How to Honor Memorial Day

Exclusive: Of all the world’s holidays commemorating wars, Memorial Day should be one of sober reflection on war’s horrible costs, surely not a moment to glorify warfare or lust for more wars. But many pols and pundits can’t resist the opportunity, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern describes.

By Ray McGovern

How best to show respect for the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families on Memorial Day? Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.

First, let’s be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan so far did not “fall.” They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream “journalists” almost none of whom gave a rat’s patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.

Graves at Arlington Cemetery

Graves at Arlington Cemetery

And, as for the “successful surges,” they were just P.R. devices to buy some “decent intervals” for the architects of these wars and their boosters to get space between themselves and the disastrous endings while pretending that those defeats were really “victories squandered” all at the “acceptable” price of about 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers each and many times that in dead Iraqis and Afghans.

Memorial Day should be a time for honesty about what enabled the killing and maiming of so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the senior military brass simply took full advantage of a poverty draft that gives upper-class sons and daughters the equivalent of exemptions, vaccinating them against the disease of war.

What drives me up the wall is the oft-heard, dismissive comment about troop casualties from well-heeled Americans: “Well, they volunteered, didn’t they?” Under the universal draft in effect during Vietnam, far fewer were immune from service, even though the well-connected could still game the system to avoid serving. Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, for example, each managed to pile up five exemptions. This means, of course, that they brought zero military experience to the job; and this, in turn, may explain a whole lot — particularly given their bosses’ own lack of military experience.

The grim truth is that many of the crème de la crème of today’s Official Washington don’t know many military grunts, at least not intimately as close family or friends. They may bump into some on the campaign trail or in an airport and mumble something like, “thank you for your service.” But these sons and daughters of working-class communities from America’s cities and heartland are mostly abstractions to the powerful, exclamation points at the end of  some ideological debate demonstrating which speaker is “tougher,” who’s more ready to use military force, who will come out on top during a talk show appearance or at a think-tank conference or on the floor of Congress.

Sharing the Burden?

We should be honest about this reality, especially on Memorial Day. Pretending that the burden of war has been equitably shared, and worse still that those killed died for a “noble cause,” as President George W. Bush likes to claim, does no honor to the thousands of U.S. troops killed and the tens of thousands maimed. It dishonors them. Worse, it all too often succeeds in infantilizing bereaved family members who cannot bring themselves to believe their government lied.

Who can blame parents for preferring to live the fiction that their sons and daughters were heroes who wittingly and willingly made the “ultimate sacrifice,” dying for a “noble cause,” especially when this fiction is frequently foisted on them by well-meaning but naive clergy at funerals. For many it is impossible to live with the reality that a son or daughter died in vain. Far easier to buy into the official story and to leave clergy unchallenged as they gild the lilies around coffins and gravesites.

Not so for some courageous parents Cindy Sheehan, for example, whose son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 4, 2004, in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. Cindy demonstrated uncommon grit when she led hundreds of friends to Crawford to lay siege to the Texas White House during the summer of 2005 trying to get President Bush to explain what “noble cause” Casey died for. She never got an answer. There is none.

But there are very few, like Cindy Sheehan, able to overcome a natural human resistance to the thought that their sons and daughters died for a lie and then to challenge that lie. These few stalwarts make themselves face this harsh reality, the knowledge that the children whom they raised and sacrificed so much for were, in turn, sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, that their precious children were bit players in some ideological fantasy or pawns in a game of career maneuvering.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is said to have described the military disdainfully as “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Whether or not those were his exact words, his policies and behavior certainly betrayed that attitude. It certainly seems to have prevailed among top American-flag-on-lapel-wearing officials of the Bush and Obama administrations, including armchair and field-chair generals whose sense of decency is blinded by the prospect of a shiny new star on their shoulders, if they just follow orders and send young soldiers into battle.

This bitter truth should raise its ugly head on Memorial Day but rarely does. It can be gleaned only with great difficulty from the mainstream media, since the media honchos continue to play an indispensable role in the smoke-and-mirrors dishonesty that hides their own guilt in helping Establishment Washington push “the fallen” from life to death.

We must judge the actions of our political and military leaders not by the pious words they will utter Monday in mourning those who “fell” far from the generals’ cushy safe seats in the Pentagon or somewhat closer to the comfy beds in air-conditioned field headquarters where a lucky general might be comforted in the arms of an admiring and enterprising biographer.

