The Libertarian Vanguard

Anti-State • Anti-War • Laissez-Faire

Judith Miller: A Lesson in Media Manipulation

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Americans were desperate for answers. Still in shock from the recent tragedy, many citizens willingly swallowed a narrative regarding the Arab state of Iraq which ultimately led to the American invasion of that country in 2003. Significant parts of that narrative have since been challenged and discredited, however, leaving many Americans confused about the true cause and nature of the conflict.

One contributor to that flawed narrative was Judith Miller, then a reporter for the prestigious New York Times. Widely repeated by media pundits and government officials alike, Miller’s reporting in the lead-up to the Iraq War implicated the Middle Eastern nation in illicit development of weapons of mass destruction—much of which would later be proven false.

The INC & WMDs

The story begins several years earlier, in 1998, when Miller first made contact with an Iraqi ex-pat named Ahmed Chalabi. Her initial interaction with Chalabi was related to the Clinton Administration’s Desert Fox operation, a four day joint American-British bombing campaign of various targets in Iraq. This contact with Chalabi would evolve over time.

A few years later—post-9/11—while the United States was building its case for war, Miller sourced another Iraqi ex-pat, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, who claimed to have worked on renovation projects at secret facilities related to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in Iraq. Al Haideri was a member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi ex-pat organization and political party headed by none other than the aforementioned Ahmed Chalabi.

Founded in the wake of the Persian-Gulf War, the INC was set up to coordinate the activities of various anti-Saddam organizations. It received millions in funding, first covertly from the Central Intelligence Agency, and later overtly after the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act. Starting in 1998–99, the INC would receive $8 million a year in funding from the United States government for the purpose of facilitating regime change in Iraq. The group was essentially an outlet for anti-Saddam propaganda; its members highly biased against the Iraqi strongman.

Al Haideri wouldn’t be the last INC source used in Miller’s Times reporting, but he got her off to a good start in lying the American people into a long, costly war whose bloody repercussions are still unfolding today. 

As reported by journalist Jonathan Landay in May of 2004, when the Iraq Survey Group (a WMD inspections team) brought al Haideri to Iraq to find evidence of illicit weapons activity, U.S. officials said he “could not identify a single site associated with illegal weapons.” On top of that, Landay also noted that al Haideri’s claims had been previously dismissed as unreliable by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) after he failed a polygraph test. 

Regarding al Haideri’s accusations, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell told NBC’s Meet the Press, “It turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I am disappointed and I regret it.”

While Miller did note that she was unable to independently verify al Haideri’s claims, the fact that she so easily repeated his accusations—as well as her continued use of INC sources—suggests she was less than diligent in fulfilling her obligations as a journalist.

Later, while Miller was embedded with the 75th Exploitation Task Force, another WMD-hunting outfit, she reported a number of additional, and equally baseless, accusations regarding Iraq and illicit weapons work. At least two of these were sourced from INC defectors. One instance involved Nissar Hindawi, who had worked in Iraq’s biological weapons program in the 1980s, and who’d since come under the “protection” of the INC. 

In another report Miller discussed a “top-secret intelligence memo” found in Iraq after a group of American soldiers teamed up with members of the INC to find evidence pertaining to WMD. 

This aspect of the story is longer and more complicated than space will allow, but that “secret memo” was said to corroborate Bush Administration claims that Iraq had attempted to procure Yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger. It would later be discovered that the documents which allegedly “proved” this connection were crude forgeries. It might, then, be speculated that the “secret memo” conveniently found by members of the INC in Iraq were of equally dubious origin—another attempt to manipulate American media and the American people.

Adding further credibility to the suggestion that Miller was working with the INC to deliberately spin up misinformation is a Washington Post article from June of 2003. WaPo staff writer Howard Kurtz reported that “[m]ore than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi.”

A middleman? Why would a New York Times reporter need to facilitate contacts between the most powerful, resourceful military in the world and a Iraqi defector organization—which, mind you, was founded with CIA money, and had direct ties to prominent neoconservatives working for the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans? This story goes far deeper than one bad reporter; Miller’s case only scratches the surface.

Kurtz went on to quote another military officer, who told him “this woman came in with a plan. She was leading [the inspectors]. . . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission.” 

