Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Why does Saudi Arabia need military aid?

The Saudis are getting $13bn. How can they spend that? Have Prada moved into tanks?

By Mark Steel

08/01/07 "The Independent" -- -- Here's something they sneaked out this week with hardly anyone noticing - the Americans have announced a "military aid package" of sixty billion dollars for their allies in the Middle East. Or, to be grammatically correct, sixty billion, that's sixty thousand million bastard dollars!!!

How can they spend that? Have Prada moved into tanks? Maybe they now buy these things at fashion shows, where a commentator gasps: "Ooh, my, my!" as down the catwalk comes this exhilarating design for the very latest satellite-guided armour-penetrating missile modelled here by Kate Moss, designed, of course, by Stella McCartney, and "sure to be this summer's big bold hit when it comes to melting the Hizbollah".

This is $250 for every living American, $10 for everyone on the planet. Are they taking each weapon out individually for a meal at the Ivy? And $13bn of this is for Saudi Arabia. Because if there's one family on this earth in need of financial aid, it's the Saudi royal family. Who's getting the rest - the Bee Gees? Anyway, why do the Saudis need military aid at all? Their favourite weapon seems to be the stone. I suppose now if a woman commits adultery or speaks out of turn she'll be battered to death with a bloody great ruby instead.

To get all this in perspective, after the G8 summit two years ago in Scotland, after the Make Poverty History march and concerts, a beaming Tony Blair announced a record-breaking global amount of aid of fifty billion dollars. This time they seem to be a bit more modest. No one came galloping out of the White House joyfully to explain that, after a whole week of negotiating, they've come up with more laser-guided firebombs than ever.

But they shouldn't be so modest. Because a sign of how hard it is to come up with such sums can be seen from this year's G8 summit, when they admitted that instead of the $50bn they promised in Scotland, it was back to $25bn after all. So all those balloons, celebrations, smiley press conferences and declarations of a new start for Africa, were about the entire western world donating to an entire impoverished continent less than half of what one country has quietly coughed up in weapons for the Saudis, Egypt and Israel.

They do it quietly because how many people would agree with these priorities? On Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, when Chris Tarrant asks: "What would you do with the money if you won a million pounds?", very few people say: "I'd buy some cluster bombs." How many people, if they were taken on a tour of the Middle East, through Gaza and the wreckage of Iraq and the slums of Cairo, would say: "I know what this place needs above all else - $60bn-worth of deadly weapons."

How many people would support a charity record called "Death Aid", or a night of TV comedy called "Smiles for Missiles", in which Vernon Kay wandered through Angola grimacing: "This village hasn't had a landmine for over a month. Please, please, please, send your donation so they too can know what it's like to watch someone explode", followed by a special edition of A Question of Sport.

One of the reasons given for the difficulty in providing aid to Africa is their leaders are corrupt, so there's every chance they'll swipe the money. So luckily, when it comes to Saudi Arabia they can rely on that country's rulers, who would never fiddle a billion dollars from British Aerospace or do illegal deals with, to pick someone at random, Jonathan Aitken.

Maybe the complaint about corruption has been misunderstood and the Africans aren't doing enough of it. So the White House gets reports that say: "Some ministers in Malawi go a whole month with barely a single prostitute being procured by the arms companies - how can we possibly do business with such people?" And half this generous gift, $30bn-worth of arms, is being given to Israel. Surely the problem here is where will they put them all? They'll be like parents at Christmas when an over-generous grandparent delivers sacks full of presents, and you have to have a clearout of all the old stuff to make room. So if you want a cheap battleship, nip down to a charity shop in Hebron and you'll be able to pick one up for a score.

But more weapons is the answer to everything. For example, a US defence report on global warming has concluded it could lead to global instability and mass migration, proving the necessity of acquiring more weapons to deal with this.

If anyone from the Pentagon visits Moss Side or Peckham, they'll announce: "Hey, these places are in bad shape. So we've given everyone under 25 a pistol, a sword and a tank." If someone from the Pentagon ever worked as a chef, he'd taste the sauce and say: "Hmm, it needs something - basil, perhaps, or a sprinkle of fennel? I know, it needs a Stealth bomber."

How does anyone get to see the world from the point of view of the Pentagon? Who would look around a world in which 5,000children a day die for lack of clean water and decide that can wait, but the weapons can't?

But the biggest mystery is the official reason given for handing over this fortune to Egypt and Saudi Arabia - that, according to Zalmay Khalilzad, US ambassador to the United Nations, it's because "Saudi Arabia and others are not doing all they can to help us in Iraq". So they're rewarded like that. Well, I've done bugger all to help America in Iraq. Can I have a helicopter?

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited

Dangers of a Cornered George Bush By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity & Dr. Justin Frank

Editor’s Note: As the nation and the world face 18 more months of George W. Bush’s presidency, a chilling prospect is that Bush – confronted with more defeats and reversals – might just “lose it” and undertake even more reckless military adventures.