Many of the high-and-mighty delivering the approved speeches on Monday will glibly refer to and mourn “the fallen.” None are likely to mention the culpable policymakers and complicit generals who added to the fresh graves at Arlington National Cemetery and around the country.

Words, after all, are cheap; words about “the fallen” are dirt cheap especially from the lips of politicians and pundits with no personal experience of war. The families of those sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan should not have to bear that indignity.

‘Successful Surges’

The so-called “surges” of troops into Iraq and Afghanistan were particularly gross examples of the way our soldiers have been played as pawns. Since the usual suspects are again coming out the woodwork of neocon think tanks to press for yet another “surge” in Iraq, some historical perspective should help.

Take, for example, the well-known and speciously glorified first “surge;” the one Bush resorted to in sending over 30,000 additional troops into Iraq in early 2007; and the not-to-be-outdone Obama “surge” of 30,000 into Afghanistan in early 2010. These marches of folly were the direct result of decisions by George W. Bush and Barack Obama to prioritize political expediency over the lives of U.S. troops.

Taking cynical advantage of the poverty draft, they let foot soldiers pay the “ultimate” price. That price was 1,000 U.S. troops killed in each of the two “surges.”

And the results? The returns are in. The bloody chaos these days in Iraq and the faltering war in Afghanistan were entirely predictable. They were indeed predicted by those of us able to spread some truth around via the Internet, while being mostly blacklisted by the fawning corporate media.

Yet, because the “successful surge” myth was so beloved in Official Washington, saving some face for the politicians and pundits who embraced and spread the lies that justified and sustained especially the Iraq War, the myth has become something of a touchstone for everyone aspiring to higher office or seeking a higher-paying gig in the mainstream media.

Campaigning Wednesday in New Hampshire, presidential aspirant Jeb Bush gave a short history lesson about his big brother’s attack on Iraq. Referring to the so-called Islamic State, Bush said, “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out … the surge created a fragile but stable Iraq. …”

We’ve dealt with the details of the Iraq “surge” myth before both before and after it was carried out. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “Reviving the Successful Surge Myth”;  “Gen. Keane on Iran Attack”; “Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld?”; and “Troop Surge Seen as Another Mistake.”]

But suffice it to say that Jeb Bush is distorting the history and should be ashamed. The truth is that al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before his brother launched an unprovoked invasion in 2003. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” arose as a direct result of Bush’s war and occupation. Amid the bloody chaos, AQI’s leader, a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pioneered a particularly brutal form of terrorism, relishing videotaped decapitation of prisoners.

Zarqawi was eventually hunted down and killed not during the celebrated “surge” but in June 2006, months before Bush’s “surge” began. The so-called Sunni Awakening, essentially the buying off of many Sunni tribal leaders, also predated the “surge.” And the relative reduction in the Iraq War’s slaughter after the 2007 “surge” was mostly the result of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad from a predominantly Sunni to a Shia city, tearing the fabric of Baghdad in two, and creating physical space that made it more difficult for the two bitter enemies to attack each other. In addition, Iran used its influence with the Shia to rein in their extremely violent militias.

Though weakened by Zarqawi’s death and the Sunni Awakening, AQI did not disappear, as Jeb Bush would like you to believe. It remained active and when Saudi Arabia and the Sunni gulf states took aim at the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria AQI joined with other al-Qaeda affiliates, such as the Nusra Front, to spread their horrors across Syria. AQI rebranded itself “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or simply “the Islamic State.”

The Islamic State split off from al-Qaeda over strategy but the various jihadist armies, including al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, have now seized wide swaths of territory in Syria — and the Islamic State has returned with a vengeance to Iraq, grabbing major cities such as Mosul and Ramadi.

Jeb Bush doesn’t like to unspool all this history. He and other Iraq War backers prefer to pretend that the “surge” in Iraq had won the war and Obama threw the “victory” away by following through on George W. Bush’s withdrawal agreement with Maliki.

But the current crisis in Syria and Iraq is among the fateful consequences of the U.S./UK attack 12 years ago and particularly of the “surge” of 2007, which contributed greatly to Sunni-Shia violence, the opposite of what George W. Bush professed was the objective of the “surge,” to enable Iraq’s religious sects to reconcile.

