Americans like to view their country as a force for peace in the world when the historical reality is almost the opposite, a reality ignored by the PBS Vietnam War documentary, writes Lawrence Davidson.
By Lawrence Davidson
If you go to the Wikipedia page that gives a timeline of U.S. foreign military operations between 1775 and 2010, you are likely to come away in shock. It seems that ever since the founding of the country, the United States has been at war. It is as if Americans just could not (and still cannot) sit still, but had to (and still have to) force themselves on others through military action.
Often this is aimed at controlling foreign resources, thus forcing upon others the consequences of their own capitalist avarice. At other times the violence is spurred on by an ideology that confuses U.S. interests with civilization and freedom. Only very rarely is Washington out there on the side of the angels. Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that peace has never been a deeply ingrained cultural value for the citizens of the United States. As pertains to foreign policy, America’s national culture is a war culture.
It is against this historical backdrop that the recent Ken Burns 18-hour-long documentary on the Vietnam War comes off as superficial. There is a subtle suggestion that while those American leaders who initiated and escalated the war were certainly deceptive, murderously stubborn and even self-deluded, they were so in what they considered to be a good cause. They wanted to stop the spread of Communism at a time when the Cold War defined almost all of foreign policy, and if that meant denying the Vietnamese the right of national unification, so be it. The Burns documentary is a visual demonstration of the fact that such a strategy could not work. Nonetheless, American leaders, both civilian and military, could not let go.
What the Burns documentary does not tell us – and it is this that makes the work superficial – is that none of this was new. Almost all preceding American violence abroad had been rationalized by the same or related set of excuses that kept the Vietnam slaughter going: the Revolutionary War was about “liberty,” the genocidal wars against the Native Americans were about spreading “civilization,” the wars against Mexico and Spain were about spreading “freedom,” and once capitalism became officially synonymous with freedom, the dozens of bloody incursions into Central and South America also became about our “right” to carry on “free enterprise.” As time went by, when Washington wasn’t spreading “freedom,” it was defending it. And so it goes, round and round.
A Ghastly Process
Understanding the history of this ghastly process, one is likely to lose all faith in such rationales. However, it seems obvious that a large number of Americans, including most of their leaders, know very little of the history of American wars (as against knowing a lot of idealized pseudo-history). That is why Ken Burns and his associates can show us the awfulness of the Vietnam War to little avail. The average viewer will have no accurate historical context to understand it, and thus it becomes just an isolated tragedy. While it all might have gone fatally wrong, the American leaders were assumed to be well intentioned.
Describing the Vietnam War in terms of intentions is simply insufficient. In the case of war the hard-and-fast consequences of one’s actions are more important than one’s intentions. The United States killed roughly 2 million Vietnamese civilians for ideological reasons that its own leaders, and most of its citizens, never questioned.
Most of its citizens, but not all. There was, of course, a widespread and multifaceted anti-war movement. The anti-war protesters were, in truth, the real heroes, the real patriots of the moment. Along with the accumulating body bags, it was the anti-war movement that brought an end to the slaughter. However, once more Burns’s documentary comes off as superficial.
Burns leaves the viewer with the impression that the only truly legitimate anti-war protesters were veterans and those associated with veterans. But those were only a small part of a much larger whole. Yet the millions of other Americans who protested the war are essentially slandered by Burns. The documentary presents them as mostly Communist fellow-travelers. We also see various representatives of that non-veteran part of the movement apologize for their positions. There is the implication that the movement had bad tactics.
Here is an example: one of the points that the Burns documentary makes is how distasteful was the labeling of returning soldiers as “baby killers.” Actually this did not happen very often, but when it did, one might judge the charge as impolitic – but not inaccurate. You can’t kill 2 million civilians without killing a lot of babies. If we understand war in terms of the death of babies, then there might be fewer wars.
U.S. leaders also sent 58,000 of their own citizens to die in Vietnam. Why did these citizens go? After all, this was not like World War II. North Vietnam had not attacked the United States (the Bay of Tonkin incident was misrepresented to Congress). The Vietcong were not Nazis. But you need an accurate take on history to recognize these facts, and that was, as usual, missing. And so, believing their politicians, the generals, and most of their civic leaders, many draftees and volunteers went to die or be maimed under false pretenses.
The inevitable post-war disillusionment was seen by subsequent U.S. leaders as a form of mental illness, and they labeled it “the Vietnam Syndrome.” The “syndrome” was as short-lived as popular memory. In March 2003, President George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses and U.S. forces proceeded to kill half a million civilians.
In the end, American behavior in Vietnam was not just tragically flawed – it was criminal. But it was also historically consistent – an expression of a long-standing and deep-seated war culture, a culture that still defines the American worldview and has become the very linchpin of its domestic economy. That is why the wars, large and small, never stop.
A Gun Culture, Too
America’s propensity to violence in other lands is but one side of a two-sided coin. Callous disregard for civilian lives abroad is matched by a willful promotion of violence at home. That willful promotion is the product of a right-wing ideological orientation (stemming from a misreading of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) that demands a nearly open-ended right of all Americans to own an almost unlimited number and types of firearms. The result is gun regulation laws that are embarrassingly ineffective.
Again, the consequences of this position are much more profound than any claim that its supporters’ intentions are to defend citizens rights to own guns. Since 1968 about as many Americans have been killed in-country by gun violence (1.53 million) as have died in all of America’s wars put together (1.20 million). The numbers are too close to be dismissed as coincidence. Both reflect a culture of exceptionalism that grants at once the United States government, and its citizens, extensive rights to act in disregard of the safety and security of others.
You would think Americans would recognize an obvious contradiction here. You cannot maintain a safe population and, at the same time, allow citizens the right to own and, largely at their own discretion, use firearms. Nonetheless, some Americans imagine that they have squared this circle by claiming that their guns are for “self-defense” and therefore do make for a safer society.
This is just like the U.S. government’s constant exposition that all its violence is committed in the name of civilization and freedom. In both cases we have a dangerous delusion. Ubiquitous gun ownership makes us unsafe, just as does the endless waging of war.
The inability to see straight is not the sort of failing that can be restricted to one dimension. If you can’t grasp reality due to ideological blinkers or historical ignorance, you are going to end up in trouble both at home and abroad – not just one place, but both.
And, the more weaponized you are, both as a state and as a citizen, the greater the potential for disaster. In the end the United States cannot stop killing civilians abroad unless it finds the wisdom to stop killing its own citizens at home – and vice versa. That is the U.S. conundrum, whether America’s 320 million citizens realize it or not.
Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com.
Lawrence Davidson’s review of the Ken Burns’ corporate-funded and Pentagon-endorsed Vietnam documentary is one fine addition to the growing list of critical assessments of this piece of work coming from academic institutions. Davidson makes several important points a few of which I can only highlight including the integration of militarism into civilian culture that numbs the civilian population to the US military’s pervasive violence; the evasion of any moral and culpability by civilian and military in the commission of crimes during war; the double standard in the weighing of human life; and, the total ignorance of the US leaders of the concept of self-determination as core to the Vietnamese resistance in the broader context of US opposition de-colonization throughout the Third World at that time. Burns either minimized or ignored the significance of these issues which, of course, pleases those that would otherwise be found guilty in a war crimes tribunal but which, in the process, as Davidson concludes, turns the entire work “superficial”.
“You cannot maintain a safe population and, at the same time, allow citizens the right to own and, largely at their own discretion, use firearms.”—Dead wrong. If there was not right (acknowledged by 2nd
amendment), we would be like China without the ability to tell the govt “NO”
No mention of the Korean War? Many similarities to Vietnam including napalm and millions killed. And being immediately prior to our initial involvement in Vietnam.
I hesitate to comment on Vietnam because it is a painful subject matter for me but I feel compelled to bring up two things that I think are important to the discussion: In my opinion the “go to historian” on Vietnam is Alfred W. McCoy because he was there early and reporting accurately on what he witnessed and, like all of the reporters who reported the truth, he payed the price. Also, Mr. McCoy, in time, reported extensively on The Phoenix Program and how drugs became a feature of the War itself. Without dealing honestly with these things, and their long term impact on both societies, we cannot hope to come to terms with Our War With Vietnam.
