America’s Wars as a Bad Novel

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America’s bad novel has a one-word title: War (with apologies to Tolstoy)

W.J. Astore

A curious feature of America’s wars is their lack of thematic coherence.  Lacking a clear beginning (other than the 9/11 attacks), they also lack a clear end point.  It’s all middle – repetition without meaning, action without progress, like a bad novel that introduces lots of characters but that never goes anywhere.  Look at the rolling cast of characters in charge of America’s wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.  Other than generals who disgraced themselves in ways unrelated to combat performance (David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal), their names are unmemorable.

The American people have largely cast aside the “bad novel” of America’s wars.  They find it boring, repetitive, inconsequential (at least to them).  But that doesn’t mean people aren’t paying for it, each and every day.

In the absence of Congressional declarations, America’s wars today are not being waged in the name of the people.  Cowed by the Executive branch and coerced by money, a spineless Congress willingly sidelines itself. In turn the Executive branch keeps the American people isolated from war even as it misleads them with lies and half-truths.

And thus the American people refuse to take ownership of these wars.  And who can blame them, since these wars aren’t being fought in their name or for their interests.  America’s wars are the preserve of the commander-in-chief and his various “experts” in and out of uniform, men like retired general and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, John Bolton, the new National Security Advisor, and Mike Pompeo, the CIA chief who now leads the State Department.  Unconcerned with the will and concerns of the people, these men favor aggressive stances and support U.S. military interventions around the globe.

What’s the solution to America’s “bad novel”?  Ignoring or disowning it only empowers its authors and their predilection for waging war, however falsely, in our name.  Instead, we have to overcome America’s ethos of violence and its climate of fear.  Campaign finance reform is vital if we want to suppress the influence of war profiteers.  Cutting the Pentagon budget by at least 20% is essential as well.  Finally, we need to educate ourselves about war, and to insist that wars are fought only when authorized by Congress, and only as a last resort instead of the first.

If we don’t take these steps, America will be forever stuck reading a bad novel with a one-word title: War.

32 thoughts on “America’s Wars as a Bad Novel

  1. All good steps towards something better than where we are now.

    I’ve managed, the past year, to pretty effectively distract myself from dissertation work by writing science fiction. War is a major theme I’m trying to both explore and explain, from the perspective of half a dozen 20-somethings who get sent (via ‘divine’ intervention by a being fronting as a Norse deity) to fight in 1944 Europe, 2041 North America, and the colonized solar system in 2147.

    Tolstoy is actually one of the shadow inspirations for the work. Up-front, I’m writing something that tries to claw back military science fiction from the Clancy and Heinlein style (masculine men doing manly things!) and instead focus on characters who, if they were unfortunate enough to life in Iraq, Syria, Yemen (et al) wouldn’t have a choice in the whole war thing. But under the hood, I’m attempting something comparative, historical, and deeply critical of the myth-making that surrounds war. To make it accessible and understandable to a lay audience, in the (probably vain) hope that people who read it will realize that they can and should understand war as a human activity, subject to human control.

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    1. When I was a teen, I loved Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers,” but I also got a big laugh out of Harry Harrison’s “Bill the Galactic Hero.” They really should be read together.

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  2. Cowed by the Executive branch and coerced by money, a spineless Congress willingly sidelines itself.

    There is an oft-mentioned belief that the president is responsible for foreign affairs, including wars, and not the Congress. The only evidence for this ever offered is “executive privilege” and the president is the commander in chief, from the Constitution. (It also lets the Congressional cowards off the hook.)
    >”The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America” — well yes, and “executive” relates to managerial powers, putting plans into effect, executing and not formulating.
    >”The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States” — doesn’t mean that the CinC is the one calling into service, but that he is the commander when the troops are called into service.

    The Constitution also states “The Congress shall have Power . . .To declare War. .” This gives war-making power to Congress, but it does not rule out the president starting conflicts that are not called war or even if they are called war. These days the conflicts have names like “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and not “Iraq War.” Who can quarrel with an operation? Especially when there is a coalition of the willing? . . .Yet violates the UN Charter, the law of the land.

    And they call this a democracy? When such matters are determined by the one schmuck or another the people are allowed to vote for every four years (many abjure), and then allowed further to sit down and shut up and pay the price? . . .No.

