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.