Reconciliation, however, always took a back seat to the real purpose of the “surge” buying time so Bush and Cheney could slip out of Washington in 2009 without having an obvious military defeat hanging around their necks and putting a huge stain on their legacies.

The political manipulation of the Iraq “surge” allowed Bush, Cheney and their allies to reframe the historical debate and shift the blame for the defeat onto Obama, recognizing that 1,000 more dead U.S. soldiers was a small price to pay for protecting the “Bush brand.” Now, Bush’s younger brother can cheerily march off to the campaign trail for 2016 pointing to the carcass of the Iraqi albatross hung around Obama’s shoulders.

Rout at Ramadi

Last weekend, less than a year after U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi forces ran away from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving the area and lots of U.S. arms and equipment to ISIS, something similar happened at Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar. Despite heavy U.S. air strikes on ISIS, American-backed Iraqi security forces fled Ramadi, which is only 70 miles west of Baghdad, after a lightning assault by ISIS forces.

The ability of ISIS to strike just about everywhere in the area is reminiscent of the Tet offensive of January-February 1968 in Vietnam, which persuaded President Lyndon Johnson that that particular war was unwinnable. If there are materials left over in Saigon for reinforcing helicopter landing pads on the tops of buildings, it is not too early to bring them to Baghdad’s Green Zone, on the chance that U.S. embassy buildings may have a call for such materials in the not-too-distant future.

The headlong Iraqi government retreat from Ramadi had scarcely ended on Sunday when Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, described the fall of the city as “terribly significant” which is correct adding that more U.S. troops may be needed which is insane. His appeal for more troops neatly fits one proverbial definition of insanity (attributed or misattributed to Albert Einstein): “doing the same thing over and over again [like every eight years?] but expecting different results.”

By Wednesday, as Jeb Bush was singing the praises of his brother’s “surge” in Iraq, McCain and his Senate colleague Lindsey Graham were publicly calling for a new “surge” of U.S. troops into Iraq. The senators urged President Obama to do what George W. Bush did in 2007 replace the U.S. military leadership and dispatch additional troops to Iraq.

But Washington Post pundit David Ignatius, even though a fan of the earlier two surges, is not yet on board for this one. In a column published also on Wednesday, Ignatius warned that Washington should not abandon its current strategy:

“This is still Iraq’s war, not America’s. But President Barack Obama must reassure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the U.S. has his back, and at the same time give him a reality check: If al-Abadi and his Shiite allies don’t do more to empower Sunnis, his country will splinter. Ramadi is a precursor, of either a turnaround by al-Abadi’s forces, or an Iraqi defeat.”

Ignatius’s urgent tone is warranted. But what he suggests is precisely what the U.S. made a lame attempt to do with then-Prime Minister Maliki in early 2007. Yet, President Bush squandered U.S. leverage by sending 30,000 troops to show he “had Maliki’s back,” freeing Maliki to accelerate his attempts to marginalize, rather than accommodate, Sunni interests.

Perhaps Ignatius now remembers how the “surge” he championed in 2007 greatly exacerbated tensions between Shia and Sunni contributing to the chaos now prevailing in Iraq and spreading across Syria and elsewhere. But Ignatius is well connected and a bellwether; if he ends up advocating another “surge,” take shelter.

Keane and Kagan Ask For a Mulligan

The architects of Bush’s 2007 “surge” of 30,000 troops into Iraq, former Army General Jack Keane and American Enterprise Institute neocon strategist Frederick Kagan, in testimony Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned strongly that, without a “surge” of some 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, ISIS will win in Iraq.

“We are losing this war,” warned Keane, who previously served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “ISIS is on the offense, with the ability to attack at will, anyplace, anytime. … Air power will not defeat ISIS.” Keane stressed that the U.S. and its allies have “no ground force, which is the defeat mechanism.”

Not given to understatement, Kagan called ISIS “one of the most evil organizations that has ever existed. … This is not a group that maybe we can negotiate with down the road someday. This is a group that is committed to the destruction of everything decent in the world.” He called for “15-20,000 U.S. troops on the ground to provide the necessary enablers, advisers and so forth,” and added: “Anything less than that is simply unserious.”