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  3. From Wikipedia:

    Penny dreadfuls were cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth century in the United Kingdom. The pejorative term is roughly interchangeable with penny horrible, penny awful, and penny blood. The term typically referred to a story published in weekly parts, each costing one penny. The subject matter of these stories was typically sensational, focusing on the exploits of detectives, criminals, or supernatural entities. While the term “penny dreadful” was originally used in reference to a specific type of literature circulating in mid-Victorian Britain, it came to encompass a variety of publications that featured cheap sensational fiction, such as story papers and booklet “libraries”. The penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap wood pulp paper and were aimed at young working class men.

    Let us not flatter the past seventy years of desultory U.S. presidential/”professonal” “fighting” with the word “war,” a concept that became inoperable for nation states with the advent of nuclear weapons in 1945. Conventional military forces can now only pound away at relatively hapless peasant “threats” conjured out of sheer fantasy — and not even clever or creative fantasy at that. No writer worth reading would even attempt to write a novel about “America’s Wars” when Marvel Comics has already exhausted the genre, both in cartoon caricature and film. Even the term “Penny Dreadful” overstates the price one ought to pay for such an awful offering.

    In 1949, George Orwell published 1984, the only novel of “war” that any longer applies to Oceania and Airstrip One — i.e., the U.S. and U.K. — where “all that matters is that a state of war should exist.” America’s Presidential/”professional” Fights will happen because the Corporate Oligarchical Collective instists that they must, and “reasons” for them — properly called “rationales” — will emerge at some later date, if at all, should anyone any longer even remember to ask “why?”

    Dreadful, indeed. Trillions of dollars squandered to produce a penny’s worth of putrid product. The American Way.

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    1. The American Way of War, if you will, provides a perfect illustration of the Law of Diminishing Returns (more and more for less and less). Back in Southeast Asia nearly half a century ago, the U.S. Navy would send hideously expensive aircraft carrier battle groups halfway around the world to blow up bamboo bridges that Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian peasants would rebuild overnight for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars, if that.

      Not to suppose that the American military “mind” could ever learn from such implacable economic laws, but I just saw this the other day: How To Bankrupt A Nation, by Jim Quinn’s Burning Platform. Key caption accompanying the illustration:

      When you are loading a $70,000 missile onto a million dollar drone so it can fly at the cost of $3, 624 per hour ot kill some people in Yemen who live on less that $1 per day.

      “Vietnam” never ends for the United States because the U.S. military will never, ever let go of it. Mountains, deserts, or jungles makes no difference. National bankruptcy always results, because “this time we’ll get it right.”

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      1. Make-work militarism, right, Mike? Combined with consumptive capitalism in the service of imperial domination.

        It’s wasteful of everything. It even consumes brains, so perhaps we should call it Zombie Militarism. Perhaps a new theme for a poem?

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  4. I wouldn’t know about novels, but the expatriate ex-patriot curmudgeon in me came up with the following bit of verse about six years ago, Saturday, April 07, 2012:

    Leading from Behind

    Expatriate ex-patriots expectorate
    When REMFs proceed to hide behind the troops
    Invoking memories of those who met their fate
    In service to a penis pride that droops
    Each time some petty presidential potentate
    Ignites a war — and in his panties poops.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2012

    But then, not too many days ago, I came upon the following bit of expatriate ex-patriotism by another Vietnam veteran unbeliever in the reigning Military Idolatry presently embarrassing and bankrupting the United States. I first encountered the article at Information Clearing House under the title “The U.S. Military Is America’s Worst Enemy,” but it originally appeareared at The Unz Review (April 27, 2018 ) as A Most Sordid Profession: Sanguijuelas, Garrapatas, Piojos, Capulinas, Lampreys. I wish I had written it, so I will quote it here in full [bold font for emphasis, mine].

    A few thoughts on our disastrous  trillion-dollar  military:

    It is unnecessary. It does not defend the United States. The last time it did so was in 1945. The United States has no military enemies. No nation has anything even close to the forces necessary to invade America, and probably none the desire. A fifth of the budget would suffice for any real needs.

    “Our boys” are not noble warriors protecting democracy, rescuing maidens, and righting wrongs. They are, like all soldiers, obedient and amoral killers. Pilots bombing Iraq or Syria know they are killing civilians. They do not care. If ordered to bomb Switzerland, they would do it. This is the nature of all armies. Glamorizing this most reprehensible of trades is just a means of usefully stimulating the pack instinct which we often call patriotism.

