Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is the U.S. A Permanent War State?

Loyola University Ethics class (ca. 1964). Students wrote essays on JFK's Pax Americana speech from June, 1963 and its import for the soul of the nation.

" Why of course the people don’t want war...But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” - Hermann Goering, Nuremberg, 1946

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." -Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. "- George Orwell

Two disparate events, almost as distant from each other morally as intellectually conceivable, transpired this past week and of which we ought to take note.

The first was the initiation of Loyola University New Orleans' 4th annual Peace Week conference. This also coincides with Loyola's 100th anniversary. One of the topics the attendees plan to look at is the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, but they should also look at what is happening to this nation as it seems to be evolving to a permanent war state.

Which brings us to the second event. As blared in a headline in The Denver Post yesterday ('GOP Targets Food Stamps', p. 20A) :

"The Republicans are eyeing big cuts to food stamps as they piece together legislation to trum $261 billion from the federal budget over the next decade"

The article goes on to note that in the first year alone, $8 billion will be cut from food stamps, resulting in:

- 3 million people being forced out of the program (most of whom have been in longest, hence the most dire need)

- A reduced monthly benefit of roughly $60 though this could be doubled, for example, if the Reeps control all branches of gov't.

This is being done - get this - to spare any cuts to the budget of the Pentagon!

If this doesn't make you want to puke then I don't know what will.

Also planned, in this same quasi-Ryan budget (to help the cheese-eaters at the Pentagon) is the "elimination of a grant program to the states for social services such as day care."

Well, I guess if you're a mom like Ann Romney, who doesn't have to worry about working outside the home and getting day care, you're home free to speak.

Then, if this doesn't make you mad enough to chew plutonium, there is the AARP Bulletin finding ('How About Some Adult Supervision?', March, p. 3) that even as our roads, water mains, schools erode and fall into disuse, "the Pentagon is buying 2,443 F-35 joint strike fighters ...for battling a weapon that hasn't yet been imagined by an enemy - that remains unkown."

How did this bullshit come to be? To hear Hermann Goering tell it (see the first quote) the "people" don't really want war. It's their fucked up leaders that draw them into it. But I am not sure I believe this could be so, unless the people- well at least a plurality - DO really want wars.

According to Robert Kagan, the neocon author of the best-selling book “The World America Made,” despite a prolonged decline caused by waging over ten years of a fruitless, useless "war", we will keep on keeping on....damned future generations as well as deficits.

Kagan - who earned his bona fides as a Republican hawk and got his start in the State Department under Reagan (Writing a tract with fellow Neocon Bill Krystal, “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy,” ), claims in an interview with

So even as the American people tire of one war, they’re getting ready for the next one. If this system is warlike, it’s the tendency that flows from the public.”

Can this be so? According to Kagan the Zeitgeist to launch a war against Iran is already taking shape --- in the public mind! If it is, then it's a nation I no longer recognize, nor can feel a part of. In truth IF it is so, I am de facto alienated from all those who accept it. I then must conclude that this country has veered back to the malignant path of Pax Americana, brewed under a toxic stew of American hubris, exceptionalism and reckless intrusion into the affairs of other sovereign states (see also the book, Dreaming War, by Gore Vidal).

Indeed, it was the Pax Americana virus that John F. Kennedy himself had tried to cure. In his June, 1963 speech at American University in Washington, Kennedy bluntly warned that we can have no worthwhile peace in any way controlled by "American weapons of war".

Kennedy himself, as a student of history, also had to be aware of the poisonous document that incepted American military meddling around the globe. This was National Security Council (NSC) Directive ‘NSC 10/2’ formalized on June 18, 1948. A key element therein warned that all activities to be conducted against “hostile” foreign states – on in support of “friendly” ones, were to be executed so that “no U.S. Government responsibility would be evident to any unauthorized persons.” The provision also had to be included that if such activities were discovered “the U.S. Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them.