“Aluminum Tubes”

On September 8, 2002, Miller and fellow Times writer, Michael Gordon, published a piece entitled “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts,” wherein the authors reported that Iraq had “sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.”

On the very day this article broke, several high-ranking American officials went on a media blitz publicizing Miller’s claims regarding the aluminum tubes: Vice President Dick Cheney was featured on Meet the Press; Secretary of State Colin Powell went on Fox News Sunday; National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation; and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers was interviewed on ABC’s This Week. Every official repeated the “aluminum tubes” allegation as a justification for war with Iraq.

It would later be revealed that Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then the Vice President’s chief of staff, had illicitly leaked the “aluminum tubes” information to Miller. She reported the allegation, then Administration officials cited her as a source, as if the information hadn’t come from them in the first place! Not only was that accusation proven false, but Miller and Libby would years later become entangled in another leak scandal which culminated in Miller’s resignation from the Times in 2005, as well as a brief stint behind bars.

An October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, though highly redacted, reports serious skepticism from technical experts at the Department of Energy regarding the veracity of the “aluminum tubes” claim. They said that, instead of uranium enrichment, the tubes were “far more likely” intended for conventional weapons. 

Considering Miller’s subsequent role in another leak scandal—involving the very same Lewis Libby—as well as the way American officials immediately exploited Miller’s reporting, fed to her as it was by the VP’s chief of staff, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that the “tubes” debacle was yet another instance of media manipulation, a planted story, committed or facilitated by Judith Miller.

Conclusions

The negative effects of Judith Miller’s shoddy journalism weren’t confined to the New York Times. Due to the atmosphere of the country in the wake of 9/11, as well as the status and prestige enjoyed by the Times, Miller’s claims would reverberate through all mediums: print, television, and radio. Countless pundits, hosts, and writers ran with Miller’s reporting; her accusations would ultimately help to kick off the ill-fated, and ongoing, War on Terror.

The precedents set by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 have paved the way for a seemingly endless series of American wars and military interventions around the world. Since at least 2003, the American taxpayer has footed the bill for wars (or some form of military involvement, such as drone strikes) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Mali, Yemen, and Libya—these are the ones we know of. This crusade has robbed and squandered trillions of dollars from American workers, created a pile of corpses and an ocean of blood which continue to grow, and set an already-volatile region ablaze with extremism and armed conflict.

The case of Judith Miller is a stark, macabre reminder of the power of journalism—the power of media. While responsibility for the invasion of Iraq cannot, of course, be placed squarely on Miller’s shoulders, she is an exemplar of corrupt journalism. Her manipulations went far beyond “spin,” Judith Miller acted as a war propagandist

Fortunately, Miller is now widely seen to have lost credibility. Yet many like Miller, who regurgitate justifications for unjust wars, continue to enjoy distinction at some of America’s most reputable publications. With the growth of the Internet and alternative sources of information, however, we can only hope that the Millers of our world slowly fade into obscurity.

Are the Israelis Trying to Provoke Hezbollah into War?

MondoWeiss – “Turning Lebanon into Gaza — Israel’s hole card against Iran deal?

When I commented on the thinly-veiled Israeli threats against Lebanese civilians a couple of weeks ago, I, perhaps foolishly, thought it was a one-off incident that we’d never hear much of again. However, knowing the New York Times, I should have considered the likelihood that they were setting out to cook up a narrative.

Up until this point, Israel has been losing out on the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal front. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s frothing racist PM, found the opposite of a silver lining in his recent campaign victory when an offended Barack Obama chided him for his panicked comments about Arabs coming to vote “in droves.”

That was merely the tail end of a series of disappointments for Netanyahu, however, as his March speech to the U.S. congress generally fell flat, Obama remarking that he said “nothing new,” and offered no viable alternative to what Netanyahu repeatedly insisted was a “bad deal.” This is coupled with pathetic efforts from American hawks (such as this letter) to scuttle the deal, which have also met failure.

It isn’t yet certain what the outcome of the Iran talks will be, set to conclude in late-June, but what’s clear is that Likudniks do not want any semblance of American-Iranian normalization. Having greatly profited from the cold war status quo, Israel is anxious at the prospect of its biggest ally and its biggest enemy coming to terms at the negotiation table, especially over the sensitive and controversial nuclear issue.

