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Archive for July, 2011

Alexei Tolstoy: The one incontestable result was dead bodies

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

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Alexei Tolstoy
From The Sisters (1921)
Translated by Ivy and Tatiana Litvinova

Arriving at the battle zone, the thunder of which could be heard miles away, the carts and troops seemed to be swallowed up. Here all that was living and human came to a standstill. A place in the earth, in a trench, was assigned to each – a place in which to sleep, to eat, to kill lice, a place from which to shoot into the fine mist of rain till the senses reeled.

At night the whole horizon gradually reddened with the high crimson glow of conflagrations; the chains traced across the sky by rockets, and punctuated by fiery sparks, ended in a burst of stars; shells flew up in a crescendo of wails, to explode in columns of fire, smoke, and dust.

Here fear gnawed at the vitals, made the skin creep, the fingers clench and unclench. Towards midnight the signal would be given. Officers would come running up, their faces convulsed, and the soldiers, puffy from sleep and damp, would be aroused with oaths, shouts and blows. And men ran out over the field, stumbling, swearing, and howling like wild beasts, now flinging themselves down, now leaping up, and at last – deafened, maddened, half-stunned by terror and rage – throwing themselves into the enemy’s trenches.

Afterwards, nobody could ever remember what had happened in these trenches. When it was desired to boast of heroic feats – to explain how a bayonet had been thrust, how a head had cracked beneath the butt end of a rifle, there was nothing for it but to lie. The one incontestable result of these attacks was dead bodies.

Another day dawned, and the field kitchens moved up. The soldiers, weary and half-frozen, ate and smoked. After this they talked smut and women, here, too, lying freely. A brief spell in which to hunt for lice, and then to sleep. They slept for days on end in that naked spot of thunder and death, befouled by excrement and blood.

*****

“Here I am in the trenches, a few hundred paces from the enemy. What’s to prevent me climbing over the breastwork, going into the enemy trench, killing anyone I think fit to kill there, stealing money, blankets, coffee, and tobacco? If I were quite sure they wouldn’t start firing at me, or that, if they did, they wouldn’t hit me, then of course I’d go ahead and kill and steal. And they’d put my portrait in the newspapers, as a hero. All, apparently, quite clear and logical. And now that I’m not in the trenches, but in “Château Cabernet,” a couple of miles from Anapa, what’s to prevent me going to the town at night, breaking into Muraveichik’s jewelry store, and helping myself to precious stones and gold? If Muraveichik gets in the way I can stick a knife into him, just here, with the utmost ease.” He pointed firmly to his own throat. “How is it I haven’t done this so far? Again – simply because I’m afraid. Arrest, trial, execution. I’m being perfectly logical, I hope. The problem of murdering and robbing the enemy has been solved by the State, that is to say according to morals laid down by the authorities – I mean the legal code – in an affirmative sense. Consequently, the problem narrows down to whom I consider my enemy.”

“I tell you – mobilization has been a brilliant success in all countries, and the war has been going on for nearly three years despite the protests of the Pope, simply because every one of us, each individual, has outgrown the diaper stage. We want murder and robbery, or if we don’t exactly want them, we have no real objection to them. Murder and robbery are organized by the State. Fools and milksops still go on calling murder, murder and robbery, robbery…The tiger takes what he wants. Aren’t I superior to the tiger? Who dares to limit my rights? The legal code? The worms have eaten it.”

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Hesiod: Lamentable works of Ares lead to dank house of Hades

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Hesiod
Translated by H.G. Evelyn-White

From Theogony

Cytherea bare to Ares the shield-piercer Panic and Fear, terrible gods who drive in disorder the close ranks of men in numbing war, with the help of Ares, sacker of towns…

*****

From Work and Days

Zeus the Father made a third generation of mortal men, a brazen race, sprung from ash-trees; and it was in no way equal to the silver age, but was terrible and strong. They loved the lamentable works of Ares and deeds of violence; they ate no bread, but were hard of heart like adamant, fearful men. Great was their strength and unconquerable the arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs. Their armour was of bronze, and their houses of bronze, and of bronze were their implements: there was no black iron. These were destroyed by their own hands and passed to the dank house of chill Hades, and left no name: terrible though they were, black Death seized them, and they left the bright light of the sun.

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Kenzaburō Ōe: Categorical imperative to renounce war forever

July 29, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Kenzaburo Ōe: Nuclear war and its lemmings

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Kenzaburō Ōe
From the Nobel Prize in Literature lecture (1994)

*****

[T]o obliterate from the Constitution the principle of eternal peace will be nothing but an act of betrayal against the peoples of Asia and the victims of the Atom Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not difficult for me as a writer to imagine what would be the outcome of that betrayal.

*****

My observation is that after one hundred and twenty years of modernisation since the opening of the country, present-day Japan is split between two opposite poles of ambiguity. I too am living as a writer with this polarisation imprinted on me like a deep scar.

This ambiguity which is so powerful and penetrating that it splits both the state and its people is evident in various ways. The modernisation of Japan has been orientated toward learning from and imitating the West. Yet Japan is situated in Asia and has firmly maintained its traditional culture. The ambiguous orientation of Japan drove the country into the position of an invader in Asia. On the other hand, the culture of modern Japan, which implied being thoroughly open to the West or at least that impeded understanding by the West. What was more, Japan was driven into isolation from other Asian countries, not only politically but also socially and culturally.

In the history of modern Japan literature the writers most sincere and aware of their mission were those ‘post-war writers’ who came onto the literary scene immediately after the last War, deeply wounded by the catastrophe yet full of hope for a rebirth. They tried with great pains to make up for the inhuman atrocities committed by Japanese military forces in Asian countries, as well as to bridge the profound gaps that existed not only between the developed countries of the West and Japan but also between African and Latin American countries and Japan. Only by doing so did they think that they could seek with some humility reconciliation with the rest of the world. It has always been my aspiration to cling to the very end of the line of that literary tradition inherited from those writers.

The contemporary state of Japan and its people in their post-modern phase cannot but be ambivalent. Right in the middle of the history of Japan’s modernisation came the Second World War, a war which was brought about by the very aberration of the modernisation itself. The defeat in this War fifty years ago occasioned an opportunity for Japan and the Japanese as the very agent of the War to attempt a rebirth out of the great misery and sufferings that were depicted by the ‘Post-war School’ of Japanese writers. The moral props for Japanese aspiring to such a rebirth were the idea of democracy and their determination never to wage a war again. Paradoxically, the people and state of Japan living on such moral props were not innocent but had been stained by their own past history of invading other Asian countries. Those moral props mattered also to the deceased victims of the nuclear weapons that were used for the first time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and for the survivors and their off-spring affected by radioactivity (including tens of thousands of those whose mother tongue is Korean).

In the recent years there have been criticisms levelled against Japan suggesting that she should offer more military forces to the United Nations forces and thereby play a more active role in the keeping and restoration of peace in various parts of the world. Our heart sinks whenever we hear these criticisms. After the end of the Second World War it was a categorical imperative for us to declare that we renounced war forever in a central article of the new Constitution. The Japanese chose the principle of eternal peace as the basis of morality for our rebirth after the War.

I trust that the principle can best be understood in the West with its long tradition of tolerance for conscientious rejection of military service. In Japan itself there have all along been attempts by some to obliterate the article about renunciation of war from the Constitution and for this purpose they have taken every opportunity to make use of pressures from abroad. But to obliterate from the Constitution the principle of eternal peace will be nothing but an act of betrayal against the peoples of Asia and the victims of the Atom Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not difficult for me as a writer to imagine what would be the outcome of that betrayal.

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Joseph Conrad: Men go mad in protest against “peculiar sanity” of war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Joseph Conrad: Selections on war

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Joseph Conrad
From Autocracy and War (1905)

From the firing of the first shot on the banks of the Sha-ho, the fate of the great battle of the Russo-Japanese war hung in the balance for more than a fortnight. The famous three-day battles, for which history has reserved the recognition of special pages, sink into insignificance before the struggles in Manchuria engaging half a million men on fronts of sixty miles, struggles lasting for weeks, flaming up fiercely and dying away from sheer exhaustion, to flame up again in desperate persistence, and end – as we have seen them end more than once – not from the victor obtaining a crushing advantage, but through the mortal weariness of the combatants.

We have seen these things, though we have seen them only in the cold, silent, colourless print of books and newspapers. In stigmatising the printed word as cold, silent and colourless, I have no intention of putting a slight upon the fidelity and the talents of men who have provided us with words to read about the battles in Manchuria. I only wished to suggest that in the nature of things, the war in the Far East has been made known to us, so far, in a grey reflection of its terrible and monotonous phases of pain, death, sickness; a reflection seen in the perspective of thousands of miles, in the dim atmosphere of official reticence, through the veil of inadequate words. Inadequate, I say, because what had to be reproduced is beyond the common experience of war, and our imagination, luckily for our peace of mind, has remained a slumbering faculty, notwithstanding the din of humanitarian talk and the real progress of humanitarian ideas. Direct vision of the fact, or the stimulus of a great art, can alone make it turn and open its eyes heavy with blessed sleep; and even there, as against the testimony of the senses and the stirring up of emotion, that saving callousness which reconciles us to the conditions of our existence, will assert itself under the guise of assent to fatal necessity, or in the enthusiasm of a purely aesthetic admiration of the rendering. In this age of knowledge our sympathetic imagination, to which alone we can look for the ultimate triumph of concord and justice, remains strangely impervious to information, however correctly and even picturesquely conveyed. As to the vaunted eloquence of a serried array of figures, it has all the futility of precision without force. It is the exploded superstition of enthusiastic statisticians. An over-worked horse falling in front of our windows, a man writhing under a cart-wheel in the streets awaken more genuine emotion, more horror, pity, and indignation than the stream of reports, appalling in their monotony, of tens of thousands of decaying bodies tainting the air of the Manchurian plains, of other tens of thousands of maimed bodies groaning in ditches, crawling on the frozen ground, filling the field hospitals; of the hundreds of thousands of survivors no less pathetic and even more tragic in being left alive by fate to the wretched exhaustion of their pitiful toil.

