Alan: Most wars are ego adventures, political distractions or a combination of the two.
Part of the world's ongoing "Revelation" is that - almost always - wars are fraudulent hoaxes.
I applaud Obama's determination to turn the tide from the presumed normalcy of belligerence to full throttle diplomacy.
"Why of course the people don't want war... Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought along to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials, 1946.
War is a Racket
Major General Smedley Butler
United States Marine Corps Commandant
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes, and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem off for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. Thus 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 revenue in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers and Co. in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. "During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three city districts. The Marines operated on three continents." Major General Smedley Butler (former Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps), Common Sense, November 1935.
For all five chapters of Butler's "War is a Racket," see http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm)
"It gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware the people around us are of what is really happening to them." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
"By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven...The great masses of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one... All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
"War, Peace and Political Manipulation"
A Compendium of Quotationshttp://alanarchibald.homestead.com/WarPeaceManipulation.html
By laying out a long-term foreign policy vision in a speech at West Point on Wednesday, President Obama challenged his critics, at home and abroad, not to speak in vague terms about U.S. “decline” or “weakness” but to answer the question: Exactly what would you do differently?
This is as close as we have gotten to an Obama Doctrine, and here it is : The United States “will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.”
But in other cases, “when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States . . . we should not go it alone.” Instead, Obama said, “we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action” and “broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law and — if just, necessary and effective — multilateral military action.”
In 2008, Obama won his party’s nomination and the election as a pragmatic antiwar candidate specifically protesting our intervention in Iraq. He declared in 2002 that he was opposed not to all wars but to “a dumb war.” It was clear Wednesday that it remains a source of pride to him that he has brought what he called “a long season of war” to an end.
And he was unabashed in insisting that “some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures — without thinking through the consequences.”
"Obama Defends Controversial Practice Of Not Invading Countries For No Reason"
Responding, perhaps in frustration, to a wave of reproach that has descended upon him because of his reluctance to use U.S. military power, he offered this riposte: “Tough talk often draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans.”
Here was Obama throwing down the gauntlet to his foes. His address should force a reckoning with a key issue: Americans, by all the evidence of the polls, are skeptical of military action abroad. They reached this point not because they have undergone some large philosophical or ideological conversion. Rather, they arrived at a practical judgment after the experience of two long wars that failed — particularly in the instance of Iraq — to produce the results their supporters promised. It was the same after Vietnam: Most Americans now have a much higher bar for when they would be willing to commit lives and treasure overseas.
The war-weariness the country feels is thus not Obama’s creation. His election was itself a response to that weariness. His foreign policy reflects a determination to move the country not to isolation but to the more measured approach to military intervention practiced during the presidencies of both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Those in the United States and elsewhere who have faulted Obama won’t be persuaded by the pains he took to locate himself in a middle ground between isolationism and hyper-interventionism. They may like hearing him say that the United States is “the one indispensable nation” that “must always lead on the world stage,” but many of them won’t be convinced that he means it.
"He's Like Ike"
Obama, haunted by war and skeptical of heroics, echoes Eisenhower's foreign policy.
The president is right to argue that the United States “has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world” and to take on those who “suggest that America is in decline.” Yet the ghost of declinism haunts the international stage and will not be exorcised easily.
This speech should be an opening bid. Obama’s efforts should be aimed less at moving those domestic opponents who will never be assuaged than at making plain to the rest of the world that the United States really does have a vital interest in promoting the “international norms” the president extolled, and in fostering conditions conducive to a “world of greater freedom and tolerance” that “helps keep us safe.” It also means paying close attention to how policy is implemented, avoiding mixed signals of the sort that characterized last fall’s Syrian crisis.
As for the president’s critics, they have an obligation to answer his challenge. Those who believe that the United States should underwrite a world order friendly to our values and interests need to accept that the promiscuous deployment of U.S. troops abroad is the surest way to undermine support for this mission at home. In calling for restraint and realism — and by insisting on raising the threshold for wars of choice — Obama may yet prove himself to be the best friend American internationalists have.
Read more from E.J. Dionne’s archive
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