Obama’s Afghanistan Massacre Deniers

Why do liberals ignore millions of non-American war deaths?

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ suspected early March murder of 16 Afghan civilians is cast by the military-industrial-congressional-media complex as the isolated madness of a single American soldier. In fact, victims in the village of Kandahar are just the latest among six million who have perished in America's wars-of-choice in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now the Central Asian graveyard of empires, Afghanistan.

That sobering estimate of death comes from John Tirman, executive director of the MIT Center for International Studies, and author of The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars, whose arguments were recently summarized in The Washington Post essay, “Why Do We Ignore the Civilians Killed in American Wars?”

Elected as the Democratic anti-war candidate in 2008, President Barack Obama was co-opted in less than a year by the permanent war machine that former president (and general) Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about in his farewell address of 1961, the year Obama was born. In a garishly staged December 2009 presentation to teenage cadets at West Point, Obama justified his own elective war-making with a speech reminiscent of drum-beating by his weekend warrior predecessor, George W. Bush, who sat-out Vietnam in the Texas National Guard.

Obama’s election came just two years after Democrats won back both the Senate and House of Representatives, an electoral repudiation of the Bush administration and its neoconservative war-of-choice in Iraq. Where are those same congressional Democrats now? With Obama’s hands as bloody in Afghanistan as were those of Bush in Iraq, these progressives and liberals avert their eyes and plug their ears when it comes to the death visited on Afghanistan by their own White House.

Just as their “conservative” predecessors tried to erase from collective memory the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib prison torture in Iraq, these “liberals” attempt to excise from memory American Marines urinating on dead Muslims and the rampage by the four-times-deployed Bales in Afghanistan. They give themselves political cover and comfort with the illusion that this was just an isolated incident, involving a lone gunman, killing children, in a distant Afghan village, where America is, after all, only pursuing the worthy mission of spreading democracy.

With an exceptionalist view of our own goodness, Americans ignore the genocidal carnage unleashed on the world in the decades since the good war was fought by America’s greatest generation. The reason isn't complicated. The chicken hawk elites who start, propagandize, and run the wars don’t have to put themselves in harm's way fighting them. The Bushes and Obamas send 20-somethings to their deaths in the deserts of the Middle East and the tribal hills of Central Asia, in service to the industrial war profiteers, the neoconservative think tank experts, and the editorial page war hawks. Done in the name of “national defense,” offensive military spending becomes Republican corporate welfare and a Democratic jobs program.

Occasionally, after gas prices rise too high or too many flag-covered boxes get delivered to the military morgue at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware (the home state of the liberal Administration’s foreign policy "expert," Vice President Joseph Biden), a majority of Americans will tell pollsters “the wars aren’t worth it.”

But then, in the blink of a cable TV camera eye, the liberally-led masses return to infatuation with Barack's picks in the March college basketball brackets or the dress Michelle wore at the dinner for America's latest prime ministerial lapdog from Britain. The corporate, media, and political leaders who helped elect Obama go silent on the real madness going on this March, because they don't carry the guns or fly the planes or drive the tanks in Afghanistan, and they don't know anyone who does.

Ignoring the "collateral damage," Americans join their leaders in assuaging collective guilt by offering more deficit-financed government benefits to reclaim the health of psychologically devastated and physically-maimed veterans. And the liberal Democrats join their conservative Republican colleagues in the empty mouthing of “support our troops.”

Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael is a former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. He writes at his libertarian Democrat web site, www.terrymichael.net.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    So America has reached the 1 Hitler mark.

    But I'm sure the Socons will try to spin it by pointing out it's Hitler intensity is only 0.17 HI.

  • ||

    Godwin Firstie!

  • ||

    But I'm sure the Socons will try to spin it by pointing out it's Hitler intensity is only 0.17 HI.

    I have absolutely no idea what you've said here. I'm sure it's because I'm out of the loop somehow, though.

  • Bill||

    We spread the killing out over a longer period of time. So the intensity is 17% or 0.17 as that of Adolf.

  • ||

    OK that makes sense then. I guess an atrocity is somehow less atrocious when it's long and drawn out. Boiled frogs, and whatnot.

  • rather||

    Karl, sometimes ignorance is the only sign of intelligence

  • ||

    The ability to admit ignorance can be a sign of intelligence.

  • rather||

    My point libertarianzed/simplified:
    some shit you don't ever need to know

  • ||

  • ||

    "When your bank nails you with a 35 dollar fine, you can confidently tell the teller that they are currently fucking you over to the tune of 84 picohitlers and ask if they have a very tiny auschwitz behind the counter."

    Brilliant!

  • ||

    First, don't you mean "neo-con"? Not that either "so-con" or "neo-con" is supposed to mean anything other than "people I don't like".

    Sure, the deaths in the wars mentioned are the same as if we marched people to the gas chambers.

    Why didn't you include the "Genocide of Native Americans" and make it Hitler X2? Or mention all of the people that have ever died in car crashes or gun violence and call it Hitler X 10! Both would be as equally asinine.

  • Copernicus||

    Socons refers to folks from Southern Connecticut of course. What, you stoopid?

  • Connecticutolianite||

    While we're on the subject, what the hell is the proper term for someone from Connecticut anyway?

    Connecticutian? Connecticite? Connecticish? Connecticutter? Connectitron?

  • Masshole||

    Connut.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    As a real Masshole, I can say the proper term for someone from Connecticut is "Fucking Douchebag".

  • WTF||

    Why didn't you include the "Genocide of Native Americans" and make it Hitler X2?

    Careful there, you don't want to summon White Idiot.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Mein Herr, am I free to gambol about Rheinland?

  • Hitler||

    Nein!!

  • ||

    Ya'll need to calm down. It was a joke.

    Read this: http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.....ne_hitler/

  • Suki||

    6 million is only 0.5 Hitler, but about 6 Lenins and a whole mess of Ches.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Six million is the number of Jews who were killed in concentration camps. The total number of people to be killed by Hitler was somewhere between 11-12 million.