*****

The degradation of the ideas of freedom and justice at the root of the French Revolution is made manifest in the person of its heir; a personality without law or faith, whom it has been the fashion to represent as an eagle, but who was, in truth, more like a sort of vulture preying upon the body of a Europe which did, indeed, for some dozen of years, very much resemble a corpse. The subtle and manifold influence for evil of the Napoleonic episode as a school of violence, as a sower of national hatreds, as the direct provocator of obscurantism and reaction, of political tyranny and injustice, cannot well be exaggerated.

*****

It seems that in both armies many men are driven beyond the bounds of sanity by the stress of moral and physical misery. Great numbers of soldiers and regimental officers go mad as if by way of protest against the peculiar sanity of a state of war…

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D.H. Lawrence: All modern militarism is foul

July 27, 2011 2 comments

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

D. H. Lawrence: Selections on war

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D.H. Lawrence
From the Introduction to Memoirs of the Foreign Legion by Maurice Magnus (1922)

There is M-‘s manuscript then, like a map of the lower places of mankind’s activities. There is the war: foul, foul, unutterably foul. As foul as M- says. Let us make up our minds about it.

It is the only help: to realize, fully, and then make up our minds. The war was foul. As long as I am a man, I say it and assert it, and further I say, as long as I am a man such a war shall never occur again. It shall not, and it shall not. All modern militarism is foul. It shall go. A man I am, and above machines, and it shall go, forever, because I have found it vile, vile, too vile ever to experience again. Cannons shall go. Never again shall trenches be dug. They shall not, for I am a man, and such things are within the power of man, to break and make. I have said it, and as long as blood beats in my veins, I mean it. Blood beats in the veins of many men who mean it as well as I.

Man perhaps must fight. Mars, the great god of war, will be a god forever. Very well. Then if fight you must, fight you shall, and without engines, without machines. Fight if you like, as the Roman fought, with swords and spears, or like the Red Indian, with bows and arrows and knives and war paint. But never again shall you fight with the foul, base, fearful, monstrous machines of war which man invented for the last war. You shall not. The diabolic mechanisms are man’s, and I am a man. Therefore they are mine. And I smash them into oblivion. With every means in my power, except the means of these machines, I smash them into oblivion. I am at war! I, a man, am at war! – with these foul machines and contrivances that men have conjured up. Men have conjured them up. I, a man, will conjure them down again. Won’t I? – but I will! I am not one man, I am many, I am most.

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Aldous Huxley: Rhetorical devices used to conceal fundamental absurdity and monstrosity of war

July 26, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war

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Aldous Huxley
From Words and Behavior (1936)

(In memory of Mons Lomblad)

Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. Without them we should live spasmodically and intermittently…

If, as so often happens, we choose to give continuity to our experience by means of words which falsify the facts, this is because the falsification is somehow to our advantage as egotists. Consider, for example, the case of war. War is enormously discreditable to those who order it to be waged and even to those who merely tolerate its existence. Furthermore, to developed sensibilities the facts of war are revolting and horrifying. To falsify these facts, and by so doing to make war seem less evil than it really is, and our own responsibility in tolerating war less heavy, is doubly to our advantage. By suppressing and distorting the truth, we protect our sensibilities and preserve our self-esteem. Now, language is, among other things, a device which men use for suppressing and distorting the truth. Finding the reality of war too unpleasant to contemplate, we create a verbal alternative to that reality, parallel with it, but in quality quite different from it. That which we contemplate thenceforward is not that to which we react emotionally and upon which we pass our moral judgments, is not war as it is in fact, but the fiction of war as it exists in our pleasantly falsifying verbiage. Our stupidity in using inappropriate language turns out, on analysis, to be the most refined cunning.

The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual human beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own, to inflict upon the innocent, and innocent themselves of any crime against their enemies, to suffer cruelties of every kind.

The language of strategy and politics is designed, so far as it is possible, to conceal this fact, to make it appear as though wars were not fought by individuals drilled to murder one another in cold blood and without provocation, but either by impersonal and therefore wholly non-moral and impassible forces, or else by personified abstractions.

Here are a few examples of the first kind of falsification. In place of “cavalrymen” or “foot-soldiers” military writers like to speak of “sabres” and “rifles.” Here is a sentence from a description of the Battle of Marengo: “According to Victor’s report, the French retreat was orderly; it is certain, at any rate, that the regiments held together, for the six thousand Austrian sabres found no opportunity to charge home.” The battle is between sabres in line and muskets in échelon – a mere class of ironmongery.

On other occasions there is no question of anything so vulgarly material as ironmongery. The battles are between Platonic ideals, between abstractions of physics and mathematics. Forces interact; weights are flung into scales; masses are set in motion. Or else it is all a matter of geometry. Lines swing and sweep; are protracted or curved; pivot on a fixed point.

Alternatively, the combatants are personal, in the sense that they are personifications. There is “the enemy,” in the singular, making “his” plans, striking “his” blows. The attribution of personal characteristics to collectivities, to geographical expressions, to institutions, is a source, as we shall see, of endless confusions of political thought, of innumerable political mistakes and crimes. Personification in politics is an error which we make because it is to our advantage as egotists to be able to feel violently proud of our country and of ourselves as belonging to it, and to believe that all the misfortunes due to our own mistakes are really the work of the Foreigner. It is easier to feel violently toward a person than toward an abstraction; hence our habit of making political personifications. In some cases military personifications are merely special instances of political personifications. A particular collectivity, the army or the warring nation, is given the name and, along with the name, the attributes of a single person, in order that we may be able to love or hate it more intensely than we could do if we thought of it as what it really is: a number of diverse individuals. In other cases personification is used for the purpose of concealing the fundamental absurdity and monstrosity of war. What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood. By personifying opposing armies or countries, we are able to think of war as a conflict between individuals. The same result is obtained by writing about war as though it were carried on exclusively by the generals in command and not by the private soldiers in their armies. (“Rennenkampf had pressed back von Schubert.”) The implication in both cases is that war is indistinguishable from a bout of fisticuffs in a bar room. Whereas in reality it is profoundly different. A scrap between two individuals is forgivable; mass murder, deliberately organized, is a monstrous iniquity. We still choose war as an instrument of policy; and to comprehend the full wickedness and absurdity of war would therefore be inconvenient. For, once we understood, we should have to make some effort to get rid of the abominable thing. Accordingly, when we talk about war, we use a language which conceals or embellishes its reality. Ignoring the facts, so far as we possibly can, we imply that battles are not fought by soldiers, but by things, principles, allegories, personified collectivities, or (at the most human) by opposing commanders, pitched against one another in single combat. For the same reason, when we have to describe the processes and the results of war, we employ a rich variety of euphemisms. Even the most violently patriotic and militaristic are reluctant to call a spade by its own name. To conceal their intentions even from themselves, they make use of picturesque metaphors. We find them, for example, clamoring for war planes numerous and powerful enough to go and “destroy the hornets in their nests” — in other words, to go and throw thermite, high explosives and vesicants upon the inhabitants of neighboring countries before they have time to come and do the same to us. And how reassuring is the language of historians and strategists! They write admiringly of those military geniuses who know “when to strike at the enemy’s line” (a single combatant deranges the geometrical constructions of a personification); when to “turn his flank”; when to “execute an enveloping movement.” As though they were engineers discussing the strength of materials and the distribution of stresses, they talk of abstract entities called “man power” and “fire power.” They sum up the long-drawn sufferings and atrocities of trench warfare in the phrase, “a war of attrition”; the massacre and mangling of human beings is assimilated to the grinding of a lens.

A dangerously abstract word, which figures in all discussions about war, is “force.” Those who believe in organizing collective security by means of military pacts against a possible aggressor are particularly fond of this word. “You cannot,” they say, “have international justice unless you are prepared to impose it by force.” “Peace-loving countries must unite to use force against aggressive dictatorships.” “Democratic institutions must be protected, if need be, by force.” And so on.

Now, the word “force,” when used in reference to human relations, has no single, definite meaning. There is the “force” used by parents when, without resort to any kind of physical violence, they compel their children to act or refrain from acting in some particular way. There is the “force” used by attendants in an asylum when they try to prevent a maniac from hurting himself or others. There is the “force” used by the police when they control a crowd, and that other “force” which they use in a baton charge. And finally there is the “force” used in war. This, of course, varies with the technological devices at the disposal of the belligerents, with the policies they are pursuing, and with the particular circumstances of the war in question. But in general it may be said that, in war, “force” connotes violence and fraud used to the limit of the combatants’ capacity.

Variations in quantity, if sufficiently great, produce variations in quality. The “force” that is war, particularly modern war, is very different from the “force” that is police action, and the use of the same abstract word to describe the two dissimilar processes is profoundly misleading. (Still more misleading, of course, is the explicit assimilation of a war, waged by allied League-of-Nations powers against an aggressor, to police action against a criminal. The first is the use of violence and fraud without limit against innocent and guilty alike; the second is the use of strictly limited violence and a minimum of fraud exclusively against the guilty.)

Reality is a succession of concrete and particular situations. When we think about such situations we should use the particular and concrete words which apply to them. If we use abstract words equally well (and equally badly) to other, quite dissimilar situations, it is certain that we shall think incorrectly.

Let us take the sentences quoted above and translate the abstract word “force” into language that will render (however inadequately) the concrete and particular realities of contemporary warfare.

“You cannot have international justice, unless you are prepared to impose it by force.” Translated, this becomes: “You cannot have international justice unless you are prepared, with a view to imposing a just settlement, to drop thermite, high explosives, and vesicants upon the upon the inhabitants of foreign cities and to have thermite, high explosives and vesicants dropped in return upon the inhabitants of your cities.” At the end of this proceeding, justice is to be imposed by the victorious party — that is, if there is a victorious party. It should be remarked that justice was to have been imposed by the victorious party at the end of the last war. But unfortunately, after four years of fighting, the temper of the victors was such that they were quite incapable of making a just settlement. The Allies are reaping in Nazi Germany what they sowed at Versailles. The victors of the next war will have undergone intensive bombardments with thermite, high explosives and vesicants. Will their temper be better than that of the Allies in 1918? Will they be in a fitter state to make a just settlement? The answer, quite obviously, is: No. It is psychologically all but impossible that justice should be secured by the methods of contemporary warfare.

