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The Season of Peace Requires Action, Not Songs

Singing about peace and goodwill while cheering America's warrior state is a repulsive spectacle.

Temari 09/FlickrTemari 09/FlickrIt's the time of year when people sing about peace and goodwill. Unfortunately, in the United States, too little thought accompanies the nice words. Otherwise Americans would be in the streets demanding that President Obama shut down the war machine.

They would also be repudiating every presidential candidate who endorses the fundamentals of America's criminal foreign policy, and that means every presidential contender in the major parties. Each one of them thinks it's the U.S. government's obligation to destroy ISIS (which it helped create), and most of them think—contradictorily—that Americans should overthrow the Syrian government, even though massive noncombatant casualties would result, fanatics would benefit, and neither ISIS nor Bashar al-Assad pose an existential threat to our society.

The ruling elite and its cheerleader squads across the political spectrum tell us endlessly that the United States—by which they mean its central government—has been a force for good in the world. The nation may be exceptional, but, grandiloquent declarations notwithstanding, not in any virtuous sense. For over 200 years it has been a killer and an oppressor on a massive scale; when it has not committed those crimes directly, it has enabled ruthless proxies. America's victims span the world.

The motives are varied and intertwined: a nationalist, geopolitical, and economic mixture, presented as the call of destiny. America was seen as chosen to change the world, however unwilling the recipients of this gift.

Few people expected Obama to surpass his predecessor George W. Bush in making war, but he has. The wars he promised to end—Iraq and Afghanistan—are nowhere near completion, and more than 14 years after the invasion of Afghanistan, Secretary of War Ash Carter expects 2016 to be another "hard" year. ISIS has now joined the Taliban in the effort to drive the Americans out.

Away from the news cameras, Obama inflicts or enables violence against the people of Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, where the Saudis and their Gulf-state partners have bombed and embargoed their way to a humanitarian catastrophe. Again, the winners are al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The Made-in-the-USA mayhem is justified by the mindless slogan that "they will come here and kill us all." But countless times this has been exposed for the nonsense it is. Even the official 9/11 commission and a study done under then-War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attributed the 2001 attacks to previous U.S. intervention in the Middle East—including the starvation of Iraqi children, stationing of the military near Mecca and Medina, and collusion with Israel against the people of Palestine. The 9/11 attacks were monstrous crimes, but they were not bolts out of the blue. Rather, they were provoked by decades of American cruelty and mass murder.

Before Bush II invaded Iraq—despite Saddam Hussein's innocence with respect to 9/11—al-Qaeda was a small number of men in Afghanistan. Since then, with a boost from Obama's bombing and regime-change in Libya and his declaring open season on Assad, al-Qaeda has spread and spawned even more-virulent offspring, notoriously ISIS. The U.S. government is Dr. Frankenstein to the al-Qaeda/ISIS monster loosed on the Middle East and beyond. Obama's landmark contribution to foreign policy is his placing the U.S. Air Force at the service of al-Qaeda in Syria and Yemen.

Americans would not be fearing Islamist terrorism (however inflated in their imagination) were it not for Bush and Obama. But the culpability reaches beyond those two men to the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Through jingoism and apathy the American people allowed it all to happen. Antiwar movements have been fleeting and flimsy, considering they evaporated overnight with the end of conscription in 1973 and the election of a Democrat in 2008.

It's no surprise, then, that the presidential contest is over minor variations on the imperialist theme. No one challenges the empire at its root.

So we'll end up with another war president who has no scruples about murdering noncombatants and laying waste to entire societies so long as it advances the mission: maintaining American hegemony throughout the world and disposing of anyone who would chart an independent course.

Singing about peace and goodwill while cheering America's warrior state is a repulsive spectacle. The near-term prospects for change are bleak.

This piece originally appeared at Richman's "Free Association" blog. 

Photo Credit: Temari 09/Flickr

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  • Dangerous Buffoon||

    What is there to hold the country together, besides war?

  • doyougetmesweetheart||

    Surely you are not that ..... er, uh ...... never mind - I really loathe hurling insults. Guess there's a reason why you
    call yourself a "dangerous buffoon," eh?

