War; an ugly evil

Everyone would love to see the world and all its inhabitants peaceful, prosperous, and in harmony with all of creation. We would all love to see a peaceful and wealthy world. At least all the sane people would love to see that. What stands in our way of achieving that happy state of affairs? What stands in the way of ever-increasing social cooperation, wealth and a fuller development of civilization? Aggression, the initiation of violence, stands in the way. I mean aggression in all its various forms, but war is the worst of them all.

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I have always been anti-war. I have never seen a legitimate reason for starting any war. I think that state violence is a greater threat to social cooperation, liberty, and prosperity than private criminal violence or anything else that stands in the way of achieving an advanced, prosperous society. While a private criminal strikes you and moves on, the state settles down and robs you again and again, year after year. This domestic pattern of violence and aggression is also the blueprint for the nation-state’s relationship with other states. The U.S. Empire has been at war in some manner or the other for its entire history — especially if you include the hidden wars of the CIA in South America and around the globe. The state has an inherent tendency to grow in power and predation and as it becomes more powerful it becomes ever more aggressive. The very powerful Empires in history would not tolerate another nation that would not bow down in submission to its every wish. The U. S. is no exception.

I don’t see the state as primarily a protection from aggressors foreign and domestic as many of my fellow citizens do, but rather I see the state as the primary danger to our lives, liberty and property. It is the state itself that keeps voluntary society from organizing itself into the most beneficial mode of existence that it can. The state grows ever more powerful over time, but its growth rate really accelerates in times of war. Randolph Bourne’s observation that “war is the health of the state” is still true today. We should all recognize that states have an incentive to start wars. During wars the state is able to have the further justification of the war emergency it created itself to seize even more property, gain more power of its citizens, shred civil liberties, and generally grow in size and scope. All that plus the rich cronies to power get even richer off the blood, misery, and destruction of the innocent.

Is there any just war at all? Murray N. Rothbard argued that there were two American just wars in his essay “America’s Two Just Wars: 1775 and 1861.” Rothbard claimed that “a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.” I think it is just to resist aggression and that the defending side in an invasion is morally justified in its defense only if there is a chance of winning and if the defending side is not going to get many innocent people killed by its defense. This means that I am not as sure that the two wars were as defensible as Rothbard thought they were. After all, Canada became independent without a war.

There are thousands of excuses that states use to tell their own side that the next war is morally justified and absolutely necessary. These excuses always turn out to be lies piled on top of lies, but they continue to work to the state’s advantage. In today’s world we Americans are often told that some group of people are having “their rights” violated and so the U.S. must go defend them. Some group of people may have rights, but it is their responsibility to defend or safeguard such rights and not the responsibility of the young men and women of the U.S. (or any other country) to go get killed for their rights. Our first priority given the anti-social destruction of war is to avoid war at nearly all costs. Even if justified in defense, a people are better off if some option of negotiation can be used.

Since wars are the wanton murder of the innocent, especially women and children, as well as destruction of society, we must oppose all war. Even the side that is clearly defending against an immoral and illegal invasion will almost always commit war crimes against the innocent, so we must be against all war unless the aggression is clear cut and of such magnitude that the defending side was left with no other realistic option.

For the above reasons and others, it should be obvious that I can only see the U.S. and President Obama’s threatened destruction of yet another country that has done us no harm as immoral and illegal. It is brutal, ugly, and bestial that the U.S. government is complimenting a war of aggression against Syria. Mr. Obama claims that because some children were killed by gas by criminals unknown that he is entitled to murder civilians by the bus-load in a country half-way around the world. This is bullocks as my English friends would say. Obama looks to be wanting to help the very people who may have committed the crime in the first place. Certainly the rebels had chemical weapons and the will to use them to further their ends.

It is time to end the criminal wars of the U.S. — impeachment would be a good start. Unfortunately thinking that some politicians in congress are going to do the right thing is just wishful thinking. We must re-double our efforts to get our fellow citizens to withdraw their consent to be government by criminal gang writ large called the U.S. government.