    Remember the six million Jews, but don't forget the other five to six million.

  • ||

    1 imperial Hitler is 6 million deaths. You're talking about metric Hitlers.

  • Heinrich Himmler||

    "H" is an imaginary number!

  • UCrawford||

    They ignore the deaths for the same reason they quit protesting the war after Obama got elected and for the same reason they ignore the fact that Obama is no different in his foreign policy goals than Bush...because they're hypocrites. They exhibit the same mentality that George Orwell discussed in his essay "Notes on Nationalism"...they don't only excuse the abuses of "their" guy (generally using the tu quoque logical fallacy by blaming Bush whenever Obama is criticized) but most of the time they simply choose not to see the abuses at all.

  • UCrawford||

    That said, I do think this particular incident was the action of a lone nut. As they dig into this guy's history, more and more the picture that emerges is of a perpetual underachiever whose failures extended well outside of his job and whose frustrations with life in general finally caused him ti snap. I don't believe the war or the military had much to do with what he did...he's more like that spree killing day-trader in Atlanta back in the 90s who lost all his money, then shot up his office and coworkers. Basically just a loser who can't take responsibility for his actions so he decided to take it out on other people. Hope they put the little prick on death row.

  • Nathan||

    A perpetual underachiever who was nominated for the medal of valor? True, he didn't get it but ...

  • UCrawford||

    What medal of valor are you talking about?

  • ||

    "You will receive the Order of Lenin for this, Captain!"

  • Nathan||

    His commanding officer in Iraq nominated him for a medal of valor, which he was turned down for. Heard it in an interview on the radio, so I apologize for not having a source.

  • ||

    His commanding officer in Iraq nominated him for a medal of valor, which he was turned down for.

    I could be wrong, but I think UCrawford was making the point that there's no such award as the "Medal of Valor" that's given to members of the armed forces.

  • Mr. Saveloy||

    That's true, but there are medals which can have a "distinguishing device for valor"-like the Bronze Star or Army Commendation Medal, which may be what was meant.

  • UCrawford||

    That's more what I was getting at. There are certain awards that are given for valor (e.g. Bronze Star, Silver Star, Medal of Honor) and there are "devices" (most common being the "V" device) that can be awarded on top of more administrative awards like an ARCOM. There was no mention of any of those in the history that's come out about Bales. Absent that, I'd have a tough time believing that he's "highly decorated", which is one of the selling points of people on both the left and the right who are trying to let him off the hook to push their specific argument. I don't really think what Bales did had much of anything to do with the war...aside from the fact that if we weren't there in Afghanistan it was unlikely that he'd be there and that family would still be alive.

  • UCrawford||

    Yup...that was what I was saying. But Nathan was correct in that he was submitted for an award for his actions in Iraq (apparently he didn't get it). It just didn't appear to have been an award for valor, although that is more a disagreement over semantics. The radio reporter probably didn't understand the distinction.

  • db||

    No, I think the question was which of the several "medals of valor" that can be awarded to American service members.

  • UCrawford||

    Never mind...looked it up. He did see combat in Iraq, I was just saying that he didn't particularly distinguish himself in his engagements and it doesn't appear that those awards were frequent. I'm not saying that he didn't do a capable job...just that he didn't appear to have been a "highly decorated" soldier relative to his peers.

  • UCrawford||

    Sorry, meant doesn't appear that those "award recommendations for combat" were frequent. Mainly, I was just speaking to the point that some in the press have made about how this was basically some exemplary soldier gone wrong because he got screwed by the system...it appears he was just a guy who was just there for the most part. Which doesn't make him a scumbag, but does feed into the underachiever mold of the rest of his life.

  • Nathan||

    Thank you for researching after your post and presenting things the way you did. I appreciate that kind of discussion, give and take.

  • UCrawford||

    No worries...figure that's just common courtesy and I got what you were trying to get at in your comment. I was in the Army for awhile as well, so I really just wanted to point out that getting 20 "awards" isn't necessarily much of an accomplishment if the definition for "award" is kind of loose. Basically, what stands out to me about Bales is that they haven't mentioned any actual "valor" awards (e.g. Bronze Star, Silver Star, a V device on an existing award, etc.). The absence of such an award doesn't automatically mean that someone in the military was a scumbag (I don't have any valor awards and I did pretty well) but it doesn't make much of a case that he was more than a guy who just showed up every day and did his job...20 awards with no particular distinction for valor isn't all that impressive for an 11 year veteran in the infantry.

  • ||

    I got the scumbag award with two gold oak clusters and a cherry on top, as well as the major as*hole with pink fringe, and the contemptible service award...
    Ah, my service...undistinguished, intermitant, and lackadaisical

  • Bill||

    It's also easy to make things look worse than they really are. After all, if you are not one of the top in the country at something and are very smart, you could always be called an "underachiever"

    I have not seen any of the stories of his life, but in an effort to make it look like an isolated incident (so that everyone feels better) there may be a tendency to put their own spin on it.

    That said, you have to be pretty messed up to kill 16 civilians including a bunch of kids and to sneak out in the middle of the night to do it deliberately, not in the heat of battle.

  • UCrawford||

    Basically he was a two-time college dropout who was involved in some shady investment business with his brother that went under and he joined the Army after that. He owned two houses where he was stationed, one of which was priced above what a staff sergeant in the military should be able to afford ($280,000 and they were selling it for a $50,000 loss) and the other they apparently abandoned. There were also reports of financial problems and complaints from the wife about unstable finances. Basically he was a guy who seemed to have trouble achieving success in his life because of bad decisions or failure to follow through...that's what I meant by underachiever.

    And it's probably worth pointing out that if he was having financial problems after four war zone tours, he was probably making some very bad decisions on money, considering the extra pay and tax-exempt status.

  • UCrawford||

    Oh, and he had some run-ins with the law. Once for allegedly assaulting a girlfriend, another for a hit-and-run where he ran from the car.

  • db||

    Lots of people own homes that are above what they can afford on their salary. Many of them have a spouse with a job that does pay for it, or contributes to it.

