Chris Hedges: The Lie of American Innocence

U.S. hypocrisy on war crimes makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.

“Have a Nice Doomsday” (Original Illustration by Mr. Fish)

By Chris Hedges

The branding of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal by Joe Biden, who lobbied for the Iraq war and staunchly supported the 20 years of carnage in the Middle East, is one more example of the hypocritical moral posturing sweeping across the United States.

It is unclear how anyone would try Putin for war crimes since Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But justice is not the point.

Politicians like Biden, who do not accept responsibility for our well-documented war crimes, bolster their moral credentials by demonizing their adversaries. They know the chance of Putin facing justice is zero. And they know their chance of facing justice is the same.

We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, General Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Asst. Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, former Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. John Yoo, who set up the legal framework to authorize torture; the helicopter pilots who gunned down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks. We have evidence of the crimes they committed.

But, like Putin’s Russia, those who expose these crimes are silenced and persecuted. Julian Assange, even though he is not a U.S. citizen and his WikiLeaks site is not a U.S.-based publication, is charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for making public numerous U.S. war crimes. Assange, currently housed in a high security prison in London, is fighting a losing battle in the British courts to block his extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison.

A Different Set of Rules

One set of rules for Russia, another set of rules for the United States. Weeping crocodile tears for the Russian media, which is being heavily censored by Putin, while ignoring the plight of the most important publisher of our generation speaks volumes about how much the ruling class cares about press freedom and truth.

If we demand justice for Ukrainians, as we should, we must also demand justice for the one million people killed — 400,000 of whom were noncombatants — by our invasions, occupations and aerial assaults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. We must demand justice for those who were wounded, became sick or died because we destroyed hospitals and infrastructure.

We must demand justice for the thousands of soldiers and marines who were killed, and many more who were wounded and are living with lifelong disabilities, in wars launched and sustained on lies.

We must demand justice for the 38 million people who have been displaced or become refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria, a number that exceeds the total of all those displaced in all wars since 1900, apart from World War II, according to the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs at Brown University.

Tens of millions of people, who had no connection with the attacks of 9/11, were killed, wounded, lost their homes, and saw their lives and their families destroyed because of our war crimes. Who will cry out for them?


Every effort to hold our war criminals accountable has been rebuffed by Congress, by the courts, by the media and by the two ruling political parties. The Center for Constitutional Rights, blocked from bringing cases in U.S. courts against the architects of these preemptive wars, which are defined by post-Nuremberg laws as “criminal wars of aggression,” filed motions in German courts to hold U.S. leaders to account for gross violations of the Geneva Convention, including the sanctioning of torture in black sites such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. 

Those who have the power to enforce the rule of law, to hold our war criminals to account, to atone for our war crimes, direct their moral outrage exclusively at Putin’s Russia.

“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, condemning Russia for attacking civilian sites, including a hospital, three schools and a boarding school for visually impaired children in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. “These incidents join a long list of attacks on civilian, not military locations, across Ukraine,” he said. Beth Van Schaack, an ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, will direct the effort at the State Department, Blinkin said, to “help international efforts to investigate war crimes and hold those responsible accountable.”

This collective hypocrisy, based on the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, is accompanied by massive arms shipments to Ukraine. Fueling proxy wars was a specialty of the Cold War. We have returned to the script.

US Crimes Don’t Count

If Ukrainians are heroic resistance fighters, what about Iraqis and Afghans, who fought as valiantly and as doggedly against a foreign power that was every bit as savage as Russia? Why weren’t they lionized? Why weren’t sanctions imposed on the United States? Why weren’t those who defended their countries from foreign invasion in the Middle East, including Palestinians under Israeli occupation, also provided with thousands of anti-tank weapons, anti-armor weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, helicopters, Switchblade or “Kamikaze” drones, hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-tank missiles, machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition? Why didn’t Congress rush through a $13.6 billion package to provide military and humanitarian assistance, on top of the $1.2 billion already provided to the Ukrainian military, for them?

Well, we know why. Our war crimes don’t count, and neither do the victims of our war crimes. And this hypocrisy makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.

This hypocrisy is not new. There is no moral difference between the saturation bombing the U.S. carried out on civilian populations since World War II, including in Vietnam and Iraq, and the targeting of urban centers by Russia in Ukraine or the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Mass death and fireballs on a city skyline are the calling cards we have left across the globe for decades. Our adversaries do the same. 

