JR'S Free Thought Pages
All Wars are Based on Lies
Money Talks and Bullshit Walks
By JR, September 29, 2022
In almost all of the important decisions, events and plans in life it’s imperative we ask the important question: cui bono? This is a requirement when it comes to war and its intimate partners of hatred and criminality [1a]. It ought to be obvious to anyone with sufficient curiosity and a functioning brain that all wars are planned and implemented by wealthy power elites and the ruling classes. These are people who would never put themselves in harm’s way by fighting and dying in the wars they instigate. Rather they profit from them by feeding endless bullshit and propaganda to the credulous masses. This has been the case throughout recorded history. Wave the flag, sing the national anthem and display the symbols of power such as military and monarchy at every opportunity. Fear, racism, hatred of the other  and propaganda have been effective ploys by ruling classes for millennia; but why? There are at least two reasons: (a) People simply refuse to think and (b) any effort to introduce logic, rules of argument, critical thinking and bottom up history in the public schools has been blocked by every organized religion and other conservative power base in every country in the world. If young people knew the truth about war, thought control, indoctrination and propaganda there would be no one joining a mindless military (aka hired killers for the state) and wars would not be possible. This willed ignorance can be applied to the militarized institutions of the police that exist primarily to serve and protect wealth and power – working class young men hired to control and beat down other working class people who challenge the status quo. The violent history of the labor movements worldwide are sufficient evidence for this claim.
The calamities, death and destruction of the ongoing war in Ukraine have not yet found their artistic manifestation of a Francisco Goya (1746-1828) who was deeply affected by the horrors of war. Towards the end of his life he created a series of 82 black-and-white prints in response to the deceit, lies, bigotry, racism and barbarism of endless war. The prints were of mass murder, hatred of the other, cruelty, rape, torture, butchery, starvation and humiliation. The reporting of journalists such as the great Russian writer Vasily Grossman  who was with the Red Army during World War II from Stalingrad to Berlin convey an even more a graphic depiction of war’s death and destruction.
Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra
Take your pick of wars whether the Peloponnesian Wars of the ancient world, Napoleonic, genocidal colonial wars against indigenous populations or the most horrific and degraded of all - those of the 20th century world wars and the gratuitous slaughter by MAGA military in Vietnam.  The hypocrisy and arrogance of the US and NATO (which ought to have been dismantled decades ago) is stunning in its sponsorship of a proxy war against Russia. It’s become an international disgrace as a steady flow of billions of dollars and weapons from the US, Canada and Western Europe is being shipped to the Ukraine to kill primarily young working class Russian men. The big weapons manufacturers in the US such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing are raking in huge profits as they did in the two world wars, the slaughter in Korea and Vietnam and the many wars since the phony GWOT (Global War on Terror). More bombs and toxic chemicals were dropped on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (formerly the colony of French Indo-China) than all the combatants in World War II, reducing the countries to toxic waste dumps and thousands of unexploded bombs that are still killing people.
The war in Ukraine, like all its predecessors, is contaminated with a unitary singular narrative of reeking propaganda in the NATO west which is the primary cause of the conflict. Historical context, especially the events following the Soviet Union and subsequent pillage of Soviet public assets, is crucial to understanding this unnecessary awful war. But hatred of all things Russian in the West can be traced all the way back to the Russian Revolution and the phony Cold War following World War II (a war against fascism that was won by the Russians at a cost of 25-30 million deaths). Since the onset of the war in Ukraine everything and anything Russian including artists, musicians, writers and athletes are now considered persona non grata, pariahs and demonized as some mutant alien from another galaxy. World War I was at one time referred to as “the war to end all wars”. But do yourself a favor and read Adam Hochschild’s To End all Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 which among other topics covers the courageous pacifists such as mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell who tried to put a stop to it. Russell, one of the great intellects of the 20th century, was charged with sedition and incarcerated for six months for his pacifist efforts. However, while in prison he didn’t waste his time, writing an excellent introduction to the philosophy of mathematics which is still in print.
But peace activists, anti-war protestors, environmentalists or any other group that compromises corporate profits is deemed an enemy of the capitalist state. But a demented racist sexual predator sociopathic narcissist con man and sadly former president Donald Trump can get away with instigating a coup of the White House and confiscating government documents to his decadent mansion and nothing happens. Some people if they are sufficiently wealthy or have political clout are above the law. Just think back to 2008 when the global economy imploded because of criminal activities of the world’s largest banks and other financial crooks. Not only were they not charged, prosecuted and jailed, they were bailed out by the public to the tune of trillions of dollars in the USA alone. And some call it “democracy”.
