Congress Has Lost Its Mind

The US House of Representatives, excluding 10 brave members, recently gave us proof of its collective insanity. House Resolution 758, passed on December 5, 2014, condemns Russia as an aggressor nation that must be sanctioned. The bill’s supporting arguments are a tapestry of lies and propaganda, and hypocrisy. Among the howlers:

  • Russia has “invaded” Ukraine. Every month or so the corporate media spouts some nonsense about Russian tanks invading its neighbor’s separatist-ruled eastern provinces, but we’re never offered any proof. Even if they’re talking about Crimea, Russia’s actions there are not an invasion but an occupation. Crimea is a historic part of Russia populated mostly by ethnic Russians which was granted arbitrarily to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev in 1954. Somehow the US doesn’t have any trouble with Israel occupying Palestinian land, and the Palestinians didn’t welcome their occupiers as did the Crimeans.
  • Russia was responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, because the commercial airliner was shot down by pro-Russian separatists using Russian weapons. Again, we’re not offered a shred of proof, and it’s equally plausible that Ukrainian forces shot down the plain either accidentally or intentionally (as a false flag promoting war with Russia.)
  • Russia has initiated economic sanctions against Ukraine. More precisely, Russia has eliminated subsidies, the same way the US Federal government threatens to cut off funding for states that refuse to enact its policies. In reality, the US is the aggressor, first supporting the ultra-nationalist coup in Ukraine, and then strong-arming our allies in the EU into supporting sanctions that hurt them (our friends) far more than they hurt the “evil” Putin.
  • Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This one’s true, which is to Putin’s credit: Assad is the good guy in this situation, opposing the barbaric, genocidal so-called “Islamic State.” It’s the United States that illegally initiated aggression against Syria by arming the so-called “moderate rebels.” In reality, it was arming ISIS. Whether this was an act of sheer stupidity or Machiavellian evil, I can’t say.

Unfortunately, a lot of people I know believe the US corporate media’s bullshit about Russia. Please don’t take my word for it, look to the alternative media for a more balanced perspective. There are even British mainstream sources such as the Mail Online which tell the truth about Russia. I’m not saying it’s a perfect country; it has many policies I abhor, such as military conscription and oppression of gays and Chechens. Yet at the rate we’re going, with our rising rates of incarceration and “anti-terrorist” legislation, America will soon be less free than Russia.

Should we really risk igniting a new world war by antagonizing a fellow nuclear power for dubious reasons? Absolutely not!

 

An American’s Belated Thanks

In this belated Thanksgiving post, I’d like to express my appreciation of the rights we still have in America. That is not to say that they come from the government, because I believe that freedom is part of the birthright of all human beings everywhere. Still, to the degree that I don’t need to fear incarceration for speaking my mind, for defending myself and my family, and for refusing arbitrary searches, I’m grateful to the stubborn pro-freedom heritage of my people.

We libertarians sometimes forget that there are a lot of countries that are more stupid and despotic than ours. Though there are certainly several nations with a freer press and better protections against the police, the vast majority are worse. Even those countries with close ties to America, with traits we admire such as sensible policies regarding drugs and sex, are often plagued with idiotic “hate speech” laws. For all that Americans can be smeared, demonized and boycotted for expressing an unpopular opinion – think Donald Sterling, Paula Deen and the Duck Dynasty family – you can’t be fined or arrested, as you could in many European countries, even the UK.

Nor can we be punished for questioning or mocking religion, as in most Muslim-majority countries, or for openly practicing or discussing gay lifestyles, as in Russia. Though the US government has put enormous pressure on whistle blower sites such as Wikileaks, our Internet is not (yet) censored, as in China. In many places, a person can be arrested for questioning the official accounts of the Nazi Holocaust. Personally, I have no desire to deny such atrocities; people who do so are delusional. Yet such laws provide unintentional motivation for neo-Nazis, and can easily chill honest scholarship, in much the same way that Turkey’s laws against defaming the nation prevent people from discussing the Armenian genocide.

Unlike many nations, the US does not have a military draft, and we should be very thankful for that. Conscription is truly a form of slavery that allows governments to pursue aggressive wars despite public opposition, forcing young people to kill and be killed. Even Switzerland, one of the most relatively free countries on Earth, forces its male citizens to be part of its military reserve – though due to that country’s enlightened political neutrality, the mandate is not nearly as onerous as it could be.