The deliberate targeting of civilians, whether in Baghdad, Kyiv, Gaza, or New York City, are all war crimes. The killing of at least 112 Ukranian children, as of March 19 [according to the Ukrainians], is an atrocity, but so is the killing of 551 Palestinian children during Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza [according to the U.N.]. So is the killing of 230,000 people over the past seven years in Yemen from Saudi bombing campaigns and blockades that have resulted in mass starvation and cholera epidemics. Where were the calls for a no-fly zone over Gaza and Yemen? Imagine how many lives could have been saved.

War crimes demand the same moral judgment and accountability. But they don’t get them. And they don’t get them because we have one set of standards for white Europeans, and another for non-white people around the globe.

The western media has turned European and American volunteers flocking to fight in Ukraine into heroes, while Muslims in the west who join resistance groups battling foreign occupiers in the Middle East are criminalized as terrorists. Putin has been ruthless with the press. But so has our ally the de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the murder and dismemberment of my friend and colleague Jamal Khashoggi, and who this month oversaw a mass execution of 81 people convicted of criminal offenses.

The coverage of Ukraine, especially after spending seven years reporting on Israel’s murderous assaults against the Palestinians, is another example of the racist divide that defines most of the western media.

Abandoning the Laws of War

The bombing of Dresden, 1945. (Deutsche FotothekDresden)

World War II began with an understanding, at least by the allies, that employing industrial weapons against civilian populations was a war crime. But within 18 months of the start of the war, the Germans, Americans and British were relentlessly bombing cities. By the end of the war, one-fifth of German homes had been destroyed. One million German civilians were killed or wounded in bombing raids. Seven-and-a-half million Germans were made homeless.

The tactic of saturation bombing, or area bombing, which included the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, which killed more than 90,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo and left a million people homeless, and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took the lives of between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilianshad the sole purpose of breaking the morale of the population through mass death and terror. Cities such as Leningrad, Stalingrad, Warsaw, Coventry, Royan, Nanjing and Rotterdam were obliterated. 

It turned the architects of modern war, all of them, into war criminals.

Civilians in every war since have been considered legitimate targets. In the summer of 1965, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara called the bombing raids north of Saigon that left hundreds of thousands of dead an effective means of communication with the government in Hanoi.

McNamara, six years before he died, unlike most war criminals, had the capacity for self-reflection. Interviewed in the documentary, “The Fog of War,” he was repentant, not only about targeting Vietnamese civilians but about the aerial targeting of civilians in Japan in World War II, overseen by Air Force General Curtis LeMay.

“LeMay said if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals,” McNamara said in the film. “And I think he’s right … LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose, and not immoral if you win?”

LeMay, later head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, would go on to drop tons of napalm and firebombs on civilian targets in Korea which, by his own estimate, killed 20 percent of the population over a three-year period.

Industrial killing defines modern warfare. It is impersonal mass slaughter. It is administered by vast bureaucratic structures that perpetuate the killing over months and years. It is sustained by heavy industry that produces a steady flow of weapons, munitions, tanks, planes, helicopters, battleships, submarines, missiles, and mass-produced supplies, along with mechanized transports that ferry troops and armaments by rail, ship, cargo planes and trucks to the battlefield.

It mobilizes industrial, governmental and organization structures for total war. It centralizes systems of information and internal control. It is rationalized for the public by specialists and experts, drawn from the military establishment, along with pliant academics and the media.

Industrial war destroys existing value systems that protect and nurture life, replacing them with fear, hatred, and a dehumanization of those who we are made to believe deserve to be exterminated. It is driven by emotions, not truth or fact. It obliterates nuance, replacing it with an infantile binary universe of us and them. It drives competing narratives, ideas and values underground and vilifies all who do not speak in the national cant that replaces civil discourse and debate.

It is touted as an example of the inevitable march of human progress, when in fact it brings us closer and closer to mass obliteration in a nuclear holocaust. It mocks the concept of individual heroism, despite the feverish efforts of the military and the mass media to sell this myth to naïve young recruits and a gullible public. It is the Frankenstein of industrialized societies. War, as Alfred Kazin warned, is “the ultimate purpose of technological society.” Our real enemy is within.  