McCoy is an interesting character, the very embodiment, in my view, of everything that is flawed about the US, it has always been the “liberals” in the US who have been the most bulligerant warmongers and Wall Street sycophants. It was Johnson who prosecuted Vietnam, Clinton who killed Glass Steagall. The real enemies of the people have always been those called “liberal” in the US – which of course is not in the least liberal by any definition.
McCoy exemplifies this, all his great work critical of US policies, all his exposing of the brutal corruption all his first had experience of 72 years of American slaughter – yet today he calls the US a “beneficent empire” laments deeply the decline of the US empire, and completely dismisses the astonishing achievements of China and around the globe with a single ignorant dismissive and condescending phrase “there authoritarian” poof 1.4 billion people disregarded their achievements dismissed.
McCoy is an Imperialist who supports the “beneficent empire” believes it is exceptional and indispensable to the world and justifies and extols the great wonderful Empire while simpally not mentioning the 72 years of continuous slaughter this empire has undertaken. Killing tens of millions of people in its clear determination for “Global full spectrum domination.”
I oppose McCoy with all my strength – it is people like him who have supported this vast slaughter on the grounds of “beneficence”
In a recent interview he was practically in tears that the US “rings of steel” around the Eurasian land mass were weakening how sad for him, the US may not take over the world.
The United States of America is the most destructive and harmful force on the earth it must be dismantled down to the ground all of its institutions are deeply corrupted and must be rebuilt from the ground up. No ashes no Phoenix.
I am quite stunned at the number of people who have taken the side of the Empire and not the insurgency against it. In journalism there are a number of big names with some good analysis to their credit who are none the less fully in the Imperial camp. McCoy is a champ though ignore the slaughter and claim “beneficence”
To me it is a violation of civility to call the US “beneficent” – 72 years of continuous slaughter starting with two nuclear weapons tens of millions killed. This Empire must end.
Ma Darby, I must disagree. I’ve read McCoy deeply for years and I might agree that he has a kind of “class bias” but I don’t see a great emphasis by him regarding Empire. Would you please provide a link to the interview regarding the “rings of steel”? I generally don’t trust any of the most prolific writers on the American Government but I find Alfred McCoy the exception so you’ll have to convince me.
Bob – Here is the link to the Jeremy Scahill interview with the “rings of steel” quote in the last few minutes.
From the introduction you here Scahill fawn over and state clearly his complete agreement with McCoy.
Look, McCoy and Scahill both are widely read and respected in the “progressive” community yet here they are siding with the Empire, praising the Empire in fact as “beneficent.”
This is not anywhere close to my view of the Empire and those who support the Empire as these two men clearly do are acting directly against my interests and against the interests of peace.
Another stunning derision from McCoy is how he dismisses China which has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty in the last 30 years – an absolutely stunning achievement – the greatest in history – with two words “there authoritarian”
His ending comments embody everything that disgusts me about the US and its Empire and reeks of religious US “exceptionalism” an Empire which has been slaughtering people every day for 72 years – tens of millions of people killed – starting with two nuclear bombs – and McCoy, Scahill clearly are on the side of the Empire. They clearly are heartbroken at the prospect of US loss of Empire.
Anyway, listen and I’d like to discuss this further if you like.
Events have exposed a lot of things which are surprising there is a significant percent of journalists and writers closely associated with “progressive” positions who – now that the chips are down – have clearly sided with the Empire – some of whom I have read for years. You are beginning to see who are the insurgents opposed to the Empire and who are the supporters of the Empire deluded in their belief that just one more election and all will be well when every single president has participated fully in Imperial slaughter.
You said “You are beginning to see who are the insurgents opposed to the Empire and who are the supporters of the Empire deluded in their belief that just one more election and all will be well when every single president has participated fully in Imperial slaughter.” Actually I have had few delusions about the direction of elections going way back to Kennedy/Nixon. And I personally recognized America’s interest in “imperial slaughter” going back to about 1964. Which is the reason for my original response to this topic.
Secondly, your concern about Alfred McCoy possibly being another liberal apologist, is significant enough for concern. Any apologist for either Zbigniew Brzezinski or Henry Kissinger will merit my destain so if I detect that either Jeremy Scahill or Alfred McCoy are apologists or outright supporters, I shall point that out immediately. Thanks for the heads up…
I’m reading the final summation of Alfred Mc Coy’s “In The Shadows Of The American Century” right now and see only a professorial comparison of our tragic reality. I truly look forward to further discussion, Thank you…
Bob – I just don’t think you can listen to the concluding comments of that interview and not conclude that they are loyalists to the US establishment power. I just find it stunning that given all the slaughter, given the rejection of peaceful coexistence at every opportunity the use of nuclear weapons not for military but for political purposes there is this “progressive” LOYAL opposition (which means they are an integral part of the power structure). In the end the LOYAL opposition is LOYAL and supports Imperial aggression and brutality usually under the guise of “support the troops” banner.
I saw throughout Vietnam what LOYAL opposition meant – it meant facilitation and enablement of slaughter on a massive scale. Today it means the same only worse.
I respect that McCoy has contributed to our historical understanding and I recognize his work as a scholar, I am gobsmacked that he has taken a position condoning 72 years of slaughter with the US somehow giving the world something so valuable it justifies perpetual war.
I believe The Intercept editorial board and senior management, for example, see themselves as does McCoy the LOYAL opposition – they are trying to disrupt the NYT/WaPo monopoly on being “in opposition” they are funded heavenly by an oligarch and first and foremost like McCoy they are LOYAL…in other words in the end they are LOYAL to the Empire. The continuous slaughter of the last 72 years, in there eyes, is justified by…nothing I can understand.
“Global full spectrum domination.” That has been the core goal of the US at least from the days they dropped nuclear bombs on two cities full of innocent people – for purely political power reasons. We must pause and take in the breathtaking Imperial assertions the US has made. The “Global war on terror.” note GLOBAL – what this deceleration did was technically put the entire planet, and outer space including the moon into battlefield status the US then claiming the right to kill anyone anywhere anytime. In 2015 the US passed legislation claiming it had exclusive rights to tax and regulate all asteroid mining – this is the size of their hubris.
Maybe I am delusional and unconsciously making up conspiracy theories but – how close are we to a final war for the rest of the planet? The Empire has heavily fortified Eastern Europe, South Korea and Japan, It has India fully on its side now against China and Russia, there is an array of armaments both in Asia and the Middle East – surrounding China and Russia – you can’t overemphasize the importance of the Neoliberal covenant with India is now – trillions of dollars and thousands of nuclear weapons are in place. And now we look at our maps and discover that on one side we have the NK threat (on China’s border) on the other side we have Iran (on Russia’s border).
In my view if there is war in Iran or NK it will really be the war against all four NK, China, Russia and Iran = they’ll have the whole world then so causalities don’t really matter.
Again the only goal is: “Global full spectrum domination.” They have killed tens of millions day in and day out for 72 years so far, why would they stop now?
I’d like to say that there IS a glimmer of hope (not that I like that word, but consume it in the traditional meaning of the word). ALL EMPIRES COLLAPSE. ALL SYSTEMS FAIL; and, BAD SYSTEMS FAIL CATASTROPHICALLY. The System won’t be rebooted; TPTB of today won’t resume any positions of power or authority. It’ll be ugly, and painful, but that’s predestined anyway: only issue is that of timing.
Let us not forget that the project of American dominance of the world originated with the slaveholders of the old South, whose strategists repeatedly boasted of creating a hemisphere-wide slave power. In their vision the Stars and Stripes would proudly wave over an empire of human suffering that would extend from the Mason-Dixon Line to Tierra del Fuego at the very tip of South America. Much of the history of antebellum America is this execution of this policy by the slaveholder lobby, which controlled the federal government right from the start.