So, what is Israel to do? In a recent Huffington Post column, National Iranian American Council president, Trita Parsi, and CIA vet Paul Pillar may have the answer: war. Not just any old war, though, a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As well as potentially jeopardizing the nuclear talks (Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy), this also drags in the Syrian issue from the other side. Hezbollah currently fights alongside the Syrian military against the likes of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, whom Israel now apparently supports. A separate Israeli war with Hezbollah may be the nudge needed to push the vacillating U.S. policy on Syria into clarity.

The Americans would most likely support Israel in such a conflict, after which it would become difficult for the U.S. to back the side that Hezbollah is fighting on in Syria, making the U.S. policy definitively anti-Assad.

Assad is a key Iranian ally in the region, however, so it’s not apparent how Iran would respond, nor how this would impact the impending nuclear agreement. It would force Iran into a tough position, possibly having to choose between support for its proxy in the prospective war with Israel, or leaving them to hang without help for the sake of retaining the progress made in the nuclear talks.

Hostile rhetoric, although common, has begun to fly, with a senior Israeli military official telling the New York Times “[w]e will hit Hezbollah hard. . .,” and a top Iranian military aide responding “[i]f Zionists wish to do anything wrong, we will raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground.”

On May 15, Israeli diplomat, Dore Gold, said on Facebook (regarding his complaint that the U.N. isn’t doing anything about Hezbollah’s rocket stockpiles in Lebanon):

The UN is thus leaving Israel with a horrible choice if war breaks out again: Either the IDF will have to destroy the weapons now being stored in southern Lebanon, or let Hezbollah fire thousands of rockets into Israel. What would you do?

To top it off, Israel has been massing troops and artillery on its border with Lebanon in a series of military drills. My cynical soul immediately saw this as an attempt to deliberately create confusion in an increasingly-tense situation, potentially sparking a conflict based on misunderstanding. However, Israel did inform Hezbollah and Iran of the drills, after the two parties were apparently alarmed at what they thought could be an attack, so I give them that.

One hopes this prediction is mistaken, of course. Nobody wants to see another war break out, and the Iran nuclear deal could be the greatest—if not the only—accomplishment of Obama’s two-term presidency. Nonetheless, keep your eyes peeled on Lebanon.

Ukraine: Despite Ceasefire, U.S. Craves Conflict

USA Today – “Biden cracks door to lethal aid to Ukraine

They simply can’t help themselves. Despite the “Minsk II” ceasefire agreement, signed February 11, 2015, U.S. officials continue to agitate for military aid to the Kiev-based government in western Ukraine. Although the Minsk agreement hasn’t held perfectly, it has at least tentatively deescalated the conflict from what first appeared a prelude to a drawn out, bloody civil war.

Much like the ongoing Syrian conflict, in Ukraine the U.S. government has cynically exploited a genuine protest movement, commandeered it from the get-go, and transformed it into a pawn on the grand chessboard of imperial proxy warfare. While in Syria the Western/Gulf strategy is to “isolate” the Iranian regime, in Ukraine the United States and NATO clearly seek to alienate Russia, leading to what many have called a new Cold War.

U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, says Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine (more on this shortly) amounts to opportunism, not a pre-determined strategy. However, it seems more appropriate to term Russia’s behavior as “counter-strategy,” countering the U.S. move to incite and back an essentially anti-Russian coup d’état in Russia’s backyard, coupled with the attempt to sway Ukraine over to NATO. If it were opportunism, this author would ask: Who provided the opportunity?

The Russian annexation of Crimea, historically a Russian territory, has been touted as a prime example of “Russian Aggression,” despite the fact that it was pulled off with almost zero bloodshed. Skepticism toward the results of the 2014 Crimean referendum, which showed overwhelming support for annexation, is probably justified, yet that same skepticism was much harder to come by during the presidential election for the Kiev-based Ukrainian government. Double standards, much? Besides, after some time under Moscow’s thumb, the Crimeans aren’t exactly unhappy with the situation. Out of 500 Crimeans surveyed, a 2014 Gallup poll shows that 82.8% believe the results of the 2014 status referendum reflect the genuine views of Crimeans.