  • UCrawford||

    Most of those people weren't also sued for fraud and breach of fiduciary responsibility like Bales was with his failed investment job. Also, when a college dropout claims to be working an investment job that earns him six figures a year (which Bales reportedly did), then "quits" to join the infantry out of supposed patriotism (at about the time his business went under and was being investigated), and you factor in the other financial and legal issues, what emerges is a picture of a guy who seems to have been something of a fraud with serious personal problems. Those existed before he joined the Army or went into a war zone.

  • UCrawford||

    And he apparently didn't have the kind of financial support you mention...he bought a $280,000 house in 2005 and he put it on the market a few years later for $229,000. That's a sign that either the housing market in his area completely collapsed, the house has deteriorated significantly in just seven years, or they're desperate to sell. The housing allowance for a SSG with dependents at Ft. Lewis is about $1600 a month, tax-free. He was also deployed to a war zone before the incident, so he was pulling additional combat pay and (unless this has changed) was exempt from federal taxation on his salary. If they were in that bad of a situation with the property given those circumstances, there were other serious financial problems going on.

  • UCrawford||

    Yup...called it. The guy was a con artist with a $1.4 million judgment against him for fraud after he ripped off an old couple.

    http://www.ksfy.com/story/17199028/update

    College dropout + job in "finance" + losing job in "finance" + going from "finance" job to career as enlisted infantryman + convictions and judgments against for fraud + living above visible means + history of bizarre or violent behavior + underwhelming professional accomplishments = con man and all around fuckup.

  • UCrawford||

    And I agree he's messed up...I was just disagreeing with the arguments that it was because of his military service or repeated deployments. Considering his backstory and the actions he took, this guy has a lot more in common with a standard spree killer than a soldier pushed to the edge by PTSD or lots of deployments.

  • Nathan||

    The vast majority of us did not protest the war in Afghanistan. We protested the war in Iraq, and Obama started reducing our presence there immediately. Then he ended our participation in it.

    As with my note below, it's hard to use Reason when you make up Facts.

  • invisible furry hand||

    Can you please not use that last line again? I'm trying to moderate my alcohol intake

  • Nathan||

    If this site would stop making up facts, I'll stop using the line.

    Sorry about being an enabler for you, though.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Are you trying to make me into an alcoholic?

  • Nathan||

    No, that ship has passed.

  • Suki||

    You know who else drove a ship drunk.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    Captain Ahab?

  • ||

    Captain Abersouth

    Harry Morgan

    Blackbeard

    etc

  • WarIsBadMkay||

    Can you please explain why the fact is that you protested the war in Iraq, and are not protesting what's going on in Afghanistan?

  • ||

    The withdrawal deadline in the Status of Forces Agreement in Iraw that Obama stuck to was actually hammered out in 2008 under George W. Bush. Speaking of facts, and all...

  • Nathan||

    Obama was NOT elected as an "ant-war" candidate. He very specifically and repeatedly said that he would wind down the war in Iraq and move those troops to Afghanistan.

    It is useless to call yourself Reason if you are going to make up Facts.

  • Nathan||

    However, I do tend to agree with the overall thrust of the article. There are too many who are ignoring the travesty and wasted lives, resources and good will that our foreign policy generates.

    You're major point in the article is good. But you spend too much time on the "Obama as Hypocrite" point when he was not an anti-war candidate at all, and always said he would expand the fight in Afghanistan.

  • Fluffy||

    They're not saying Obama's a hypocrite. They're saying the anti-war movement is made up of hypocrites.

    Your distinction between the two wars may make sense to you, but it really has little basis in morality or reality.

    The Afghanistan action may have had a better causus belli than Iraq, but 5-10 years in, that actually has no bearing on the relative justice of the two occupations. Anyone who opposed the Iraq occupation (as opposed to the invasion) has no real grounds for saying, "But the Afghanistan occupation I'm totally cool with!"

  • UCrawford||

    I was fine with the Afghanistan occupation while bin Laden was out there, mainly because the purpose of staying there wasn't supposed to be rebuilding Afghanistan, but to deny al-Qaeda an operational safe haven until we could eliminate or minimize them as a threat. Now that bin Laden is gone, al-Qaeda is unlikely to be as much of a problem as they were (because bin Laden was their focal point and primary driver) so our reason for being there has been removed. I get the impression, though, that because our politicians have been bullshitting us for a decade about "helping the Afghanis" when really we were only there because of al-Qaeda that they've allowed the mission to morph into something they haven't defined and can't achieve and so they don't want to pull out on a low note so they can save face. Basically, we should have been making plans to leave as soon as bin Laden died.

  • Bill||

    Now, with pissing on people, burning their holy books, years of "accidents", and this last travesty, we have given the Taliban, and possible Al Queda a way back in once we leave and especially if we stay much longer. Consequences are a bitch!!

  • UCrawford||

    I don't think al-Qaeda matters anymore...without bin Laden and considering our counterterrorism war against them there and elsewhere, I think they're a spent force. Those actions do give the Taliban a way back in, and while that's a bad group of guys, they also aren't particularly a threat to us in the U.S. so I don't see the point of hanging around to continue to fight them. At some point, the Afghanis have to take responsibility for their own country...it's not ours to fix.

  • Nathan||

    Hey, I want us the heck out of Afghanistan, too. I think it's a terrible war, and we have prosecuted it badly for at least eight years.

  • Nathan||

    Paragraph three is either calling Obama either a hypocrite or a weakling. I chose hypocrite.

  • hk||

    Agreed, the fake anti-war people when Bush was in office are fake as fuck.

    Both wars are atrocious now that there is no point to them. The US was justified in Afghanistan only in the beginning.

  • shorter Nathan||

    mmmm...Obama cock...slurp....

  • Nathan||

    How is that fellating Obama? The fact is that from 2006-2008 in his campaign he said that he would end the Iraq War and expand the Afghanistan War.

    The reporter said that Obama was the anti-war candidate, which is empirically incorrect.