(By the way, Frederick Kagan is the brother of neocon-star Robert Kagan, whose Project for the New American Century began pushing for the invasion of Iraq in 1998 and finally got its way in 2003. Robert Kagan is the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the 2014 coup that brought “regime change” and bloody chaos to Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis also prompted Robert Kagan to urge a major increase in U.S. military spending. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”] )

What is perhaps most striking, however, is the casualness with which the likes of Frederick Kagan, Jack Keane, and other Iraq War enthusiasts advocate dispatching tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers to fight and die in what would almost certainly be another futile undertaking. You might even wonder why people like Kagan are invited to testify before Congress given their abysmal records.

But that would miss the true charm of the Iraq “surge” in 2007 and its significance in salvaging the reputations of folks like Kagan, not to mention George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. From their perspective, the “surge” was a great success. Bush and Cheney could swagger from the West Wing into the western sunset on Jan. 20, 2009.

As author Steve Coll has put it, “The decision [to surge] at a minimum guaranteed that his [Bush’s] presidency would not end with a defeat in history’s eyes. By committing to the surge [the President] was certain to at least achieve a stalemate.”

According to Bob Woodward, Bush told key Republicans in late 2005 that he would not withdraw from Iraq, “even if Laura and [first-dog] Barney are the only ones supporting me.” Woodward made it clear that Bush was well aware in fall 2006 that the U.S. was losing. Suddenly, with some fancy footwork, it became Laura, Barney and new Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus along with 30,000 more U.S. soldiers making sure that the short-term fix was in.

The fact that about 1,000 U.S. soldiers returned in caskets was the principal price paid for that short-term “surge” fix. Their “ultimate sacrifice” will be mourned by their friends, families and countrymen on Memorial Day even as many of the same politicians and pundits will be casually pontificating about dispatching more young men and women as cannon fodder into the same misguided war.

It has been difficult drafting this downer, this historical counter-narrative, on the eve of Memorial Day. It seems to me necessary, though, to expose the dramatis personae who played such key roles in getting more and more people killed. Sad to say, none of the high officials mentioned here, as well as those on the relevant Congressional committees, are affected in any immediate way by the carnage in Ramadi, Tikrit or outside the gate to the Green Zone in Baghdad.

And perhaps that’s one of the key points here. It is not most of us, but rather our soldiers and the soldiers and civilians of Iraq, Afghanistan and God knows where else who are Lazarus at the gate. And, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served 30 years as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and CIA analyst and is now a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). 

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26 comments for “How to Honor Memorial Day

  1. Tom Madden
    May 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Ray – Keep telling it like it is. “We” the people need to hear it. I look forward to possibly meeting you in August in San Diego. A Veteran for Peace.

  2. Greg Maybury
    May 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    In Australia we have our own ANZAC Day, the Memorial Day equivalent. This takes place every April 25, the date meant to recall and commemorate that of the monumentally disastrous 1915 Gallipoli campaign of the Great War to End all Wars.

    I recently posted a piece on Op Ed News titled From Great Games, Comes Great Wars (see link below) which in part examined some of the untold history behind this hallowed event, and explores themes not dissimilar to those above. Mr McGovern’s piece of course touches on the pointless futility and head-shaking insanity of imperially inspired wars, almost all of which between WW1and now can be thus described. One does not need to be a card-carrying peacenik to subscribe to this view, just informed about history, and I’m not talking about the mythical history we learnt in school or the mythical history our politicians and the corporate media would all have us believe without question, without doubt, without compunction.

    Ray McGovern has righteously called time on the incessant myth making associated with these execrable, avoidable conflicts and called out those who see fit to start them without any thought to the consequences.

    To underscore the mythical – indeed, mystical – aspect of our reverence for all things “war”, the recent dismissal of SBS journalist Scott McIntyre in Australia for private comments he made on social media which went against the grain of accepted ‘reality’ that is the essence of that seemingly indestructible, unassailable ANZAC myth, is a testament to the collective power it commands in our own national identity and the manner in which it fuels our individual personal pride in what it means to be mindful of, and connected to, that same identity.

    Far from being just a parochial Australian based news-story, such was the fallout from the McIntyre sacking that even Glen Greenwald from the Intercept in the U.S. weighed into the controversy. After defining “mandated worship not just of its military but of its wars” as the “real religion” of the supposedly “secular West”, Greenwald added:

    “The central dogma of this religion is tribal superiority: Our Side is more civilized, more peaceful, [and therefore] superior to Their Side…McIntyre was fired because he committed blasphemy against that religion.”

