There spread a cloud of dust along a plain; And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes. A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel–– That blue blade that the king’s son bears, –– but this Blunt thing––!" He snapt and flung it from his hand, And lowering crept away and left the field. Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead, And weaponless, and saw the broken sword, Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.
– Edward Rowland Sill
The name of the above poem is Opportunity, one that I was introduced to in elementary school. Most of the lines I could have written down by heart, but I included the correct words by doing an easy search on the Internet. We memorized it and the poem may not have bothered me then, but it certainly is not one of my favorites. If I could forget it, it wouldn’t pain me in the least because it’s a poem about war. There was also a song that the nuns taught us dealing with “An army of youth fighting for Christ the Lord.” I remember even less of that and am quite thankful.
I mentioned oxymorons earlier and those two words, “religious wars,” comprise another one. Are we talking here about killing for peace? The proper term is irreligious wars, although that appears to be a pleonasm. Unfortunately these events did not start with the war on terrorism in the 21st century. You may have heard about the Crusades.
In his short public life on earth, Jesus Christ preached brotherhood and non-violence. You may recall the bible admonition, “turn the other cheek.” The God above isn’t at all happy with all the invoking of His name in times of battle. Had He been a God of war and not of love, his divine Son would have changed into a Superman costume and raised hell with those about to crucify Him on Calvary. But that didn’t happen.
You may be familiar with the Ten Commandments, specifically the one that says, “Thou shall not kill.” It doesn’t say “Thou shall not kill unless you work for the CIA and are out to kill Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar.” It also does not grant an exception if you are in Vietnam spreading napalm on everything in sight, with no regard for the environment or any human being. The commandment does not say, “Thou shall not kill under most circumstances.” In 1986, the world saw the death of more than five million people from ethnic and religious conflicts.
A few days before George Herbert Walker Bush decided to invade Iraq in retaliation for the Iraqi action against Kuwait, I was at Mass in a church in New Canaan, Connecticut, close to the town where I was living. What surprised me was that the priest appeared as though he knew the war had already started. In his prayers, he appeared to be accepting the fact of war rather than preaching against it. Maybe he owned stock in Halliburton.
Unfortunately there are many religious who feel that same way or come across in their feelings as this clergyman. The actual opinion of that individual might be different, but if the congregation feels the same way I felt that day, this priest wasn’t following the teachings of Christ. Of course, things could be worse if the sermon turned political rather than teaching about the gospel.
On numerous occasions before he died, Pope John Paul II preached strongly against war and violence and instead urged negotiation and peaceful reconciliation. He had never rallied for war and for him that was never an option. His leadership role extended to all nations. Each individual on earth is a child of God, and every one of us is not without faults, given that we are human.
I studied at a Catholic college and spent many hours taking theology and philosophy courses. There was never a time in any of these classes that the teacher advocated war, as far as I can recall. I can’t say the same about those dreaded courses in ROTC. However, my cohorts and I didn’t take much stock in what those military men said anyway. They had their own agenda.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim or Buddhist; no war is condoned by the Supreme Being. He would be a great deal happier if people settled their differences by peaceful means. Negotiation isn’t a bad idea.
You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, The religious right is neither. Their vigorous support of war indicates that they can’t be too “religious” and certainly not “right.” Perhaps a better name for this group is The Irreligious Wrong. I have already argued why neither the war in Afghanistan in 2001 nor the attack on Iraq in 2003 were right. And yet there seems to be very little difference in the religious right’s approach to war than that of the terrorists. The correct word that applies here is hypocrisy.
There have and will continue to be arguments about the separation of Church and State. Somehow, people in power not only want to unite the two, they use religion as an excuse for fighting a war. If they are so overwhelmed by religion, they should just remember what is found in the Bible, “Rend to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” If you believe in the Bible, you should follow it. Also, if you want to bring religion into government, you are going to have to eliminate war. There’s no two ways about that.
As far as the rewards of heaven and that group of virgins ready to welcome suicide bombers, I doubt that these terrorists will be welcome with open arms at the pearly gates. If one of these people winds up in front of St. Peter, he could be asked, “What was the last thing you did on earth?” The response might be, “I flew a planeload of passengers into the World Trade Center.” St. Peter will then say, “Come right in.” That just won’t happen. There might be a place for this person, but it probably will be awfully hot and the visitor will be a bit disappointed at not coming into contact with any virgins.
The Bible tells the story of Gideon’s Army in chapters 6 through 8 of the Book of Judges. Gideon, a young farmer in Israel, was called by the Lord to lead a revolt against the Midianites in the twelfth century, B.C. Some 32,000 men answered his call, but 22,000 left when he asked only the fearless to stay. The remaining force of 10,000 was pared to 300, when an angel of the Lord told Gideon to observe which of the men kept alert while drinking from a stream.
Gideon equipped his little army with trumpets and jars containing torches. At night they surrounded the Midianites’ camp and terrified them with the sound of the trumpets, the breaking of vessels, and light from the lamps. The Midianites fled, and Gideon became Israel’s ruler.
Not that long ago, it seems that this same tactic was used in Central America. The song “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC was used when the United States invaded Panama in January 1989. It was played at full volume to force Manuel Noriega to surrender. He was hiding in the Vatican Embassy there. Using music by Perry Como or Jerry Vale probably wouldn’t have worked. Without a doubt, you don’t need guns and bullets to overcome the enemy.
In the early part of 2005, I watched a documentary film by Terry L. Benedict called, The Conscientious Objector. It’s a movie about the atrocities and horror of war. During some of the battles, the machine gun fire was so intense that men were cut in half. One of the soldiers interviewed said, “This ain’t war, this is hell.” Another, on returning to Okinawa years later, found it difficult to be at Hacksaw Ridge, aka “The Escarpment.”
The movie is the story of a hero. It relates the war experience of a young soldier, Desmond T. Doss. He was born on February 7, 1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia and throughout his life, because of his religious beliefs, could never kill anyone. He refused a deferment but joined the 77th division of the Army at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. He refused to carry a gun, being categorized as a conscientious objector and not forced to bear arms. Because of his faith, he rested on the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Even when his commander refused to give him the time off, he stood his ground.
These beliefs and his action brought resentment and ill treatment from the others in his group. He was soft spoken but his fellow soldiers regarded him as a pest and made fun of him. He was a target for ridicule and branded with a scarlet letter. After being off duty and returning, he was given the worst assignments on Sunday. The Army tried to have him removed, but they never gave him the boot. Instead, they eventually gave him the Medal of Honor.
Even without a rifle, he said to one of his commanding officers, “I’ll be just as good as you, Colonel.” It turns out, he was better than this leader. He was willing to save and not take life. Sent overseas to Okinawa, he was a medic who took care of the wounded. Even in battle, he never touched a gun. He helped anyone who needed it, even the dying enemy. Despite how he had been initially treated, he had no animosity for anyone. He treated a soldier who had lost both legs in combat and was left for dead. This soldier lived to be 72. Desmond’s feelings were that as long as there’s life, there’s always hope.
At Hacksaw Ridge, the fighting was intense and bullets were flying like bees, but miraculously they missed him. It was as if God had His hand on Desmond. Doss treated others and brought them to safety and had nothing to do with the war. On one occasion he could have dropped a grenade down a Japanese foxhole but refused. He could not kill even at the risk of death to himself and his men. Eventually, he did receive some wounds from gunfire. His courage was remarkable as he climbed off his litter to help his wounded comrades. He was devastated when he lost his Bible, the main source of his strength. Nevertheless, the men of his regiment searched until they found it.
Some of the men interviewed in Conscientious Objector were the same soldiers who had derided him. They would not be alive thirty years later were it not for Desmond, as he helped them make it through the war. He was a skinny little kid, but one of the bravest people alive. He was courageous, inspirational and humble and had no worry about what was going to happen to him. His only concern was for helping his fellow man. A Bible is much more effective than a gun.
14. The Costs Of War
“It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
“War is a racket. War is largely a matter of money. Bankers lend money to foreign countries and when they cannot pay, the President sends Marines to get it.” – Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler, writing in the 1930s
“We are spending all of this money for death and destruction, and not nearly enough money for life and constructive development…when the guns of war become a national obsession, social needs inevitably suffer.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I don’t think the whole of Southeast Asia, as related to the present and future safety and freedom of the people of this country, is worth the life or limb of a single American.” – General David Shoup, 1966
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold, and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The costs of any war are beyond comprehension. Years ago it may have been different, but today major conflicts cost trillions of dollars. You may argue that adjusting for inflation would make the Revolutionary War and Civil War a huge pinch on any government’s budget. I won’t argue that, but currently there are a few factors that add immensely to expenses incurred by countries that attack other nations.
Consider the estimate of dollars to be spent on the Iraq War that began in 2003. It’s said to be costing one billion dollars per week. The total cost is difficult to assess, because even if there were a number, by tomorrow it will be different. Even if it ended today, the total cost of the war would still only be an undetermined number. You just can’t come up with a meaningful amount. Whatever it is, the money could have been used for more important things.
There are all those hidden costs, such as paying off a country to use its airspace to launch your bombers. Then there may need to be a payoff to assure that some country doesn’t get involved at all in the fighting. This happens all too often. If you think that this cost is unlikely, you probably have been watching the network news too much.
In Take Back the Earth, I spent a chapter on building of the bomb, which involved unimaginable expense. The outlay for weapons, tanks, supplies, transporting troops and material to the scene of the fight are something for which citizens wind up paying. I’m sure most would have chosen to have their taxes spent on something more beneficial. I’m certainly not happy with this exorbitant waste of money.
The costs of resources that are wasted to wage war are incomprehensible. Think of the fuel that it takes to run tanks, trucks, ships and planes that have anything to do with the battles. The gas guzzlers may be lucky to get a single digit for the miles per gallon. An email that a friend of mine sent indicated that the M1 Abrams travels 2000 feet per gallon of fuel. This calculates out to over two-and-a-half gallons per mile. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other vehicles with lousier mileage than that. This gasoline could have been used back home and it would have helped to lessen the dependence on the Middle East for oil, one of the very reasons for this war. Of course, maybe the administration had in its sights seizing the oil wells in the very country they were attacking. Consider all the expensive technology that was developed, only to be destroyed by enemy combatants. Don’t forget the time in creating it.
Besides the costs of war material, consider how the environment suffers. The chapter on Rocky Flats in Take Back the Earth points out how the earth was ravaged in developing the bomb, but the planet will suffer even more with the contamination wreaked through the launching of bombs. The radiation spewed out by the depleted-uranium munitions used during the Iraq War begun in 2003 has resulted in abnormally high cancer rates. Some individuals have more than one type of cancer, caused by the bombing in the Iraq War of 1991. This includes the doctors, many of whom have died or are dying.