Finally, though the police in America can certainly be oppressive and abusive, they have not yet reached the level of corruption as in Mexico and many other places. We’re not yet to the point where a group of college students protesting peacefully could be abducted and murdered en masse. Though Mexico still has its good points, the government’s draconian gun laws are a great atrocity that has, in part, allowed the drug cartels to run roughshod over the people.

As Americans we must appreciate the rights we have left, and use them on every possible occasion. We should not censor ourselves out of fear; we should aggressively defend our ability to speak out. If a “state of emergency” is ever declared, we may be among the first to be detained, but the risk is worth it.

 

Why I’m Not Voting in This Election

I cast my first vote at the age of 19. Since then I’ve participated in every significant election, both Presidential and mid-term. I once ran (unsuccessfully) for the Arizona State Legislature. I’ve given money to campaigns and I spent two years as the secretary of the Arizona Libertarian Party. As of now, I’m done with all that, and here’s why.

There’s no significant difference between major-party candidates. Though their rhetoric may differ, once in office they do the same thing as their predecessors. Barack Obama could have ended the wars, vetoed extensions of the so-called Patriot Act, closed Guantanamo and ended NSA spying, but he didn’t. In many ways, his administration was worse than that of George W Bush.

Third parties are locked out. The only candidates who advocate real change are in alternative parties such as Libertarian and Green, but the powers that be put huge hurdles against them getting on the ballot. Including these extra candidates would “confuse the voters,” the politicians say, as if we’re children. Third parties spend all their meager funds collecting signatures to achieve ballot access. If they do get on, the corporate media treat their candidates like a joke, or more commonly ignore them completely.

The system – both the media and the party hierarchy – discriminates against those who work for real change. Congressman Ron Paul tried for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012 against incredible odds. He was immensely popular, yet the pundits dismissed his successes in the primaries as flukes, or failed to report them at all. The party apparatchiks rigged convention rules to prevent Paul’s representatives from speaking or even being seated.

Voting machines enable fraud, which I suspect is widespread. Many jurisdictions use machines manufactured by companies such as Diebold. The software on this devices is secret and there is no audit trail. Machines are in the custody of party hacks who have the ability to change the votes. This almost certainly happened when John Kerry lost Ohio to Bush in 2004, yet no charges were ever filed.

If the people don’t vote the way the elite want, they keep bringing the issue back until they do. Initiatives and referenda are a powerful tool for democracy, ye the system prevents them from working. Here in Arizona, the public turned down boondoggles for riverside development and public transit, but both projects were repackaged and approved years later. If, on the other hand, a measure threatens the system, such as an initiative we had years ago to repeal the state income tax, it is subject to close scrutiny and “disqualified.”

Although big money dominance of the elections is a problem, campaign finance reform won’t work. Campaign laws are most often used against the little guy, or anyone who challenges the status quo. Congressman George Hansen of Idaho, an outspoken opponent of the IRS, was convicted in 1984 of irregularities in his filings and spent 15 months in Federal prison, enduring unspeakably brutal treatment. Personally, I believe campaign finance restrictions to be an unconstitutional limitation on free speech. Some kind of disclosure requirement might be helpful, but I don’t expect the wealthy 1% would ever be held accountable.

Voting in 21st Century America is a waste of time and a distraction from the real issues. It’s time that would be much better spent researching government wrongdoing, finding ways to safeguard our privacy and beat the system, or engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience. In the words of Emma Goldman, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

 

Proud to be a Truther

In America today, a sure way to mark yourself as crazy is to express a belief in 9/11 Truth. To clarify, I’m referring to the theory that the Federal government is lying about the causes and events of the so-called terrorist attack of 9/11/2001, with the high probability that some secretive group within the government is either partially or wholly responsible. People view us as deluded cranks because of course the government would never do such a thing. Personally, I don’t care what these people think, because I know that I’m right.

I’m not saying that I believe every rumor and conjecture that the Truth movement has spawned. Many of these are listed in the documentary video Loose Change, which I regard as a pastiche of wild and sometimes contradictory conjectures. In fact, I think that many of the more ridiculous theories (such as, the passengers of Flight 77 were abducted rather than killed, that there were sinister pods under the wings of the planes, or that the hijackers are alive somewhere in the Arab world) have been intentionally pushed by the US intelligence agencies to discredit us. Just because an idea appears on a slick video is no reason to believe it.