A turning point: War Collectivism

Any well-read individual would have to agree that the early U.S. was basically a Classically Liberal state with a nearly laissez-faire outlook on the market. Please note the qualifiers in that sentence, I am well aware that the founders were not perfect and that the early U.S. system was certainly not perfect either. It was, however, practically a heaven compared to today’s U.S. Empire if you desire a laissez-faire market approach.

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So when did the U.S. go wrong? There are so many points in history where the people allowed the state to grab more power that picking one is almost a fool’s errand. But there is one point in history that seems to be the birthing point of the corporatist system that we have now. I mean “corporatist” just as Benito Mussolini mean it — as a synonym for fascism. When did the U.S. make a great leap towards the fascist system that we have now?

Rothbard:

More than any other single period, World War I was the critical watershed for the American business system. It was a “war collectivism,” a totally planned economy run largely by big-business interests through the instrumentality of the central government, which served as the model, the precedent, and the inspiration for state corporate capitalism for the remainder of the twentieth century.

The large business interests who were at the “top of the heap” naturally wanted to stay there, but there are always many who want to out-compete and take their place. Large industry and business leaders found that the cartels that the government enforced by legislation and regulation during World War 1 practically insured their place in their respective industries and that was a certainly a desirable thing to them. It is often an eye-opener for most people to discover that large business enjoys its symbiotic relationship with government in spite of its public denunciations of various regulations.

Throughout the western world the war showed the big business leaders that it was possible to move to a system that offered stability (for them), subsidies, privileges, control, and power. Extensive governmental intervention and planning became the means by which the wealthy would stay wealthy and reap even more profits as governments guaranteed their place in the hierarchy. War collectivism offered the advantages of monopoly, government contracts for the favored, guaranteed profits, restricted production for higher prices, and all the rest of the classical pattern of monopoly privilege. Even labor costs could be more controlled as the state would back the producer against the union in the interest of “the war effort”. Intelligent union leaders joined in and became partners in the fixed game which was, in many ways, a reversion to a form of  mercantilism.

In America the new mercantilism was more industrial and manufacturing based than the old form since the industrial revolution had come about since the days of the old mercantilism, and just as importantly, the new system had to appear to be more “democratic” and less class-based in America in contrast to the old English system. There was need to provide the appearance of promoting the overall good of the country and all her people rather than just the wealthy elite and their business interests. And so American “liberalism” was pressed into service to provide the ideology and cover. The so-called liberals proclaimed that the new system was not mercantilism at all but rather it was radically different than the old exploitative system and that its aim was for the betterment of all the people. This was seen to be democracy in action. It was claimed that the government would protect everyone from the business leaders and control those evil rich men — in spite of the fact that the business elites were the senior partners in this whole enterprise.

The new “liberals” gained prestige, income and power as many became the government planners who were needed to plan out the vast details and regulations of the new collectivist system. The liberal intellectuals helped  develop this new system of government intervention that they saw as superior to the two major alternatives available to them: laissez-faire capitalism or Marxian socialism. These “liberal” or progressive intellectuals saw this new order as the path to the future where government planning (done by themselves of course) would bring a heaven on earth — or as close to it as man can come. The state became their religion.

In various western countries the new system of collectivism was called by different names, but the system was similar at its heart. Benito Mussolini called the system “fascism” while some in England called it “the third way”. Americans never gave the system a name other than call it “progressivism” or “liberalism”. Regardless of the name or the various differences due to local culture, the system was war-collectivism. And so, it should not have surprised anyone that another war would be needed to bolster this war collective system, and soon enough along came World War 2 with all its destruction. Following the hot war of WW2 came the “cold war” and all the small proxy conflicts around the world. In fact, the U.S. Empire has been at war almost continually since adopting war collectivism in the 1920s.

America’s participation in World War One was a disaster for the limited government, laissez-faire system the country had enjoyed, and it was a disaster for her people. The evil legacy of Woodrow Wilson, the country’s first “progressive president”, who lied the country into war lives on to this day. Much evil is born during wars, and the side that looks to be the “victor” never escapes without its own woes. Wilson and WW1 brought America the final end of its Classical Liberal period.