    The militarily is America’s worst enemy. It does enormous damage to the United States while providing almost no benefit. Start with the war on Vietnam that cost hugely in money and lives, ours and their, with no benefit. Iraq: high cost, no benefit. Afghanistan: High cost, no benefit. Syria: High cost, no benefit.

    The costs in lives and money do not include the staggering cost of weapons that do nothing for America or Americans. Do you, the reader, believe that you are safer because of the F-35? Do a dozen aircraft carriers improve the lives of your children? Will the B-21, an unbelievably expensive new thermonuclear bomber, make your streets safer? Then add the bleeding of engineering talent better spent on advancing America’s economic competitiveness. The country has many crying needs, falls behind China, but money and talent go to the military.

    We cannnot escape from the soldiers. The armed forces have embedded themselves so deeply into the country that they have almost become the country. America is little more than a funding mechanism for what clumsily may be called the military-industrial-intelligence-media-Israeli complex. Some of these entities belong to the nilitary (NSA). Some depend on it (Lockheed-Martin). Some use it to their own ends (Israel), but the military is the central infection from which the other symptoms flow. Congress? A storefront, a subcommittee of the Knesset or, as P. J. O’Rourke put it, a parliament of whores. Factories, jobs, contracts, towns depend on military spending. If the Second Marine Division folded, Jacksonville NC would dry up and blow away. So would dozens of other towns. Without military spending, California’s economy would crash. Universities depend on military research funding.

    The military has achieved its current autonomy by degrees, unnoticed. The Pentagon learned much in Vietnam, not about fighting wars, which it still cannot do well, but about managing its real enemy, the  public. The media, which savaged the war on Vietnam, are now firmly contolled by the corporations that own them. Thus we do not see photos of the horrors committed by American aircraft bombing cities. While the existence of phenomenally expensive weapns like the B-21 is not quite suppressed, coverage is so slight that most Americans have never heard of it. This the Complex learned from the F-35 debacle. And of course Congress, thoroughly bought and wanting jobs in its districts, allows no serious opposition to anything military. Neither Congress nor the media point out the extent to which military expenditure dominates the economy, draining resources from civilian needs.

    Why does the military not win wars? In part because winning is not in the interest of the Pentagon and those who feed on it. Wars generate profitable contracts for all  manner of supplies and equipment. Either winning or losing  ends the gravy train. For example, the war on Afghanistan of almost two decades has become an entitlement program for the arms industry, accomplishing nothing, killing countless peasants, and lacking purpose other than maintaining an unneeded empire and funneling money to the Complex.

    How did the Complex free itself from civilian control? The crucial step in depriving the putlic of influence was the neutering of the constitutional requirement that wars be declared by Congress. The military thus became the private army of the President and those who control him. Then came the All Volunteer Army, which ended inconvenicne to or mutilation of the chldren of people of importance, leaving the body bags to be filled by deplorables from Memphis or Appalaciia or Mexico. America’s wars then became air wars and finally drone wars, reducing casualties to very few. The public, both ignorant and uninvolved, became acquiescent.

    As I write, we wait to see whether Trump, and those behind him, will put America deeper into the Mid-East and perhaps war with Russia. If he does, we will read about it the next day in the newspapers. It will be expensive, dangeours, and of no benefit to anyone but the arms industry and Israel.

    Despite the asphyxiating economic presence, the military keeps aloof from America. This too serves the purposes of the Complex, further preventing attention by the public to what is not its business. In the days of conscription there was a familiarity with the armed services. Young men from most social classes wore the uniform however ruefully and told of their experiences. Not now. The career military have always tended to keep to themselves, to socialize with each other as the police do. Now the isolation is almost hermetic. You can spend years in Washington or New York and never meet a colonel. Military society with its authoritarianism, its uniforms and its uniform government-issue outlook is not compatible with civil society. To the cultivated, military officers seem simple-minded, conformist and…well, weird.

    Add it all up and you see that the citizenry has no say–none–over the Complex, which is autonomous and  out of control. If the Complex wants war with Russia or China, we will have-war with Russia or China. Ask people whether they would prefer a naval base in Qatar–which most have never heard of, either the base or the country–or decent heath care. Then ask them which they have.