I’ve read all of Hochschild’s books, including his fascinating autobiography Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son. This and other volumes by Adam are must reads for any inquiring person and I would start with King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.
Writing about the big lie of the so-called “good war” of 1939-1945 – World War II , Nicholson Baker in Human Smoke described its origins as the advent of civilization’s end with the records of both sides disfigured by the most horrific war crimes. A key irrefutable truism about war is “the first casualty of war is the truth”. Required reading on war in general is David Swanson’s War is a Lie.
The reporting of Nicholas Turse in Shoot Anything that Moves about the war in Vietnam and of Vincent Bevins in his recent riveting book The Jakarta Method : Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World about Washington-backed massacres worldwide in the Cold War showed Americans in these two cases as arch perpetrators of heinous war crimes. Chalmers Johnson in the Blowback trilogy and Dismantling the Empire compiled long lists of American atrocities in what he called our obsessive wars of empire in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything by the late William Blum such as Killing Hope: U.S. and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II and America's Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else.
Here is an excerpt from an excellent analysis on the war in Ukraine by Richard Drake who is the Lucile Speer Research Chair in Politics and History at the University of Montana:
“The Vladimir Putin record in Ukraine may be as bad as his worst enemies proclaim, but even at that it is well within the norm for war, the selective indignation about him notwithstanding. War and crimes go together. A question larger than the one about Putin’s war crimes concerns the origins of the war itself. Who or what caused the war? From that first cause ineluctable consequences of a criminal character followed.
On the principle that historical analysis requires an attempt to understand the motives of all sides in a war, the Russian argument deserves a fair hearing. Roy Medvedev, one of Russia’s most distinguished historians and long a supporter of Vladimir Putin, gave an interview on March 2, 2022, to the Corriere della Sera. The ninety-six-year-old Medvedev succinctly expressed the Kremlin view of the Ukraine crisis as a clash involving far more than Putin’s concern about NATO expansion to his country’s borders. The metastasizing of NATO illustrated but did not define for Russia the fundamental issue, which had to do with the failure of America to understand that the unipolar moment of its rules-based order had ended. The time had come for a paradigm shift in international relations.
As an example of the American hegemony’s failures, Medvedev commented on the effects of Washington’s supervisory role in Russia’s transition to capitalism. He was referring to the misery befalling Russia at Cold War’s end and astringently described by the Nobel Prize-winning Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz in Globalization and Its Discontents (2002). In general, Stiglitz could find nothing moral or competent in the way globalization had been imposed upon the world by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the U.S. Treasury Department. Globalization had turned into an enrichment scheme for international elites implementing and benefitting from the neoliberal Washington Consensus.
When Stiglitz came to discuss the Russian economy’s American-led post-Cold War reconfiguration, which evolved along lines pleasing to the Chicago School of true-believing free-market capitalists, he showed in copious detail what Medvedev was alluding to in his interview with Italy’s leading newspaper. This crash course in free market economics had produced a harrowing increase in the nation’s poverty. The Russian GDP declined by two-thirds from 1989 to 2000.The standard of living and life expectancy fell while the number of people in poverty rose. Levels of inequality grew as oligarchs took advantage of insider information to strip the country of its assets, which they invested not in Russia, but in the U.S. Stock Market. Billions of dollars poured out of the country along with a swelling emigration of talented and educated young people who could see no future for themselves there.
Revisiting the Russian experience of the 1990s, Medvedev cited the social consequences of these terrible years as the main reason for Putin’s popularity in Russia today. After ten years of Western democratic tutelage, the country had fallen apart. Medvedev credited Putin for reviving Russia and returning it to great power status. The charges made against him in the Western media, likening his government to the murderous tyranny of Stalin, Medvedev dismissed as a complete misreading of Russian history. He had lived under both these leaders. There was no comparison between them. Russia was a controlled society, to be sure, but Putin did not preside over its complex political system as a dictator.
Buoyed by high personal prestige nationwide, Putin had the support of the Russian people in the Ukraine intervention. It can be deduced from Medvedev’s interview that they had accepted Putin’s two-fold reasoning for Russia’s actions. First, for the Russians, the U.S.-NATO de facto alliance with Ukraine constituted an existential threat, made even more dangerous by the inclusion of radical right-wing anti-Russian elements in that country’s military forces. Beginning with the summit meeting of 2008 in Bucharest, the George W. Bush administration pushed for Ukraine and Georgia to become members of NATO, by definition and continued practice an anti-Russian alliance.
