My Pentagon Regret

When James Carroll learned that the U.S. was sending B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf he was swamped by memories of one anti-Vietnam war protest in particular. 

By James Carroll

Earlier this month, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group — the massive aircraft carrier itself with its dozens of warplanes and thousands of sailors and marines, a guided missile cruiser, and four destroyers — suddenly began to make its way from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf, heading for the waters off Iran. Pentagon sources spoke of ominous but unspecified threats. The U.S. military moved into a showy state of readiness, with reports that a force of up to 120,000 troops might be mobilized and sent to the Middle East for a possible future war with Iran.

In the Trump era, such American saber rattling, especially by hyper-hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, feels so unnervingly routine that it might not have even made me sit up. Then I read that the latest Middle East deployment included a task force of — god save us from memory! — B-52s, the massive strategic bombers dating from the 1950s that wreaked such havoc in the first great war of my adulthood: Vietnam.

Aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy/Dan Snow)

Even as that now-ancient national trauma popped back into my mind, I chastised myself. Not every provocative U.S. naval deployment in sketchy waters off some distant coast is a set-up for a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin, that war-igniting North Vietnamese “attack” on U.S. destroyers that never was. I reminded myself as well that just because Bolton is sounding the alarm doesn’t mean his counterparts in Tehran are harmless or that President Donald Trump, who years ago warned against a president launching an attack on Iran to win a future election, would be willing to go there. Why, oh why, I kept asking myself, won’t that antiwar trick knee of mine stop jerking?

The Ghost Bomber Flies Again

But B-52s? I just couldn’t get them out of my mind. How could those aged monsters with their massive swept-wings, eight pylon-mounted engines, and 70,000-pound payloads of bombs still be flying?

B-52s were brought into service in the 1950s as the emissaries of an orgasmic, potentially civilization-destroying nuclear assault against hundreds of cities in the Soviet Union and communist China. Thank god, it never came to that, but then the B-52 was reconfigured as the ultimate instrument of carpet-bombing in Vietnam, leveling vast numbers of mile-square “target boxes” across that land. Its crowning performance, however, didn’t come until near that war’s end: the Christmas bombing of 1972. From Dec. 13 to Dec. 29, wave after wave of those strategic bombers were sentagainst previously off-limit targets in and around the North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong. It would prove to be the biggest heavy bomber assault since World War II.

Then an antiwar activist and a priest, I was among those who, as soon as we heard about the bombing campaign, assumed our country was engaged in a war crime of the first order — a modern Guernica, as the French newspaper Le Monde put it. Events would prove us right and, yes, the B-52 has haunted me ever since. That’s why the news of its latest provocative deployment against Iran takes me back across the years to a set of as-yet-unreckoned-with mistakes — ones that are distinctly the property of the Pentagon, but also, given the U.S. wars that followed, the American people. That’s why, as recent events began to unfold, I found myself returning to what I still consider my own mistake rooted in the absurdity of that distant moment almost half a century ago, one that I suddenly felt a need to revisit.

The Christmas Bombing

The story begins with that Christmas bombing. Here’s my best recollection of what happened. Less than two months before it began, just ahead of the presidential election of 1972, President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, announced that, when it came to the Vietnam War, “peace is at hand.” In that way, he gave his president the means to smother Democratic antiwar presidential candidate George McGovern that November. And a Washington-Hanoi peace accord had indeed been agreed to in Paris in October only to break down in December. At that time, the reelected president ordered the most savage bombing campaign of an already savage war, dispatching more than 100 B-52s to drop high explosives on, among so much else, the Bach Mai Hospital in the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. Once again, civilians were being killed by American flyers.

B-52 Stratofortress readied for take-off from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., 2012. (U.S. Air Force/ Lance Cheung)

At that point in the war, as a member of the Catholic wing of the peace movement, I had been an organizer of numerous antiwar demonstrations and a participant in a handful of civil disobedience “actions,” but something in me snapped on first hearing news of that barbarous burst of yuletide violence. I experienced a jolting urge to escalate myself and immediately thought of a good friend in Washington, another Catholic antiwar organizer and priest, as firmly committed to nonviolence as I was but less in the grip of timidity. He, too, was enraged by the Christmas bombing. “Let’s do something about it,” he said.

