Trust in War is America’s New Creed

Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically-elected leader of Iraq who was overthrown in 1953 in a coup supported by the CIA

Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically-elected leader of Iran who was overthrown in 1953 in a coup supported by the CIA

Henry Pelifian

Trust in war is the constant refrain from elected politicians of both major political parties.  The enemies are everywhere: Iran cannot be trusted in the Nuclear Agreement so we should bomb them now before they cheat.  Russia is always a threat even with the demise of the USSR so let’s get tough on them now before Putin emasculates us.

An elected Congress, drawn from the people and supposedly in service of the people, has wrought the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, along with incessant bombing of countries in the Middle East, first Iraq, now Syria together with drone strikes throughout Central Asia and into Africa.   The all-too-predictable result is blowback, a term coined in the halls of the CIA to reflect adverse reactions to American interventions. On 9/11/2001 nineteen criminals, fifteen from Saudi Arabia, none from Iraq, unhinged the majority of the 535 elected members of Congress to pursue wars in two countries, claiming these wars would safeguard our national security.  Today, the Middle East is in chaos and America is less safe than ever.

The U.S. government has intervened continuously in the Middle East since World War II and especially since the Vietnam War, helping to create an endless war zone and a destabilized region.  Despite this sordid past, our mainstream media, especially TV network news, remains mute on the subject of the instability and chaos U.S. interventions have caused in the Middle East.

Iran is now considered a major threat by many in Congress and the country. Iraq before it was considered a major threat by former President George W. Bush.  In the post-WWII era Vietnam was considered a major threat that would topple all the countries in Southeast Asia bringing them under the sway of communism.  It was called the “domino theory,” fabricated by “the best and brightest,” which David Halberstam wrote about in his bestseller of the same name in which he indelicately called the best and the brightest “stupid.”  The Vietnam War killed millions and maimed millions more and in the end the corrupt puppet government in South Vietnam collapsed and disintegrated.  After which those dominoes stubbornly refused to fall.

Now Iran is a target for developing its nuclear technology to produce a nuclear weapon.  This is a fear, not a fact.  The fact is that the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in a war; add to that the fact that the United States invaded Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  And in each instance those wars have been unsuccessful, harmful to the American people, hellacious to the foreign peoples America claims to be helping. The carnage in these countries is seldom if ever documented on U.S. television networks, which are supposedly “public” air waves.   That the public is left uninformed is precisely the goal – one goal our media truly achieves fully.

A clear example: In 1953 a democratic government in Iran was considering nationalizing its oil fields, which was their prerogative. However, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later it became British Petroleum) objected to it while the U.S. State Department and CIA were claiming Iran was going to turn communist. So the U.S. and British governments orchestrated a military coup to topple a democratically-elected leader and restore a more malleable Shah of Iran to his throne in Iran.

Let’s say that again: The United States, the presumed leader of the free world, removed a democratically elected government in Iran to benefit an oil company.  The U.S. government in 1953 believed a dictatorship (and lots of cheap oil) was more desirable than a democratically-elected government in Iran.  The blowback from this coup led directly to our problems with Iran.  The CIA-sponsored coup strangled a democracy, installing a brutal dictatorship in its place, generating unrest that would eventually spark the 1979 revolution in Iran. The U.S. “intelligence” community, despite its enormous size and resources, was caught flatfooted, just as it was with the fall of the USSR and so many other events.

My experience in Iran which I wrote about in Lessons from Iran, 77-78 showed the lack of judgment and knowledge of international affairs by America’s elected leaders and foreign policy experts.  While in Iran I recalled with irony what some Thais called foreign experts (I lived in Thailand for several years). The Thai word for wrong is “pit” which when combined with the English prefix “ex” creates “ex-pit,” the wrong ones, an accurate description that fits too many of America’s foreign “experts.”

So, when it comes to the U.S.- Iran Nuclear Agreement, which country truly deserves to be trusted?  The U.S., which acted illegally to quash democracy in Iran in 1953, and who then supported the violently reactionary regime of the Shah for 25 years? How can a country that meddles militarily, directly or indirectly, in foreign countries on the basis of naked self-interest expect to be trusted when force is their primary means of settling disputes?  In fact, Congressional talk on bombing Iran has never ceased.  Is ceaseless talk of bombing a rationale for building trust?

Historically, Congress has trusted war for solving international problems much more than acts of diplomacy.  The United States continues to march to the drumbeat of war, forever listening to leaders who urge war even as they send others to fight in their place.

As George Orwell prophetically wrote in 1984, “War is Peace” and “Ignorance Is Strength.”  Well, America has plenty of war and ignorance.  And now we’ve put our trust and faith in war as America’s new creed.