What about the homes, hospitals, water facilities and power plants that are leveled when two countries tangle? Do you think the air is fine to breathe and the water safe to drink in areas where bombs have reduced everything to rubble? I rather doubt it.
What will it cost to rebuild the country when the fighting is over? Don’t forget about the expense of cleaning up the air, land and water as well. You could spend millions of dollars and the land may still be uninhabitable. Perhaps some of the buildings needed replacing and reconstruction could be a good time for making them better. But what about all the buildings that have existed for centuries as national treasures that no longer can be seen? The costs might be just too large for all this damage in order to remove a single leader from power, no matter how ruthless he is.
What about the post-war costs needed for helping soldiers cope after returning home? After the Vietnam debacle, the soldiers expected their government to help them out, but that assistance didn’t come easy, if at all. You’ve heard those stories, but the government seems to be ignoring those who laid their lives on the line in Iraq as well. The least a government that sends people into harm’s way can do is to take care of the needs of those individuals after the conflict is over.
Besides the loss of life and the injuries to the wounded as well as the psychological harm done to soldiers, what about the damage from drugs taken by our men and women before heading off to foreign lands. Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, is among the drugs recommended by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat malaria. It has been administered to the “volunteers,” but few of the recipients were warned of the side effects, such as paranoia, severe anxiety, hallucinations, brain disorders, disturbing and dangerous behavior. Some families have blamed Lariam for the suicides of their loved ones who served in the Iraq War. To make matters worse, military officials now concede that mefloquine wasn’t even necessary in that country.
A truly alarming study by the Rand Corporation indicated that approximately 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is about one in five men and women. In addition, the rate of suicide among veterans of those wars is one thousand veterans per month. The numbers don’t get any better for other wars.
Another consideration in wars past and present is the harm done to the animal kingdom. I am not just referring to the killing of these beasts due to collateral damage. Wars involved horses for the cavalry, many of which perished. They aren’t used today but what about the dogs that are utilized to sniff out mines or whatever is sought relative to the enemy. How many canines have died in the effort? The SPCA should be really upset with this situation. I know I am not thrilled with the idea.
If you add up all the costs of war that I have already mentioned, you should realize that it would be impossible to get an accurate figure. All these numbers are estimates and when those are being calculated, what value do you place on one human life? I read somewhere that those numbers vary depending on who the person is and where he or she lives. There are probably other criteria as well, but they’re all meaningless because a company president isn’t any better than a janitor. Any death because of war is a huge loss. This is another reason why war is such a great waste.
In the 1980s, an administration would advocate a project that came to be known as Star Wars. It was to be a missile defense system to stop incoming attackers. It never materialized but nonetheless thirty billion dollars were wasted on the research for the endeavor which weapons scientists today describe as a “fraud” and “impossible to accomplish.” Despite that assessment by those who know better, some form of the project may be resurrected in the fight against terrorism.
Death in Iraq has a face…it’s a sweet, young face, smiling, looking adoringly toward the beautiful bride on his arm. Chris was 24. Lavinia is too young to be a widow.” – Margaret Reimer, whose student Christopher Gelineau was killed in Mosul
15. The Necessity of War
“War, on the smallest scale, is not without its horrors; and even in this byeplace of the earth, many a suffering female and helpless orphan live to call down the vengeance of heaven upon the heads of profligate statesmen who involve nations in useless and unnecessary wars.” – General Henry W. Halleck
Frank was walking down Elm Street one evening when he ran into Andy.
“What are doing here, Andy,” said Frank.
“I’m looking for my ring.”
“I thought you lost it on Oak Street,” Frank replied.
“I did, but it’s lighter here.”
As illogical as this scenario is, it is not much different from the twenty-first century wars waged by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. If you agree that the response was wrong because of the nature of terrorism, you will agree that both wars were unnecessary. If you still feel otherwise, look at conditions in each country. Afghanistan may be better off now than before the attacks in 2001, although that seems unlikely. There is still a great deal of conflict and the warlords seem to be in charge of the country. There has been no decline in the drug trade – it’s probably more booming than before the war – and Osama Bin Laden has not been captured. Not only that, the chief executive has stated that he wasn’t really concerned about him. But I was under the impression that his capture was one of the main reasons for the war.
Even if you still feel the war in Iraq was a given – though I have shown it to be quite illogical – I think you have to concede that there was no link established between Saddam Hussein and the hijackings and no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, unless they discovered them yesterday. You can only believe those lies if your name is Rip Van Winkle and you just emerged from a sleep of twenty years. If Saddam had those weapons that have yet to be found, don’t you think he would have used them on the attacking troops? Maybe he was saving them for some other invasion. By now you should be convinced that at least one of these wars was unnecessary, although I hope I have convinced you that both were.
Wars need not last very long and still be disastrous and unnecessary. Consider the late twentieth century skirmishes in Granada, Panama, the Falkland Islands and Somalia. Most of these conflicts had no redeeming value except to show that one country could bully another smaller nation after the superpower suffered a humiliating defeat. The first three encounters may have been judged to be successes. Of course, if you had a relative who died or was injured in any of these battles or happened to be living in the country under attack, you felt differently. Mogadishu was something else, as related by Mark Bowden in his hard-tostomach book, Black Hawk Down. Perhaps you saw the gory movie of the same name. There really was no reason for a single person to die in any of these instances.
If we discuss the Gulf War of 1991, which was a reaction to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, you may feel that the response was warranted and that the war was just and necessary. However, returning to the Iraq / Iran War of the 1980s, which I discussed earlier and which resulted in the death of 350,000 people, it is indeed possible that Saddam Hussein would never be in the position he was in 1990 to attack his neighbor, without the support of the United States. Had his forces not been built up in the decade before, who is to say if that leader would even be in power in 1990?
Even allowing for what occurred in the summer of 1990, war was not the only possibility. Sanctions and other actions could have been effective had patience been applied. Moreover, since it may have appeared that the restrictions weren’t working, some other approach should have been tried. Don’t tell me that the nations of the region as well as those in Europe couldn’t have devised a plan to put Saddam in his place without resorting to war. Actually, had the Arab countries nearby exerted a bit more control in the late 1980s, Iraq would never have even thought about taking action against one of its neighbors.
If you are still not convinced of the lunacy of the Iraq War begun in 2003, you should listen to some of the soldiers’ comments about it. If these men and women don’t have a clear picture of what is going on there, no one does. You will find writings dealing with the war in the already referred to book by Michael Moore, Will They Ever Trust Us Again?
No sane, reasonable person will say that the Vietnam War made any sense. In the years before the United States stuck their nose into that country, the French withdrew from the conflict in Southeast Asia, realizing the futility of their involvement. It is often said that people who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it. America had to enter the fray in order to realize that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
That disaster cost over 55,000 American lives and at least five times that number of injuries. This does not count the damage done to once sane men and women, tormented by war as well as the strife and division it created here in this country. The devastation of the environment by the bombs and utter lack of concern for the earth or its inhabitants resulted in a million deaths of the Vietnamese men, women and children. This number does not include injuries. The tonnage of the bombs dropped on Hanoi during the Christmas bombing in 1972 was greater than in all of World War II. It is no wonder that this catastrophe has not been forgotten and probably never will.
I have already mentioned the Korean War and the fact that it wasn’t even a declared war. The results at the end of that encounter were no different than at the start, except for the casualties. Nothing was accomplished except for the destruction and the ill feelings afterwards.
War is so mind boggling that sometimes we get confused as to some of the labels of the conflicts. The two World Wars have been called “The great war” and “The war to end all wars,” but I am not sure which label applies to which. At one time I thought I had the correlation, but then upon reading some book, I thought I had it reversed. It really doesn’t matter as there is no such thing a good war let alone a great one. Then again the other label is way off base as there has been plenty of fighting and killing all over the world since the end of that war.
As of 2002, since the end of World War II, up to thirty-five million people have died in approximately 170 wars. Of this number, ninety percent are civilians. Generally speaking, the combat always results in the death of the men, women and children trying to avoid the bombing; it is a war against the people, those who want no part of the conflict and are innocent victims. If the military uses “precision bombing,” why do we have “collateral damage?”
On a few occasions, war is begun not by an aggressor but rather by the aggressed. It just doesn’t appear that way. Consider an instance where country A wants to get into a war with country B but wants to make it look as though country A was attacked first. Something is done to provoke country B into attacking country A. It could even be more underhanded when country A appears to be attacked by its neighbor when in reality country A staged the attack. What some countries won’t do to get into a war.
There have been instances of just these scenarios in the past and World War II may well have been just such an example with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At the time, the American people were not too enthusiastic about being involved in that war. I am not saying that the United States attacked Pearl Harbor but rather that the Japanese were provoked into attacking in order to win over the people of the United States for entry into World War II. Rather than try to convince you of this possibility, you can read about it in Robert Stinnett’s Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor. If the author’s contention is true, it would only indicate that the Second World War was unnecessary, at least for the United States.
The problem of Adolf Hitler needs further consideration. There is no doubt that his actions warranted some kind of response while at the same time it must be considered how he rose to where he was at that time. Once again, support and funding play a key role in coming to power. To begin with, people have a decided advantage, if they work together. As much influence as Hitler had, there would have been more power in the hands of the German people had they been united against him and his ideals. Actually, all it would have taken was one or two people to do something to bring him down. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Hitler did receive support from rich individuals in the United States. Big Blue, better known as the corporate giant IBM, had much to do with the success of the Fuhrer. You can read all about this in a very informative and intriguing book by Christian Parenti, The Soft Cage. Had money and technology not been shipped to Germany in the 1930s, there may never have been a Second World War.
Another insistence by many people – historians as well as those who fought in the war or objected to fighting any war – is that at the end of the First World War, had there been a more generous policy towards the Germans regarding concessions, Hitler may never have been the force he turned out to be. This again implies that World War II may not have become a part of history.
There were people in Europe who didn’t fight Hitler but did stand up to him. They let him know that they would not allow what he was doing elsewhere to take place in their country. This strategy fails at times but there are many instances where you can succeed without the use of violence. I’m sure you are aware of many cases where peace and control can be achieved without fighting.
The next question involves why Hitler had so much support. Were there other organizations or countries that enabled him to become such a force through financial contributions? Naturally, there were people that provided help in the form of cash and materials so that his campaign could succeed. Some of this even came from individuals in the United States. But then again, this wasn’t the first instance, and you are all aware that this would play out again and again in the years following WWII.
So it looks as though, had certain events not taken place, World War II would not have occurred. This makes it completely unnecessary despite the fact that people “in the know” have always felt that it really couldn’t have been avoided. The reality of the situation is that with a bit more effort, even the more apparently “inevitable” war can be avoided. It just takes work.
Had World War I, the “war to end all wars” succeeded in accomplishing that goal, I may have to concede that that war was necessary. Since it failed miserably, I refuse to accept that fact. I doubt that it was needed and had efforts been made, it certainly could have been avoided.