It is a grim irony that if the slave states had succeeded in breaking away from the United States, their leaders would not have been able to hijack the industrial might of the free states to create America’s trademark policy of waging aggressive mechanized war against the rest of the world. Typically we gleefully attack non-whites to steal their resources, but we wage total war just as murderously against whites (Germans in particular) when our leaders fear they are muscling in on our racket. The ideological descendants of the slaveholders largely regained control of the federal government with Woodrow Wilson –the first southern President since the Civil War- and their policy of global domination has accelerated ever since, to the extent that it has sabotaged our former republic and now threatens the very survival of the ecosystem.
The only problem with you historicvs is you don’t post enough comments. Yes I am a fan of yours, because I always learn something with your comments, and I do research them out, but you add a lot to our conversation which is usually totally original. Stop by more often, I don’t think you will wear out your welcome. Joe
I agree Joe. Historicvs brings some interesting perspectives to our discussion.
And you are also a pillar of this comment board community mike. Joe
If the South had succeeded with its Rebellion, IMO that would have constituted Round I, for the North was unlikely to allow a foreign and hostile nation to control the Mississippi. The Civil War fought by the North has struck me as Amateur Hour, and had hostilities resumed, that would surely have ended. The industrial base in the North could crank out ordnance which the South could never match. Huge cannon, improved Gatling Guns, and much more. If Britain had tried to intervene, they’d have instantly lost Canada, and would have been trading renewed access to Southern cotton which they no longer needed for the loss of Northern wheat. The Northern ironclads had made 99% of Britain’s navy instantly obsolete, and that would have taken a good while to remedy.
So that’s my opinion about a resumption of the war. As you say, the South was on a mission to turn the western hemisphere into a Slavocracy. That aspect of the noble Lost Cause is either glossed over or never mentioned at all in most accounts.
Kaepernick is paying a price now for his attempt to get people to think beyond the dictates of mindless patriotism. In doing so he triggered a widespread reflexive response from the conditioned ones, who loudly insisted “my country right or wrong.” Music to the ears of their manipulators.
Colin Kaepernick – another hero who is punished for living up to our highest constitutional ideals
and the dynamic duo of deception – President Dotard and his sidekick Nonsense – are making a laughing stock of themselves walking out of football games because they resent free speech…..
Our Rulers are reveling in the realization that they can make history, like Vietnam, be whatever they say it is to the unreflective minds of the masses.They delight in their power over the people’s minds, turning them into helpless puppets believing whatever their Masters tell them to believe. The whole force of Plato’s dialogs was intended to make people aware that all their beliefs were second hand, crafted by others to control them. He taught that the unexamined life was not worth living. And he paid the price for his counter-cultural understandings.
While I agree completely with the author’s main assertion – that America has and has always had a culture of war – this essay is misleading at best.
>The United States killed roughly 2 million Vietnamese civilians for ideological reasons
>that its own leaders, and most of its citizens, never questioned.
No. The US absolutely did NOT kill “2 million Vietnamese civilians”. Correct statement: About 2 million Vietnamese, both civilian and military, both North and South, died in the conflict. Cambodia and Laos suffered additional deaths mainly from US bombing. The United States armed forces, the Viet Cong, the South Vietnamese armed forces and the North Vietnamese armed forces all killed people both military and civilian. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties for detailed, careful, documented estimates of casualties.
>Since 1968 about as many Americans have been killed in-country by gun violence
>(1.53 million) as have died in all of America’s wars put together (1.20 million).
Literally true but misleading. About two-thirds of US in-country, non-police-initiated gun deaths have been clear suicides. Other non-suicides might actually have been suicides, as when a person opens fire proactively on police and is shot dead. By and large, deaths from police shootings are legal and for good reasons – but NOT always, of course, which is a different story. See the facts for yourself: follow the references in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States, in particular via the BBC to this one from the US Department of Justice: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf.
Good points! Sometimes it’s pretty hard to cram so much information into a piece, in which case there’s always a bit of an over-stating/under-stating to be found.
The problem stems from the HEAD, from the top. It’s the use by TPTB to use weapons/force in purely aggressive/murderous tones that trickles down. I suspect that if the HEAD didn’t act this way that even without a decrease in weapons at the tail end that there would be a substantial decline in yearly weapons-related deaths in the US.
I’d like to point out that during this same time frame (1968 to current- 2015) there have been roughly 2 million deaths due to automobile accidents: source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year
One might be led to think that the 1st amendment is the perfect antidote to all this organised criminality by our federal government, that when the freely available truth is presented to the people they will understand and demand a different course of action. Guess again. The government has so perfected its ability to mislead the population with an abundance of national myths and ad hoc false narratives spread through free public education, through the media, and through a wide spectrum of societal leaders from preachers to celebrities and sports figures that they have no fear whatsoever that an effective majority of the voters will ever oppose their machinations, no matter how deceitful and deleterious to the fate of the 99%.
We are always taught that you can recognise a totalitarian country because the leadership bullies the citizens into submitting to their will, but that’s not how it is in all cases. Maybe in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, but not in Nazi Germany, present day China or the United States. Not sure how they get everyone on board in China–maybe the dramatically improved living conditions simply have most happy enough to not make waves. But in Germany as well as its philosophical heir the United States, the all pervasive Big Lie seems to have been the tool that works like a charm. Can’t you hear it in the wind… USA, USA, USA… You don’t want to stick out like some traitorous scum and sit during the Star Spangled Banner, do you? Playing with fire there, bucko.
Patriotism, the last refuge of scoundrels – and the first choice of mind controllers. If the elites can control the minds of the people, harsher forms of coercion become unnecessary. How to awaken the unaware, hypnotized zombies that make up the American population is the difficult task before those who would see truth triumph over lies.
A long the lines you mention Realist, I think a lot of Americans have the notion that all other nations are inferior to the U.S.. This thinking really gets going beyond any respect for equality when Americans get on to the subject of religion, culture, or political ideology. For many an American can’t even begin to imagine any nation or its people having an equal superiority. It also doesn’t help when America’s leadership makes speeches to how indispensable and exceptional our great nation is. Nothing will get better until the U.S. decides to quit these god awful wars and then goes on to join the rest of the world as a humble nation of good will. If this doesn’t seem practical or doable then you are a true blue American. Now stand for your National Anthem!
So the modern totalitarian state uses propaganda in mass media and education to get the people to bully each other socially and economically to submit to the will of leadership.
Sam what you said made me think of what you get when you merge the MSM with the Facebook generation. Joe
One can rewind this to any society based on a hierarchical system. It’s one reason why the main religions of today exist: they’re perfect models of instilling the sense of authority; once you learn to bend your knee…
Thank you Lawrence Davidson for your incisive and well-written article. It appals me that our leaders in Australia see it as their duty to be deputy sheriff to the US, refusing to properly research and critique their venal history. If only our third estate would behave more bravely, and properly analyse the behaviour of our “closest ally”.
People will choose to believe almost anything rather than the truth about their own misdeeds. A blanket of lies is sooooo comfortable to sleep under.
Andrew Bacevich acknowledges the effect that the civilian anti war Vietnam protesters had, and that was how these protesters effected the serving U.S. military draftees. Once the soldier experienced the horror of war, and saw the insanity of it all up close, the anti war protesters for many soldiers and sailors, plus a few airmen too, suddenly made a lot of sense.
From Andrew Bacevich ‘Breach of Trust’
“As a consequence of the Vietnam War, the army found itself face-to-face with two mutually reinforcing crises, one internal and one external. Internally, it confronted a crisis of authority, being no longer able to assert discipline and command subservience. Externally, it faced a crisis of legitimacy as an institution no longer able to elicit respect and induce popular support, especially among the young. The foremost symbol of both crises was the draft. As a first step toward restoring authority and legitimacy, eliminating conscription came to seem an imperative. Yet however essential, this negative step alone could not suffice. There could be no real restoration—no reopening of lines of “communication” with soldiers and the American people—without some degree of accommodation.”