B-52 wreckage left as historical marker in Hanoi as of 2005. (Colin Mutchler, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The week before Christmas, I travelled from Boston to Washington to join him in shaping a response. By the time I got there, he had already gathered a few other activists, most of whom I knew. I trusted them. We were all old hands at antiwar protests (with small-potato arrest records to show for it). None of us, however, had engaged in the serious kinds of law breaking that had sent other Catholic pacifist-protesters off for significant prison terms. Yet all of us were appalled by the ongoing Christmas bombing, which, for us, felt like a new kind of draft notice.

Our collective urge seemed clear enough: Stop the war! Shut down the Pentagon! The question was: How? Inspired by a plain-spoken fellow whose father had been a teamster and who had himself been a trucker, we were soon hunched over maps of the roadways ringing the Pentagon. A patchwork of clover leafs and ramps brought traffic into its two massive parking lots that accommodated almost all of the 20,000 workers who daily filed into the largest office building in the world. Its five sides enclosed five concentric rings, 17 miles of corridors. Because one of its sides fronted on Arlington National Cemetery and another on the Potomac River, automobile traffic generally flowed in from just two main arteries. Most of those thousands of vehicles passed, morning and night, through a single complex interchange, “the mixing bowl.” A pair of Y-shaped crossings then funneled vehicles into the parking lots, each with its own choke point.

Shut down the Pentagon? Here perhaps was a way to do it: somehow block the traffic at one or more of those congestion points at the height of the morning rush hour and so stop its workforce, however briefly, from showing up to run the American war machine.

A Plunge into the Absurd

I recall feeling like I’d been dropped into another reality as I listened to my co-conspirators improvise strategies for blocking those critical roadways, grand designs that seemed so much less cockamamie once our trucker chum took charge. He had determined that I-95, the highway adjacent to the Pentagon, was under construction. Large trucks were already ubiquitous in the area. His idea: we would join them and who would even notice? In short order, we had a plan. He still possessed his “CDL” — a commercial driver’s license — which would allow him to rent a set of dump trucks with which we could then deposit something on the highway, shutting things down in the most literal way possible.

Military police restrain protesters during October 1967 sit-in at the Mall entrance to the Pentagon. (U.S. Army via Wikimedia Commons)

It tells you everything about that moment that his plan left us effervescent, even though in any other time it would have seemed imprudent at best and lacking even a modicum of common sense at worst. I then returned to Boston where, within hours, the fantastic unreality, the folly of that plan seemed, to my relief, obvious. No way would it go forward.

As the days passed though, and the bombing continued, my Washington-based conspirators began working all too seriously to make it real. Soon, a half-dozen rental dump trucks had indeed been lined up; a demolition contractor, happy to avoid landfill fees, had agreed to load them with concrete debris; and a date had already been set — the last week of January — for six teams of us to do practice runs. Jan. 30 was then settled on as D (for “Dump”) Day.

The plan: six dump trucks, each manned by a pair of protesters wearing hard hats and safety vests, would simultaneously roar up to pre-arranged sites. At a synchronized stroke of the clock, the “flag man” would leap out to halt oncoming vehicles at a safe distance, while the driver would flip the tailgate release, raise the bed, and offload several tons of concrete chunks and rubble onto the two, key, choke-points of the mixing bowl — enough, that is, to block the entrance ramps to those immense Pentagon parking lots. We would then leap back in the trucks and speed away.

After making a beeline back to the rental lot and leaving the trucks, we would rendezvous at the Jefferson Memorial. There, we would await the police. A friendly lawyer had already warned us that we could be charged with anything from a misdemeanor civil infraction — blockage of a public passageway — to (gulp) criminal conspiracy to commit sabotage in a time of war. The police would know to come for us because we would have scattered copies of our manifesto around the rubble piles and it would include the time and place of our projected surrender. A call would also be made to The Washington Post, explaining that we were the ones who had created the massive traffic jam then spreading across northern Virginia. The manifesto was to be headlined “Stop the Bombing!” All well and good until, that Dec. 29 the Christmas bombing stopped. But that didn’t stop us: we would simply headline the manifesto, “Stop the war!”

By the time I was briefed on the latest iteration of the plan by phone, 11 others had already agreed to take part. I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, cleared my calendar for the last week of January, and said I was in.

Peace with Honor?