Henry Pelifian has worked in both public and private sectors with years in Thailand, Malaysia and Iran.  He served in the U.S. Army in South Vietnam and is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand.  He has written two books and a play, THOREAU.

19 thoughts on “Trust in War is America’s New Creed

  1. Pingback: Henry Pelifian: Trust in War is America’s New Creed | Vox Populi

  2. George Orwell also said “War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil.” There are two big problems with modern war (since the US uncivil war anyway) and its stepchild ‘covert actions’. They are far to destructive of civil society and they almost always sow the seeds of a new conflict (or revitalization of an old one). No war/covert action can be ‘successful’ unless it insures peace for at least a generation. If you accept the success assumption I would like to know which wars since 1521 were successful.

    • That’s right. We live in a society where television “news” ignores the big picture on most subjects. Safeguarding government malfeasance and corporate profits-that’s really what TV networks do for a living.

  3. Henry.. You might also add Honduras to your list of regimes in which we (Obama-Hillary Clinton) overthrew a democratically elected progressive government under Zelaga and replaced it with a military-oligarchy government which has become a criminal murder enterprise that now accounts for most of the refugees trying to enter the US. Hillary Clinton’s personal ‘unhenksel’ Lanny Davis, was sent by her to liaison with the thugs and than sell the package to our congress as a move to democracy. This was the first military coup in Latin America in 20 years.

    And I guess regime change also runs in the Clinton family genes since it was under William Clinton’s watch that our ever vigilant (for sighting any rise of democracy in weak nations) intelligence services overthrew the progressive democratically elected president of Haiti and even provided free but forced exile out of the country on a private jet.

    • It’s amazing how regime change is common parlance by our politicians. Though China is never mentioned. China has become too profitable for our companies- Tiananmen Square is a distant memory never to be mentioned by our politicians.

      • Henry. Our prme targets for regime change particularly in Latin America are only weak countries. China is much too powerful for us to attempt direct regime change. So with Obama’s “pivot of our military forces to the Pacific we are trying the squeeze and encirclement route. This is the same tactic we are attempting with our move in the Ukraine but Putin caught us in the act.
        I would also like to add Nicaragua to your list of American victims of regime change. That one under Ronald Reagan who embraced the current President to his breast as a “freedom fighter ” while he was murdering the indigenous Mayans .Now as President and dictator he is being indicted for wholesale plundering of the state treasury.

  4. One of “my” US Senators declines to reveal publicly how he will vote in the GOP crusade to turn down the Iran deal. Doubtless he’s weighing the risks of how much money he takes from AIPAC being uncovered. The other Senator and Member of HR for my district are on record supporting Obama on this. All three are Dems.

    I think a great tragedy concerning Iran goes unmentioned way too much (like, virtually always!). This is the fact that the blood shed on the streets of Tehran to drive the Shah to exile (in the US, naturally) was largely that of the young leftists who grew up post-1953 coup. And in the twinkling of an eye, the survivors were largely slaughtered or driven into exile by the reactionary forces supporting the ideal of an “Islamic Republic,” leading to the decades of rule by mullahs and ayatollahs we have witnessed since 1979. Or, at least, rule by figurehead religious authorities? If we could truly draw back the curtain on Iran’s internal politics/economy, surely we would find a moneyed elite that really pulls the strings.

  5. How many of our soldiers know anything about the culture and history and last but not least geographical location of the country they are invading? That is the question I ask myself every time a new war is started and later while watching the faces of the dead soldiers on PBS. As a country we have never felt the horror of an invasion. We are spoiled brats that the worst that can happen to us is that they cancel the program we expected to watch tonight or our two year old model car refuses to start. Everything is simple for us. It begins at elementary school where you do not need to do any effort to think, just to attend. Put your body at your desk and leave your mind fly away. How often a child has to repeat a year? Maybe 0.001% of the time? They will help to pass children to the next year no matter what. Number of graduates is the goal, not how well informed and mentally developed those children are. With that we are failing to prepare mentally disciplined children that know how to think by themselves. Would it be beneficial if we used the soldiers that had experienced the real horror of war to give talks at school? No, because their superior will be closely watching what they say. We have created a war machine and a military industrial complex, that is our main problem. That is what consumes our tax money and leaves us without funds for schools. The police force has become part of this military ideology and forgotten in the process that their motto is to serve and protect. The CIA and the FBI under the NSA watch are dedicated to spy our thoughts, who our friends are, what we buy and how we pay. The American public has started rebelling and wants answers. So, create an artificial enemy and send our children to fight a new war and hopefully we will ask less questions from our government and how our tax dollars are used. I hope they do not plan another 9/11 to create fear. Because if they are spying everything we and the rest of the world are doing since 1982 as per the recent disclosure of the agreement with AT&T how they so easily could have missed the planification by an enemy(?) country of 9/11? Or they knew all about it and used it instead of stopping it?