So after reading what Colonel Bacevich had to say, and after recalling how I felt while serving between 1968 & 1972 I then remembered how the anti war protesters did have an effect on us who were serving in the military at that time. Maybe that’s where we should aim our peacenik advocacy towards the serving military. Possibly by reaching out to help the veteran suffering from PTSD we could recruit their help in fighting this system which so loves war, and throughly abuses our military, as long as other people’s kids fight these illegal wars.
About the gun culture in our society. I’m struggling with this issue myself, and I don’t even own a gun. I will tell how I notice we Americans have a unhealthy love for violence though. We Americans seem to also have a low opinion of all those who are not American. We in America seem to believe that we are the only truly blessed by God exceptional ones, and that all other nations are inferior to ours. We speak through our vernacular using sports and battle harden euphemisms, and think nothing of it. To tell someone I have you in my crosshairs might mean anything other that you have them targeted within your line of fire. How many times have you ever heard someone say, we will bomb them back into the Stone Age? Thank you General Curtis LeMay, that saying will be with us Americans forever.
Yes, America’s gun culture is part and parcel with America’s violent history of territorial domination. If you don’t believe me then just ask a Native American, or an Iraqi citizen. I mean how could we Americans ever beat up on the one thing, the gun, which has brought us so far? With this mindset we Americans are doomed to continue to be what we always have been, and that is violent invaders. But hey, once you get to know us we fun loving Americans are a really good time.
Very thoughtful comment as always, Joe Tedesky. Thanks for that and also for sharing Andrew Bacevich’s insights from “Breach of Trust”.
Not sure why but somehow when the world seems to be spinning into madness and no relief in sight, a thoughtful humane analysis of reality – although it may not change anything – somehow helps one step back a bit and cope with it all.
Coping is what this world is all about. I mean struggling with America’s love for guns, while not wishing to fall prey to a Sheldon Adelson, Michael Chertoff, any more richer off scheme than then they go and reap tens of billions of dollars in the sale of metal detectors, gun-ranging towers, and intrusive security services including the Superbowl, is a thought that keeps me in neutral on how far any gun law should go. Seriously, the pedal was put to the metal on our inalienable civil rights after 911, so tell me where all this is going.
Today my wife saw a tv commercial encouraging employees to become whistleblowers on their employers, if they believe their employer isn’t paying their fair share of taxes. This is it, we are here now in Gestapo land. Start being nice to your kindergarten grade school grandchildren. You may applaud the going after tax fraud, but the trail balloon this produces, is too much for me to bear.
But while we 2nd Amendment ourselves into a more divided ball of confusion, then at least we can all think into the connection there is between a citizenry that has a Vietnam in their country’s history for a reference, while ignoring that and then to get yourselves to go off and get your dumb asses handed to you in the Middle East & Ukraine, but none of this does it matter, because why should you let a good crisis go to waste, so let’s take away a few more rights away from the flock after we all dump them off into unplayable debt….that thinking is bothering me. No, I don’t own a gun. To be honest I don’t own a switchblade. I’m that George Carlin looking old guy who just wants everybody to be happy.
As a side note tonight I’m picturing Jimmy Beaumont & Janice Vogel singing with Tom Petty. If you can’t picture it, let me tell ya I can and it’s bad ass.
I will say this about the consortiumnews comment board, I learn a lot from reading all the comments, even the ones I don’t agree with. The articles are of course the biggest reason, but on this site I at least feel comfortable to go on, because by and large the comments of a lot of people and yourself evelync gave me something to think about once signing off from the board each day. So here we are ‘coping’ because that’s what you get for being an opinionated news junkie. Joe
Joe, I’m becoming addicted to coming here (having been disappointed with the “wisdom,” lack of, in other pulic forums). You’re one reason why.
Your note about concerns about Adelson et al is exactly how I see it. I’m not a gun nut, or even an advocate (I don’t evangelize anything other than “individual thought”), but I can totally empathize with folks who might be, their concerns over the likes of Adelson and others. Anyone wanting to see what folks might be concerned with need to check out [YouTube – Corbett Report] James Corbett’s bits on Timothy McVeigh (I never questioned the “official story” until just the other day when I watched this piece- HOLY SMOKES! [I was quite up on 9/11; I could totally see the exact same things happening!]) and a very recent one Why Big Oil Companies Conquered The World (it’s not what most would think! – I’m not finished watching it).
It is sooooooo absurd that a man such as Adelson keeps striking out with one gambling scheme after another (if I remember correctly from what I read years ago) and then finally uses corrupt officials to grease the skids so he can hit it big with a casino in the far east….
suddenly his crazy ignorant wrong headed foreign policy schemes get adopted by the political hacks he buys…
Now that is a total insult to our country and our government.
We’re in a mess right now with too much money in the hands of idiots whose wild nightmares creep into policy decisions.
We’re going down hill fast……
Well Seer we are both on the same page with our need to find likewise attitudes, and opinions, on this site. You might also agree Seer that even the opinions of those you don’t agree with here, are at less worth some critical thinking exercises to hopefully expand your horizons.
I’m very reluctant to jump on board to more taking away of our civil liberties. Funny thing is, is that for most of my adult life I thought I was all for gun control, but in this current atmosphere of restricting our freedoms, well then let’s just say I’m very leery of where all this may be going.
As a side note; all of the people I do know who own a gun, are very qualified and cautious to how they store and take precautions to owning such a weapon.
You knew the minute this latest tragedy happened like this time in Las Vegas that it wouldn’t take long for the various theories of conspiracy to take hold. In fact with each new incident which gets included into the conspiracy file, to the non conspirator person we who do take the time to investigate the best we can these tragic what appear to be planned events lose credibility because to the on lookers we who do doubt the official narrative look out of control, like we think everything is a conspiracy. So the conspirators of these ‘false flag’ events got us ‘watchers’ over a barrel. You see by them shoving more unbelievable hard to swallow deadly exhibitions into our pathway, and us watchers questioning each of these exhibitions upon how these events are reported, to the general unquestioning public we conspiracy minded look …. well kind of nuts, pass the tinfoil please.
I’m worried that with each new breaking news event a new crisis is born as an even newer opportunity for the establishment to take away a few more of our god given rights. So when it comes to how hard we are going to crack down on gun rights I’m very reluctant to jump on board. It’s also a fact that Adelson and Chertoff will profit greatly by selling their security equipment to new markets due to the fear that arises from each of these sad events, like they have already profited by installing their expensive gear into all of our American airports since 911. It’s true, America has become a different place, since 911.
Like I said Seer you know this, that with each passing tragedy we citizens lose more rights. My foot dragging reluctance is strictly due to how with each event we citizens lose another right, and that is why my reluctance is peaked. Now I’m repeating myself, sorry.
Another side note; this October is the release of more (as if ever there were a lot) of the JFK assassination files. So far I have read that they have a file talking about another bullet, which never made the Warren Report, that was found in JFK’s limo, and the responsible establishment claims they can’t find the Oswald file….never ends, does it?
Thanks for keeping the conversation alive Seer. Joe
Boy you sure hit the nail on the head evelync, with your suspicion of Adelson. When ever I hear about Sheldon’s money laundering or bribing schemes, I think to myself, so this is what we do know about this extremely rich man, but what is it about him that we don’t know? I mean this guy has so much money that he prints a newspaper in Israel that he hands out for free. I’m still throttled and concerned that Sheldon pushes the idea of dropping a nuclear bomb in some desolate place inside of Iran, to teach the Iranians some kind of lesson. That’s not even a funny joke to be told in the Catskills in the dead of winter.
Yeah you got Sheldon’s number evelync, your nobodies fool, that’s for sure. Joe
George Carlin was the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
all the contradictions you point out that we all face are right on point…
it’s excellent to be able to tease them out like you and other writers here do because that’s what’s necessary to avoid being manipulated even more than we are.