But events outran us. By mid-January, peace talks had resumed in Paris between Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho. On Jan. 23, Nixon went on television to announce that a peace deal had been agreed to. A ceasefire was to take effect at once and U.S. combat operations halted. North Vietnam recognized the legitimacy of the South Vietnamese government in Saigon. That government, in turn, accepted zones of communist control in the south. American prisoners were to be released. The Nixon administration claimed the “Christmas bombing” had forced the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table, a case of ends justifying means if ever there was one.

In fact, however, that ceasefire would not hold. Savage fighting would continue for two more years until the Communists finally overran Saigon in April 1975. Still, the U.S. would no longer be a direct combatant. Vietnamese suffering would, of course, continue. For Americans, however, it would prove to be the ultimate not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper ending. Still, an ending it was.

I recall that moment not as one of joy but of profound relief that the American war was finally over. But I must admit as well that, for me, there was also a sense of deliverance from the coming action at the Pentagon. Only with this turn in the story could I acknowledge to myself the depth of dread into which the prospect of our quixotic plan of faux-sabotage had plunged me.

After watching Nixon’s peace announcement on television, I called my buddy in Washington and he promptly shocked me to the core. He assured me that the president was, as ever, obviously lying. The deal would never hold. The U.S. would soon gin up its war machine again. “Don’t be a sucker, Jim,” he insisted. And, of course, our dump-demo at the Pentagon was to take place as planned. In fact, the dummy runs with the trucks were about to start. Nonplussed, I pushed back. “Our demand,” I insisted, “is to stop the war. How can we go through with this when that’s exactly what they’ve done?”

The Pentagon: Work-stoppage challenge. (Defense Department)

But he wasn’t having it and promptly put his ace on the table. “You signed up, Jim!” he said.

In the end, only three of the original dozen plotters, including that one-time trucker, saw the thing through. The rest of us dropped out and, though concrete rubble was indeed dumped on an access road to the Pentagon, there was but one measly truckload of it left at a potential chokepoint around 7:30 that D-Day morning, a pile far too small to block even that one road. Other drivers simply swung around it, hurling curses at what they took to be an incompetent construction crew. The few manifesto-flyers strewn about were quickly lost in the wind.

When, having returned the truck to the rental lot, the three would-be saboteurs called The Washington Post and showed up at the Jefferson Memorial ready to be arrested (or interviewed), neither police nor reporters appeared. Not even the morning radio traffic report mentioned anything out of the ordinary around the Pentagon. When my friend went back to the scene of the crime that afternoon, as he later told me, all evidence had already been swept away.

To my surprise, I was left feeling guilty and sad — and so finally acknowledged the obvious to myself, though not to him: the entire project had been ridiculous from the get-go, Mahatma Gandhi meets the Keystone Kops. And doing it after the American war ended would only have emphasized the absurdity of it all (had anyone noticed). That such a mad action was conceived during the penultimate madness of those grim Christmas bombing days laid bare the madness with which, by then, that war had infected us all.

The War That Began and Ended With a Lie

In reality, the terms Hanoi agreed to that January were identical to those it had accepted in Paris in October (except for certain sticking points on which the Americans, not the North Vietnamese, gave way). As American negotiator John Negroponte later reportedly put it, we bombed them “into accepting our concessions.”

If the Christmas bombing had any purpose at all, it was, by means of such a brutal display, to pressure U.S. ally and South Vietnamese leader Nguyen Van Thieu into accepting a peace treaty to which he had not been party. In other words, the American war in Vietnam, which had begun with a lie, was now ending with a lie. Nixon had promised “peace with honor.” Now, the Paris agreement was going to deliver a final betrayal of the country’s South Vietnamese allies, who would soon enough be crushed.

In the end, however, the Christmas bombing’s true purpose wasn’t to change the North or even convince Thieu to sanction the deal. It was simply to deliver 12 days of unprecedented violence, a pure spasm of hate and vengeance, a summary act of mass murder directed at an enemy that had refused to be defeated — simply because it refused to be defeated.

As I recall all of this now, so many decades later, feelings of guilt and sadness swamp me once again, especially as, in the wake of that Christmas-tide spasm of bombing, my friendship with my Washington buddy would never be the same again.