In this special memorandum, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) collaborated with psychiatrist Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch, to assess the potential dangers and possible countermeasures available to constrain Bush:

Recent events have put a great deal more pressure on President George W. Bush, who has shown little regard for the constitutional system bequeathed to us by the Founders. Having bragged about being commander in chief of the “first war of the 21st century,” one he began under false pretenses, success in Iraq is now a pipedream.

The “new” strategy of surging troops in Baghdad has simply wasted more lives and bought some time for the president. His strategy boils down to keeping as many of our soldiers engaged as possible, in order to stave off definitive defeat in Iraq before January 2009.

Bush is commander in chief, but Congress must approve funding for the war, and its patience is running out. The war – and the polls – are going so badly that it is no longer a sure thing that the administration will be able to fund continuance of the war.

There is an outside chance Congress will succeed in forcing a pullout starting in the next several months. What would the president likely do in reaction to that slap in the face?

What would he do if the Resistance succeeded in mounting a large attack on U.S. facilities in the Green Zone or elsewhere in Iraq? How would he react if Israel mounted a preemptive attack on the nuclear-related facilities in Iran and wider war ensued?

Applied Psychoanalysis

The answers to such questions depend on a host of factors for which intelligence analysts use a variety of tools. One such tool involves applying the principles of psychoanalysis to acquire insights into the minds of key leaders, with an eye to facilitating predictions as to how they might react in certain circumstances.

For U.S. intelligence, this common-law marriage of psychoanalysis and intelligence work dates back to the early 1940s, when CIA’s forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services commissioned two studies of Adolf Hitler.

We call such assessments “at-a-distance leader personality assessments.” Many were quite useful. VIPS found the 2004 book Bush on the Couch, by Washington psychiatrist Justin Frank, MD, a very helpful assessment in this genre. We now have two more years of experience of observing Bush closely.

As we watched the pressure build on President Bush, looked toward the additional challenges we expect him to face over the next 18 months, and pondered his tendency to disregard the law and the Constitution, we felt very much in need of professional help in trying to estimate what kinds of decisions he is likely to make.

Dr. Frank, it turned out, had been thinking along the same lines, when we asked to meet with him just three weeks ago. What follows is a collaborative Frank-VIPS effort, with the psychological insights volunteered by Dr. Frank, who shares the imperative we feel to draw on all disciplines to assess what courses of action President George W. Bush is likely to decide upon in reacting to reverse after reverse in the coming months.

Parental discretion advised. The outlook is not only somber but potentially violent—and includes all manner of threats born of George W. Bush’s mental state (as well as the unusual relationship he has with his vice president).

Things are going to hell in a hand basket for this administration, and Bush/Cheney have shown a willingness to act in extra-Constitutional ways, as they see fit.

While Bush and his advisers make a fetish of it, he is nonetheless commander in chief of the armed forces and the question becomes how he might feel justified in using them and is there still any restraining force—any checks on the increasing power of the executive in our three-branch government.

We have a president whose psychological makeup inclines him to do as he pleases. Because Congress has been cowed, and the judiciary stacked with loyalists, he has gotten away with it—so far.

But the polls show growing discontent among the people, especially over the war in Iraq. Congress, too, is starting to challenge the executive, as it should—but slowly, slower than it should. The way things are moving, there is infinite opportunity to diddle and dodge—in effect conducting business pretty much as usual over the next 18 months.

Could Start Another War...

Meanwhile, the president may well feel free to start another war, with little reference to the Congress or the UN, against Iran.

The commander of CENTO forces, Admiral William Fallon is quoted as having said we “will not go to war with Iran on my watch.” Tough words; but should the president order an attack on Iran, chances are Fallon and others will do what they are accustomed to doing, salute smartly and carry out orders, UNLESS they show more regard for the U.S. Constitution than the president does.

There is an orderly remedy written into the Constitution aimed at preventing a president from usurping the power of the people and acting like a king; the process, of course, is impeachment.

The usual focus on impeachment is on abuses of the past, and a compelling case can surely be made. We believe an equally compelling incentive can be seen in looking toward the next 18 months.

In this paper, we are primarily concerned about what future misadventures are likely if this administration is not somehow held to account; that is, if Bush and Cheney are not removed from office.

Unless Checked

If the constitutional process of impeachment is under way when President Bush orders our military to begin a war against Iran, there is a good chance that, rather than salute like automatons and start World War III, our senior military would find a way to prevent more carnage until such time as the representatives of the people in the House have spoken.

This administration’s capacity for mischief would not end until conviction in the Senate. But initiating the impeachment process appears to be the only way to launch a shot across the bow of this particular ship of state. For it is captained by a president with a psychological makeup likely to lead to new misadventures likely to end in a ship wreck unless the Constitution is brought alongside and a new pilot boarded.

We are grateful that Dr. Frank agreed to collaborate with us and to issue under VIPS auspices the psychological assessment that follows.

Discussion of the three scenarios after his profiling of President Bush was very much a collaborative exercise aimed at applying Frank’s insights to contingencies our president may have to address before he leaves office. Our conclusions are, of necessity, speculative—and, sorry, scary.