Not that long ago I felt the greatest American president was Abraham Lincoln. After considering his entry into the Civil War, I am not sure I still feel the same way. After all, the declaration of war in 1861 resulted in some of the same denial of rights of the people guaranteed in the Constitution that we saw with the Patriot Act a few years ago. Moreover, the Founding Fathers never indicated in creating the republic that states could not legally succeed from the Union. Since that was the initial reason for the start of the Civil War, this indicates that it was not justified.
Is it possible that the death of over 600,000 people from war as well as the huge devastation to the country could have been avoided? The answer is yes. That war was not necessary, even if you consider the peculiar institution, slavery. There never was, nor will there ever be any justification for the slave trade. Nonetheless, the end of slavery could have been accomplished without war, just as it had been eliminated in other countries at that time. Well, that isn’t entirely true – as even today slavery exists throughout the world. Just consider corporate America, outsourcing, downsizing, immigrant laborers and the minimum wage.
The Civil War had no redeeming social value whatsoever. If you think it freed the slaves, why was the Civil Rights’ Movement necessary in the 1960s? That was a century after the conflict occurred. Those hundred years were a time filled with as much hate and discrimination as existed before the war. Even today, some people look down on others because the color of their skin.
If you feel that the Civil War ended slavery, why do some corporations refuse to pay their employees a living wage while simultaneously those at the highest levels in a company receive compensation which is five hundred times higher than the people who do all the real work? Why are workers forced to put in a sixty-hour workweek with all the advances we have in technology when a half-century ago forty hours was the norm. Actually, in 1933, a law was almost enacted to usher in a thirty-hour workweek in the United States. Unfortunately, it never passed and the American worker has been a slave to his boss ever since.
Another type of slavery utilizes workers in other countries to labor under horrible working conditions with few breaks and minimum pay. These are the jobs that have been shipped overseas in order for the corporation to make larger profits. People lose their jobs, environmental laws are bypassed and those who wind up in the sweatshops suffer numerous injuries for which they receive no compensation or health care. Instead they lose their jobs.
I’m not going to talk about any other war, as the ones I have covered should convince you that all wars are unnecessary. I am not a student of war, as I find it repulsive, disgusting, demeaning, infantile, wasteful, degrading and horrible. However, I am a student of history and can’t help but read about conflict. History has recorded 250 wars in the twentieth century alone, so it is difficult to avoid. The more you read about any particular war, the more you will be convinced that it is or was not necessary. This even applies to those that many have insisted couldn’t be avoided. On further deep analysis, you will not find any war that should have been fought.
Let me return to the quote at the beginning of the chapter by General Henry W. Halleck. You can read more about his life in John Marszalek’s book, Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies. Halleck studied at West Point and wrote boring books about military strategy, so he knew a great deal about war. Because of this, his quote is so powerful.
“War should not be waged unless it is absolutely necessary! It is unfair to the men and women of the armed services to have their sense of duty and obligation taken advantage of in an unjust war.” – Marine Lance Corporal Abdul Anderson, who will not return to Iraq under threat of jail time
16. More Reasons For War
“The connection between capitalism and war is a close one, and I suspect that if we can build a world without capitalism, without the principle of profit being dominant, we may not eliminate all conflict or violence or war, but we would have gone a long way toward that goal.” – Howard Zinn
“It was a useless war, as every war is. How gaddamn foolish it is, the war. They’s no war in the world that is worth fighting for, I don’t care where it is. They can’t tell me any different. Money, money is the thing that causes it all. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the people that start wars and promote ‘em are the men that make the money, make the ammunition, make the clothing and so forth. Just think of the poor kids that are starvin’ to death in Asia and so forth that could be fed with how much you make one big shell out of.” – Former GI Tommy Bridges
I have already given a few reasons for war, such as greed on the part of banks, corporations and the undertakers. But there are other reasons. I did mention going to war for “religious reasons” but that is completely bogus. Anyone who worships a Higher Being realizes that the two words “religious” and “war” make up an oxymoron. Anyone who feels he has a calling by God to go to war was probably only called by a telemarketer with a deep voice. That’s what God intended answering machines for: to filter out the unwanted callers.
People in power think that might makes right and war is the only answer but I should have convinced you otherwise by the teacher who was treated to that dog deposit some chapters back. There have been many leaders, dictators and presidents alike who loved adventure, intrigue and spying. War just followed naturally as the next step. Of course, they themselves didn’t go over to do the fighting but sent young men and women in their place.
Being a leader does some strange things to those in office. At one time they may have had no desire for some of the actions that being in charge now entices them to initiate. They even start to define issues as black and white while denying that some aspects may be gray. Being the head honcho swells their brain and they soon feel that they can never be the one who makes mistakes. Any disaster is blamed on others and responsibility flies out the window. This feeling is not unlike that of a dictator, even though the country he is supposed to be leading is a democracy.
In this struggle for power, naturally the rich are the first consideration and all others take a backseat. Friends are to be rewarded with contracts and the others have to fend for themselves. People who do them favors are rewarded and this in turn results in more benefits for those groups. And this consequently means decent citizens are left behind and have to struggle, with no one giving them a break. The very people who elected an individual to public office wind up being stepped on with no one to rely on and nowhere to turn for help.
The rich become richer and those who struggle to survive only find things becoming more difficult. As a result, a young man or woman enlists in the service, not to go to war but to be able to afford an education. The recruiting officer assures that individual that she will never have to worry about going into combat. But that is nothing but a lie. Before long the individual who was striving to make it, winds up struggling to stay alive in a war that is unjust, illogical and unnecessary. He finally finishes his duty to his country when his stay is extended, even though he never asked it to be. He served and just wants to go home.
Another reason for war has to do with resources. Some of these might be oil, water or clean air. Of course if war is waged, many of these same resources will be wasted. Nonetheless, oil is the reason why nations clash. Wars are fought for land as well. There’s only a finite amount of any resource so people need to either fight to control it or share what exists peacefully. The latter makes more sense.
Besides using up the very resources that people fight for, the devastation to the earth is such that the planet is very much in jeopardy from war. You should have been convinced of this after reading about bomb building in an earlier chapter, and this damage to the air, land and water is brought about before the first bomb is even dropped. What about the loss of human beings? Anyone in the personnel department of a corporation places great value on the people they hire. War eliminates too much potential.
There are other reasons for war, although after the nineteenth century the whole concept has changed from what it was in centuries past. Conventional warfare has been replaced by genocide and attacking a country mainly because the aggressor dislikes the other nation or what the latter represents. He may think that his actions are justified, but the killing of others, innocent or otherwise, is not. This activity only results in senseless retaliation where even more lives are lost. Egotism is the problem, rather than acceptance and compassion. In many cases this applies to both parties.
Another reason for war has to do with race. “Oil is not worth one soldier’s life lost. Too many young Americans are dying for this cause.” – SPC Matthew Burns, scheduled to be sent to Iraq in the summer of 2005 17. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
“We believe in brotherhood. We believe in the brotherhood of man. The scriptures read, ‘God has made of one blood all the nations to dwell upon the face of the earth.’” – Henry Agard Wallace
“How many more Americans coming home in wheelchairs – like me – will it take before we learn?” – Ron Kovic“It costs so little to teach a child to love, and so much to teach him to hate.” – Father Flanagan
“Mankind must find a higher sensitivity.” – a quote from the PBS program The Great War and Those Who Refused to Fight It
The title of the chapter refers to a 1960s song by the Hollies, and those six words are something to ponder deeply. In Press 1 for Pig Latin, I spent an entire chapter on labels. If you’ve read this far, you should realize that I don’t care for them, since they are great examples of missing intelligence – but they do give me so much material. In that same book, I mentioned the PBS special, The Journey of Man, as well as the companion book of the same name by Spencer Wells.
I haven’t been to the racetrack too many times, but in high school, I did run a few races while on the cross country and track teams. We race to get to work and then later, race to get home, and society today is nothing but a rat race. You also hear of different sexes, creeds and races, but that use of the term “race” in that context is completely wrong, documented by the PBS special. We all are of the brotherhood of man – and both brotherhood and man refer to no particular sex – regardless of our faith, sex or the color of our skin. If we have feelings of superiority for someone because his skin is lighter or darker than ours, there’s a good chance we’ll hate everyone because of the different hues of humankind. I suggest you listen to another song, White Man’s Blues by Edgar Winter, even if you are not a blues fan.
While growing up with a younger brother and an older one – my sister arrived a bit later – one of the first gifts we received as children was a pair of boxing gloves. I’m not sure if my father’s intent was to teach us to defend ourselves or to beat each other up to lower his food bill. It appears that the intent may have been a bit of both, as brothers always fight each other, and sisters may not have as much respect for each other as they should. On the other hand, there are numerous, heartwarming cases where kids look out for one another, so this conflict thing between siblings could be overblown.
I have already dealt with religious wars and you can see that people will argue with each other – and do much worse things – because of various differences other than skin tone. Following the reasoning of The Journey of Man, skirmishes between people of the same country or area, such as the Middle East, don’t make any sense if we take into account our place of origin. Many years ago I heard the argument that anyone you come in contact with is a relative. The reasoning goes thusly: each of us has two parents and they in turn have two, resulting in four – the number of our grandparents. Repeat the process and keep going and the number you will eventually arrive at is the population of the world at some point in time, or the fact that we are all related. Insofar as some people have more than four grandparents, yada, yada, yada, we shall reach that magic number a great deal sooner.
If we’re all cousins, don’t they look after one another as well? We’re all aware of the Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson production, but even if you don’t accept the fact that their families are related, you have to accept the fact of miscegenation, since it has been documented throughout history. Finally, even without these unions, we’re all cousins because of – you guessed it – the journey of man (capitalized or otherwise). Amazingly, DNA has shown a closer relationship between two people who live thousands of miles from each other than from two individuals in the same town. I really recommend the video or DVD, The Journey of Man.
If I haven’t convinced you that the term religious wars is an oxymoron, let me try one more time. People who care for one another, or at least claim to be religious, don’t hate people of other denominations or bomb their neighbors. Loving only Catholics and despising people of other faiths might mean that the term practicing Catholic truly applies here – someone needs a lot of work. When it comes to the sexes, when we have a true war between them, not only will the environment suffer greatly, there probably won’t be anyone left on the planet.
If individuals refuse to marry someone with lighter or darker skin than theirs, or to have sexual relations for the same reason, or even to accept these unions – which have been happening for a very long time – the continuation of the species is in question. Two people may be similar, but they don’t have the same hue of skin color. Thus, if we can’t get along with someone based on what they look like, whether it has to do with creed, religion, nationality or any other criterion, we are going to hate everybody, even our relatives. That will make living together completely impossible.
There can be no peace while war is going on. By the same token, if we have peace, there will be no war. The two are mutually exclusive. In order to have peace, which indicates no war, there has to be a starting point. It needs to begin with us as individuals. There will never be peace anywhere if we do not have it within ourselves. Once that is achieved, the next step is to develop peace within our family.