A primary Russian interest in Crimea is its naval base in Sevastopol, which has been the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet since the late 1700s. I’m not very fond of Russian military bases in even nominally foreign territory, but U.S. criticism of Russia for the annexation, coming from a government with hundreds of bases worldwide, which regularly uses the presence of such bases to justify foreign intervention, is beyond hypocritical—it’s deranged arrogance. Considering the circumstances, one must admit that Putin has had a cool head in this debacle, which, with a more belligerant party, might have led to a direct military showdown already. You don’t have to be a Putin-lover to recognize this.

Besides Crimea, there are the breathless reports from Western media of Russian troop buildups, as well as military exercises, on Russia’s western border. But, ask yourself, if the roles were reversed, and Russia sponsored (nay, orchestrated) an anti-American coup, say, in Mexico, and afterwards sent neo-Nazinational guard” militants to crush a U.S.-sympathetic, English-speaking opposition, perhaps in the northern part of Mexico that shares a border with the U.S., how would the Americans respond? (The fact that America covertly and overtly supports neo-Nazis in Ukraine makes the preposterous suggestion that Putin is the new Hitler all the more hilarious.)

I think it would go far beyond mere military exercises inside U.S. borders. Within the week, we would witness some rapid deliberations in the UN Security Council, or unilateral hostility from America, or the escalation and intensification of economic sanctions on Russia, or—hell, why not?—a full blown “kinetic action” that leads to the extinction of mankind in thermonuclear warfare. Come to think of it, the American government would probably love it if Russia organized a putsch in Mexico!

However, instead of the predicted Russian invasion of Ukraine, we see ever-growing American military aid and involvement in the country. According to a recent draft law introduced to parliament by president Petro Poroshenko, there are now three joint Ukrainian-American military exercises scheduled for 2015:  “Fearless Guardian,” “Sea Breeze,” and “Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident.” The law sanctions participation of up to 1,000 American soldiers in the drills, as well as soldiers from other NATO countries.

Mind you, I don’t necessarily deny that Russia has given aid to the eastern Ukrainian “separatists.” In fact, I would expect them to, just as I would expect the U.S. to back the “northern Mexican rebels” in the analogy given above. The Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian opposition, even though they are now tainted by the brutality of war, began with precisely the same aspirations as the Euromaidan protest movement: a desire for political autonomy, and to oust a corrupt regime which acted against their interests.

But as soon as the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev successfully took control of the government, it immediately sent Nazi death squads clear across the country to quell the evil “terrorist,” “separatist,” “pro-Russian” uprising in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. The new Kiev regime, touted as wonderfully democratic by the West, is guilty of the same oppression as the previous government. The man that takes the tyrant’s head becomes a new one in his stead.

Ultimately, I don’t see any of this ending well for Ukraine, the U.S., or Russia. Tension between the two largest hydrogen bomb arsenals is always disconcerting, yet the U.S. continues to egg on the conflict. What’s the desired outcome? Put Ukraine into NATO? Then what? I can’t help feeling that all of this maneuvering is anything but a preparation for war with Russia.

Indeed, a February 1, 2008 State Department cable, released by Wikleaks (thanks to Pvt. Chelsea/Bradley Manning), proves that the U.S. knew exactly what to expect from Russia regarding any attempt to add Ukraine to NATO. In that cable, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, William Burns, states that “Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains ‘an emotional and neuralgic’ issue for Russia,” and that “[i]n Ukraine, [there are] fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.” [Emphasis added]

The U.S. knows precisely what it’s doing; a fairly similar policy is pursued in Syria. America involves itself in conflicts it has no business meddling in, knowing full-well that the result will be to escalate and expand the hostilities. Decades from now, we may reflect on these events in a similar way we do the 1907 formation of the Triple Entente, a prelude to the first World War. Lines are being drawn, tensions are building between major powers. Only time will tell, but the more the hubristic American Empire ignores the lessons of history, the greater the possibility a third World War becomes, heaven forbid.