The Assessment of Dr. Frank:

If a patient came into my consulting room missing an arm, the first question I would ask is, “What happened to your arm?” The same would be true for a patient who has no guilt, no conscience. I would want to know what happened to it.

No Conscience

George W. Bush is without conscience, and it would require a lengthy series of clinical sessions to find out what happened to it. By identifying himself as all good and on the side of right, he has been able to vanquish any guilt, any sense of doing wrong.

In Bush on the Couch I gave examples illustrating that remarkable lack of conscience. From his youthful days blowing up frogs with firecrackers to his unapologetic public endorsement of torture, there has been no change.

Observers are gradually becoming aware of this fundamental deficit. For example, after watching the president’s press conference on July 12, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, “He doesn't seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush?”

No Shame

George W. Bush seems also to be without shame. He expresses no regret or embarrassment about his failure to help Katrina victims, or to tell the truth. He says whatever he thinks people want to hear, whether it be “stay the course” or “I’ve never been about ‘stay the course.’” He does whatever he wants.

He lies—not just to us, but to himself as well. What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt—for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him.

That he could say so baldly that he’d never been about “stay the course” is bone chilling. So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand.

Fear of Humiliation

Despite having no shame, Bush has a profound fear of failure and humiliation. He defends himself from this by any means at his disposal—most frequently with indifference or contempt.

He will flinch only if directly confronted about being a failure or a liar. Otherwise world events are enough removed from him that he can spin them into his intact defense system.

This deep fear helps to explain his relentlessly escalating attacks on others, his bullying, and his use of nicknames to put people down. There is fear of being found out not to be as big in every way as his father.

What a burden to have to face his many inadequacies—now held up to the light of day—whether it is his difficulty in speaking, thinking, reading, managing anxiety, or making good decisions. He will not change, because for him change means humiliating collapse. He is very fearful of public exposure of his many inadequacies.

Contempt for Truth?

Contempt itself is a defense, a form of self-protection, which helps Bush appear at ease and relaxed—at least to big fans like New York Times columnist David Brooks.

The president’s contempt defense protects his belief system, a system he clings to as if his beliefs were well-researched facts. His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth.

What gets lost in this process is growth—the George W. Bush of 2007 is exactly the same as the one of 2001. Helen Thomas has said that of all the presidents she has covered over the years, Bush is the least changed by his job, by his experience. This is why there is no possibility of dialogue or reasoning with him.


His certitude that he is right gives him carte blanche for destructive behavior. He has always had a sadistic streak: from blowing up frogs, to shooting his siblings with a b-b-gun, to branding fraternity pledges with white-hot coat hangers.

His comfort with cruelty is one reason he can be so jocular with reporters when talking about American casualties in Iraq. Instead of seeing a president in anguish, we watch him publicly joking about the absence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, in the vain search for which so many young Americans died.

Break It!

Bush likes to break things, needs to break things. And this is most shockingly seen in how he is systematically destroying our armed forces.

In the early days of the Iraq invasion he refused to approve the large number of troop the generals said were needed in order to try to invade and pacify Iraq and acquiesced in the firing of any general who disagreed.

He turned a blind eye to giving the troops proper equipment and cut funding for needed health care. Health care and other social programs have one thing in common: they are paid for by public funds.

It may well be that, unconsciously, the government represents his neglectful parents, and those helped by the government represent the siblings he resents. If George W. Bush wanted to destroy his own family, he could scarcely have done better. Thanks to him, no Bush is likely to be elected to high office for generations to come.

Where Does This Leave Us?

It leaves us with a regressed president who needs to protect himself more than ever from diminishment, humiliation, and collapse. He is so busy trying to manage his own anxiety that he has little capacity left to attend to national and world problems.

And so, we are left with a president who cannot actually govern, because he is incapable of reasoned thought in coping with events outside his control, like those in the Middle East.

This makes it a monumental challenge—as urgent as it is difficult—not only to get him to stop the carnage in the Middle East, but also to prevent him from undertaking a new, perhaps even more disastrous adventure—like going to war with Iran, in order to embellish the image he so proudly created for himself after 9/11 as the commander in chief of “the first war of the 21st century.”

Iran would make number three—all the compelling reasons against it notwithstanding

* * *


We will now attempt to put flesh on the discussion by positing and examining scenarios that would force Bush to react, and applying the observations above and other data to forecast what form that reaction might take.

Outlined below are three illustrative contingencies, each of which would pose a neuralgic threat to George W. Bush’s shaky self-esteem, his over-determined efforts to stave off humiliation, and his unending need for self-protection.

These are not seat-of-the-pants scenarios. Each of them is possible—arguably, even probable. The importance of coming up with educated guesses regarding Bush’s response BEFORE they occur is, we hope, clear.

Scenario A: Destructive Attack on the Green Zone

The U.S. military is out in front of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other policymakers in Washington in seeing the hand of Iran’s government behind “the enemy” in Iraq.

On July 26, the operational commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, blamed the recent “significant improvement” in the accuracy of mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone on “training conducted inside Iran.” Odierno also repeated that roadside bombs are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran.