Hired Killer for the State now says He is Sorry

I read in the Mail Online that a former hired killer for the US Empire is hurting physiologically because he now realizes he is a mass murderer.

A former drone operator who helped kill 1,626 targets says he’s haunted by the carnage he witnessed from behind his computer screen.

Brandon Bryant, 27, served as a drone operator from 2006 to 2011 at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and Iraq. It was a desk job of sorts, but unlike any other, it involved ordering unmanned aircraft to kill faraway targets while he watched.

In an interview with NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel, Bryant recalled one operation where his team fired two missiles from a drone at three men in Afghanistan.

‘The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,’ he said, recalling what he saw of the scene through the thermal images on his screen. ‘And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.’

He recalled watching the mens’ bodies grow cold, as slowly the red color detecting the heat of their bodies grew smaller.

‘I can see every little pixel if I just close my eyes,’ he said. … [full story here]

Brandon Bryant is said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after killing over a sixteen hundred humans, most of who were guilty of nothing other than being Arab and in the sights of the US Empire. This former killer now says that he has sought help for his emotional distress. In many ways I am sympathetic to him now that he has come forward to talk about what he did, but in many ways I am not sympathetic. I remain conflicted.

Reaper drops first precision-guided bomb, protects ground forces

Mr. Bryant signed up to sit in a control room and kill civilians half-way around the world. None of these people would be wearing the uniform of some foreign army, and sometimes they would be at a wedding or funeral when they were “droned”. Any half-wit could see that we were going to kill mostly innocent people and that we were going to kill them in a most cowardly way.  In many ways Mr. Bryant is experiencing Karma in just the subtle way that many in the East conceive of it. The man made his own bed and now gets to lie down in it. Some will say that he was “only a boy” when he made the choice to become a paid assassin for the Empire. One can say that of nearly all the people who have joined the criminal conspiracy called the US military, but that does not excuse them any more than one is excused after joining the Mafia as a hit man.

In certain respects there is no “US Military”. That term is just shorthand for saying all the individuals who work together to carry out the will of the politicians running the government of the Empire. “The Army” does not kill women and children in the Middle East — real live American men and women do that. Everyone who joins the military is part of the giant conspiracy to murder, occupy, and destroy civilizations overseas. How can one forgive such evil much less call these killers “heroes”?

You think calling these killers sub-human would be over the top? Let us look at the situation. Is it okay to kill? I don’t mean bugs, snakes, or cows. I don’t mean chickens to eat. (topic for another day) What I mean is simple: “is it okay to kill a human being?”. I am not talking about someone trying to kill you, rape the wife, kidnap the children, burn down the barn, or any other unwarranted act of aggression. I mean is it OK to kill someone who has never done you any harm? Is it OK to kill others when it is not in self defense or defense against aggression? Is it OK to kill someone who has not threatened or committed violence or aggression against you or your family?

Of course it is immoral to kill people for no reason other than you want to dominate their land. Brutal occupations have always been seen as evil. But many Americans have tons of excuses they make up for our hired killers. They claim they are “protecting us”. But no one has ever been “protected” by killing innocent men, women, and children. The US government has perfected its propaganda and accuses innocent men and women everywhere of being threats to our civilization. But to kill the innocent is to kill all of the humanity inside yourself. To commit aggression against those who have not done anything to you is the ultimate sin.

In spite of the immorality of these hired killers we civilians are expected to heap glory and honor upon them. Many revere and idolize the military men and even post signs honoring their murderous exploits. People greet service men in airports and thank them for their freedoms! Can you believe that rubbish? They are recognized at sporting events and prayed over in church as if they were the saints. It has become “un-American” to question the military in any way. We are not to question its size, budget, mission, bureaucracy, contractors, weaponry, effectiveness, or its many wars. To do so is to question America itself.

As Fred Reed pointed out:

Sometimes when I board an airplane the head stew asks passengers to applaud the sacrifices our brave soldiers have made in defending the United States. I don’t applaud. For one thing, no soldier has defended the United States since 1945. For another, any dentist, bus driver, or musician has done more to benefit the country, and less to bankrupt it and give it a bad name, than all the armed services combined. Why don’t we applaud dentists?