With the current rate of divorce, that will not be an easy mission. If one out of every two marriages ends up shattered, creating peace and love within families will be difficult indeed. Even if half of those marriages that still survive border on breakup, that still implies one out of four households has strife. That number is too high and only means a great deal of effort will be involved since divorce is not good for the people in the marriage, the offspring, relatives of the arguing parties, their friends or society.
Let us consider parents Sam and Mary and their family. They could be compared to the United States and its relationship with Iraq in the early 1980s. You may recall that America sent weapons to that country in their war with Iran. This is like Sam providing Mary with expensive clothes and jewelry rather than the love that she needs and desires. At work, Sam falls for Susie and hates to leave his wife so he provides her with an expensive car and diamonds, instead of love. Susie can be compared to Iran, the other country to which the U.S. sent arms.
Sam is stuck with both Mary and Susie, but in the end, he may lose both. If either woman finds out about the other, which is very likely, his life will be ruined. He won’t be the only one, as his children will suffer as well. This is not unlike the citizens of the United States who eventually wound up suffering for their country’s arms support of two warring nations in the Middle East. It may not have happened right away, but eventually it came to fruition.
A family built on love and trust will succeed much better than handouts. A peaceful home is important as the next step towards a society without war. A husband and wife who don’t communicate but only bicker will create the same habits in their offspring. By all means, talk with one another, but don’t do that in a loud voice. There’s nothing wrong with dissent, but moderation is important as well as the creation of a healthy, nurturing environment filled with love. I have already mentioned some of the causes of strife, such as Hollywood and the media. Somehow parents need to overcome all the outside influences and teach their children peace, rather than conflict.
Too often you see two brothers fighting or two sisters doing the same. You may even have a son fighting his sister. In many cases the eruption is done because one individual feels he is better than his sibling, when there is no difference between the two. There may be jealousy as one feels her brother is favored more by the parents than she is. Maybe the two boys are fighting over the same girl, and this can cause bickering. In each case of battle, it is up to the parents to bring calm between these siblings. That won’t be easy but as I pointed out earlier, without peace in the home, it can’t extend any further than that.
The good example set by the parents will resonate as their children will be better citizens and this will make them fit into society. A good family life translates into better communities, towns and cities. These in turn mean that we can live in a state where there is harmony and peace. Finally we can have calm, cooperation and tranquility within our country. All that is now needed is for other nations to be involved with the same feeling, and before long the world can experience peace.
Achieving this goal is not easy, but you can see that we need a starting point. Love and consideration of others will be required as will the contribution of communication, concessions and patience. Agreeing to help others, rather than thinking of oneself, will also help reach that goal. I end the chapter on a happy note, just as I began. One song that we have all heard numerous times begins with the words, “Let there be peace on earth.” If you don’t know it, or forgot the ending, they are as follows: “And let it begin with me.” That’s the only way peace can be accomplished.
“The average American doesn’t know what to think anymore; they don’t need to think anymore. They have the government for that! Anyone who dares challenge that has their very own patriotism challenged.” – RLC2, who enlisted and then reenlisted
18. Pain and suffering
“If the United States were to prove in good faith that it is opposed to barbarism and butchery of war by issuing a proclamation of peace, and itself setting the example of disarmament to the nations of the world, its preparedness would be, not only in accordance with its vaunted ideals, but a thousand fold greater guarantee to the respect to its neighbors and its own security and peace than if it were loaded down with all the implements of death and destruction on earth.” – Eugene Debs, 1915
“Basically loves means being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and now by the pressures of history, toward the universe of mankind.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
A few things that I will never forget from watching The War are the images of the dead and wounded on the battlefield or floating in the water. Someone mentioned that there was some battle in Europe – it really isn’t important which one because many were just as bad, perhaps worse – in which a person could traverse some distance by walking on the dead, never touching the ground.
As I have emphasized before, I had great difficulty viewing the Ken Burns documentary. During the days I viewed it, too many times I had to look away. Nonetheless, it was nothing compared to what the men and women in the war went through. My feeling certainly pales in comparison to the families and friends of the soldiers, even if the latter returned home to live out their lives. It’s very difficult to feel their pain.
If you have read my other books, you are well aware of the fact that I had a few – I hate to use the word, but I will, anyway – battles with cancer. I’m quite fortunate and I won’t bore you with the details except to say that my hospital visits witnessed people in suffering and pain – I could hear their desperate cries for relief. At that point, my pain seemed to be insignificant and the suffering of others had more of an effect on me than my small discomfort. Drugs help in some way, but not always. I don’t believe in drugs because of their side effects, but at the time of my surgery, I welcomed that shot of painkiller, as others suffering do.
In February 2008, I read A View of the Ocean by Jan de Hartog, a moving account of the last suffering days of a loving parent. I recommend it, but be warned: it’s not easy to read. Another unforgettable book about Africa, war and suffering is When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin. Finally, I need to mention 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life by Donald Piper with Cecil Murphey, which I finished reading in the summer of 2008. Each of these books has a common thread: pain and suffering.
In February 2006, I visited my friend Dan in Carrollton, Georgia for the first time in years. He moved from Buffalo to the Peach State some time ago with his wife, Patty, who died a few years ago from cancer. On my 2006 visit, Dan mentioned driving his wife for treatments and he could see she was in pain, but he also commented on all the suffering he witnessed while Patty was being administered to. When I departed his home that weekend, that concept stuck in my mind and I had to include it here.
War brings too much pain. I must repeat what follows to the point of nausea: whoever heads off to battle never returns the same. This applies to any conflict – no exceptions. Soldiers and medics suffer with apprehension before shipping out, during the actual conflict as well as afterwards. This is not limited to those in the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. You know that, if you’ve had a son, daughter, niece, nephew, father, mother, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend head off to war. On many occasions, parents try to convince their son or daughter not to enlist, but at times they have no effect, no matter what they do.
There’s another group of people who witness the pain and may not suffer, but they certainly have a high degree of stress. Those covering the war have been targeted and too many have been killed. I pointed out the sad case of the former NBC journalist, David Bloom. Without the war begun in Iraq in 2003, he may still be alive today. I share in the grief of his family and friends, but unfortunately, too much war throughout the ages has caused relatives and friends to suffer because their loved ones happened to be photographers or newsmen assigned to cover the confict. As you read this, you may be related to someone who was sent into some unjust, dumb and unnecessary war and hasn’t returned – and may never do so.
On the first weekend of August 2005, Peter Jennings of ABC News died of lung cancer. He had actually stopped smoking a few years before, but the events of 9/11, when he was on the air non-stop, led him to resume smoking. You could reasonably conclude that he was another victim of war and terrorism. He, too, might still be with us without the war begun in Iraq in 2003.
Two journalists with whom you might be familiar are David Enders and Ann Garrels. Enders is a young man who fearlessly and bravely covered the twenty-first century war in Iraq for an independent press and wrote about what was happening there. You can read what he wrote in Baghdad Bulletin, published in 2005. Garrels is an NPR correspondent who regularly reports on All Things Considered as well as Morning Edition. She has been in Iraq on numerous occasions and you can find her story in Naked in Baghdad, some of which occurred before the bombs fell. Besides the obvious significance, you’ll have to read the book to discover the real origin of the title. In that book she adds that in 2002, citizens of Iraq wanted no part of a U.S. invasion and some even felt that in a very short time Saddam Hussein would no longer be in power – without the need for a war beginning in March 2003.
As of this writing, those two courageous journalists can still cover the war. Knight Ridder correspondent Yasser Salihee was not so fortunate. He was killed by a U. S. military sniper on June 24, 2005, his day off. His only crime was that he was performing his job. He was on the ground in Iraq and reported over thirty cases of suspected extra-judicial executions by U. S. backed death squads. The victims in this case, whether guilty or not, were subject to Abu-Ghraib-style torture ending in death by a single shot to the head. Not long after Salihee died, two other Iraqi journalists suffered the same fate. TV news editor Maha Ibrahim, who opposed the American occupation, was shot to death. Two days later TV Program Director Ahmad Wail Bakri lost his life in the same way.
You may have heard the name, Maria Ruzicka. She was a twenty-eight year old who dedicated her life to helping others. She had spent time in Africa working on AIDS issues, in Cuba voicing her opposition to the U. S. embargo and in Afghanistan after the war in 2001. She died on Saturday April 16, 2005 as a result of a car bomb in Iraq. She became a victim of the war while she tried to help those who themselves wanted nothing to do with it, but were only trying to get by, day by day. This young woman from Lakeport, California founded CIVIC, the Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict to assist the families of those killed or injured in Iraq. Other brave, courageous citizens have given their lives in Iraq while assisting the less fortunate, such as Margaret Hassan, a British aid worker and four workers of a Southern Baptist missionary group.
In April 2004, Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq. Casey was one of four children of Cindy and Patrick Sheehan of Vacaville, California. She and her husband were the proud parents of twin daughters as well. Casey’s death has resulted in the separation of Patrick and Cindy, with the latter leading a peace movement against the war. She spoke at the annual Veterans For Peace national conference in Dallas in July 2005. She followed this up by traveling by bus to Crawford, Texas to speak to President George W. Bush. Cindy had spoken briefly with him two months after her son’s death but he merely characterized what had happened to him and others as “noble.” This is the same individual who reportedly mentioned that he was the one with the responsibility of hugging the widows, kids and family members of those who perished in Iraq. He wouldn’t have had to worry about doing this if he hadn’t begun that debacle.
Not long ago, I read The Story Of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi with Tamim Ansary. It is the story of a young girl in Afghanistan who lost part of herself when she stepped on a land mine. At times the book is graphic and anyone who reads it will feel some of what Farah experienced. Her pain and suffering were unending, and hers is a story of great courage. It is also a reminder of the existence of mines left from too many wars in various parts of the earth, soon to cause loss of limb or life itself when someone encounters it.
Another difficult book to read is Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo – also made into a movie, if you can stomach it. It is a shocking, brutal, uncompromising and horrible novel about war. To get a flavor for what takes place, our hero wakes up in a hospital after being injured and discovers that one of his limbs is gone. Not long after that, he realizes that his situation is much worse than that. I can’t imagine watching the flick, even for references for this book.
One other kind of pain results that I have yet to mention. Most of us are familiar with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the kind I’m referring to: torture. You need no study to conclude that the information obtained from that method is as reliable as the groundhog on the second day of February. Brainwashing may work insofar as swallowing a pill would prevent revelation of information, but the victim may feel that that choice is a huge imposition. If someone is innocent, he will have neither the poison to ingest, nor the option. No matter who you are, everyone has a limit and will say anything to end the pain, especially if boards and water are involved, even for Olympic swimmers.