    Apparently your bar for being an Obama sycophant is presenting facts ...

  • NotSure||

    Not only are you fellating him, you are happily taking it up the anus as well, read my comment below. To believe that he was not campaigning on the anti war platform is the most ludicrous thing I have heard.

  • hk||

    Agreed completely NotSure.

  • NotSure||

    He really was elected an anti war president, you are the one making up the facts. The Nobel peace prize, the fawning media all stating that the world is now safer from war, the endless number of supporters on the internet who very openly were saying they support him because of anti, I guess you want to ignore all these facts and play the "depends what your definition of is is" game.

  • The Derider||

    He said specifically that he would increase troop levels in afghanistan, and violate Pakistan's sovereignty to kill Osama. If you thought he was categorically anti-war, it's because you weren't paying attention, or because you were listening to faux news.

  • hk||

    I don't remember him saying he would violate the constitution, continue gitmo, and usurp the fifth amendment.

    Or maybe you've been watching too much mainstream drivel.

  • Brian D||

    It's interesting to see the media try to make Sgt. Bales as sympathetic a figure as possible--highlighting his mortgage trouble, being passed over for promotion despite receiving commendation after commendation, being war weary after serving multiple tours in Iraq (you know, the bad war) and now having to serve in Afghanistan--while deftly avoiding pinning blame on the policies that put him in Kandahar in the first place.

    And by 'interesting' I mean disgusting.

  • UCrawford||

    Bales doesn't appear to have been that great of a soldier, actually...the biggest commendation I've heard of him getting was an Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM) which is often little more than a post-tour award. No mention of combat awards...which doesn't mean he didn't do anything, but does indicate that his tours may not have been as bad. Also, CBS mentioned that the head injury he apparently suffered wasn't severe and that while he reportedly lost part of a foot, he didn't receive a Purple Heart for any injury, which is often a red flag for a self-inflicted injury. Also, 20 awards isn't exactly a lot in the military (and what they mean by "award")...after 11 years (Bales' time in service) you'd have three Good Conduct Medals just for showing up. He'd also receive several ribbons and devices simply by merit of being in the Army and going to the standard schools for his rank.

  • ||

    He's got Hollywood-soldier good looks.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Elected as the Democratic anti-war candidate in 2008, President Barack Obama was co-opted in less than a year by the permanent war machine...

    Holy. Fucking. Shit.

  • Bee Tagger||

    That's the nice thing about a blank slate, everyone had a different, often contradictory, reason for voting for him. And the thought that he was co-opted lets them off the hook.

  • ||

    That Post article is a bunch of shit. We were never indifferent to civilian casualties - we just refuse to accept guilt for the behavior of our enemies.

    Ask a Korean if we should have let the communists win instead of accepting civilian casualties. French civilian casualties in WWII were a shame too, but I don't hear them complaining.

  • Fluffy||

    That is a solid line of argument in cases where you are protecting a particular group of civilians from foreign invasion.

    It's not so solid when you're killing civilians to fight a domestic insurgency.

  • Brn||

    Yes, but about half the civilian deaths mentioned in the article were in Korea. So why include that war with the others?

  • ||

    The insurgencies in Vietnam and Iraq were not really domestic.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    The insurgencies in Vietnam and Iraq were not really domestic.

    Iraq, yes. Vietnam, whaaaa????

  • ||

    The Viet Cong was North Vietnamese. South Vietnam was its own country. It was never a popular uprising. All of hopes of making it so failed. It was always a foreign insurgent force.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Most of the VC came from the North because that's where they were forced to flee in the 50's from the French.

  • ||

    Early in the war, the VC was somewhat independent of the North and didn't always get along with their northern brethren. The VC was effectively exterminated during the Tet Offensive.

  • ||

    And it exterminated because it never was able to translate itself into a popular uprising. That is why Tet failed so badly.

  • Fluffy||

    During the French phase of the war, Ho Chi Minh's forces operated throughout the length and breadth of the country. And they defeated the French in the length and breadth of the country.

    To him, and to his supporters in both the north and south, I imagine the independence of South Viet Nam was never valid, and merely changed the administrative form of his long-running insurgency.

    I don't necessarily agree. It's a bit like if following the Treaty of Paris, Washington had funded a long-running battle against the British in Canada and the Caribbean, supported by former members of the Continental Army slipping across the border(s). I can see how and why the people involved in that would consider themselves insurgents, but it would be a highly disputable issue.

  • ||

    Something that a lot of people fail to realize - Vo Nguyen Giap was a rather brilliant commander, and yet the Tet Offensive, a disasterous failure, was his brainchild. People also forget that Tet was carried out almost entirely by VC units, with little involvement from the NVA.

    Because Giap wanted to kill off potential troublemakers, plain and simple. He used the VC as fodder in a plan he knew would be essentially a suicide mission. The VC, which was organized, equipped and trained in North Vietnam, was finished as a force in South Vietnam after January 1968 and from that point forward the NVA would be the primary opposition force opposing the ARVN and the Americans.

  • ||

    While it's true that the VC and the NLF were composed mainly of southern Communists who had fled north, they were not regarded as a popular, legitimate force in South Vietnam, which is why they resorted to extortion and violence to gain the assistance of rural Vietnamese, who mostly didn't care about politics and just wanted to be left alone to farm their rice.

  • ||

    The Northern Tet battles - Hue City (including the massacre of thousands of civilians) and the Khe Sanh battles, were NVA regulars.

  • Fluffy||

    The presence of a few thousand foreign fighters can't really mean that the Iraqi insurgency wasn't domestic.

    That would mean that the Spanish Civil War wasn't, you know, Spanish. Which is more than a bit silly.

  • Bill||

    Well, actually the French were annoyed here and there when we would bomb or bombard civilian areas without warning and cause unnecessary deaths.

    Like in Operation Cobra, maybe? May have the wrong one. I know we bombed our own troops at the start of Cobra.

    But since they were occupied and we liberated them, they did not complain too much.

