Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day: Another Enabler for War

Speech by Mike Prysner (quotes used throughout post).

"We Were Told We Were Fighting Terrorists.
But the Real Terrorist Was Me."
(US "Shock and Awe" Attack on Iraq, May 2003)
  • Afghan civilian deaths by US troops since invasion: 6,500 (Guardian)
  • Iraqi civilian deaths by US troops since invasion: >100,000 (TAL interview with Lancet author--links study)
  • Serious injuries will be much higher than the death toll.
Terrorists from Saudi Arabia killed some 3,000 people on 9/11. We were told by our government that they did it because they were jealous of our freedom. This was our government's best rationale . . . and we took it. We were angry and we wanted a simple answer. And there it was--a ridiculous, nonsensical, and simple answer. Our freedom was just too enviable.

But there was a reality: these terrorists actually hated us for supplying weapons to Israel to attack Palestine. Bin Laden said this repeatedly (RP--checks with Frontline). The leader behind the attacks according to the 9-11 Commission, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is repeatedly noted to give the same reason (RP9/11 Commission Report pg 147). When these facts came out in congressional testimony, they were silenced and minimized in the official report. Mainstream media blacked it out (see video).

The US gave Israel a $2.5 billion military grant in 2009. The US provided Israel with over $58 billion dollars in a steady stream of specifically military funds (aside from other aid) for the last 50 years (CRS pg 21). Israel's recent attack on a Gaza aid ship in international waters gives a sample of what these military funds go towards (DN).

Saddam was clumsily linked to Bin Laden by way of repetition in the media. There was nothing else. This had to be awkward for the US since they considered Saddam an ally (see photo) while he was using USA made chemical weapons to kill some 190K Kurds and 50K Iranian solders (SW). But we had to put Saddam back in line when he threatened our access to their oil (SW).

Normally, when the US wants to change the government of another country it does it with a bit less attention. The traditional rational is over trade policy. The US becomes particularly angry if a government wants to nationalize its natural resources--a sure sign the US will put you on its to-coup list (AN, KH).

The US's prolific modern overthrow record includes: Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, British Guiana in 1953-64, Iraq in 1963, Cambodia in 1955-70, Laos in 1958-60, Ecuador in 1960-63, Brazil in 1962-64, Dominican Republic in 1963, Congo in 1960, Bolivia in 1964, Indonesia in 1965, Ghana in 1966,Chile in 1964-73, Greece in 1967, Bolivia in 1971 Australia in 1973-75, Portugal in 1974-76, Jamaica in 1976-80 Chad in 1981-82, Grenada in 1983, Fiji in 1987, Nicaragua in 1981-90, Panama in 1989, Bulgaria in 1990, Albania in 1991, Afghanistan in 1980s, Ecuador in 2000, Afghanistan in 2001, Venezuela in 2002, Iraq in 2003, then Haiti in 2004 and back in 1991 (See TRN video for excellent coverage). For the history of the US taking of Hawaii, see here: (PS).

See a complete history on the US's role in overthrowing foreign government from NY Times reporter Stephen Kinzer in Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.

"Racism Is a Vital Weapon
Deployed by this Government."

Racism is a tool used to dehumanize the other side. It also helps to create an in-group versus out-group mentality. For more on dehumanizing, see previous post on the US military training to kill civilians.

"They Do Not Have to Fight the War. 
They Merely Have to Sell the War."
(Powell, former US SOS, presenting WMD argument to UN before US invasion of Iraq)