On May 17, 2008 in Philadelphia, I met Bob O’Connor, a writer of Civil War novels. I finished his outstanding book, Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War not long after that meeting. I passed the book on to a friend and she loved it as well. O’Connor’s work will be on my mind for some time because of the pain that Catesby endured and witnessed on three occasions. He was a slave who escaped his master and made a living as a blacksmith in Pennsylvania, but not before being beaten to the point that he would spend the rest of his life walking with a limp.
He couldn’t serve in the Union Army but did volunteer to help behind the lines in a role fitting his profession. In so doing, he witnessed the horror of Antietam – pointed out quite convincingly by O’Connor. Catesby was captured and taken to Andersonville Prison in Anderson, Georgia, where he saw firsthand another type of suffering as men died because of the heat, rain, sickness brought on by unsanitary conditions and lack of clean water and decent food. The comparison was made that this experience wasn’t much different than Antietam, as in each case people suffered and died, even if not from the same causes.
As pointed out by the four towns depicted in The War, no area of the country is exempt from the agony of war. However, one city may have more casualties than another as numerous American soldiers died in Iraq around the same time Jennings lost his battle with cancer. The state of Ohio felt the full impact of the war as citizens there mourned the death of seventeen soldiers in one week, with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines severely affected. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends in towns and cities across the land have received dreaded knocks at their door informing them of the death of their loved one. This scenario occurs for every war, no matter how “small.”
From what I have observed, the number of wounded – some will die shortly after being injured – is about seven times the number of deaths. If ninety percent of the casualties of war happen to be collateral damage – not a respectful way of referring to human beings – you can see that war brings with it unlimited pain and suffering. Some people never get over the war, and they weren’t even involved in the fighting.
“I sent letters to soldiers telling them about Vietnam and the difference between hell and war, that both were places that would rob you of your soul. No one listened.” – Thomas Young, who served two tours in Vietnam 19. Hell, no, we won’t go
“Now I don’t think there should be even a thing called war – ‘cause it messes up a person’s mind.” – Charles Hutto
“The U.S. can destroy Iraq’s highways, but not build its own; create the conditions for epidemic in Iraq, but not offer health care to millions of Americans. It can excoriate Iraqi treatment of the Kurdish minority, but not deal with domestic race relations; create homelessness abroad but not solve it here; keep half a million troops drug free as part of a war, but refuse to fund the treatment of millions of drug addicts at home. We shall lose the war after we have won it.” – Marilyn Young
“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder – and that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared wars; and the subject class has always fought the battles.” – Eugene Debs
“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” – John F. Kennedy
Those five words in the chapter title are a by-product of the Vietnam War. They may be relatively new, but the feeling behind them goes back a long time. Here are a few more words that describe that war as well as any other encounter, past, present or to come. It is devastating, horrible, degrading, humiliating, unnecessary, evil, illogical, disgusting, violent, reprehensible and stupid. It is filthy, manufactured, inevitable and desired by those in charge. So many men, women and children agree with all these adjectives that the majority of the population hate and despise war and want nothing to do with it. If individuals thought otherwise, then why were there 350,000 draft evaders in the United States during World War II? You are well aware of those who cared not to be involved in Vietnam. They went so far as to leave the country; many performed horrible acts on their body to avoid being sent overseas, some even resulting in loss of life.
These individuals were part of a class of Conscientious Objectors (CO), who have been with us since our nation’s founding. There were 42,000 people against World War II while eighty-three percent of the American people were against any involvement in that campaign shortly before December 1941. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was a huge turnaround as the majority of the population was now in favor of the war.
In the spring of 2008, I viewed a PBS special called, The Great War and Those Who Refused to Fight It. Many of those classified as COs went through hell even though they didn’t fire a gun or weren’t anywhere near the fighting. The government gave them a few choices. One was to go to jail, while a second was to work in a program doing menial, meaningless work without pay. They may have been fed, but that was the extent of what they were provided. Many in this endeavor made an effort to do as little as possible.
Soon they had an alternative: they could volunteer to have some viruses injected into their bodies in order to determine what would work to cure it. This doesn’t sound much better than going to prison. There also was an opportunity to spend time assisting at mental institutions. Those who made their way there saw abominable conditions, and it was through the efforts of the COs that those facilities were shut down and improvements in the system were accomplished.
The program did highlight a few letters from people who themselves objected to the COs, calling them unpatriotic and anything but men. These probably were the same men and women who before the attack on Pearl Harbor were against any American involvement in WWII. At the same time, there were women who also agreed that they wanted no part of the war. When some of these COs went to jail, one of the wardens, after all his undertakings with them, mentioned that he couldn’t wait until the war was over so that he could deal with murderers, rapists and Congressmen rather have to put up with these conscientious objectors, whom he just didn’t know how to handle.
In the years to come, many of these same COs were involved in protesting the Vietnam War. In fact, an individual featured on the PBS special, David Dellinger, was one of the Chicago Seven, a group that made its presence felt at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in that same city. Others continued their pacifist outlook in different ways in years to come. Through them, much reform was achieved in different areas, particularly civil rights.
Not long ago I read, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The book is a novel about the atrocities and worthlessness of war from the prospective of German soldiers, written in 1928, made into a movie in 1930 and recently, I re-read the book. I include a short excerpt from the book.
Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bullfight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathingdrawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting.
In the movie, based on the book, Lew Ayres played
the lead role as a soldier caught up in battle. At the time of the production, he was twenty years old. In 1941, he surprised many by refusing to fight in World War II, just like Desmond Doss. Ayres was inducted in the service as a medic. He was a vegetarian and wound up as an unarmed medical corpsman, participating in four D-Day invasions. He died in 1996.
Another book that I recommend is Articles Of War: A Novel by Nick Arvin. This is a work about the experience of World War II. One soldier questions being on the front line and even considers going AWOL or at least suffering some kind of injury to escape from all in front of him. He doesn’t do either but because of his skill with a rifle, is asked to participate in the execution of a deserter. It deeply troubles him. Like Farah Ahmedi’s The Story of My Life, this book raises questions that apply to all wars, no matter when they were fought.
Even today, we have conscientious objectors. Apparently, I’m one of them, and have been for some time, although I still live in the United States. I heard of a few from Western New York who fled to Canada to avoid having to be involved in the adventures in Iraq or Afghanistan. I really can’t blame them and they are to be applauded for their courage.
There are others who seem to feel the same way but somehow don’t necessarily come across that way. The word we want here is hypocrite. In the latter part of 2007, I happened to see a television program where people were interviewed about their feeling about U.S. involvement in Iraq. Most, if not all, agreed with the administration’s handling of the conflict. This segment may have even been recorded on a college campus. When asked if the man on the street planned to join the service, that person said that he was in school so he couldn’t at that time. Others stated that they had no intention of going over to fight. When asked if there was the chance of enlistment after graduation, the answer was that he wasn’t planning on it as he had other things to do. The majority of the interviewees came up with that same answer, almost as if they had seen the questions ahead of time.
“To this day I do not regret deserting the army. Soldiers follow orders and never question them when their life is on the line. They need to start asking for a good reason to put their life on the line instead of blindly following their leaders.” – Robert Egolf, who left because he had a moral problem with going and killing someone who never did anything to him
20. Bold Steps
“We’re constantly arguing among ourselves; as families, as countries; about the stories we tell. As a nation moves forward through time, people change the stories according to the times they’re in. Democracy is not a tea party; it’s an argument.” – Salman Rushdie“Persistent manly agitation is the way to liberty.” – W. E. B. DuBois
“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.” – Frederick Douglass
“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed…and no republic can survive.” – John F. Kennedy
“The objector and the rebel who raises his voice against what he believes to be the injustice of the present and the wrongs of the past is the one who hunches the world along.” – Clarence Darrow
“We are simply seeking to bring into full realization the American dream – a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men no longer argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character, the dream of a land where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is so much that we as individuals can do to put an end to war. Working with others may be able to end that state of conflict more quickly. However, there are numerous obstacles. On Friday, May 30, 2008, I was on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo heading over to pick up a friend for dinner. I heard a horn sound and shortly thereafter, noticed a window in a car being opened and a hand signaling, but only with a single finger. Before long, the displeased driver of the honking vehicle pulled into the right lane. It appeared as though there would be a confrontation, as road rage had reared its ugly head. These individuals were from the same town; maybe they even lived in the same neighborhood.
Not long after that, I entered into a foul mood myself thanks to the terror of technology. On a single morning, I attempted to use the WEB for making three payments. In only the last try did I succeed, but even then it wasn’t without some frustration. I was told that to pay for my web hosting I had merely to do a few things, once on their web site. I did as instructed, but nothing happened. After a few minutes – longer than I wanted to spend – I figured out how to bypass the problem and did pay with my credit card. When I have to do this the next time, I don’t know if I’ll remember what I did to make the payment.
In the other two cases, I spent over half an hour trying to accomplish two online payments with plastic that would have required five minutes each had I merely filled out the card and mailed it. I always felt that technology should make things easier, but instead the result is annoyance and someone bears the brunt of the attack. I usually put up with it and accept what happens and then write about it. Life in the twenty-first century has its challenges.
In August 2005, citizens throughout the world stopped what they were doing to remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred sixty years before. There were a host of programs on television discussing those days. There were numerous debates about whether dropping the atom bomb was the right thing to do. Some argued that Japan was defeated and ready to surrender and the destruction was completely unnecessary. Others said Truman did right because lives were saved. Killing 100,000 people will never be right. If you side with Truman, you probably believe those advertisements that say, “The more you spend, the more you save!” You also probably believe in “fighting for peace.”
The debate never even questions why the war began. What could have been done to prevent it? What caused it? I mentioned Robert Stinnett’s book about Pearl Harbor. Why did any scientists even consider creating so horrible and destructive a device as the bomb? Apparently, they weren’t the brightest of the bright. In some cases, a high intelligence quotient doesn’t mean squat. Somehow, people forget that the vast majority of people are always opposed to war. But then why does it appear that there is always unified support for violence, killing and destruction?
Too many wars have their Pearl Harbors – events that trigger a response of war against another nation. You can read about the Gulf of Tonkin fiasco as well as some possible triggers for the Spanish American War. Who is to say that other conflicts weren’t instigated by some event or action? Don’t expect to see an end to this practice, either.
It may seem too late to do anything about what has already transpired, but something must be done to reduce terrorism to the point that it is only a nuisance. Obviously it can never be fought by any conventional encounters. But, there are steps that can be taken to make the world a better place in this regard. It is up to the government to serve the people and take action so that all the causes of terrorism listed above don’t occur again.
We need to be more tolerant of other nations and their customs and cultures. This means we have to learn more about them, rather than spending so much time watching reality TV. We may find these people to be different and unusual, but how do you think they feel about us?
