WAR & VIOLENCE

WAR AND VIOLENCE

The theme of this section is the futility of violence and the unpredictable consequences of using military force. Here you will find thoughts on the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, the relationship between violence and power, the limitations of military power, and the myth that humans are naturally violent and war-like.

Some of the longer pieces have a summary page with graphics.

ATROCITIES

With the Iraq War well over three years old, we are seeing an increasing number of reports involving the torture, rape, or murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. soldiers. This should not surprise us. War is ruthless, cruel and dehumanizing—almost by definition. Those of us who wish to support this anachronistic instrument of foreign policy should be aware of the heavy price it extracts. War brutalizes, and the damage it inflicts on nations penetrates deep into the social fabric of the victors as well as the victims. War does not build nations; it destroys them. Democracy and war are not compatible.

“While caught up in the dizzying cycle of violence, of retaliation and counter-retaliation, we will find that we are not always the good guys we like to think we are.”

LEAVE IRAQ TO THE IRAQIS

This piece was written as the occupation of Iraq was nearing its third year. I wanted to point out the real U.S. agenda for invading Iraq, which had become crystal clear after the invasion. When Bush spoke of "freedom" for Iraq, he really meant freedom for the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, oil companies and other private multinational corporations to exploit its markets and natural resources (that is, OIL).

But with Iraq on the verge of civil war, this mission of "globalization at gunpoint" was in trouble. Dissatisfaction with the president was at an all-time high, and with Bush politically vulnerable, it seemed to be an exceptional opportunity to discredit the policies that led to the occupation.

I wrote this in the days leading up to the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war. I felt compelled to speak out about the impending slaughter of the Iraqi people, and take a stand against the insanity that seemed to have overtaken our leaders. This struck me as an historical moment, a turning point in America's quest for empire.

"We are a powerful nation, but a flawed one. Greed and militarism is a dangerous combination."

This is a rambling account of my thoughts on the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It begins by positioning the Gulf War as an historical continuation of the Vietnam War, and moves on to a fantastical account of George Bush's daily life as the decision to attack Iraq is being made. Another section reviews a Rand Corporation study that explores the impact of war casualties on U.S. public opinion. Also included are some reflections on the limitations of military power, and a condemnation of the sanctions on Iraq. The piece concludes with thoughts on George Bush's New World Order, and the inevitable resistance to the U.S. attempt to dominate global economies and cultures.

Some parts of this piece were written in 1991, other parts almost ten years later. It appeared in the second issue of my zine, Fragments.

"I'm an American, says George. We like to smash and bash and crash. Space age metal flying at the speed of sound is our kind of weapon."

Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks I was depressed by the chest-pounding jingoism, racism, mob mentality and demands for revenge that gripped the American public. Given the alarming lack of dissent and critical thinking exhibited by the mainstream U.S. media, I felt compelled to try to put my feelings into words.

This essay views the terrorist attacks as part of an ongoing war between the U.S. government and people living in resource-rich areas of the world. It makes a plea for restraint when responding to the attacks, fearing our indiscriminate slaughter of civilians may result in more desperate warriors thirsting for revenge of their own as the cycle of violence intensifies.

"For every terrorist leader we kill or imprison, two more will regenerate from within the misery and rubble left by our assaults on Muslim societies."

Violence often diminishes the power of those who employ it, necessitating the use of more violence in an attempt to gain or maintain control.

"A terrorist that blows up a building or assassinates a politician gives government the excuse it wants to crack down on individual liberties and expand its sphere of influence."

This short piece offers some thoughts on the dubious advantages of military superiority. For example, during the 1991 Persian Gulf War the U.S. was able to pulverize Iraq, but the outcome was politically indecisive.

"After a point, increasing destructive potential does not translate into increased security. In fact, quite the opposite is true."

This short essay challenges the conventional wisdom that humans are naturally aggressive, violent and war-like. It also makes the point that such beliefs are detrimental to most of us, while benefiting the interests of the ruling elites.

"It is not instinct that drives us to commit atrocities, but our culture."