I’m a truther because the official story is so preposterous – that 19 untrained Arabs with box cutters circumvented airport security separately in different airports, for starters. For the alleged conspiracy to succeed required simultaneous security failures in numerous government agencies from the FBI to NORAD. Think the government wouldn’t target its own people? Read Day of Deceit by Robert Stinnet, which outlines how FDR deceived the public about the Pearl Harbor attack. Investigate Operation Gladio, in which western intelligence agencies faked Communist terror attacks in Europe. We ordinary citizens are “collateral damage,” expendables whose murder is justified if it furthers some policy goal. Note that the so-called USA PATRIOT ACT was written and ready to go, requiring only a justification for its passage. There is also concrete evidence that the CIA was following al Qaeda and knew of their plans – see Disconnecting the Dots by Kevin Fenton.

Today we may be considered crazy. Someday we will be recognized as visionaries.

Vladimir the Terrible?

As a libertarian, I don’t like political leaders or their phony, arrogant claims to “legitimate” use of power. I despise every last one of them, especially Obama, the Clintons, and the Bushes, both father and son. They are among the worst people the world has ever produced. Being at the helm of the world’s most powerful country has allowed them to exceed the evils of those whom they’ve demonized, two-bit dictators such as Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Khadaffi. Power corrupts, whether you lead an autocracy or an alleged republic. That is why I’m surprised by the restraint that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President, has shown so far in the Ukrainian crisis.

It’s not that Putin is a nice guy. He was formerly in the KGB, the kind of organization which would not exist in a just world. Many people believe that Putin’s government, not Chechen separatists, were behind the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings. These false-flag events gave “Vlad the Terrible” an excuse to crush that rebellious province, rather than granting them a plebiscite on independence as is their right. Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was mysteriously poisoned by the radioactive element polonium while in exile in London. Who but the government of a nuclear power could pull this off? Putin has also presided over a ridiculous anti-gay law that serves mainly to focus the peoples’ minds on an imaginary threat.

Yet Putin’s Russia has proved to be a worthy adversary for the arrogant and self-righteous United States. The American corporate media likes to blame Russia and Putin for the chaos in Ukraine, but in reality, America’s spy services and its captive “non-government” organizations initiated the conflict. Obama’s State Department interfered by supporting the protests, even after they became violent. When Ukraine’s President Yanukovych compromised to schedule new elections, the US-supported far right elements drove him from the country. The new junta in Kiev immediately passed discriminatory laws designed to outrage the Russian minority in the country’s east and south. Did the holier-than-though US government tell our allies to stop this, lest the country slide into civil war? Of course not; provoking ethnic Russians and their cousins across the border was probably their real aim.

Again and again we hear that Russia “invaded” Crimea. Balderdash. Crimea was historically part of Russia, not the Ukraine. Its people are mostly ethnic Russians, a majority of whom supported the annexation in an internationally monitored election which the Ukraine opposed. Ironically, the US did the exact same thing in supporting Kosovo’s split from Serbia in opposition to the wishes of the Serbian people. Consistency has never been the US government’s strong suit.

Because of this alleged “invasion,” the US proceeded to impose ridiculous economic sanctions on Russia and strong-arm its lackeys in the European Union to go along with them. Then came the crash of flight MH-17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. Without providing any evidence whatsoever, the US government blamed the pro-Russian rebels (and by extension Russia) for this atrocity. The media refused to entertain the possibility that the Ukrainian military did this themselves in order to whip up anti-Russian sentiment.

This kind of “false flag” operation has happened throughout history, such as Nazi Germany’s Gleiwitz Incident (which it used to justify invading Poland) the CIA’s Operation Gladio which terrorized post-war Europe and Israel’s Lavon Affair which attempted to frame Islamists for a series of bombings in Cairo.

I believe the reason America hates Putin is that he’s one of the few world leaders who appears to be sticking up for the interests of his own country and against those of the globalist corporate community. Throughout the world we see leaders kow-towing to the “neoliberal” world order, plunging their countries into IMF-engineered debt servitude.

Libertarians detest this exploitative system, and also oppose the sanctions against Russia. Putin has done a lot of evil things, and is certainly no hero in our philosophy, though some (myself included) admire his determination and apparent cleverness. Best of all, he’s no stooge of the financial industry. The oligarchs who looted Russia during the Boris Yeltsin era were not “too big to jail.”

No matter what Putin’s motivations are, it hardly seems sane for our leaders to risk war with another nuclear power over a small patch of territory, and over what was probably just a tragic accident. Another, more probable outcome of this new cold war is that Russia and its allies such as China will create their own independent systems for trade and banking.This would end the economic supremacy of the US, already under threat, along with most of the value of the dollar. That would be a disaster for all of us “commoners,” whether the event was intentionally planned or just the unintended consequences of the incredible arrogance of American politicians.