The next two sentences may be taken together. “Peace-loving countries must unite to use force against aggressive dictatorships. Democratic institutions must be protected, if need be, by force.” Let us translate. “Peace-loving countries must unite to throw thermite, high explosives and vesicants on the inhabitants of countries ruled by aggressive dictators. They must do this, and of course abide the consequences, in order to preserve peace and democratic institutions.” Two questions immediately propound themselves. First, is it likely that peace can be secured by a process calculated to reduce the orderly life of our complicated societies to chaos? And, second, is it likely that democratic institutions will flourish in a state of chaos? Again, the answers are pretty clearly in the negative.

By using the abstract word “force,” instead of terms which at least attempt to describe the realities of war as it is today, the preachers of collective security through military collaboration disguise from themselves and from others, not only the contemporary facts, but also the probable consequences of their favorite policy. The attempt to secure justice, peace, and democracy by “force” seems reasonable enough until we realize, first, that this noncommittal word stands, in the circumstances of our age, for activities which can hardly fail to result in social chaos; and second, that the consequences of social chaos are injustice, chronic warfare and tyranny. The moment we think in concrete and particular terms of the concrete and particular process called “modern war,” we see that a policy which worked (or at least didn’t result in complete disaster) in the past has no prospect whatever of working in the immediate future. The attempt to secure justice, peace and democracy by means of a “force,” which means, at this particular moment of history, thermite, high explosives and vesicants, is about as reasonable as the attempt to put out a fire with a colorless liquid that happens to be, not water, but petrol.

The alternatives confronting us seem to be plain enough. Either we invent and conscientiously employ a new technique for making revolutions and settling international disputes; or else we cling to the old technique and, using “force” (that is to say, thermite, high explosives and vesicants), destroy ourselves. Those who, for whatever motive, disguise the nature of the second alternative under inappropriate language, render the world a grave disservice. They lead us into one of the temptations we find it hardest to resist — the temptation to run away from reality, to pretend that facts are not what they are. Like Shelley (but without Shelley’s acute awareness of what he was doing) we are perpetually weaving

A shroud of talk to hide us from the sun
Of this familiar life. [“Leghorn, July 1, 1820”]

We protect our minds by an elaborate system of abstractions, ambiguities, metaphors and similes from the reality we do not wish to know too clearly; we lie to ourselves, in order that we may still have the excuse of ignorance, the alibi of stupidity and incomprehension, possessing which we can continue with a good conscience to commit and tolerate the most monstrous crimes:

The poor wretch who has learned his only prayers
From curses, who knows scarcely words enough
To ask a blessing from his Heavenly Father,
Becomes a fluent phraseman, absolute
And technical in victories and defeats,
And all our dainty terms for fratricide;
Terms which we trundle smoothly o’er our tongues
Like mere abstractions, empty sounds to which
We join no meaning and attach no form!
As if the soldier died without a wound:
As if the fibers of this godlike frame
Were gored without a pang: as if the wretch
Who fell in battle, doing bloody deeds,
Passed off to Heaven translated and not killed;
As though he had no wife to pine for him,
No God to judge him. [Coleridge, ‘Fears in Solitude’ (1798)]

The language we use about war is inappropriate, and its inappropriateness is designed to conceal a reality so odious that we do not wish to know it…

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Aristides on the two types of war: Bad and worse

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Aristides
From Panathenaic Oration
Translated by C.A. Behr

[T]here are two varieties of war: aggression and self-defence. The former is unjust, and the latter, by being subject to compulsion also, inglorious, because determination is by nature distinct from compulsion. But, I think, he who acts justly under compulsion is better than a willing transgressor. However, one might say that he is not master of the situation.

*****

If oratory will assert that there is a law which justifies the utmost violence and that the mighty hand of Heracles ought to prevail…it will perish by its own arguments. What place or use is left for oratory or words, if force will define justice?…Where is persuasion, if force will prevail, and that too when that very art, whose product is persuasion, grants the use of force?

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George Meredith: On the Danger of War

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

George Meredith: Selections on peace and war

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George Meredith
On the Danger of War

Avert, High Wisdom, never vainly wooed,
This threat of War, that shows a land brain-sick.
When nations gain the pitch where rhetoric
Seems reason they are ripe for cannon’s food.
Dark looms the issue though the cause be good,
But with the doubt ’tis our old devil’s trick.
O now the down-slope of the lunatic
Illumine lest we redden of that brood.
For not since man in his first view of thee
Ascended to the heavens giving sign
Within him of deep sky and sounded sea,
Did he unforfeiting thy laws transgress;
In peril of his blood his ears incline
To drums whose loudness is their emptiness.

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U.S. Afghan Strategy: Senseless And Merciless

July 22, 2011 3 comments

Voice of Russia
July 22, 2011

US Afghan strategy: senseless and merciless
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca in Canada.

I want to ask you some questions about the transfer of command in Afghanistan from General Petraeus to General Allen. Do you see any definitive change in the situation in the country in the near future?

No, I don’t. This is the latest in a series of rotations of the top military commanders simultaneously, of course, throughout the US’s so-called Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Two years ago, Gen. David McKiernan was ousted and replaced by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in turn was kicked out in favour of Gen. David Petraeus.

And now we have Marine General John Allen stepping in. Throughout that succession of top commanders, the situation has gone from bad to worse and, with recent events in Afghanistan, there is no reason to believe anything is going to be changed and certainly not improved. We do know that successive commanders intensified the brutality and intensity of military actions, that Petraeus most notably increased so-called night raids, special forces operations, which, as often as not, resulted in deaths of Afghan civilians but also in the intensification of air raids.

We know, for example, that, as of the end of last month, the first half of this year, almost 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed, which is the highest in that six-month period in the war and certainly higher than it was a year ago during the same period. There is also a recent report that stated that in the last two years 250,000 – a record – Afghan civilians have been forced to flee their towns and villages because of the intense fighting. So, if there is any index, there is no way of portraying the situation in Afghanistan as having become any better.

Why is the US in Afghanistan? Did I ask you this question?

I’ll give you my personal estimate and I think it’s the one that became apparent with the initial thrust into Afghanistan almost ten years ago, which occurred less than three months after the founding of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the summer of 2001. My supposition is – not withstanding the hunt for Osama bin Laden and whatever else was presented as the casus belli for the invasion of Afghanistan and its continuation for ten years – that, in essence, the US and its Western allies wanted to plant themselves firmly at the point of confluence where Russia, China, Iran, India, Pakistan and other nations might be able to cooperate in building a multipolar alternative to the US-dominated unipolar world by being in Afghanistan and its environs. We have to keep in mind that the US and its NATO allies, their military facilities, are still based in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, where the US recently has been told to leave a base from which it was waging drone missile attacks, which have killed 2,500 or so people in Pakistan; last year was the highest with almost a thousand people killed. In January of 2010 Dawn News, citing Pakistani Defense Ministry sources, stated there were something like 714 people killed in Pakistan by US drone missile attacks in the preceding year and out of those 714 only five were either al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters.

Five?

Five. And let’s assume, several hundred, if not a thousand or more civilians have been killed in the drone attacks, which are now, of course, being spread with increased intensity not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, earlier, in Iraq, but in Yemen, most recently in Somalia and with the deployment of US Predator drones in Libya, in that country. So we now have six countries in which the US is waging drone warfare. And I think we will see the intensification of that mode of warfare under Gen. Allen as he assumes the command of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is not responsible for those attacks. The Central Intelligence Agency is – and guess who is taking over that agency in September?

Petraeus?

Yes. So, there will be continuity on that end now that the top Western military commander in Afghanistan is in charge of the US government agency that is waging the drone attacks. So I think one would be justified in expecting an escalation of drone attacks inside Pakistan. The carnage inside Afghanistan is keeping pace with the killings by drone missile attacks, Hellfire missiles, inside Pakistan.

How would you characterize the entire campaign by NATO and the US in Afghanistan? As a complete failure, or were there any gains?

There was an article recently by the US Department of Defense, the Pentagon’s, press agency, American Forces Press Service, that just happened to mention in passing that the Shindand Air Base in Herat Province has tripled in size recently to become the second largest military air base in Afghanistan next to that at Bagram.

Last year, the US and its NATO allies stepped up the extension of air bases in Afghanistan – in Kandahar, in Mazar e Sharif, in Jalalabad in addition to Bagram and Shindand – they are going to have air bases that control the entire region, a good deal of the Greater Middle East, if you will, in addition to continuing troop transits.

They’ve also set up the Northern Distribution Network. It’s an extensive network of air, rail and truck transportation, which now includes 13 of 15 former Soviet Republics, all except Moldova and Ukraine currently.

Men and materiel are being moved in and out, and this is an amazing network, when you look at it, including just recently the first air flight from the US over the North Pole and then over Kazakhstan into Afghanistan. So, in terms of building up a military network around the world – and we also have to remember there are troops from over 50 countries serving under NATO in Afghanistan, which is the largest amount of countries offering troops for one military command in one nation in world history. We also have to recall that Afghanistan has become a training ground, if you will, to place US-NATO allies and partners in real-life combat situations, to integrate the militaries of at least 50 countries under, basically, US command, using English as their common language. I’m arguing that Afghanistan is a laboratory for integrating the militaries of these various countries.

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In Past Ten Years U.S. Has Expanded Military Network Throughout The World

July 22, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
July 22, 2011

In Past Ten Years U.S. Has Expanded Military Network Throughout The World
Rick Rozoff

The unprecedented expansion of American military presence throughout the world in the last decade, in support of and consolidated by attacks and invasions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya, has been marked by the Pentagon securing new bases in several continents and Oceania.

In the past ten years the U.S. has gained access to and expanded and upgraded dozens of bases abroad, in most every case in nations that had been off-limits to it during the Cold War and even the last decade of the 20th century.

