There Are No “Good Wars”
“War.” “Casualties.” “IEDs.” I’m using words a combat veteran might use, but in truth we’d be speaking different languages. How could it be otherwise, unless I too have experienced the searing reality of the battlefield? Civil War soldiers talked about “knowing the elephant.” When it comes to war, I’ve only seen pictures of elephants. That’s a different thing than having a herd of enraged behemoths bearing down upon you with bloodstained tusks.
Words Are Treacherous
Words are treacherous. The same squiggles on a screen can summon up a vague abstraction in one person’s mind, inspire chicken hawk posturing in another’s, whet the appetite for video gaming in yet another’s. But in only a few minds can it trigger memories of real-life carnage.
Me? I’ve never known war, or even the rigors of boot camp. I drew a high number in the mid-70’s and never had to serve.
And yet, as an American citizen, I can raise my voice and cast my vote in favor of war or against it. Mind you, if I do shout for battle I won’t be the one to actually fight it. (“We should fight!” really means, “You, young men and women, should fight!”) Like millions of American citizens, I don’t have combat experience to guide me, only common sense and common decency.
But common sense does tell us that the evils of war go even beyond the death of an American daughter or the disability of an American son. There are innocent lives on the other side of the battle lines as well: children bombed out of existence or starving to death in ruined cities. With the best will in the world, military leaders miscalculate and erase yet more lives. Some soldiers accidentally kill innocents, and never forgive themselves. And some lose it and do terrible, soul-shattering things that they never would have done in civilian life. Who is to say that I wouldn’t have done the same had I been forced to fight in their boots? The credit I’m tempted to give to good character likely belongs to good fortune.
There Are No Good Wars
All these horrors occur even in so-called “good” wars. But ask any war veteran: There are no good wars. At best, there are only necessary ones. At worst, war is a sacrifice of our children to modern-day Molochs who care for nothing but their own wealth and power. And we, in our ignorance of geography and history, fall for their cover stories.
And so common decency tells us war must be a last resort, the only way to avert even greater evils than war itself would bring. That’s a pretty tall order. In a free and virtuous republic, the purpose of war is not to pump up defense stocks, or boost political careers or secure markets for a favored few. All this is the mischief of empire, more wicked now than in the days of ancient Rome.
Yes, America would have enemies even if it had never trampled on a single soul. But if we took away the meddling and empire building, we’d have fewer enemies, more friends and more enduring economic strength. We need a foreign policy more in keeping with the wisdom of John Quincy Adams, President and son of Founding Father John Adams:
The Real Role of Our Republic
[America] goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. So let’s focus on walking our talk and taking out the numerous beams in our own national eye. Then, when atrocities do occur beyond our shores, we (and our allies) can see more clearly how to remove them without causing even greater harm.
Before they descend to outright dictatorship, empires use the tattered sheds of democracy as a fig leaf, paying lip service to liberty while betraying it with every law bribed or blackmailed into existence. But in a free republic, the purpose of war is first and foremost to defend the freedom of its citizens. A free republic does not provoke unnecessary quarrels. And if it foresees a shortage of a critical resource, like oil, it invents its way out of trouble rather than invades its way into it. And if invention should take longer than invasion, so be it. Better to endure austerity with honor than seize prosperity with shame. We should be citizens first, consumers second.
So as citizens of the republic we have pledged allegiance to, “with justice and liberty for all,” how should we “support the troops?” You’d think that giving them decent medical care would be on the list. But I believe there are two forms of support that are even more crucial:
No More Unnecessary Wars
1) Don’t have our soldiers fight in wars that are unnecessary or unjust. I’m not talking about wars that time’s rearview mirror reveals to have been unnecessary. I’m talking about wars that were entered into in bad faith from the start. We buy cars with greater caution than we buy the arguments for war. A volunteer military is not a moral blank check. If we carelessly send our bravest into battle, we have betrayed them, no matter how many banners we hang in their honor. And let’s at least be able to locate on a globe the country to where we’re sending them, and let’s dare to imagine that men and women as human as ourselves are living beyond our borders. Above all, let’s remember that even though our elected officials should be public servants, they are often the servants of war-profiteering mammon.
