was no mention of targeted assassinations of U.S. citizens, kill lists or those lost or crippled in the wars. The crowd roared its approval every time the military was mentioned. It cheered its own enslavement.

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