War is nothing more than the organization and monetization of murder. Most governments certainly do not oppose murder in an ethical sense. If it furthers their interests, it’s considered perfectly acceptable and awarded. Men who kill hundreds in wars often receive medals and other accolades. As long as it is done in a context the state declares is “legal,” it is often assumed to be “moral” when this is rarely the case. As Bishop Beilby Porteus said in 1759 in his work entitled Death: A Poetical Essay, “To sate the lust of power; more horrid still, The foulest stain and scandal of our nature Became its boast — One Murder made a Villain, Millions a Hero. — Princes were privileg’d to kill, and numbers sanctified the crime. Ah! why will Kings forget that they are Men?”
Of course, not all wars are the same but wars are generally fought between occupying empires and occupied nations resisting these occupations. (The other primary type of war is fought between two or more occupying empires to decide who gets to claim less developed territory.) The occupiers and the occupied are polar opposites but wars are often gravely misrepresented by portraying both sides as “equal” when this is rarely the case. Both sides generally claim to be “defending themselves” when in reality the occupying empire is waging a war of aggression (usually for money, resources, or power) and only the occupied are defending themselves. Pacifists often request both sides lay down their arms without realizing that the conflict is dictated almost entirely by the occupier that must first disarm because if the occupied nation lays down their arms first, they will surely be slaughtered. There is no reason soldiers on any side of a conflict (especially the occupiers) should be blindly rewarded, nor should there be such blanket support for all troops. Many who join the state absolve themselves of all personal responsibility because they feel they are just following orders and have no personal choice when in reality they make choices all of the time.
Some people who enlist in the military (especially in empires that occupy other countries) just want to kill people in a legal way because they have extreme anger or hate. A few have very honest, noble intentions, but far too many soldiers have incredibly malevolent aims and reasons for fighting. What they do is misguided at best and absolutely appalling and unforgivable in the worst cases, as in many of the massacres I have discussed.
Combat troops fighting for empires are simply hired killers for the corporate interests of their masters, regardless of what they believe they are doing. US soldiers, in particular, fight almost exclusively wars of aggression. The US government’s wars are motivated by the greed and cowardice of our rulers. A few very brave (yet misguided) men fight these wars and make enormous personal sacrifice, but only parasitical cowards send them to their deaths for selfish ends.
When a large number of people are killed in war, this often only adds fuel to the fire of a conflict and creates a whole new generation of young people who feel justified to take extreme action. Youth living under iniquitous leaders or oppressive dogma did not ask for these conditions and it will not matter to some if they are on the “wrong” side. They will fight back. Common people not employed by the state are not their governments. They cannot be held responsible for what their governments do. We are born in states under government rule and if our country happens to be at war, we are branded “enemies” by some on the other side from birth. We don’t get to choose which government we support or which laws. We can’t even vote until we’re of age, and that rarely has any effect anyway.
The Nazis were the clear evil in WWII. They simply wanted to overtake the world because they felt superior to every race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, creed, and ideology that was not their own. Their war crimes are well documented but the Allies also committed war crimes, which are less well documented because they run contrary to the simplistic “good guys” versus “bad guys” narrative our governments so desperately want us to believe. The US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9th 1945, and the Allies firebombed Dresden on February 13-15th 1945 and Pforzheim on February 23, 1945, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in total. US B-29s firebombed Tokyo with 1,600 tons of bombs in “Operation Meetinghouse” as a “test of new tactics” on March 9-10th 1945, killing 100,000.1 The US Air Force and the British “Royal” Air Force also dropped a staggering combined total of 228,200 tons of bombs on Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Leipzig, Essen, and Dresden. 2
WWII could have been easily avoided as could WWI. WWII cannot be blamed on Adolf Hitler and German Nazis alone. The apathy of the imperial governments of Britain, America, France, the Soviet Union, Japan, Italy, Belgium, and Spain are also to blame. They could have stopped Hitler and the Nazis before they ever became powerful enough to actually wage a world war, but they did not because Germany was a developing, economically productive force. Most governments are driven by the same kind of hatred and prejudice that the Nazis had, (most just aren’t so open about it) so the prejudice of the Nazis wasn’t seen as much of a problem until they reached another empire, the United Kingdom. Even when there were mass killings of Jews and Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, (which annexed Eastern Poland while Germany annexed Western Poland as part of the “German–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation”) other empires did not try to stop them. They looked the other way. France and the UK even had pacts with Poland but gave almost no support. If the Nazis had just stayed in Germany and neighboring Poland and killed the Jews and dissidents there, it is unlikely any other imperial government would have become involved. They would not have cared.