Historically, those who are prosecuted for war crimes, whether the Nazi hierarchy at Nuremberg or the leaders of Liberia, Chad, Serbia, and Bosnia, are prosecuted because they lost the war and because they are adversaries of the United States.

No Nuremberg This Time

The Nuremberg trials circa 1945-46. (U.S. National Archives)

There will be no prosecution of Saudi Arabian rulers for the war crimes committed in Yemen or for the U.S. military and political leadership for the war crimes they carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, or a generation earlier in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The atrocities the U.S. commits, such as My Lai, where 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were gunned down by U.S. soldiers, which are made public, are dealt with by finding a scapegoat, usually a low-ranking officer who is given a symbolic sentence.

Lt. William Calley served three years under house arrest for the killings at My Lai. Eleven U.S. soldiers, none of whom were officers, were convicted of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But the architects and overlords of our industrial slaughter, including Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Gen. Curtis LeMay, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Lyndon Johnson, Gen. William Westmoreland, George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are never held to account. They leave power to become venerated elder statesmen. 

The mass slaughter of industrial warfare, the failure to hold ourselves to account, to see our own face in the war criminals we condemn, will have ominous consequences. Author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi understood that the annihilation of the humanity of others is prerequisite for their physical annihilation.

We have become captives to our machines of industrial death. Politicians and generals wield their destructive fury as if they were toys. Those who decry the madness, who demand the rule of law, are attacked and condemned. These industrial weapons systems are our modern idols.

We worship their deadly prowess. But all idols, the Bible tells us, begin by demanding the sacrifice of others and end in apocalyptic self-sacrifice.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.” 

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular columnClick here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


44 comments for “Chris Hedges: The Lie of American Innocence

  1. March 25, 2022 at 13:41

    “But all idols, the Bible tells us, begin by demanding the sacrifice of others and end in apocalyptic self-sacrifice.”

    Actually this is true of the God of the Bible. Noah’s flood. And God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, just to see if he feared God enough to do it. (Never mind that at the last second God told Abraham not to.)

    In Exodus God killed the firstborn Egyptian children and animals after GOD had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

    Moses, claiming to speak for God, commanded the ancient Israelites to slaughter their so-called “heathen” neighbors, and to take their land. This included genocide and rape.

    In the New Testament those who do not come to “accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” in this present lifetime are to be condemned to be tormented in hell for all eternity. At least according to what many Christians, particularly Christians of fundamentalist persuasion, have always believed.

    In Acts 5 God struck down Ananias and Sapphira when they did not give Peter all their money which they had made from selling their land.

    The Crusades, the Inquisition, and witchcraft trials were perpetrated by Christians in the name of their God and Jesus Christ.

    And Muslims have been well known to treat unbelievers and infidels very harshly, particularly in countries like Saudi Arabia.

    I used to be a Christian but now consider myself to be a Deist. Deism is a religious and philosophical position which asserts a Supreme being who created the universe based on empirical reason and observation of the natural world. In particular Deists reject any alleged revelation from God, such as the Bible or Koran, as actually being such. I am fully with them about that; I consider what is above to be obvious problems with the Bible and the Koran.

    My screen handle links to an article which I submitted to and which was published by the World Union of Deists, in which I explain how I came to be unhappy with Christianity and why I am no longer a Christian (and also why I am not an atheist), and how and why I became a Deist.

  2. R. Billie
    March 25, 2022 at 05:13

    United Snakes. Chris did you roll over a little bit? You don’t seem to have your usual vehemence. When I visit CN I enjoy reading the comments almost as much as the articles. There used to be a fairly frequent commenter whose handle (if my 81 year old memory serves) was F,G. Sanford who always made some clear eyed cogent points. I’m wondering if that voice is still around out there. Anyway now we have Drew Hunkins, who aint exactly chopped liver. Way to go folks, keep the faith and my apologies to any snakes I might have offended.

  3. Eddie S
    March 23, 2022 at 21:31

    Compassionate, unrelentingly fair analysis of the world’s treatment of war crimes and international law in general— there’s effectively one set of rules for the ‘super-powers’ and another for those smaller (esp non-nuclear) countries. What’s interminably galling is to listen to our US PTB sanctimoniously opine how evil this week’s current ‘enemy’ is and how they’re breaking international law….