“Not only do I not know what’s going on, I wouldn’t know what to do about it if I did”. George Carlin
“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat”. George Carlin
I just thought a couple of Carlin quotes might hold you over until the second coming. Joe
When I began asking myself, “Why was my family SO violent?”, I was forced to use all my honors history skills. In brief, here is what I learned. First, an often unaddressed consequence of America’s “Great Awakenings” was the spread of childrearing practices advocated by Susanna Wesley (and spread by John and Charles who founded the Methodist evangelical movement). Among other abusive parenting tactics, they taught that “a child should fear the rod by age one.” [“Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings”, page 369ff] These parenting skills have been passed down generationally within the evangelical/fundamentalist community. Parents who have been brainwashed to abuse their children in the name of the Lord are programming them to accept authoritarian regimes and to literally be soldiers…….
Second, my neuroscience professor explained what this childhood would do to anyone’s brain—–program it to be violent. In short, a person grows up very angry and most often takes out his/her aggression on innocent people because it is not okay to tell the truth about one’s parents/religion. Evangelical fundamentalism literally can create sociopaths…..not to mention most other mental illnesses….. Neuroplasticity teaches that a child’s brain is wired by its environment….. Violent people are created…… Fear politics targets the brain’s amygdala —- its fear center. Once the amygdala hijacks anyone’s brain, it is impossible to access the executive/thinking part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) due to the cascade of chemicals released that make it impossible to get enough oxygen to the prefrontal cortex.
Third, the Puritans laid the foundation for American violence as well as the concept of American exceptionalism….. The Puritan’s believed they were the new biblical Israelites and thus focused on the Old Testament. Exodus 15:3 declares that “The Lord” (Yahweh) is a warrior, the Lord is his name”. In other words, Yahweh/the Puritan and Evangelical Fundamentalist god is a war god. The oldest book in the Bible, Deuteronomy, contains the formula for settler conquests and genocide in the name of “the Lord” who instructs the people to kill everyone outside their cult (except young virgins), to show no mercy, and to take their land, homes, harvests, cisterns. This ideology has been passed down generationally within Evangelical Fundamentalist families. This is why Evangelicals make up Trump’s base. Children are being traumatized through Susanna’s childrearing practices and then brainwashed with Bible stories. [Battle forthe Mind, William Sargant, MD]
Fourth, as Dr. Gerald Horne is making us aware, the American Revolution was not about freedom for all from tyranny —- it was about the freedom to enslave Africans and the freedom to act out the biblcial conquest story against American Natives. In other words, American culture has always had a lot of sociopathy/psychopathy that we’ve been brainwashed not to know…..
The psychologist Alice Miller has a series of books detailing how child rearing using violence to force compliance is directly responsible for violence in adults. She has called this poisonous pedagogy. Being Swiss she used the German’s as a case in point as to why the German civilians allowed the Nazi party to come to power and the citizens fell in line. There is much more to this of course but early indoctrination shapes future citizens and is a direct reflection on future behavior of citizens. Religious fervor and biblical justification for violence results in… well violence. “For Your Own Good” is especially poignant, by Miller.
I read “For Your Own Good” a long time ago and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to re-read it.
sorry, I was too late to be able to “reply” to your response to Sam F above where you wrote:
I like your detailed solutions very much, but without an advancement in consciousness brought about by “moral education through literature and philosophy”, and I might add real life experiences, there is no hope of achieving them.”
Your comment, Skip Scott, on human consciousness is so very true, IMO, especially the impact of life experiences, and especially painful life experiences, which may help wake us up to become aware of our own sensations, thoughts, feelings, delusions and misperceptions that we humans seem to carry around with us…..
I don’t understand it but I’ve always had a sense that the subconscious or perhaps unconscious motivations of the people who fight their way to the top of our political life and then wreak havoc on the world in their struggle, perhaps, to purge their own demented fears, grievances, vulnerabilities. It seems that their struggle to “reach the top” fails to achieve any healing of their emotional wounds. Their struggle to remake themselves into some imaginary “success” (I’m thinking for example Nixon) leaves them angry and petulant and vicious. And their rage takes it’s toll on Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand…
God knows what drove Kissinger….. what a terrible madness resulted….
So, more than education, more than training, more than intellectual competence, perhaps, the underlying emotional vulnerabilities of people who have power (at any level) may drive the choices they make to prove what they wish to be true about themselves but fear the opposite?
How else to explain why “the best and the brightest” think they “know” what fate is right for millions of people on another continent?…focusing on one “foe”, ignoring the diverse millions of people living there.
So I think you hit on something that is key to the explanation of how we go so terribly wrong on a grand scale and it leads back perhaps to what goes on at the unconscious level of the human mind.
Although it doesn’t explain why emotionally healthy people (if there are any) vote for a monster…up to the present day…..
Until people become aware of our unconscious mind and what drives us emotionally, we will, I think, continue to do terrible things….
Norman Mailer’s fascinating “The Castle in the Forest” a novel about the childhood of Hitler comes to mind.
Glad I checked back to see your comment. Yes, I think our life experiences are key to expanding our consciousness, but we must be open and honest enough to ourselves to explore our subconscious. For some people, maybe because of childhood trauma, the pain is too great.
I think there are basically three types of people:
1. The really smart ones who learn from others’ mistakes.
2. Most of us, who learn from our own mistakes.
3. Those that never learn and make the same mistakes over and over.
Of course, it’s really more complicated than that. We are mostly a little of all three.
Also, thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t read much Norman Mailer.
Great article but you left out drugs;
It was guns and alcohol during genocide of the indigenous of north America,
Then there was the opium wars in China; gangs in uniform fighting over sales turf.
Most of us weren’t told that Vietnam fought China for 800 years and won. Irish come in second at 600 years of barbarian english oppression and then freedom.
Next came heroine from Vietnam.
Then it was cocaine during the central American wars.
Now we’re back to heroine as Afghanistan is again #1, under us.
The political economy of drugs is an important subtext to US wars since WWII and the formation of the OSS/CIA.
Many families have some proud member in the military in America. The do not see for one second that there are inevitably involved in war crimes in some way, either as an active participants or as some kind of support.They are often returned home with honours for serving their country by murdering innocents. US military expenditure takes up over half their taxes and is carrying out mass murder around the world. Even liberal Americans still don’t see the horror of this for the rest of the planet’s inhabitants.
Raw Visino – Most of the Liberal Americans are now in the forefront in supporting all these military interventions which are causing so much death and destruction. They seem to be enjoying the horror of it all. They think that these wars are good wars, the same way when the anticommunist political warriors used to justify the old wars to stop the domino effect and so on.
There is a lot of good stuff here, and a lot of not-so-good. Professor Davidson is a professional historian, and I’m not – so that leaves the playing field more than a little uneven. I’m sure he’s as aware as I am that the Wiki he referred to was not a very good indication of US behavior. An awful lot of those incidents were trivial – except maybe for the few dozen individuals they impacted. At least one was flat-wrong. More or less at random I looked up the Quasi-War, for I’d never heard of it. Whoever wrote or edited that one simply had their facts wrong, for the US seems to have paid the French debt to their satisfaction, and the Frenchman who raised the issue in 1921 seems to have been spitting out sour grapes.
I know very little about the Vietnam War, and I’m unlikely to remedy that – or even try. What I do think I know is that the US Power Elites peddled the Domino Theory with such vigor that they probably believed it themselves. The notion was surely plausible, and the ideas involved are being used even to this day with the Color Revolutions attacking Russia and China and “Nations Israel Wants Destroyed”. Once a country moves from “their” influence into “ours”, transfer your operation on to the next one. Militant Communism seemed real enough to US citizens being propagandized, and the one-sided nature of the horror stories didn’t hurt.
IMO the US involvement in Vietnam and similar places was flavored with a huge dose of racism. Our Little Brown Brothers in South Vietnam were being attacked by the Communists, and they were so helplessly incompetent that they needed our Superior White Assistance. The US believed, just as it did on December 1, 1941, that the Asian Runts couldn’t possibly stand up to us. And of course nobody bothered to provide the backstory of Vietnam to the US public.