Don’t Sacrifice Our Liberties To “American” Tyrants
2) Don’t surrender the freedoms our soldiers have fought for. Don’t allow terrorism to be an excuse for tyranny. Back in the 17th Century, Milton said it best: “Necessity, the tyrant’s plea.” Consider the high risk a soldier takes in combat, and place it against the far, far lower risk we face here at home. Shall we surrender in anxiety what was purchased for us in blood? Shall we cease to be “the home of the brave,” and become a land where the cowardice of the citizen undoes the courage of the soldier? As Patrick Henry once said, “Forbid it, Almighty God!” We’d be betraying not just the soldiers of today, but also every American soldier that fought and died for our country and its freedom.
Let’s remember with gratitude the soldiers who fought in good faith, who lost their lives to save the lives of their comrades-in-arms, who refrained from brutalizing civilians even when they were half-mad with terror, who held onto their humanity in spite of the inhumanity that swirled around them. But let’s never forget that individual acts of honor cannot redeem a dishonorable war.
By all means, let’s keep sending letters and care packages to men and women facing uncertain days half a world away. But let’s also frustrate the designs of power-hungry people and do our best to keep our soldiers out of war in the first place.
And when we bow our heads in silent remembrance of the honored dead, let’s remember the liberty they fought and bled for, and swear to preserve it.
posted by Greg Simay
New Book Explores the Age of Air Piracy
This month is the 60th anniversary of the revolution in Cuba led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The revolutionary movement began July 26, 1953. It is fitting that a new book has been published that explores the golden age of the airplane hijackers, a period that reached a crescendo between 1968 and 1973, when hundreds of attempted hijackings occurred, many of these being individuals who wanted to go to Cuba and obtain political asylum there.
Brendan Koerner’s book “The Skies Belong To Us, Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking” is a focused look at those exciting times. Those were the days when you boarded a flight and there was a slight chance that you would end up somewhere other than your planned destination. Talk about an exciting and dangerous vacation! Many of these, of course, ended in death and tragedy. Here’s the story line, from Brendan Koerner’s website:
In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of sixties idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when the young lovers at the heart of The Skies Belong to Us pulled off the longest-distance hijacking in American history.
A shattered Army veteran and a mischievous party girl, Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow commandeered Western Airlines Flight 701 as a vague protest against the war. Through a combination of savvy and dumb luck, the couple managed to flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom, a feat that made them notorious around the globe. Over the ensuing years, their madcap adventures on the lam would involve exiled Black Panthers, African despots, and French movie stars.
Yet The Skies Belong to Us is more than just an enthralling yarn about a spectacular heist and its bittersweet aftermath. It is also a psychological portrait of America at its most turbulent, and a testament to the madness that can grip a nation when politics fail.
To view Koerner’s recent talk at Book Soup in Hollywood click here.
Or to watch the embedded version of the presentation, click on the window below.
To get a signed copy of the book, go to www.BookSoup.com, or better yet, visit the store in person.
Dateline: Pasadena, California
Pasadena Says YES to Free Speech Every Minute of Every Day
Pasadena, the home of the famous Rose Bowl and yearly extravaganza Rose Parade has decorated the utility boxes on Colorado Blvd. with quotes from famous people about Freedom of Speech. Every day, since 2011, thousands of people have walked and driven down Colorado Blvd., the main street in Pasadena, and hopefully have been constantly reminded of our precious Freedoms by the slogans on the colorful little billboards. By now, millions of people have seen the little billboards. This project was done by the Pasadena Playhouse District, send them an email thanking them for supporting the Bill of Rights.
To watch the embedded version click below:
Dateline: Glendale, California
Widow Left With 5 Children and No Help From V.A.
A Glendale, California woman whose husband died a horrible slow death from years in the U.S. Army handling fuel for missile systems. After his death, she was left with five children and no help from the Veterans Administration. Her husband got sick while still in the Army, but it was not until after he retired that the symptoms got worse, eventually confining him to bed on a resparator. Many veterans and their families find themselves in this situation, with little or not help from a callous government sending troops around the world to enforce the whims of arrogant politicians and to protect the revenue streams of big oil companies.