    The military destroys America and there is nothing–nothing at all–that you can do about it. Further, the Complex drives foreign polcy, and in directions of no benefit to America or Americans. For example, the contrived fury against Russia. Why this? Russia presents no danger to America or anyone else. The Complex makes foreign policy for its own ends, not ours.

    A rising Asia is challenging the America military Empire. The tide runs against the Complex. North Korea faced Washington down and became a nuclear power. The Crimea went back irrevocably to Russia. East Ukraine does the same. Iran got its treaty and becomes part of the world order. In the South China Sea, China ignores the US, which once was supreme in all the seas. The war against Afghanistan heads for its third decade and the war on Syria seems to have failed. Other things go badly for the Empire. The dollar is under siege as reserve currency. China grows economically, advances rapidly in technolgy and, doubtless terrifying to Washington, tries to integrate Asia and Europe into a vast economic bloc. The Complex beats the war drums as its fingers loosen on the world’s collective throat.

    Washington desperately needs to stop the rollback of American power, stop the erosion of the dollar, block the economic integration of Eurasia and Latin America, keep Russia from trading amicably with Europe. It will do anything to maintain its grip. All of its remote wars in far-off savage lands, of no importance to America or Americans, are to this purpose. A militarized America threatens Russia, threatens China, threatens Iran, threatens North Korea, threatens Venezuela, expands NATO, on and on.

    America has been hijacked.

    What he said. …

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    1. Another view (besides the money one) on why America doesn’t win wars, by yet another Vietnam veteran. It’s a very simple reason.

      “One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.” –Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71

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  5. I believe it pertinent to mention something that you had once said in one of your college lectures, Bill: “World War 2 was the last war of necessity.” This was a war that “we didn’t start, but by God, we’ll finish it!” Since then, the U.S. has been engaged only in wars that make money for over-bloated defense contractors.

    Furthermore, as an avid “Game of Thrones” fan, and also someone who can appreciate the Franco-British enmity, I will say this: NEVER trust someone named “Bolton.” It is a French name, after all.

    Right! That’s enough snark from me for one night!

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    1. Yes. WWII was the last necessary war, and the last war America fought together as a people. Every war since then was avoidable and/or unnecessary, including the Cold War.

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  6. The necessity of WWII applying to Americans is a matter of opinion. Why should so many Americans die in a war that didn’t threaten the US? History has shown that the principal reason for US involvement was to promote US world hegemony, satisfying the financial interests. What a cause to die for.

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    1. Hitler made serious plans to attack and invade America. This was in 1941-42 when the war against the Soviet Union seemed to be going well. Germany and Japan’s designs were truly global; both were militaristic empires with nightmarish policies, e.g. the Holocaust. The Nazis truly did want to eliminate all Jews everywhere, including the U.S.

      So I think WWII truly was a necessary war. And I think the necessity of it was recognized at the time, however reluctantly. This is not to say it was a “good war.” Just a necessary one.

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      1. Germany was totally unable to attack and invade the U.S. Britain was much closer, and they couldn’t do that either. Germany was mainly concerned with, and defeated by, Russia. The advantage the U.S. has, is its relative isolation, with Canada and Mexico on two sides, and fish on the other two sides. Japan was concerned with far away Asia, and there is evidence that Roosevelt was complicit with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
        So if either Germany or Japan had global designs they could never have included any sort of attack and invasion of the U.S. Had they tried it, it would have been easily defeated.
        Again, history has shown that the principal reason for US involvement was to promote US world hegemony, satisfying the financial interests. What a cause to die for.

        Smedley Butler’s “War Is A Racket” comments on WWI apply equally to WWII:

        At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. . .Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the “war to end all wars.” This was the “war to make the world safe for democracy.” No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here.

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      2. We will have to agree to disagree.

        Germany inflicted on America its worst naval defeat as it sank hundreds of merchant ships off the Atlantic coast in 1942 with its U-boats. Hitler planned to build a blue-water navy to defeat Britain and then America (with help from the Japanese navy, he hoped). The specifics of Nazi foreign policy and plans to attack America are detailed by Gerhard Weinberg, a well-known and deeply respected historian of WW2 and German policy.

        Of course, these Nazi plans were cancelled when the war on the Soviet Union bogged down. Hitler and the Nazis believed the Soviets would collapse by the end of 1941. They vastly underestimated Soviet strength — both in numbers and in willpower. The rest is history.