Conflict prevention has become associated with cowardice instead of courage but it takes men and women who are not motivated by fear and hate to resolve conflict as opposed to perpetuate it by rightly dissociating politicians and their war-hungry corporate masters from the people they rule over. This takes courage and it can actually lead to non-violent solutions that benefit others. Being a “hawk” or a “dove” aren’t identities. They are behaviors, and you can simultaneously have the strength and courage to fight and the intelligence, compassion, and courage to know when not to fight, such as when it would merely exacerbate an already volatile situation or lead to a great deal of deaths of innocent people.
Deceptive advertising for the military ensures a steady stream of violent recruits ready to kill on the orders of their “superiors.” The military’s ads make it look exciting, adventurous, honorable, and the first step on the path to a successful life. But war is unconscionably putrid. Empires wage wars for reprehensible reasons and by joining their military, recruits risk their lives for these causes. Many end up homeless, disabled by physical injury or trauma, leading to disorders like PTSD, and some even kill themselves as the state turns its back on vets.
Some soldiers in the militaries of empires take quasi-moral and quasi-productive paths. Some doctors, for example, join the army simply to provide aid and medical care for inhabitants of the states they are fighting and for soldiers. This can prevent the escalation of conflict in some cases. But it also creates a false dichotomy that gives ordinary residents being attacked the apparent choice to either support the soldiers invading their land or to support the people trying to kill these soldiers who may also be oppressing or killing the local population. However, there is also the option of not becoming involved in the conflict or being against both sides, which can be very hard to do when death and destruction surrounds you. Aid and medical care should be provided with no strings attached and no expectations. The lives of all common people can be improved, and hostile forces will shrink on their own without the use of violence as a result. It is naive to believe violence can always be deterred or combated by using violence. However, it is also naive to believe violence can always be deterred nonviolently. There is a false dichotomy between peace and war and fundamentally a muddling of the enormous difference between state violence and resistance to state violence, which can also involve taking up arms.
Empires get away with pillaging and decimating the world, in part, because they have developed their own language and broadcast it globally. American military authorities, superordinates in the rest of the state, and corporate, lapdog media talking heads always divert attention from what they are actually doing by using euphemisms that sound innocuous. When they address the public in the news, they almost never say they kill people. They use words like “neutralize”, “subdue”, “suppress”, “defeat”, “terminate”, “eliminate”, “abort,” “extinguish,” “triumph”, “overcome,” “engage,” and (most ironic of all) “pacify.” The people they are fighting are almost never referred to as “people” either, but rather they are dehumanized as “hostile forces,” “enemy combatants,” “tangoes,” “contacts,” “insurgents,” “rebels,” “terrorists,” “counter-revolutionaries,” (all terms which generally refer to any male over 18) or “casualties” if they can’t deny they are or were civilians.
Forms of torture like waterboarding are just branded “enhanced interrogation techniques,” despite the fact that after World War II, the United States convicted and hanged Japanese military leaders for waterboarding. When prisoners of war at Gitmo performed a mass hunger strike, the US government called it a “nonreligious fasting” and the guards torturous rectal and force-feeding via nasogastric intubation was simply called “enteral feeding.” The Soviet Union called legitimate criticisms of their crimes “counter-revolutionary” or “bourgeois sentimentality.” Further, violence and terrorism are only called violence and terrorism when the perpetrators aren’t the victorious state officials. The victors of wars write the history and control how the narrative is portrayed by the corporate media. When the far more militarily powerful government empire is committing atrocities, it’s called “defense” or “resistance” for “order, democracy, stability, and security,” which are code words for hegemony and the crushing of dissent, the working class, minorities, and free speech. For example, although the IDF commits far more terrorism than Hamas, the Israeli state controls the narrative due to their abundance of resources, funding, and massive media empires. They label the Palestinians living in open air prisons who throw rocks at million-dollar IDF tanks as “terrorists” because they dare resist the Israeli empire in any way. Meanwhile, weapons sales or gifts of weaponry to military dictatorships like Israel’s or corrupt police forces in foreign countries is called “humanitarian aid.”
