War Made Impossible or, At Least, Harder
Kirk W. Tofte
by Kirk W. Tofte
at least the mid-1960s, our national government has utilized a proven
formula for the promotion of American wars around the world. It
includes such practices as demonizing the enemy, proclaiming the
selflessness of American motives and, when necessary, disseminating
inaccurate information. The formula also involves the use of propaganda
phrases ranging from "our enemy is a modern day Hitler"
to "this is about human rights" and "the Pentagon
fights wars as humanely as possible."
In his revealing new book, War
Made Easy, Norman Solomon documents the misdeeds and lies
that have led the United States into wars over the last five or
six decades. Solomon, a noted political and media critic, also provides
us with useful guidelines to distinguish propaganda elements that
have consistently been used to convince the American people to support
and sustain our nation’s war-making efforts.
The following is a list (comprised of many titles of the book’s
chapters) of arguments that we can nearly always expect to hear
each time the drums for war begin to be beaten in our nation’s capitol:
is a Fair and Noble Superpower
- Our Leaders
Will Do Everything They Can to Avoid War
- Our Leaders
Would Never Tell Us Outright Lies
- They Are
the Aggressors, Not Us
the War Means Siding with the Enemy
- This Is
a Necessary Battle in the War on Terrorism
- Our Soldiers
Are Heroes, Theirs Are Inhumane
Needs the Resolve to Kick the "Vietnam Syndrome"
Would Cripple U.S. Credibility
Made Easy also discusses the things we are not likely to see
when the clouds of war begin to gather. These include the reality
that the last parties who will tell us that a war is wrong are members
of Congress and most elements of the major media in our country.
Solomon’s book is filled with accurate analysis and many quotes
that are right on the money. One of his most important insights
deals with the fact that after Harry Truman took the U.S. into the
Korean conflict, every American military misadventure since has
been driven by the desires of our presidents to wage war for their
own purposes under our nation’s flag and in our names.
In the book’s prologue the author puts it this way, "Intense
public controversy may precede the onset of warfare, but the modern
historical record is clear: No matter what the Constitution says,
in actual practice the president has the whip hand when it comes
to military deployments and if a president really wants a
war, he’ll get one…When the president of the United States is determined
to go to war, a vast array of leverage and public-relations acumen
can and will be brought to bear."
Many of Solomon’s anecdotal quotes are quite chilling. For example,
on April 25, 1972 the White House taping system recorded the following
conversation between Ron Ziegler, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon:
"How many did we kill in Laos?"
"Maybe ten thousand fifteen?"
In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen…"
"See, the attack in the North that we have in mind…power plants,
petroleum, the docks…And I still think we ought to take the
dikes out now. Will
that drown people?"
"About two hundred thousand people."
"No, no, no…I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got
"That, I think, would just be too much."
"The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?...I just want
you to think big, Henry,
Later in his book, Solomon quotes ABC’s Nightline reporter,
John Donovan, on what he saw in Iraq two years ago as a "non-imbedded"
reporter where he observed, "the close-up view of collateral
damage. The U.S. says it’s trying to limit injuries to civilians.
It is, however, hard not to take it personally when that collateral
damage is you." Donovan then reported on a wounded Iraqi man
who had just lost his wife during the war, "She was collateral
damage. So were his two brothers. So were his two children."
Finally, Solomon reprints the following story that first appeared
in the National Journal: "On April 19, 2003, a little
girl walked out of a crowd in Baghdad carrying a steel gray canister
attached to a white ribbon. U.S. troops had left the canister behind
in her part of town, and she was trying to return it to the American
soldiers then on patrol. Sgt. Troy Jenkins, 25, a big man with blue
eyes, recognized the child’s gift as a cluster bomblet, one of the
hundreds of thousands left dotting the country, and he threw himself
onto it as the explosion began. When the dying was over a family
in California had lost its father and a family in Iraq had lost
This story appears in the book’s fourteenth chapter, "The Pentagon
Fights Wars as Humanely as Possible." Solomon follows up this
passage with a discussion of the more than two million cluster bomblets
dropped (so far) on Iraq. He states that at least "300,000
tiny bombs…(duds)…are waiting" for children, farmers and other
innocent Iraqis to "nudge them the wrong way" tomorrow
or ten years from tomorrow.
As concerned American citizens we must do all we can to expose the
war on Iraq for that it always has been. Along with Cindy Sheehan,
we must ask the question, "Who will be the last person killed
for a lie?"
But we must also work to not allow "wars to be made easy"
to conduct in the future. One of the best ways to begin such an
effort is to read Norman Solomon’s important and useful new book.
W. Tofte [send him mail] is
the manager of the BWIA Private Investment Fund and the author of
Principled and Grow Rich: Your Guide to Investing Successfully in
Both Bull and Bear Markets. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
© 2005 LewRockwell.com