The citizen resistance grew only when the heavy casualties started. Something was wrong, but what? I’m still not sure how the US Military and the Power Elites rationalized their losing war, but they at least tried a version of the WW1 German Stab In The Back story. “The hippies back home had undermined our noble Fight For Freedom.” They did take steps to ensue the Civilians wouldn’t get all hot and bothered again. Volunteer Army! Or a better term for it – the Poverty Draft Army. Lots of people agitated against the Iraq BS invasion, but when they were ignored they quickly settled down.
I’m not sure the Crazy Gun Culture in the US fits in with the rest of the essay. The only real connection I see is that for the most part, the dying has been done by Blacks and Poor People. The Power Elites just don’t care about either group.
Maybe Mr. Davidson hasn’t been following Mr. Parry’s site recently, but I expect to see quite a few posts fervently declare that all the terrible deaths by the unrestricted gun culture in the US is just a Price We Pay For Freedom. “Civilization and freedom?” Hell yes!
The same thing struck me about that list. It seemed mostly to list small-unit actions to safeguard US citizens caught in the middle of someone else’s conflicts, actions against pirate operations, and such. There were some instances of “bullying” to win concessions for refueling and suchlike operations, but those were not some kind of war of slaughter. The Spanish-American War stands out as a “me too” imperial operation, to be one of the “Big Boys” (British and French Empires). The Wars on this Continent of the 17th,18th, and 19th centuries were mainly about defining one’s Space, one’s Boundaries, one’s Identity in a Civil War, which goes on all around the World since humanity first showed up. Not until the late19th/early 20th centuries do we start to see real “Corporate wars” like the kind that lead to General Butler’s book “War is a Racket” essentially waged for Wall Street Racketeers. There has been a definite change of character after WWII. And I have read where that change was deliberately engineered with Malice Afore Thought, upon the populace.
Has Professor Davidson forgotten that we, the USA, are the “indispensable nation,” with an “exceptional” historical role in the world, a “Manifest Destiny”? Once this basic fact of “American Exceptionalism” is understood, everything else — Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Predator drones, Agent Orange — can be rationalized, and crimes turned into “mistakes.”
The My Lai massacre, for instance, was a “mistake”; those boys didn’t mean to kill all those women and children and old folks! It was a well-intentioned mistake. Operation Rolling Thunder, which dropped more bombs on Vietnam than were dropped by the US in the whole of WWII — likewise, a mistake… Operation Ranch Hand, which defoliated much of North and South Vietnam with Agent Orange, causing birth defects to this day — likewise, a mistake… Operation Phoenix, the CIA program which tortured and summarily killed 25,000-40,000 alleged Vietcong, supporters, and informants — a mistake…
It’s sickening, isn’t it?
Let’s be honest. Burns and Novick’s “documentary” on the Vietnam War is nothing more than militarist-imperialist propaganda, ultimately designed to “rehabilitate” the US invasion and genocide of that nation, yet again helping “us” to get over the dreaded “Vietnam Syndrome.” Perhaps they might be thought of as the Pentagon’s Leni Reifenstahl, along with more ham-handed propagandists like Sylvester Stallone and Steven Spielberg.
U.S. wars have nothing to do with defending anyone or anything but capitalism. They will continue as long as capitalism rules the world, which hopefully will not be much longer.
Of course Ken Burns could not put that in his excruciatingly tedious production.
Exactly! ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES. Even though the author of this piece says otherwise; uses “ideology,” when in fact “ideology” is but an excuse- the aim is always still the same, to control/access resources.
My Lai was used as the scapegoat to “purge” the violence perpetrated by the military’s high command and their sanctioning civilian slaughter and rapes carried out by the fighting forces. My Lai was not an isolated incident, it was used to “show” that one bad group was dealt with, and even then the penalties didn’t reflect the magnitude of the crime or indict any of the high command or more especially the CIA as operators od the more covert actions in the entire region. I didn’t watch the series but I’m guessing the CIA’s heavy involvement was glossed over or left out completely, after all it was covert and nasty. One last point did they mention the soldiers suicide rate of returning vets? Or all the heath issues as a result of the chemical weapons used to destroy the forests and crops? Etc. I’m sick of the carnage left in the wake of US government actions. It’s time for it to end.
@ “… Operation Ranch Hand, which defoliated much of North and South Vietnam with Agent Orange …”
Correction. No defoliants were sprayed in North Viet Nam.
I believe this is what happens when war arsonists rule.
More info at link below:
February 23, 2016
The War Arsonists
Unfortunately the article drifts from the statement of violence in US history to the issue of gun control. While private violence and the culture of war have some common causes, obviously private gun ownership does not cause wars. The practical causes and immediate solutions of private violence and warlike foreign policies are unrelated.
The causes of US wars are primarily:
1. The need of right wing tyrants for a foreign enemy to pose falsely with the flag and demand power as fake protectors, and to accuse their opponents of disloyalty;
2. The corruption of democratic institutions by economic power, allowing the MIC and zionists to bribe Congress to start wars for factional profits;
3. In some cases the prospect of national gains by theft of resources, primarily land during the US westward expansion, as more recent efforts to steal oil have generally failed or served few.
All such wars are prohibited by the Constitution, in limiting federal military action to repelling invasions and suppressing insurrections, and can be lawful only under treaties. The founders correctly sought to avoid foreign entanglements, but NATO has been used since WWII solely by US warmonger tyrants to create fake foreign enemies to demand power and attack their moral superiors. NATO must be repudiated or reworked to permit solely defensive actions.
Eliminating US warmongering requires:
1. Amendments to the Constitution to restrict funding of mass media and elections to individual contributions, limited and registered;
2. Renegotiation of the NATO treaty to be purely defensive, or its repudiation;
3. Undertaking foreign military action solely under UN auspices;
4. Prosecution of US war criminals and corrupt politicians, and banning of lobbyists;
5. Monitoring public officials and their families and associates for corruption during their lives;
6. Repurposing about 80 percent of the military to building infrastructure in developing nations;
7. Signing the treaty of Rome to submit to ICC jurisdiction in most matters.
Getting there requires:
1. Executive overreach to investigate and dismiss corrupt officials, hold new elections, etc;
2. Infiltrating military/intel/police/national guard to deny enforcement to oligarchy during revolts;
3. Starting new parties that truly represent members, and making coalitions to gain majorities;
4. Boycotting all military companies and Israeli products, denouncing zionists and militarists;
5. Refusing to take mortgages or keep large sums in banks or investments;
6. Refusing to watch or pay for mass media;
7. Campaigning for foreign rejection of US products, currency, and NATO.
“….obviously private gun ownership does not cause wars.”
Maybe not, but private gun worship which seems quite the thing, given the emotional misplaced ranting about the Second Amendment equating FREEDOM with gun ownership may be part of our mythology of violence.
Guns/weapons are worshipped as the holy grail of freedom.
It’s a short hop skip and jump to glorifying their use.
I don’t understand how the NRA has been allowed to distort the Second Amendment (which discusses a well regulated militia having access to rifles kept in repositories to protect townspeople in the event of an emergency) as lobbyists for the gun industry in order to fatten the bottom line of their sponsors while responsible gun owners think that we aren’t doing nearly enough to protect people from random violence from guns.
Let’s face it.
Professor Davidson is describing a mythology that worships violence.
If that’s not a correct understanding of what’s been going on, then let’s open that to discussion so someone has a chance to prove that’s not correct.
Let us discuss the causes of war, as the central issue here.
The cause of war is a lack of Love. In a culture firmly based on real Love for each other and all living beings, thee will be no war. Lacking such a culture, we are on the road to extinction. There is no true substitute for Love and respect for all others.
Yes, there is no substitute for Love and respect for all others, and indeed the failure of sympathy and moral education in most cultures underlies the wrongdoing, including our mass media culture of guns & power. And these, with our culture of economic exploitation, underlie the acts of both warmongers and mass killers, as well as all other wrongs. The observation of Evelync on the US “mythology that worships violence” and yours on the “lack of love” are an important part of the broader debate.