War is not a natural human inclination. If that were true, drafts would have never been used, our media would not have to sell us the war, and protesters would not be beaten for their opposition (previous post). The government has long known that they must use lies and coercion to make us fight (See video Why We Fight). Here are some examples of lies and opportunism:
  • In 1898, President McKinley wanted the US to go to war with Spain. When the USS Maine exploded (cause unclear), McKinley quickly used this as a pretext for war (USN). The USS Maine was hyped so much as an excuse for war that it is now synonymous with the term yellow journalism.
  • In 1940, a year before the Pearl Harbor attack, Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum sent to naval commanders what is now referred to as the McCollum Memo. The memo outlined the need to provoke an attack by Japan against the US to raise public support for the war (Memo sec 9-10). Eventually, the US received its overt attack that gave Roosevelt just the public support he needed to attack Japan.
  • In 1964, there were two separate events collectively referred to as "The Gulf of Tonkin Incident." These events were used by President Lyndon Johnson to officially send the US to war with Vietnam. The first event occurred when the US sent the destroyer ship USS Maddox to gather intelligence on the coast of North Vietnam. While there was engagement, no US troops were killed (USN). In the "second event," the US Navy claimed that the North Vietnamese torpedoed and sank two US ships during another patrol. The Federation of American Scientists investigated this after the CIA released documents on the subject. Despite MacNamara's claim that the evidence of the second attack was unimpeachable, the group concluded that the Navy fabricated the entire event (AFP, CQ).
  • In 2001, the US was attacked in New York City. Immediately, the US government attempted to use this attack as a pretext to go to war with Iraq. Obviously, Colon Powell's and the Bush administration's argument of WMD's never attained evidence. But that didn't stop the US from attempting to connect Saddam to Bin Laden and having it numbingly repeated in media (DS). But Saddam had no recent connection to Bin Laden nor al-Qaida (NPR, MSNBC). And yet we are still there. President Obama continues to fund the war in the face of a weak anti-war movement.

"They Need a Public Who Is Willing to 
Send Their Soldiers into Harm's Way."
"Question War" bumper stickers (here).

And yes, supporting the troops is supporting the war. To say otherwise is to have no understanding of the blatant inconsistency. Who fires the rounds if not the troops? The request to kill another comes with it the nondelegable duty to investigate the merits. A government with a track record of lying for its own benefit should immediately make one skeptical of its argument for war.

So how does the US overcome its track record? It targets the youth and the poor.

When it's difficult to find work in order to pay rent, it becomes easier to justify joining the military. There is no mystery that economic hardship makes the job of military recruitment easier (NYT). But is it right to kill others for an unjust cause in order to pay rent?

According to a UN resolution adopted by the US, the military cannot engage in recruitment actions with those under age 18 without parental permission (Doc art 3). Yet, paramilitary JROTC programs exist in schools throughout the US affixing themselves in hallways and lunch halls of students. Deception and coercion used to recruit these students is commonplace, with 6,600 allegations of recruiter wrongdoing in 2005 alone (ACLU pg 19). Recruiters lied to enlistees that the US was not at war and that individuals could simply leave the military if they didn't like their experience (ACLU pg 20). Recruiters specifically targeted poorer schools after recognizing that they had less success getting college bound students (ACLU pg 29)

Some states such as California have what are called Cadet Corps. The California Cadet Corps proudly announces to have settled in over 100 schools throughout the state (CCC-bottom). This presence includes elementary schools.

There are more than half a million kids in over 3,600 JROTC programs across the US. Some 30-50% of these kids in JROTC will join the military (CSM).

"Not Only Do We Have Nothing to Gain,
but We Suffer More."

Every dollar we spend towards the military is used to kill those our government does not like. This subtracts what would otherwise go towards our social programs or paying down foreign debt. See the MLK Beyond Vietnam post for how Dr. King saw wars as an obstacle to fighting poverty.

"Our Enemies Are Not 5,000 Miles Away.
They Are Right Here at Home."

$700 billion was used to bail out the US's richest companies in 2008 (PP). This does not count the over $150 billion dollars in annual subsidies that the US government gives to US corporations (FPIF). This is despite the fact that between 1998 to 2005 2/3 of all US corporations paid no federal income tax (TP). These tax evaders include such giants as Exxon Mobile and General Electric despite their billions in income. 

See full speech: (Part 1, Part 2, Transcript) Ignore:[A6Y7PQK2FJG7]

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