  4. paul
    March 23, 2022 at 18:32

    I believe Russia has to a certain extent sought to avoid civilian casualties. If only because they regard Ukrainians in some measure as their own people. They could have flattened Kiev and Kharkov like the US flattened Raqqa, Mosul and Fallujah – where children are still being born with two heads because of depleted uranium poisoning. They haven’t – despite all the Iraq Incubator Babies type tall stories from the MSM.

    • Jeff Pettis
      March 26, 2022 at 13:52

      Yes it seems to me that Chris is drawing a false equivalency, when unlike the US invaders in Iraq, Russia, from what I can gather, is not bombing in civilian areas to take out “insurgents”, is not taking out civilian infrastructure, water, electricity, sewage, internet, is providing humanitarian corridors. Like you say, the Ukrainian and Russian people are in a very real sense one people. Unlike the refugees of Libya or Iraq, the majority of Ukrainian refugees are going to be able to return to their homes and their lives, and I believe soon, that is if NATO and the West dont turn this into a drawn out insurgency, or worse, a hot war.

  5. As the World Churns
    March 23, 2022 at 15:20

    Strange there’s no mention in this article of Ukrainian war crimes against Donbass civilians, including hundreds of children, in 2014 and beyond, which is the seminal event in Russia’s reaction.

    An article that laments the biased selectivity of what constitutes war crimes, then indulges in selectivity itself. Doubly strange.

    Anyway with that said, my closing note: Blinken sure has a nerve. As if we’re all dumb, deaf and blind.

  6. Robert Emmett
    March 23, 2022 at 14:51

    War does make: a) criminals
    b) wastrels
    c) self-anointed gods
    d) fools
    e) all of the above
    of us all.

    “Those who have the power to enforce the rule of law, to hold our war criminals to account, to atone for our war crimes, direct their moral outrage exclusively at Putin’s Russia.”

    Pretty good nutshell. All the trappings of so-called democratic order have failed (so far): the courts, politicians, the media, public opinion all appear diametrically opposed to restoring reality. The hypocrisy is stupefying. Maybe that’s the point.

    What a fucking
    waste of: a) lives
    b) a livable future
    c) Earth
    d) ingenuity
    e) human everything

  7. March 23, 2022 at 10:22

    By the way——–Speaking about (Ukraine on Fire) with Robert Parry in it. I think now is as good as anytime for a repost. If it hasn’t been posted here it surely should be!

  8. March 23, 2022 at 10:16

    I love Hedges, to a point, sometimes. I use his work in my group all the time. But the erasure of the conditions Putin went into Ukraine is as criminal as the conditions the US invades other countries. Whether it be militarily or by sanctions. Comparing Iraq to Ukraine is quite frankly ludicrous. And quite frankly, I’ll argue Ukraine was a manufactured crisis that blame should only be placed on westernize nations. Without doing so it also erases the actions of the Obama administration in 2014 and the genocide campaign on the Donbas regions, which along with Nato expansion was a legitimate reason for Putin. Allowing this to come to a war scenario, which no sensible person should agree with, wasn’t due to Putin’s actions. With an 8 year long genocide campaign and a growing fascist nation which is currently spreading across the globe, it was well past time someone did something about it.

    For my fellow American’s for example, you can find articles right here on this site of how our own Trump supporting fascist went to Ukraine to train with theirs around the 2016 election cycle. More on that at Mint Press News. If you have watched the current 8 year long making of the documentary of the Donbas region on RT of how their fascist elements were funded, supported, and trained fascist citizens in crowd violence by various international NGO’s, think tanks, and public relation firms, this should bring grave concern to you. Robert Parry himself can be found talking about these NGO’s in a documentary with Oliver Stone called (Ukraine on Fire). You should be wondering what type of Ukrainian’s are being allowed into the US. And what type are going to be coming to the US when they lose the war and are seeking places to escape war time prosecution for genocidal crimes, among other crimes. Especially if Trump does run again in 2024. Or any one who uses Trump as their goal line. If you think 2016 was chaotic, we could be looking at a potentially much more deeper sense of chaos. Imagine a Maidan type scenario at the Capital? Plans of governors being kidnaped and killed actually working? Burnt in their government buildings? Ask Ukrainian’s how that works. I suggest asking before it can happen. Ask yourselves right now as a vast majority of our citizens have been conned into supporting them over there. Yea, lets talk about fighting them over there rather than here. When that phrase actually has a sense of reality to it! You can thank Putin for that reality. We have enough of our own here as it is!