DIA Docs Show US Intent to Back ISIS / The Blunder in Syria

Levant Report – “2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State ‘in order to isolate the Syrian regime’

Formerly classified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents from 2012, released May 18 by Judicial Watch, portray a clear aim by the United States and its allies (Turkey, Saudi Arabia / Gulf states, and other Western states) to facilitate the rise of the now-infamous terror group, the Islamic State (IS). Hoping to “isolate,” and ultimately topple, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the primary strategic rationale behind this decision is to weaken the position of Iran, Syria being a key Iranian ally.

Before sharing the interesting pieces of the document, I’ll give some broad context of what’s going on in Syria, as best as I can tell.

Despite a lot of vacillation on the issue by the Obama administration, there seems to be a half-formed consensus that in Syria, those fighting Assad, not the Islamic State, are to directly or indirectly receive U.S. training and arms. In fact, the U.S. has recently moved to “re-brand” the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, so that they may openly receive U.S. aid in their war against Assad.

America’s Syria policy has indeed been a bizarre one, especially since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, when the Syrian Civil War kicked off. Within that conflict, on the one hand, you have the Syrian military under the control of the Alawite (but secular) Assad regime—supported by Shiite militias such as Hezbollah—and on the other, a smattering of “moderate” rebels, as well as predominately Sunni, Salafist mujaheddin fighters; that is, jihadists.

So while, yes, in the abstract, support for the genuinely moderate fighters—people who’ve been abused by the Syrian regime, and who have every right to revolt—is just fine. The problem is, one, governmental support, especially military aid, seems to always end up in the hands of the most extreme groups of fighters. Two, if the opposition to Assad is comprised of an ever-dwindling group of “moderates,” and an ever-growing group of radicals, what is the outcome of this situation supposed to be, exactly? The tiny Free Syrian Army marches on Damascus alongside the hordes of al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra Front, and afterward they calmly debate the pros and cons of democracy vs. Sharia law?

Support for either side is a fool’s errand at this point. Support for Assad is a bad idea, despite the fact that he has been, like Saddam and Gadhafi were to some degree, a bulwark against terrorist groups. Assad is a dictator, guilty of overseeing massive crimes in a civil war that’s already cost over 220,000 lives (you read that right, two-hundred thousand). What’s strange is that, in the past, the U.S. sent terror suspects to Syria, as a part of the “extraordinary rendition” program, many to be tortured. Funny how Assad so quickly became the scourge of the Obama administration, he used to cooperate with the U.S. in the war on terror just fine.

However, support for the rebels is an even worse idea! The few moderates left are likely no match for groups like Nusra, or IS. The type of opposition group that will eventually take power in this case seems clear. The entirety of Syria will either be incorporated into the burgeoning Islamic State, or the U.S./West will have to prop up a puppet regime and train up another useless army, which costs taxpayers billions, but whose soldiers turn tail and run at the first sign of conflict (sound familiar?).

These are no-win situations, and what’s worse, the American government has exacerbated, or outright caused, many apsects of this crisis in the first place, precisely because of previous intervention. The U.S. government’s foreign policies, especially in the Middle East, have had consistently-bad, destructive, and unforeseen consequences. The process perpetuates itself; intervention begets intervention.

You’d think that policymakers would’ve taken heed of the lesson by now. You’d think they’d recognize that they lack the competence required to rearrange and engineer societies! Their failures have resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of human beings. Enough is enough, America’s military might has no answer for this conflict.

What the American government has done to Iraq and Libya, it is now trying to do to Syria. That is, smash open the floodgates and create massive conflict between various sectarian, religious, tribal, and ethnic groups within the country (and from without). Notice the pattern: A secular ruler is forcefully removed from power; in absence of that central authority, competing interest groups attempt to aggrandize as much political power as they can; the outcome is war, chaos, and bloodshed. This is oversimplification, to be sure, but it’s roughly what’s going on here: Removing power centers, shifting the political tectonic plates, and creating a giant mess.

Life in Saddam’s Iraq, or Gadhafi’s Libya, probably wasn’t great for everyone, but it was almost certainly better than either of those countries are today. Such dictators are harsh to their opposition, but they nonetheless preserve stability (relative, of course, to what the probable alternatives are.)