Last week, Gen. David Petraeus warned that insurgents intend to “pull off a variety of sensational attacks and grab the headlines to create a ‘mini-Tet.’” (Tet refers to the surprise country-wide offensive mounted by the Vietnamese Communists in early 1968, which indicated to most Americans that the war was lost.)

Attacks on the Green Zone have doubled in recent months. Despite this, the senior military appear to be in denial with respect to the vulnerability of the Green Zone—oblivious even to the reality that mortar rounds and rocket fire have little respect for walled enclaves.

Anyone with a mortar and access to maps and images on Google can calibrate fire to devastating effect—with or without training in Iran. It is just a matter of time before mortar round or rocket takes out part of the spanking new $600-million U.S. embassy together with people working there or nearby.

And/or, the insurgents could conceivably mount a multi-point assault on the zone and gain control of a couple of buildings and take hostages—perhaps including senior diplomats and military officers.

Given what we think we know of George Bush, if there were an embarrassing attack on U.S. installations in the Green Zone or some other major U.S. facility, he would immediately order a retaliatory series of air strikes, and let the bombs and missiles fall where they may.

The reaction would come from deep within and would warn, in effect: This is what you get if you try to make me look bad.

Scenario B: Israeli Attack on Nuclear Targets in Iran.

This would be madness and would elicit counterattacks from an Iran with many viable options for significant retaliation. Nevertheless, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D, Conn) and his namesake Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, are openly calling for such strikes, which would have to be on much more massive a scale than Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.

For that attack in 1981, Cheney, a great fan of preemptive strikes, congratulated the Israelis, even though the U.S. joined other UN Security Council members in unanimously condemning the Israeli attack.

Five years ago, on Aug. 26, 2002, Cheney became the first U.S. official publicly to refer approvingly to the bombing of Osirak. And in an interview two and a half years ago, on Inauguration Day 2005, Cheney referred nonchalantly to the possibility that “the Israelis might well decide to act first [to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities] and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.”

One thing Cheney says is indisputably—if myopically—true: Bush has been Israel’s best friend. In his speeches, he has fostered the false impression that the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend Israel, should it come under attack—as would be likely, were Israel to attack Iran.

With the U.S. Congress firmly in the Israeli camp, Cheney might see little disincentive to giving a green-light wink to Israel and then let the president “worry about cleaning up.”

Reporting from Seymour Hersh’s administration sources serve to strengthen the impression shining through Bush’s speeches that he is eager to strike Iran. But how to justify it?

Curiously, a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear capability, a study scheduled for completion early this year, has been sent back several times—probably because its predictions are not as alarmist as the warnings that Cheney and the Israelis are whispering into the president’s ear.

Senior U.S. military officers have warned against the folly of attacking Iran, but Cheney has shown himself, time and time again, able to overrule the military.

But What if Impeachment Begins?

Is there nothing to rein in Bush and Cheney? It seems likely that only if impeachment proceedings were under way would senior officers like CENTCOM commander, Admiral William Fallon, be likely to parry an unlawful order to start yet another war without the approval of Congress and the UN.

With impeachment under way, such senior officers might be reminded that all officers and national security officials swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States—NOT to protect and defend the president.

It was a highly revealing moment when on July 11, former White House political director Sara Taylor solemnly reminded the Senate Judiciary Committee, that as a commissioned officer, “I took an oath and I take that oath to the president very seriously.”

Committee chair Patrick Leahy had to remind Taylor: “We understand your personal loyalty to President Bush. I appreciate you correcting that your oath was not to the president, but to the Constitution.”

The most senior officers, military included, can get their loyalties mixed up. And this is of transcendent importance in a context described by Seymour Hersh: “These guys are scary as can’t use the word ‘delusional,’ for it’s actually a medical term. Wacky. That’s a fair word.”

One does not need psychoanalytic training to see that Bush and Cheney do not care about facts, treaties (or the lack thereof), or other legal niceties, unless it suits their purpose. This gives an even more ominous ring to what Hersh is hearing from his sources.

If Israel attacks Iran, President Bush is likely to spring to Israel’s defense, regardless of whether he was inside or outside the loop before the attack; and the world will see a dangerously widened war in the Middle East.

Psychologically, Bush would almost certainly need to join the attack, mainly to sustain his illusion of safety and masculinity. And Cheney, knowing that, would be pushing him hard on U.S. energy and other perceived strategic interests.

Scenario C: Congress Cuts War Funding This Fall

We posit that Congress finally grows weary of the increasingly obvious bait-and-switch, the “we-need-more-time” tactic, and cuts off all funding except for that needed to bring the troops home.

The talk now is about getting a “meaningful” progress report in November, because September is said to be too soon. The Iraqi parliament is behaving much like its American counterpart by taking August off. But our soldiers do not get a month-long hiatus from constant danger.

It is clear even to the press that the surge has simply brought more American deaths and an upsurge of insurgent attacks. What is less clear is why Bush remains so positive. It is probably not just an act, but an idée fixe he needs to hold onto tightly.

Since doubt is dangerous, we see a compensatory smile fixe on the face of the president and other senior officials, dismissing any trace of uncertainty or doubt.

