Monday, June 16, 2003


“Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know the web we weave”

Pink Floyd “The Dogs of War”

News junkies (and even those among us who are still experimenting with news) will have noticed a recent upsurge in mainstream criticism of the fact that, as yet, no WeaponsOfMassDestruction have been found in Iraq. The People (in the US, I mean: people in the rest of the world seem to have been suspicious from the start) seem to be coming around to the idea that they were somehow misled regarding the need for an invasion of Iraq. I’m skeptical that the misgivings of The People will translate into anything significant (recent polls suggest that, although people think lies were told, they think the ends justify the means) but that isn’t what interests me anyway.

What interests me is that much of the squealing about having been lied to is couched in terms of THIS TIME. I infer, from much of what I have been fishing from the mainstream, that the problem (to the extent that there IS a problem) is that the late war on Iraq was sold on false pretenses and that the US government CANNOT do such things. Lie about why war must be had, I mean. I further infer that the people who are outraged are so because they are under the impression that this is not the sort of thing US governments do.

If my inference is correct, then the people who are upset are woefully and dangerously ignorant of the history of their country. Since I have sought to teach the history of the US to several hundred US citizens in my brief teaching career, I’m fairly confident that ignorance is widespread.

The air, sea, and land forces of the United States have been deployed well over 100 times in just the past century to do all sorts of things all over the world. MOST of the time, the government mislead The People about why. I’m going to hit some highlights and I’m going to do it from memory. This means that some details may not be here. Look them up. Get edumacated. You may know them already, of course: I’m hardly the only person who knows this stuff.

-- The Taliban of Afghanistan allegedly would not “give up” the perps of 911, and thereby stirred up hell. I recall rather vividly that the (loathsome) Taliban did, in fact, offer to discuss/negotiate the matter and perhaps send some perps to a third country for trial. By the way, where IS Osama bin Laden?
-- Gulf War I was predicated, in part, on allegations of Iraqi troops preparing to invade Saudi Arabia (satellite info was circulated to that effect) and stories of the Rape of Kuwait (including the babies cast from incubators). Both of these arguments have been pretty solidly revealed to have been lies. There is also the matter of US diplomat April Glaspie (sp?) having hinted at a “green light” for Iraq (that one is more muddled).
-- We invaded Panama because of Manuel Noriega’s participation in the international drug trade. Good job we’ve got him behind bars, eh? How did it come to pass that Noriega became leader of Panama to begin with? For that matter, wherefore is there a country called Panama?
-- The glorious Grenada invasion. Nuff said.
-- The Gulf of Tonkin incident and the attacks on Cambodia and Laos should be familiar enough by now.
-- While the Japanese and Germans DID declare war on the US in WW2, it is often forgotten what preceded those declarations. I’m not saying that the Axis was correct, but I am saying that it is important to remember that wars don’t just leap up out of nowhere.
-- Did you know that the US invaded Russia in 1919? That’s when the Cold War started.
-- The Lusitania apparently WAS carrying armaments and the Zimmerman Note was apparently faked. The US joined WWI under muddy, if not outright false, pretenses.
-- The US army prepared for WWI by invading, briefly, Mexico (in response to Pancho Villa’s raid, and to take sides in the Mexican civil war).
-- Remember the Maine? It has been pretty clearly established that the Spanish-American war was based on nothing but lies (except that there really were rebels in the Philippines and Cuba who needed help against the Spanish: we got rid of the Spanish for them, and took over ourselves).
-- Bury your head at Wounded Knee, by the way.
-- Ever wonder why the Marines were ever in “the halls of Moctezuma”? The Mexican war was all about the lying. James K. Polk won office in part by openly declaring his intention to get a huge chunk of territory from Mexico. He fulfilled that promise. Here's one of the characters from JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, on why they hate us, by the way. See below for “the shores of Tripoli”.
-- How did Florida come to be part of the US?
-- Barbary Pirates? The US Navy/Marine Corps participated in a “police action” along the northern coast of Africa in the early 19th century.
-- The American Revolution, while not ignoble, is based in the popular memory on the depredations of George III. It turns out he wasn’t THAT bad, and the revolutionaries turned to the (much worse) kings of Spain and France for help.

Surface? Scratched.

Among other lessons you might draw from what you’ve just read is that if you live on territory claimed by the US government, you live on land taken on the basis of (at least minor) official misrepresentations of the truth. Start from that premise and then look at the rest of the world and the US footprint upon it.

This is important.

I do not advocate the throwing up of hands. I do not mean to say that, because almost every military action ever taken by the US government has been taken after varying degrees of lying it is somehow ok and we should all stop pestering Dubyah. What I suggest is that we should use our historical perspective to encourage us to DEMAND that the lying stop. Don’t mythologize Reagan or FDR or Wilson or Polk or Jefferson or any of the others who have lied in the past: use your knowledge that the US government has a pretty clear pattern of behavior to instantly and consistently be skeptical of the reasons offered for any future military action. Do NOT be so quick to give the benefit of the doubt. Do NOT assume they are innocent until proven guilty. Lives are at stake (including our own).

This is particularly true of those people who actually are in the military. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airpersons are at the most immediate risk of having their trust betrayed, as they are the ones asked to go kill and risk being killed.

I heard “Mexico” (Elvis Presley), “Marilyn” (Dan Bern), “Town without Pity” (Gene Pitney), “Old Devil Moon” (Frank Sinatra), “Stars” (Simply Red), “Every Picture Tells a Story” (Rod Stewart), and “Son of Neckbone” (Beastie Boys).

Where are all of the female singers? Odd.


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