Now, the DIA documents. I really don’t want to overstate this, so let’s lay out some direct quotes, determine for yourselves whether I’m blowing this out of proportion. It’s possible that these words are coming from a source low on the totem pole, but, just read:

THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…

Mind you, this is from 2012 or before, so prior to the Islamic State takeover in Mosul and Tikrit in the summer of 2014, and previous to the popularity of the group known as ISIS, or the Islamic State. This explains the reference to “salafist principality,” but it’s just another way of saying “Islamic State.” The “supporting powers to the opposition” include the ones mentioned in the first line of the quote, but also Israel, who gives direct support to al-Qaeda in Syria as well.

The document states that:

AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA. AQI DECLARED ITS OPPOSITION OF ASSAD’S GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT CONSIDERED IT A SECTARIAN REGIME TARGETING SUNNIS.

And also that:

THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE OPPOSITION; WHILE RUSSIA, CHINA AND IRAN SUPPORT THE REGIME.

So, the DIA is acknowledging that al-Qaeda supports and fights for the opposition, and, at the same time, that the U.S. fully intends to support the opposition (and as I’ve shown above and in the links, actually does support it). The point is that an agency of the American federal government is recognizing that they are purposely fighting on the same side as al-Qaeda! The people, according to most accounts, who destroyed the Twin Towers and murdered 3000 innocent Americans, these are now our allies, in somebody else’s civil war, fighting for a cause that not only does nothing for America’s interests, but harms them.

Explore this document. There’s more interesting stuff in there, but the snippits above make the point I’m trying to drive at. In Syria, America backs the Butchers of New York.

The American Holocaust

Documentary – “Vietnam: American Holocaust

Narrated by Martin Sheen, this 2008 film documents many American war crimes and atrocities committed during the Vietnam War. Although most of us are well aware of the grizzly treatment afforded the country’s inhabitants, it’s often useful to refresh one’s memory, especially for those of us who are too young to remember, or weren’t yet born. So before we get to the content of the documentary, let’s briefly sketch out some context:

American involvement in the conflict began in 1950, when military advisers were sent to what was then known as French Indo-China, and continued to escalate into the 1960s. U.S. troop levels tripled in ’61, and again in ’62. From 1963 to 1968, American military personnel increased from 16,000 non-combat advisers, to 550,000, many with combat roles.

In 1964, the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” took place, which involved two alleged North Vietnamese attacks on American destroyer USS Maddox, on August 2 and 4, 1964, in waters off the coast of North Vietnam. The first skirmish, while there remains dispute about who initiated it, is recognized to have actually happened.

The second attack, on the other hand, almost certainly did not occur. Radar “phantoms” were mistakenly interpreted as hostile torpedo boats, and for about 3 hours the Maddox and the Turner Joy took evasive actions and attempted a “counter-attack,” yet to no avail. There was nothing to attack.

Hours after the incident, Commander of Destroyer Division 192, Captain John Herrick, who was aboard the Maddox at the time, reported “Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects on radar and overeager sonarmen may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by MADDOX. Suggest complete evaluation before any further action taken.”

Strangely, Herrick later changed his mind, and decided an attack did indeed take place on August 4. Navy Commander James Stockdale, who was ordered to prepare an airstrike on the North Vietnamese after the incident, lent support to Herrick’s earlier report when he subsequently said “We were about to launch a war under false pretenses, in the face of the on-scene military commander’s advice to the contrary.”

In a phone conversation recorded August 4 between President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, reference is made to the “second attack,” before it allegedly took place, as well as to what kind of reaction it would elicit from U.S. armed forces. Here there seems a fairly clear intent to maneuver the North Vietnamese into an overt act of war (a plan not without precedent), in order to justify escalated U.S. involvement in the burgeoning conflict.

Despite the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the second attack that never was, on August 10, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was signed into law, granting Johnson broad war making “authority,” without an official declaration of war from the Congress. Afterward, Johnson is alleged to have enthusiastically said that the Resolution “. . . was like Grandma’s nightshirt. It covers everything.”

Apparently “everything” doesn’t include the very foundation of American law. But I, of course, am a patriot. I would never expect the President to worry his already-fatigued mind with any such triflings as constitutions, or limitations on his own power. What are you, a communist?

So there we have it—we were in. Commence the bloodbath.

