excerpts from the book

War Is A Lie

by David Swanson

2010, paperback



Wars cannot be good or glorious. Nor can they be justified as a means of achieving peace or anything else of value. The reasons given for wars, before, during, and after them are all false... Because there can be no good reason for war, having gone to war, we are participating in a lie.

War ever more closely resembles mass murder.

On taxes, Social Security, healthcare, or schools it simply goes without saying: elected officials are a pack of liars. When it comes to wars, however, people are inclined to believe every fantastical claim that comes out of Washington, D.C..

Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book 'Propaganda Technique in the World War (WWI)

A handy rule for arousing hate is, if at first they do not enrage, use an atrocity. It has been employed with unvarying success in every conflict known to man.

George Orwell wrote in 1948

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians - which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side .... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book 'Propaganda Technique in the World War (WWI)

The churches of practically every description can be relied upon to bless a popular war, and to see in it an opportunity for the triumph of whatever godly design they choose to further.

While knights of old would die for their own glory; modern men and women will die for a fluttering piece of colored cloth.

The day after the United States declared war on Spain in 1898 ... New York [State] passed a law requiring that school children salute the US. flag. Others would follow. Nationalism was the new religion.

When it comes to motivating warlike emotions, if other differences fail, there is always this: the enemy does not belong to our country and salute our flag.

The practice in US. domestic politics, of comparing anyone you disagreed with to Hitler had become almost comical, but it is a practice that has helped launch many wars and may still launch more.

The United States has overthrown governments in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq, not to mention the Congo (1960); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); Brazil (1961 & 1964); the Dominican Republic (1961 & 1963); Greece (1965 & 1967); Bolivia (1964 & 1971); El Salvador (1961); Guyana (1964); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); and of course Haiti (1991 and 2004). We've replaced democracy with dictatorship, dictatorship with chaos, and local rule with US. domination and occupation.

Howard Zinn

Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.

George Washington [was] the richest man in America.

There is nothing more evil than war. War causes more suffering and death than anything war can be used to combat.

No matter how evil a dictator or a people may be, they cannot be more evil than war.

Had he lived to be a thousand, Saddam Hussein could not have done the damage to the people of Iraq or the world that the war to eliminate his fictional weapons has done.

General Zachary reported on the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) to the US. War Department.

I deeply regret to report that many of the ... volunteers ... have committed extensive outrages and depredations upon the peaceable inhabitants. THERE IS SCARCELY ANY FORM OF CRIME THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED TO ME AS COMMITTED BY THEM.

The Jewish holocaust took nearly 6 million lives in the most horrible way imaginable, but World War II took, in total, about 70 million - of which about 24 million were military. We don't hear much about the 9 million Soviet soldiers whom the Germans killed. But they died facing people who wanted to kill them, and they themselves were under orders to kill.

Senator William Fulbright

Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.

Madeline .Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton

What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy

The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.

Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a study (May 2003) of past US. attempts at nation building, examining - in chronological order - Cuba, Panama, Cuba again, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba yet again, the Dominican Republic, West Germany, Japan, the Dominican Republic again, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama again, Haiti again, and Afghanistan... Never, the authors found, has a surrogate regime supported by the United States, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the transition to democracy.

Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a study (May 2003)

The primary goal of early US. nation-building efforts was in most cases strategic. In its first efforts, Washington decided to replace or support a regime in a foreign land to defend its core security and economic interests, not to build a democracy. Only later did America's political ideals and its need to sustain domestic support for nation building impel it to try to establish democratic rule in target nations.

Edwin Black wrote in 2003

Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed 'unfit,' preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype.

... Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and t- he Harriman railroad fortune... The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a 'lethal chamber' or public locally operated gas chambers Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own.

Wall Street corporations viewed the Nazis ... as enemies of communism. American investment in Germany increased 48.5 percent between 1929 and 1940... Major investors included Ford, General
Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, International Harvester, ITT, and IBM.

The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate a homegrown American fascist plot hatched in 1933. The plan was to engage a half million World War I veterans, angry over not being paid their promised bonuses, to oust President Roosevelt and install a government modeled on Hitler and Mussolini's. The plotters included the owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodyear, and Maxwell House, as well as Prescott Bush... President Roosevelt reportedly cut a deal. He would refrain from prosecuting some of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They would agree to end Wall Street's opposition to his New Deal programs.

John Foster Dulles - Secretary of State for President Eisenhower - during the pre-war period [WWII] would begin his letters to German clients with the words "Heil Hitler".

As long as the greatest honor one can aspire to is to be shipped off and killed in somebody's war, there will be war.

President John Kennedy wrote in a letter to a friend

War will exist until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.

Bill Maher, agreeing with a guest who had said the 9-11 murderers were not cowards

We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from two thousand miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly.

Norman Thomas,

[Soldiers] whether of the victorious or the vanquished nation, have been disciplined in the acceptance of violence and a kind of blind obedience to leaders. In war there is no choice between complete obedience and mutiny.

Not Your Soldier Project

Only 16 percent of enlisted personnel who completed four years of military duty ever received money for schooling. Only 12 percent of male veterans and 6 percent of female veterans use skills learned in the military in their current jobs.