The scope of activities enumerated under the directive included: “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action – including sabotage; subversion against hostile states including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerillas and refugee liberation groups and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

Ratcheting up the effect, and consolidating the impetus to Empire building was the document NSC-68, prepared by Paul Nitze of the National Security Council – completed by 1950. The document essentially contained the blueprint for unending strife and undeclared wars, all of which would be invoked on the basis of a zero tolerance threshold for foreigners’ misbehavior.

One of the most pernicious instances of American meddling was in Guatemala in 1954. At that time, Jacobo Arbenz had been elected to lead the country. But CIA documents – 1400 pages released 15 years ago - shed light on the U.S. intervention that in the words of one columnist (Kate Doyle writing in The Baltimore Sun, in 1997) “illumined the origins of the region’s most devastating human rights tragedy”.

Indeed, as the files disclose, more than 140,000 Guatemalan citizens were either killed or ‘disappeared’ during the 35 years of civil war that ensued after Arbenz’ government was destabilized by the CIA in a coup nicknamed “Operation Success.”

Who weeps or mourns for those thousands? Are they even enumerated in the grim calculus of human suffering? Or are they merely forgotten as expendable Latin Americans – whose total cost in life pales beside that of one American lost in New York’s World Trade Center or Pentagon? I can aver that in JFK’s calculus – based on his Pax Americana D.C. speech, and then his signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, those lives were worth every bit as much as an American’s. If not, Kennedy wouldn’t have pushed for total disarmament. He knew that all lives had to be worth something, or none were worth anything.

In his American University peech JFK called for "general and complete disarmament” at least four times. Even as he said the words, in his mind he was planning the full pullout of all U.S. personnel from Vietnam by calendar year 1965. Of course, he didn't live to see that year dawn, far less implement his audacious pull away from the venomous tug toward incessant war.

In a later article appearing in The Baltimore Sun (Nov. 1, 1998) , the headline on page 1C –Perspectives Section- screamed: U.S. Hands Bloody in Honduras. The article by Susan C. Peacock, a visiting fellow at the National Security Archive, went on to note how the U.S. provided over $1 billion to Honduran military and ‘death squads’. This led the way to “politically motivated and officially sanctioned murder and torture.” (Ibid.)

In other words it enabled state-sponsored terrorism. As Peacock also observed, the CIA was induced to de-emphasize or cover up the horrific crimes during the 1980s “because Honduras was the staging ground for Ronald Reagan’s Central American policy, including covert support for Nicaraguan Contras.” (op. cit., p. 4C).

It was within this toxic brew that Robert Kagan and his fellow filthy neocons and Rightist warmongers were hatched. It was also within that stench that the Rightist basis for Perma-war was bred as a further stimulant toward massive deficits. The better to use those war-military incepted costs along with tax cuts as excuses to finally dismantle the old FDR social insurance programs viewed as passe.

The upshot is that no President worth his salt, especially any Democrat, ought to be listening to any word this pissant states, or his warmongering ways. All this does is encourage further blood bath budgets such as the Repukes have planned. A much more edifying take is to re-read JFK's Pax Americana speech. Also, read James Douglass book, 'JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died And Why It Matters', to see first hand how JFK changed from putative "cold warrior" to a warrior for Peace.

This biggest mistake any policy maker can make is to take the majority of Americans for fools. And right now, especially after the latest atrocity in Afghanistan (deranged troops celebrating over Afghan body parts), we are tired of being made fools of. We are tired of seeing trillions being pissed down the drain when so many needs are unmet here at home. And the last thing we want to see is a bunch of smarmy, war-mongering baboons getting political power who will slash all social spending to the bone while they continue the military bullshit. In truth, the Pentagon needs to see its budget cut by HALF! Yes, I wrote HALF! Especially as they still haven't accounted for the $1.2 trillion they somehow "lost" back in 1999! That means we need to see it ratcheted down to about 2.2% of GDP as opposed to 4.7%

The Loyola Peace Conference, if it has time, should devote at least an afternoon between now and tomorrow - when it ends, to why this nation continues to be so "war happy". It should then issue some ending statement echoing Orwell's own words on how permanent war shatters the products of human labor while keeping the mass of people in a state resembling stupid sheep.

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