The war quickly, and illegally, bled over into neighboring countries Laos and Cambodia. Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. flew approximately 600,000 bombing missions over Laos, where about 2.5 million tons of bombs were dropped.

Napalm, cluster bombs, Willie Pete, aka White Phosphorus (warning: graphic), Agent Orange: these were the characteristic tools of death and destruction used in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

2.4 million tons of bombs were dropped on the Ho Chi Minh Trail alone, almost twice the amount the U.S. air force dropped on Germany during World War 2.

19 million gallons of herbicide was sprayed across some 30,000 square miles of South Vietnam—enough to blanket about 24% of the entire country (North and South combined)—with just under 8,000 square miles of jungle defoliated. Vietnam’s Red Cross recorded 4.8 million people affected, and others estimate 400,000-500,000 children born with birth defects from the use of Agent Orange alone. This likely does not include the effects of Agents White, Blue, Green, Purple, and Pink, however, which were also used during the war.

The general M.O. of this conflict seems to have been: “Kill anything that moves,” or “Kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out.” Indeed, this is affirmed countless times throughout “American Holocaust,” wherein many veterans recount their experiences of burning entire villages to the ground, as well as bearing witness to, or taking part in, the rape, plunder, murder, and ultimate expulsion of the rest of their inhabitants.

The CIA’s Phoenix Program, surrounded by allegations of torture and abuse, consigned over 26,000 Vietnamese to death in its search for “blacklisted” persons from 1968 to 1972.

The My Lai Massacre took place March 16, 1968, involving the mass killing of up to 504 human beings in the South Vietnamese village of My Lai (pronounced “Me Lie”). 26 soldiers from the Army’s 23rd Infantry Division were eventually charged with criminal offenses, but Lt. William Calley Jr. was the only one convicted.

Highly decorated soldier of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Colonel David Hackworth, stated in a 2003 interview that “Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go… There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.” [Emphasis added]

The Winter Soldier Investigation of 1971, sponsored by anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War, sought to spread knowledge of American war crimes and atrocities committed during the conflict. Over a period of 3 days, 109 war vets, as well as civilian contractors and medical personnel, gave testimony concerning the war crimes they had either witnessed, or took part in. Unfortunately, the event wasn’t covered much outside of Detroit, where it was held, however a film documenting the affair was made and released in 1972.

All in all, somewhere between 3 and 5 million Vietnamese were killed during the war, with over 58,000 American military personnel dead (the youngest were just 16 years old), thousands MIA.

I have hardly even begun to scratch the surface here, this blog post does not do the conflict justice (if I may use such a term). The Vietnam war remains one of the darkest stains on America’s already-black historical record. It is a significant landmark on America’s path to global hegemony, a taste of the now-common disregard for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, for international law, and for the laws of war.

Men, women, children, elderly—virtually no distinction was made during much of the war. All were treated as enemies. American soldiers cursed the countryside of Southeast Asia like a plague, destroying countless lives, inflicting unfathomable suffering and despair upon a population of largely innocent people. America, once the beacon of freedom, prosperity, and civilization for the rest of the world, committed genocide in Vietnam, there is absolutely no question about that.

The 1975 fall of the city of Saigon marks the end of America’s involvement in the conflict, after which the country moved toward reunification under the rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Communism didn’t budge, yet a veritable ocean of blood and bile were spilled for the purpose of containing it.

Millions of people dead, their families in grief, the destruction of entire societies, and for what? A few fat fucks got to revel in their own political legacy, while others reaped immense profits from fascistic (not capitalistic) military contracting work.

Yep, sounds about right.

War, a wise man once said, is a racket.


Note: This post could have been much longer. I know that a lot of important information was left out, and that it doesn’t give a very complete picture of the conflict, but I’m trying not to let these posts go on too long. Despite its brevity, though, I hope it can offer some valuable resources for further research, maybe a few facts you didn’t know before.

Recommended reading:

Cover-Up” – Seymour Hersh

Kill Anything that Moves” – Nick Turse

Although these are still on my own To-Read list, I know they’re good. Check ’em out.