        If Germany had turned its full strength against Great Britain in 1941, I have little doubt the Nazis would have prevailed. But Hitler always had plans for “living space” in the east. He wanted to enslave the Slavic peoples, eliminate communism as a rival ideology, and kill all the Jews. A war against Great Britain and the USA would have to wait until the Soviet Union was defeated — which he assumed would be accomplished quickly, his biggest mistake. But if the Soviets had fallen, he would have turned quickly against GB and the USA.

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    2. At least there are valid arguments for both positions. After all, Japan attacked a U.S. military base with no provocation. Subsequent wars have all involved the U.S. making “pre-emptive” strikes against countries that “might intend” to undermine U.S. hegemony. The U.S. became the global police AFTER World War 2, and for the past three decades, has gone even further, punishing countries for crimes they have yet to commit. Such actions require infinitely greater mental gymnastics to justify than declaring war on Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor. The only reason that the U.S. even got involved in the European theatre is that Germany turned around and declared war on the U.S., in a vain attempt to stretch American forces out and give the Japanese an advantage. As I said, the U.S. didn’t start that war, but it HAS started every other war it’s been involved in. A cause to die for indeed. And if America loses, then “it wasn’t a war, it was a police action.”

      I could go on, but I’m dangerously close to Washington, D.C. at the moment, so I’ll quit before this comment becomes too scathing. Besides, I need to break my habit of rambling.

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      1. “Japan attacked a U.S. military base with no provocation.”

        Sorry. The U.S. cut off Japan’s oil supplies. Very provocative. Most nations throughout history have regarded economic and/or resource embargoes as acts of war. The Japanese certainly did. The U.S. military considered the Japanese an inferior race of myopic, cross-eyed midgets who would, at worst, probably respond to the U.S. embargo by attacking the Dutch in Indonesia; never the mighty Americans. I’ll say one thing for the Japanese as compared to today’s “stealth” U.S. military: at least they waited until after sunrise to launch their attack on Pearl Harbor.

        The Japanese, a small island nation, had over a million of its soldiers bogged down, sinking deeper into in vast China where the U.S. had practically no important interests at stake. So why did the U.S. give a damn what happened in China that would justify going to war against Japan? Answer: a handful of Christian missionaries who lived the good life, complete with Chinese servants, and who wrote glowing reports to their congregations back home of all the millions of Chinese who had, thanks to their efforts, come to embrace Jesus. Henry Luce, who ran Time Magazine, grew up in China and relentlessly lobbied the U.S. Congress to “do something” about those nasty Japanese interfering with The Lord’s Work among the ignorant Chinese longing for American missionary sermons — along with a few bowls of rice. “Rice Bowl” Christians, the Chinese called them. The so-called “China Lobby” of the day made today’s Zionist AIPAC fifth-columnists look like rank amateurs.

        In the end, Japan did go down to defeat against the far-more-industrially powerful United States but, in doing so, they took down the myth of Asian powerlessness in the face of “Western” invincibility. If tiny little Japan could bloody the mighty U.S. to such an extent, why could not other “Eastern” nations throw off their “Western” colonial masters and achieve national independence, too? Many did just that and others continue aspiring for their freedom today. Thank you very much for the example, Japan. “No army on earth can withstand the force of an idea whose time has come.” As usual, the American military killed a few million “non-whte” people and won some battles but in the long run lost the war. Japan today owns far more of the United States than vice versa. Why fight the United States when you can make high-quality products and loan Americans the money with which to buy them? Again, Japan first showed the way and the rest of Asia followed.

        The United States doesn’t need anyone to supply the “provocation” for its militaristic imperialism. The United States can very well provide that all by — and for — itself. It always has.

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      2. A coda here: Japan wanted to replace Western imperialism with its own brand of Japanese imperialism. The crimes of imperial Japan are well known here, Nanking in 1937 being the most notorious example, but there were many others. Think of the mass enslavement of women from Korea and the Philippines as prostitutes for the Japanese military (the phrase, as you know, translates to “comfort women,” a dastardly euphemism). The Japanese were not liberators; they were the new masters of Asia, or so they believed. And their policies and practices were in many cases far harsher than those associated with Western imperialism.