  • Princess Trigger||

    Oh Sheldon, never change you crazy bastard.
    Happy New Year.
    May it be a good one.
    Without any fear.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Amen. No one else besides Sheldon can bring all the commentards together in their hatred of peace.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    And Happy New Year to you all: Cosmos, Yokels, and Randroids alike. May you all have a great 2016, filled with hope, love, joy, health, wealth, and peace.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Is anything more pathetic than Sheldon's retarded fanboys? Besides Tulpa?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Yes, Nathaniel Branden's head in a jar, stewing in its own juices. They should have saved the ass instead, because then we would get a higher quality of discord from its bubbly farts, then we get from the delusions of grandeur spewed by its cytotoxic brain cells.

  • Rockabilly||

    Where have all the
    anti-war democrats gone?

    Long time passing gas

    Where have all the
    anti-war democrats gone?

    A long long time ago.

    Where have all the
    anti-war democrats gone?

    It's Bush'e fault
    He made Barry do bad things.

    What wars has Barry started?

  • ||

    Need moar Joos. And he didn't mention Iran in 1953. He's slipping, and it's a sad thing to see. He was always so reliably one-note.

  • Suicidy||

    In Sheldon's mind, if the US didn't exist, the world would be at peace. Sheldon wo ulcer also be a lampshade somewhere, but that's a small price to pay to get rid of the evil imperious US.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Need moar Joos."

    That was my belly laugh for the day. Thanks.

  • The Grinch||

    It's a call to action and Richman has answered his own call. If only screeds couched in half-truths and mendacious bullshit could turn the tide. This is the kind of counter productive nonsense Reason should think twice about printing.

  • bluecanarybythelightswitch||

    At Reason it's counter productive nonsense all the way down...

  • doyougetmesweetheart||

    Since you infer that you are very familiar with the information contained in this website,
    why do you bother to waste your time by returning here and reading articles that you
    refer to as "counter productive nonsense." It makes little sense.
    What were you thinking, to showcase yourself that way for all the world to see?

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    Have you ever witnessed a car accident? It's the same principle. At this point we are all just rubbernecking.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "This is the kind of counter productive nonsense Reason should think twice about printing."

    Every article by Richman is tripe. But maybe they get the writers invited to more Proggie cocktail parties.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Richman's descent into madness and self-loathing continues space.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Sheldon doesn't loathe himself. He saves all his loathing for the US.

  • XM||

    We should just forget the fact that Al Qaida was decimated by the surge to the point that even Obama was boasting that they were on the run.

    We didn't "create" radical Islam. When crazed Islamists gunmen kills cartoonists who mock Mohammed, burns churches or throws gays off buildings, they're not acting in response to specific foreign policy. These people operate from a larger radicalized ideology that calls for violence.

    Ron Paul isn't president. No one bought his signature line that the rise of AQ owes solely to our involvement in Iraq. They did fight back when finally decided to take them on, which we only did after Bin Laden and his pals blew up the twin towers. And they were LOSING. They were losing their leadership, their bases of operation, manpower, etc. The rats fled to Syria for breathing and we all know what happened next.

    Sheldon could really work as a writer for Ron Paul's newsletter. He'll mindlessly parrot dogmatic libertarian talking points in angry tone without any original thought or realizing shifting situations in the world.

  • macsnafu||

    I really can't understand you commenters who want the U.S. to continue to be the busybody of the world, in spite of the consequences. Keep telling them, Sheldon, and maybe one day they'll hear.

  • Cytotoxic||

    False dichotomy AND a strawman. The mendaciousness and stupidity indicative of a true bleever.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    You know you war lovers are a bunch of fucktards you constantly ignore the evidence and conclusions made by the CIA and other organizations that are notoriously "pro war" that all the terrorism is because we are over there. So, "secretly wants a dick in his ass because he wants to bomb other countries", how would you like it if the Chinese decided to blockade your town from food, medicine etc. then bombed your town killing your family I bet that would piss you off. Its just fucking retarded to assume that there is no consequences to aggressive war. You and your brain dead, zombie followers ignore the countless broken minds and bodies that come back from war, the huge debt that is incurred both monetarily and mentally, the loss of freedom etc. You all ignore that. Sheldon is right, fuck you warmongers you've been proven wrong again and again, "I'll get in and pull out, I promise." Sounds like a teenage boyfriend trying to talk his girlfriend into having sex without a condom but we know where that all leads.