    Plus, most of the media coming out of there was US Govt. censored news.

  • ||

    The problem on both sides is that a true understanding of our foreign policy is completely lacking by the average american. They mindlessly repeat the mantra of us needing to be "dominant" in the "region" and the need to work against "nuclear proliferation" and "fight terror". Just don't ever ask exactly how effective this policy is, because you will get a bunch of blank stares, sputters, and the mindless "things would be much worse in the world without us" answer.

  • sarcasmic||

    We fight them there so we don't have to fight them here!

    If our troops weren't in Afghanistan shooting at those thousands of Afghans who are setting IEDs for no apparent reason, they'd be here in America setting roadside bombs for school buses and yellow cabs!

    It's for the children!

  • ||

    No blood for oil!
    Bush lied, kids died!

  • Brn||

    How exactly was Korea a "war of choice" in anything like the same way as the others? I suppose you could say that we always had the choice of abandoning the South Koreans to the tender mercies of the north (which, after launched the war), but wouldn't a lot of people still have died? And since about half the 6 million civilians who died in these wars died in Korea, it seems like it was included just to make his case stronger.

  • Bill||

    Because unlike in WW2, we were not attacked directly.

    You could argue that Afghanistan, in the early years, was not a war of choice.

  • ||

    Last I looked I looked both Vietnam and Korea were equally wars of North Vietnamese and North Korean choice. Had America not chose to fight the Korean war, South Korea and maybe Japan would be the same hell hole that North Korea is instead of the modern industrial democracies they are. Apparently this clown feels the millions who have died under the Kims and the Khmer Rouge died noble deaths since at least the Americans didn't kill them. I see no point in wasting my time on the rest of the article.

  • sarcasmic||

    You make a damn good omelet!

  • HeroicMulatto||

    No, this is a damn good omelette.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    So, we need to spill the blood of our sons and daughters because you feel you must "take up the White Man's burden"?

    Sorry, not buying it.

  • ||

    Yeah because we never made any money trading wit Europe or Japan or South Korea. Nope, we would be just as well off if the entire world sans the US had turned into a communist hell hole.

    Saving Western Europe, Japan and Korea from communism was an investment that paid for itself a hundred times over.

    It amazing me how libertarians are so pro market but at the same time look back with regret that the US didn't allow large sections of the world to go communist

  • sarcasmic||

    What about Vietnam?

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't we have brisk trade with Vietnam?

  • ||

    Now. After the collapse of communism. When they lost their soviet backing, they had to go capitalist. But had the US never fought the cold war, it seems unlikely that communism would have fell on its own. And even if it had, it would have made the world much poorer. Sure we trade with Vietnam. But Vietnam is still much poorer than places that never went communist.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    But had the US never fought the cold war, it seems unlikely that communism would have fell on its own

    I strongly disagree. The Sino-Soviet split broke apart any illusion of Communist unity and, if left to their own devices, would have turned inward to fight among themselves.

  • ||

    I see no evidence at all to support your argument. Any political system will eventually collapse if you are willing to wait centuries.

  • sarcasmic||

    But had the US never fought the cold war, it seems unlikely that communism would have fell on its own.

    There are many who would argue otherwise.

  • Realist||

    "But Vietnam is still much poorer than places that never went communist."
    Who the fuck cares? That's their problem. They didn't care enough to fight their own war!

  • ||

    That's not true. What Vietnam and Korea lacked after WWII was leaders. Decades of colonial oppression followed by far more brutal occupation by the Japanese had left them both without an officer corps or an educated class the fill the void.

    The real problem with Vietnamese and Korean soldiers during their respective wars was that they were horribly led.

  • General Giap||

    Ho Chi Minh had actually appealed to the Americans for help in kicking out the French. He was much more of a nationalist than a communist; he only turned to the Soviets as that was his only option at that point in '46. Had we offered help in getting rid of the French the whole communist experiment would not have happened. As someone who has lived in Vietnam for the last few years I have strongly come to feel there is not a communist bone in their bodies. The old Confucist and materialist values are so much stronger. It's a "me and my family" first society. Always has been.

  • ||

    He was much more of a ruthless dictator than anything else.

  • General Giap||

    He died in 1969 so he hardly ruled anything. He fought a war with the U.S. that was ruthlessly fought on both sides, arguably worse on ours with the use of napalam and agent orange - the effects which are still being felt today. Ultimately though, Ho was a nationalist first and a pragrmatist. His communist influence was mostly a device for getting help from someone. You should come here and meet the Vietnamese today. The country is booming- all these people care about is making money and their families. They are the ultimate consumerist/capitalist society. I scratch my heads at some of the liberal idealists who come here and try to re-impose their values on these people, trying to teach them 'anti-consumerism' and a lot of other so-called "progressive" and reactionary nonsense.

  • ||

    [The country is booming- all these people care about is making money and their families]

    Countless tortures and deaths in the reeducation camps worked for the greater good then?

  • sarcasmic||

    We didn't save Vietnam from communism.

  • ||

    We did, then we gave it back.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Sofia Vergara, thus your argument is invalid.

  • ||

    Uff da1

  • ||

    Hey -- I did the 1-thing!

    Uff da!

  • HeroicMulatto||

    It amazing me how libertarians are so pro market but at the same time look back with regret that the US didn't allow large sections of the world to go communist

    You're neglecting to account for the NAP. Despite what Rand argued, it is not sufficient to declare war on a country because it would be in one's economic self-interest.

    Indeed, don't we trade with China? We could also make a lot of money with Cuba if we weren't so hypocritical.

  • ||

    We still hold a good libertarian grudge against Castro for the theft of property.

  • ||

    When is it sufficient to declare war on a country?

  • Realist||

    When they attack you.

  • ||

    When Congress says so?

  • ||

    Unfortunately, you are slightly off in your point. We didn't fight the Korean war or the Vietnam war because we are humanatarians. We fought them because of the belief that the spread of communism was a direct threat to our freedom. This ironic aspect to this is that inspite of this belief, and our efforts overseas stopping the spread of communism, America was successfully infiltrated by the communists and socialists. Maybe if we focused more on our interior than exterior we could fix what has happened, and prevent it from getting worse.