If Congress cut off funding for war in Iraq, Bush might well cast about for a casus belli to “justify” an attack on Iran.

Would the senior military again go along with orders for an unprovoked, unconstitutional war on a country posing no threat to the U.S.? Hard to say.

In this context, an ongoing impeachment process could provide welcome evidence that influential members of Congress, like many senior military officers, see through Bush’s need to strike out elsewhere. Military commanders might think twice before saluting smartly and executing an illegal order.

In such circumstances, Dick “it-won’t stop-us” Cheney, could be expected to try to pull out all the stops. But if he, too, were in danger of being impeached, uniformed military officers could conceivably block administration plans.

There is only a remote chance that Defense Secretary Gates would be a tempering voice in all this. Far more likely, he would smell in any restrictive legislation traces of the Boland amendment, which he assisted in circumventing during the Iran-Contra misadventure.

Petraeus ex Machina

With “David” or “General Petraeus” punctuating the president’s every other sentence at recent press conferences, the script for September seems clear. This is one four-star general with exquisite PR and political acumen—pedigree and discipline the president can count on.

And with his nine rows of ribbons, he calls to mind the U.S. commander in Saigon, Gen. William Westmoreland at a similar juncture in Vietnam (after the Tet offensive when popular support dropped off rapidly).

It is virtually certain that Petraeus will press hard for more time and more troops. Potemkin-style improvements will be used by Bush to justify continuing the “new” surge strategy, with the calculation that enough Democrats might be overcome by the fear of being charged with “losing Iraq.”

In the past Bush seems to have bought Cheney’s “analysis” that increased enemy attacks were signs of desperation. Hard as it is to believe that Bush has not learned from that repeated experience, it is at the same town possible to “misunderestimate” one’s capacity for wooden-headedness, particularly with respect to someone with the psychological makeup of our president.

He is extraordinarily adept at finding only rose-colored glasses to help him see.

With Cheney egging him on from the wings of the “unitary executive,” but Congress no longer bowing to that novel interpretation of the Constitution, Bush will be sorely tempted to lash out in some violent way, if further funding for the war is denied.

To do that effectively, he will need senior generals and admirals as co-conspirators. It will be up to them to choose between career and Constitution. All too often, in such circumstances, the tendency has been to choose career.

Impeachment hearings, though, could encourage senior officers like Admiral Fallon to pause long enough to remember that their oath is to defend the Constitution, and that they are not required to follow orders to start another war in order to stave off political and personal disaster for the president and vice president.

Justin Frank, M.D.


David MacMichael
Tom Maertens
Ray McGovern
Coleen Rowley

Steering Group
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Accustomed to Their Own Atrocities in Iraq, U.S. Soldiers Have Become Murderers

All troops, when they occupy and battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in "atrocity producing situations."

In this environment, surrounded by a hostile population, simple acts such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke means you can be killed. This constant fear and stress pushes troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. This hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find.

The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed over time to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing -- the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm -- to murder -- the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you. The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. There is very little killing.

After four years of war, American Marines and soldiers have become socialized to atrocity. The American killing project is not described in these terms to a distant public. The politicians still speak in the abstract terms of glory, honor, and heroism, in the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal. Those who kill large numbers of people always claim it as a virtue. The campaign to rid the world of terror is expressed with this rhetoric, as if once all terrorists are destroyed evil itself will vanish.

The reality behind the myth, however, is very different. The reality and the ideal clash when soldiers and Marines return home, alienating these combat veterans from the world around them, a world that still dines out on the myth of war and the virtues of the nation. But slowly returning veterans are giving us a new narrative of the war -- one that exposes the vast enterprise of industrial slaughter unleashed in Iraq for a lie and sustained because of wounded national pride and willful ignorance. "This unit sets up this traffic control point and this 18 year old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50 caliber machine gun," remembered Geoffrey Millard who served in Tikrit with the 42nd Infantry Division. "And this car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split second decision that that's a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged four and the daughter was aged three."

"And they briefed this to the general," Millard said, "and they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, 'if these fucking Hadjis learned to drive, this shit wouldn't happen.'"

Those who come back from war, like Millard and tens of thousands of other veterans, suffer not only delayed reactions to stress, but a crisis of faith. The God they knew, or thought they knew, failed them. The church or the synagogue or the mosque, which promised redemption by serving God and country, did not prepare them for the betrayal of this civic religion, for the capacity we all have for human atrocity, for the lies and myths used to mask the reality of war. War is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics and of troops by politicians. This bitter knowledge of betrayal has seeped into the ranks of American troops.

It has unleashed a new wave of embittered veterans not seen since the Vietnam War. It has made it possible for us to begin, again, to see war's death mask.

"And then, you know, my sort of sentiment of what the fuck are we doing, that I felt that way in Iraq," said Sergeant Ben Flanders, who estimated that he ran hundreds of convoys in Iraq. "It's the sort of insanity of it and the fact that it reduces it. Well, I think war does anyway, but I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people, the only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with. And everybody else be damned, whether you are an Iraqi, I'm sorry, I'm sorry you live here, I'm sorry this is a terrible situation, and I'm sorry that you have to deal with all of, you know, army vehicles running around and shooting, and these insurgents and all this stuff.

