excerpts from the book
War Is A Lie
by David Swanson
Wars cannot be good or glorious. Nor can they be justified as
a means of achieving peace or anything else of value. The reasons
given for wars, before, during, and after them are all false...
Because there can be no good reason for war, having gone to war,
we are participating in a lie.
War ever more closely resembles mass murder.
On taxes, Social Security, healthcare, or schools it simply goes
without saying: elected officials are a pack of liars. When it
comes to wars, however, people are inclined to believe every fantastical
claim that comes out of Washington, D.C..
Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book 'Propaganda Technique in the
World War (WWI)
A handy rule for arousing hate is, if
at first they do not enrage, use an atrocity. It has been employed
with unvarying success in every conflict known to man.
George Orwell wrote in 1948
Actions are held to be good or bad, not
on their own merits but according to who does them, and there
is almost no kind of outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced
labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery,
assassination, the bombing of civilians - which does not change
its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side .... The nationalist
not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own
side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about
Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book 'Propaganda Technique in the
World War (WWI)
The churches of practically every description
can be relied upon to bless a popular war, and to see in it an
opportunity for the triumph of whatever godly design they choose
While knights of old would die for their own glory; modern men
and women will die for a fluttering piece of colored cloth.
The day after the United States declared war on Spain in 1898
... New York [State] passed a law requiring that school children
salute the US. flag. Others would follow. Nationalism was the
When it comes to motivating warlike emotions, if other differences
fail, there is always this: the enemy does not belong to our country
and salute our flag.
The practice in US. domestic politics, of comparing anyone you
disagreed with to Hitler had become almost comical, but it is
a practice that has helped launch many wars and may still launch
The United States has overthrown governments in Hawaii, Cuba,
Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala,
Vietnam, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq, not to
mention the Congo (1960); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); Brazil (1961
& 1964); the Dominican Republic (1961 & 1963); Greece
(1965 & 1967); Bolivia (1964 & 1971); El Salvador (1961);
Guyana (1964); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); and of course Haiti
(1991 and 2004). We've replaced democracy with dictatorship, dictatorship
with chaos, and local rule with US. domination and occupation.
Around 1776, certain important people
in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously
useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating
a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they
could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites
of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a
number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular
support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.
George Washington [was] the richest man in America.
There is nothing more evil than war. War causes more suffering
and death than anything war can be used to combat.
No matter how evil a dictator or a people may be, they cannot
be more evil than war.
Had he lived to be a thousand, Saddam Hussein could not have done
the damage to the people of Iraq or the world that the war to
eliminate his fictional weapons has done.
General Zachary reported on the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
to the US. War Department.
I deeply regret to report that many of
the ... volunteers ... have committed extensive outrages and depredations
upon the peaceable inhabitants. THERE IS SCARCELY ANY FORM OF
CRIME THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED TO ME AS COMMITTED BY THEM.
The Jewish holocaust took nearly 6 million lives in the most horrible
way imaginable, but World War II took, in total, about 70 million
- of which about 24 million were military. We don't hear much
about the 9 million Soviet soldiers whom the Germans killed. But
they died facing people who wanted to kill them, and they themselves
were under orders to kill.
Senator William Fulbright
Power tends to confuse itself with virtue
and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that
its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special
responsibility for other nations to make them richer and happier
and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.
Madeline .Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton
What's the point of having this superb
military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy
The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima
and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against
Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.
Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace released a study (May 2003) of past US. attempts at nation
building, examining - in chronological order - Cuba, Panama, Cuba
again, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba yet again, the Dominican Republic,
West Germany, Japan, the Dominican Republic again, South Vietnam,
Cambodia, Grenada, Panama again, Haiti again, and Afghanistan...
Never, the authors found, has a surrogate regime supported by
the United States, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, made
the transition to democracy.
Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace released a study (May 2003)
The primary goal of early US. nation-building
efforts was in most cases strategic. In its first efforts, Washington
decided to replace or support a regime in a foreign land to defend
its core security and economic interests, not to build a democracy.
Only later did America's political ideals and its need to sustain
domestic support for nation building impel it to try to establish
democratic rule in target nations.