  • doyougetmesweetheart||

    Amen to that, macsnafu - meddling in the affairs of the entire world is not what we are supposed to do. Unless of course, there is
    lots of oil and prime real estate for the taking - then they're on it, under the guise of "helping."

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Keep telling them, Sheldon, and maybe one day they'll hear."

    Just who do you think SHeldon is capable of convincing with his Hate America First head in the sand pacifism?

  • David_B||

    At least Sheldon is consistent, he never fails to prove he's an idiot.

  • lgk27||

    There is no one more peaceful than a dead terrorist. The alternative is the peace of the grave for those the terrorists kill. Sheldon is an advocate of genocide and ethnic cleansing. May he and his kind rest in peace.

  • macsnafu||

    So you freely admit that you want war...

  • Tibor Machan||

    Why not just say it up front: "Hurrah for ISIS! Down with America." What nonsense at Reason.com. Shame!

  • Cytotoxic||

    Singing about peace and goodwill while cheering America's warrior state is a repulsive spectacle.

    Only dipshits believe America is a 'warrior state' or an 'Empire' for that matter.

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    Exactly. When 0.3% of the population serves in an all-volunteer army it hardly qualifies as a "warrior state". Typical overblown rhetoric from Shelly.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Richman and Ron Paul are anti-peace extremists.

  • Wesley Mouch||

    When someone says they want to kill you, don't argue. Take them at their word. Accept the fact that there are some crazy evil motherfuckers out there that need killing.

    American policy should be very clear: we won't invade your country but if you harm US assets or citizens, you'll wish it wasn't your country anymore.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Americans would not be fearing Islamist terrorism (however inflated in their imagination) were it not for Bush and Obama. But the culpability reaches beyond those two men to the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton."

    Ha, you can go all the way back to Jefferson, treacherously attacking the righteous Barbary Coast pirates. The tribute they demanded, the goods they stole, the slaves they made were theirs by right as Islam is clearly the superior culture.

    '...stationing of the military near Mecca and Medina,.."

    For values of "near" being hundreds of miles away with permission of the national government and , um, why again is this a justification for violence against our people we should take seriously?

    "...collusion with Israel against the people of Palestine.."

    Or, rather, not colluding with the Palestinians in their aim of genocide for the Israelis.

    "...including the starvation of Iraqi children,"

    The other option was forcing out Hussein's fascist regime by military force after the UN decided that Iraq's conquest of Kuwait was an intolerable breach of world peace.

    Richman's hysterics are increasingly unhinged. If the US is an oppressor on a massive scale, than what nation has not been an oppressor whose scale has only been limited by their reach?

  • BearOdinson||

    I tried to say much the same thing. But I think you did it much more eloquently!
    Have a wonderful new year!!

  • kwall||

    tripe

  • Harpua||

    I know there is a law in life, that blood gets more blood as dog begets dog. Death generates death, as the vulture breeds the vulture! But the voice I heard today on the hill said, "Love your enemy. Do good to those who despitefully use you."

    From the movie Ben-Hur

    In his inelegant way, Richman seeks a Christian solution to the problem of terrorism. It is, in truth, the only solution. Yet most do not want to hear it because they are blinded by hatred. Mankind has not progressed as much as we think they have.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Pacifism is the "don't blame me" solution that relies on those it would condemn for it's protection.

  • doyougetmesweetheart||

    People who indulge in ridicule and name-calling typically do so in lieu of having something meaningful to say in response
    to information that is accurate. This is evident in the commenters here. Sadly, the desire for ridicule overrode any inclination for discussion - and in doing so, they demonstrated the apathy and mindlessness so prevalent in our society today. With fellow
    Americans like these, it is easy to see why our country has gone to hell in a hand basket. They have made it abundantly clear that they just don't give a hoot about themselves or others. Pretty disgraceful, fellows - you'd be better off not saying anything, rather
    than revealing how unaware you are about what's going on around you for all the world to see - I'm embarrassed for you.

