Mar 192012
Holding the war masters at bay
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Repeated wars leave speaker more shocked, less awed.

by David Swanson

[Editor's note: Author and activist David Swanson addressed the revived Left Forum a key annual gathering for US Democratic Socialism. This article is excerpted from the beginning of his speech.]

When I lived in New York twenty years ago, the United States was beginning a 20-year war on Iraq. We protested at the United Nations. The Miami Herald depicted Saddam Hussein as a giant fanged spider attacking the United States. Hussein was frequently compared to Adolf Hitler.

Then there was an astroturf Kuwaiti dead babies story, which President George HW Bush used ten times in the next 40 days. Seven senators used it in the Senate debate on whether to approve military action. The Kuwaiti disinformation campaign for the Gulf War would be successfully reprised by Iraqi groups favoring the overthrow of the Iraqi government twelve years later.

My Congressman in Virginia from 2008 to 2010 was Tom Perriello, who was beloved by all the national progressive groups for reasons never explained and who is now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and one of the founders of Avaaz. He holds up the first Gulf War as a model of a good and humanitarian war. Meanwhile, Avaaz pushes for war in Syria as philanthropy and Senator John McCain pushes for it as a way to overthrow a government that is allied with Iran, the same Iran strengthened by 20 years of war and sanctions against Iraq.

Are the lies that have to be told to get these wars going, a necessary part of the process of stirring up weak souls' emotions for the truly necessary and noble work of war? Are we all, each and every one of us, wise and knowing insiders who must tolerate being lied to because others just don't understand?

This line of thinking would be more persuasive if wars did any good that could not be done without them and if they did it without all the harm. Two intense wars and many years of bombing and deprivation later, the evil ruler of Iraq, and former US ally, Saddam Hussein is gone — but look what else has happened:

  • we've spent trillions of dollars;


  • a million Iraqis are dead;


  • four million have been displaced and left desperate and abandoned;


  • violence is everywhere;


  • sex trafficking is on the rise;


  • the basic infrastructure of electricity, water, sewage, and healthcare is in ruins (in part because of the US intention to privatize Iraq's resources for profit);


  • life expectancy has dropped;


  • cancer rates in Fallujah have surpassed those in Hiroshima;


  • anti-US terrorist groups are using the occupation of Iraq as a recruiting tool;


  • there is no functioning government in Iraq;


  • and most Iraqis say they were better off with Saddam Hussein in power.

We have to be lied to for this? Really?

David Swanson talks about his latest book, War Is a Lie at New York bookstore 2011

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I was back in New York on February 15th 2003 to oppose a new assault on Iraq. That effort, the single biggest day of protest in history, created international alliances, prevented the United Nations from sanctioning the war, dragged non anti-war groups into the anti-war effort at least as long as the president was a Republican, discouraged military recruitment, and kicked off a movement that — along with other factors — eventually ended a war in Iraq, is about to end a war in Afghanistan, and has thus far prevented a war on Iran — a war that the masters of war have tried very hard to start a number of times in the past 9 years. Of course, the war on Iraq has neither ended completely nor ended in the way people are often told…

  Nine Years Later: More Shocked, Less Awed
  Let's Try Democracy
  War is a


© Copyright 2012 David Swanson, All rights Reserved. Written For:

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