I spent thirty-three years & four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street & for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” – retired Major-General Smedley Butler
Six Things I think About American War Propaganda
1 ) I think after yesterday’s shameful performance, it’s time for White House press secretary Sean Spicer to resign immediately. To say that Sean Spicer had a “very bad day” at the office on Tuesday would be an understatement of the highest order; between unfavorably comparing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to Hitler, denying that Hitler used chemical weapons (and in the process maybe not-so-accidentally whitewashing the Holocaust on the first day of Passover) and then doubling down with a clarification that somehow actually made things even fucking worse, the soon-to-be former White House press secretary probably can’t skate away from this one no matter how hard he tries to walk back his blunder on CNN today. Did I mention that he also accidentally blurted out Trump’s intentions to “destabilize” the Middle East not once, but twice yesterday? While his outrageous comments about which method of gassing your own people to death qualifies as worse are naturally the focus here, don’t sleep on the fact that Spicer was justifying continued US military operations in Syria by comparing Assad to Hitler; warmongering rhetoric that seems completely in line with Trump’s declaration this morning that Assad is “an animal.”
2 ) I think mainstream western media is largely sleeping on one of the most horrifying stories of the US missile strike against Syria; namely Eric Trump’s revelation that the President may have been influenced into launching 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase by his daughter Ivanka’s emotional response to coverage of the chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Simply put, Ivanka Trump is not a foreign policy advisor, she’s not a military expert and this is not the first time her bizarrely outsized influence on her father (who happens to be President of the United States) has come to the forefront. No matter how much Donald Trump wants to pretend he’s emperor of the United States and that the country can be run like an insular family business, there is simply no fucking way a thirty-five year old woman of privilege who previously ran a fashion company should be influencing whether or not we launch missiles at a nation allied to the other major nuclear power on the planet, Russia. Nobody, anywhere in the country elected Ivanka Trump and her unpaid advisor’s role in the Trump administration remains highly-unethical if not outright illegal; the next time Trump’s daughter “has a sad” she should just take another fucking ski trip instead of weighing in on choices that could legitimately start World War Three.
3 ) I think someone needs to drag antediluvian, neocon warmonger Newt Gingrich off my television before he touches off said devastating global conflict all by himself. While I’m fully aware that Gingrich has never encountered a potential American war that didn’t warm his cockles, there was something altogether unnerving about watching him casually talk to boot-licking meathead Sean Hannity about the “capacity to eliminate North Korea” by firing nuclear weapons from a Trident submarine. Of course, Newt wasn’t finished there as he called for more strikes against Syria and warned that if “the Russians get in the way, they’re just going to get hit as part of the process.” While it’s easy enough to dismiss an assclown like Gingrich as a warmongering prat feeding red meat to Trump’s base on Fox News, his prior close relationship with Trump and his appearance with a host who remains one of the most vociferous (and insufferable) supporters of the Trump administration suggests this might be more than just empty rhetoric. It is simply not fucking normal for people who were under consideration for a cabinet position to go on network television and talk about potentially nuking North Korea. In this light, Gingrich’s attitude further reinforces the horrifying idea that Donald Trump and his team of super villains regard nuclear war as simply another option on the table in foreign policy discussions.
4 ) I think it’s probably not a coincidence that almost immediately after swine emperor Trump began to relax controls and cede critical decision-making powers to the US military, the country finds itself on the brink of two potentially catastrophic conflicts that will likely make eight years of Obama-era warfare look like a goddamn training exercise. There is a very good reason that top-level generals require civilian/government oversight to launch an attack in most democratic countries and it starts with the simple truth that when a guy has spent his entire life solving problems with a hammer, he’s got a pretty good chance of mistaking every new issue he encounters for a nail. In a Trump administration that openly tosses out warmongering rhetoric at the slightest drop of a hat and is already dangerously overpopulated by retired military officers, I’m not sure it’s a very good idea to rely on guys who blow shit up for a living to interpret Trump’s signals and make decisions that could take us to war.
5 ) I think that anyone who’s truly surprised by mainstream Democratic Party support for Trump’s missile strike against Syria hasn’t been paying very close attention to inter-party politics for the last few years. It is now a well know fact that in the later half of Barack Obama’s term, the then-President frequently battled with Clinton-loyal elements of his own State Department about attacking Syria to depose Bashar al-Assad; a matter which came to a very public head in June 2016 when 51 State Department officials signed a letter of dissent criticizing the Obama administration’s policy in Syria and demanded further military action against Assad’s government. Furthermore, it’s certainly no secret that bloodthirsty Democratic Party warhawks like John Kerry have been desperately trying to get someone to attack Syria for the purposes of deposing their President for a long time, so it’s hardly shocking that he supports Trump attacking Syria now; especially in light of the still far too influential Clinton’s open comments about the necessity of bombing Syrian airfields mere hours before Donald Trump launched 59 cruise missiles at one. Of course this does leave the uncomfortable question of why mainstream Democrats would so effusively praise the ineffective (but still deadly) actions of a man their party has simultaneously declared may be a co-conspirator in a byzantine (and almost certainly bullshit) Russian plot to subvert the American democratic process? I guess rhetoric about protecting the country from a proto-fascist like Trump goes out the window the minute the Pentagon has a really good war on tap; on both sides of the aisle.
6 ) I think a lot of people on the far left are making a mistake by turning a blind eye towards Bernie Sanders recent low-key support for regime change in Syria out of a misguided need to protect the one even remotely left-wing political leader in America getting national media attention. Sanders can chat about Congressional oversight, sanctions or the need to avoid a “unilateral” solution all he likes, but at the end of the day he’s still emphatically stating that “we eventually have got to get rid of Assad” and that position implicitly suggests that he believes the United States has a right and a responsibility to pursue a policy of regime change in Syria; that is imperialism, plain and simple. It’s not enough to be “deeply concerned” that Trump’s missile attack could “lead the U.S. back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement in the Middle East” – Assad isn’t going to resign quietly and the United States doesn’t have the right to make the people of Syria suffer under sanctions brutal enough to force his removal; now is the time for concerned politicians to speak out against American imperialism thinly-disguised as protecting children and policing the international community. In that light, it is impossible to see Bernie’s comments as anything other than supporting US imperialism (for what he feels is a good cause) and as such, pinkos who aren’t holding Sanders accountable for this because of his past critiques of regime change policies are doing themselves and the movement a grave disservice.
- Nina Illingworth
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