"The first briefing you get when you get off the plane in Kuwait, and you get off the plane and you're holding a duffle bag in each hand," Millard remembered. "You've got your weapon slung. You've got a web sack on your back. You're dying of heat. You're tired. You're jet-lagged. Your mind is just full of goop. And then, you're scared on top of that, because, you know, you're in Kuwait, you're not in the States anymore … so fear sets in, too. And they sit you into this little briefing room and you get this briefing about how, you know, you can't trust any of these fucking Hadjis, because all these fucking Hadjis are going to kill you. And Hadji is always used as a term of disrespect and usually, with the 'f' word in front of it."

War is also the pornography of violence. It has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it "the lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in lusts and passions we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy life. It allows us to destroy not only things but human beings. In that moment of wholesale destruction, we wield the power to the divine, the power to revoke another person's charter to live on this earth. The frenzy of this destruction -- and when unit discipline breaks down, or there was no unit discipline to begin with, frenzy is the right word -- sees armed bands crazed by the poisonous elixir our power to bring about the obliteration of others delivers. All things, including human beings, become objects -- objects to either gratify or destroy or both. Almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.

Human beings are machine gunned and bombed from the air, automatic grenade launchers pepper hovels and neighbors with high-powered explosive devices and convoys race through Iraq like freight trains of death. These soldiers and Marines have at their fingertips the heady ability to call in air strikes and firepower that obliterate landscapes and villages in fiery infernos. They can instantly give or deprive human life, and with this power they became sick and demented. The moral universe is turned upside down. All human beings are used as objects. And no one walks away uninfected. War thrusts us into a vortex of pain and fleeting ecstasy. It thrusts us into a world where law is of little consequence, human life is cheap and the gratification of the moment becomes the overriding desire that must be satiated, even at the cost of another's dignity or life.

"A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that, you know, if they don't speak English and they have darker skin, they're not as human as us, so we can do what we want," said Josh Middleton, who served in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq. "And you know, when 20 year old kids are yelled at back and forth at Bragg and we're picking up cigarette butts and getting yelled at every day to find a dirty weapon. But over here, it's like life and death. And 40-year-old Iraqi men look at us with fear and we can -- do you know what I mean? -- we have this power that you can't have. That's really liberating. Life is just knocked down to this primal level of, you know, you worry about where the next food's going to come from, the next sleep or the next patrol and to stay alive."

"It's like you feel like, I don't know, if you're a caveman," he added. "Do you know what I mean? Just, you know, I mean, this is how life is supposed to be. Life and death, essentially. No TV. None of that bullshit."

It takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men into killers. Most give themselves willingly to the seduction of unlimited power to destroy, and all feel the peer pressure to conform. Few, once in battle, find the strength to resist. Physical courage is common on a battlefield. Moral courage is not.

Military machines and state bureaucracies, who seek to make us obey, seek also to silence those who return from war to speak the truth, to hide from a public eager for stories of war that fit the mythic narrative the essence of war which is death.

Camilo Mejia, who eventually applied while still on active duty to become a conscientious objector, said the ugly side of American racism and chauvinism appeared the moment his unit arrived in the Middle East. Fellow soldiers instantly ridiculed Arab-style toilets because they would be "shitting like dogs." The troops around him treated Iraqis, whose language they did not speak and whose culture was alien, little better than animals. The word "Hadji" swiftly became a slur to refer to Iraqis, in much the same way "gook" was used to debase the Vietnamese or "rag head" is used to belittle those in Afghanistan.

Soon those around him ridiculed "Hadji food," "Hadji homes," and "Hadji music." Bewildered prisoners, who were rounded up in useless and indiscriminate raids, were stripped naked, and left to stand terrified and bewildered for hours in the baking sun. They were subjected to a steady torrent of verbal and physical abuse. "I experienced horrible confusion," Mejia remembers, "not knowing whether I was more afraid for the detainees or for what would happen to me if I did anything to help them."

These scenes of abuse, which began immediately after the American invasion, were little more than collective acts of sadism. Mejia watched, not daring to intervene, yet increasingly disgusted at the treatment of Iraqi civilians. He saw how the callous and unchecked abuse of power first led to alienation among Iraqis and spawned a raw hatred of the occupation forces. When army units raided homes, the soldiers burst in on frightened families, forced them to huddle in the corners at gun point, and helped themselves to food and items in the house.

"After we arrested drivers," he recalled, "we would choose whichever vehicles we liked, fuel them from confiscated jerry cans, and conduct undercover presence patrols in the impounded cars.

"But to this day I cannot find a single good answer as to why I stood by idly during the abuse of those prisoners except, of course, my own cowardice," he also notes.