  • sarcasmic||

    Abu Ghraib abuser unrepentant.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....buses.html

  • ||

    Sorry about my poor typing before. Basic point - we focus so much of our attention overseas that we don't see what is happening here. While fighting these wars against communism and terror, we have been infiltrated by communists, socialist, facists, and islamic extremists here at home.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    They're everywhere man, EVERYWHERE!!!!!111!!1!111 I CAN'T GET THEM OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!!!!!!!!1!!111!!111!

  • ||

    Fuckin' bats man! They're everywhere!

  • Mr. Kurtz||

    Exterminate all the brutes!

  • ||

    US Ministry of Defense provides automatic guns and weapons to thousands of potential terrorists who can commit the same or similar crime as during this Kandahar massacre or during the Fort Hood (Texas) shooting where 13 people were killed and 29 wounded. Some part of Russian KGB uses a brainwashing technique that requires only a few hours and leads to total mind control. After GULAG KGB brainwashing, such people can take guns and kill many others and themselves.

    This can be easily achieved due to, for example, prevalent promiscuity and lack of any public awareness about this method and KGB people who use such brainwashing. Note that such crimes are nearly impossible to prove, since the brainwashed people either kill themselves or, if they survive, will say only those things that were ordered them to say.

  • ||

    We have a Ministry of Defense? How do I sign up?

    The Fort Hood shooter used a FN Five-Seven semi-automatic pistol purchased at a gun shop. Hasan's service weapon was locked in the armory, just like his victims' weapons.

  • ||

    Looks like someone has been brainwashed!

  • ||

    I can't be brainwashed, I have my tinfoil hat on!

  • ||

    It really bother me that the author feels it necessary to include Korea and Vietnam, but excludes the World Wars. Basically, the argument strikes me as Isolationist, which is an arguable position (I disagree with it, but it isn't irrational), but the author doesn't want to deal with the full implications.

    I do think it should be pointed out more often that, though the Democrats like to call the Republicans "War Mongers", the Democrat administrations oversaw our entry into both World Wars and Korea, own the majority of the responsibility for our involvement in Vietnam, and started the Civil War.

  • ||

    I am sure that a little research would show a decreasing level of civilian casualties in American areas of operations starting in WWII and going through the first Gulf War.

    During that period we went from firebombing and dropping atomic weapons on cities - to using laser guided munitions and even non-explosive bombs to hit military targets near population centers.

    The Afghanistan and recent Iraqi campaigns are more difficult to measure since our enemies were usually fighting out of uniform and often in urban areas.

  • ||

    Axis civilians account for 4% of total WWII deaths. That's about 3 million.

  • Shake||

    Indeed, the U.S. military has gone to outrageous lengths to avoid civilian casualties - much to our detriment. This article is the usual unhinged Rothbardian pacifist/anti-American tripe which equates all U.S. military action to "genocide".

    It's also disgusting that Michaels uses what really is an isolated incident (if you actually, you know, look at the facts) in order to score political points. There is no evidence that the U.S. military intentionally butchers innocent civilians for no reason; those who carry out such acts are routinely prosecuted, as they should be.

  • ||

    Lew Rockwell is that way ->

  • ||

    Keep waving the flag shake.

    Genuflecters to geo-political superpowers are just the best daggum people populating the planet.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Just keep concern trolling LM. Stroke your anti-military boner all over the place.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Ooops haha could've just read this comment before making my own. Kind of redundant.

  • Hay||

    "Rothbardian"

    I think you mean "chomskyite"

    Don't forget these wars are bankrupting us as well.

  • Cytotoxic||

    During that period we went from firebombing and dropping atomic weapons on cities - to using laser guided munitions and even non-explosive bombs to hit military targets near population centers.

    During that time we also went from winning wars to expensively losing them.

    This article is a big pile of shit. Last I checked, America didn't start the Vietnam and Korean wars there were some other players too. And last I checked out military twisted itself into knots and kneecapped its soldiers to avoid civilian casualties-much to the detriment of US fighting capability.

  • ||

    Then there is the intentional use of civilians as shields. What were we thinking by staying there? The tactic of using women and children as shields has been used elsewhere before. Once the Taliban were pushed into Pakistan and Al Qaeda was dispersed it was time to go. Nation building is something that only works when the nation wants building, if you have an ongoing insurgency, building schools and malls is not going to pan out.

    The insurgents have had 10 years to figure out our game plan, which is one of the reasons the casualty count has gone up under this administration. One of the other driving factors are the fucked up ROE's that were adopted after Obama and his goons squad took over the white house. The third nail in the coffin was marking the day we were going to leave and then announcing it.

  • Hay||

    Don't forget these wars are bankrupting the United States and we've become even deeper into debt fighting them.

    Total war has been abandoned and prolonged oocupation which puts our soldiers in constant risk while costing almost as much as Total War is now the policy.

    It'd be better if we just took a more neutral constitutional approach and waved a big middle finger at the European Union, United Nations, and all the other international organizations which requires the USA to be their military welfare giver

  • ||

    Speaking of WWII, it's funny how a lot of people who point to it as a lone example of a war that we should be involved in probably would have been against it at the time. It is largely thanks to hollywood that we have such a consensus in the US now. There wasn't a consensus against Hitler at the time, especially among intellectuals.

  • Burnt||

    I heard about 6 hours of massacre coverage on NPR yesterday. Not exactly Fox News handling the Jessica Lynch retracement.

    Americans of all stripes have been ignoring civilian deaths for a decade. No reason to start now. As long as the car has gas and the Infranet is working, everything is good.

  • ||

    So who comes up with all those great ideas? I dont get it.

    www.anon-resources.tk

  • ||

    Has this been discussed: Afghan Murder Suspect Bales 'Took My Life Savings,' Says Retiree

    Apparently Bales and some of his friends bilked this guy out of his savings and won't pay it back.

    http://news.yahoo.com/afghan-m.....-news.html

  • Liberals||

    TEAM BLUE! TEAM BLUE! TEAM BLUE! WE'RE #1! YAAAAAY!