    Both Mr McGovern and Mr Greenwald were on the money.

    http://www.opednews.com/populum/pagem.php?f=From-Great-Games-Come-Gre-by-Greg-Maybury-Blowback_Britain_British-Empire_Cabal-150518-104.html

    • Jay
      May 24, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Greg Maybury:

      Just to be clear the USA also has November 11th, called Veterans Day, here.

      Frankly “Memorial” day is a bit of nod and wink to veterans of the American Civil war of the early 1860s; that’s veterans from what is called the Confederacy–the break away southern slave holding states.

      • Greg Maybury
        May 25, 2015 at 3:00 am

        G’Day Jay,

        Thanks for this. I was aware of the distinction even if I didn’t make this obvious. We also commemorate November 11, but as Remembrance Day. But it is ANZAC Day that for us here in Australia (and in New Zealand) that captures public consciousness.

        In the final analysis, regardless of which day we put aside to commemorate our respective country’s involvement in wars and remember the fallen – and whatever we actually call it, whether here in Oz or Stateside – there appears always a very fine line between ‘celebrating’ our military past and commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And very little of this commemoration/celebration is based on a a true understanding of the history of the conflicts themselves, and of whether this “sacrifice” was indeed worth it. The prevailing myths almost never get seriously questioned, as Scott McIntyre found out.

    • Coleen Rowley
      May 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Yes, that’s right. I’ve given talks on how psychopathy and propaganda work hand in glove. The “universal soldier” is universally part of the yin-yang balance between psychopathy among leadership and Asch-Milgram social psychology experiments that proved how easy it is manipulate 2/3’s of all people into denying facts and submitting to authority, even when it’s to harm or kill others. This is the root of the “banality of evil.” 99% of all humans (except for psychopaths) are, like most animals, hard-wired to band into groups for self-protection (and often, especially under psychopathic “leadership,” this leads groups, to fight for dominance).

      National, religious, ethnic and other, even very slight distinctions, can be used to distinguish and provide elite status to provide the impetus for members of any group to fight to the death. “Racism” and “chosen people” religious dogma are just a couple of the types of distinctions that lead to the general dehumanization of other groups that makes up the “banality of evil.”

      It takes both the universal soldiers’ susceptibility–who, by the way, are all otherwise good people, like those tested by Asch-Milgram-Zimbardo, et al— as well as the psychopathy at the top—a natural (but evil) yin-yang balance to produce fights to the death among groups.

    • elmerfudzie
      May 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      In response to Greg Maybury: Several years ago, I visited the Keokuk National Cemetery in Iowa, it’s a well manicured, hilly and peaceful interment for those soldiers who died during the Civil War. I’m almost sure that if they could speak now, it would be about reconciliation, putting an end to brother against brother, cousin against cousin…Once upon a time, back in the early 1960’s, when Hollywood wasn’t filled with the usual warmongering propaganda flicks, I watched an illuminating (fictional) expose of that War; Twilight Zone, The Passersby, Season 3, Episode 4. as a matter of fact, I can only extend the highest praise to CBS Broadcasting Inc., for this series. It continues to address so many current predicaments our nation finds itself in. Just a few suggestions.. O.B.I.T. ( NSA), He’s Alive (resurgence of a Neo-azi fascism) and so on…

  3. Bill Bodden
    May 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    There is a very important reason why parents should acknowledge the fact that their children died for a lie – so that their grand-children don’t also die for some other lie.

    • Dato
      May 24, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      This has happened before. And it will happen again.

      Especially with the memory capacity of modern folks sabotaged by permanent overload and selective reporting.

      The next “financial” crisis will again shift the attention elsewhere and Obama will get away from the debris field with scant dust on his teflon carapace, like FDR got away from his “New Deal” 10-year omnishambles by the saving grace of the bell of WWII.

      • dahoit
        May 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm

        The New Deal was at least an attempt to employ the people,unlike today’s foreign slave and guest workers.You must be one of those crazy ideologues,whose hate is caused by rigid thinking.
        Today,our NYTs says ;US and Turkey to supply air support for IsUS.(a tiny blurb).
        Yankee Come Home!