These include multi-service (Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy) main operating, forward deployed and pre-positioning bases, storage and logistics facilities, base camps, air and naval installations, a global strategic airlift operation, interceptor missile and related radar bases, unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) launch pads, satellite surveillance sites, permanent training programs and centers, new regional task forces and even a new overseas military command: U.S. Africa Command, which takes in 54 nations, almost 30 percent of the member states of the United Nations.

Individually and in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S. has deployed or will soon do so armed forces to new locations ranging from “lily pads” to strategic air bases from the Baltic Sea to South America, Southeastern Europe to Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa to Central and South Asia, the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus to Central Europe, the South Pacific to the Black Sea.

The countries affected (as of last count, proceeding through the alphabet) include:

Afghanistan
Australia
Bahrain
Bulgaria
Colombia
Djibouti
Estonia
Ethiopia
Gabon
Georgia
Hungary
Iraq
Israel
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Lithuania
Mali
Morocco
Netherlands Antilles
Pakistan
Philippines
Poland
Romania
Senegal
Seychelles
Singapore
Uganda

With the activation of the Northern Distribution Network to supply the nearly ten-year war in Afghanistan, all but two of fifteen former Soviet Republics – Moldova and Ukraine – have been incorporated into troop and equipment transit routes for the world’s longest armed conflict: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In January the Russian government announced that U.S. and NATO flights over the country in support of the Afghan war had reached “up to 4,500 flights in one direction in a year.” The next month Voice of Russia, citing Foreign Ministry figures, revealed that 15,000 U.S. military personnel and over 20,000 tons of cargo had crossed Russian territory en route to Afghanistan since October of 2009.

In recent years the U.S. has led military exercises on a regular (at least annual) basis, frequently with NATO and Asian NATO allies, in Bulgaria, Romania, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia and throughout the African continent (with Flintlock, Africa Endeavor, Natural Fire and Africa Partnership Station operations).

Most of the bases where American military personnel and assets have been and are being stationed are preexisting facilities – seven in Colombia, four each in Bulgaria and Romania, scores in Afghanistan and Iraq – but many are new: a missile shield-linked Forward-Based X-Band Radar installation deployed in Israel’s Negev Desert (with a range of 2,900 miles) in 2008 staffed by some 100 U.S. service members; a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile battery moved to Morag, Poland two years later with a comparable amount of military personnel assigned; a Reaper drone operation in Seychelles begun in the intervening year; a transit center in Kyrgyzstan through which an estimated 50,000 U.S. and other NATO troops pass each month to and from the Afghan war front, and so on. Washington will soon rotate F-16 squadrons to Poland and later in the decade will station Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic interceptors in Poland and Romania with complementary radar sites being examined in nations like Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

The recently acquired bases, though hardly of the dimensions of those constructed after the Second World War and the Korean War, or for that matter of the almost 1,000-acre Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, are sufficient for the needs of 21st century American warfare, shifting as it has to long-range bombing and helicopter gunship attacks, cruise and drone missile strikes, and special forces operations.

The ever-expanding range of U.S. military activities reached a new point last month when the Pentagon dispatched a C-5 Galaxy transport plane on a direct, non-stop flight from the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware across Canada and over the North Pole, then over Russia and Kazakhstan into the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

The Heavy Airlift Wing established by the U.S. and eleven NATO allies and partners in 2009 at the Pápa Air Base in Hungary, the world’s first multinational strategic airlift operation, by this February had “flown more than 3,600 flight hours and delivered more than 13,800 tons of cargo and more than 6,100 passengers for the nations over six continents including missions to Haiti, Afghanistan, South Africa and Europe,” according to U.S. Air Forces In Europe.

The same source also announced early this year that the 65th Air Base Wing moved 15,000 aircraft with 22,000 personnel from 21 nations through the Lajes Field in Portugal’s Azores in 2010 for wars and other deployments in the east.

Air bases acquired in nations like Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Iraq and Romania have been upgraded not only for long-distance military transport but as potential strategic bases analogous in scope and purpose to those developed after World War II in Britain, Germany, Italy and Turkey.

In the second half of the last century the U.S. could boast of military supremacy in – control over – the entire Western Hemisphere, Western and Southern Europe, and most of the Pacific Ocean.

In the new century, with a World War Two-level $729 billion military budget this year and a head of state who boasts of being the commander-in-chief of “the world’s sole military superpower,” its reach spans almost the entire globe.

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Aeschylus: Ares, father of tears, mows the field of man

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Aeschylus: The unpeopled land laments her youth

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Aeschylus
Translated by Philip Vellacott

From The Suppliants

Now hear my voice, you gods of heavenly birth,
While I pour out these offerings of prayer:
Never let flames leap and devour
In this Pelasgian city,
Nor lustful Ares raise his joyless clamor,
Who mows the field of man where others sowed.

Let eager prayer take wing,
That never may plague strip Argos of its men,
Nor civil war stain her soil,
With Argive blood shed by her own citizens,
Let her flower of youth grow unplucked;
Let not Ares, Aphrodite’s lover,
Man’s destroyer, cut off their prime.

May murder and devastation
Never come to tear this city,
To put a sword in the hand of Ares, father of tears…

The judge is Ares, who decides such causes, not
With damages in money, but with heavy toll
Of fallen men, and limbs convulsed in bloody death.

*****

From Seven Against Thebes

Come, all you gods who guard the country;
See us, threatened with slavery, joining in supplication.
A surge of soldiers with slanting crests
Seethes around our city,
And the breath of Ares drives them on.

Men’s blood is Ares’ diet.

The madness of Ares masters men in masses,
And breathes defilement over all reverent feeling.

A din of shouting fills the streets;
The fence of bastions fails;
Man faces man and falls before the spear.
Stained with blood, mothers of new-born infants
Cry for their young slaughtered at the breast;
Roving bands tear apart those of the same family.

He has raised his battle-cry; Ares has entered into him;
A Bacchant, drunk with lust of war…

Antigone: If you gave wounds, you also received wounds.
Ismene: If you dealt death, you also suffered death.
Antigone: With the spear you killed –
Ismene: By the spear you died –
Antigone: Pitiful in inflicting.
Ismene: Pitiful in suffering.
Antigone: Let the cry rise –
Ismene: Let the tear fall –
Antigone: For you who died.
Ismene: For you who killed.
Antigone: My heart is wild with sobs.
Ismene: My soul groans in my body.
Antigone: Brother, whom I weep for –
Ismene: Brother, most pitiable –
Antigone: You were killed by your brother.
Ismene: You killed your brother.
Antigone: Twofold sorrow to tell of –
Ismene: Twofold sorrow to see –
Antigone: Sorrow at the side of sorrow!
Ismene: Sorrow brother to sorrow!

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Pascal on war: An assassin if he kills in his own country, a hero if in another

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Blaise Pascal
From Pensées
Translated by W. F. Trotter

“Why do you kill me? What! do you not live on the other side of the water? If you lived on this side, my friend, I should be an assassin, and it would be unjust to slay you in this manner. But since you live on the other side, I am a hero, and it is just.”

Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man should have the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with him?

Mine, thine.—”This dog is mine,” said those poor children; “that is my place in the sun.” Here is the beginning and the image of the usurpation of all the earth.

When the question for consideration is whether we ought to make war, and kill so many men — condemn so many Spaniards to death — only one man is judge, and he is an interested party. There should be a third, who is disinterested.

The most important affair in life is the choice of a calling; chance decides it. Custom makes men masons, soldiers, slaters. “He is a good slater,” says one, and, speaking of soldiers, remarks, “They are perfect fools.” But others affirm, “There is nothing great but war, the rest of men are good for nothing.” We choose our callings according as we hear this or that praised or despised in our childhood, for we naturally love truth and hate folly. These words move us; the only error is in their application. So great is the force of custom that out of those whom nature has only made men, are created all conditions of men. For some districts are full of masons, others of soldiers, etc. Certainly nature is not so uniform…

Diversion.—When I have occasionally set myself to consider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils to which they expose themselves at court or in war, whence arise so many quarrels, passions, bold and often bad ventures, etc., I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber. A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay with pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town. A commission in the army would not be bought so dearly, but that it is found insufferable not to budge from the town…

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Arrian: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the fate of conquerors

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Arrian
From The Campaigns of Alexander
Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt

Alexander…in one day’s march reached Anchialus, a town supposed to have been built by Sardanapalus the Assyrian. It is clear from the extent of the surrounding walls and the solidity of their foundations that it was originally a large town and grew to great importance. Close to the walls was the tomb of Sardanapalus, supporting a statue of him in the attitude of a man clapping his hands, with an inscription in Assyrian characters. According to the Assyrians the inscription was in verse, but, whether verse or not, the general sense of it was this: ‘Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, built in one day Tarsus and Anchialus. O stranger, eat, drink, and play, for everything else in the life of a man is not worth this’ – and by ‘this’ was to be understood the clap of the hands. They also said that ‘play’ was something of a euphemism for the original Assyrian word.

*****

I have always liked the story of the Indian sages, some of whom Alexander chanced to come upon out of doors in a meadow where they used to meet to discuss philosophy. On the appearance of Alexander and his army, these venerable men stamped with their feet and gave no other sign of interest. Alexander asked them through interpreters what they meant by this odd behaviour, and they replied: ‘King Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth’s surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, travelling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and to others. You will soon be dead, and then you will own just as much of this earth as will suffice to bury you.’ [1]

*****

…Alexander came to allow himself to emulate…the fashion of barbaric kings of treating their subjects as inferiors…I have no praise for such conduct; but in my opinion, at least, the splendid achievements of Alexander are the clearest possible proof that neither strength of body, nor noble blood, nor success in war even greater than Alexander’s own – not even the realization of his dream of circumnavigating Libya and Asia and adding them both to his empire, together with Europe too – that none of these things, I say, can make a man happy, unless he can win one more victory in addition to those the world thinks so great – the victory over himself.

[1] Alexander invaded the Indian subcontinent after conquering Ariana and Bactria, modern Afghanistan.