    • Tedder
      March 23, 2022 at 14:02

      Diana Johnstone on Consortium News wrote a thorough history of US machinations that lead to this conflict, hxxps://

  9. Peter Loeb
    March 23, 2022 at 08:27

    Crying “hypocrisy! hypocrisy! or “democracy” does not provide us with more than our own self-defined
    feelings of superiority. It makes for great rhetoric and little more. You and I can shout—once more
    with feeling— that others are more imperfect than we are while we continue to fail to deal with the
    profound reasons. I oppose war (I am assuming you do as well). While I doubt Vladimir Putin
    is an angel, I completely understand his motives. In addition, I oppose white supremacists with Nazi insignias
    who regularly worship Nazi killers. For a more accurate analysis of these Ukrainian “heroes” (my sarcasm), read
    Max Blumenthal’s recent article in “Graystone”.

  10. Frank Lambert
    March 23, 2022 at 06:50

    Great comments, folks! But I do agree with Drew’s comments in particular. Russia tried diplomacy, to which the “West” considered it a form of weakness, and after thousands of people in the Donbass Region were killed and wounded, did “The Bear” finally come to their rescue.

    I really think the Russians should have taken action years earlier, as they did in Georgia, after Russian peacekeepers were murdered by that corrupt government.

    I have always admired Chris Hedges, but equating Russian action in the Ukraine to the war crimes of the United States and the other western nations he has mentioned, plus Saudi Arabia and Israel, weakens his narrative, in my opinion. Other than that, he’s correct.

  11. Vesa Sainio
    March 23, 2022 at 03:29

    Great piece by Chris again. Thanks.

    But i agree with couple of commenters here that to state that Russian actions are as bad as US atrocities is not fair. The scale and deepness are not comparable.

    For example the people in Donbass and Luhansk has totally been forgotten in the discussion. They are Ukrainian people and they have been and are killed by fellow Ukrainians, which is so so tragic.

    The US is so cynical and cruel in its foreign policy. Please read this Rand paper.


    • Tedder
      March 23, 2022 at 14:07

      Scott Ritter, a former US Army major, outlined the Russian military strategy as encirclement followed by ‘corridors’ where non-combatants and soldiers giving up their arms can safely leave. This is an expensive strategy that has resulted in a number of deaths and defeats, but is preferable to the leveling of cities such as seen in Raqqa or Mosul by the Americans. The catch, however, is the Nazis such as the Azov Battalion in Mariupol will not allow civilians to escape and use them as ‘human shields’. At a certain point, the Russians will have to abandon the humanitarian strategy and engage in very destructive warfare.

  12. Aaron
    March 23, 2022 at 00:57

    It’s not only illusion, it’s empire of anarchy. It’s the worst kind of lawlessness to have psychopathic criminals armed with the most deadly weapons ever devised doing whatever they want with absolute immunity from any international or domestic justice system. Imagine if just once, the cable news shows or the press conferences had a journalist ask about some of the crimes mentioned here, like “do you think so and so committed a war crime?” “were all of the weapons used the the US military legal?” “Was the U.S. war in Iraq an illegal war of aggression?” Stuff like that NEVER is allowed on the airwaves, and it’s exactly what we need to hear and know. It’s as if all of those “journalists” were warned that they would be fired or worse if they even challenge the status quo and narrative. Maybe they have been, I don’t know. Instead all we get is some ditzy MSNBC anchor ask Michael McFail or some variation of “Is the U.S. doing enough to stop the atrocities by Putin?” It’s just bizarre listening to Psaki try to fend off a relentless haranguing of questions about why we aren’t doing MORE and MORE and MORE to attack and stop Russia, it’s like they have been handed their list of questions directly from Zelensky.

  13. Jeff Harrison
    March 23, 2022 at 00:11

    Excellent write up BUT I notice that you, Chris, like everybody else misses the point that the Kiev regime has spent 8 years trying off and on to crush the revolt that is a result of the US putting puppets in the Ukrainian government.

  14. GMCasey
    March 22, 2022 at 23:43

    To war Joe Biden—never went.
    But starts one now—he’s so content.
    While U.S. is crashing—
    It’s now Russia bashing!
    The U.S. to hell is now sent!