Thereafter, the march of events in that part of the world had been in one direction leading on November 10, 2021, to the U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership. This agreement outlined a process for that country’s integration into the European Union and NATO. Indeed, the military success of Ukraine against Russia reveals the large scope of the ceaseless NATO training program. From the Kremlin’s perspective an invasion became necessary to prevent an even more lethal threat from materializing on its doorstep.
In the aftermath of the Charter’s promulgation and America’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s concerns, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov declared that his country had reached its “boiling point.” Even these blunt words failed to impress policy makers in Washington. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a blunt declaration of his own about Ukraine’s right to choose its own foreign policy and to apply for membership in NATO if it wanted to, disregarding the practical inapplicability of this high-minded principle to Canada or Mexico should either of those nations discover their right to enter into a military alliance with Russia or China. Russia’s subsequent mobilization of troops on the Ukraine border prompted more bluntness from Blinken: “There is no change. There will be no change.”
That which would not change in essence concerned the Wolfowitz Doctrine. The American cause in Ukraine descends from this doctrine. Its proclaimed purpose is the focal point in the second part of Putin’s reasoning about Ukraine.
As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, Paul Wolfowitz authored the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance memorandum. This seminal foreign policy document called for the maintenance of American supremacy in the post-Cold War era. No rival superpower would be permitted to emerge. The unipolar domination of the United States would be maintained in perpetuity. The Democrats did not demur. During the Clinton administration, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the United States enjoyed a unique status in the world as the indispensable nation. Preserving U.S. economic and military primacy would enjoy bipartisan favor.
That Putin had uppermost in mind concerns about the credo of American supremacism became evident on February 4, 2022, when he and China’s President Xi Jinping issued their Joint Statement on New Era International Relations and Sustainable Development. They declared that instead of the U.S. hegemony, the U.N. Charter would be a better foundation for international relations. In short, the unipolar moment of which Medvedev would speak a month later, should pass into history.
The danger of the present crisis with Russia in Ukraine and the one to come with China in Taiwan involves the way all the principal powers envisage themselves facing existential threats. For the Russians and the Chinese, the immediate issues at stake are territorial, for the Americans, their global hegemony. The rules-based order of which the Biden administration speaks in defense of its Ukraine policy is the one we have devised and defended since the Bretton Woods financial conference of July 1944. The Wolfowitz Doctrine takes its place as one of the many appendices and codicils of the American Century mentality that assumed tangible institutional form with the creation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank along with the investment and military support systems of the Marshall Plan and NATO.
All that panoply of American power now confronts its first direct and forthrightly stated challenge since the end of the Cold War. How to face it? We could continue to stoke the war in Ukraine with money, arms, and economic sanctions while hoping that our direct involvement can be avoided. Given our multifarious involvement already, the fog of war greatly reduces the chances of success in keeping ourselves clear of the actual fighting. In the protracted war now envisaged, clear-eyed restraint holding out for long on either side would be an unsafe bet. A negotiated settlement would be a rational step, but powers imagining themselves to be in dubious battle on the plains of Heaven seldom think of compromise until all the alternatives are exhausted. These alternatives include nuclear weapons exchanges.
With the perpetuation of the American hegemony as our core issue in Ukraine and the fundamental motive for the Biden administration’s four-alarm-fire response to the Putin challenge, it behooves us as a nation to look candidly at the policy we are defending. We are not there to save the Ukrainian people from death or Ukraine from destruction, two objectives most effectively reached by our working to end the war as quickly as possible, instead of by perpetuating it as we are doing. As a nice bonus for our side, profits are up for the defense corporations, which must feel ennobled by their assistance to a Ukrainian cause all but universally blessed by the mass media system.
Outside the United States, however, the international reaction to the Washington-inspired economic sanctions against Russia provides a glimpse of the division in the world over the rule we are defending. Even in the NATO countries beneath the level of officialdom, resistance to the sanctions mounts over fears of economic hardship for European populations. Prices for gas and food are rising while incomes remain stagnant or decline, with much worse trends envisaged for the near term as the sanctions take full effect. For a growing number of Europeans, the full cost of membership in NATO is already too high.
Beyond Europe, the reaction to the Ukraine crisis favors Putin partly because the nations of the Global South know that they will be the most vulnerable to the ill effects of the sanctions leveled against Russia. Moreover, vivid recollections of Western imperialism in the non-white nations have a deadening effect on their reception of the NATO narrative about its irenic and philanthropic purposes. The NATO wars recently fought in Serbia, Iraq, and Libya have the same effect.
