A Brief History of Iraq for Westerners

Iraq was saved from ignorant subhuman barbarism by a gentlewoman named Gertrude at the time that the civilized nations of the world were, in a quite advanced and sophisticated manner, slaughtering their young men in a project now called the First World War. 

Because the Arabs were too backward to be allowed to govern themselves, or even to contemplate creating a world war, and because tribes and ethnicities and religions never really garner much loyalty or support that can't be wiped away with a good cup of tea or a few clouds of poison gas, and because the French were too dumb to know where the oil was, it became necessary for the British to install an Iraqi leader who wasn't Iraqi, through a democratic election with one candidate running.

The great Winston Churchill explained the governance of Iraq and the new civilizing technique of bombing civilians thusly: "I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes." Others failed to see the wisdom, and the Royal Air Force used non-chemical "terror bombing, night bombing, heavy bombers, [and] delayed action bombs (particularly lethal against children)" to police disobedient Iraqis. Only by developing these techniques on Iraqis were the world's civilizers prepared to use them on Nazis when the time came to level German cities in the name of defeating Nazis, which of course also places the rest of this paper beyond the reach of moral criticism.

Iraqis, from the formation of Iraq by Gertrude to this day, were never quite able to create a democracy for the CIA to overthrow as in neighboring Iran.  But the idea that Iraqis have been violent or resistant to control because of lack of representation misses the central fact that people in the Middle East enjoy killing each other over sectarian differences.  Of course it's hard to find evidence of significant sectarian fighting in Iraq prior to 2003 and some say there wasn't any.  There was violent looting of Jewish neighborhoods in 1941, but the British government keeps all information on that event secret.  There was bombing of synagogues in Baghdad in 1950-51 but that turned out to have been done by Zionists trying to convince Jews to come to Israel.  And "until the 1970s nearly all Iraq's political organisations were secular, attracting people from all religions and none."  But what was simmering just below the surface waiting to burst out at the slightest scratching?

Think how little it took.  Supporting and arming a brutal dictator in Saddam Hussein and his catastrophic war against Iran, then bombing Iraq and imposing the most murderous sanctions in history, and then newly bombing Iraq and occupying it for 8 years while arming and training death squads and torturers and imposing sectarian segregation, creating 5 million refugees, and killing a half-million to a million-and-a-half people, while devastating the nation's infrastructure, and then imposing a puppet government loyal to one sect and one neighboring nation.  That, plus arming the new government for vicious attacks on its own people, while arming mad killers in neighboring Syria, some of whom want to combine parts of Syria and Iraq: that was all it took, and suddenly, out of nowhere, ignorant Arabs are killing each other, just out of pure irrationality, just like in Palestine.

During the 8 years of U.S.-led occupation people mistook purely irrational violence that had been bubbling under the surface for centuries for resistance to the occupiers, and now some imagine that part of the violence against the puppet government is motivated by grievances against that government. But this misses the fundamental truths here, which are:

1. Shock and Awe was meant to put people at ease and make them comfortable.

2. The plan to rid Iraq of weapons it was about to use against those of us who matter was successful beyond the wildest expectations, working retroactively by a decade.

3. Our great leaders, Bush and Cheney, meant well in giving Iraqis freedom even if they weren't ready for it.

4. The election of Maliki was even more legitimate than the election of Faisal.

5. When the Bush-Maliki treaty ended the U.S. military presence in Iraq, that was thanks to President Obama who is way smarter than Bush but couldn't get Iraq to let U.S. troops stay with immunity for crimes -- crimes of course being necessary for policing, just ask Winnie.

6. When Iraq remained a disaster, that was President Obama's fault for focusing too much on murdering people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen, and never Iraq -- as if we just don't care about Iraq any more.

7. The U.S. weapons being seized and used against the U.S. puppet government in Iraq are no match for the vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that we can and must ship into Iraq now to be seized and redirected later on down the road.

8. The few people getting rich from all of this misery mean well.

Talk Nation Radio: Bruce Kent on Peace Activism of Past Several Decades

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-bruce-kent-on-peace-activism-of-past-several-decades

Bruce Kent is Vice President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and of Pax Christi, and of the Movement for the Abolition of War (See http://abolishwar.org.uk ) Born in 1929, Kent joined CND in 1960 and served as its General Secretary and Chair during a period of tremendous growth from 1980 to 1990. He was president of the International Peace Bureau from 1985 to 1992, and the UK organizer of the 1999 Hague Conference.  We discuss the ups and downs, accomplishments and challenges, of the peace movement over the years.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

UVA Research Park Drains Our Economy

The University of Virginia research park, across Rt. 29 North from the National Ground Intelligence Center, is hosting a conference on weapons technologies that has been promoted as dealing with economically beneficial matters.

And why not?  Both the military facility and the research park provide jobs, and the people who hold those jobs spend their money on things that support other jobs.  What's not to like? 

Well, one problem is what those jobs do.  A Win/Gallup poll of 65 nations earlier this year found the United States by far most widely considered the greatest threat to peace in the world.  Imagine how it must sound to people in other countries when we talk about the U.S. military as a jobs program.

But let's stick to economics.  Where does the money come from for most of what goes on at the base and the research park north of town?  From our taxes and government borrowing.  Between 2000 and 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government. Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson's university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School. And the trend is ever upward. 

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs -- with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

The superiority of other spending or even tax cuts has been established repeatedly by seminal studies out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, frequently cited and never refuted over the last several years.  Not only would spending on trains or solar panels or schools produce more and better paying jobs, but so would never taxing the dollars in the first place.  Military spending is worse than nothing, just in economic terms.