  6. While I appreciate the article, I respectfully take issue with the words “war” and “new” in the title. Regarding the first malevolent misnomer, “war,” the United States hasn’t fought a declared war since 1941, although a series of U.S. presidents have rhetorically committed our nation to decades of pointless, ruinous military conflict under the bullshit banner of every Orwellian pseudonym imaginable, from “Police Action” (Truman) to “Overseas Contingency Operations” (Obama). As for the “newness” of it all, I would recommend reading “War is the Health of the State” by Randolph Bourne (1918) while meditating on the fact that President Obama has resurrected the Espionage Act of 1917 to persecute more small-fry whistleblowers than all previous U.S. presidents combined. In short: it ain’t “war” and it ain’t “new.” Thorstein Veblen would simply call it Leisure Class “conspicuous waste.” I call it “Seizure Class Conspicuous Theft.” Or, as an old folk song from my youth put it:

    “Every time I read the paper
    Them ol’ feelings come on.
    We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy;
    The Big Fool says to push on.” — Pete Seeger (1967)

    Which inspired me six years ago to rephrase those same sentiments in verse applicable not to Lyndon Johnson, but to George “Deputy Dubya” Bush and Barack “Me Too” Obama, as well:

    Neck Deep in the Big Sandy

    We now sink in a quagmire like
    The one not long ago
    In which we went insane and fought
    A non-existent foe:
    A Monolithic Communist
    In Southeast Asia so
    Determined to resist us that
    We had make him go.

    He looked like a Vietnamese,
    This awful threat to us,
    Whose very foreign nature made
    Him frightening and thus
    A perfect proxy for a war
    Against a concept, plus:
    He even lived a world away,
    Which made him less a fuss.

    Still, he prevailed, this “enemy.”
    In time, we packed and went.
    And since we never met him it’s
    A wonder why we sent
    Our youth to squander so much blood
    And all that money spent
    To buy a house we didn’t want
    And couldn’t even rent.

    We’ve come around to sink once more
    Where no one ever planned.
    Instead of Delta mud, this time,
    We sink in desert sand
    Because an adolescent twerp
    Could not wait to “command”
    Some troops behind which he could hide
    His thieving sleight-of-hand.

    But things have not gone well, of course.
    Wars based on lies and fraud
    In no time go awry and leave
    Our legions mauled and clawed,
    Marooned for years and trapped by those
    Who – neither shocked nor awed —
    Reserve the right to rule themselves
    And name their own one GAWD.

    With chickens coming home to roost,
    Our “hawks,” like capons clipped,
    Cluck mighty yarns to obfuscate
    The fact that they have slipped
    And fallen face-down in some shit
    In which them fate has dipped
    To show what happens when the dumb
    Some booby-traps have tripped.

    So now they stall and drag their feet
    And hope to pass the buck.
    They cannot “win,” yet fear to “lose,”
    Which means they’ve gotten stuck
    For knowing not what makes a train
    So much unlike a truck,
    And what makes gamblers lose when they
    Confuse blind faith with luck.

    They offer up excuses now,
    Some new ones every year.
    To kick the can on down the road,
    They’ll peddle any fear
    As long as no one questions all
    That loot that they hold dear.
    Examples follow, now, of what
    We’ve come to see so clear:

    We stay because of violence
    That we cannot prevent.
    We stay, inflicting violence,
    To mask our true intent.
    We stay so that the perpetrators
    Never must repent.
    We stay for any rationale
    A baboon could invent.

    We will not leave because we can’t
    Acknowledge what we’ve done:
    Destroyed another nation just
    To have a bit of fun,
    Convincing no one but ourselves
    That “We are Number One!”
    While promising eternity
    To never cut-and-run;

    Which cavalier vainglory and
    Contempt for other lands
    Has proved that power ought to lie
    In someone else’s hands
    Since we’ve abandoned reason for
    Stupidity’s demands,
    Secreting noxious hormones from
    Our self-indulgent glands.

    We stay because we stay because
    We stay because we stay,
    And have not one intention to
    Reflect in any way
    Upon the dumb decisions we
    Make each and every day
    Allowing war’s lewd profiteers
    To keep on making hay.

    The senselessness might puzzle those
    Who once thought that they think
    But now must face the music and
    The awful fact they stink
    At any form of logic, needing
    Visits to a shrink
    To straighten out crude fallacies
    Revealed in blots of ink.