The Last Antiwar Action

If the Christmas bombing was the last direct American military action of the Vietnam War, it is likely that the overlooked single rubble-dump on that road near the Pentagon was the final antiwar protest of that era. And if its memory haunts me, it’s undoubtedly because I can finally see that I was wrong not to join that foolish act of fake sabotage. After so many years of mass antiwar actions that were truly meaningful, even those six dump trucks would undoubtedly have had little more impact than that one pathetic dump did. Had the Christmas bombings been ongoing, the Pentagon engine of violence, generally on a kind of autopilot in those years, would surely have continued to purr along. The last anti-war action, if noticed at all, would, at best, have been laughed at. If The Washington Post had taken notice, it would have been in Doonesbury.

UN personnel observe the POW exchange at Loc Ninh, Feb. 1, 1973. (Air Force)

The difference would have been in me. I would have actively refused to accept at face value the Vietnam War’s last lie: that those B-52s had brought home a victory of any kind. If I feel differently now, it’s because of the nearly 50 years that have passed since that moment, the equivalent of a cumulative song whose lyrics would have been one lie after another: that, even with the Soviet Union gone, the U.S. still needed a hair-trigger nuclear arsenal; that NATO must expand, encroaching on Russia; that the threat of terror after 9/11 was existential and endless; that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or even a program to produce them); that there’s no alternative to a new Cold War with China; and most recently, that the Iranians, thanks to their threatening actions, are bringing us to the edge of another incipient conflict.

To engage in a futile act of war protest, as my friend did then, was still to have refused to be fooled. It was to have done something. As he steered a lumbering dump truck into that Pentagon mixing bowl, I and countless others like me, whether out of hope, fear, or mere exhaustion, were busy detaching ourselves from an unfinished business, an unfinished duty: to actively resist the unjust violence being perpetrated or threatened in our names (and not just in Vietnam either).

During these last 18 years of forever war across significant parts of the planet, such detachment has, in fact, been a striking mark of American life, while policies conceived in, and pursued from, the Pentagon have again and again unleashed havoc — both in an increasingly rubble-strewn Greater Middle East (and North Africa) and in a Europe increasingly overrun by the desperate refugees from our wars. As American military leaders have failed even to come close to winning those wars (mission accomplished!), our politicians, right to left, have similarly failed to stop them — have, in fact, often only encouraged them — even as the wicked futility of such eternal violence has become ever plainer.

Yes, many Americans have come to disapprove of those forever wars, but what have we citizens actually done about them? Have we been waiting all this time for a mode of prudent protest to emerge? Looking for a reasonable way to object, for a realistic method of civic dissent to miraculously appear? Or have we merely been not caring enough — not paying enough attention — to have become half-crazed, as my old friend was so long ago by the ongoing madness of the acts of our government?

Now, those ancient, ghostly B-52s are threatening to fly in yet another possible war in the Middle East, even as the Pentagon’s lies keep coming. The U.S. war machine keeps chugging along, spitting lead. What can stop it? I ask this, regretting the day I had a chance, however laughable, to lend a hand in putting an obstacle — if only a bit of rubble, if only for an hour — in its way.

My three friends acted. I declined to do so when still a young man, because it seemed too absurd to me at time. Here’s something far more absurd, so many years later when I’ve become an old man: America’s unending crimes of war have come to feel utterly routine. In our moment, John Bolton’s bloody mischief continues to unfold and even a peep of actual public protest is missing in action.

My foolish friend died long ago. Otherwise, I would call him this very moment and assure him that he was right, that I was wrong, and I would fervently apologize.

James Carroll, TomDispatch regular and former Boston Globe columnist, is the author of 20 books, most recently the novel The Cloister.” His history of the Pentagon, House of War,” won the PEN-Galbraith Award. His Vietnam War memoir, An American Requiem,” won the National Book Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This article was first published by TomDispatch

24 comments for “My Pentagon Regret

  1. GMC
    June 4, 2019 at 12:38

    Ya I remember the place – if you ever saw what B-52 bomb crators look like – you would never forget. By 70 -71 we knew it was just a BS war and our COs knew it too. We did our tour and some of us got out – out of the USA. And never looked back. It’s still going on – No Body learned shit – except the MIC.

  2. tony
    May 30, 2019 at 13:23

    The CDL did not exist in 1972.

  3. Zero War
    May 30, 2019 at 11:39

    Once again “America” is killing people around the globe.
    Where are the war resisters?