Though what happened to MH-17 is still a mystery, one thing is for certain: the story the corporate media tells us is based upon lies.There may not be much we can do about the insane belligerence of so-called leaders such as Barack Obama (and his bloodthirsty Republican opponents), but we must not let ourselves be their fools, either.

The “Real Words” of our National Anthem

On this July Fourth I’d like to say a few words about the US national anthem. Many of you are no doubt aware that this year marks the two hundredth anniversary of the lyrics, written by Francis Scott Key as “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Few people know that the song has four verses, because we seldom hear any but the first these days. Far fewer people are aware of the origin of the melody, a popular English drinking song from the 1700′s.

Yet another little-known fact is the controversy that surrounded the adoption of the song in 1931 as the nation’s official anthem. An article that appeared in the Daily Beast on last July 4th tells some of this fascinating story. The song has been the target of criticism for a melody that is difficult to sing (with a range of an octave and a fifth) and for its lyrics that celebrate militarism.

By the way, today’s history-challenged young people may not know the story behind the war that inspired Key’s poem. The War of 1812 was the nation’s first major war after the American colonies secession from the British Empire. In grade school I learned that this second war was Britain’s fault for restricting our trade with France and conscription of American sailors into the Royal Navy.

In junior high school I was fortunate to have a teacher named Frank Lewis, an offbeat-looking man (he wore coke-bottle glasses and a 50′s style pompadour) who helped inspire my own passion for history. In his class, we learned that another over-riding reason for the war was the desire of certain American politicians to violently annex British holdings in Canada (the southeast portion of the current country) and Florida. They were known as War Hawks, birds of prey with the distinctive cry, “Canada! Florida!” They got their war, which ended in a stalemate. At least 5000 American and British soldiers and sailors died and untold numbers of civilians, all for naught. It’s not a glorious episode in our history, which is why I prefer the original lyrics of the song.

Speaking of the original song, its creators were members of a London men’s club called the “Anacreon Society.” Anacreon was a poet from classical Greece whose works extolled the virtues of “wine, women and song.” As such these words are at least as appropriate for us Americans. Back in 1835, French writer Alexis de Toqueville observed that “the drinking population constitutes the majority in your country, and that temperance is somewhat unpopular.” Here without further adieu is the first verse of the famous “Anacreon in Heaven” (which you can listen to here):

 

THE ANACREONTIC SONG

as Sung at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand

Words by Ralph Tomlinson, music by John Stafford Smith

 

To Anacreon in Heav’n, where he sat in full glee,

A few sons of harmony sent a petition,

That he their Inspirer and patron wou’d be;

When this answer arriv’d from the jolly old Grecian

“Voice, fiddle, and flute,

“No longer be mute,

“I’ll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,

“And, besides, I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine

“The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine.

 

Remember these words on this Fourth when you hear the line about the “land of the (formerly) free and the home of the (occasionally) brave.” And if you haven’t seen it, watch this clip of Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat singing the words of the fictional Kazakhstan national anthem to this tune for unsuspecting rodeo patrons. He was lucky he didn’t get himself lynched!

 

Domestic Terrorism May Not Be A Joke, But It Sure Is Funny

In his recent “Security Weekly” column of the “intelligence” web-site Stratfor, former State Department investigator Scott Stewart entitled his column “Domestic Terrorism Is No Joke.” In it, he wrote about Las Vegas cop-killers Jerad and Amanda Miller, describing them as drug-addled anarchistic libertarians. In his opinion, the attack was proof that “domestic terrorism remains a persistent threat” in America, albeit a “low-level” one.

I’d guess that what the writer meant not that terrorism is not funny, but rather, it is something we ought to take seriously. This is an assertion I dispute, despite the occasional murder spree by nutjobs such as the Millers. How can we take “terrorism” seriously, when all the information we get from the government and mainstream media is distorted or even fabricated? Nearly every terrorist incident seems to be a law enforcement trap for disgruntled losers (for example, the Akron bridge bombers), a sting that gets out of hand (the Oklahoma City bombing) or a full-blown false flag event such as 9/11 (see Kevin Fenton’s Disconnecting the Dots for evidence of the government’s prior knowledge.) Among the few incidents that might possibly be genuine, such as the attempted Times Square bombing, the perpetrators are unanimous when speaking of their motivation – US interference in the Islamic world, that very same interventionism that is supposed to “keep us safe.”