“Weapons free” is another euphemism used by the military that means killing everything that moves is fair game. Police use similar euphemisms. When a cop kills an unarmed, innocent person, the cops and the media simply say there was “officer misconduct,” an “officer involved shooting,” or a “professional mistake,” which could not be more ambiguous. Cops convicted of crimes are no longer called cops. They’re called “bad actors” or “bad apples” thus dissociating their actions from the rest of the state all for the sake of protecting their reputation and power and disregarding all of the crimes that continue to go unpunished within police departments. Meanwhile, their victims are called “thugs” or “criminals”. Protesters are similarly called “rioters,” “delinquents,” “vandals,” “criminals” or “dirty looters,” even when completely peaceful. Corporate destruction of the Earth is called “development” and “economic growth” and environmentalists and eco-anarchists who sabotage or destroy some equipment owned by these multi-billion dollars corporations raping the Earth are called “eco-terrorists” instead of these corporations.
Similarly, whistle-blowers who reveal government or corporate wrongdoing are called “cyber-terrorists.” Animal activists are labeled terrorists under the “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” for freeing animals from cruel testing facilities and factory farms when it is the owners of these operations who are terrorizing animals.3 Free speech when it condemns the state or its cronyist corporations is even called “terrorism.”4 A significant side-note is that from 2009 to 2014, a staggering 1.5 million people were added to the USG terrorist watchlist.5
In the eyes of the state, the “enemy,” foreign or domestic, is just an “obstacle in the mission to freedom.” These individuals who work in the state simply want to take the humanity out of the people they are oppressing and killing by using this kind of vernacular, so that the public can be more at ease with what they are doing. We are all fed lies that mask the disgusting, putrid realities of domestic and foreign wars. And the higher ups that command men and women to fight to their deaths demand they be addressed by even more self-important euphemisms like “marshal,” “general,” “lieutenant general,” “major general,” “brigadier,” “colonel,” “commandant,” “captain,” and so on. Pompous, sanctimonious, narcissistic judges similarly demand to be addressed as “your honor” or “your majesty” as if there is something noble about sending men and women to rot in cages or to be executed by the state. And the people who occupy the highest positions of power demand even more ludicrous titles of nobility like “His Holiness” “Lord,” “Grand duke” “Archduke”, “duchess”, “prince”, “baron”, “esquire”, “master” “Queen,” “king” “Pope” “Caliph” “emir”, “sultan”, “caliph”, “sheikh”, “khan”, “pharaoh”, “Caesar”, “kaiser”, “emperor”, and on and on, all euphemisms for contemptible, pretentious parasites, as if their actions alone weren’t damaging enough to the dignity of common people. What could be more plainly cultist, dogmatic, and feudalistic?
“Politics” may be the most insidious euphemism of them all. People often say they don’t want to “talk politics”or “get political”and instead remain “politically correct,” a euphemism for saying nothing controversial or of importance. But since governments claims jurisdiction over everything within their arbitrarily defined borders drawn up by violent conquest (and some like the USG continue to claim territory beyond their borders) there is virtually no aspect of life that is not affected by the decisions of elitist politicians, the cult of the state, and its cronies. One cannot discuss clean water, food sovereignty, food security, energy, housing, health-care, or education without “getting political.” If you’re interested in human or ecological rights or preservation, inevitably “politics” comes up.
The “war on terror” is another ubiquitous euphemism that in actuality means killing or incarcerating anyone who challenges the status quo. It is much like the red-scare of the 1950s in that it is simply an excuse to target and steal from political dissidents and minorities who refuse to prostrate themselves at the feet of our rulers. And any humanitarian organizations that seek to draw attention to the human rights violations committed by the government in their”war on terror” are labeled by the state as “terrorists” as well. Unlike some other euphemisms, however, this one has been used as the foundation for several laws. Under the material support statue or 18 USC § 2339B6 of the Patriot Act, an individual can be put in prison for 15 years for giving so called “material support” to any organizations deemed to use “terrorism” by the state department. Material support, as defined by the statute, doesn’t just include weapons or military aid that is predictably prohibited; it also includes humanitarian aid and simply talking with “terrorists” to reduce extremism and create nonviolent solutions to conflict. This statute tramples on the first amendment and creates far more violence than it deters. It also makes exception for religious materials, so bibles can be sent but food can’t. (Cigarettes and chewing gum are sometimes made exceptions too and they are allowed to continue flowing.)