  15. Calm
    March 22, 2022 at 20:59

    10 Gallon Hat Heroes and War Crimes:

    Compare Russian bombing of Mariupol, Ukraine and the NATO bombing the 300 thousand population in Fallujah Iraq in April 2004.
    White Phosphorous, Daisy Cutters, Depleted Uranium, Thermobaric bombs, Clusterbombs, Napalm…

    …. the main hospital was seized by US forces and access denied to the wounded. The population was subjected to daily aerial bombardments. The use of cluster bombs in urban areas. Doctors reported seeing patients whose skin was melted from exposure to phosphorous bombs. Water and electricity were cut off and people quickly ran out of food as they were trapped in their homes by sniper fire. Families trying to flee the devastated city were executed, including a family of five, shot down trying to cross the river to safety; their murder was witnessed by an AP photographer.

    The Red Cross and Red Crescent were prevented from entering the besieged city. Preliminary estimates are as high as 6,000 Iraqis killed, a third of the city destroyed, and over 200,000 civilians living as refugees.

    The International Committee for the Red Cross reported on December 23 that three of the city’s water purification plants had been destroyed and the fourth badly damaged.

    Aid organizations have repeatedly been denied access to the city, hospitals, and refugee populations in the surrounding areas.

    “On one of my trips to drop off a detainee at the jail, the Senior Interrogator told us not to bring them in any more. ‘Just shoot them’ he said, I was stunned, I couldn’t believe he actually said it. He was not joking around, he was giving us a directive. A few days later a group of Humvees from another unit passed by one of our machine gun positions, and they had the bodies of two dead Iraqi’s strapped to their hoods like a couple of deer. One of the bodies had exposed brain matter that had begun to cook onto the hood of the vehicle, it was a gruesome, medieval display.”
    –Jim Talib HM3 (FMF/PJ), 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, November 29, 2004–

    • Frank Lambert
      March 23, 2022 at 07:04

      Calm, It could not have been stated any better! THANK YOU!

      But the despicable US and UK governments are destroying the life of the courageous and honest reporter, Julian Assange?

      A friend of mine who’s son served in Iraq, said the US military waited until after the 2004 presidential election before going into Fallujah and destroying that city, with the “chemical weapons” you mentioned plus everything else we used.

      No Ernie Pyle there or Bill Mauldin to report the American atrocity.

    • Calm
      March 23, 2022 at 22:57

      When Putin and The Boys talk about placing the Nuclear Forces on alert ….. Biden and The Boys claimed that Putin was threatening to use nuclear weapons.

      When Biden and The Boys explain that there is a nuclear umbrella over NATO member countries, why is that not seen as a threat?

  16. Jimm
    March 22, 2022 at 18:44

    But Chris, these people are keeping me “safe”!

  17. March 22, 2022 at 18:11

    Not being able to come up with any good alternatives, something we at least can do is arrive at understandings. In a wider timeframe than the time of modern war that you’ve been clear about, start in the U.S. with the Indians who had sophisticated civilizations across America that we obliterated. Then, there are the Africans we stole and subjugated. What’s going on is that humanity is evolving and we haven’t gotten past where we are. Even as we have moved to not owning people anymore, as a measure of how primitive understandings cling we still find war acceptable. It’s a rocky road of progress, bumpy in great part because of not acknowledging we came from anything less than where we are today, only partway to a destination where we’d be being peaceful people making this a beautiful world. We have that capacity. I think that’s what we’re here for, to evolve to where we care about each other as much as we care about ourselves, and understanding where we came from at least puts us in a position to deal with the reality such as it is. We can move from that instead of being in a fantasy that deprives us of the intelligence we need to get unstuck from where we are.

    • Tedder
      March 23, 2022 at 14:10

      Nice thought, Suzanne. But as Chris Hedges and others have remarked about Empire, in its last stages it becomes very dangerous. The end of Empire could also signal the change in human consciousness you advocate; the challenge is to survive the next few generations through the thrashing death throes of Empire and the climate catastrophe it caused.

      • Paul Davis
        March 23, 2022 at 19:43

        “in its last stages it becomes very dangerous”

        I suspect that the victims of Empire everywhere would not really agree with this characterization, given their experience of danger at every stage. Also, the end of Empire is not about to happen. The end of *an* empire, well maybe, maybe not. Empires have ended for thousands of years, but Empire has not.