  4. Tom Kath
    May 29, 2019 at 20:42

    It is not war and conflict that we abhor. Each of us would at least pretend to be ready to defend our territory, family, and values.
    What we abhor is always the aggressor who tries to impose his values on others in their territory!
    You CANNOT defend the USA in Vietnam, Russia, Venezuela, China, Iran, or even in Israel.
    This very simple moral imperative will always ultimately favour the defender over the aggressor.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    May 29, 2019 at 17:48

    In the mid-1960s, when I was in high school, my father, an Air Force officer, was assigned to the US embassy in Brussels, Belgium. Our support base was in Bitburg, Germany. Once a month my folks would go to the commissary there and load the car up with food and drive back to Brussels. Every so often us kids got to go with them. I remember one rainy Saturday afternoon in the fall I was sitting in the back seat while we were stuck in traffic crossing a bridge in Charleroi. The bridge had apparently been built in the mid 1800s and had a plaque that listed nine different invading armies that had crossed the bridge.

    Nine. Do you think you could find even one bridge that had been crossed by an invading army here in the US? There’s the reason why we have a**holes like revoltin’ Bolton. They’ve never seen it up close and personal.

    • Guy
      May 30, 2019 at 11:29

      So very true.I keep thinking the same every time I hear this peace of $hit neocon clamor for invasion in Venezuela, Iran etc.
      Never seen a war he did not like but always from a distance .

    • Zero War
      May 30, 2019 at 11:45

      SO damned true.
      The war protesters of the 1960s turned into nothingdoodles.

    • May 30, 2019 at 21:01

      Last time it was up close and personal was the American Civil War fought on America’s own soil.

      • Josep
        June 4, 2019 at 04:22

        Doesn’t count. The American Civil War wasn’t Americans fighting non-Americans; it was two separate factions of what was once the same country (Union vs Confederacy) fighting each other.

  6. Broompilot
    May 29, 2019 at 15:19

    “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you” once said a truly free man. And for many of us that ‘something’ is regret.

  7. Cassandra
    May 29, 2019 at 15:09

    Everybody forgets Korea. It’s almost The War That Never Was.

    Vietnam was not the worst air war. The carpet-bombing of northern Korea with napalm was the worst. It went on daily for months and killed around one-third of the population.

    • Typingperson
      May 29, 2019 at 23:35

      Thank you for reminding us of this. USA murdered 1/3 the population of North Korea–and split the country in two–for no good reason.

  8. Abe
    May 29, 2019 at 14:06

    Former US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter offers critical analysis of American foreign and national security policy.

    Ritter was recruited by the United Nations Special Commission to help implement the provisions of Security Council resolutions requiring Iraq to be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). From 1991 to 1998, Ritter helped collect intelligence about Iraqi WMD programs, plan inspections in Iraq to find hidden WMD capability, and lead those inspections as Chief Inspector. These inspections were considered the most difficult, confrontational and controversial in UNSCOM’s history, and resulted in several UN Security Council resolutions being passed as a result of Iraqi efforts to obstruct the work of the teams Ritter led.

    In August 1998 Ritter resigned from his position at UNSCOM, citing American interference in the inspection process. Ritter testified before Congress, and took his case to the public through media appearances, public speaking, and authoring numerous op-ed essays, articles and books.

    In 2002 Ritter spoke out against the case being made by the US government for war with Iraq. Ritter participated in numerous anti-war events and demonstrations. In September 2002, Ritter traveled to Iraq to address the Iraqi Parliament, where he made the case for Iraq to allow UN inspectors to return. After the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter spoke out against the war.

    Ritter is the author of eight books: Endgame (1999), War on Iraq (with William Rivers Pitt) (2001), Frontier Justice (2003), Iraq Confidential (2005), Target Iran (2006), Waging Peace (2008), Dangerous Ground (2010), and Deal of the Century (2017.)

