Tag Archives: American Civil War


I believe I have finally found the appropriate metaphor to describe America’s war machine. It is a multi-billion dollar purveyor of shoddy merchandise, often obtained from dubious sources, that seeks to spread its influence around the Globe and dupe the public into patronizing it without proper consideration of the consequences for the health and welfare of either its employees or customers, just like Walmart.

The shoddy merchandise the United States Department of Defense does purvey, unlike the goods available at Walmart, are not fit for women, children and other living things. The sole purpose of DOD is to find a place, any place, where the generals can practice the war tactics they learned at West Point or in their ROTC classes without regard to the sovereignty of other nations, the sanctity of their borders, or the lives and limbs of their citizens.

Moreover the Department of Defense exercises its powers not in the defense of the United States as its name suggests, but rather in the functions that were its forte when it was still known as the War Department. That is more fitting for the simple reason that while war has been a constant part of American life since its founding, rare has the defense of America provided justification for those wars.

After all, one has to go back to the War Of 1812 to find an occasion where a foreign army has effectively invaded our borders requiring us to put up a defense. Mexican War? A campaign of conquest to expand our borders. The Indian Wars? We were the invaders, not the defenders. The American Civil War? The archetypical intercine conflict surely never contemplated by our Forefathers when they pledged to “provide for the common defence in the Preamble to the United States Constitution. 

Not even Germany and Austro-Hungary during WW I and the Axis powers in WW II ever seriously attempted to breach our borders in their attempts at World Conquest. (Good thing that Wall was built, eh?)

Our other wars have been a melange as we pretended  to not have colonies while at the same time getting pissed off when our non-colonies were attacked or sticking our collective warmongering noses into other nations’ affairs because some politician got a hard on to rid the world of commies, Muslims, and other scum, usually with darker skin than the American “ideal”. Never mind that we sent our own soldiers of color to fight other soldiers of color with the only commonality they shared was that generally our government treated all those soldiers and their families as less than human.

Now I’ve never been in the Pentagon, home to this massive and vastly over-expensive war machine. But I am old enough to recall being in big city department stores and taking the elevator to the upper stories with the operator sounding off what could be found on each floor where it stopped. But instead of household notions or ladies garments the Pentagon’s elevator stops at floors where the operator, in my imagination, intones ” 2nd Floor—Ground troops available to die for no cause. 3rd Floor—Over-priced and unneeded fighter planes. 4th Floor—drones and torture devices.  5th Floor—Penthouse—closed to all but Generals and their aides, representatives of defense contractors, lobbyists, and Congresscritters who voted for the highest level of appropriations.”


I found this intriguing essay reprinted on Huffington Post a few days back


In it Andrew J. Bacevich, who is both a historian and a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served in Vietnam (and who, coincidentally is only nine days older than myself)  expounds on what he terms the seven principles that “that define the prevailing military system of the United States.”

Well enough, but his essay begins with a quote from St. Sugustine—the ancient philospher, not the Florida city.

The purpose of all wars, is peace.

I’m sure Augie had some meat behind those words but to me the notion is absurd. If you don’t have war you have peace so why would someone start a war to achieve peace?

No, the purpose of war is greed. Greed for wealth, greed for power, greed for revenge, greed for territory, and even, if you will as in the American Revolution, greed for freedom. However even that notion is tempered by the fact our revolution like most, was fought to counter the greed of our oppressors serving those other purposes.

Bacevich approaches these principles from the point of questioning why the world’s greatest military power ever cannot win the wars it starts. And that, my friends, is a gross oversimplification that is unfair to what Bacevich has written. He examines our all-volunteer army and what that means for the citizenry. He discusses the roles of Congress and the President (any president) in supporting, providing for, and exercising this vast military power and how the executive ends up prolonging wars.

The following passage alone is what inspired my thoughts and this writing.

…pursuant to the terms of our military system, the armed services have been designed not to defend the country but to project military power on a global basis. For the Department of Defense actually defending the United States qualifies as an afterthought…

I do have some differences with Bacevich over how he answers the questions he raises. But as he is former military of high rank his perspective is bound to provide different conclusions than mine. I do applaud him for asking these questions. When I first read his essay I knew it was worth pondering then re-reading, and then commenting on in some form and forum.

I am against war. That is as directly as I can state it. War? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing—thank you Edwin Starr.

I’ve been alive to observe this nation’s war machine in action for over sixty years. I have yet to be impressed with either the rationale behind these actions or the execution of them. I came of age during the Vietnam War and, due to student deferments and than open slots in an Army reserve unit managed to avoid its clutches. Many in my generation served, and many protested, and the Venn diagram of those two groups and positions reveals a significant overlap.There are people who assert we learned lessons from that folly and that is was stopped by the massive protests. Neither is true.

And even if these alleged lessons can be defined, as Hamlet said, they are

More honour’d in the breach than the observance.

One of my favorite Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, had just completed a grueling round of negotiations that brought an official end to our Revolution through treaty with Britain. He took the time to write his long time friend, Josiah Quincy, Sr., to remark on that and related events including criticism he had faced. And he concluded that letter with the words I think all of us should take to heart.


there never was a good War, or a bad Peace.







Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he’d set up an agency with a “mandate” to promote what he calls “Judeo-Christian values” overseas to counter Islamist propaganda.


The Ohio governor says he would create the new agency to promote the values of human rights, democracy and the freedoms of speech, religion and association. Kasich says the information would be distributed in the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia, to compete with the propaganda and misinformation purveyed by Islamic militants.

And here I thought Kasich was one of the saner GOPers. He’s out of his mind. I believe there already exists such an agency. It’s called the Christian Church and Judaism. And they’ve been promoting their “values” for thousands of years.

Christian nations began both World Wars which together killed over 100 MILLION people!

A Christian nation embroiled its citizens in a four year long Civil War that sometimes literally pitted brother against brother and resulted in about 700,000 deaths.

A Christian nation pursued expansion that resulted in the deaths of most of its native population…many by disease and starvation…with perhaps at least a few hundred thousand killed by hostile action.

A Christian nation fought in an unnecessary and futile war in Southeast Asia and was responsible for—by conservative estimates—ONE MILLION deaths, the majority civilians.

A Christian nation invaded Iraq  under false pretenses and was responsible for as many as ONE MILLION deaths.

A Jewish nation illegally appropriated land from Palestinians and while claiming to act solely in self-defense kills nearly 4000 of the supposed aggressors (since 2008) while suffering fewer than 100 deaths of its own. Some defense, eh?

DAESH (ISIS) has by best estimates killed about 170,000 people. We’ll grant that Islamic terrorists as a whole perhaps can claim as many as ONE MILLION victims, but the number is probably not even close to that figure.

The deaths caused by Christian nations in these conflicts include millions of civilian non-combatants of both genders and of all ages, most notably the SIX MILLION dead in the Holocaust.

Pray tell precisely what values does Kasich expect to convey? These examples demonstrate little concern for human life. Besides the deaths millions of people were displaced…sorta like the current Syrian refugees, you know? And how many more have had their lives torn apart while suffering physical and psychological injuries is impossible to know.

Furthermore if Kasich’s creation is intended to be an official government agency he’s getting into First Amendment territory where such actions would be prohibited.

Let’s face it. Contrary to what Kasich apparently hopes to accomplish, pushing Judeo-Christian “values” is simply telling the rest of that world that violence, death, and destruction are the preferred methods in attempting to achieve geographicl-political goals.

Examining the history behind the troubling current events plainly shows those “values” are what got us into this mess.

I am invoking my inner Nancy Reagan. Just say, NO!