Add to this the impact on foreign policy that massive military spending has had since before President Eisenhower warned us on the day he left office: "The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --" he said, "is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government."  Today even more so, so much so perhaps that we notice it less, so routine has it become.

Connecticut has set up a commission to work on transitioning to peaceful industries, largely for economic reasons.  Virginia or Charlottesville could do the same. 

The U.S. government spends over $600 billion a year just on the Department of Defense, and over $1 trillion total every year on militarism across all departments and debts for past wars.  It's over half of U.S. discretionary spending and about as much as the rest of the world's nations combined, including the many NATO members and allies of the United States.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot.  But consider the amounts being spent on economically detrimental programs that also damage our civil liberties, our environment, our safety, and our morality.  It wouldn't cost much for the U.S. to become seen as the greatest threat to suffering and poverty instead of to peace.

David Swanson is a Charlottesville resident and organizer of WorldBeyondWar.org.

Talk Nation Radio: Daniel Hyslop on How Militarism and Violence Cost Us Prosperity

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-daniel-hyslop-on-how-militarism-and-violence-cost-us-prosperity

Daniel Hyslop is research manager at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) where he coordinates research and manages IEP’s research team (see http://economicsandpeace.org ).  IEP produces the Global Peace Index (see http://visionofhumanity.org ). He discusses the economic costs of war and violence.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Mass Murderers Brazenly Hold Conference, Discuss Tools of Trade

A unique conference is planned in Charlottesville, Va., featuring the latest technologies for the practice of large-scale killing. The Daily Progress tells us that,

"to allow participants to speak more freely about potentially sensitive topics, the conference is closed to the media and open only to registered participants."

Well I should think so! Registered participants? How does one get registered for such a thing?

"From a local perspective, this industry is really growing in Charlottesville," says one expert, speaking with great objectivity, as if this growth were a matter of complete moral indifference.

Exactly how many people will be there?

"About 225 people are expected to attend the inaugural event, which is attracting government, business and academic leaders, said conference chairwoman and organizer Joan Bienvenue, who is also the director of the UVa Applied Research Institute."

Wait, what? The University of Virginia has an "applied research institute" for applying research to the practice of mass murder?

Is there no shame left in any institution?

"Sen. Timothy M. Kaine and Rep. Randy Forbes, R-4th, are also scheduled to give key speeches at the conference."

I guess that answers my question.

And where exactly will this blood-soaked confab take place?

"Located in Albemarle County, Rivanna Station is a sub-installation of the Army's Fort Belvoir. The local base employs mostly civilians and houses operations of the National Ground Intelligence Center, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency."

The National Ground Intelligence Center, previously downtown in what became the SNL Financial building, is now north of Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia has built a "research park" next door, where this conference will be held.  The NGIC famously played an utterly shameless role in marketing the war on Iraq that took at least a half a million lives and destroyed that nation. 

When the experts at the Department of Energy refused to say that aluminum tubes in Iraq were for nuclear facilities, because they knew they could not possibly be and were almost certainly for rockets, and when the State Department's people also refused to reach the "correct" conclusion, a couple of guys at the NGIC were happy to oblige.  Their names were George Norris and Robert Campus, and they received "performance awards" (cash) for the service. 

Then Secretary of State Colin Powell used Norris' and Campus' claims in his U.N. speech despite the warning of his own staff that they weren't true.  NGIC also hired a company called MZM to assist with war lies for a good chunk of change.  MZM then gave a well-paid job to NGIC's deputy director Bill Rich Jr, and for good measure Bill Rich III too.  MZM was far and away the top "contributor" to former Congressman Virgil Goode's campaigns, and he got them a big contract in Martinsville before they went down in the Duke Cunningham scandal.  Rich then picked up a job with a company called Sparta, which, like MZM, was conveniently located in the UVA Research Park.

Local want ads in Charlottesville offer jobs "researching biological and chemical weapons" at Battelle Memorial Institute (located in the UVA Research Park).  As you may know, researching such weapons is rarely if ever done without producing or at least possessing them.  Other jobs are available producing all kinds of weaponry for all kinds of governments at Northrop Grumman. Then there's Teksystems, Pragmatics, Wiser, and many others with fat Pentagon contracts. 

From 2000 to 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government. Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson's university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School. And the trend is ever upward.  The 161 contractors are found in various industries other than higher education, including nautical system and instrument manufacturing; blind and shade manufacturing; printed circuit assembly; real estate appraisers; engineering services; recreational sports centers; research and development in biotechnology; new car dealers; internet publishing; petroleum merchant wholesalers; and a 2006 contract with Pig Daddy's BBQ.

Have we at long last no sense of decency?  War has taken 200 million lives in the past 100 years, costs the world $2 trillion a year and the United States half of that.  It is the top destroyer of our natural environment and undergirds all the removal of our civil liberties and the creation of mass surveillance. Military spending produces fewer jobs that other government spending or even tax cuts.  Numerous top officials say it produces more enemies than it kills.

And who does it kill? Over 90% are civilians of all ages. Over 90% are on one side of conflicts between wealthy and poor countries.  These one-sided slaughters leave behind devastated nations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya.  A poll of 65 nations found the U.S. most widely viewed as the greatest threat to peace. For 3% of what the United States spends on a program of killing that endangers us, impoverishes us, and erodes our way of life, starvation could be eliminated worldwide. It wouldn't take much to become the most beloved nation rather than the most feared

And wouldn't it be nice to live in a society where our top public program didn't have to be kept hush-hush to protect "sensitive topics"?