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      3. I’m not ignorant of prior offenses on the part of the U.S. against Japan. Maybe I wasn’t clear, but I was merely pointing out that the argument in that case makes much more sense than the arguments made in support of more recent wars, mostly because most people don’t know about the whole picture (hey, I never said the reasons that the argument is better were any good). I am also aware that the Pearl Harbor attack was not a surprise, by any means. The U.S. had been provoking Japan since the mid-19th century, when Commodore Matthew “Poke-the-Weeb” Perry demanded that the country open up. Then the Japanese began emulating western imperialism, and western powers started getting upset, for reasons that don’t translate across cultural lines. The Japanese never declare war like Europeans do, such as with the attack on Port Arthur in 1904 after Tsar Nikolai II botched the negotiations.

        Depending on what points you choose to omit, you can make any argument, no matter how flawed, seem like the most reasonable position. Perhaps if I didn’t make a habit of blogging while distracted, then my previous comment wouldn’t have been so poorly worded that I failed to get my point across.

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      4. >Of course, these Nazi plans [against the U.S.] were cancelled when the war on the Soviet Union bogged down. Hitler and the Nazis believed the Soviets would collapse by the end of 1941.
        >The U.S. declared war on Germany on Dec 11, 1941.

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      5. Just a reminder the U.S. declared war on Nazi Germany only after Hitler had declared war on the U.S.

        Hitler was convinced the U.S. was a racially impure “paper tiger.” His decision to declare war on the U.S. was one of his biggest mistakes — but there was none bigger than underestimating the USSR.

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  7. Kaja — Thanks for your many interesting contributions. You did not fail to make the points you intended. I just focused on one aspect of your comments and elaborated on that, since Asia has always interested me much more than Europe.

    In my remarks above related to Japan, China, and Western Imperialism, I merely wished to point out that governments, including the U.S. government, rarely go to war for the reasons they openly and publicly state. They all claim righteous “innocence.” They never acknowledge that their own policies may have something to do with the treatment they receive from other nations. This especially applies to America’s joining in the Imperial Wars of Europe and Asia beginning with the Spanish American War of 1898 and America’s “acquisition” of Cuba and the Philippines. The U.S. wanted to play at Empire, too, but had gotten something of a late start vis-a-vis Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan. This much, I assumed that everyone posting in this forum pretty much understands. The famous — or notiorious — “Open Door” Doctrine — basically amounted to the U.S. helplessly crying: “We want our piece of China, too.” Hardly innocent or benevolent.

    For my part, I wanted to emphasize the domestic political source of America’s meddling in the long-running Japan-China dispute on the eve of America’s entry into what became known as World War Two. As you may know, Americans of the 1930s bitterly resented how President Woodrow Wilson and some New York bankers had gotten us involved in The Great War of 1914-1917, only to have the “victorious” Europeans and Japanese — who had just stood by and watched for their big chance — brush the United States aside and take whatever vengeance or spoils that they wanted while excluding the United States from any share of the “goodies.” The invalid President Wilson’s wife finished out his term of office while the world pretty much ignored all that laughable “League of Nations” crap (as the United States and its several vassal parasites do today at the UN).

    So, when things started looking bad again around 1936 in Europe and Asia, the U.S. government started pushing for a military buildup as a defensive precaution. I do not allege any sort of “conspiracy” here, just that anyone in government with open eyes could see something very bad about to get even worse. But the American working class wanted no part of any further imperial adventuring, so when the Roosevelt administration barely passed the Draft conscription law by a single vote in Congress, the American people responded with the slogan: “OHIO,” which stood for “Over the Hill in October.” The American people properly saw that however badly Europeans and/or Asians might treat each other, this had nothing to do with America, and so Americans should stick to their own business: recovering from the great capitalist financial bust of 1929.

    But other countries, then as now, wanted to suck the United States into war for their own interests, especially China, and the more sophisticated of them — like Zionist Jews today — knew precisely where to aim their self-serving propaganda: right where the American electorate spent every Sunday kneeling with heads bowed and brains stupefied by Bronze Age mythology, the Christian churches, both Protestant and Catholic. In my remarks, I only wanted to call attention to this theological (or Theocratic) component of America’s domestic and foreign policies which the present-day Republican party has effectively harnessed to the demands of the transnational corporate oligarchy and the Zionist recolonization of historic Palestine.