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Gustave Flaubert and George Sand: Monstrous conflicts of which we have no idea; warfare suppressed or civilization perishes

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

George Sand: Trader in uniformed flesh and the religion of self

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Gustave Flaubert and George Sand
Correspondence
Translated by A.L. McKensie

*****

To George Sand
Wednesday evening 1870

What has become of you, dear master, of you and yours? As for me, I am disheartened, distressed by the folly of my compatriots. The hopeless barbarism of humanity fills me with a black melancholy. That enthusiasm which has no intelligent motive makes me want to die, so as not to see it any longer.

The good Frenchman wants to fight: (1) because he thinks he is provoked to it by Prussia; (2) because the natural condition of man is savagery; (3) because war in itself contains a mystic element which enraptures crowds.

Have we returned to the wars of races? I fear so. The terrible butchery which is being prepared has not even a pretext. It is the desire to fight for the sake of fighting.

I bewail the destroyed bridges, the staved-in tunnels, all this human labor lost, in short a negation so radical.

The Congress of Peace is wrong at present. Civilization seems to me far off. Hobbes was right: Homo homini lupus.

I have begun Saint-Antoine [1], and it would go perhaps rather well, if I did not think of the war. And you?

The bourgeois here cannot contain himself. He thinks Prussia was too insolent and wants to “avenge himself.” Did you see that a gentleman has proposed in the Chamber the pillage of the duchy of Baden! Ah! why can’t I live among the Bedouins!

*****

To Gustave Flaubert
July 26, 1870

I think this war is infamous; that authorized Marseillaise, a sacrilege. Men are ferocious and conceited brutes; we are in the HALF AS MUCH of Pascal; when will come the MORE THAN EVER!

It is between 40 and 45 degrees IN THE SHADE here. They are burning the forests; another barbarous stupidity! The wolves come and walk into our court, and we chase them away at night…The trees are losing their leaves and perhaps their lives. Water for drinking is becoming scarce; the harvests are almost nothing; but we have war, what luck!

You said rightly that in order to work, a certain lightness was needed; where is it to be found in these accursed times?

*****

To George Sand
August 3, 1870

What! dear master, you too are demoralized, sad? What will become of the weak souls?

As for me, my heart is oppressed in a way that astonishes me, and I wallow in a bottomless melancholy, in spite of work, in spite of the good Saint-Antoine who ought to distract me. Is it the consequence of my repeated afflictions? Perhaps. But the war is a good deal responsible for it. I think that we are getting into the dark.

Behold then, the NATURAL MAN. Make theories now! Boast the progress, the enlightenment and the good sense of the masses, and the gentleness of the French people! I assure you that anyone here who ventured to preach peace would get himself murdered. Whatever happens, we have been set back for a long time to come.

Are the wars between races perhaps going to begin again? One will see, before a century passes, several millions of men kill one another in one engagement. All the East against all Europe, the old world against the new! Why not? Great united works like the Suez Canal are, perhaps, under another form, outlines and preparations for these monstrous conflicts of which we have no idea.

*****

To Gustave Flaubert
August 8, 1870

Are you in Paris in the midst of all this torment? What a lesson the people are getting who want absolute masters! France and Prussia are cutting each other’s throats for reasons that they don’t understand! Here we are in the midst of great disasters, and what tears at the end of it all, even should we be the victors! One sees nothing but poor peasants mourning for their children who are leaving.

The mobilization takes away those who were left with us and how they are being treated to begin with! What disorder, what disarray in that military administration, which absorbed everything and had to swallow up everything! Is this horrible experience going to prove to the world that warfare ought to be suppressed or that civilization has to perish?

We have reached the point this evening of knowing that we are beaten. Perhaps tomorrow we shall know that we have beaten, and what will there be good or useful from one or the other?

The peasant is working and ploughing his fields; digging hard always, sad or gay. He is imbecile, people say; no, he is a child in prosperity, a man in disaster, more of a man than we who complain; he says nothing, and while people are killing, he is sowing, repairing continually on one side what they are destroying from the other. We are going to try to do as he, and to hunt a bubbling spring fifty or a hundred yards below ground…

We are trying to dig into the bowels of the earth to forget all that is going on above it. But we cannot distract ourselves from this terror!

*****

To Gustave Flaubert
August 15, 1870

..This human butchery tears my poor heart to pieces. I tremble too for all my children and friends, who perhaps are to be hacked to pieces.

And YET, in the midst of all that, my soul exults and has ecstasies of faith; these terrific lessons which are necessary for us to understand our imbecility, must be of use to us. We are perhaps making our last return to the ways of the old world. There are sharp and clear principles for everyone today that ought to extricate them from this torment. Nothing is useless in the material order of the universe. The moral order cannot escape the law. Bad engenders good. I tell you that we are in the HALF AS MUCH of Pascal, so as to get TO THE MORE THAN EVER! That is all the mathematics that I understand.

*****

To George Sand
Sunday evening 1870

I don’t think that there is in all France a sadder man than I am! (It all depends on the sensitiveness of people.) I am dying of grief. That is the truth, and consolations irritate me. What distresses me is: (1) the ferocity of men; (2) the conviction that we are going to enter upon a stupid era. People will be utilitarian, military, American and Catholic! Very Catholic! You will see! The Prussian War ends the French Revolution and destroys it…

What a cataclysm! What a collapse! What misery! What abominations! Can one believe in progress and in civilization in the face of all that is going on? What use, pray, is science, since this people abounding in scholars commits abominations worthy of the Huns and worse than theirs, because they are systematic, cold-blooded, voluntary, and have for an excuse, neither passion nor hunger?

Ready-made phrases are not wanting: France will rise again! One must not despair! It is a salutary punishment! We were really too immoral! etc. Oh! eternal poppycock! No! one does not recover from such a blow!

Oh! if I could flee into a country where one does not see uniforms, where one does not hear the drum, where one does not talk of massacres, where one is not obliged to be a citizen!

1) His novel La Tentation de Saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony)

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Stephen Spender: Ultima Ratio Regum

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Stephen Spender: Selections on war

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Stephen Spender

Ultima Ratio Regum (1939)

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

When he lived, tall factory hooters never summoned him.
Nor did restaurant plate-glass doors revolve to wave him in.
His name never appeared in the papers.
The world maintained its traditional wall
Round the dead with their gold sunk deep as a well,
Whilst his life, intangible as a Stock Exchange rumour, drifted outside.

O too lightly he threw down his cap
One day when the breeze threw petals from the trees.
The unflowering wall sprouted with guns,
Machine-gun anger quickly scythed the grasses;
Flags and leaves fell from hands and branches;
The tweed cap rotted in the nettles.

Consider his life which was valueless
In terms of employment, hotel ledgers, news files.
Consider. One bullet in ten thousand kills a man.
Ask. Was so much expenditure justified
On the death of one so young and so silly
Lying under the olive tree, O world, O death?

*****

Two Armies (1937)

Deep in the winter plain, two armies
Dig their machinery, to destroy each other.
Men freeze and hunger. No one is given leave
On either side, except the dead, and wounded.
These have their leave; while new battalions wait
On time at last to bring them violent peace.

All have become so nervous and so cold
That each man hates the cause and distant words
Which brought him here, more terribly than bullets.
Once a boy hummed a popular marching song,
Once a novice hand flapped the salute;
The voice was choked the lifted hand fell,
Shot through the wrist by those of his own side.

From their numb harvest all would flee, except
For discipline drilled once in an iron school
Which holds them at the point of a revolver.
Yet when they sleep, the images of home
Ride wishing horses of escape
Which herd the plain in a mass unspoken poem.

Finally, they cease to hate: for although hate
Bursts from the air and whips the earth like hail
Or pours it up in fountains to marvel at,
And although hundreds fell, who can connect
The inexhaustible anger of the guns
With the dumb patience of these tormented animals?

Clean silence drops at night when a little walk
Divides the sleeping armies, each
Huddled in linen woven by remote hands.
When the machines are stilled, a common suffering
Whitens the air with breath and makes both one
As though these enemies slept in each other’s arms.

Only the lucid friend to aerial raiders,
The brilliant pilot moon, stares down
Upon the plain she makes a shining bone
Cut by the shadow of many thousand bones.
Where amber clouds scatter on no-man’s-land
She regards death and time throw up
The furious words and minerals which kill life

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Lucian: War propaganda and its hyperbole

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Lucian: Rejecting war’s seductive appeal

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Lucian
From A True Story
Translated by A.M. Harmon

[S]tudents, I think, after much reading of serious works may profitably relax their minds and put them in better trim for future labour. It would be appropriate recreation for them if they were to take up the sort of reading that, instead of affording just pure amusement based on wit and humour, also boasts a little food for thought that the Muses would not altogether spurn; and I think they will consider the present work something of the kind. They will find it enticing not only for the novelty of its subject, for the humour of its plan and because I tell all kinds of lies in a plausible and specious way, but also because everything in my story is a more or less comical parody of one or another of the poets, historians and philosophers of old, who have written much that smacks of miracles and fables.

*****

Well, on reading all these authors, I did not find much fault with them for their lying, as I saw that this was already a common practice even among men who profess philosophy. I did wonder, though, that they thought that they could write untruths and not get caught at it. Therefore, as I myself, thanks to my vanity, was eager to hand something down to posterity, that I might not be the only one excluded from the privileges of poetic licence, and as I had nothing true to tell, not having had any adventures of significance, I took to lying. But my lying is far more honest than theirs, for though I tell the truth in nothing else, I shall at least be truthful in saying that I am a liar. I think I can escape the censure of the world by my own admission that I am not telling a word of truth. Be it understood, then, that I am writing about things which I have neither seen nor had to do with nor learned from others – which, in fact, do not exist at all and, in the nature of things, cannot exist. Therefore my readers should on no account believe in them.

*****

The Vulture Dragoons are commissioned to fly about the country and bring before the king any stranger they may find, so of course they arrested us and brought us before him. When he had looked us over and drawn his conclusions from our clothes, he said: “Then you are Greeks, are you, strangers?” and when we assented, “Well, how did you get here, with so much air to cross?”