Iraqi families were routinely fired upon for getting too close to check points, including an incident where an unarmed father driving a car was decapitated by a 50-caliber machine gun in front of his small son, although by then, Mejia notes, "this sort of killing of civilians had long ceased to arouse much interest or even comment." Soldiers shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold alongside the road and then tossed incendiary grenades into the pools to set them ablaze. "It's fun to shoot shit up," a soldier said. Some open fire on small children throwing rocks. And when improvised explosive devices go off the troops fire wildly into densely populated neighborhoods, leaving behind innocent victims who become, in the callous language of war, "collateral damage."

"We would drive on the wrong side of the highway to reduce the risk of being hit by an IED," Mejia said of the deadly roadside bombs. "This forced oncoming vehicles to move to one side of the road, and considerably slowed down the flow of traffic. In order to avoid being held up in traffic jams, where someone could roll a grenade under our trucks, we would simply drive up on sidewalks, running over garbage cans and even hitting civilian vehicles to push them out of the way. Many of the soldiers would laugh and shriek at these tactics."

At one point the unit was surrounded by an angry crowd protesting the occupation. Mejia and his squad opened fire on an Iraqi holding a grenade, riddling the man's body with bullets. Mejia checked his clip afterwards and determined that he fired 11 rounds into the young man. Units, he said, nonchalantly opened fire in crowded neighborhoods with heavy M-240 Bravo machine guns, AT-4 launchers and Mark 19s, a machine gun that spits out grenades.

"The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us," Mejia writes, "led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them."

He watched soldiers from his unit abuse the corpses of Iraqi dead. Mejia related how, in one incident, soldiers laughed as an Iraqi corpse fell from the back of a truck.

"Take a picture of me and this motherfucker," one of the soldiers who had been in Mejia's squad in third platoon said, putting his arm around the corpse.

The shroud fell away from the body revealing a young man wearing only his pants. There was a bullet hole in his chest.

"Damn, they really fucked you up, didn't they!?" the soldier laughed.

The scene, Mejia noted, was witnessed by the dead man's brothers and cousins. Senior officers, protected in heavily fortified compounds, rarely saw combat. They sent their troops on futile missions in the quest to be awarded Combat Infantry Badges. This recognition, Mejia notes, "was essential to their further progress up the officer ranks." This pattern meant that "very few high-ranking officers actually got out into the action, and lower-ranking officers were afraid to contradict them when they were wrong." When the badges, bearing an emblem of a musket with the hammer dropped, resting on top of an oak wreath, were finally awarded, the commanders immediately brought in Iraqi tailors to sew the badges on the left breast pockets of their desert combat uniforms.

"This was one occasion when our leaders led from the front," Mejia noted bitterly. "They were among the first to visit the tailors to get their little patches of glory sewn next to their hearts."

The war breeds gratuitous and constant acts of violence.

"I mean, if someone has a fan, they're a white collar family," said Phillip Chrystal, who carried out raids on Iraqi homes in Kirkuk. "So we get started on this day, this one, in particular. And it starts with the psy ops [psychological operations] vehicles out there, you know, with the big speakers playing a message in Arabic or Farsi or Kurdish or whatever they happen to be saying, basically, saying put your weapons, if you have them, next to the front door in your house. Please come outside, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we had Apaches flying over for security, if they're needed, and it's also a good show of force. And we were running around, and we'd done a few houses by this point, and I was with my platoon leader, my squad leader and maybe a couple other people, but I don't really remember.

"And we were approaching this one house, and this farming area, they're, like, built up into little courtyards," he said. "So they have like the main house, common area. They have like a kitchen and then, they have like a storage shed-type deal. And we were approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, because it was doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn't -- mother fucker -- he shot it and it went in the jaw and exited out. So I see this dog -- and I'm a huge animal lover. I love animals -- and this dog has like these eyes on it and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, the family is sitting right there with three little children and a mom and a dad horrified. And I'm at a loss for words. And so, I yell at him. I'm like what the fuck are you doing.

"And so, the dog's yelping. It's crying out without a jaw. And I'm looking at the family, and they're just scared. And so, I told them I was like fucking shoot it, you know. At least, kill it, because that can't be fixed. It's suffering. And I actually get tears from just saying this right now, but -- and I had tears then, too, -- and I'm looking at the kids and they are so scared. So I got the interpreter over with me and, you know, I get my wallet out and I gave them 20 bucks, because that's what I had. And, you know, I had him give it to them and told them that I'm so sorry that asshole did that. Which was very common. I don't know if it's rednecks or what, but they feel that shooting dogs is something that adds to one's manliness traits. I don't know. I had a big problem with that.

"Was a report ever filed about it?" he asked. "Was anything ever done? Any punishment ever dished out? No, absolutely not. He was a sycophant down to the T."

We make our heroes out of clay. We laud their gallant deeds and give them uniforms with colored ribbons on their chest for the acts of violence they committed or endured. They are our false repositories of glory and honor, of power, of self-righteousness, of patriotism and self-worship, all that we want to believe about ourselves. They are our plaster saints of war, the icons we cheer to defend us and make us and our nation great. They are the props of our civic religion, our love of power and force, our belief in our right as a chosen nation to wield this force against the weak and rule. This is our nation's idolatry of itself. And this idolatry has corrupted religious institutions, not only here but in most nations, making it impossible for us to separate the will of God from the will of the state.

