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How The Media Failed the People in the Run-Up to War

Samuel Adams who said it was the duty of the patriot to protect the people from their government also said:

·        “The appeal to patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

Einstein provided an interesting explanation of why he hated the word "patriotism.” 

·        “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them…[we] should not fight for imaginary geographical lines, racial prejudices and private greed draped in the colors of patriotism.”

One would think the opinion of one of the most intelligent men in history might have been worthy of discussion, along with the information that while Einstein would have been considered a traitor by his own country, by writing a letter to Roosevelt advising him the United States must develop a nuclear weapon before Germany did, he became a patriot to the world.  Writing that letter became the greatest regret of his life, but at the time he thought he had no choice.  Ultimately he believed humans must find a way to end war or they are doomed. 

When Paul Wolfowitz and others said that the war in Iraq would be a cakewalk, and would only cost about $50 billion dollars, most of which would be paid for by Iraqi oil revenues, and that the Iraqi people would welcome our troops with open arms, perhaps the media would have been wise to remember the prescient words of former United States Marine Commandant General David Shoup who resigned his commission in 1963 because he didn’t believe the Vietnam War was worth the life of one American soldier said in 1966: 

·        I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-crooked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. One that they design and want, one that they fight and work for. And if, unfortunately, their revolution must be of the violent type because the "haves" refused to share with the "have nots" by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by Americans.

Hal Crowther has recently expounded on the impossibility of a successful occupation in “With Trembling Fingers.”

·         …”In Washington , chicken hawks will still be squawking about "digging in" and winning, but Vietnam proved conclusively that no modern war of occupation would ever be won. Every occupation is doomed. The only way you "win" a war of occupation is the old-fashioned way, the way Rome finally defeated the Carthaginians: kill all the fighters, enslave everyone else, raze the cities and sow the fields with salt.

Otherwise the occupied people will fight you to the last peasant, and why shouldn't they? If our presidential election fails to dislodge the crazy bastards who annexed Baghdad , many of us in this country would welcome regime change by any intervention, human or divine. But if, say, the Chinese came in to rescue us--Operation American Freedom--how long would any of us, left-wing or right, put up with an occupying army teaching us Chinese-style democracy? A guerrilla who opposes an invading army on his own soil is not a terrorist, he's a resistance fighter. In Iraq we're not fighting enemies but making enemies. As Richard Clarke and others have observed, every dollar, bullet and American life that we spend in Iraq is one that's not being spent in the war on terrorism. Every Iraqi, every Muslim we kill or torture or humiliate is a precious shot of adrenaline for Osama and al Qaeda.

The irreducible truth is that the invasion of Iraq was the worst blunder, the most staggering miscarriage of judgment, the most fateful, egregious, deceitful abuse of power in the history of American foreign policy. If you don't believe it yet, just keep watching.”

When Bush and others insisted war would make us safer, how enlightening it would have been if a reporter would have confronted them with what Ike had to say about that notion:

·        “There is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute security, but it can bankrupt itself morally and economically in attempting to reach that illusory goal through arms alone.”

When Vice-President Cheney and Wolfowitz said that a limited nuclear war was winnable, someone should have told them Ike didn’t agree.

·        “Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it.”                           and

·        “If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man's intelligence and his comprehension... would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.”       


Along the same lines, General Bradley said:


·        “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.  Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”                                                  


And General MacArthur said:


·        “We have had our last chance.  If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.”       


When the administration, the media and even Congress were so quick to condemn France and Germany for not backing Bush’s war, had they listened to Eisenhower, they might have at least considered the possibility that the people of those nations were right:

·        “If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the foundation of the organization and our best hope of establishing a world order.”

Before so cavalierly sending other people’s children off to die in an unnecessary war, they might have remembered what Ike, who never got over the loss of his own child, had to say about that kind of heartbreak:

·        “There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child.  Things never get back to the way they were.”

Or Rudyard Kipling, who after his son died in World War I – a war he had initially supported – said in remorse for that support:

·        “If any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied.”

When Bush, and others began speaking of more or less eternal war against our “enemies” I wish someone would have let them know they were not the first people who had espoused that idea.  Another war leader had trumpeted much the same concept when he said in the "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 

·         "And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. . . . War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

The person who made that Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Perle/ sounding statement was the father of fascism himself, Benito Mussolini, who also said

·        “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and Corporate power.”

The media’s failure to even examine the economic element of the war might not have happened had they read the words of Albert Pike who said:

·        “A war for great principle ennobles a nation.  A war for commercial supremacy, upon some shallow pretext is despicable, and more than ought else demonstrates to what immeasurable depths of baseness men and nations can descend.”

Cheney’s association with Halliburton and Bush, Sr.’s ties with the Carlyle Group should have given knowledgeable journalists pause for thought had they simply remembered what Ike said in his farewell address:

·        “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist”

Or the words of one of only two two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winners, Marine Major General Smedley Butler who figured out seventy years ago that :

·        “War is just a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

      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… of course it isn’t put that crudely in wartime…  It is dressed into speeches about patriotism and love of country and putting one’s shoulder to the wheel, but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket and are safely pocketed.”    


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