We told him all, and he began and told us about himself: that he too was a human being, Endymion by name, who had once been ravished from our country in his sleep, and on coming there had been made king of the land. He said that his country was the moon that shines down on us.

He urged us to take heart, however, and suspect no danger, for we should have everything that we required. “And if I succeed,” said he, “in the war which I am now making on the people of the sun, you shall lead the happiest of lives with me.”

We asked who the enemy were, and what the quarrel was about. “Phaethon,” said he, “the king of the inhabitants of the sun – for it is inhabited, you know, as well as the moon – has been at war with us for a long time now. It began in this way. Once upon a time I gathered together the poorest people in my kingdom and undertook to plant a colony on the Morning Star, which was empty and uninhabited. Phaethon out of jealousy thwarted the colonisation, meeting us half-way at the head of his Ant Dragoons. At that time we were beaten, for we were not a match for them in strength, and we retreated: now, however, I desire to make war again and plant the colony. If you wish, then, you may take part with me in the expedition and I will give each of you one of my royal vultures and a complete outfit. We shall take the field to-morrow.” “Very well,” said I, “since you think it best.”

*****

Joining battle when the flags had been flown and the donkeys on both sides had brayed (for they had donkeys for trumpeters), they fought. The left wing of the Sunites fled at once, without even receiving the charge of the Vulture Horse, and we pursued, cutting them down. But their right wing got the better of the left on our side, and the Sky-mosquitoes advanced in pursuit right up to the infantry. Then, when the infantry came to the rescue, they broke and fled, especially as they saw that the forces on their left had been defeated. It was a glorious victory, in which many were taken alive and many were slain; so much blood flowed on the clouds that they were dyed and looked red, as they do in our country when the sun is setting, and so much also dripped down on the earth that I wonder whether something of the sort did not take place in the sky long ago, when Homer supposed that Zeus had sent a rain of blood on account of the death of Sarpedon.

*****

As for us, we were taken off to the sun that day, our hands tied behind our backs with a section of spider-web. The enemy decided not to lay siege to the city, but on their way back they built a wall through the air, so that the rays of the sun should no longer reach the moon. The wall was double, made of cloud, so that a genuine eclipse of the moon took place, and she was completely enshrouded in unbroken night. Hard pressed by this, Endymion sent and begged them to pull down the construction and not let them lead their lives in darkness. He promised to pay tribute, to be an ally and not to make war again, and volunteered to give hostages for all this. Phaethon and his people held two assemblies; on the first day they did not lay aside a particle of their anger, but on the second day they softened, and the peace was made on these terms:

On the following conditions the Sunites and their allies make peace with the Moonites and their allies, to wit:

That the Sunites tear down the dividing-wall and do not invade the moon again, and that they make over the prisoners of war, each at a set ransom;

That the Moonites permit the stars to be autonomous, and do not make war on the Sunites;

That each country aid the other if it be attacked;

That in yearly tribute the King of the Moonites pay the King of the Sunites ten thousand gallons of dew, and that he give ten thousand of his people as hostages…

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Hardy: All-Earth-gladdening Law of Peace, war’s apology wholly stultified

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

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Thomas Hardy

A Christmas Ghost Story (1899)

South of the Line, inland from far Durban,
A mouldering soldier lies–your countryman.
Awry and doubled up are his gray bones,
And on the breeze his puzzled phantom moans
Nightly to clear Canopus: “I would know
By whom and when the All-Earth-gladdening Law
Of Peace, brought in by that Man Crucified,
Was ruled to be inept, and set aside?

And what of logic or of truth appears
In tacking ‘Anno Domini’ to the years?
Near twenty-hundred livened thus have hied,
But tarries yet the Cause for which He died.”

*****

Christmas: 1924

‘Peace upon earth!’ was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We’ve got as far as poison-gas.

*****

In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’ (1915)

Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.

*****

Often When Warring (1915)

Often when warring for he wist not what,
An enemy-soldier, passing by one weak,
Has tendered water, wiped the burning cheek,
And cooled the lips so black and clammed and hot;

Then gone his way, and maybe quite forgot
The deed of grace amid the roar and reek;
Yet larger vision than loud arms bespeak
He there has reached, although he has known it not.

For natural mindsight, triumphing in the act
Over the throes of artificial rage,
Has thuswise muffled victory’s peal of pride,
Rended to ribands policy’s specious page
That deals but with evasion, code, and pact,
And war’s apology wholly stultified.

Categories: Uncategorized

Carl Sandburg: Ready to Kill

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Carl Sandburg: What it costs to move two buttons one inch on the war map

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Carl Sandburg
Ready to Kill (1916)

Ten minutes now I have been looking at this.
I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
This is a bronze memorial of a famous general
Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver
on him.
I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be
hauled away to the scrap yard.
I put it straight to you,
After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory
hand, the fireman and the teamster,
Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
Shaping them on the job of getting all of us
Something to eat and something to wear,
When they stack a few silhouettes
Against the sky
Here in the park,
And show the real huskies that are doing the work of
the world, and feeding people instead of butchering them,
Then maybe I will stand here
And look easy at this general of the army holding a flag
in the air,
And riding like hell on horseback
Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men
all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

*****

Killers (1915)

I am singing to you
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:

Under the sun
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.

And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million are killing…and killing
and killing.

I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
They pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.

I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
And hear the low stir of sleepers in lines
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
Some of them long sleepers for always,

Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed in the drag of the world’s heartbreak,
Eating and drinking, toiling…on a long job of killing.
Sixteen million men.

*****

Among the Red Guns

After waking at dawn one morning when the wind sang
low among dry leaves in an elm

Among the red guns,
In the hearts of soldiers
Running free blood
In the long, long campaign:
Dreams go on.

Among the leather saddles,
In the heads of soldiers
Heavy in the wracks and kills
Of all straight fighting:
Dreams go on.

Among the hot muzzles,
In the hands of soldiers
Brought from flesh-folds of women–
Soft amid the blood and crying–
In all your hearts and heads
Among the guns and saddles and muzzles:

Dreams,
Dreams go on,
Out of the dead on their backs,
Broken and no use any more:
Dreams of the way and the end go on.

*****

Fight

Red drips from my chin where I have been eating.
Not all the blood, nowhere near all, is wiped off my mouth.

Clots of red mess my hair
And the tiger, the buffalo, know how.

I was a killer.
Yes, I am a killer.

I come from killing.
I go to more.
I drive red joy ahead of me from killing.
Red gluts and red hungers run in the smears and juices
of my inside bones:
The child cries for a suck mother and I cry for war.

*****

Jaws

Seven nations stood with their hands on the jaws of death.
It was the first week in August, Nineteen Hundred Fourteen.
I was listening, you were listening, the whole world was
listening,
And all of us heard a Voice murmuring:
“I am the way and the light,
He that believeth on me
Shall not perish
But shall have everlasting life.”
Seven nations listening heard the Voice and answered:
“O Hell!”
The jaws of death began clicking and they go on clicking.
“O Hell!”

*****

Wars

In the old wars drum of hoofs and the beat of shod feet.
In the new wars hum of motors and the tread of rubber tires.
In the wars to come silent wheels and whirr of rods not
yet dreamed out in the heads of men.

In the old wars clutches of short swords and jabs into
faces with spears.
In the new wars long range guns and smashed walls, guns
running a spit of metal and men falling in tens and
twenties.
In the wars to come new silent deaths, new silent hurlers
not yet dreamed out in the heads of men.

In the old wars kings quarreling and thousands of men
following.
In the new wars kings quarreling and millions of men
following.
In the wars to come kings kicked under the dust and
millions of men following great causes not yet
dreamed out in the heads of men.

Categories: Uncategorized

Sophocles: War the destroyer

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Sophocles
From Oedipus the King
Translated by E. H. Plumptre

…Ares the destroyer drive away!
Who now, though hushed the din of brazen shield,
With battle-cry wars on me fierce and hot.
Bid him go back in flight,
Retreat from this our land,
Or to the ocean bed,
Where Amphitrite sleeps,
Or to the homeless sea
Which sweeps the Thracian shore.
If waning night spares aught
That doth the day assail:
Do thou, then, Sire almighty,
Wielding the lightning’s strength,
Blast him with thy hot thunder.

=====

From Ajax
Translated by R. C. Trevelyan

Like iron dipped, yet now grow soft with pity
Before this woman, whom I am loath to leave
Midst foes a widow with this orphaned child.
But I will seek the meadows by the shore:
There will I wash and purge these stains, if so
I may appease Athena’s heavy wrath.
Then will I find some lonely place, where I
May hide this sword, beyond all others cursed,
Buried where none may see it, deep in earth.
May night and Hades keep it there below.

*****

After fierce tempest calm will ever lull
The moaning sea; and Sleep, that masters all,
Binds life awhile, yet loosens soon the bond.
And who am I that I should not learn wisdom?
Of all men I, whom proof hath taught of late
How so far only should we hate our foes
As though we soon might love them…

*****

And over the far Icarian billows come, O king Apollo,
From Delos in haste, come thou,
Thy kindly power here in our midst revealing.

Ares hath lifted horror and anguish from our eyes.
Io, Io! Now again,
Now, O Zeus, can the bright and blithe
Glory of happier days return
To our swift-voyaging ships, for now
Hath Ajax wholly forgot his grief,
And all rites due to the gods he now
Fain would meetly perform with loyal worship.
Mighty is time to dwindle all things.
Nought would I call too strange for belief, when Ajax thus beyond hope
Hath learnt to repent his proud feuds,
And lay aside anger against the Atreidae.

=====

From Philoctetes
Translated by E.F. Watling

War never picks the worst men for his victims,
But always the best.

Categories: Uncategorized

Richard Aldington: Pools and ponds of blood, the huge black dogs of hell

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Richard Aldington: Selections on war

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Richard Aldington
From Images of War (1919)

In the Trenches

I

Not that we are weary,
Not that we fear,
Not that we are lonely
Though never alone –
Not these, not these destroy us;
But that each rush and crash
Of mortar and shell,
Each cruel bitter shriek of bullet
That tears the wind like a blade,
Each wound on the breast of earth,
Of Demeter, our Mother, wound us also,
Sever and rend the fine fabric
Of the wings of our frail souls,
Scatter into dust the bright wings
Of Psyche!