    The information in this article is spot-on and needed to be said. The most profound statement was in the last paragraph:
    "Singing about peace and goodwill while cheering America's warrior state is a repulsive spectacle." Indeed; Mr. Richman; indeed.
    I have read in more than one place, that we are the laughing stock of the world - people in other countries rightfully chastise us for
    taking it all laying down, and for collectively caring so little that we just look the other way. When I was a little kid in school, I had
    a lot of pride in being an American - these days, not so much.

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    Damn your horse is high.

  • BearOdinson||

    Richman is deranged. Stationing troops NEAR Mecca and Medina is a justification for 9/11. Of course, non-Muslims aren't allowed in Mecca and Medina. But that's okay because that is the rule in Saudi Arabia. Of course so is stoning adulterers and killing gays and burkas.
    Starving Iraqi children. Fuck me. Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people, invaded Kuwait, threatened neighboring countries, and then after being defeated summarily, refused to do what was required to lift the sanctions. Oh while Kofi Annon's son got rich on the oil for food deal.
    And fuck off about Israel. It isn't necessarily anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli policy. But it is anti-Semitic when you only criticize Israel and hold it to standards no other country could live up to.
    Decades of cruelty and mass murder. Holy fucking shit. I guess Richman never got the memo about the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1990.
    Of course this country is not perfect. Various govts have done stupid, and in some cases, evil things. But Richman only compares us to some mystical, perfect place. This country has liberated more people than any other country. And all of the bad shit that this country has done, has been done by pretty much every other country, and done far worse.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    The wartards are out in full force on this comment board. Please don't call yourselves libertarians. What you are are fucking statist, piece of shit assholes who can't tell their dick from their head. "AGGRESSIVE WAR. AGGRESSIVE WAR. WE IS RIGHT. WE IS RIGHT." Yeah OK, says the failed missions, says the out of control national debt, says the physically and mentally disabled vets, says the so called "dead lines" of "pull outs" etc. Its as if every dumb shit from National Review decided to fling retard drool all over the comment board, seriously go back to your short yellow bus, wartards.

  • CarolGuzman||

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  • TheOneWhoLeavesYouAlone||

    Why is Richman still talking? 9/11 didn't come out of the blue? He's right, Al Qaeda attacked us 5 seperate times before 9/11 and we did nothing. That turned out well didn't it? Starving Iraqi kids? Since when is it the job of the US to feed Iraqis when its own govt refuses to? Stationing troops near Mecca and Medina? You mean after being INVITED by the lawful govt of the country those cities lie in? If Richmans prose were merely an attempt to libel America to idiots it wouldnt be so horrid. However, he is aiming these easily debunked assertions at free-thinking intellegent people, and assuming Reason readers don't know history (hell, RECENT events) is an insult to any person left with a brain.

  • TheOneWhoLeavesYouAlone||

    I also have to address the statement "colluding with Israel against the Palastenian people" So Israel colluded against its own people? Or do you mean "The US colluded with Israel against Palastenian terror (i.e. Hamas, PLO, etc)"?

  • TheOneWhoLeavesYouAlone||

    Also, stop this inane assertion the the US created Al Qaeda or ISIS. The US didn't invent Islam, we didn't invade Afghanistan in 1979 (which brought about the Mujahadeen that Al Qaeda spawned from) and we didn't elect Bashar alAssad to become President of Syria. So.Just.Stop.

  • TheOneWhoLeavesYouAlone||

    "If a man is standing in the street in front of my house with a fully auto AK screaming that he wishes to kill me, it would be a brutal act of violence on my part to shoot him first" -Sheldon Richman (probably)

  • buybuydandavis||

    "The ruling elite and its cheerleader squads across the political spectrum tell us endlessly that the United States—by which they mean its central government—has been a force for good in the world. The nation may be exceptional, but, grandiloquent declarations notwithstanding, not in any virtuous sense. For over 200 years it has been a killer and an oppressor on a massive scale; when it has not committed those crimes directly, it has enabled ruthless proxies. America's victims span the world."

    Hate America, First, Last, and Always! That's our Sheldon!

    The world would have been oh so much better off if the US had disappeared into a black hole, eh Sheldon? If only Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had had a free hand without US interference, we'd have a paradise on earth.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Hyperbolic third-hand debates about US foreign policy make me sick.

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