In short, the propaganda about terrorism is so ridiculous that it sometimes ventures out of the range of “funny queer” into funny ha-ha. It’s not that there’s anything light-hearted about killing and injuring innocent people. However, humor often serves a “stress relief” function that helps us keep our sanity in the face of tragedy. In fact, there’s a lot of comic mileage to be made here. We all know the TV networks are desperately seeking edgy and relevant shows to reclaim market share from the cable and Internet companies. I humbly submit the following suggestions for shows that might capitalize on this:

Hussein’s Heroes – Lovable rascal Mohammad Hussein constantly outwits his bumbling captors at Guantanamo, sneaking into Cuba to lead Quran study groups. Hilarity ensues as the handsome Hussein struggles to resist the advances of promiscuous atheistic Cuban women.

The Real McVeys – Endearing family of racist anti-semites from deep in the Appalachians relocate to the Colorado River valley, where they encounter meddling bureaucrats, lily-livered environmentalists, and shiftless welfare-dependent Mexicans.

The Big Bomb Theory – a group of four nerdy white supremacists (including one suspiciously dark self-described “Aryan”) teach classes in bomb-making and Holocaust Denial on a right-wing commune in Oklahoma. Their romantic interest is a pretty blonde who claims to be a “former” FBI agent – or is she?

Two and a Half Mujaheddin – Wealthy Jamal takes in brother Ahmed and nephew Jabbar after Ahmed’s wife is stoned for adultery. In the pilot episode, Jamal teaches Jabbar the proper role of women by allowing him to beat their housekeeper for “talking back” to her male masters.

Salaams – At a Chechen tea house in Boston, a group of lovable losers tell stories of their exploits and exchange pressure cooker recipes.

The Davidians – folksy show about a simple group of religious people living together in a huge house in Waco, Texas. The communal marriage arrangements provide constant comedic fodder, as well as encounters with the incompetent ATF agents who are always nosing about. In a running gag, everyone in the “family” tries to say “good night” to everyone else every night. “Good night, Mary Sue. Good night, Father David.”

911-Jump Street – a squad of Italian and Latino FBI agents pose as Arab Muslims to infiltrate terrorist madrasas throughout North America. There’s lots of “fish out of water” humor as the protagonists struggle to remember the correct direction for prayers to Mecca.

“F” Team – The adventures of a US Provincial Reconstruction Team at the height of the Afghan War. Well-meaning but bumbling American GI’s trade barbs with corrupt, conniving locals.

Remember, I offer these suggestions not to make light of anyone’s tragedy but to hopefully give readers a chuckle or two of relief in this insane world. Networks, feel free to use any and all of these suggestions; all I ask is a 1% royalty.

 

Remember Tiananmen Square

Twenty-five years ago today, hundreds of civilians were murdered as pro-democracy protests in Beijing were brutally suppressed by the Chinese government. Every year, the Chinese police state stages a crackdown around this time of year, lest anyone remember this uprising. I would like to honor those who died or were beaten and/or imprisoned as part of this struggle. Here in America, we are accustomed to thinking of soldiers as “defenders of freedom.” In Tiananmen Square, we saw the true nature of government, and the real reason that nations have military forces – to destroy freedom, and defend the ruling elites against the people. Though the repression appears to have succeeded for a time, here’s wishing the Chinese people will eventually know liberty.

 

It’s also a good lesson to us in America, that we should not tolerate ANY restrictions on our freedom of expression, even the phony excuses that peaceful demonstrations might somehow jeopardized the “safety” of the Emperor (a.k.a. President) or other high officials. Shame on you, US Supreme Court! Your recent failure to eliminate so-called “free speech zones” shall go down in infamy with your predecessors’ failure to strike down the unconstitutional Espionage Act nearly a century ago.

 

Man Up, Mr. Obama

Mr President, everybody is talking about your address to West Point graduates. Republicans and other neoconservatives are upset because you showed an insufficient degree of blood lust. Anti-interventionists like myself are upset because you persist in keeping America in its role of global policeman. I’m aware that you Democrats seem to have a psychological need to prove you’re as “tough” or more so than the Republicans. But why? Let me humbly offer a suggestion. You can be much tougher by doing a 180 degree turn and, in the manner of statesmen from George Washington to Robert Taft to Ron Paul, renounce foreign entanglements completely.

This is, after all, one of the main reasons the American people elected you in 2008, because we were already weary of George W Bush’s constant war-making and intrusions on our civil liberties. Not only that, but you promised us “one of the most transparent administrations ever.”

