AuthorTopic: Support the Troops: Bring them Home  (Read 1252 times)

Offline Surly1

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Support the Troops: Bring them Home
« on: May 29, 2016, 10:07:53 AM »

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Published on the Doomstead Diner May 29, 2016

Originally article published on the Doomstead Diner on May 28, 2012

"Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them."

— Harold Pinter, from his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 2005

On Memorial Day, the best thing that anyone reading this can do is to read the entirety of Harold Pinter's glorious Nobel acceptance speech, source for the above quote. Much of Pinter's work explores the fluidity of truth and falsity and the limitations of language to capture that illusory truth.

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour.

For dramatists, perhaps. The spirit of inquiry is quite absent in America, as is any search for "truth," particularly on this holiday weekend. Solemn words will fill the air, ceremonials staged and "Taps" played to honor our nation's military dead. The vast majority of these fallen enlisted out of a sense of honor, duty and purpose. Many of us, encountering a serviceman or woman in uniform, will utter a sincere, "Thank you for your service." So Memorial Day is traditionally a day to take stock, to honor the fallen, and to tell ourselves that they have not fallen in vain. We trust and believe in what we are told, and feel better about ourselves.

What we are unwilling to do is to examine the foreign policy of the Empire that deploys these overwhelmingly working class heroes. We offer a moment of silence in memory of past wars, then race to the grill, or the mall to take advantage of Memorial Day sales. Never do we consider the context of those wars– or the next.

In an essay published yesterday, Paul Craig Robers offers up a cautionary note: As Our Past Wars Are Glorified This Memorial Day Weekend, Give Some Thought To Our Prospects Against The Russians And Chinese In World War III. He doesn't much like our chances:

It is extraordinary to see the confidence that many Americans place in their military’s ability. After 15 years the US has been unable to defeat a few lightly armed Taliban, and after 13 years the situation in Iraq remains out of control. This is not very reassuring for the prospect of taking on Russia, much less the strategic alliance between Russia and China. The US could not even defeat China, a Third World country at the time, in Korea 60 years ago.

Americans need to pay attention to the fact that “their” government is a collection of crazed stupid fools likely to bring vaporization to the United States and all of Europe.

Russian weapons systems are far superior to American ones. American weapons are produced by private companies for the purpose of making vast profits. The capability of the weapons is not the main concern. There are endless cost overruns that raise the price of US weapons into outer space.

Whether it's dick-waving via the Stennis carrier group in the South China Sea, fomenting coups in Brazil, guarding the militarized poppy fields of Afghanistan to protect its prime export crop for domestic US consumption, or staging war games in eastern Europe within sight of the Russian border, we are sliding slow motion into global war on multiple fronts with virtually no public debate. Of course, when you are broke, war is the ultimate "reset button." It buries a multitude of bodies, both literal and financial, and puts the squeeze on tax donkeys to pay the bills, cleans up the balance sheets of the banks.

If, in Pinter's words,  "The search is clearly what drives the endeavour," we Americans have decided to sit this one out. Thinking is hard.

In a recent article well worth reading, Silencing America as it prepares for war, John Pilger outlines the case. As we honor our fallen dead and extoll the virtues of those serving, civilian casualties from Vietnam to Iraq and Syria, to Yemen and Honduras, Libya to Ukraine are swept under history's rug and those paying the freight are properly propagandized.

The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington's boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it "never happened …Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. It didn't matter… ". Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called "a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is "cool". One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

And with six months to go until a Presidential election, we have no meaningful debate. Only Trump has challenged the neocon articles of faith: Why is the US "everywhere on the globe"? Why do we have over 700 foreign bases? What is NATO's true mission? Why does the US taxpayer have to foot the bill? Why does the US always pursue regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine? Why treat Russia and Vladimir Putin as an enemy? It will be interesting to see if any such questions are asked in upcoming debates, or whether the stage managers will want to risk breaking the mass hypnosis. 

Another thing that we are sleeping through is that we are upping the ante regarding use of nuclear weapons in warfare. Pilger also points this out.

No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is "modernising" America's doomsday arsenal, including a new "mini" nuclear weapon, whose size and "smart" technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is "no longer unthinkable".