    Long-time (and now lapsed) Republcan student of Republican party politics, Kevin Phillips, has detailed all of this in his book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (Viking, 2006). In my view, what hooked the United States into World War Two for the benefit of China could very well hook the United States into World War Three for the benefit of some Jewish settler/colonists in Occupied Palestine. Armageddon may have narrowly missed its chance in the mid-twentieth century, but it could very get another opportunity in the beginning decades of the twenty-first.

    In short, I suggest keeping our eyes on those religious “rallies” that Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence keep stoking in the handful of states that put them into office. President Trump sees the entire world through that narrow domestic/evangelical prism and so does his Republican party. The Democrats, for their part, simply do not matter any longer and just do not like Donald Trump or “the Russians.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but I see some rather disturbing echoes of the 1930s and the lurch into fascism in Weimar Germany. The Japanese may have pulled the trigger in 1941, but they didn’t see much choice. They felt just as entitled to their imperialism as the Europeans and Americans felt entitled to theirs; and they had already kicked the Jesuits out of Japan at the begninning of the Tokugawa Shogunate so Christianity meant nothing but trouble to them, either. I don’t think that too many of us here would argue about that.

    We deserve what we’ve got coming to us.

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  8. And of course the irony is, regarding Japan & China, that the US disallowed China involvement (under a new government) in the war settlement conference in San Francisco, allowed Japan to retain its offshore islands (Okinawa, Senkakus, Dokdos, etc) in violation of the Potsdam Declaration, and subsequently became best buddies with “remember Pearl Harbor” Japan which is with good reason a pariah in Asia. This situation has carried forward to the current pro-Japan, anti-China situation which roils the western Pacific.
    That’s a good argument against stupid wars right there, considering the good men that gave up their lives fighting against Japan “for China.”

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  9. This U.S. WWII behavior by the US was a continuation of the crooked pro-war strategies of Presidents McKinley and Wilson fully described by Walter Karp in his excellent book “The Politics of War.” They lied and connived to get the U.S. into war, and here we go again.

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  10. Another bad war novel with a “happy ending” (similar to the Japan situation) is of course the war (the US losing in this case) against Vietnam which the US considered necessary. But it’s hearts and roses now with all the recent US presidents starting with Clinton visiting Hanoi and sucking up to the government that killed 54,000 young Americans, because Vietnam is supposedly anti-China. Thank you for your service, guys!

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  11. Yep, using “defense” as an excuse to expand territory and conquer smaller, poorer, and less martially-minded countries. Now where… have I seen this… before? Cough cough *ancient Rome* cough. And speaking of ancient Rome, you know how “bread and circuses” is something of a THEME on this blog? Correct me if I’m wrong (this happened before I was born, just like everything else I’ve discussed so far), but wasn’t Operation Desert Storm the first war to be broadcast on cable TV? Didn’t the war get good ratings? As much as the cabal of arms dealers and decidedly not-classical-statesmen politicians seem to treat the American public as unwashed blithering masses at best (and downright enemies of the state at worst), they seem to know exactly how to make the public complacent at regular-enough intervals to keep the Republic intact.

    I used to not like comparing the U.S. to the Roman Empire, but given what I’m seeing lately (and also because I’ve been greatly expanding my knowledge of Roman history in relation to one of my latest projects), I too must now acknowledge this elephant in the room. I’m not willing to go so far (yet) to say that Trump is a modern analog of Julius Caesar, but with the Democratic Party having shot itself in the head, one-party rule is becoming less of a conspiracy theory, and more of a “happy ending” to this bad novel.

    Remember, “it’s not over until we win, and if we give up, it doesn’t count anyway. How else would we keep our flawless record?”

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    1. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A Reappraisal by Michael Grant is long but excellent. Grant not only addresses the military decline, and also the war between the classes.

      I sometimes think our choices here in the USA are a bit like the ancient Romans when they had First Triumvirate: Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great), and Marcus Licinius Crassus. At least Caesar and Pompey were successful Generals. Oddly enough Crassus was killed in the Middle East in battle.

      As a Bernie Bot the Corporate Establishment Democratic Party today reminds me of the Poem Ozymandias by Shelley:

      I met a traveller from an antique land,
      Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
      Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
      Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
      The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
      And on the pedestal, these words appear:
      My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
      Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

      The Democratic Party is a colossal Wreck, hoping the sternly sculpted visage of Robert Mueller will deliver a victory.