It is curious that soldiers are held in honor, revered, and regarded as national heroes. Psychopathic serial killers who murders fifteen co-eds are viewed with revulsion. Why the difference? The young women killed by Ted Bundy were utterly innocent. So were the Iraqis murdered by the Air Force in Baghdad. I don’t see why pointlessly killing the unoffending in one country is admirable, but in another, isn’t.

Of course, soldiers are better at it, and thus much more destructive. They kill hugely, wreaking havoc, destroying countries and lives and cities, while the Bundys get only a few. The distinction is one of efficiency and scale. Morally they are indistinguishable.

When the American Warrior Culture is finally seen for the evil that it is, then and only then may we see peace. Since at least World War One the USA has been looking for wars and conflicts to get into. We always use propaganda to blame the intentions of the other side and we dehumanize them. No matter how transparently dishonest the US propaganda is, it always seems to work on enough of the America people to win the rulers their next conflict.

It is time to consider that the men and women carrying the guns and controlling the drones are the enemies of mankind. You want protection? Then consider how the Swiss opted out of war.

The Swiss finalized their no-wars policy of armed neutrality in 1815. Their decentralized citizen army was good enough to keep them out of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, World War I, and other European gang fights. In 1934, they addressed the looming threat of aerial bombing by starting a massive civil-defense effort. They maintained their citizen army and kept out of World War II, even while provoking Hitler by letting Jews hide their assets in secret Swiss bank accounts. Many Jews only escaped the Holocaust because they had their money where Nazi tax authorities couldn’t get it.

It is high time that well meaning citizens of the US stop praising the murderous men and women who join the military and spread death and destruction over the whole world at the whim of the rulers. It is high time to see the hired killers for what they really are.

The Iraq War, Oil, and Dollars

I was reading the comments on a Glenn Greenwald post, and the regulars were all arguing about the ‘real reason’ that the US Empire invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Many were adamant that it was all about the oil. I offered my opinion on the matter and now am positing it here. I have edited it slightly for better readability in this venue and the picture, of course, is added.

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The Iraq War was not about oil, and it was about oil at the same time. It depends on what aspect of that horror you care to dwell on. The truth is that the rulers of the American Empire know very well that oil is fungible and that we don’t need to occupy the Middle East to insure we have enough oil. Hell, for practical reasons we get most of our oil from this hemisphere anyway.

But the US Empire is bankrupt and only our currency’s status as the world’s “reserve currency” keeps the credit lines open for us. The fact that Middle East oil is traded only in dollars helps to keep America’s Dollar in the position of the world’s reserve currency. Saddam and others had hoped to break the chains of our domination of the oil market via the dollar — and paid a dear price. Remember, Saddam was our boy: we put him into power. Sure he was a dictator, but that never offended the US leadership any; unless we needed propagandize our people for a coming war.

Oil played a big part since the people were told that we would take oil from Iraq to pay for the short, “cake-walk” of a war and we would maybe even make a little extra money on the deal for our troubles. I don’t think the leaders really believed that, but that was the story they had their minions in the press tell the people. But oil was also a big part due to the oil-for-dollars-only policy which was (and remains so) very, very important to the empire.

It boils down to POWER. Money is about power, but so are many other things. The USA wants to order the world around and have everyone kneel to our wishes. We are in the Middle East to protect our status as the country with the reserve currency, to keep Israel happy by destroying their neighbor countries that stand in the way of a “Greater Israel”, and to keep the military-industrial-intelligence complex happy with yet more war.

Remember what Mussolini taught us about the political-economic system of his that we adopted here in the 30s. Yes, we are a fascist state. Since “fascist” has so much baggage, perhaps it is better to say corporatist or crony-cap but we are fascist non the less.

The American invasion of the middle east was about power, and it is still all about power. Bank on that.

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning is a lightning rod for diverse opinions. I read about him and his situation a lot by reading Glenn Greenwald’s column at the Guardian. A recent column of his and a comment in the comments section led to this post. Bradley Manning was a very young soldier stationed in the middle east who released a ton of diplomatic communiques that were very embarrassing to the US government. Manning is a classic whistle-blower.