Here are my top 10 suggestions:

1. End all US military operations in the Islamic world, including support of rebels in Syria and the deployment of “advisers” in Afghanistan, thus removing a major motivation for terrorism.

2. Announce an end to the use of weaponized drones, with a pledge to never again to deploy them absent a Congressional declaration of war.

3. Issue sweeping restrictions on NSA spying, as required by the Bill of Rights.

4. Close Guantanamo – not just the prison, but the entire naval base, and hand it back to Cuba, as part of an unconditional normalization of relations with that country. Release all prisoners against whom the US has no evidence, which, according to terrorism experts, would be all but a handful.

5. Announce your intention to veto any extension of the USA PATRIOT Act or the NDAA.

6. Normalize relations with Iran, and end sanctions immediately in return for thorough and frequent inspections of nuclear facilities.

7. Issue executive pardons for Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and James Risen. Terminate any ongoing prosecutions of government whistle blowers.

8. End all US aid to and special bilateral agreements with the apartheid regime in Israel. Prohibit all US arms sales until illegal settlers are removed from Palestinian land. Alternatively, all Arabs, including those in the occupied territories and refugees living abroad, should be granted full rights and equal status with Jewish citizens.

9. Abandon the “Pivot to Asia.” Support negotiations between China and its neighbors to fairly divide claims to the Senkaku Islands and mineral rights in the South China sea.

10. End all sanctions against Russia and invite them to talks between the Kiev government and rebels in Donetsk and other Russian speaking areas. Support the notion of Ukraine as a neutral, decentralized buffer state with good relations with both Russia and the EU. Recognize the annexation of Crimea as consistent with Russia’s historic claims to the region.

Contrary to the assertions of the corporate-owned media, all of these actions would have substantial public support, some of them overwhelming majorities. I assure you that if you take even one of these actions, everyone, including Republicans, will have to admit you have the cojones. Furthermore, the United States would no longer be seen as the bully of the world, but would once again be “the shining light on the hill.”

Should We Thank The Veterans?

It’s Memorial Day in America, and once again the media bombards us with endless sermons, saying we should “thank a veteran” for “fighting for our freedom.” It’s one of those reflexive statement that becomes almost meaningless by repetition. Personally, I find it offensive. To “thank a veteran for their service” is an implicit endorsement of the US military interventions in which they participated. With the possible exception of World War II (which ended nearly 70 years ago), none of those wars, conflicts, or police actions had anything to do with our freedom.

Consider this country’s many undeclared, unconstitutional conflicts since VJ Day: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and others. These have either been stalemated (Korea), lost (Vietnam), or have ushered in regimes worse than their predecessors. For example, our Afghan “allies,” just like the evil Taliban, oppress women and execute their citizens for non-crimes such as homosexuality, adultery and apostasy. Unlike the Taliban, they take bribes from opium growers and tolerate child sex trafficking. Despite all these dismal failures, we Americans have not lost our freedoms, except for those we foolishly surrendered to our own government in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Thus the rationale for our indebtedness, that we somehow owe our liberties to our former service-members, is based on a falsehood.

I don’t say this to condemn our military men and women, whether they are veterans or active duty. In the days of Korea and Vietnam, most were drafted, “serving” under duress. Nowadays all are volunteers, yet I believe that the vast majority join with good intentions. They’ve been indoctrinated with our culture’s unquestioning adulation of the military, and misinformed by the corporate media’s one-sided support for every overseas adventure. They do not join to kill foreigners who have done us no harm, nor to overthrow those inconvenient regimes that obstruct the will of avaricious American corporations. Neither are they at fault for the serial failures of US foreign policy. It is this country’s leadership, both civilian and military, that chooses these pointless conflicts with their poorly defined goals. Our military brass, with a few honorable exceptions such as Admiral William Fallon*, seem to have one overriding strategy: to advance their careers and increase funding for their branches. The well-being of our nation is an afterthought.

For the men and women of the military, we can appreciate their good intentions without condoning their actions in support of US foreign policy. Certainly we should help those who have been damaged and abandoned for by heartless government they served. Definitely we should wish those on active duty a safe return from wherever they’ve been deployed. The best way to “support the troops” would be to immediately end all US interventions and bring every last one of them home. As for our veterans, there is one thing I would like to thank them for – the fact that they are no longer a part of the military machine.

* In 2007, in defiance of pressure from neoconservatives in the Bush Administration, Fallon declared that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” In 2008, he was forced into resigning. He’s another veteran I’d like to thank.