That Africa, Latin America, and Asia generally have not signed on to the economic sanctions suggests that the war in Ukraine has become a litmus test for the thesis of Pankaj Mishra in The Age of Anger: A History of the Present. He portrays a world seething with resentment and hatred due to the humiliation of peoples and cultures deprived of power-elite protections. The most visible evidence of the global emergency that he describes consists of worsening income inequality and environmental degradation. The rules-based order for which we are fighting as arms-supplying proxies in Ukraine lacks a moral basis and requires a thorough overhaul.
By persisting with our current Ukraine policy, we can hope that this time, unlike all the other times since Woodrow Wilson set the United States on the path to make the world safe for democracy, a savage war will be something other than a slaughtering pen put to the service of what Thorstein Veblen liked to call “the good old plan.” He meant the securing, maintaining, and extending of home country control over the territories, markets, and resources of the world. This root-and-branch criticism of American foreign policy comes in its most developed form from two of our greatest historians, Charles Austin Beard and William Appleman Williams whose work merits reconsideration today as we try to wean ourselves from empire as a way of life.”
[1a] For anyone interested in the rationale for war, look no further than the writings of the most decorated American soldier up to the time of his death at 58 in 1940. His name is Major General Smedly D Butler, born to a Quaker family, who wrote the pamphlet in the mid 1930s called War is a Racket (follow the link for the transcript) and a speech by Butler here. I just finished reading an excellent book based on Butler and the role of US global militarism and imperialism that can be traced back to the invasion of Mexico in the mid 19th century. For many of the brutal murderous interventions in the Spanish American War, China, Latin America and elsewhere, Butler was a leading participant but he slowly retreated to his Quaker roots and learned the truth about war. Read the book which is now in paperback, called Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America's Empire by Jonathan M Katz. For the big business plot to overthrow US President FDR recounted in the above book by Katz, a sordid historical episode most people do not know, watch this video:
Most do not know about the Bonus Marches in Washington in 1932:
For an interview with Jonathan Katz who discusses his book Gangsters of Capitalism, watch this:
 Mutilation and Burning at the Stake in the United States during 1899 in the US State of Georgia:
“Sam Hose was brought to a patch of land known as the old Troutman field. Newspapers reported that members of the mob used knives to sever Hose’s ears, fingers and genitals while others plunged knives repeatedly into his body, to cheers from the mob. Men and boys gathered kindling from the nearby woods to create a pyre. The skin from Hose’s face was removed, and he was doused with kerosene. He was then chained to a pine tree. Several matches were thrown onto the pyre by members of the mob, lighting it on fire and burning Hose alive. The heat from the fire caused Hose’s veins to rupture while his eyes nearly burst from their sockets. One journalist present noted the crowd watched “with unfeigned satisfaction” at contortions of Hose’s body.  As the flames consumed his body, Hose screamed out, “Oh my God! Oh Jesus!” From the time of Hose’s first injuries to his death, almost 30 minutes passed. One woman thanked God for the actions of the mob. Some members of the mob cut off pieces of his dead body as souvenirs. Pieces of Hose’s bones were sold for 25 cents, while his heart and liver were cut out to be sold.” Wikipedia
United States in the 21st Century:
“Afghan national Alif Khan told Amnesty International that he was held in US custody in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for five days in May 2002. He said that he was held in handcuffs, waist chains, and leg shackles for the whole time, subjected to sleep deprivation, denied water for prayer or washing, and was kept in a cage-like structure with eight people.” Amnesty International
 Must reads by Grossman are A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, Life and Fate, Everything Flows and Stalingrad. An excellent biography is Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century by Alexandra Popoff. The best Russian writer for me is Victor Serge, an anarchist whose parents were revolutionary anti-tsarist exiles in Belgium in the late 19th century. Start with his incredible Memoirs of a Revolutionary, arguably the best book among thousands that I have ever read. The introduction by Adam Hochschild is brilliant. Serge had an amazing life, spent several years in prison for his anarchist activities (as did most anarchists), spoke several languages and was educated at home by his intellectual and anarchist parents. A unique and highly skilled writer, Victor Serge spoke several languages including Russian, French and English. All of Serge’s books are well worth reading.
 General Mike Minihan, the US Air Mobility Commander recently made a public statement:
“Lethality matters most. When you can kill your enemy, every part of your life is better. Your food tastes better. Your marriage is stronger. This is who we are. We are lethal. Do not apologize for it, after listing distinguished Air Force commanders like Gen. Curtis LeMay and Brigadier General Robin Olds, who had no scruples against killing the enemy. The pile of our nation’s enemy dead, the pile that is the biggest, is in front of the United States Air Force.”