Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
How we got to be so hated
by Gore Vidal
Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002, paper
Our rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we
are never to he told the truth about anything that our government
has done to other people.
Arno J. Mayer, professor emeritus of history at Princeton, in
an article entitled "Untimely Reflections" published
in the magazine Le Monde [France], because he could not get it
published in the U.S.
... since 1947 America has been the chief and pioneering perpetrator
of "preemptive" state terror, exclusively in the Third
World ... Besides the unexceptional subversion and overthrow of
governments in competition with the Soviet Union during the Cold
War, Washington has resorted to political assassinations, surrogate
death squads, and unseemly freedom fighters (e.g., bin Laden).
It masterminded the killing of Lumumba and Allende; and it unsuccessfully
tried to put to death Castro, Khadafi, and Saddam Hussein; and
vetoed all efforts to rein in not only Israel's violation of international
agreements and U.S. resolutions but also its practice preemptive
President Bill Clinton in 1996
There is nothing patriotic about our pretending that you can love
your country but despise your government.
November 1995 CNN-Time poll found that
55 percent of the people believe the federal government has
become so powerful that it poses a threat to the rights of ordinary
The New York Times is the principal dispenser of opinion received
from corporate America.
Adolf Hitler's 1933 speech calling for "an Enabling Act"
for "the protection of the People and the State" after
the catastrophic Reichstag fire that the Nazis had secretly lit.
"Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free
expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the
rights of assembly and associations; and violations of the privacy
of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications and warrants
for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions
on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise
American Civil Liberties Union in a 1996 report
Today, in the all-out, never-to-be-won twin wars on Drugs
and Terrorism, 2 million telephone conversations a year are intercepted
by law-enforcement officials. As for that famous "workplace"
to which so many Americans are assigned by necessity, "the
daily abuse of civil liberties . . . is a national disgrace."
Among the report's findings, between 1990 and 1996, the number
of workers under electronic surveillance increased from 8 million
per year to more than 30 million. Simultaneously, employers eavesdrop
on an estimated 400 million telephone conversations a year-something
like 750 a minute. In 1990, major companies subjected 38 percent
of their employees to urine tests for drugs. By 1996, more than
70 percent were thus interfered with.
In 1970, I wrote in the New York Times
It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States
within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and
sell them at cost. Label each drug with a precise description
of what effect-good or bad-the drug will have on the taker. This
will require heroic honesty. Don't say that marijuana is addictive
or dangerous when it is neither, as millions of people know- unlike
"speed," which kills most unpleasantly, or heroin, which
can be addictive and difficult to kick.
The word terrorist was coined during the French Revolution to
describe "an adherent or supporter of the Jacobins, who advocated
and practiced methods of partisan repression and bloodshed in
the propagation of the principles of democracy and equality."
Although our rulers have revived the word to describe violent
enemies of the United States, most of today's actual terrorists
can be found within our own governments, federal, state, municipal.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (known as ATF), the
Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, IRS, etc., are so many Jacobins
at war against the lives, freedom, and property of our citizens.
Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
" To keep information from the public is the function
of the corporate media.
"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.
For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime
is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it breeds
contempt for laws; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
There is, as yet, no debate over the role of the military in the
nation's life and its ongoing threat to us all, thanks to the
hubris of senior officers grown accustomed to dispensing vast
amounts of the people's money for missiles that can't hit targets
and bombers that can't fly in the rain. Congress, which should
ride herd, does not because too many of its members are financed
by those same companies that absorb our tax money, nor is it particularly
helpful that senior officers, after placing orders with the defense
industries, so often go to work as salesmen for the very same
companies they once bought from.
Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a
national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual
wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February
27. 1947. Place: White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary
of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders. Republican
senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized
economy only if he first "scared the hell out of the American
people" that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The
perpetual war began. Representative government of, by, and for
the people is now a faded memory.
Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congresses
and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one
is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government
also own the media. Now, with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard
at the Pentagon are entering a new and dangerous phase. Although
we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves
have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties.
We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever
we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay
our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the
greatest terrorist of all. We bomb, invade, subvert other states.
Although We the People of the United States are the sole source
of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented
in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate
America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine. We the
unrepresented People of the United States are as much victims
of this militarized government as the Panamanians, Iraqis, or
Somalians. We have allowed our institutions to be taken over in
the name of a globalized American empire that is totally alien
in concept to anything our founders had in mind. I suspect that
it is far too late in the day for us to restore the republic that
we lost a half-century ago.
The 1950 taxes on corporate profits accounted for 25 percent of
federal revenue; in 1999 only 10.1 percent.