    • Julieanna
      May 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      The Untold History of the United States – book and film by Oliver Stone.

      Thank you for this article, which I’ll circulate tomorrow on Facebook (where I found it), et al.; and thanks for these comments. Yes, parents of fallen soldiers should learn and expose the truth – so their grandchildren and other young ones they know do not “serve” for a lie.

  4. bobzz
    May 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Bear with me while I get to a question. Christians do not abort for theological reasons. That said, God never gave us warrant to impose our stance on others via the legislature or judiciary. The Christian right believes, erroneously, that the secular population is persecuting them. Not so. They are experiencing blowback, not persecution, from a populace that does not like to be told what to do. Enough of this, get to the question: wealthy women who want to abort could pay for it even if future legislation were to outlaw all abortions, but poor women cannot. Is the neo-con Republican objection to abortion theological—or cynical? Is the real motive behind the anti-abortion stance to ensure that poor women give birth to poor young men and women whose only option is to join the military and become fodder for the perpetual war machine? I wonder. The question is raised in light of Ray’s piece.

  5. Anton van der Baan
    May 24, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Indeed these dead are not “fallen”; they were DROPPED!

  6. elmerfudzie
    May 25, 2015 at 12:08 am

    I’d like Congress to consider closing a few dozen foreign or domestic for that matter, military bases and divert those monies into a special fund. This fund will be used to ensure that recoverable remains at Arlington are re-established directly under the head stone they represent. Over time, the cemetery soil gradually shifts and with it the remains drift off as well. This is a herculean task for sure but a necessary one, for the sake of the war dead and their families.

  7. Otto Schiff
    May 25, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Ray,
    A very good and appropriate analysis.

  8. Coleen Rowley
    May 25, 2015 at 2:27 am

    I’m afraid it’s pretty hopeless if Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” The architects of perpetual war knew how to get rid of “Vietnam Syndrome” (i.e. Americans outraged by war because they were affected) through 1) doing away with the Draft; 2) not paying for any of the war and military costs but just adding the trillions of $$$ to the ever escalating national debt card; 3) switching from boots on the ground to use of proxy forces and use of drone and other aerial bombing; and 4) massive and continual war propaganda via embedded journalists and editors.

    I just watched the “1971” documentary–which I would highly recommend– about the Media, PA break-in to get FBI files which led to disclosure of Cointelpro and the difference in people’s attitudes between then and now is so obvious.

    I’m not sure it’s humanly possible for any people to care as much when they are not themselves adversely affected. Or at least they don’t see themselves as being hurt or see any costs to themselves, but instead are made to see only benefits. As for the foreign civilians who are being hurt, it’s easy to rationalize that even though millions are being killed, it’s not our fault, we are only trying to bring democracy, human rights, peace, love and joy to them.

    • May 25, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      @ “doing away with the Draft”

      This is far more than a nit to pick. The Draft still lives. The law is still on the books. Boys (but not girls) still have to register for the Draft at age 18. They are still required by federal law to carry their Draft cards with them wherever they may go. The Draft is only one Executive Order away from being reimplemented.

      As a Viet Nam War combat vet, I still see failure to cause permanent changes in the Constitution and federal law banning participation in foreign wars as the biggest failure of the Viet Nam War peace movement in the U.S.

      • Dogtowner
        May 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm

        Yes, Paul, you wouldn’t believe how many notices I received for my CZECH exchange student to register for the U.S. draft.

        I don’t see how the peace movement could ever have managed to ban foreign wars. There were those in the peace movement only interested in saving their own behinds (Todd Gitlin, etc), there were many in the peace movement who had no analysis of what we were doing in Vietnam (“it was a mistake!”), and the few people I know who work unceasingly for peace and justice have no power. Have you seen the film “Sir, No, Sir”? It’s worth renting on DVD for all the extras in addition to the documentary itself, and it explains why it is unlikely we will ever have a draft again.

  9. May 25, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Thank you Mr McGovern for telling it like it is again. Memorial Day presents an ideal opportunity to bring home the realities of war to people who always end up paying for it; not only with their lives and the lives of family members, but also through their taxes. It is the 99% who pay for, and bear the brunt of, all wars. Whichever way they go, they always lose.