In the comments section of the Greenwald essay I read this comment by a libertarian that has posted there for a long time now:

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

Manning at great personal risk to himself, risk that has been in fact realized, in an act of supreme moral conscience exposed the many crimes of his employer.

You can either defend his employer, and therefore side with war criminals, murderers, liars, thieves and tyrants who operate at our expense solely for their own gain, or side with Manning and instead defend accountable government, personal responsibility, morality and heroism.

There are few bright lines between people, but this is among them. That there appear to be many more of the former than the latter explains why we are where we are as a society.

I mean really. The USG is fucking murdering people. Women and children. All over the world. It incinerated babes in arms in Waco just as it does all over the MENA, and is completely unaccountable for any of it. Thus it creates terrorism that it then claims to to combat, to justify continuing to spend us into oblivion for the benefit of the death merchants.

It appears to never occur to the defenders of tyranny that whatever harm Manning might have created with his leak was in fact the fault of the USG for engaging in activities, immoral and unconstitutional, that meddle in the affairs of other nations. This is what put people in jeopardy, not Manning’s exposure of wrongdoing.

The tyrant Obama claims the right to kill any of us, anywhere, at any time, on his own authority. Those of you that support the USG and the fucking tyrant should read the preceding sentence again, and again, and again, until it actually sinks into your brain where the fuck we are at as a country.

The USG is completely and utterly out of control and has utterly slipped all restraints of law and civilization.

Manning is little more than a boy in years, and yet I daresay he’s demonstrated a great deal more courage in his tender years than most of us will muster in a lifetime. For this he will no doubt spend some of the best years of his life in the prison-industrial complex, subject to the petty tyrannies of well-paid costumed goons employed by the corrupt institution he exposed. In the best traditions of authoritarian regimes throughout history.

If we lived in a civilized country, Obama would be on trial and Manning would be celebrated.

May God have mercy on this brave boy and see fit to deliver him from the evil government that we have allowed to afflict and corrupt us.

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The main point that I get out of the Manning case is that the Government will break all of its own rules and torture you if you embarrass the State and that hell hath no furry like a State embarrassed. I recall the Pentagon Papers case and that release of information was much more damaging to the military and the government than anything that Bradley Manning released.

Manning said that he “first approached three news outlets: the Washington Post, New York Times and Politico” and those mainstream sites did not want to help him get this information out to the public, so, he then gave the story to WikiLeaks instead. It was his idea to give the story to Wikileaks according to him and it was not WikiLeaks that solicited the information as the US government has claimed in its attempt to prosecute that organization.

The documents that Bradley Manning leaked are some of the most significant and damaging released since the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war. The materials that Manning released documented a host of previously secret crimes committed by the US Empire and others. Many experts both inside and outside of government have concluded that no national security harm came from his leaks, and yet he was held without a trial for years while he was tortured. What for? It is simple — the Obama administration has waged war on whistle-blowers and Manning is the chief one of our time; so to hell with due process and law. This is sad beyond words.

From the “about Bradley Manning” page of his support network:

Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst, is accused of releasing the Collateral Murder video, that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also accused of sharing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed, if PFC Bradley Manning was the source for these documents, he should be given a medal of honor.

Not a single person has been harmed by the release of this information.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has called the effect of WikiLeaks’ releases on U.S. foreign relations “fairly modest.” Yet the Obama administration has chosen to persecute the whistle-blower rather than prosecute the war criminals who were exposed. While the prosecution has declared it does not intend to seek the death penalty, they do seek to lock PFC Bradley Manning away for life, with the most ridiculous charge of ‘aiding the enemy,’ even though chat logs attributed to Bradley by the FBI clearly show intent only to inform the public and promote “discussion, debates, and reforms.”

It is obvious to most who have taken even a small interest in this case that the US government has been illegally punishing Bradley Manning for exposing war crimes and other embarrassing information to the American public who need this sort of information if the public is to have any hope of overseeing its government in any meaningful way.

If they can get away with treating Manning this way; they can treat you that way if they so choose. That is a compelling reason to support Bradley Manning.