James Bradley, the best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers and son of one of the US marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said, "[One] great myth we're seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who's trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He's the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He's committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that's attached to actual policy. It isn't."

In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a "pivot".

As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening.

Remember the public debate on this? Me, neither. Yet our warlike posture is not a recent development. An all-but-forgotten American hero,  Smedley Darlington Butler (1881 – 1940) defined the truth many years ago. Butler was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, an outspoken critic of U.S. military adventurism, and at death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. Memorial Day is a good and fitting day to remember a real hero like Butler.  

After his retirement from the Marine Corps, Gen. Butler made a nationwide tour in the early 1930s speaking on the theme, "War is a Racket." The speech was so well received that he wrote a small book with the same title published in 1935. In it, he described the workings of the military-industrial complex and, after retiring from service, became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930s.


I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.… It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

That last statement is as close as we are likely to come to an eternal truth.

A little known and much obscured part of American history is the attempted Business Plot against Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the beginning of the New Deal. Conservatives were not only exercised at the notion of "creeping socialism" by the election of FDR, but also by the abandonment of the gold standard. Herbert Hoover, who had championed the standard on behalf of his sponsors, wrote "that its abandonment was the first step toward "communism, fascism, socialism, statism, planned economy," not to mention popery, bestiality, witchcraft and free love. 

The forces of actual fascism, a group of wealthy industrialists, apparently planned a military coup to overthrow Roosevelt, and approached Butler to play a role. The conspirators apparently noted his popularity among World War I veterans (itself based Butler's support for the Bonus Army movement, in which vets marched on Washington for promised back pay, and who were dispersed by Hoover and the General-In-Charge, one Douglas MacArthur.)

The plotters quickly learned they had the wrong man. Butler reported the controversy to Congress, who held a hearing.  The purported plot would have had Butler leading a mass of armed veterans on Washington. The individuals identified denied the existence of a plot, and the media ridiculed the allegations. The committee's final report stated that there was evidence of such a plot, but no charges were ever filed. (More here.) Remember that in 1934-35, American industrialists smiled at the good works of Hitler and Mussolini and their cost-saving efficiencies. 

At the end of his book, Butler made three recommendations, which fell on deaf ears then as now:

1. Making war unprofitable. Butler suggests that the owners of capital should be "conscripted" before other citizens are: "The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nation's manhood can be conscripted. … Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our ship-builders …that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get"

2. Acts of war to be decided by those who fight it. He also suggests a limited plebiscite to determine if the war is to be fought. Eligible to vote would be those who risk death on the front lines.

3. Limitation of militaries to self-defense. For the United States, Butler recommends that the navy be limited by law to within 200 miles of the coastline, and the army restricted to the territorial limits of the country, ensuring that war, if fought, can never be one of aggression.

Clearly, we didn't listen. On this Memorial Day, when neocons still hold the reins of our war policy (not a "foreign policy" any longer) and are willing to fight the next war to YOUR last son or daughter, I can think of no greater tribute to our men and women in uniform than to recall the memory of Smedley Butler, the only soldier to ever be awarded TWO Congressional Medals of Honor.


And for the last word, Paul Craig Roberts:

It is entirely possible that the world is being led to destruction by nothing more than the greed of the US military-security complex. Delighted that the reckless and stupid Obama regime has resurrected the Cold War, thus providing a more convincing “enemy” than the hoax terrorist one, the “Russian threat” has been restored to its 20th century role of providing a justification for bleeding the American taxpayer, social services, and the US economy dry in behalf of profits for armament manufacturers.

All of America’s wars except the first—the war for independence—were wars for Empire. Keep that fact in mind as you hear the Memorial Day bloviations about the brave men and women who served our country in its times of peril. The United States has never been in peril, but Washington has delivered peril to numerous other countries in its pursuit of hegemony over others.

Support the troops: bring them home. All of them.



banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaper Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary and is the proud parent of a recent college graduate.



"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline Eddie

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Re: Support the Troops: Bring them Home
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2016, 10:34:19 AM »
In recent days, I've found myself returning to Catch-22 over and over, and I'm amazed at how well preserved and apropos the satire is, when I look at the current wars de jour. I would cut and past Chapter 24 right here if I could, but I'll have to settle for the Cliff's Notes.