    The psychiatric tradesmen say
    That once a lie is bought
    It then makes perfect sense to claim
    That no one ever taught
    The method of distinguishing
    The concepts “is” and “ought,”
    Implying that what we have done
    Does not mean that we’re caught

    In vicious-circle riddles
    That contain no terms defined
    In such a way that one might solve
    Conundrums of a kind
    That only fools would formulate
    To muddle up the mind
    So that the answers to our woes
    No one will ever find.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2009

    A “pivot to Asia?” Just another meaningless sports metaphor without a referent in the real world where China makes all our stuff and loans us the money to buy it from them. What a sick, sorry excuse for a “developed” nation. Bah, humbug!

    • Of course, the United States–and here I mean the government and its military and intel machinery of, by and for the Ruling Class, not the general population–has been “interested” in the great Pacific region for well over a century. The attitude got more aggressive after the seizure of the Philippines in the War of 1898. Japan did not bomb Hawaii on December 7, 1941 for kicks; the US had major military installations there to help project its own military force in the region. I understand that some of the descendants of the original inhabitants of the former Sandwich Islands are, to this day, less than thrilled by the colonization of their beautiful lands by mainland Americans. Fast-forward through World War II and Korea and Vietnam. Nixon makes his famous “opening to mainland China.” Purely in the interest of the exploiting class, of course, not in search of a pacific Pacific, pardon the word play. H. Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” shifted from south of the border where Trump wants to build The Great Wall of Texas to the far, far west. The Chinese displayed brilliant mastery of capitalism in making themselves Manufacturer to the World. The train has gone off the track a bit now, with state meddling in the economy no longer working “miracles.” The Chinese stock market–the ghost of Chairman Mao must find this fascinating!–sneezed and the world markets got pneumonia, temporarily at least. But to the extent Obama’s regime has altered the course of US policy in the Pacific it has been to ratchet up tensions after the findings of potential huge crude oil deposits beneath the “South China Sea.” Now, it gets really serious, folks.

      Speaking of The Espionage Act, last night I viewed the documentary film CITIZENFOUR (sic), by Laura Poitras. It concerns the first interviews Ed Snowden gave to select journalists during his stay in Hong Kong before finding asylum in Russia. Per the discussion of this wretched Act, a defendant basically is not allowed to present any effective defense against accusations. Every proceeding is to be shrouded in the deepest secrecy, away from public view and hearing. Gee, thanks, Mr. Constitutional Law Professor Obama for dusting this disgraceful relic off and applying it to contemporary whistleblowers. Frankly, I didn’t care much for lawyers before these developments…

    • WJ, the so called Great Wall of Texas (in Rockwall county) is NOT manmade. Remember ‘Mexicans’ were Spaniards before 1821. These ‘Spaniards’ gave Texas a great deal, much of what Americans think of as Texan is of Spanish/Mexican origin. Before the uncivil war Texas history reads like a comic (or tragic) opera.

      • “equote”–A few quick observations: 1.) there is, of course, a long “natural border” between USA and Mexico called the Rio Grande River; 2.) the man-made wall is already well under construction, as I understand it, with perhaps the question of funding to complete it in question…until Pres. Trump compels the Mexican gov’t to foot the bill, at any rate. And it will extend beyond just Texas; I merely dubbed it The Great Wall of Texas for simplification and in jest; 3.) just as on this side of the border, there were indigenous folks residing in Mexico before the Spanish colonists arrived. I seem to recall the French having a hand, also, in staking a claim to a chunk of that territory. The stereotype of “a Mexican” today, of course, does not look like a pale-skinned “pure” Spaniard, eh? That is the “Indian” component at work in the nation’s ethnic heritage. And of course those folks have the Spanish conquerors to “thank” for the heavy influence of the Catholic Church to this day. I have never visited Mexico but I’m sure it’s a fascinating culture. A nation with deep social ills, to be sure. A nation of hardworking people, largely mired in poverty. That’s a shame and I would love to see the people of Mexico rise up and set things right.

  7. I suspect that Donald Trump will get Mexico to pay their own people to build the wall because if they don’t Trump will cut off all foreign aid from the U.S. to Mexico. That’s how he will make them pay for the wall.

  8. Bill.. I think we should change the caption under the picture above of Mosadegh from “…the CIA SUPPORTED the overthrow of Mossadegh…” to the accurate statement “…the CIA engineered the overthrow of the duly elected President of Iran by a team of agents and a fistful of money led by Kermit Roosevelt…”

  9. Pingback: Trust in War is America’s New Creed | The Contrary Perspective | In Saner Thought

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