    Ritter’s recent description of the likely outcome of military conflict with Iran should inspire active opposition to the pro-Israel Lobby managed Trump administration’s threatened war against Iran:

    “U.S. aircraft will reach their targets, and U.S. munitions will be employed with great effect. Iran’s civil and industrial infrastructure will be devastated, and tens of thousands of Iranian civilians would be killed. But the U.S. air campaign will not defeat the Iranian military, which will not only defend Iranian territory but also strike out against U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, as well as military and industrial targets, including oil and gas infrastructure, of any nation providing assistance to the American war effort. […]

    “Iran has the capability to sink U.S. naval vessels, shoot down U.S. aircraft and destroy airbases supporting U.S. air operations. Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq could very easily overrun U.S. military bases in those two countries, annihilating the garrisons based there. U.S. airpower that would normally be employed to defend these garrisons would be tied down in supporting operations over Iran […]

    “By raising the specter of an all-or-nothing confrontation […] Trump is creating the conditions for a self-fulfilling prophecy, one in which he will get the war he claims not to want while costing him the second term he claims he does. But the demise of Donald Trump’s political ambition is the least of the casualties of such a policy. A war with Iran will cost America tens of thousands of casualties, while killing or wounding hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Any U.S. victory would be pyrrhic in nature, crippling the U.S. and global economies while further diminishing America’s already diminished position in the world.

    “But, perhaps most important, it would be a war that, if America’s experience with OPLAN 1002 tells us anything, we may not win—at least not in a conventional sense. The prospect of an American invasion force stalled in the deserts of Iran, surrounded by a hostile population and under continuous attack, is very real, and meets the ‘extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies and partners’ threshold for the employment of nuclear weapons as set forth in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review published by the Department of Defense.

    “It is this reality that may have prompted Trump’s threat to ‘end’ Iran – a madman’s lashing out in frustration at a world that refuses to behave as he desires, and therefore must be destroyed as a result.”

    The U.S. Stands to Lose Much More Than a War With Iran
    By Scott Ritter

    • MichaelWme
      May 29, 2019 at 17:02

      By this time in his presidency, every president after Carter had started a new, shooting war to help with re-election. Trump has tweeted ‘fire and fury’ and destruction of the DPRK, then he and Kim became BFF. Trump has tweeted that the US will force ‘the end of Iran’, but no shooting, yet.
      We can hope Trump is smarter than he looks, that, unlike Clinton, he knows that Russia, China, and the DPRK have MAD, so he has only started trade wars with almost everyone, not a new, shooting war. (Of course, Candidate Trump lied when he promised to bring all the boys and girls home.)

    • George Collins
      May 29, 2019 at 19:51

      Memory suggests Scott Ritter became saddled with a smear compaign during the Bush error.
      Good to see he’s still with us and pushing for rationality.

      • Tim
        May 30, 2019 at 06:01

        “…..during the Bush error”

        Nice one!

  9. boxerwar
    May 29, 2019 at 13:49

    How can one read this piece without cringing into deep despair vis-a-vis the American military ferocious campaign of DEATH and DESTRUCTION upon a People and Nation who’d done no harm to us. ..?

    —- It’s a simple question that requires only minutes of contemplation — “what had the VietNamese People DONE TO US . ???”

    Today, in year 2019, the Antagonist question re-presents itself, “what have the Iranian People / or / It’s Government DONE TO US !!?”

    And, now, as-the-world-turns- / perpetuated-by-lies-and-inuendo- / the innocent People of Iran are under threat from a Hostile Foreign Government/Military Force \ propelled by the same sort Propaganda, Lies, Misinformation and Distortion that leads to Displacement and Refugees and Prisoners-Of-War … and “Election” Victories for Despots and “nationalist”Dictators. …

    • George Collins
      May 29, 2019 at 19:55

      Humans are said to be predatory. Is the urge to rule the world evidence of predation? Seems that some nations are more predatory than others.

  10. old geezer
    May 29, 2019 at 13:04

    comrade carrol gets to relive the glories of his youth , with a word processor.

    it was Eric Blair who pointed out so long ago the disadvantage of capitalist democracies vs a socialist tyrannies to enter into war. he wanted kinder gentler socialism.

    well maybe we shouldn’t ever fight, especially when it is too late. would comrade carrol’s conscience be calmed ? then he could work on his social ranking score. hopefully he would still be able to buy toilet paper.

  11. May 29, 2019 at 12:59

    We have known the answer to this question since long before the rise of Trump.

    Vietnam, Iraq, Russia-gate… all manifestations of the same phenomenon. Of course Americans caught on to what’s being done to us by people such as John Bolton with the forever wars, we just chose to ignore it then, as we choose to ignore it now. Nobody wants to listen to the answer now any more than we wanted to listen to the answer then.

    Because our individual ego allows each of us to project our own narcissism and ignorance all on “THEM.” Can’t be ME, can it?