In June 2008, I had the pleasure of viewing Michael Moore’s movie on health care, Sicko. One of the extras on the DVD was an interview with Dr. Aleida Guevara, Che’s daughter. She emphasized the fact that Cuba’s health care system is free, unlike that of the United States. She also pointed out that the people of her country are no different than those who live north of the island nation. If you watch only one part of the video, don’t miss this interview. You won’t have an opportunity to see that segment if you view the movie at the cinema.
As Americans, we have prejudices about other nations. Simultaneously, there are quite a few citizens of the world who don’t think highly of the Unites States Government. Thank God, most of us are only citizens and not the government. Nonetheless, since we live here, we need to get involved and do our part to make the ruling body more compassionate and considerate of other nations.
We shouldn’t be so hasty in judging others. We have other duties as well. Running off to war should be avoided until all options have been tried. Negotiations should be seriously considered with the realization that in the long run, this can save trillions of dollars as well as human lives. Sanctions should be put in place and if they don’t work, it may be time to make some significant changes to them to make them effective. All it takes is a little intelligence and ingenuity. Unfortunately, the administration and the Congress seem to be stymied by missing intelligence. Working with others, especially the United Nations, should not be ignored.
Yes, war was hammered home as the only alternative with no dependence on others for help. Paul Freundlich offered these thoughts at the start of the 2003 Iraq War: “All right, let me see if I understand the logic of this correctly. We are going to ignore the United Nations in order to make clear to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations cannot be ignored. We’re going to wage war to preserve the U.N.’s ability to avert war. The paramount principle is that the U.N.’s word must be taken seriously, and if we have to subvert its word to guarantee that it is, then, by gum, we will. Peace is too important not to take up arms to defend. Am I getting this right?”
Changes need to be made to shape this country into a more peaceful place. Reducing all the violence on television and in the movies will be a good start – it certainly can’t be completely obliterated. Stricter gun control laws are necessary. When it comes to the right to bear arms, nowhere is there any statement that says this includes the right to carry assault weapons. Canada has very strict gun control with no death penalty. The United States should follow their example. In the year 2000, there were 15,517 murders in the U. S. while Canada had 542. Even if you make an adjustment for the disparity in the population, you would come up with 4,878 murders in Canada, which is still less than a third of the American rate.
During the Clinton administration, gun violence declined from twelve percent and violent crime to nine percent. This only came about because of that administration’s crime policies, especially on gun violence. If guns are taken off the street, there will still be crime, but you and I will have a better chance going up against a knife rather than a bullet. A handbag can’t do anywhere near as much damage as a handgun.
It is time for parents and teachers to teach peace and not war. Violence and might never permanently solved any problem. Mothers and fathers should do all they can to instruct their sons and daughters that joining the military is what they should do as soon as they are eligible. Since kids don’t listen to their parents, their offspring will do all they can to stay away from the Air Force, Army, Navy and the Marines. With no soldiers, how can any war be fought?
One of my favorite songs is by the blues artist, Keb’ Mo’, a.k.a. Kevin Moore. The song is Stand Up (and be strong) from the 2000 CD, The Door. It’s a plea to get off the couch and do something. The previous chapter describes the conscientious objectors but much more has to be done. If the majority of voters in this country in 2006 asked for an end to the war in Iraq, why are American men and women still there? According to the summer issue of YES! Magazine, “A recent USA / Gallop Poll found that, by a margin of seventy-three percent to eighteen percent, Americans favor economic and diplomatic efforts over military action.”
I used a great number of quotes from Tom Brokaw’s book about the greatest generation. These people had much to say, but not enough of them stood up. After that war ended, it wasn’t very long before we witnessed the Korean War, Vietnam and a few others. Conscientious objectors made their voices heard, but they needed more noise from veterans who went through the trauma and horror of battle.
Those returning from war didn’t talk about it until they reached their dying days. There were many reasons for this, including not wanting to speak out against one’s country. By doing that they would have accomplished a great deal of good. Because of this silence on the part of too many, I can’t agree that these people made up the greatest generation.
On the third anniversary of beginning of the war in Iraq, I spent a few cold minutes protesting in downtown Buffalo, the emphasis being that each dollar spent overseas was one that would not be used in our area for so many needed projects. Beforehand, I emailed news of the event to a few other people – some of whom I soon discovered I shouldn’t have bothered. It’s one thing to get no response or a polite one, but some of the replies fit neither category. At that juncture, I knew I was doing the right thing. Be advised, there are people who believe war isn’t that bad an idea and some of these have been in the service. Simultaneously, many of the protestors that day and even now did serve in the military. It’s possible that these pro-war types never saw the front lines or they have been so brainwashed that anyone who wants to bring the troops home now is unpatriotic, when in fact that’s the most patriotic feeling one could have since the men and women would be removed from harm’s way. The people of Iraq won’t complain either.
Get involved with peace groups that can make a difference. Some of those organizations seem to be in no hurry to end the war as they get involved in so many things that very little is accomplished. Others don’t welcome innovative ideas that will work. MoveOn.org set up vigils in different cities in 2008 for the fifth anniversary. I attended one in Niagara Falls as well as one in my former hometown, East Aurora. The former was minimal. About twenty people showed up, while the crowd registered over twice that in the latter location, despite the rain falling, which soon changed to snow. I applaud their efforts but I have to ask why there wasn’t a greater effort to have more people participate in the protests.
At that time, there was an alliance of about two dozen different groups in the Buffalo area protesting the war. An attempt was made for a demonstration the Saturday before Easter. I didn’t join in as I had a book signing, but I tried to spread the word to others. The day after, the Buffalo News reported the action, stating that the count for those involved was about one hundred. I doubt that those few individuals will be able to change much.
Even before that day, CodePink had plans for a Saturday along the same vein. I had planned on participating. A friend and I attended their meeting beforehand and offered our thoughts. On the designated day, the area was hit with a minor snowstorm, with a warning to drive only if necessary. Believe it not, the event was held rather than postponed. The planning and carrying out of the mission could have been better. Does that sound familiar?
I don’t mind an occasional draught beer from time to time, but I’m not in favor of a draft, but maybe we need one. This might wake up the population, especially those on campus. They seem to be so secure and not care much about what’s happening in the rest of the world. The draft during the Vietnam War is one of the main reasons why it was brought to an end. Many in school oppose the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we need more individuals to stand up and make their voice heard.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and Jesus Christ each preached against violence, offering alternatives to fighting and killing. During the Second World War II, patriots in countries such as the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark resisted the Nazi efforts without the use of weapons or force. If “might makes right,” why did the United States pull out of Vietnam in the 1970s as losers and why is there a quagmire in Iraq today? Also, you may recall the condemnation of Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini. Nevertheless, the latter is no longer with us while I heard the former give a talk at the university not that long ago. Apparently being a bully doesn’t quite make it. Why is the pen mightier than the sword? On the other hand, giving the pen rather than the sword to anyone in the current administration might lead to confusion.
Besides the already mentioned individuals who have insisted on peaceful disobedience, one person needs to be mentioned who endlessly worked for the safety of others in really trying situations. His name is Paul Rusesabagina and the last I heard he was residing in Belgium. He was in charge of a hotel in Rwanda in the early 1990s when genocide began in that African nation. His efforts were courageous, unselfish and resulted in protecting the lives of twelve hundred men, women and children at the hotel. His story can be viewed in the difficult to watch but nonetheless inspiring movie, Hotel Rwanda.
His resourcefulness was incredible and he used various methods, even bribery, so that others would not be victim to the brutal slaughter that took place. In the process, he never used guns or any type of violence. Being a very successful hotel owner, he could have been satisfied with his achievements and not even bothered doing what he did. As I said, he achieved much of this by paying off the authorities. He realized that human lives were much more precious than gold or silver.
The genocide should never have been allowed to happen but unfortunately governments sat idly by, even my own country. It’s time to change the government, since it appears that the current one just isn’t working. I don’t mean just the executive branch but the legislative one as well. Campaign finance reform is urgent as is removal from office of those who are not serving us, even senators and representatives. The amount of money spent on the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is outrageous. Those funds could have solved many budget problems and gone a long way to securing the nation. The amount of money spent on the 2004 elections is not small change either. My only hope is that this record spending will never be topped in any U. S. election.
Begin implementation of the Apollo Project. This venture calls for investing $300 billion over a ten-year period to create new energy based on efficiency and innovation. This would involve energy efficient buildings and appliances, environmentally friendly factories, hybrid vehicles and mass transit. The program would create three million manufacturing jobs and the cost for the entire project would be only a fraction of what the country spends each year on imported oil. Implementation means plenty of high paying jobs, help to the environment and also independence of Middle East oil. Let other countries fight over that commodity.
The removal of the troops from the Middle East, Europe and everywhere else they aren’t wanted is also recommended. That definitely means everywhere. I was in Manhattan shortly after September 11, 2001 and experienced quite a few different emotions. Seeing armed forces in Grand Central Station wasn’t all that re-assuring. After all, what good would they do in the event of another attack like the one a month before? Instead, it was a bit disconcerting, but it would have been even worse had these armed men in uniform been from another country. Well, now you know how other people feel when foreign soldiers occupy their land. Bring the women and men home and have them serve here. There’s plenty to do in this country. You may have heard of Katrina – this doesn’t refer to a pop singing diva. The United States can still help other countries by sending civilians without guns or uniforms to teach others various techniques to make their lives better. This can be done without sending food by teaching the natives how to grow and process their own harvests.
Above all, begin by stopping the practice of sending the American taxpayer’s money to foreign governments. Sending cash that can translate into any kind of armament is not such a great idea. Well there is one thing worse: sending arms. During too many conflicts, the United States provided their “allies” with rifles and rocket launchers and just about everything else that you can imagine. Eventually these same weapons were used to kill American soldiers. This happened in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, to name just a few countries.
Sending food is a great idea for people in need, say in times of famine or hurricanes. However, it is imperative that the resources get to the people and not get intercepted. As I mentioned earlier, giving a person a fish will satisfy one’s hunger for a day. Teaching someone to fish will result in him staying in a boat drinking beer all day. Seriously, giving a person the skills to obtain the harvest of the sea will allow him to have food for his family for more than just one day.
A great example of what can be done is what is happening in the Kilifi district of Kenya. That region of Africa is very arid, so growing anything is a challenge. However, a humble little bean, the “cowpea,” survives under these conditions, with little need of water. You may refer to them as black-eyed peas, but they are filled with protein and provide nutritious meals for the families of the area. An added bonus is that this is a local plant and the farmers can harvest the crop and earn a living at the same time.
In that same country, two friends of mine, Linda Glaesser and Michele Sprada, routinely spend a few weeks in serving the people of the Kisumu. Both are teachers and during that time they give up their vacation and all the conveniences of home for a few weeks. They are greeted and welcomed with open arms by the people and they do whatever they can to make the lives of the residents of the villages better during their brief stay. Their dress is that of civilians and they still serve and are a part of an international group, which comes to the rescue of others. There are many groups across the world which perform similar services, helping the natives make their country a better place.