Because that failure of moral education has not improved over many centuries, I have sought specific mechanisms that lead the US to those cultural defects, and particularly the immediate causes of war, so as to propose means to prevent war. Sometimes clues are found in the broader debate. I do not mind any useful criticism of my thoughts here.
You have identified the problem, Mike. We now need Sam’s input in how to design a pragmatic policy to bring Love front & center in the hearts & minds of the citizens. It will somehow involve lengthy essays on how important is the General Welfare Clause, and “Promote the General Welfare” to Life itself, in our Country. The topic of “Love” Itself must be greatly explored as a theme that is not just merely “hugs & kisses” but entails all of the efforts to see to the well-being of every single person in our society, and creature in our Land, which entails actions about REAL food, clothing, shelter, “nuts & bolts”, issues and concerns. It will involve the “changing of Hearts”, from near-narcissistic preoccupation with Individualism, to thoughtfulness for “The Other” in the community of folks with whom we live and share a life together. This may be a Task doomed to failure in this spiritually “Dark” World, but will be a saving Grace for those individuals so-tasked, upon entry into the World Beyond, after their life here is finished (good Karma. NOT a waste of time).
Unfortunately, moral education through literature and philosophy does very little against war, because it addresses only those who care, or are learning to care about others. The problem is the amoral scammers, schemers, and abusers of others, who in government are the tyrants and their supporters. They are not listening because they do not care: theirs is the language of force alone. They are a personality type, not a persuasion. While moral education has its own value in maintaining the numbers of peace seekers, talk of peace in times of war has never had any significant effect upon warmongers.
For this reason, I am focusing on the practical and immediate processes that lead to war, and the practical means to oppose them. That is the only path to opposing war. The US was on that path in its early history, despite its discrimination and local imperialism, showed the failure of its policy debate processes in the Civil War, and drifted into the rationales of tyranny in the 20th century. We need to fix those institutions. The fix will not be persuasion of the values of peace, but of the means.
I like your detailed solutions very much, but without an advancement in consciousness brought about by “moral education through literature and philosophy”, and I might add real life experiences, there is no hope of achieving them. Our institutions are utterly corrupted because greed and love of power are still at the core of the human psyche for the majority of the people that control these corrupt institutions. The MSM is particularly evil because they use extensive propaganda techniques to prey on the general population and keep them “dumbed down.”
I agree, Skip, but suggest that moral advancement is a condition of preserving advances, not obtaining them. Past advances show that oppressed people sometimes rebel and enable thinkers to make advances that the people are not able to preserve against change and corruption. Often the rebels are angry but not very morally concerned. Yes, the MSM use propaganda to pacify, a primary obstacle, making them a first focus of that blowback.
How wonderful. Only love can save us all! All I can say about that is beware of what you ask for, it may not turn out exactly as expected. Ever hear the story of the eagle and the lambs, where one lamb pleads with the eagle,”why do attack and kill us, why hate us so?”No, no said the eagle, “Me and my brood really love lamb”
Skip Scott –
Your comments: “The MSM is particularly evil because they use extensive propaganda techniques to prey on the general population and keep them “dumbed down.””
Yes. This is the key issue, how to to get control of Media and Entertainment so that it can serve the good of the Country and the World. Wall Street Banking, Media, and Entertainment Industry are three which control the people’s lives – sustenance – as well as the minds.
Here is how Los Angeles Times informed the people about Russia during the last week. There was absolutely no mention the whole week of Saudi King’s – the first ever in History by the Saudi King – visit to Russia last week.
Instead, last Thursday, on the International page with heading – “Putin not decided if he will run for president”. And in the article was usual some Putin bashing and then about Alexander Navalny. And on this Sunday, on the whole page spread was – ” Thousands protest across Russia” and a whole page picture of the protest to make it look like a really great demonstration. In the article, they put the estimated crowd as 700 in Pushkin Square in Moscow., and 2000 thousand in Saint Petersburg. – mostly very young with their twitter accounts as they indicated. I have noticed that Sputnik News and RT give more emphasis to certain negative news in the West. But still the articles are more factual. And faced with this gigantic propaganda and Media Warfare against them by the entire West, they have to respond.
I don’t care what news the Russians get, but in our supposedly Free Society, the people should be provided with true news – balanced perspectives. They can make up their own minds. Instead they have been fed misinformation and propaganda – garbage news – for a very long time now.
The violence of the US government, which fuels large swathes of the economy, kills millions here and abroad, permeates media,in film, TV, print, is reflected here at home by armed citizens acting just as they see their leadership in using gun violence to solve problems. So I propose that no amount of legislation will reduce violence here until the government reduces theirs. Peace isn’t discussed in school, mine anyway in the 60’s- early 70’s during the ‘Nam, because…well it just wasn’t. We citizens are indoctrinated from an early age to honor our flag, authority, war and the patriotic giving of life for country, etc. So we have here what one would expect within the most violent nation in the world. And until citizens rise up, take a real stand and usher in a lasting peace, then maybe the citizens too will behave better, Until then though limiting small arms to citizens will have little effect.
Ol’ Hippy – Excellent post. Very true.
Very true; the negative example of government both undermines moral education and leads the amoral to further exploits for personal gain. The first step is to throw off the tyrants in government and mass media, so that the general culture can be lead by moral leaders rather than schemers.
“Getting there requires… executive overreach… Infiltrating military/intel/police/national guard … starting new parties … boycotting all military companies and Israeli products” but the average Joe cannot do those things himself. You suggest “denouncing zionists and militarists… refusing to take mortgages or keep large sums in banks or investments… refusing to watch … mass media … campaigning for foreign rejection of US products, currency, and NATO” which we could do, but with slow and small effect.
Mobile militias to attack the rich and their mass media directly would do something, but would need people angry enough or elderly enough to take the risks. We should prepare so that another depression mobilizes support.
At age 71, I’ve come to question whether there can be any complete solution to the problem of war; human beings are the most violent species of life on this planet. But I think a goal of limiting war might yet succeed.
In the U.S., I think one major problem is our method of selecting leaders, by popular vote (ignoring the Electoral College sub-issue). The problem to overcome there is the fact that psychopaths are inexorably drawn to power; I know of no time in U.S. history when we did not have psychopathic leadership. And people keep electing them because far too few people are truly well informed enough to vote intelligently come election time.
I think we could go far toward curing that problem by abandoning the present system in favor of a system where leaders are chosen at random from the population. As to the goal of “democracy,” any statistician can tell you that we would have a far more representative form of government if our leaders were chosen at random rather than by voting. That wouldn’t mean that no psychopath would ever come to power; but it would happen far less often. Of course there’s the problem of ensuring that the selection is truly as random as technology allows and remains so. And there’s the fact that such an amendment would never be passed.
Another very big factor in U.S. wars is the profit motive. And to get the profit out of war, we must first get money out of politics. In that regard, prospects are quite a bit brighter. There are a number of proposed amendments. The one that is, thankfully, getting the most traction — endorsed by about 16 states and 600 local governments so far — is the We the People Amendment. https://movetoamend.org/wethepeopleamendment
It abolishes all corporate constitutional rights, overrules the line of Supreme Court decisions that equate campaign spending with First Amendment rights, and *requires* that the federal, state, and all local governments “shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.”
That approach does not leave any discretion to governmental bodies to ignore that stricture and will be enforceable by any (human) citizen through litigation. And it extends logically to allow regulation of corporate media’s involvement in electioneering. That stands in sharp contrast to several watered-down versions introduced in Congress that provide state and federal legislatures with *discretion* to regulate campaign spending. Of course we all know how well that discretion worked before the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The big danger is that one of the watered down versions will be substituted before the final Congressional action referring the proposed amendment to the States for ratification.
I’d encourage anyone truly interested in reforming our system of government to consider backing the We the People Amendment. This Amendment has legs, as they say.
I believe all Empires eventually become Evil. More info at link below:
July 7, 2013
“The Evil of Empires”
Empires do not become evil. They are evil from their inception.
Stephen J –
Here is the link to an interesting article by Engdahl in New Eastern Outlook last week on how “The Empire” operates in making Color Revolutions and regime changes – resulting in all these wars on the way.