  12. Eddie
    May 29, 2019 at 12:50

    The dump-truck plan sounded pretty good to me. The quick governmental response to clear the debris from the roadway was indicative of the superior city services that likely have gone the way of the dodo bird because of austerity measures.

    Chris Hedges suggests a similar plan to the dump-truck assault. His variation calls for people driving old cars that would be parked strategically to block traffic. Then the driver would abandon the vehicle after he/she removed the car’s battery and carried it away from the site. Hedges’ plan would require the municipality to hire tow-trucks to haul the old cars away.

  13. Robert Charron
    May 29, 2019 at 11:19

    I am a Catholic. I did not protest the Vietnam war because I was led to believe we were protecting Vietnmes Catholics against the
    Communist North. But as time went on I became aware that that was a lie and was disgusted with the way in which this war was being pursued. I salute James Carroll for his opposition to the war. I am not sure that blocking the Pentagon was helpful, but I am glad to see Catholics take a stance against this war as I have become very anti-war since. And I believe Catholics should make a stand against the atrocities that this country has committed. I am definitely a traditional Catholic, and in my foolish youth I leaned toward the “conservative” views, but I now feel after seeing the carnage that America has caused in the middle eastern area that war was ruining us. Further my wife was a Chaldean Catholic born and raised in Iraq so I have been appalled at our invasion of Iraq and our sanctions. The least we Catholics can do is to protest against more wars. Particularly since we are persuing a course that could easily initiate a nuclear war. This is true patriotism. Again bless you James Carroll. I think every Catholic should read Daniel C. Macquire’s little booklet, “The Horrors We Bless” rethinking the Just-War Legacy

    • george collins
      May 29, 2019 at 21:21

      I know at least one occasional visitor too ConsortiumNews. I recall that Catholic philosophs were prominent advocates for the ‘just war” theory. To their credit, the ‘victors’ or WWII established that aggressive wars are most ‘evil’ since they embrace the panoply of war’s evils, perhaps human ‘evil’ as well. It’s convenient, maybe facile, to think of the principle of double
      effect as useful when the effects of aggression inevitably include predictable good and evil. Whether or not that principle has theoretical merit: there’s likelihood that aggressors are prone to see the goodness of their intervention’s beneficent intent, usually looked at through glasses of casuistry.

      Who doubts our propensity for “war”, war, war is too often a stronger, more primitive impulse than the negligible good results our leaders typically shamelessly project project?

    • vinnieoh
      May 30, 2019 at 10:08

      Also from a Catholic family, though I have been since a teenager a secular humanist and rational skeptic (those facts had to be pointed out to me by someone much older and wiser.) My brother began college at John Carroll University here in Ohio in the late 60’s during the Viet Nam war. Began studying Ghandi and MLK. JCU, a Catholic University and like many other colleges and universities at the time had mandatory ROTC. One Sunday morning as the cadets did their drill and ceremonies my brother decided to do a one-man protest. Made simple cardboard signs reading “Do you worship the God of War?” and “Do you pray to Christ the soldier?” As my brother sat the cadre marched the cadets past my brother and ordered them to spit on him.

      He was given the choice to submit or leave the school, chose the latter, and that action formed the legitimate basis for obtaining Conscientious Objector status with the US draft board (very difficult to do.) As alternate service he served two years as a hospital orderly in a VA hospital cleaning bedpans. Not the worst of it though.

      Back home in our little diocese in our little piece of paradise USA, one Sunday morning as I and my younger brother sat with my mother and father in church, our pastor tore into my brother for his protest and called him a coward, a traitor, and an embarrassment to “HIS” (the pastor’s) diocese and the catholic church. His action and my questioning Catholic exclusionary dogma in “theology” class got me booted from Catholic HS (good riddance.) I could be much more militant and hateful toward the Church than I am, but I know we are all on our own personal journey. Collectively though we don’t seem to be any more enlightened than we were 5,000 years ago.

      Many years later, and just a few years ago, I closed a letter to the editor of our local paper: “It would aggrieve Jesus, the claim that this is a Christian nation.”

      Sometime within the last few years I delved into the origins of “just war” (God Wills It!) and jihad, their parallel and divergent histories and evolution. But the real truth is only to be recognized, albeit briefly, when humanity lays exhausted and blooded, as after a great war. War is the summation of all evil, and as such, should be avoided at all costs.

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