Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a)impeachment, b)a lobotomy, or c)one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. Another epigram for his tombstone.
And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest — 1964 to 1973 — before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)
Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.
The veterans’ group has begun organizing among active duty soldiers on military bases. Veterans have toured the country in busses holding barbeques outside the base gates. They also plan to step up efforts to undermine military recruiting efforts.
Of course it’s a very long shot to get large numbers of soldiers into an angry, protesting frame of mind. But consider the period following the end of World War Two. Late 1945 and early 1946 saw what is likely the greatest troop revolt that has ever occurred in a victorious army. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers protested all over the world because they were not being sent home even though the war was over. The GIs didn’t realize it at first, but many soon came to understand that the reason they were being transferred from Europe and elsewhere to various places in the Pacific area, instead of being sent back home, was that the United States was concerned about uprisings against colonialism, which, in the minds of Washington foreign-policy officials, was equated with communism and other nasty un-American things. The uprisings were occurring in British colonies, in Dutch colonies, in French colonies, as well as in the American colony of the Philippines. Yes, hard to believe, but the United States was acting like an imperialist power.
In the Philippines there were repeated mass demonstrations by GIs who were not eager to be used against the left-wing Huk guerrillas. The New York Times reported in January 1946 about one of these demonstrations: “‘The Philippines are capable of handling their own internal problems,’ was the slogan voiced by several speakers. Many extended the same point of view to China.”
American marines were sent to China to support the Nationalist government of Chang Kai-shek against the Communists of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. They were sent to the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) to be of service to the Dutch in their suppression of native nationalists. And American troop ships were used to transport the French military to France’s former colony in Vietnam. These and other actions of Washington led to numerous large GI protests in Japan, Guam, Saipan, Korea, India, Germany, England, France, and Andrews Field, Maryland, all concerned with the major slowdown in demobilization and the uses for which the soldiers were being employed. There were hunger strikes and mass mailings to Congress from the soldiers and their huge body of support in the States. In January 1946, Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado declared “It is distressing and humiliating to all Americans to read in every newspaper in the land accounts of near mutiny in the Army.”
On January 13, 1946, 500 GIs in Paris adopted a set of demands called “The Enlisted Man’s Magna Charta”, calling for radical reforms of the master-slave relationship between officers and enlisted men; also demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert Patterson. In the Philippines, soldier sentiment against the reduced demobilization crystalized in a meeting of GIs that voted unanimously to ask Secretary Patterson and certain Senators: “What is the Army’s position in the Philippines, especially in relation to the reestablishment of the Eighty-sixth Infantry Division on a combat basis?”
By the summer of 1946 there had been a huge demobilization of the armed forces, although there’s no way of knowing with any exactness how much of that was due to the GIs’ protests. (For more information about the soldiers’ protests, see: Mary-Alice Waters, “G.I.’s and the Fight Against War” (New York, 1967), a pamphlet published by “Young Socialist” magazine.)
If this is how American soldiers could be inspired and organized in the wake of “The Good War”, imagine what can be done today in the midst of “The God-awful War”.
Parts of the CIA Story
Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes”
In 1971 the New York Times published its edition of the Pentagon Papers, based on the government documents concerning Vietnam policy which had been borrowed by Daniel Ellsberg. In its preface to the book, the Times commented about certain omissions and distortions in the government’s view of political and historical realities as reflected in the papers: “Clandestine warfare against North Vietnam, for example, is not seen … as violating the Geneva Accords of 1954, which ended the French Indochina War, or as conflicting with the public policy pronouncements of the various administrations. Clandestine warfare, because it is covert, does not exist as far as treaties and public posture are concerned. Further, secret commitments to other nations are not sensed as infringing on the treaty-making powers of the Senate, because they are not publicly acknowledged.”
In his new book, “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA”, New York Times reporter Tim Weiner also relies heavily on government documents in deciding what events to include and what not to, and the result is often equally questionable. “This book,” Weiner writes, “is on the record — no anonymous sources, no blind quotations, no hearsay. It is the first history of the CIA compiled entirely from firsthand reporting and primary documents.”(p.xvii)
Thus, if US government officials did not put something in writing or if someone did not report their firsthand experience concerning a particular event, to Tim Weiner the event doesn’t exist, or at least is not worth recounting. British journalist Stewart Steven has written: “If we believe that contemporary history must be told on the basis of documentary evidence before it becomes credible, then we must also accept that everything will either be written with the government’s seal of approval or not be written at all.”
