[These thoughts come from reading the introduction to David Swanson’s War Is a Lie, 2nd ed.]
No Good, No Glory from War Lies
David Swanson begins his introduction to War Is a Lie, 2nd ed. thus:
“Not a single thing that we commonly believe about wars that helps keep them around is true. Wars cannot be good or glorious. Nor can they be justified as a means of achieving peace or anything else of value.… It is common to imagine that, because we’d never go to war without a good reason, having gone to war, we simply must have a good reason. This needs to be reversed. Because there can be no good reason for war, having gone to war, we are participating in a lie.”
Swanson claims that any particular war involves at least three lies: why we are going, why we are there, and what good came of our participation in the fight. Why, for example, did we go to Vietnam? (Supply your own answers, these are mine.) To prevent the spread of communism in southeast Asia. Why did we stay for 10 years (disputable number)? To allow citizens of the south to determine their own political destiny (democracy, of course). What good came from the sacrifice of 60,000 American lives? I have asked myself that question every day for 50 years and still cannot find an acceptable reason. No credible answers.
Let’s try Iraq. Why did we go? To find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. Why are we (still) there? Well, first there was that regime change thing with the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, then we tried regime change again, and now …? What good can possibly come from our military presence in Iraq? Yet to be determined, but I am sure we’ll hear some lie about that.
Swanson states further: “A war based on lies” is just a long-winded way of saying “a war.” The lies are part of the standard package. He adds that wars have become more horrible in recent years because of the exponential increase in deaths of non-combatants. We use drones. Intelligence fails. Mistakes are made. Civilians die. Part of the cost of war. Lie.
And here Swanson hits me personally. “Even the participants from the dominant side can be drawn from a population coerced into fighting (I was drafted) and isolated from those making the decisions about or benefitting from the war (I was too young to vote).” Couldn’t drink legally either.
“This book focuses, not exclusively but heavily, on the United States’ wars, because the United States is where I (i.e., Swanson, but I too) live and because it is the leading war maker in the world right now….
On taxes, Social Security, healthcare, or schools it simply goes without saying: elected officials are a pack of liars. When it comes to wars, however … people are inclined to believe every fantastical claim that comes out of Washington, D.C….”
The political campaign season is hot upon us, and candidates on both sides are melting down. According to the debaters, all opponents spread lies about each other, about their respective records, about fund raising activities, about anything. Which one, I wonder, will lie us into our next war?