To see the video interview click here.
Or watch the embedded video below:
Dateline Playa Vista
The Award Winning Report on the Gas and Cancer-Causing Health Hazards of Playa Vista Has Disappeared From the KNBC Website Completely.
Does Anyone Have A Copy?
Back in 2005 KNBC aired part 1 of a series on the gas and cancer-causing health problems at Playa Vista, called “Burning Questions”. This was a long report for a local station, something like 9 minutes. Some wags say that 9 minutes challenges the attention span of the average viewer, who can’t focus on anything more than 30 seconds. This series of 3 reports and 2 updates won the Peabody Award for excellence in television broadcasting. If you don’t know what the Peabody Award is, here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Part 1, the main report has disappeared from the KNBC website. We couldn’t find it on the net, even the great Grassroots Coalition links from their website are broken. In addition, the video from the 2 follow-up updates are also gone, although the transcripts are still there.
So here is another burning question: Why doesn’t KNBC keep their video on the net for this great report? One thought is that they are “out of room on their website”. If that is the case, why not delete some fluff, which they have plenty of these days, and keep the Peabody Award report on forever, especially now when the Playa Vista story is heating up again? In fact, the Playa Vista story is literally exploding, the gas flames shooting up 100 feet or more in the air and sending gas fumes out for miles, scaring residents of the area. Southland News Bureau is posting the video of Part 2 and Part 3 of the KNBC reports and is looking for a video clip of Part 1. Meanwhile, follow our own Southland News special reports on Playa Vista and other Los Angeles Oil and Gas hot spots.
Links to the NBC Stories on Burning Questions
Part 1 Aired May 25, 2005 Video Removed from KNBC site.
Burning Questions Update July 28, 2006 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Burning_Questions_Investigation_Update.html(no video, only text)
Burning Questions Followup October 27, 2005 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/October_2005_Burning_Questions_Followup.html(no video, only text)
Old NBC News Reports in a Series called “Burning Questions” Exposed Potential Dangers at Playa Vista Part 2
Click here for direct link to KNBC video or watch embedded video on this site.
An NBC series called “Burning Questions” from 2009 exposed many of the potential hazards of dangerous chemicals at the Playa Vista site. Here is Part 2 of that excellent series.
View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.
Dateline: Marina del Rel
The Gas and Oil Is Under Your Feet
The unfolding story of the deadly gas underneath Marina del Rey and Playa Vista as our Whistle-Blower, Mr. “X” explains how the War Department initiated storage of massive amounts of natural gas in a huge underground “cavern” during WW2. They turned it over to the Southern California Gas Company after the war. The bad news? The entire area is punctured with hundreds of old oil wells. The “safe” storage in this geologic formation is leaking, and no one is pressing the Gas Company to find out how much leakage there is, AND where it is going. Part Three of this horrific story, with much more to come.
Dateline: Marina del Rey
The Los Angeles Basin Was One of the Biggest, Richest Oil and Gas Bonanzas of all Time; It is also now One of the Most Poisoned Places in America. “Mr. X”, a Whistleblower, Exposes the Corruption, Greed, Fraud, and a Reckless Government that Continues to this Day. Because Underneath our Cities is a Monster, Laying in Wait to Spread Its Death to You. The Monster is Oil and Gas, Seeping Out of the Depths Through Abandoned Wells, Making Its Way To The Surface and Ultimately Into The Water, The Air, Your Body. Sometimes It Just Blows Up, Like a Bomb, With No Warning. God Help You if You Are in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time.
By the end of this series, you will know where NOT to live, where NOT to send your children to school, and where to avoid drinking the water. This is an incredible story, one that goes back to the old days of the Spanish Land grants. Our whistleblower follows the story down through the ages, from the wetlands to the massive modern real estate developments. This series contains the most important information that you will ever need to live in Los Angeles.
posted by Paulie