Edwin Black wrote in 2003
Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience
determined to wipe away all human beings deemed 'unfit,' preserving
only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype.
... Eugenics would have been so much bizarre
parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate
philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller
Foundation and t- he Harriman railroad fortune... The Rockefeller
Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded
the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
The most commonly suggested method of
eugenicide in America was a 'lethal chamber' or public locally
operated gas chambers Eugenic breeders believed American society
was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many
mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality
and passive euthanasia on their own.
Wall Street corporations viewed the Nazis ... as enemies of communism.
American investment in Germany increased 48.5 percent between
1929 and 1940... Major investors included Ford, General
Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, International
Harvester, ITT, and IBM.
The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate
a homegrown American fascist plot hatched in 1933. The plan was
to engage a half million World War I veterans, angry over not
being paid their promised bonuses, to oust President Roosevelt
and install a government modeled on Hitler and Mussolini's. The
plotters included the owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodyear, and
Maxwell House, as well as Prescott Bush... President Roosevelt
reportedly cut a deal. He would refrain from prosecuting some
of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They would agree
to end Wall Street's opposition to his New Deal programs.
John Foster Dulles - Secretary of State for President Eisenhower
- during the pre-war period [WWII] would begin his letters to
German clients with the words "Heil Hitler".
As long as the greatest honor one can aspire to is to be shipped
off and killed in somebody's war, there will be war.
President John Kennedy wrote in a letter to a friend
War will exist until the distant day when
the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige
as the warrior does today.
Bill Maher, agreeing with a guest who had said the 9-11 murderers
were not cowards
We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise
missiles from two thousand miles away. That's cowardly. Staying
in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about
it. Not cowardly.
[Soldiers] whether of the victorious or
the vanquished nation, have been disciplined in the acceptance
of violence and a kind of blind obedience to leaders. In war there
is no choice between complete obedience and mutiny.
Not Your Soldier Project
Only 16 percent of enlisted personnel
who completed four years of military duty ever received money
for schooling. Only 12 percent of male veterans and 6 percent
of female veterans use skills learned in the military in their
Jorge Mariscal in a 2007 article
When working-class youth make it to their
local community college, they often encounter military recruiters
working hard to discourage them.
Jorge Mariscal in a 2007 article
In working-class communities of every
color, there are often longstanding traditions of military service
and links between service and privileged forms of masculinity.
For communities often marked as foreign, such as Latinos and Asians,
there is pressure to serve in order to prove that one is American.
For recent immigrants, there is the lure of gaining legal resident
status or citizenship. Economic pressure, however, is an undeniable
Presidents Clinton and Bush Jr. avoided the Vietnam War, Clinton
through educational privilege, Bush through being the son of his
father. President Obama never went to war. Vice Presidents Dan
Quayle, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden, like Clinton and Bush Jr.,
dodged the draft.
Jon Michael Turner, Winter Soldier gathering, Washington, D.C.,
We were all congratulated after we had
our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company
commander personally congratulated me. This is the same individual
who stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them
to death would get a four-day pass when we returned from Iraq.
The myth of monolithic Communism - that
all activities of people everywhere who call themselves Communists
or whom J. Edgar Hoover calls Communists are planned and controlled
in the Kremlin - is essential to the ideology of the national
security bureaucracy. Without it the President and his advisers
would have a harder time identifying the enemy. They certainly
could not find opponents worthy of the 'defense' efforts of the
mightiest military power in the history of the world.
General Smedley Butler, in a 1935 issue of the Socialist newspaper
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 ha lf 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, 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
Stop the War Coalition, 2010
[British Prime Minister Blair] earns £2
million a year for one day a month's work, from the J US investment
bank I P Morgan, who just happen to be making huge profits from
financing 'reconstruction' projects in Iraq. There's no end of
gratitude for Blair's services to the oil industry, the Iraq invasion
so clearly being aimed at controlling the world's second largest
oil reserves. The Kuwaiti Royal Family paid him around a million
to produce a report on Kuwait's future, and business deals though
a consultancy he has set up to advise other countries in the Middle
East are projected to earn around £5 million a year. Just
in case he runs short, he has signed up with the South Korean
oil firm UI Energy Corporation, which has extensive interests
in Iraq and which some estimates say will eventually net him £20
World War II soldiers took their orders from Douglas MacArthur,
Dwight Eisenhower, and George Patton, men who in 1932 had led
the military's assault on the "Bonus Army,' World War I veterans
camped out in Washington, D.C., pleading to be paid the bonuses
they'd been promised.