Prophets are not those who speak of piety and duty from pulpits -- few people in pulpits have much worth listening to -- but it is the battered wrecks of men and women who return from Iraq and speak the halting words we do not want to hear, words that we must listen to and heed to know ourselves. They tell us war is a soulless void. They have seen and tasted how war plunges us to barbarity, perversion, pain and an unchecked orgy of death. And it is their testimonies alone that have the redemptive power to save us from ourselves.

Chris Hedges is the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and the author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

WAR is a racket. It always has been

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people – not those who fight and pay and die – only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war – anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war – a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people – who do not profit.



The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company – and you can't have a war without nickel – showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 – count them if you live long enough – was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them – a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them – and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee – with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator – to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses – that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.



Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par – and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men – men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement – the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead – they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded – they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too – they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam – on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain – with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget – the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share – at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.

Napoleon once said,

"All men are enamored of decorations...they positively hunger for them."

So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal business – the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill...and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance – something the employer pays for in an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back – when they came back from the war and couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.



WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation – it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted – to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages – all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers –

yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders – everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket – that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people – those who do the suffering and still pay the price – make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant – all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war – voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms – to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide – and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

We must take the profit out of war.

We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.



I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:

"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and Germany won't.


Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war – even the munitions makers.


Click here to purchase "War Is A Racket"

Smedley Darlington Butler

Major General - United States Marine Corps [Retired]

Born West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881

Educated Haverford School

Married Ethel C. Peters, of Philadelphia, June 30, 1905

Awarded two congressional medals of honor, for capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914,

and for capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917

Distinguished service medal, 1919

Retired Oct. 1, 1931

On leave of absence to act as director of Department of Safety, Philadelphia, 1932

Lecturer - 1930's

Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932

Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940

For more information about Major General Smedley Butler, contact the United States Marine Corps.

listen to audio:


THIS is a political reflection. To be more precise: it is another proclamation. Exactly one year ago today, on July 31, 2006, I issued the first proclamation. But the year gone by is worth 10, for I have had the opportunity to live a unique experience which has afforded me information and knowledge on vital questions facing humanity, knowledge I have conveyed to the people of Cuba with the utmost honesty.

Today, I am bombarded with questions as to when I will take up again what some call power, as though that power were possible without independence. The world knows a real and destructive power, wielded by a decadent empire which threatens everyone.

Raúl has already responded that, as I recover, every important decision is consulted with me. What will I do? I will fight tirelessly as I have done my entire life.

One year after the first Proclamation, I can share with the people of Cuba the satisfaction of seeing that what was then promised is reflected by today’s unquestionable reality: Raúl, the Party, the government, the National Assembly, the Young Communists League and grassroots and social organizations, headed by the workers, move forward, guided by the unshakable principle of unity.

With the same conviction, we continue to struggle relentlessly to have the Five Heroes, who provided Cuba with information on the United States’ anti-Cuban terrorist plans, released from cruel and merciless prison.

The struggle against our own deficiencies and against the insolent enemy which seeks to take possession of Cuba must be unrelenting.

On this point, I am obliged to insist on something which the leaders of the Revolution can never forget: it is our duty to work untiringly to strengthen our defensive capability and preparedness, under the principle that, regardless of the circumstances, an unpayable price must be paid for any invasion.

No one should entertain the slightest illusion that the empire, which carries the genes of its own destruction, will negotiate with Cuba. Though we have said, again and again, that our struggle is not against the people of the United Sates —something which is absolutely true— the latter is not in a position to curtail the apocalyptic impulses of its government or the foul and insane call for what they label a "democratic Cuba", as though leaders here put themselves forth and elect themselves without having to pass through that inflexible filter embodied by the overwhelming majority of an educated and cultivated people who must support them.

In a previous reflection, I invoked the historical figures of Martí, Maceo, Agramonte and Cespedes. To keep alight the memory of the innumerable people who fell in combat, of those who fought and sacrificed themselves for the homeland, Raúl lit a flame that shall burn for eternity, 50 years after Frank País, the young, 22-year-old hero whose example moved all of us, fell in combat.

Life is meaningless without ideas. There is no greater joy than to struggle in their name.

Fidel Castro Ruz

July 31, 2007

5:35 p.m.


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. -- Edward R. Murrow

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Was The U.S. Invasion Of Iraq Legal or Illegal Under International Law

Crimes Against Peace

Was The U.S. Invasion Of Iraq Legal or Illegal Under International Law

Excellent video

Do any of the charges of illegality we've been hearing about have any legal basis at all? And why should we even care about international law anyway?

When Will We Have Had Enough?
"...the Bush administration has done more to dismantle
constitutional protections of our liberties than any president
in modern memory. It seems that these people believe that
until federal Storm Troopers knock down the doors of their
homes and rag them off to the gulags, they have lost no
freedoms. Nothing could be further from the truth."
- Chuck Baldwin / Baltimore Chronicle