Thank you Professor Davidson, for your excellent essay, one of your very best, IMO.
We are a very sick country, delusional.
How on earth could we have allowed ourselves to be snookered by the fear mongering embedded in that catchy phrase – The Domino Effect – which was used to stampede this country into raping Vietnam? Killing millions in Vietnam, Cambodia Thailand?
And destroying the lives of the 58,000 Americans who were killed, the unknown hundreds of thousands who may well have suffered PTSD from what they were sent off to do and all the families of those people?
Not to mention leaving the rest of us to cope with the lies we allowed to dictate policy?
You are soooooo right, it was just a continuation of our rampage through history and a step towards the next slaughter.
We have a triumphalism about us.
Even our extremely intelligent president, Obama, buckled to the illusion that we are EXCEPTIONAL.
He had the intelligence but not the courage to try to put a stop to that ridiculous notion.
It’s just another layer of justification for wrongdoing….How can anything we do be wrong if we’re EXCEPTIONAL?
At least Bernie, in his recent talk at Westminster College referred to the Domino Effect as a “discredited” theory when he linked our foreign policy to military policy and the use of force to try to control other countries.
Yes, I was not able to bring myself to watch all of the Burns Vietnam documentary but from what I saw it lacked, as you point out, an overriding conceptual framework that might have helped us to understand our endless policy catastrophes.
I fail to see whats bad about 58,000 American soldiers killed when you compare this with the millions the Americans murdered in Vietnam and continue to murder elsewhere even today. As I see it, 58,000 Yankee soldiers dead is 58,000 soldiers less to be butchering, men women and children of other people’s country’s. If the American loss of life in these calculated, cruel and unnecessary wars was 100 times more than the 58,000 you quote Evelync, then perhaps the Americans would be less inclined to make war and spend their resouces on their own people and infrastructure instead.
Although I too believe that in the end we are all personally responsible for our actions, and that murder is murder in or out of uniform, I have friends that went and fought in Vietnam. They are good people who were lied to in childhood. We all learn as we go through life (hopefully), and these 58,000 kids that died were victims to the same degree as those they murdered. They never had a chance to grow up.
The real evil ones are the warmongers who do the planning, rather than the ignorant kids who do the killing and dying. As Jimi Hendrix said (sorry if this is overused):
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
I pray that this day comes soon.
Americans freely, by vote, elect to them, “the evil ones”, their powers and purpose. Indeed, the power and responsibility of the American voter/soldier was significant in perpetuating that nefarious war against Vietnam. Claiming victimhood, in light of the deed having been done, is truly vulgar, yet, typically American.
I don’t think Skip was feeling bad for the poor victim, in as much as he stated these dead soldiers were young, and lied too. I was 18 when I feel for that blind patriotism. In fact on my ‘dream sheet’ I requested Vietnam as my first duty station. The following day my Company Commander removed Vietnam off of my dream sheet request telling me, of how we weren’t going to win that damn war, and after his two tours of duty he felt that there was nothing in Vietnam worth losing your American life for. I think Skip has the right perspective, and he knows of what I am talking about. Please refrain from believing we Americans don’t have compassion for all of the innocent souls both foreign and domestic who have loss their life’s over all this senseless American forced hegemony. Joe
That is a complete over-simplification. Our choices for elected office are controlled by “the evil ones”. Look at our last presidential election. Having no compassion for victims of propaganda, as well as victims of war, is in my mind truly vulgar. And there is no such thing as a typical American; we are as diverse as the rest of the world’s citizenry.
As a foot note to my post, it has been announced that the UK armed forces and navy are prep\ring for possible action against North Korea. It seems we have a half finished aircraft carrier with no planes to put on it but it is being readied for action in North Korean waters regardless. Looks like the stinking Yanks are going on another of their men, women and children murdering sprees again, so that halfwit Boris johnson together with that old fool Michael Fallon are playing poodle to the US again.
Was this on the BBC?
Hi Antonia,. I read it on Google and Yahoo. Just go to Google UK and type in new British aircraft carrier and you will find the details there.
When you have City-of-London and MI6 on your side, bringing Wall Street and CIA in tow, to do the work of Empire for the Euro/British/American Synarchists, you don’t need an operational Aircraft Carrier. American Aircraft Carriers and American sailors will do. This has been the Synarchist Plan Post-WWII. The Post-WWII wars have not been in America’s National Interest at all, nor in Britain’s interest (of course I speak of the 99%ers, NOT the Imperial Oligarchy of the Anglo-American branch of the Synarchist Movement for Empire in operation now for over a hundred years). The NK/SK issue is in the natural interests of NK/SK, Japan, China and Russia. We’re a Western Hemisphere nation and our natural interests concern Reconstruction of our infrastructure, ESPECIALLY for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and a Marshall Plan for Mexico, and NAWAPA for the entire North American Continent. Intense debate on-going now, over here (not that anyone would hear of it from MSM), about how we realistically need FDR-type policies in place, which absolutely riles the home-grown Synarchist 1%ers here. We need to convert military assets into WPA/PWA/CCC/TVA-type of assets over here, and corral our Synarchists over here. Go to EIR search box; type in “Henry Luce”, “CCF”, “Fight fascism the way Franklin Roosevelt did”, “Synarchist Movement for Empire”, “Synarchy against America”, “Cecil Rhodes RoundTable Group”. This should turn up enough reading material to get where I’m coming from. This reply is not necessarily meant for you, john wilson, as I suspect your mind is already made up. The comment is for those with still-open minds, and want to REALLY know who are the enemies of humankind, what is plaguing us , keeping us from building a better World for the people. A successful “war” (not necessarily one fought with bullets & bombs) requires accurate target acquisition.
well said. I have lost compassion for dead American killers.
I’ll defend the Vietnam soldier because they were FORCED/drafted. All others since then have VOLUNTEERED, which I could see your comments as being a little more applicable for. NOTE: No, I’m not a Vietnam vet (or was drafted).
john wilson – I remember back when all this was going on, I was horrified and blamed the soldiers for going and participating in what seemed crazy to me…..it took me years to realize that we are all somehow complicit in our foreign policy because we’re willing to be kept in the dark.
Young idealistic soldiers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden whose talents seem to lead them into the secret halls of wrongdoing that are supposed to be kept hidden to protect the wrongdoers become courageous whistleblowers and are punished for it.
We are manipulated and bribed into accepting policies that are written behind closed doors..
we’re trained to believe that those at the top know what they’re doing – but they don’t seem to have a clue – the terrible “unintended consequences” that seem to follow are off their radar.
remember when Cheney was having those closed door meetings with Big Oil and probably some of the Big companies that are considered part of the MIC?
Somehow the business aspirations of those companies get conflated with our foreign policy – perhaps into our foreign policy.
We’re not let in on the planning, we just get to pay for it…..
the most troubling thing about Hillary clinton for me was when she turned into one of Harry Mud’s androids (see original Star Trek tv series) – when asked a question in public or took a question during a debate her eyes were robotic as she seemed to be processing the correct answer for public consumption as opposed to what we have learned she felt comfortable acknowledging in, say, a Goldman Sachs speech. We weren’t supposed to find out how frankly she spoke in private, how aware she was of how wheels of power really turned. Most politicians are that way – with two sets of books; maybe several sets of books – with the biggest lies saved for all of us who pay for it but have no say.
So I think most of those soldiers are victims too. And later suffer for what they got dragged into.
I don’t understand what happens to people once they become part of the Washington power structure.
Andrew Bacevich in his book America’s War for the Greater Middle East:
goes into some detail on Jimmy Carter’s time in the White House – starting as an idealist believing in weaning us off ME oil, and being self sufficient, protecting the planet – delivering that sermon on TV – then getting pummeled in the newspapers by right wing ideological writers who call him weak – then getting dragged into reversing all that with his Carter Doctrine that set the stage for this country’s aggression in the ME.
Thank you evelync for your very thoughtful comment. I agree completely.