When spring arrives, Milo tries to convince military personnel to allow him to borrow planes for the syndicate to ship products. He tempts them with offers of fresh fruit and meat. Eventually he succeeds in securing the Air Force's planes.
Milo has the military's American emblems and ideals removed and replaced by "M & M Enterprises, Fine Fruits and Produce." The "M & M" stands for "Milo & Minderbinder" to "nullify any impression that the syndicate was a one-man operation."
One day, when Milo returns with German bomber planes full of produce, he lands to find Colonel Cathcart and Korn armed and waiting to capture the enemy and confiscate the planes.
Milo is indignant, ranting that the planes belong to the syndicate. He recognizes no enemy, only members of the syndicate.
Cathcart and Korn back down. Smart move.
Soon, Milo has transformed his syndicate into an international cartel whose transport is provided entirely by military planes. Air Force planes are supplying their enemies with food.
Soon, Milo turns his enterprising eyes to the military planes themselves. Since he always knows the whereabouts of all the military planes, Milo arranges to profit off of Germany attacking American bases like Pianosa.
We learn that Mudd, the dead man in Yossarian's tent, was in the battle the day that Milo's Germans attacked Pianosa. He was killed because Milo warned the Germans that the Americans were coming.
When Yossarian confronts Milo about it, Milo denies having killed Mudd. He sees the whole arrangement purely as business and thinks that the attack was inevitable; all he did was make arrangements to profit. He sees nothing wrong with his actions.
We learn that M & M Enterprises is on the point of collapse because there is no demand for Milo's Egyptian cotton, which is piling up in his warehouses. Costs skyrocket.
To solve the problem, Milo bombs his own base in Pianosa with German planes.
Colonel Cathcart, completely bewildered and scared out of his wits by the surprise attacks, looks up into the sky and realizes Milo is bombing them. He races to the control tower and demands that Milo ground his planes.
Milo, right there in the control tower, ignores Cathcart and tells his men to do the job right. He points out a supply shed that is still standing and sends the Germans back out to destroy it.
Initially, the American media reacts with righteous indignation, condemning Milo for betraying his country. But when Milo reveals the tremendous profit he made off the attack, they back off. Because they all have a share in the syndicate.
Doc Daneeka is one of the few people who still sees wrong in Milo's actions. During the bombing, Doc Daneeka did not run but performed his duty – tending to the wounded right there on the ground.
Ready for change of topic? We are taken back to Snowden's funeral right after the Avignon mission. After landing, the naked Yossarian is cared for by Doc Daneeka.
He continues to go about his business naked and even watches Snowden's funeral in the nude, seated up in a tree.
Milo finds Yossarian during the funeral and asks him to taste something. Because Yossarian refuses to come down, Milo climbs up the tree. He gives Yossarian chocolate-covered cotton to try. Yossarian spits it back in his face. Milo is desperate to serve this chocolate-covered cotton to the men and get it off his hands.
During the funeral, the chaplain who is performing the ceremony looks up and sees Yossarian naked in the tree. He is incredulous. Yossarian mistakes his gestures of surprise as the culmination of a very emotional funeral.
As they watch the funeral, Milo grieves for Snowden, but keeps directing all his grief back onto the dying M & M Enterprises. He begs Yossarian to try the chocolate-covered cotton again, but Yossarian refuses.
Finally, Yossarian suggests that Milo sell the cotton back to the government by bribing them. At first, Milo is indignant at the thought of wronging the government. But then he remembers that he's a scum bucket, scalawag, and a ratfink. He realizes that he could make a profit and that making a profit cannot possibly be against the law.
Milo leaves to start his bribery but quickly shimmies up the tree again to tell Yossarian to please start wearing clothes again or else it might start a naked trend and then Milo will never get the cotton off his hands.

Of course, that was WWII, and now there is a whole nest of Milos.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Support the Troops: Bring them Home
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2016, 06:09:15 PM »
"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline g

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Re: Support the Troops: Bring them Home
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2016, 08:57:43 PM »

Great find Surly! Ain't it the truth.  :-[


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