Commemorating Terrorism

Last week, director of the Mises Academy and the newest regular contributor at Antiwar.com, Dan Sanchez, shared a great collection of articles on the Nakba, (“the disaster” in Arabic) or the series of events in which Arabs were forced off of their lands en masse shortly before the creation of the state of Israel.

While exploring one of those articles in particular, I came across a fact I hadn’t known: in 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a ceremony that memorialized the bombers of the King David Hotel on July 22, 1946, which killed 92 people! The King David Hotel then housed the administrative and military headquarters for British mandate rule over Palestine, so it proved a valuable target for the Irgun militiamen who carried out the attack.

Irgun’s leader at the time, Menachem Begin, also founded the progenitor of the well-known Likud party, the Hurut, in 1948, and later became Israel’s Prime Minister. Irgun carried out dozens of bombings and killings against primarily Arab and British targets. It was a terrorist organization through-and-through.

Another subsequent Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, lead an Irgun offshoot, known as Lehi, or the “Stern Gang” (named after its first leader, Avraham Stern). Lehi carried out various bombings, and assassinated a British minister in 1944, and a Swedish diplomat in 1948. That Swedish diplomat was Count Folke Bernadotte, who worked as the head of the Swedish Red Cross during World War 2, and who negotiated with nazi Heinrich Himmler to save thousands of Jews from concentration camps. Before his murder, Bernadotte also worked to negotiate a settlement between the to-be Israelis and the Arabs, but both sides ultimately rejected his plan.

These are only a couple of many, many examples of the killings, the terrorism, assassinations, and generally the murderous, brutal treatment afforded any who stand in the way of the Zionist vision of Israel, and it continues today.

Last year, the Israeli government waged one of its bi-yearly sieges on the Gaza Strip which killed over 2,100 people, a large proportion civilians and children. Recently, some of the soldiers who took part in that onslaught have publicly raised their voices to tell about how they were ordered to kill civilians, deliberately.

Outside observers concluded that Israel was possibly guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and/or genocide (under the definitions of international law). The litany of crimes committed in the 2014 Gaza siege are enough to determine just who has the upper hand in the situation, and yet this happens regularly.

For sake of brevity I won’t go further. There are hundreds of other examples of Israeli state-sponsored terror, or the notorious “Dahiya Doctrine,” or Israel’s status as a non-NPT nuclear weapons state, I hope you will follow these links and learn more.

The point is that Israel has a history heavily soaked in blood and terrorism, and that this legacy continues to show today. Israel is certainly not the only cutthroat actor in the region, but that it is one seems beyond dispute.

Israel, contrary to how the media often portrays it, is a degenerate, rogue state. If any other country in the region engaged in even a fraction of the type of behavior that has always been commonplace for Israel, the West would want nothing to do with them (well, ok, maybe Western nations back brutal states all the time, but I think you get my point). The United States should cut off all financial and military aid immediately, for both the American taxpayer, and for Israel’s sake. Subsidizing this path of murder-suicide doesn’t help Israel, nor the Palestinians, nor us. Cut the losses, end it now.

David Cameron’s Bizzare Totalitarian Message to the U.K.

The Independent – “Britain is too tolerant and should interfere more in people’s lives, says David Cameron

Wow, holy crap!

Usually I have a lot to say when a politician utters something so blatantly tyrannical, but in this case you really just have to read what the man said.

Maybe this is more acceptable across the pond, but I would hope that, to American ears, it sounds downright absurd and frightening.

Cameron’s comments are brief—but no less insane—so I can share them here in their entirety. From The Independent article above (including the hyperlink embedded in the original):

Britain is too “passively tolerant” and should not leave people to live their lives as they please just because they obey the law, David Cameron has said.

At the National Security Council today Mr Cameron unveiled a series of measures that he said would crack down on people holding minority “extremist” views that differed from Britain’s consensus.

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’,” he said.

“It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.”

The article goes on to quote another state official who disagrees, so good. At least we know Cameron doesn’t belong to his own Sacred “Consensus.”

To parrot a point made by hilarious (I think so, anyway) anti-feminist YouTube commentator, who goes by “Sargon of Akkad,” a reasonable person might surmise that an epidemic of “passive tolerance” would be a great motive to not crack down on the populace. But what the hell do reasonable people know?

“Peace breaks out across Britain, David Cameron alarmed.”