Human rights organizations often have to intervene when states impose embargoes on trade with countries accused of “harboring terrorists” because they have a tremendous deleterious impact on the poor and working classes of these states, and some of these organizations are prosecuted because of their assistance under the material support statute. The state, in essence, is saying that it is acceptable to indoctrinate terrorists with another religion, radicalize them, and keep the struggling communities surrounding them hooked on tobacco. But should you try to discuss peace with them or provide people in the surrounding communities with actual humanitarian aid, you will be labeled as nothing more than a terrorist. Like many of the other so-called “anti-terrorism” laws, this statute exists merely to enable witch-hunts against political dissidents and peace activists, just as the “anti-communist” legislation and propaganda in the 1950s and ’60s did to people with communist ideologies. Of course, no one should be held liable for crimes committed by a group just because they have a loose association with it. If individuals have nothing to do with the crimes of these groups, there should be no debate about their culpability.
Jimmy Carter said, “The ‘material support law’ – which is aimed at putting an end to terrorism – actually threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence. The vague language of the law leaves us wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote peace and freedom.”This is accurate except the aim of the statute wasn’t to put an end to terrorism. That was the alleged purpose but the true purpose is to make sure the racket of war is well fed. In actuality the best way to prevent terrorism is to reduce the will for it and this is done by first interacting with those labeled as “terrorists”.
The Humanitarian Law Project is one of the many humanitarian organizations that has been prosecuted under the material support statute of the Patriot Act. In the Supreme Court case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the HLP was charged with “aiding” terrorist organizations because they tried to help the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam become peaceful. Noam Chomsky called the material support law that lead to the prosecution “the first major attack on freedom of speech in the United States since the notorious Smith Act back around 1940.” It is ironic that governments label anyone as terrorists when virtually everything they do is terrorism. Merriam Webster defines terrorism as “the unlawful use or threat of violence especially against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion “ If you remove “unlawful” from that definition, (as the state deems everything it does is “legal”) it describes incarceration, war, and every single law upheld by force.
As I have shown in this book, wars of all kinds are almost never waged with the intention of upholding social well-being or even to protect anyone. Real threats are not the reason state wars continue. Imagined threats, power struggles, greed, and quarrels between rulers of governments cause most wars. These individuals sit comfortably in their thrones of power and usually remain untouched and unaffected. Meanwhile, common people sign up and die for their wars they have no personal connection to. This is absolutely senseless. Wars sometimes begin over mere grievances between politicians and it is not fair that we are expected to fight their battles for them. The assassination of one man in power, Archduke Ferdinand, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia was the catalyst for WWI, (although many other factors were at play like the conflict between empires over the resources of Africa) a war that killed 38 million people. The fact that the United Nations doesn’t even have a standing peacekeeping force is further proof empires aren’t concerned with peace abroad. UN peacekeeping forces are assembled by recruiting small numbers of soldiers from government militaries. It is not possible to join a UN peacekeeping force without already being a member of a state’s military wherein the training is not centered around peacekeeping. And this apparent as many UN “peacekeepers” have raped and murdered locals where they are stationed, such as the Brazilian forces of the UN “Stabilization Mission” in Haiti.
Governments that use the death penalty literally kill individuals as a punishment for killing, since they claim to believe murder is ethically wrong. (It might make more sense to stop killing people if this is the case.) Most state officials who agree with the death penalty take pleasure in knowing a “criminal” has been killed, lawfully or unlawfully. Many enjoy knowing foreigners fighting their soldiers are being killed. But when non-state actors decide to kill in their own country illegally (for whatever reason), suddenly the government steps in as the “moral authority” to decide what is next.
Indiscriminate bombing increased rapidly with the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, along with their use of drones. Between January 1st 2012 and July 13 2012, the FAA authorized over 106 governmental departments to fly domestic drones.7 In Yemen and Somalia, drone strike targets are established by the Joint Special Operations Command Task Force 48-4 who send their intel on targets to the command in charge of the region who relays it to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then the secretary of defense. The Principals Committee of the National Security Council reviews it next and finally the President approves or denies the strike8 . The targets get no trial, jury, or lawyer. Instead, the state completely disregards due process and gives itself the legal authority to kill the target. At least 401 civilians were killed in Pakistan alone from 2006-2011 via drone strikes alone, and 175-277 children were killed in Pakistan via drone strikes from 2004-2009.9 Between 737 and 1551 civilians have been killed via drone strikes since January 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The US government is often not even aware of who they have killed. They simply drone an area where they believe a terrorist resides and anyone in the area is generally killed as well. As mentioned the government defines an “enemy combatant” or “militant” as any male over 18 years of age, so when they tally civilian deaths they don’t even include innocent men over 18. The use of “double tap drone strikes” also increased during the Bush and Obama administrations, which are drone strikes followed by another drone strike in the exact same area. The second strike is intended to kill those attempting to save those injured in the first strike. This is objectively evil.