  • Liberals||

    Fuck our troops! Support our President!

  • Tony||

    Civilian deaths are ignored because they are not reported on consistently--except by a few activist liberal journalists.

    This is another "liberals are worse because they don't always live up to their superior values" article. Why do conservatives start wars based on lies that they can't end?

    Americans in general are shielded from most of what goes on in the rest of the world. Americans who watch FOX News are actually made dumber for their effort.

  • ||

    If Tony knew the guy who wrote this is one of his precious liberal buddies, he'd have kept his mouth shut.

  • ||

    Yes, Tony cuz the americans who watch Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachael Maddow are wickit smaaaaart.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals have values?

    Ha! That's good!

    Will you be here all week?

  • ||

    enjoy the buffet!

  • Don Jose||

    This is just another Tony post goose-stepping with his leftist comrades. Tony you've got to stop drinking the kool-aid. "a man who will go along with 4 killings it taking his leave a little slow"

  • ||

    Thank God Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Libya, and Vietnam were all justified wars based on clear national interest of the United States.

    The only military conflict that's actually had a clearly articulated goal and not resulted in absolute humiliation for the United States in the last 60 years or so was the first Gulf War - started by one of those damned lying conservatives. Thank God for Team Blue!

  • Hay||

    You can get any self-proclaimed leftist to support war if you can wrap it in either humanitarian or internationalist rhetoric.

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  • DD||

    Just as their “conservative” predecessors tried to erase from collective memory the My Lai massacre in Vietnam

    LBJ was president and your beloved JFK before him. Or did Nixon order that from California?

  • ||

    Seriously? The wars in Vietnam and Korea may have been wars of choice for America, but not for the Vietnamese and Koreans. Laying all the deaths in those wars at the feet of the U.S. is just...beyond bizarre.

    And a better, more just outcome in Korea would have been what...the North Koreans overrunning the South when they invaded (as they certainly would have done without the U.S. intervention -- South Korea was almost completely overrun even with U.S. support)?

  • hk||

    2.5 million civilians died anyway, and our government fucks up most of the time in offensive wars.

    Your argument is not that strong since we trade with China all the time and North Korea is still a hell hole. We put sanctions on them remember?

    Seriously step the fuck away from you pro-war mentality. Vietnam was also fucked up.

  • ||

    At my sons boot camp graduation the Pastor went on about how if our sons and duaghters are killed then we will all meet again at the resurrection. We were fighter for women and little kids.
    I was waiting for plastic keys.

  • STONE CASTER||

    When will Terry Michael stop raping babies?

    Sure, he'll deny it. But I point to that as evidence. After all, isn't that what all serial baby rapers do?

    How do I know that Terry Michaels is a baby raper? Because Terry Michaels has eaten carrots and all baby rapers eat carrots.

    I'm certain that Terry Michaels will claim that baby rapes by carrot eaters are just isolated incidents, but we know the truth, don't we?

  • ||

    icwutudidthar

  • ||

    Blahblahblah genocide blahblahblah massacre blahblahblah torture. The same people who could find every justification in the world for the murder of 3,000 American civilians at the hands of insane Islamic primitives think the intentional killing of 16 Afghani civilians by an American soldier 10 years into the war there is a national tragedy and emblematic of the blood lust of each every member of the American military, who incidentally are all essentially mercenaries working for American war profiteers as hired genocide artists.

    Put your tin foil hat back on and have another jerk off to Loose Change.

  • ||

    Yeah- just one incident. Cretin.

  • hk||

    Read the article before you whine, the nation building in Afghanistan has been fucked up.

  • ||

    article is simply wrong. obama was NOT elected as the 'anti-war' candidate. he made it very clear in debates, etc. that he was NOT anti-war.

    he thought Iraq was not a war we should have started, AND he thought afghanistan was being prosecuted inefficiently, but he made it very clear he thought the war in afghanistan had a just cause and should be fought vigorously, MORE vigorously than bushco was fighting it

    how can one take an article seriously that makes such a ridiculous, unsupportable error?

  • hk||

    How the fuck am I supposed to take you seriously when Obama promised to shut down gitmo and was given the Nobel Peace Prize?

    And remember the war in Libya? He made it clear that he was against offensive wars like the one we raged in Iraq.

    Also let's not forget the drone wars that violate the US constitution.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Just as their “conservative” predecessors tried to erase from collective memory the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib prison torture in Iraq"

    Uh, or the Liberals who to this day try to deny the Massacre of Hue or the mortaring of South Vietnamese schools by the NVK, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the Armenian genocide, Castro & Che Guevara's firing squad fetish, the attempted genocide of the Kurds and ad fuckin' infinitum.

    The Left Wing is the all time champion when it comes to denial or apologetics spouted in the name of mass murder and conquest.

  • Hay||

    The Left supports mass murder as long it's perpetrated in the name of egalitarianism and collectivism.

    "War, mass murder, and violence are only bad if someone is making a profit. It's forgivable if the perpetrator claims to be doing it for The People" - The Left

  • hk||

    I recognize it but it is time to stop policing the world. The government overdoes our involvement around the world.

  • ||

    6 million? I think you need to go back and check your work. Even a grossly partisan and biased accounting of war dead from those conflicts doesn't amount to even 250K. Is there anyone out there who still checks facts, does research or even bothers to question such blatantly wrong evidence????

  • hk||

    The Korean war was about 1.5-2.5 million alone right?

    I don't see the problem with that estimate.

  • ||

    It's too broad a generalization to say "liberals" do this. Most AmeriKans do this, especially brainwashed as they are by corporate media. As a leftist anti-war activist who has tirelessly worked with other such activists to promote awareness of ALL the victims of U.S. Empire, I am tired of the attacks on "liberals" here which ignore very real efforts we make. If the media were concerned about truth instead of ratings, photos of the civilians we regularly murder would be on every evening newscast. Stop blaming "liberals" for a corrupt, immoral, rating-and-profit-driven (free market!) media dedicated to keeping most AmeriKans ignorant and entertained instead of informed.