II

Impotent

Impotent,
How important is all this clamour,
This destruction and contest
Night after night comes the moon
Haughty and perfect;
Night after night the Pleiades sing
And Orion swings his belt across the sky.
Night after night the frost
Crumbles the hard earth.

Soon the spring will drop flowers
And patient creeping stalk and leaf
Along these barren lines
Where the huge rats scuttle
And the hawk shrieks to the carrion crow.

Can you stay them with your noise?
Then kill winter with your cannon,
Hold back Orion with your bayonets
And crush the spring leaf with your armies?

*****

Dawn

The grim dawn lightens thin bleak clouds;
In the hill-clefts beyond the flooded meadows
Lies death-pale, death-still mist.

We trudge along wearily,
Heavy with lack of sleep,
Spiritless, yet with pretence of gaiety.

The sun brings crimson to the colourless sky;
Light gleams from brass and steel—
We trudge on wearily—

0 God, end this bleak anguish
Soon, soon, with vivid crimson death,
End it in mist-pale sleep!

*****

Picket

I

First Watch: Night

The stars which night by night of late
Were plain to all men’s eyes
Are veiled in cloud,
As my clear happy mind
In this brief solitude.

II

Last Watch: Dawn
Dusk and deep silence…

Three soldiers huddled on a bench
Over a red-hot brazier,
And a fourth one stands apart
Watching the cold rainy dawn.

Then the familiar sound of birds—
Clear cock-crow, caw of rooks,
Frail pipe of linnet, the “ting! ting!” of chaffinches,
And over all the lark
Outpiercing even the robin…

Wearily the sentry moves
Muttering the one word: “Peace.”

*****

Barrage

Thunder,
The gallop of innumerable Walkyrie impetuous for battle,
The beating of vast eagle wings above Prometheus,
The contest of tall barbaric gods smitten by the hammer of Thor,
Pursuit! Pursuit! Pursuit!
The huge black dogs of hell
Leaping, full-mouthed, in murderous pursuit!

*****

Bombardment

Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes

And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

*****

The Blood of the Young Men

I

Give us back the close veil of the senses,
Let us not see, ah, hide from us
The red blood splashed upon the walls,
The good red blood, the young, the lovely blood
Trampled unseeingly by passing feet,
Feet of the old men, feet of the cold cruel women,
Feet of the careless children, endlessly passing…

II

Day has become an agony, night alone now,
That leisurely shadow, hides the blood-stains,
The horrible stains and clots of day-time.

III

All the garments of all the people,
All the wheels of all the traffic,
All the cold indifferent faces,
All the fronts of the houses,
All the stones of the street —
Ghastly! Horribly smeared with blood-stains.

IV

The horror of it!
When a woman holds out a white hand
Suddenly to know it drips black putrid blood;
When an old man sits, serene and healthy,
In clean white linen, with clean white hair,
Suddenly to know the linen foully spotted,
To see the white hair streaked with dripping blood.

V

O these pools and ponds of blood,
Slowly dripped in, slowly brimming lakes,
Blood of the young men, blood of their bodies,
Squeezed and crushed out to purple the garments of
Dives,
Poured out to colour the lips of Magdalen,
Magdalen who loves not, whose sins are loveless.
O this steady drain of the weary bodies,
This beating of hearts growing dimmer and dimmer,
This bitter indifference of the old men,
This exquisite indifference of women.

VI

Old men, you will grow stronger and healthier
With broad red cheeks and clear hard eyes —
Is not your meat and drink the choicest?
Blood of the young, dear flesh of the young men?

VII

Ah, you women, cruel exquisite women,
What a love-fountain is poured out for you,
What coloured streams for your pleasure!

Go your ways, pass on, forget them;
Give your lips and breasts to the old men,
The kindly, impetuous, glowing, old men!
They who will love you indeed, indeed, dears,
Not as we do, drained of our blood, with weeping.
Sell yourselves, oh, give yourselves to the cripples,
Give yourselves to the weak, the poor forgotten,
Give yourselves to those who escape the torture
And buy their blood from the pools with weight of
gold.

Give yourselves to them, pass on, forget us;
We, any few that are left, a remnant,
Sit alone together in cold and darkness,
Dare not face the light for fear we discover
The dread woe, the agony in our faces,
Sit alone without sound in bitter dreaming
Of our friends, our dear brothers, the young men,
Who were mangled and abolished, squeezed dry of
blood,
Emptied and cast aside that the lakes might widen,
That the lips of the women might be sweet to the old men.

VIII

Go your ways, you women, pass and forget us,
We are sick of blood, of the taste and sight of it;
Go now to those who bleed not and to the old men,
They will give you beautiful love in answer!
But we, we are alone, we are desolate,
Thinning the blood of our brothers with weeping,
Crying for our brothers, the men we fought with,
Crying out, mourning them, alone with our dead ones;
Praying that our eyes may be blinded
Lest we go mad in a world of scarlet,
Dripping, oozing from the veins of our brothers.

Categories: Uncategorized

Conrad Aiken: Vast symphonic dance of death

July 12, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Conrad Aiken: The history of war is the history of mankind, seven thousand million dead on the field of battle

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Conrad Aiken
1915: The Trenches

I

All night long, it has seemed for many years,
We have heard the terrible sound of guns,
All night long we have lain and watched the calm stars.
We cannot sleep, though we are tired,
The sound of guns is in our ears,
We are growing old and grey,
We have forgotten many simple things.
Is this you? Is this I?
Will the word come to charge today?…
All night long, all night long,
We listen and cannot close our eyes,
We see the ring of violet flashes
Endlessly darting against the skies,
We feel the firm earth shake beneath us,
And all the world we have walked upon
Crumbles to nothing, crumbles to chaos,
Crumbles to incoherent dust;
Till it seems we can never walk again,
That it is foolish to have feet, foolish to be men,
Foolish to think, foolish to have such brains,
And useless to remember
The world we came from,
The world we never shall see again…
All night long we lie this way,
We cannot talk, I look to see what you are thinking,
And you, and you,–
We are all thinking, ‘Will it come to-day?’
Get your bayonets ready, then–
See that they are sharp and bright,
See that they have thirsty edges,
Remember that we are savage men,
Motherless men who have no past…
Nothing of beauty to call to mind,
No tenderness to stay our hands…
…We are tired, we have thought all this before,
We have seen it all and thought it all,
Our thumbs are calloused with feeling the bayonet’s edge,
We have known it all and felt it all
Till we can know no more.

II

All night long we lie
Stupidly watching the smoke puff over the sky,
Stupidly watching the interminable stars
Come out again, peaceful and cold and high,
Swim into the smoke again, or melt in a flare of red…
All night long, all night long,
Hearing the terrible battle of guns,
We think we shall soon be dead,
We sleep for a second, and wake again,
We dream we are filling pans and baking bread,
Or hoeing the witch-grass out of the wheat,
We dream we are turning lathes,
Or open our shops, in the early morning,
And look for a moment along the quiet street…
And we do not laugh, though it is strange
In a harrowing second of time
To traverse so many worlds, so many ages,
And come to this chaos again,
This vast symphonic dance of death,
This incoherent dust.

III

We are growing old, we are older than the stars:
You whom I knew a moment ago
Have walked through ages of silence since then,
Memory is forsaking me,
I no longer know
If we are one or two or the blades of grass…
All night long, lying together,
We think in caverns of dreadful sound,
We grope among falling boulders,
We are overtaken and crushed, we rise once more,
Performing, wearily,
The senseless things we have performed so often before.
Yesterday is coming again,
Yesterday and the day before,
And a million others, all alike, one by one,
Sulphurous clouds and a red sun,
Sulphurous clouds and a yellow moon,
And a cold drizzle of endless rain
Driving across them, wetting the barrels of guns,
Dripping, soaking, pattering, slipping,
Chilling our hands, numbing our feet,
Glistening on our chins.
And then, all over again, after grey ages,
Sulphurous clouds and a red sun,
Sulphurous clouds and a yellow moon…
I had my childhood once, now I have children,
A boy who is learning to read, a girl who is learning to sew,
And my wife has brown hair and blue eyes…
Our parapet is blown away,
Blown away by a gust of sound,
Dust is falling upon us, blood is dripping upon us,
We are standing somewhere between earth and stars,
Not knowing if we are alive or dead…
All night long it is so,
All night long we hear the guns, and do not know
If the word will come to charge to-day.

IV

It will be like that other charge–
We will climb out and run
Yelling like madmen in the sun
Running stiffly on the scorched dust
Hardly hearing our voices
Running after the man who points with his hand
At a certain shattered tree,
Running through sheets of fire like idiots,
Sometimes falling, sometimes rising.
I will not remember, then,
How I walked by a hedge of wild roses,
And shook the dew off, with my sleeve,
I will not remember
The shape of my sweetheart’s mouth, but with other things
Ringing like anvils in my brain
I will run, I will die, I will forget.
I will hear nothing, and forget…
I will remember that we are savage men,
Motherless men who have no past,
Nothing of beauty to call to mind
No tenderness to stay our hands…

V

We are tired, we have thought all this before,
We have seen it all, and thought it all.
We have tried to forget, we have tried to change,
We have struggled to climb an invisible wall,
But if we should climb it, could we ever return?
We have known it all, and felt it all
Till we can know no more…
Let us climb out and end it, then,
Lest it become immortal.
Let us climb out and end it, then,
Just for the change…
This is the same night, still, and you, and I,
Struggling to keep our feet in a chaos of sound.
And the same puff of smoke
Passes, to leave the same stars in the sky.