  18. alley cat
    March 22, 2022 at 18:09

    “If we demand justice for Ukrainians, as we should…”

    What about justice for Russians?

    Is it the Russians who are commiting the primary injustice against Ukrainians, or is it the U.S. and NATO, starting with NATO expansion in 1997, the U.S.-orchestrated 2014 coup, the consequent civil war, and the ongoing U.S./NATO conversion of Ukraine into a weapon for attacking Russia?

    “But justice is not the point,” Chris observes.


    As I said in another comment to another of Chris’s posts, the empire only cares about demonizing Russia and convincing Americans that they have a moral imperative to go to war.

    The empire couldn’t care less whether dissenters recite a litany of U.S. crimes as long as they mouth the required, pro forma, condemnation of Russian aggression, and thereby lend support to the demonization rationale.

    Americans will be swept up in the manufactured war hysteria, convinced that the injustice against innocent Ukrainians must be stopped, by nuclear war if necessary.

    • SaltandPepper
      March 23, 2022 at 06:41

      “by nuclear war if necessary.”

      Although understandable you appear to believe that the American people have any significance in the matter.

      The government is not particulary concerned what mantra you intone, but your restriction to intoning precludes you engaging in “meaningful activities”, whilst making it appear that the mantra you intone is of significance to them.

      Like many you appear to have enjoyed the benefit of Hanna and Barbera’s Top Cat in your socialisation, perhaps with admixtures of M.A.S.H where in Hawkeye continued the “Top Cat” meme in more human form.

      Perhaps the understandings of Col. Macgregor may aid you comprehension?


    • michael888
      March 23, 2022 at 07:09

      But what else is the US capable of, if not War? Our Presidents have off-shored most important technology and manufacturing (saving pennies on the dollar in Labor costs, the driving issue), and our politicians are beholden through bribes/ political donations to the MIC. The problem is the continual creation of new Forever Wars since Iraq to feed the War Economy, since Americans can no longer compete with the rest of the industrialized world. There is an escalation from the William Blum “Master List” and John Perkins “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” where the US installed puppet governments to steal resources. Now there must be major arm sales and proxy war, destroying the “US helped” country in the process. (And how could Hedges leave out Hillary? Albright? )
      As to Ukraine, the CIA has been backing NAZI groups there against Russians since the 50s. And the US has made sure that Ukraine will never be an “independent sovereign” country, since they have been controlled as a puppet state through “loans” with unpayable interest; Biden has been running Ukraine since before the Maidan Coup (and likely continued his control during the Trump administration), picking up where he left off as VP. A straight-forward simplified analysis: hxxps://

      • alley cat
        March 23, 2022 at 13:00

        “But what else is the US capable of, if not War?”

        I’m afraid I have to agree with you. And it makes me afraid of what comes next. The current war hysteria is even more intense than it was during the run-up to the Iraq war.

        The problem is not so much what Americans are thinking, it’s that most Americans simply are not thinking. Instead, they’re surrendering to their most primitive tribal emotions in response to our leaders’ cynical manipulations. All this tells me that the chances for survival of the human race are not good unless collective human behavior changes, and what are the chances of that?

        • SaltandPepper
          March 23, 2022 at 14:43

          ““But what else is the US capable of, if not War?”

          As the Pentagon advises privately including to Mr. Biden “The Us” , with the assistance of NATO and ragtags of mercenaries, is capable of war with smaller countries, particularly those without nuclear weapons.

          In respect of war with The Russian Federation a nuclear power, the combination of NATO and The United States of America would be wholly reliant on nuclear weapons from relatively early in their “endeavours” which could extinguish most life forms on planet earth – which in part explains their preferences for colour revolutions and mercenaries – part of why the strategies of the Russian Federation includes “demilitarisation and de-nazification” as was the case in modified form in Syria.

          However as the Pentagon is becoming increasingly aware, “NATO and The United States of America” combined with ragtags of mercenaries, is at war in various modes against the world including themselves, and hence the propaganda that others in “The United States of America” have fashioned and continue to fashion, poses an existential threat to “The United States of America” of which NATO is a component.

          All in consequence of ignoring the observation of Mr. Gogol.