President Jimmy Carter in his last State of the Union address
An attempt by any outside force to gain
control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault
on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such
an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including
General Charles Wald deputy commander of US. forces in Europe
A key mission for US. forces [in Africa]
would be to insure that Nigeria's oilfields, which in the future
could account for as much as 25 percent of all US. oil imports,
Sandy Davies author of 'Blood on Our Hands'
[The annexation of Kosovo] did succeed
in creating a small militarized buffer state between Yugoslavia
and the projected route of the AMBO oil pipeline through Bulgaria,
Macedonia, and Albania. This pipeline is being built, with US.
government support, to provide the United States and Western Europe
with access to oil from the Caspian Sea.
Bill Clinton in 1993, about Somalia - to George Stephanopoulos
We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers.
When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers.
I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can't believe
we're being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.
The war makers do what they do, because only aggressive war makers
advance through the ranks and keep their jobs as high-level advisors
in our government. While resisting militarism is a good way to
derail your career, no one seems to have ever heard of a D.C.
bureaucrat's being sidelined for excessive warmongering.
Arthur Bullard, a reporter who urged Woodrow Wilson to employ
dishonesty rather than censorship
Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms
.... There is nothing in experience to tell us that one is always
preferable to the other .... There are lifeless truths and vital
lies .... The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value.
It matters very little whether it is true or false.
Cokie Roberts about interviewing military officers
I am a total sucker for the guys who stand
up with all the ribbons and they say it's true and I'm ready to
Jacques Ellul, 1965
He who acts in obedience to propaganda
can never go back. He is now obliged to believe in that propaganda
because of his past action.
Studies have found that individuals with higher levels of self-esteem
are better able to accept information that contradicts what they
had previously believed. This suggests, that people sometimes
feel their reputation and image are threatened by the possibility
that they might be wrong.
If the war lies were not all over the media, people would not
learn them in the first place. If the corrections were heard over
and over again, they would get through. If our communications
system allowed the presentation of a variety of voices and viewpoints
and feared promoting falsehoods more than it feared being insufficiently
militaristic, we wouldn't need to investigate the widespread phenomenon
of engaged citizens certain of their beliefs but completely deluded.
The Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
[was] the institution that tried Nazi war leaders for their crimes
[WWII]. Among the crimes listed in the charter were "crimes
against peace," "war crimes," and "crimes
against humanity" Crimes "against peace" were defined
as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war
of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or
conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, , said in his opening
The common sense of mankind demands that
law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little
people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great
power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion
evils which leave no home in the world untouched... while [the
Charter of this tribunal] is first applied against German aggressors,
the law includes, and f it is to serve a useful purpose it must
condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which
sit here now in judgment.
Noam Chomsky, 1990
If Nuremberg laws were applied, then every
post-war American president would have been hanged.
[President Harry] Truman dropped atomic bombs on civilians. Truman
"proceeded to organize a major counter-insurgency campaign
in Greece which killed off about one hundred and sixty thousand
people, sixty thousand refugees, another sixty thousand or so
people tortured, political system dismantled, right-wing regime.
American corporations came in and took it over." Eisenhower
overthrew the governments of Iran and Guatemala and invaded Lebanon.
Kennedy invaded Cuba and Vietnam. Johnson slaughtered civilians
in Indochina and invaded the Dominican Republic. Nixon invaded
Cambodia and Laos. Ford and Carter supported the Indonesian invasion
of East Timor. Reagan funded war crimes in Central America and
supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Martin Luther Kings, 1964
I have the audacity to believe that peoples
everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education
and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom
for their spirit.
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