Jorge Mariscal in a 2007 article

When working-class youth make it to their local community college, they often encounter military recruiters working hard to discourage them.

Jorge Mariscal in a 2007 article

In working-class communities of every color, there are often longstanding traditions of military service and links between service and privileged forms of masculinity. For communities often marked as foreign, such as Latinos and Asians, there is pressure to serve in order to prove that one is American. For recent immigrants, there is the lure of gaining legal resident status or citizenship. Economic pressure, however, is an undeniable motivation.

Presidents Clinton and Bush Jr. avoided the Vietnam War, Clinton through educational privilege, Bush through being the son of his father. President Obama never went to war. Vice Presidents Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden, like Clinton and Bush Jr., dodged the draft.

Jon Michael Turner, Winter Soldier gathering, Washington, D.C., March 2008

We were all congratulated after we had our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me. This is the same individual who stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death would get a four-day pass when we returned from Iraq.

Richard Barnet

The myth of monolithic Communism - that all activities of people everywhere who call themselves Communists or whom J. Edgar Hoover calls Communists are planned and controlled in the Kremlin - is essential to the ideology of the national security bureaucracy. Without it the President and his advisers would have a harder time identifying the enemy. They certainly could not find opponents worthy of the 'defense' efforts of the mightiest military power in the history of the world.

General Smedley Butler, in a 1935 issue of the Socialist newspaper 'Common Sense'

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba, a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of ha lf a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Stop the War Coalition, 2010

[British Prime Minister Blair] earns £2 million a year for one day a month's work, from the J US investment bank I P Morgan, who just happen to be making huge profits from financing 'reconstruction' projects in Iraq. There's no end of gratitude for Blair's services to the oil industry, the Iraq invasion so clearly being aimed at controlling the world's second largest oil reserves. The Kuwaiti Royal Family paid him around a million to produce a report on Kuwait's future, and business deals though a consultancy he has set up to advise other countries in the Middle East are projected to earn around £5 million a year. Just in case he runs short, he has signed up with the South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation, which has extensive interests in Iraq and which some estimates say will eventually net him £20 million.

World War II soldiers took their orders from Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Patton, men who in 1932 had led the military's assault on the "Bonus Army,' World War I veterans camped out in Washington, D.C., pleading to be paid the bonuses they'd been promised.

President Jimmy Carter in his last State of the Union address

An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

General Charles Wald deputy commander of US. forces in Europe

A key mission for US. forces [in Africa] would be to insure that Nigeria's oilfields, which in the future could account for as much as 25 percent of all US. oil imports, are secure.

Sandy Davies author of 'Blood on Our Hands'

[The annexation of Kosovo] did succeed in creating a small militarized buffer state between Yugoslavia and the projected route of the AMBO oil pipeline through Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania. This pipeline is being built, with US. government support, to provide the United States and Western Europe with access to oil from the Caspian Sea.

Bill Clinton in 1993, about Somalia - to George Stephanopoulos

We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers. When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers. I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can't believe we're being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.

The war makers do what they do, because only aggressive war makers advance through the ranks and keep their jobs as high-level advisors in our government. While resisting militarism is a good way to derail your career, no one seems to have ever heard of a D.C. bureaucrat's being sidelined for excessive warmongering.

Arthur Bullard, a reporter who urged Woodrow Wilson to employ dishonesty rather than censorship

Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms .... There is nothing in experience to tell us that one is always preferable to the other .... There are lifeless truths and vital lies .... The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little whether it is true or false.

Cokie Roberts about interviewing military officers

I am a total sucker for the guys who stand up with all the ribbons and they say it's true and I'm ready to believe it.

Jacques Ellul, 1965

He who acts in obedience to propaganda can never go back. He is now obliged to believe in that propaganda because of his past action.

Studies have found that individuals with higher levels of self-esteem are better able to accept information that contradicts what they had previously believed. This suggests, that people sometimes feel their reputation and image are threatened by the possibility that they might be wrong.

If the war lies were not all over the media, people would not learn them in the first place. If the corrections were heard over and over again, they would get through. If our communications system allowed the presentation of a variety of voices and viewpoints and feared promoting falsehoods more than it feared being insufficiently militaristic, we wouldn't need to investigate the widespread phenomenon of engaged citizens certain of their beliefs but completely deluded.

The Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg [was] the institution that tried Nazi war leaders for their crimes [WWII]. Among the crimes listed in the charter were "crimes against peace," "war crimes," and "crimes against humanity" Crimes "against peace" were defined as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, , said in his opening statement

The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched... while [the Charter of this tribunal] is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and f it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.

Noam Chomsky, 1990

If Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.

[President Harry] Truman dropped atomic bombs on civilians. Truman "proceeded to organize a major counter-insurgency campaign in Greece which killed off about one hundred and sixty thousand people, sixty thousand refugees, another sixty thousand or so people tortured, political system dismantled, right-wing regime. American corporations came in and took it over." Eisenhower overthrew the governments of Iran and Guatemala and invaded Lebanon. Kennedy invaded Cuba and Vietnam. Johnson slaughtered civilians in Indochina and invaded the Dominican Republic. Nixon invaded Cambodia and Laos. Ford and Carter supported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Reagan funded war crimes in Central America and supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Martin Luther Kings, 1964

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirit.

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