The suggestion of replacing armed forces with civilian helpers is not a new idea. The Peace Corps was a very successful program for volunteering, aiding others in Third World Countries while at the same time serving one’s own nation. But even before this idea came about, William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick proposed this very concept in a novel they wrote in the late 1950s about a fictional country in the Far East that resembled Vietnam. The Ugly American was uncanny insofar as it predicted what should not have been done – perhaps they were prophets of the twentieth century. It really didn’t mean much because the United States proceeded to fall into the trap and the result was the quagmire in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the people for whom this book was intended may never have even opened it. Had they done so, 55,000 American soldiers would not have died, hundreds of thousands of people would not have been injured and millions of Vietnamese would not have perished.
Not long ago I used my VCR to record a PBS concert from a program in Kentucky featuring the blues band, Kay Kay and the Rays. The last song they did was called Stop The Killing. The show was in 2003, so it is quite obvious to which war the group was referring. Yet, the song, which is moving and inspirational, could refer to any conflict. You may recall the story I mentioned earlier about Gideon and his trumpets as well Manuel Noriega’s gift of music from the Americans. In each of these cases, it appears that music can be an alternative to war. It is impossible to think about fighting and killing if you are singing and dancing.
We have another example from the 1960s that should inspire us as well. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event occurred that should give us hope. Many people reading this weren’t even born, but those of us who were around and remember the incident probably don’t realize how close the world came to nuclear war. Two men, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, labored endlessly to avoid holocaust, despite the pressures from others in power that urged each leader to stay his ground. Their courage and foresight are to be commended as they gave us excellent examples that we need not resort to conflict to settle differences.
In 1962, the leaders of the United States and Russia set a great example. Go back over two hundred years and you will realize that the Founding Fathers faced huge obstacles as well in fighting for independence and liberty. They had just as difficult a mission at that time and succeeded. There’s no reason why we can’t also.
Get involved in the movement for peace. It won’t be easy, but we need to realize that together, the people of the United States can move mountains. One person can make a difference, but being united is the only way to affect change on a grand scale.
A few months ago I volunteered to write a short piece on “Just war.” Not long after I completed it, it was in print for many to see, but upon going over what was there, I realized that it was not what I had composed. I was preempted – I guess it happens to all of us. I posted my article on my web site and much that can be found there is in the preceding pages. What follow are a few highlights. “Isn’t it singular that no one ever goes to jail for waging
wars, let alone advocating them? But the jails are filled with those who want peace. Not to kill is to be a criminal.” – James Simon Kunen
As everyone knows, war brings with it the disappearance of truth. Journalist and soldier Malcolm Browne verifies this in his fine book, Muddy Boots and Red Socks when he writes,
“What I know of the war was what I had gleaned from newspapers, newsreels and popular magazines – the sources which I now know can never be entirely trusted, especially in wartime.”
People in the church mention that there could be a just war. How can this conclusion be reconciled with Christ’s admonition to “Turn the other cheek,” as well as the command, “Thou shall not kill” and the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself?”
If the military uses “precision bombing,” why do we have “collateral damage?” The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are just for oil and the rich getting richer. It is just for the leaders who refuse to consider negotiation, but drop bombs. It is just for the politicians who vote for war but refuse to go themselves or send their children. It is just for the undertakers and criminal corporations that profit from it, such as the weapons manufacturers, chemical plants and contractors that overcharge the taxpayers for their services but refuse to be responsible in any way. The current wars are just like the Vietnam War, the World Wars, the Spanish American War, the Gulf War of 1991 and the U.S. Civil War – really good for absolutely nothing.
“We must re-emphasize with all our being, nonetheless, that it is not only nuclear war that must be prevented, but war itself. Today, the scale and the horror of modern warfare make it totally unacceptable as a means of settling differences between nations. War should belong to the tragic past, to history; it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.” – 1983 pastoral letter of the U.S. bishops
A few months ago, I visited my eighth grade teacher, Sister Justine. She was the best, as she taught all the subjects, not just science, English or history. I hadn’t seen her in years – do the math – and I had given her a book or two of mine and decided to drop off my 2005 book. She was about the same age as my father. In fact, I believe they went to school together.
I should add that it was only recently that I noticed what the first four letters of her first name represent. Replacing the “n” with a “c” results in the word, justice. We had a nice discussion and I mentioned that I was writing a book about war. She was quite calm but stated that I shouldn’t write about that nasty subject, but instead work on a book about peace. That is what I have done. After all, war is disgusting, vile and serves no good purpose, while peace is a something we can all live with.
“I dream of a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” – from The Split This Rock Collaborative Collage poem delivered by individual poets in front of the White House, March 23, 2008
References and recommended reading
Nafeez M. Ahmed – The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11th, 2001 (2002: Media Messenger Books – Joshua Tree, CA)
Farah Ahmedi with Tamim Ansary – The Story Of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky (2005: Simon Spotlight Entertainment – New York)
Eric Alterman and Mark Green – The Book on Bush: How George W. Bush Is (Mis)leading America (2004: Viking – New York)Nick Arvin – Articles Of War (2005: Doubleday – New York)
Robert Baer – See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism (2002: Three Rivers Press – New York)Robert Baer – Sleeping With The Devil (2003: Crown Publishers – New York) Joel Bakan – The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (2004: Free Press – New York)
James Bamford – A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies (2004: Doubleday – New York)
Bruce R. Bartlett - Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (2006: Doubleday – New York).
Peter L. Bergen – Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (2002: G. K. Hall – Waterville, ME)Nina Berman – Purple Hearts: Back From Iraq (2004: Trolley Press – Hartford, CT)
Mark Bernstein & Alex Lubertozzi – World War II on the Air: Edward R. Murrow and the Broadcasts that Riveted a Nation (2003: Sourcebooks MediaFusion – Naperville, IL)Don E. Beyer – The Manhattan Project: America Makes the First Atomic Bomb (1991: F. Watts – New York)
William Blum – Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2000: Common Courage Press – Monroe, ME)Grace Lee Boggs – Living for Change: An Autobiography (1998: University of Minnesota Press) Mark Bowden – Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (1999 – Atlantic Monthly Press – New York) Bill Bradley – The New American Story (2007: Random House – New York) James Bradley – Flyboys: A True Story of Courage (2003: Little, Brown & Co. – Boston) Nat Brandt – Mr. Tubbs’ Civil War (1996: Syracuse University Press) Nat Brandt – The Town That Started the Civil War (1990: Syracuse University Press) Piers Brendon – Winston Churchill: A Biography (1984: Harper & Row – New York)
Bobby Bridger – Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: Inventing the Wild West (2002: University of Texas Press – Austin)Dan Briody – The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money (2004: Wiley – Hoboken, NJ)
Tom Brokaw – An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation (2001: Random House – New York)
Steve Brouwer – Robbing Us Blind: The Return of the Bush Gang & the Mugging of America (2004: Common Courage Press – Monroe, ME)Malcolm W. Browne – Muddy Boots and Red Socks: A Reporter’s Life (1993: Times Books – New York)
Robert Bryce – Cronies: Oil, the Bushes and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate (2004: PublicAffairs – New York)Bill Buford – Among the Thugs (1992: Norton – New York) Robert C. Byrd – Losing America (2004: W. W. Norton & Company – New York) Joan D. Chittister – Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir (2004: Sheed & Ward – Lanham, MD)
Noam Chomsky – Failed States: the Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006: Henry Holt and Co. – New York)Richard A. Clarke – Against All Enemies (2004: Free Press – New York) William Sloane Coffin – Credo (2004: Westminster John Knox Press – Louisville, KY)
Steve Coll – Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004: Penguin Press – New York)Joe Conason – Big Lies (2003: Thomas Dunn Books – New York)
David Corn – The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (2003: Crown Publishers – New York)
Clinton Cox – Come All Ye Brave Soldiers: Blacks in the Revolutionary War (1999: Scholastic Press – New York)
George Crile – Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History (2003: Thorndike Press – Waterville, ME)
David Dadge – Casualty of War: the Bush Administration’s Assault on a Free Press (2004: Prometheus Books – Amherst, NY)Mark Danner – The Massacre at El Mozote: a Parable of the Cold War (1993: Vintage Books – New York)
Nonie Darwish – Now they Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (2006: Sentinel – New York)Jan de Hartog – A View of the Ocean (2007: Pantheon Books – New York) Nelson DeMille – Up Country: A Novel (2002: Warner Books – New York) Nelson DeMille – Word of Honor (1986: G. K. Hall – Boston, MA)
John W. Dean – Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (2004: Little, Brown and Co. – New York)E. L. Doctorow – The March: A Novel (2005: Random House – New York) Maureen Dowd – Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004: G. P. Putnam’s Sons – New York)
Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein – Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency (2006: Random House – New York)Gerald Early, editor – Lure and Loathing (1993: Penguin Press – New York)
Bob Edwards – Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism (2004: Thorndike Press – Waterville, ME)
Barbara Ehrenreich – Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (1997: Metropolitan Books – New York)
Barbara Ehrenreich – Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (2007: Metropolitan Books – New York)
Gloria Emerson – Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins from a Long War (1976: Random House – New York)David Enders – Baghdad Bulletin (2005: University of Michigan Press – Ann Arbor)
Tom Fenton – Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, The Business of News, and The Danger to Us All (2005: Regan Books – New York)Niall Ferguson – Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire (2004: Penguin Press – New York)
Stephen Flynn – America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism (2004: HarperCollins – New York)Shelby Foote – Shiloh, a Novel (1952: Dial Press – New York) Justin A. Frank – Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President (2004: Regan Books – New York)
Thomas Frank – What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004: Metropolitan Books – New York)Al Franken – Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (2003: Dutton – New York)
Steve F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss – Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count (2006: Seven Stories Press – New York)Thomas Friedman – From Beirut To Jerusalem (1989: Farrar, Straus, Giroux – New York)
Larry Gara and Lenna Mae Gara – A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories (1999: Kent State University Press)Ann Garrels – Naked in Baghdad (2003: Wheeler Pub. – Waterville, ME) Jack Germond – Fat Man Fed Up: How American Politics Went Bad (2004: Random House – New York) Gustave M. Gilbert – Nuremberg Diary (1995: Da Capo Press – New York) Peter Godwin – When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: a Memoir of Africa (2007: Little, Brown and Co. – New York)
Thomas Goltz – Azerbaijan Diary: a Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in an Oil-rich, War-torn, post-Soviet Republic (1998: M. E. Sharpe – Armonk, NY)
Doreen Gonzales – The Manhattan Project and the Atom Bomb in American History (2000: Enslow Publishers – Berkeley Heights, NJ)
Amy Goodman with David Goodman – Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them (2004: Hyperion – New York)Richard N. Goodwin – Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties (1988: Little, Brown – Boston) Richard Gott – Cuba: A New History (2004: Yale University Press – New Haven, CT)