The Obama Administration continually defended these drone strikes that rip apart civilians. For example, when former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to President Obama’s reelection campaign was cornered by reporters with video cameras who asked about the strike that killed Anwar Al-awlaki’s American, 16-year-old son and his friends in a drone strike, the senior adviser suggested that the boy should have “had a more responsible father.”
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in 2015 that there were “nine times more strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia than there were under his predecessor, George W Bush.” And the data shows the covert Obama strikes, the first of which hit Pakistan just three days after his inauguration, killed almost six times as many people and twice as many civilians than those ordered by Bush. In Trump’s first year, he approved a minimum of 2617 strikes in Afghanistan that killed a minimum of 13 civilians and a maximum of 149 according to the Bureau. Hundreds more were killed by conventional bombs in his first year.
In 2016 Obama also made plans to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal, including a long-range bomber, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear delivery systems, nuclear laboratories, nuclear submarines, multiple nuclear cruise missiles, known as the long-range stand-off missile (or LRSO), life extension of America’s B61 nuclear warhead, and more. (The contract for the LRSO was awarded to American arms manufacturing giant, Northrop Grumman.) The upgrade is projected to cost 1.2 trillion dollars over three decades.10
Politicians who send thousands and sometimes millions to die for their own interests cause more deaths than anyone who is branded by them as a “terrorist.” Of course, governments and transnational corporations never call themselves terrorists or call their actions terroristic and yet they inflict more terror on the world than any other institution. They are the true terrorists. Most governments define living as a basic human right, (which is why they punish murderers so severely) but only they decide who is allowed to keep this right and not face punishment for doing so. We must rethink the morality and circumstances of state violence and what we can do to end the institutionalization of violence in order to create justice, peace, and equity.
1 Firebombing (Germany & Japan) (13-15 February & 9-10 March 1945). WETA, Washington, DC and American Lives II Film Project, LLC. September 2007. https://www.pbs.org/thewar/detail_5229.htm
2 Angell, Joseph W. (1953). Historical Analysis of the 14–15 February 1945 Bombings of Dresden (PDF) (1962 ed.). USAF Historical Division Research Studies Institute, Air University, hq.af.mil.
3 The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) signed by President Bush on November 27, 2006 prohibits the public from taking any action “for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.” This means operating a website advocating a boycott of a business engaging in animal abuse could be labeled “terrorism.” The statute includes any act that either “damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property” or “places a person in reasonable fear” of injury. By this definition a competing business that costs an animal testing facility money could be labeled as a “terrorist.” In 2006 seven members of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty group were sentenced to terms in prison between three and six years under the AETA for sending black faxes and running a website that allegedly “incited attacks” (boycotts) on those who did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing laboratory that was abusing animals.
4 On May 15 2013, five Spanish anarchists were arrested for nothing but making comments on Facebook, which the judge who sentenced them labeled as “terrorism”. The five anarchists, Silvia Muñoz Layunta, Silvia Muñoz, Layunta Juan José Garrido, Marcos Yolanda Fernández, and Fernández Xabier Gonzalez Sola spent 123 days in prison.
5 Dante D’Orazio: Over 1.5 million added to US terrorist watch list in past five years. The Verge. Jul 20, 2014. https://www.theverge.com/2014/7/20/5920169/over-1-5-million-added-to-us-terrorist-watch-list-in-past-five-years
7 United States Government Accountability Office: UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS. Measuring Progress and Addressing Potential Privacy Concerns Would Facilitate Integration into the National Airspace System. September 2012. pg. 7. https://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648348.pdf
8 Cora Currier: The Kill Chain. The Intercept. October 15 2015. https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/the-kill-chain/
9 Jack Serle and Jessica Purkiss: Drone wars: the full data. 1/1/17. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-01/drone-wars-the-full-data
10Michael Bennett: Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046. Congressional Budget Office. October 31, 2017. https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/53211-nuclearforces.pdf