As to firsthand reporting, for Weiner it apparently has to be from someone “reputable”. Former CIA officer Philip Agee wrote a 1974 book, “Inside the Company: CIA Diary”, that provides more detail about CIA covert operations in Latin America than any book ever written. And it was certainly firsthand. But Agee and his revelations are not mentioned at all in Weiner’s book. Could it be because Agee, in the process of becoming the Agency’s leading dissident, also became a socialist radical and close ally of Cuba?
Former CIA officer John Stockwell also penned a memoir (“In Search of Enemies”, 1978), revealing lots of CIA dirty laundry in Africa. He later also became a serious Agency dissident, and the Weiner book ignores him as well.
Also ignored: Joseph Burkholder Smith, another Agency officer, not quite a left-wing dissident like Agee or Stockwell but a heavy critic nonetheless, entitled his memoir “Portrait of a Cold Warrior” (1976), in which he revealed numerous instances of CIA illegality and immorality in the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.
There’s also Cambodian leader Prince Sihanouk, who provided his firsthand account in “My War With The CIA” (1974). Sihanouk is also a non-person in the pages of “Legacy of Ashes”.
Even worse, Weiner ignores a veritable mountain of impressive “circumstantial” and other evidence of CIA misdeeds which doesn’t meet his stated criteria, which any thorough researcher/writer on the Agency should give serious attention to, certainly at least mention for the record. Among the many CIA transgressions and crimes left out of “Legacy of Ashes”, or very significantly played down, are:
* The extensive CIA role in the 1950s provocation and sabotage activities in East Berlin/East Germany which contributed considerably to the communists’ decision to build the Berlin Wall is not mentioned, although the wall is discussed.
* The US role in instigating and supporting the coup that overthrew Sihanouk in 1970, which led directly to the rising up of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and the infamous Cambodian “killing fields”. Weiner, without providing any source, writes: “The coup shocked the CIA and the rest of the American government.”(p.304) (See WILLIAM BLUM, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.137-8) Nor does the book make any mention of the deliberate Washington policy to support Pol Pot in his subsequent war with Vietnam. Pol Pot’s name does not appear in the book.
* The criminal actions carried out by Operation Gladio, created by the CIA, NATO, and several European intelligence services beginning in 1949. The operation was responsible for numerous acts of terrorism in Europe, foremost of which was the bombing of the Bologna railway station in 1980, claiming 86 lives. The purpose of the terrorism was to place the blame for these atrocities on the left and thus heighten public concern about a Soviet invasion and keep the left from electoral victory in Italy, France and elsewhere. In Weiner’s book this is all down the memory hole.
* A discussion of the alleged 1993 assassination attempt against former president George H.W. Bush in Kuwait presents laughable evidence, yet states: “But the CIA eventually concluded that Saddam Hussein had tried to kill President Bush.”(p.444) Weiner repeats this, apparently, solely because it appears in a CIA memorandum. That qualifies it as a “primary document”. But what does this have to do with, y’know, the actual facts?
* Moreover, the book scarcely scratches the surface concerning the dozens of foreign elections the CIA has seriously interfered in; the large number of assassination attempts, successful or unsuccessful, against foreign political leaders; the widespread planting of phoney stories in the international media, stories that were at times picked up in the American press as a result; manipulation and corruption of foreign labor movements; extensive book and magazine publishing fronts; drug trafficking; and a virtual world atlas of overthrown governments, or attempts at same.
“A Legacy of Ashes” is generally a good read even for someone familiar with the world of the CIA, but it’s actually often rather superficial, albeit 700 pages long. Why has so much of importance and interest been omitted from a book which has the subtitle: “The History of the CIA”; not, it must be noted, “A History of the CIA”?
Whatever jaundiced eye Weiner focuses on the CIA, he still implicitly accepts the two basic beliefs of the Cold War: 1)There existed out there something called The International Communist Conspiracy, fueled by implacable Soviet expansionism; 2)United States foreign policy meant well. It may have frequently been bumbling and ineffective, but its intentions were noble. And still are.
Richardson Says Gays Choose to be Gay
“Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?” was the question posed to presidential candidate Bill Richardson by singer Melissa Etheridge. “It’s a choice,” replied the New Mexico governor at the August 9 forum for Democratic candidates. Etheridge then said to Richardson, “Maybe you didn’t understand the question,” and she rephrased it. Richardson again said he thought it was a choice. The next time you hear someone say that homosexuality is a choice, ask them how old they were when they chose to be heterosexual. When they admit that they never made such a conscious choice, thus implying that people don’t choose to be heterosexual, the next question to the person should be: “So only homosexuals choose to be homosexual? But what comes first, being homosexual so you can make the choice, or making the choice and thus becoming homosexual?”
WILLIAM BLUM is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
He Can be reached at BBlum6@aol.com