Margaret Kimberley is a co-founder and Executive Editor and Senior Columnist for Black Agenda Report, a recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromising Integrity in Journalism, a board member of Consortium News, and a recipient of a 2021 Women and Media Award from the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press.
Colin Powell just died from Covid-19. So we should expect a tsunami of mourning from politicians, the mainstream media and even some liberals who seem to enjoy sanitizing the murderous lives of the ruling class. Those of us on the left who refuse to play the games of polite society when it comes to war crimes will be chastised. And he will take his place among the “great generals” of the American Empire. All warmongering societies do this, so it should come as no surprise. But no amount of eulogies can erase the truth.
Yuri muckraker on Oct 8, 2021
On this special episode ONE HUNDRETH/100TH EPISODE OF 1+1 I was rejoined by the brilliant Peace activist, anti-imperialist thinker, journalist, radio show host, NGO critic and wonderful human being David Swanson of World Beyond War, Talk Nation Radio, and Roots Action on to discuss and have him do some much needed mythbusting on “good wars.”
This week on Talk World Radio: a new book called Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining Is a Bad Deal.
When you imagine ending a war, do you imagine the U.S. President lamenting the human cost of the war’s financial expense while simultaneously demanding that Congress increase military spending — and while mentioning new wars that could potentially be launched?
In some future lovely little war, perhaps with China or some other demonized target, some percentage of the U.S. public may suddenly exclaim: “Hey, since when does a draft include young women as well as men?!” Old tunes will be revised and sung in protest with lyrics about being the first one on your block to have your daughter come home in a box. The tragedies will be played out in tears and screams and flag-covered propaganda-regurgitating rationalizations. Dead women and men will be thanked for the service of stirring up World War III before being dumped in the ground to rot, as some of the living begin to envy them and wonder about the merits of the service they’ve provided.
In many ways, war is ever more and less visible. Of course in U.S. academia, the Pinkerist pretense that we are living through a period of great peace is accomplished by all sorts of statistical manipulation, but first and foremost by declaring civil wars to not be wars, and declaring U.S. wars to be civil wars — a tricky thing to do when the minute the U.S. leaves, Afghans, for example, decline to keep killing each other (damn them!).
It’s far from the longest U.S. war. There was no peace before or after it. There is no after it until they end it — and bombing has always been most of what it is. It has had nothing to do with opposing terrorism. It has been a one-sided slaughter, a mass killing over two decades by a single invading army and air force dragging along token mascots from dozens of vassal states. After 20 years Afghanistan was one of the worst places to be on Earth, and the Earth as a whole was a worse place to be — the rule of law, the state of nature, the refugee crises, the spread of terrorism, the militarization of governments all worsened. Then the Taliban took over.
In 2015, Alice Sabatini was an 18-year-old contestant in the Miss Italia contest in Italy. She was asked what epoch of the past she would have liked to live in. She replied: WWII. Her explanation was that her text books go on and on about it, so she’d like to actually see it, and she wouldn’t have to fight in it, because only men did that. This led to a great deal of mockery. Did she want to be bombed or starved or sent to a concentration camp? What was she, stupid? Somebody photoshopped her into a picture with Mussolini and Hitler. Somebody made an image of a sunbather viewing troops rushing onto a beach.[i]
That the United States has always been so deeply afflicted with structural and cultural racism that it sometimes goes unnoticed and needs to be addressed is hardly disputable. Who is anybody kidding? Have you seen U.S. history? Have you seen the United States?
If I were to just read the admirable recent study of U.S. military suicides from the Costs of War Project, my inclination would immediately be to join with President Biden and start proclaiming the war on Afghanistan a success, or with Obama in announcing that the Korean War was a success after all, or with the general U.S. establishment in declaring all wars a noble “service” of some sort. One of the factors that the study suggests may contribute to suicides among recent veterans of U.S. wars is the failure of the rest of us to declare the abominations they’ve taken part in to have been worthwhile. If people are going to refrain from killing themselves if we just pretend to find their wars heroic and glorious, it seems the least we can do, and really not much at all to ask for.
It’s been a dream of peace-loving people everywhere for over 20 years now for a U.S. government to end a war and to speak in support of having done so. Sadly, Biden is only partially ending one of the endless wars, none of the others having yet been fully ended either, and his remarks on Thursday were too glorifying of war to be of much use in the cause of abolishing it.
For decades I — and, no doubt, everybody else who points out the power and effectiveness of nonviolent action — have had the endlessly recurring experience of being asked “But shouldn’t people defend themselves with wars rather than do nothing?”
Mexico once had a problem with a local provincial government promoting illegal immigration from the United States into Mexico in order to engage in the illegal slavery of illegally trafficked people. The locality involved was called Texas. For years, Mexico let Texas get away with its lawlessness and immorality, including not paying taxes, and including killing Mexican soldiers. Then it sent an army to lay down the law. Texans warned each other that soldiers were coming “to give liberty to our slaves, and to make slaves of ourselves” (meaning to end the actual enslavement of anyone and to require that people abide by laws and pay taxes).