by Patrick Devlin
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives…”
-Major General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket pamphlet, 1935
Herman Göring, Founder of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany : “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
-quoted in Gustave Gilbert’s Nuremburg Diaries, taken from an interview conducted while the Nuremburg trials were taking place
Yesterday, the self-styled professor Elizabeth O’Bagy was fired by the non-profit organization based in Washington DC that is called the Institute for the Study of War. The Institute fired O’Bagy for lying, and for many Americans – ain’t too surprising to find that there is a liar in DC.
O’Bagy’s ‘go for the war’ op-ed in the Wall Street Journal was cited by warmongers of both political stripes as American politicians pumped and primed it’s war making machine over the past few weeks. Both Secretary of State John Kerry (D) and Senator John McCain (R) used the “facts” contained in the Wall Street Journal piece to inspire war fury in the populace, while pointing to the “important op-ed” as they banged their fists on congressional committee hearing tables.
The op-ed writer had lied that she had received her doctorate from Georgetown University, when in actuality Ms. O’Bagy has only received a master’s degree from that well respected institution of higher learning. Ms. O’Bagy’s act of puffery and misrepresentation of her credentials appears to have embarrassed the Institute for the Study of War sufficiently to result in her swift dismissal. Heaven knows, neither the institute nor the Democratic or Republican parties nor the Pentagon want the attention of the American public to be trained upon the institute’s own puffery and misrepresentations with regard to promoting American imperial wars.
The Institute for the Study of War was founded in 2007 and receives its operating money from grants, and contributions from individuals and (surprise) large private corporations that build weapons. The institute is recognized as being an early and aggressive supporter of the so-called “surge” strategy in the Iraq war and produced “The Surge: the Untold Story”, a promotional documentary that featured “never seen interviews” of the top US military commanders who directed the invasion of Iraq. The founder of the institute is noted also as being a ‘civilian advisor’ to CENTCOM who served with General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan and then, after his removal, advised General David Petraeus.
The institute more recently has conducted analysis and given counsel to the US Congress with respect to both Afghanistan and Iraq, produced four reports on the invasion of Lybia, reported on the status of the Iranian military and produced several reports on the civil war in Syria including; “The Struggle for Syria in 2011”, “Syria’s Maturing Insurgency” and “Syria’s Armed Opposition”. Interestingly, the non-profit war studying group appears to have performed no “research studies” on the effects of foreign occupations of sovereign states in the greater Middle East or the chemical weaponry used in Afghanistan and Iraq by invading Western armies, or by Israel when it invaded Gaza in 2008…you know, war stuff.
No one seemed too care much that the op-ed was written by an unabashed, weapons contractor supported wild-eyed backer of every civilian killing and misbegotten Middle Eastern military invasion that congresses and white houses owned by both of the American war parties unquestioningly (or some may argue unthinkingly) voted for over the past decade. And for her part, Ms. O’Bagy can rely upon her association with the organization called The Syrian Support Group, a group of Syrian expatriates living in the west that has been granted legal authority by the US Government to help arm the Free Syrian Army (the band of armed insurgents who are attempting to over throw the Assad government in Syria, a group that includes members of Al Qaeda) for future paychecks.
When contacted by reporters yesterday, Ms. O’Bagy explained her misrepresentations and fakery stating; “I’m not trying to trick America here…I am not a war monger…I’m just a researcher.”
I am reminded by this of another well rewarded and highly considered and well-connected American corporation: Burson-Marsteller, an international marketing and lobbying firm located in New York. To exemplify the ‘conncetedness’ of Burson, the current head of Burson (Don Baer) was President Bill Clinton’s White House Communications Director who Burson hired to replaced former CEO Mark Penn, who was a senior advisor for candidate Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful bid for the US presidency.
And, a subsidiary of the Burson-Marsteller family of companies called Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey (BKS&H), whose clients have included, Blackwater USA and the Beverly Hills located “Voice of Iran” radio (an anti-Iranian government propaganda media outlet), was hired to provide advice to the following US presidential candidates; G.W. Bush, Senator John Kerry, Vice President Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, and both presidents Ronald Reagan and G.H.W. Bush.