          Don’t hold on too tightly to flying troikas.

          Useful illuminators in these matters include, but are not restricted to, Col. Macgregor and Mr. Ritter.

  19. Ames Gilbert
    March 22, 2022 at 17:48

    Even through the present “fog of war” and the tsunami of propaganda spewing from the West, it is apparent to me that the Russians are trying to spare civilians as best they can. One marker is that the water, electricity, internet and so on still largely works in most of Ukraine. Another is that there is no saturation bombing of the cities, such as always occurs when the U.S. wages war. In fact, many if not most of the cities are surrounded, but not invaded. If this is true, it will be interesting to see if Chris Hedges revisits some of his statements which tar the Russians with the same brush as the U.S. and NATO actions since the end of WW II.

  20. Ray Peterson
    March 22, 2022 at 16:56

    Sounds like “War Gives Us Meaning,” your book title Chris, and technology
    feeds the human “will to power” (Nietzsche), with weapons capable of now
    being “a boot stomping the face of humanity” (Orwell, 1984).
    And while Western media successfully continues its “two minutes of hate”
    we don’t have to “remain in the darkness” (Jn.12.46).
    Thanks for your courageous journalism in the spirit of Julian Assange.

  21. Susy Williams
    March 22, 2022 at 16:56

    So well said Chris. The complete hypocrisy shown by this country disgusts me to my soul. Thank you for having the words!

  22. Drew Hunkins
    March 22, 2022 at 16:42

    “If Ukrainians are heroic resistance fighters, what about Iraqis and Afghans, who fought as valiantly and as doggedly against a foreign power that was every bit as savage as Russia?”

    Stop with the false equivalency.

    Russia’s special operation to demilitarize Ukraine is a righteous mission focused on removing the far-right Slavophobes and other violent anti-Russian racists. Kiev was just about to wage massive war on the ethnic Russians just a few days after Moscow interceded, it was nipped in the bud. Kiev had massed well over 100,000 troops on the border of the Donbass ready to invade. Moreover, NATO was set on putting nuclear missiles in Ukraine within the next few years; the Kremlin had no choice but to get into Ukraine pronto to foil the malevolent and exceedingly dangerous plans by Zelensky and the Washington militarist warmongers. In effect, Putin’s staving off a future nuclear war by taking action now.

    Russia had bent over backwards for eight years with diplomatic outreach only to be rebuffed, scorned and mocked. The double-standard is breathtaking to witness — Moscow sticking nukes in southern Canada or northern Mexico would elicit the same exact response from Washington as what Russia’s currently carrying out in Ukraine.

    • Angelika Haeber
      March 22, 2022 at 18:16

      No, the US would respond by carpet bombing Canadian cities rather than show any restraints which the
      Russians adhere to, if someone tried to put nukes on our borders. Hugs

      • Drew Hunkins
        March 23, 2022 at 16:38

        You’re 100% correct Angelika.

  23. Drew Hunkins
    March 22, 2022 at 16:28

    “We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, General Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Asst. Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, former Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. John Yoo,”

    Let’s not forget Susan Rice, Obama, Killary, Power, Albright, Colin Powell (sold the world the lies that justified the disgusting Washington attack on Iraq), and Bill Clinton, Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz. One could go on.

    • irina
      March 22, 2022 at 22:42

      Victoria Nuland. (Wife of Project for a New American Century neocon Robert Kagan).

  24. Philip Dunkelbarger
    March 22, 2022 at 15:54

    Remember Gore Vidal’s great line, “United States of Amnesia.”

    • Björn Widfors
      March 23, 2022 at 04:06

      United States of Atrocities is more to the point .

  25. bruno vitale
    March 22, 2022 at 15:02

    Vietnam is little present in your text, and was a long crime
    bruno vitale

  26. Cal Lash
    March 22, 2022 at 14:58

    Bush should paint in a prison work shop assisted with directions by his cellmate Cheney.

  27. Lars-Ivar Juntti
    March 22, 2022 at 14:55

    Evert Word True!

  28. Jack Siler
    March 22, 2022 at 14:51

    BRAVO! Chris Hedges. There are many of us who feel exactly what you describe, but few can express is so well. Thank you.

  29. Vera Gottlieb
    March 22, 2022 at 14:43

    Isn’t this where the word ‘whataboutism’ comes into play???

Comments are closed.