Bob Graham – Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror (2004: Random House – New York)
William Greider – Fortress America: The American Military and the Consequences of Peace (1998: Public Affairs – New York)David Ray Griffin – The New Pearl Harbor (2004: Olive Branch Press – Northampton, MA) Robert J. Groden and Harrison E. Livingstone – High Treason (1989: Berkley Books – New York)
Roya Hakakian – Journey from the Land of No: a Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran (2004: Crown Publishers – New York)Chris Hedges – War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002: PublicAffairs – New York) Ernest Hemingway – For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940: Scribner – New York) Jim Hightower – Let’s Stop Beating around the Bush (2004: Viking – New York)
Jim Hightower – Thieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country – and It’s Time To Take It Back (2003: Viking – New York)
Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner – Deadly Secrets: the CIA-Mafia War against Castro and the Assassination of J.F.K. (1992: Thunder’s Mouth Press – New York)Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner (2003: Riverhead Books – New York) Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington – Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are
Langston Hughes – I Wonder as I Wander: an Autobiographical Journey (1964: Hill and Wang – New York)
E. Howard Hunt – American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond (2007: John Wiley & Sons – Hoboken, NJ)Molly Ivins – Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? (1991: Random House – New York)
Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose – Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America (2003: Random House – New York)
Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose – Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (2000: Random House – New York)Andrew Jacobs – The 1600 Killers: A Wake-up Call for Congress (2000: Alistair Press – Greenwood, IN)
Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians, editors – What We Do Now (2004: Melville House Publishing – Hoboken, NJ)Ward Just – A Dangerous Friend (1999: Houghton Mifflin Co. – Boston) Ward Just – To What End: Report from Vietnam (1968: Houghton Mifflin Co. – Boston)
David A. Kaplan – The Accidental President: How 413 Lawyers, 9 Supreme Court Justices, and 5,963,110 (Give or Take a Few) Floridians Landed George W. Bush in the White House (2001: William Morrow – New York)Caroline Kennedy, editor – Profiles in Courage for Our Time (2002: Thorndike Press – Waterville, ME)
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, – Crimes against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and High-jacking Our Democracy (2004: HarperCollins – New York)Ronald Kessler – The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (2002: St. Martin’s Press – New York) Russ Kick, editor – Everything You Know Is Wrong (2002: The Disinformation Company – New York)
Stephen Kinzer – All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (2008: John Wiley & Sons – Hoboken, NJ)
Stephen Kinzer – Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (2006: Times Book / Henry Holt – New York)
David C. Korten – The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2006: Kumarian Press – Bloomfield, CT)
Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. WeaverZercher – Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (2007: John Wiley & Sons – San Francisco)
Patricia Nelson Limerick – The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (1987: Norton – New York)
Michael Lind – Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict (1999: Free Press – New York)
James W. Loewen – Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007: Simon & Schuster – New York)
John MacArthur – Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War (1993: University of California Press)Robert MacNeil – Looking for My Country (2003: Doubleday – New York) James Mann – Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (2004: Viking – New York) Jim Marrs – Inside Job (2004: Origin Press – San Rafael, CA)
Jim Marrs – Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids (2000: Perennial – New York)
Jim Marrs – The Terror Conspiracy: Deception, 9/11 and the Loss of Liberty (2006: The Disinformation Company – New York)
John F. Marszalek – Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies: A Life of General Henry W. Halleck (2004: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press – Cambridge, MA)John F. Marszalek – Sherman’s March to the Sea (2005: McWhiney Foundation Press – Abilene, TX)
Michael Massing – Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq (2004: New York Review of Books – New York)
Owen Matthews – Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival (2008: Walker and Company – New York)
John McCain with Mark Salter – Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life (2004: Random House – New York)Colman McCarthy – I’d Rather Teach Peace (2002: Orbis Books – Maryknoll, NY) David McCullough – 1776 (2005: Simon & Schuster – New York)
Frank McLynn – Wagons West: The Epic Story of America’s Overland Trails (2002: Grove Press – New York)James A. Michener – This Noble Land: My Vision for America (1996: Random House – New York) Kris Millegan, editor – Fleshing Out Skull and Bones (2003: TrineDay – Walterville, Oregon)
John Miller and Michael Stone, with Chris Mitchell – The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It (2002: Thorndike Press – Waterville, ME)
Mark Crispin Miller – Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order (2004: W.W. Norton & Company – New York)
Dan Millman – Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives (1984: H. J. Kramer, Inc. – Tiburon, CA)Michael Moore – Dude, Where’s My Country (2003: Warner Books – New York, NY) Michael Moore – Will They Ever Trust Us Again? (2004: Simon & Schuster – New York) Caroline Moorehead – Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life (2003: H. Holt – New York)
Robert D. Morrow – First Hand Knowledge: How I Participated in the CIA-Mafia Murder of President Kennedy (1992: S. P. I. Books – New York)Walter Mosley – Life Out Of Context (2006: Nation Books – New York) Farley Mowat – And No Birds Sang (1979: Little, Brown – Boston, MA) Bill Moyers – Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times (2004: New Press – New York) John Nichols – Dick: The Man Who Is President (2004: New Press – New York)
Tim O’Brien – If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1999: Broadway Books – New York)Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction (1998: Broadway Books – New York) Bob O’Connor – Catesby: Witness to the Civil War (2008: Infinity Publishing – West Conshohocken, PA)
James Olson & Randy Roberts – Where The Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945 to 1990 (1991: St. Martin’s Press – New York)Dan O’Neill – The Firecracker Boys (1994: St. Martin’s Press – New York)
Greg Palast – Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ’08, No Child’s Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of Class War (2006: Dutton – New York)Mary Palevsky – Atomic Fragments: A Daughter’s Questions (2000: University of California Press)
Christian Parenti – The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq (2005: Free Press – New York)
Christian Parenti – The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror (2003: Basic Books – New York)
James Perloff – The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline (1988: Western Islands – Appleton, WI)
Joseph E. Persico – Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage (2001: Random House – New York)
Kevin Phillips – American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (2004: Viking – New York)
Donald Piper with Cecil Murphey – 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life (2004: F. H. Revell – Grand Rapids, MI)
Carl Pope and Paul Rauber – Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress (2004: Sierra Club Books – San Francisco)Gerald Posner – Why America Slept (2003: Random House – New York) PBS – Reporting America at War: The Romance of War & Which Side Are You On? (2003) PBS – Ken Burns’ The War (2007) Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front (1928: Little, Brown & Company – Boston)
Frank Rich – The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina (2006: Penguin Press – New York)
Thomas E. Ricks – Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006: Penguin Press – New York)
David Roberts – A Newer World: Kit Carson, John C. Fremont, and the Claiming of the American West (2000: Simon & Schuster – New York)
Paul E. Robeson, Jr. – A Black Way of Seeing: From “Liberty” to Freedom (2006: Seven Stories Press – New York)Ann Ronald – GhostWest: Reflections Past and Present (2002: University of Oklahoma Press)
Michael Scheuer – Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004: Brassey’s – Washington, DC)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. – War and the American Presidency (2004: Thorndike Press – Waterville, ME)Saira Shah – The Storyteller’s Daughter (2003: Alfred A. Knopf – New York)
Elaine Shannon and Ann Blackman – The Spy Next Door: The Extraordinary Secret Life of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Damaging FBI Agent in U.S. History (2002: Little, Brown – Boston)
Robert Shogan – Bad News: Where the Press Goes Wrong in the Making of the President (2001: Ivan R. Dee – Chicago, IL)Gary Sick – October Surprise (1991: Times Books – New York) Peter Singer – The President of Good & Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush (2004: Dutton – New York)
David Sirota – Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – and How We Take It Back (2007: Three Rivers Press – New York)
Glenn W. Smith – Unfit Commander: Texans for Truth Take on George W. Bush (2004: Regan Books – New York)
Douglas B. Sosnik, Matthew J. Dowd and Ron Fournier – Applebee’s America: How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with The New American Community (2006: Simon & Schuster – New York)
William T. Still – New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies (1990: Huntington House Publishers – Lafayette, Louisiana)Robert Stinnett – Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor (2000: Free Press – New York) Ray Suarez – The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America (2006: Rayo – New York)
Edward T. Sullivan – The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb (2007: Holiday House – New York)
Ron Suskind – The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies since 9/11 (2006: Simon & Schuster – New York)
Robert S. Swiatek – Take Back the Earth – The Dumb, Greedy Incompetents Have Trashed It (2008: Swiatek Press, Buffalo, NY)Webster Griffin Tarpley – 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2007: Progressive Press – Joshua Tree, CA) Studs Terkel – “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II (1984: Pantheon Books – New York) Studs Terkel – Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times (2003: New Press – New York)
Helen Thomas – Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public (2006: Scribner – New York)Kenneth R. Timmerman – The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq (1991: Houghton Mifflin – Boston, MA) James Tobin – Ernie Pyle’s War (1997: Free Press – New York) John Toland – Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (1982: Doubleday – New York) Dalton Trumbo – Johnny Got His Gun (1991: Citadel Press – New York) Craig Unger – House of Bush, House of Saud (2004: Scribner – New York)
Gore Vidal – Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta (2002: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books – New York)Gore Vidal – The Golden Age: A Novel (2000: Doubleday – New York) Gore Vidal – Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (2004: Nation Books – New York)
Gore Vidal – Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (2002: Thunder’s Mouth Press – New York)
William T. Vollmann – An Afghanistan Picture Show or, How I Saved The World (1992: Farrar, Straus and Giroux – New York)Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five (1969: Dell – New York)
Paul Waldman – Fraud: The Strategy behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn’t Tell You (2004: Sourcebooks, Inc. – Naperville, IL)Spencer Wells – The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (2002: Princeton University Press – Princeton)
Cornel West – Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism (2002: Penguin Press – New YorkRobert Wiener – Live from Baghdad: Gathering News at Ground Zero (1992: Doubleday – New York)
Buzz Williams – Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist’s Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days (2004: Gotham Books – New York)
James Wolcott – Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror (2004: Miramax Books – New York)Bob Woodward – Bush at War (2002: Simon & Schuster – New York) Bob Woodward – Plan of Attack (2004: Simon & Schuster – New York) Bob Woodward – State of Denial (2006: Simon & Schuster – New York)
Mike Wright – What They Didn’t Teach You About the American Revolution (1999: Presidio – Novato, CA)Mike Wright – What They Didn’t Teach You About the 60s (2001: Presidio – Novato, CA) Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander – The Art of Possibility (2000: Harvard Business School Press)
Howard Zinn – A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present (1999: HarperCollins Publishers – New York)Howard Zinn – Howard Zinn on War (2001: Seven Stories Press – New York) Howard Zinn – Terrorism and War (2002: Seven Stories Press – New York)