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      1. Good mention of Percy Shelley’s immortal poem, ML. Something I wrote, in a similar, frankly imitative style, nine years ago:

        “With apologies to the shade of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his immortal poem “Ozymandias,” I offer here a brief meditation on the current, continuing, and contemplated depredations of the Apartheid Zionist Entity upon those captive Palestinian Arabs who had absolutely nothing to do with the German/Christian persecution of Jews in Europe before and during World War II.”

        Cozy, Scandalous

        I met a refugee from Gaza Strip,
        Who spoke to me with empty, staring eyes
        Dumb words whose depth of pain I could not grip
        With all the helping hands the world denies
        While lapping up the lurid lies that slip
        And roll so greasy off the practiced tongue
        Of Zionists whose caged and wounded prey
        Are told to flee and leave their dying young
        To weep beside the corpses of their old
        In darkened shattered former homes where they
        Cannot refute the garbage we’ve been told
        By glib Israeli liars trained to spread
        A veil of darkness over crimes they’ve sold
        As “Peaceful Co-Existence” — with the dead.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2009

        If I had written that today, I would probably have titled it “Mowing the Lawn.”

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      2. Oh the poor, poor Democrats. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a group of people more dedicated to their own mythology. They’re terrified that they’ve badly misjudged the crisis, yet unwilling to get out ahead of things and try new approaches. And you can’t tell one of them that their presumption of leading a ‘resistance’ movement by applying bumper stickers and commenting on their friends social media doesn’t cut it. That just gets you attacked for threatening the myth.

        (Also, FYI Democrats: Joe Biden is not a new approach.)

        The hell of it is that 2020 is going to be a very frightening year, and to build the resistance movement we desperately need if we want to salvage the USA and avoid a USSR style fate takes time and energy. Both of which the Democratic leaders are hoovering up as prepare to make the same self-destructive mistakes in 2020 as they did in 2016. Aided and abetted, of course, by the US media, which doesn’t actually mind Trump given that just naming the guy draws eyeballs and clicks.

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  12. Well now people, the withdrawal by the The Trumpet (aka Agent Orange) from the Iran Deal, has signaled to our McMega-Media to play “Lets Make a Deal”. War with Iran is behind every door.

    The hosts on CNN, FOX and MSDNC engage in groveling and boot licking. One Stooge after another is paraded out to validate the end game that War is the only answer the Exceptional Empire can take.

    Among the headlines in the Guardian:
    US threatens European companies with sanctions after Iran deal pullout
    Bolton and Pompeo push hardline Trump White House position.
    Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, said last week: “We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty.”

    Once the cowardly Democrats approve Gina “Mommy Dearest” Haspel as the CIA Chief all the pieces are in place.

    The Embassy in Jerusalem opens it’s doors to customers today.
    Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of a Dallas-area Baptist church and a spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, is scheduled to deliver a blessing at the opening of the relocated embassy, which Trump moved from Tel Aviv.

    Romney, a Mormon, wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell’. He has said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States embassy in Jerusalem.”

    Jeffress responded to Romney on the same platform, writing: “Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/robert-jeffress-pastor-us-embassy-embassy-donald-trump-mitt-romney

    Israeli forces have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded at least 900 in Gaza, health officials said, as troops fired bullets at residents protesting against the Monday opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Can you imagine the up roar if Russia or Iran had killed and wounded this many people??? Israel though always receives amnesty before the fact when they kill and after the fact.

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  13. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my regulars for commenting so frequently, passionately, and intelligently at my site. When I posted this article, I thought I might get 2-3 comments, but you never know how people will respond, and where those responses will take the debate in new directions …

    A blog site like this is much better when a range of people take the time to participate and respond. So I thank you all again for reading and responding.

    As an FYI, I did think about adding advertisements to the site to raise money, but I figured quickly that 1) I wouldn’t make that much; 2) The ads would be annoying. So I’m keeping this an ad-free site.

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    1. wjastore, I was thinking along the same lines myself. Sometimes, rarely, a blog just clicks, with fact-based opposing opinions! Yeah! Truth and reality is in there somewhere. Reminds me of Henry David Thoreau–

      “Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through church and state, through poetry and philosophy and religion, til we come to hard bottom and rocks in place, which we call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake. . “– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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