  • b||

    Real efforts my ass. All antiwar protests from the left have become virtually nil since Obama has taken office. No the left now "occupies wall street" while completely ignoring the crimes of the democratic administration.
    Who on the left is putting Obama's feet to the fire on this?
    Not to say Republicans are any better

    If you think the military industrial complex or our foreign policy is anything close to a "free market" you're deluded moron

  • hk||

    I agree completely with b, the Left is fucking hypocritical on wars. And they want more government spending.

  • ||

    The American liberal establishment doesn't care about the victims of American endless war because it has ALWAYS supported such wars.

    The Rick Santorum's of the world and the Redneck Right are NOT where the blame for these wars lie.

    American liberals like to kill people- they just don't like to dance on the graves like the "right" does in this country.

    Living in the "liberal" hearland of America- Massachusetts- I can attest that their are one of two acceptable "war" positions to have and still be a good "liberal"- you either say nothing or you cheer them. I can barely distinguish between a liberal war supporter and a conservative one.

    Liberals supported Vietnam right up to it was no longer tenable and not one second before.

    The Yankee "Liberal" is a fiend- and always has been- but generally has the good sense to not brag about his "kills".

  • b||

    No liberals I talk to always cheer Obama's "internationalist multilateral humanitarian" approach. It's sickening. Just wrap militarism in certain buzzwords like "Encouraging democracy" and you can get any liberal to support just about any military action a Democratic president makes

  • ||

    While I appreciate the author's "a plague o'both your houses" mindset, the rhetoric was laughable(in fact, I guffawed). When I read "chicken hawk elites", I inhaled my beer. The point would have been well taken if the article didn't read like David Corn.

  • hk||

    Really, lets see you write a similar article?

    I thought the vocabulary was just fine.

  • Bob Williams||

    For ten years now too many Americans have yet to undrug themselves from the propaganda of Uncle Sam - the HegeMan. UCrawford, in particular, suffers from chronic doses.

    Rudyard Kipling put it clearly - 'Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind'.

  • Bob Williams||

    We would do better to plug our ears and watch what they do rather than what they say.

    Thirty years ago, the Afghan Freedom Fighters were our allies, fighting Soviet occupation. The Independent Institute was selling posters of Afghan Freedom Fighters in their catalog. I had one. These were the good guys and they were very popular at Tinker AFB in the AWAC squadron in which I was a historian.

    Fast forward to 2000 and we find their sons - the Students (talib=student, aan=more than one; hence 'Talibaan') outlawing poppy production and encouraging Afghanistanis to grow food instead. The year 2001 looked to be the first time in decades that Afghanistanis were growing enough food to feed themselves.

    But the Bush Crime Family was incensed! They flew a dozen of the Students (Talibaan) leadership to their ranch in Texas for a pow-wow.

  • Bob Williams||

    Why would growing food upset anyone? The Bush Crime Family and their CIA do not depend on U.S. tax victims; drug running pays for that. So the Students were told to grow poppies. The Students replied that they had been reading their Recitation (Qur'aan) and learned that God doesn't like drugs (khamr).

    A few months later, two planes hit the Twin Towers and 3 buildings went down in New York City. Although things happened that day that cannot happen without government at the highest levels being complicit, the government blamed every Arab name on its passenger manifest lists.

    More creative than their previous 'Magic Bullet Theory' when CIA assassinated President Kennedy, the government blamed hillbillies from the 12th world of Afghanistan - folks whose Air Force consists only of handheld kites (they don't even have a hot-air balloon).

  • Bob Williams||

    As an Air Force veteran who helped the Students fathers and grandfathers against the Soviets, I was appalled at the backstabbing they were getting from Junior Bush.

    More appalling was the way Americans went brain dead just like they did in the history books when FDR provoked the Japanese to attack, which they did at Pearl Harbor, so that Americans would support U.S. entry into WWII to help the British stop the Soviets.

    The stitch job by Uncle Sam on Afghanistan saw 44 countries beating up hillbillies, establishing a Vichy government in Kabul, and the Students growing poppies again in order to buy rifles to defend themselves (after all, they reasoned, its the enemy who is buying the drugs and using them, so its permissable).

  • Bob Williams||

    CIA was happy and is still happy - each successive year has been a record poppy crop. In fact, so many poppies are coming out of Afghanistan that Bolivia is so far back in 2nd place that it contributes less than 5% of the world's heroin supply today.

    And U.S. arms manufacturers are happy too.

    AWACS watches all, while Uncle Sam ensures the game doesn't stop because then the poppies might stop again.

    War really is the health of the state.

    And Nock was correct - the state is the enemy of the people.

    "Watch what they do, not what they say"

  • b||

    "the state is the enemy of the people"

    Only if it's run by Republicans. If it's democrats war is great and we should all get behind Obama's multilateral democracy promotion
    -sincerely American left

  • Matt Q||

    There is nothing in this article which supports the sensationalist headline about "liberals". It does assert a good point about Americans, including those on the left, not realizing the casualties of wars, but is unfortunately a yellow journalistic prey on emotions.

    The American left is by far and away more disgusted by casualties of American wars than the American right, and is by far and away more anti-war.

    That being said, the author makes many good points. It is too bad they are undermined by their sensationalism.

  • b||

    Funny how almost all democrat war protests have dropped to virtually nil since Obama has taken office

    Disgusted my ass. Every "left" publication I read like Mother Jones or Salon does nothing but fellate Obama for his foreign policy for it's "multilateral internationalist" approach

    The left is spectacular in it;s hypocrisy

  • hk||

    Obama consults the UN before implementing his extremist neocon foreign policy.

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  • ||

    Why do liberals ignore millions of non-American war deaths?

    Because their man is in charge right now.

  • hk||

    Yes.

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