    What is becoming extremely disturbing is the number of non-elected ‘politicians’ now leading us into war, either on their own behalf or by proxy. Having not been elected they cannot be ‘unelected’. One particular name that always springs to mind, in this regard, is Victoria Nuland’s.

    It seems incredible that three of these unelected ‘politicians’: Catherine Ashton, Christine Lagarde and Nuland, should have been the main architects of the coup in Ukraine and its aftermath, but enough evidence points to that being exactly the case.

    Not shackled to the whims of the electorate, they feel free to shout the loudest when it comes to the fight to bring ‘democracy’ to other nations. After all, they taken no risk, as they don’t even put their names forward for the ballot box, let alone the frontline. They appear to think they are far too good to have to go to all the bother of subjecting themselves to any democratic process to achieve high office. Cynical in the extreme, it is doubtful they see any merit in democracy at all. Come rain, come shine; come Democrat, come Republican, they will always be there. Elected politicians from both sides know it only too well.

    I discuss this problem in relation to the events in Ukraine at length – probably too much length – here:

    https://bryanhemming.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/double-double-toil-and-trouble-the-cauldron-of-kiev/

  10. Peter Loeb
    May 25, 2015 at 6:05 am

    “FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA…”

    Consortiumnews is fortunate to have courageous contributors and
    such well-informed commenters as above.

    Meanwhile, I just want to listen to my baseball game which is
    overtaken by hyperbollic homilies to all who are “defending
    me” with their heroism. Breaks of silence are taken during
    the games for these “heroes”.

    But for many recruits it is a way to demonstrate their power,
    escape the horror of domestic life in the US (lack of
    opportunity and decent treatment except for the privileged),
    perhaps to escape the law themselves and become a hero
    instead. And, of course, for the cash.

    I have met many who violently disagree with these views.
    If they have lost sons,daughter, lovers, fathers they
    ferociously cling to a belief in something that will give
    them some kind of dignity.

    What pride for a parent to know that his child is flying
    in some high-tech aircraft intended to murder others!

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  11. Peter Loeb
    May 25, 2015 at 6:18 am

    TO RAY MCGOVERN:

    Small correction: Much of what we experience regarding the
    miliatrand its civilian superiors did NOT begin with George W.
    Bush. One absolutely must include actions under Harry Truman
    (eg NSA, NSC 68 , the Truman Doctrine, the “loyalty oath” etc),Bill
    Clinton. One can go back farther to Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow
    Wilson and others.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  12. a registered nurse
    May 25, 2015 at 9:05 am

    On U.S. soil:

    Google FightGangStalking dot com

    Is this what Americans are fighting and dying for?

    Who will stop it?

  13. Bill Bodden
    May 25, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    How many of the “fallen” buried in this nation’s “hallowed grounds” fell in illegal and immoral wars?

    • May 25, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      @ “doing away with the Draft”

      This is far more than a nit to pick. The Draft still lives. The law is still on the books. Boys (but not girls) still have to register for the Draft at age 18. They are still required by federal law to carry their Draft cards with them wherever they may go. The Draft is only one Executive Order away from being reimplemented.

      As a Viet Nam War combat vet, I still see failure to cause permanent changes in the Constitution and federal law banning participation in foreign wars as the biggest failure of the Viet Nam War peace movement in the U.S.

  14. Bruce
    May 26, 2015 at 9:56 am

    How many lies into wars from the halfascist, extended burning Bush crime-family will fool US 3 times (George I, George II and “Chicken George” ‘Ahduzsee Dawn’ the III *) and (The JEB Is UP) MORE?
    *http://dailycaller.com/2015/05/22/white-house-go-ask-the-fbi-about-hillarys-classified-emails-video/
    But, at some point in our volunteer military; the dupes themselves must shoulder their 卐hare of blame: Why do they enlist and engage in conduct of these serial and utterly ILLEGAL wars of AGGREϟϟION, much less daily illegal orders pursuant thereto?!

  15. hammersmith
    May 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    “We owe all our freedoms to American fighting men,” but the more they fight, the less freedom we seem to have.

  16. Dogtowner
    May 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I was surfing TV this morning and came upon the Memorial Day concert that took place in Washington, DC. They were actually showing video of war crimes in Vietnam which I found horrific, all Vietnamese people seemingly removed, just bombs and gunfire and obscenity. What a fascist nation we are, celebrating our crimes.

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