BKS&H garnered a small amount of popular infamy (but apparently not enough to bother US presidential candidates of both parties over the course many years) when it helped an Iraqi politician who called himself “the George Washington of Iraq” named Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi was a coordinator of an organization called the “Iraqi National Congress” (INC) in the late 1990s and early 2000s that – much like the “Syrian Support Group” that Ms. O’Bagy works for – performed a good deal of the lie-obbying in support of the US invasion of Iraq. The groups also share the coincidence (or whatever you yourselves may call it, Mr. and Ms. America) of having their fabulous and frightening lies about chemical weapons be “reported” in another major American newspaper, the New York Times. In Chalabi’s case – as reportage by that splendid exponent of freedom of the press in America named Judith Miller, that began in 1998 and continued through the invasion of Iraq. Of note for American historians, is the fact that Secretary of State Colin Powell misled the United Nations with information that came through Chalabi and was reported by Miller regarding Iraq’s alleged possession of chemical weapons.
And, like the warmongering-lobbyists in the Syrian Support Group and the war-promoting Institute for the Study of War, the elites of Washington DC received trusted advice advice from Chalabi and the INC. Chalabi made a high profile trip to Washington to be the special guest of Laura Bush at the state of the union address in 2004, shortly after the US invaded Iraq, and again in 2005 to meet with the then-in-power war promoter politicians including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The INC was given $33 million by the US Department of State between 2000 and 2003 and Chalabi himself received a monthly salary of $335,000 from the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
All this talk about Burson-Marsteller and BKS&H and all of those shadowy but fully funded by the US State Department and/or weapons manufacturing companies ‘war supporting groups’ reminds me of another well respected and highly rewarded American public relations company called Hill & Knowlton. Current clientele of H&K include America’s Gas Alliance, the lobby firm which, in 2009, spent $80 million convincing congress that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is AOK and all environmentally friendly and stuff – but formerly included such outfits as the tobacco industry, the Church of Scientology and, the government of Kuwait.
In the 1990s H&K received $10.8 million dollars from an organization called “Citizens for a free Kuwait” that was instrumental in convincing Americans and members of congress to invade Iraq in defense of Kuwait in the first gulf war that is known as Operation Desert Storm (or G.H.W. Bush’s war). Citizens for a Free Kuwait, like the Syrian Support Group and the INC, was made up of expatriates who fled their country to the west and wanted to force regime change in their old countries, essentially installing themselves as the new leadership class.
During the pre-invasion propaganda storm that preceded Operation Desert Storm, H&K presented to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus “Nurse Nayirah”, an alleged Kuwaiti nurse, who testified that she had born witness to an immoral and inhuman act carried out by Sadam’s Republican Guard military; scores of helpless and innocent premature infants were slaughtered by Iraqi soldiers at the al-Addan hospital in Kuwait City. Nurse Nayirah, weeping, told the breathless and credulous congressional panel that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers as “they took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor.” On October, 9 1990, President G.H.W. Bush, speaking at a press conference, told America that, “babies in incubators (were) heaved out of the incubators” by Saddam’s evil soldiers. The horrific tale seemed at the time to define the Saddam Hussein regime as being a modern Nazi state and inflamed the passions of Americans and US politicians as the war drums were beating in support of an invasion. Later, US Amnesty International revealed that “Nurse Nayirah” was not a nurse, but rather lived in America with her father – the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States, the story had been created out of thin air.
Major General Smedley Butler, who is quoted at the outset of this piece, who fought in many of America’s brutal imperial wars in the early part of the past century and who was one of the Marines’ most decorated soldiers (only one of two Marines ever to receive the Medal of Honor for two separate acts of bravery), realized after he left the military that he did not ‘spread democracy’ or participate in ‘humanitarian interventions’ as a soldier.
Butler came to realize and confess that through his participation in military invasions; “I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
“A few profit – and the many pay (from war). But there is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.”
War is over (if you want it)