VI

Out there, in the moonlight,
How still in the grass they lie,
Those who panted beside us, or stumbled before us,
Those who yelled like madmen and ran at the sun,
Flinging their guns before them.
One of them stares all day at the sky
As if he had seen some strange thing there,
One of them tightly holds his gun
As if he dreaded a danger there,
One of them stoops above his friend,
By moon and sun we see him there.
One of them saw white cottage walls
With purple clematis flowers and leaves,
And heard through trees his waterfalls
And whistled under the eaves;
One of them walked on yellow sand
And watched a young girl gathering shells–
Once, a white wave caught her hand…
One of them heard how certain bells
Chimed in a valley, mellow and slow,
Just as he turned to go…

VII

All night long, all night long,
We see them and do not remember them,
We hear the terrible sounds of guns,
We see the white rays darting and darting,
We are beaten down and crawl to our feet,
We wipe the dirt from mouths and eyes,
Dust-coloured animals creeping in dust,
Animals stupefied by sound;
We are beaten down, and some of us rise,
And some become a part of the ground,
But what do we care? We never knew them,
Or if we did it was long ago…
Night will end in a year or so,
We look at each other as if to say,
Across the void of time between us,
‘Will the word come to-day?’

Categories: Uncategorized

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: All our dainty terms for fratricide

July 9, 2011 1 comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selections on peace and war

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge
From Fears in Solitude (1798)

Secure from actual warfare, we have loved
To swell the war-whoop, passionate for war!
Alas! for ages ignorant of all
Its ghastlier workings, (famine or blue plague,
Battle, or siege, or flight through wintry snows,)
We, this whole people, have been clamorous
For war and bloodshed; animating sports,
The which we pay for as a thing to talk of,
Spectators and not combatants! No guess
Anticipative of a wrong unfelt,
No speculation on contingency,
However dim and vague, too vague and dim
To yield a justifying cause; and forth,
(Stuffed out with big preamble, holy names,
And adjurations of the God in Heaven,)
We send our mandates for the certain death
Of thousands and ten thousands! Boys and girls,
And women, that would groan to see a child
Pull off an insect’s leg, all read of war,
The best amusement for our morning meal!
The poor wretch, who has learnt his only prayers
From curses, who knows scarcely words enough
To ask a blessing from his Heavenly Father,
Becomes a fluent phraseman, absolute
And technical in victories and defeats,
And all our dainty terms for fratricide;
Terms which we trundle smoothly o’er our tongues
Like mere abstractions, empty sounds to which
We join no feeling and attach no form!
As if the soldier died without a wound;
As if the fibres of this godlike frame
Were gored without a pang; as if the wretch,
Who fell in battle, doing bloody deeds,
Passed off to Heaven, translated and not killed;
As though he had no wife to pine for him,
No God to judge him! Therefore, evil days
Are coming on us, O my countrymen!
And what if all-avenging Providence,
Strong and retributive, should make us know
The meaning of our words, force us to feel
The desolation and the agony
Of our fierce doings?

Categories: Uncategorized

Militarization Of The Arctic

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Updates on Libyan war/Stop NATO news: July 7, 2011

*****

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/07/07/52918275.html

Voice of Russia
July 7, 2011

Militarization of the Arctic
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca

Canada has announced that they will be conducting large-scale exercises in the Arctic. NATO also announced claims on the Arctic. What can you say about the militarization of the Arctic?

It’s something that has been under way, rather in earnest, for the last four years. What I think is most noteworthy is that Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, while visiting his nation’s troops in Afghanistan last week, accompanied by the top military commander of Canada, Walter Natynczyk, who’s by the way being touted for a top NATO post – at least Canada is promoting that – mentioned this year‘s now annual Canadian “sovereignty exercises” in the Arctic Ocean codenamed Operation Nanook will be the largest to date, with at least a thousand Canadian military personnel participating.

Last year’s Operation Nanook was the largest to date at that time, which included 900 Canadian troops. But I think what’s even more revealing than the size of the Canadian contingent was that for the first time ever – and these exercises began in 2007 and were referred to as “sovereignty exercises” – they occurred directly in response to Russia renewing territorial claims in the Arctic Ocean, particularly using the Lomonosov and the Mendeleev Ridges to sustain their claim.

Do you know what the current status of the claimed zone of the Lomonosov Ridge is?

The claims have to be adjudicated in the United Nations. These were, in some sense, all but abandoned in the waning days of the former Soviet Union by the Mikhail Gorbachev administration. But Russia, over the last six or so years, has expressed renewed interest in the Arctic for a number of reasons.

There was a US geological survey perhaps two or three years ago that suggested that as much as 30% of hitherto undiscovered gas and 13% of oil resources exist in the Arctic Ocean.

So, there are natural resources that are involved. Of course, now, with the melting of the polar ice cap and the opening of the much-fabled Northwest Passage north of Canada, which connects the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and would allow nations – China is one – to circumvent the Panama Canal or even longer journeys for commercial shipping and for the shipping of energy supplies, the Arctic is taking on increasing, not only economic, but, one can argue, geostrategic importance at the moment.

Russia is simply pursuing, as any nation could and should, I suppose, its national, economic and other interests in the Arctic.

But, as a response, Canada started holding regular military exercises in the Arctic – the Operation Nanook maneuvers. And last year, as I was going to mention, for the first time ever the exercises included the participation of militaries from other countries, and those two countries were the United States and Denmark.

The United States and Denmark along with the fifth claimant to the Arctic territory, Norway, are, of course, members of the North Atlantic treaty Organization.

Russia alone of Arctic claimants is not. And it’s ironic or revealing, as you will, that Denmark and the US are the only two countries that have direct territorial disputes with Canada: in the case of the US with the Beaufort Sea, which is claimed simultaneously through the US’s state of Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory; and, on the other end. the Eastern, something called Hans Island, which is claimed by both Denmark through its Greenland possession and by Canada. So that, although the only real disputes that exist are between the US and Canada and Denmark and Canada, nevertheless these three countries, three NATO members, engaged in common military exercises last August – Operation Nanook 2010 – with the clear indication that NATO countries are closing ranks against the only non-NATO claimant, which, of course, is Russia.

Are you saying that NATO has an interest in the Arctic?

Yes, most surely. And it’s acknowledged it. In January 2009, in the last days of the George W. Bush Administration, the White House issued a Presidential National Security Directive, Directive 66, in relation to the Arctic.

It claimed amongst other things that not only does the US contend with Canada for part of the Beaufort Sea, but the US maintains the Northwest Passage as international waters, whereas Canada claims that it’s entirely its own.

And National Security Directive #66 included amongst other things that US warships and warplanes should have free passage through the area.

And within, I believe, about couple of weeks after that, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization held an unprecedented summit in Iceland, something to the effect of Security Prospects in the High North, at which point NATO openly acknowledged having strategic interests in the Arctic region.

This meeting was top-level. It was attended not only by the Secretary General of NATO, but by the Alliance’s two top military commanders, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who, as you know, was an American commander at that and has been at all times, but also the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as the head of the NATO Military Committee.

They weren’t talking about the weather. It was clear that NATO has charted out the Arctic as yet another area [of interest]. And this is quite in line with the new NATO Strategic Concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit of the military bloc last November which highlighted in particular so-called energy security issues, that NATO has a self-appointed role, or mission, to protect energy security in the Caspian Sea, in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa and indeed everywhere in the world – and certainly now in the Arctic.

For whom?

For the interests, I presume, of the leading NATO member states – the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and so forth – as against the rest of the world.

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Risk-Free And Above The Law: U.S. Globalizes Drone Warfare

July 6, 2011 3 comments

Stop NATO
July 7, 2011

Risk-Free And Above The Law: U.S. Globalizes Drone Warfare
Rick Rozoff

Last week the Washington Post, the New York Times and other major American newspapers reported that the U.S. launched its first unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile attack inside Somalia.

The strike was the first acknowledged Pentagon military attack inside the Horn of Africa nation since a helicopter raid staged by commandos in 2009 and the first use of an American drone to conduct a missile strike there. Drones had earlier been used in the country in their original capacity, for surveillance, including identifying targets for bomb and missile attacks, one being shot down in October of 2009. But as Britain’s The Guardian reported on July 30, the strike in Somalia marked “the expansion of the pilotless war campaign to a sixth country,” as the remote-controlled aircraft have already been employed to deadly effect in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and most recently Libya.

The lethal Somali mission was reportedly carried out by the U.S. Special Operations Command, in charge of executing special forces operations of the respective units of the four main branches of the American military: The Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy. On July 4 the U.S. armed forces publication Stars and Stripes reported that there are currently 7,000 American special forces in Afghanistan and another 3,000 in Iraq, with the bulk of the latter to be transferred to the first country in what was described as a “mini-surge” of special operations troops to compensate for the withdrawal of 10,000 other troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Last week BBC News reported on the proposed transfer of drone aircraft by the U.S. to its military client states Uganda and Burundi for the war in Somalia. Citing American defense officials, BBC disclosed that four drones will be supplied to the two nations who have 9,000 troops engaged in combat operations against anti-government insurgents in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

According to a New York Times feature of July 1: “[T]he United States has largely been relying on proxy forces in Somalia, including African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, to support Somalia’s fragile government. The Pentagon is sending nearly $45 million in military supplies, including night-vision equipment and four small unarmed drones, to Uganda and Burundi to help combat the rising terror threat in Somalia. During the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2007, clandestine operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command initiated missions into Somalia from an airstrip in Ethiopia.”

On June 15 a major newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, The National, reported on the escalation of deadly U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It cited an official with the Yemeni Ministry of Defense claiming that the U.S. had launched over 15 drone strikes in the country in the first two weeks of June. The newspaper also quoted the deputy governor of Abyan province, Abdullah Luqman, decrying the attacks and stating: “These are the lives of innocent people being killed. At least 130 people have been killed in the last two weeks by US drones.”

The leader of an observation committee created to evacuate local residents added that “more than 40,000 people have left Abyan province because they feared drone strikes.”

The same defense official mentioned above warned that the “United States is turning Yemen into another Pakistan.” [1]

Recent reports in the American press reveal that the Pentagon will establish a new air base in the Persian Gulf from which to intensify drone strikes in Yemen. According to a Russian source, “The location is kept secret but some say this might be Bahrain as it already has a US base [the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet] and provides the safest route to Yemen for US drones through American ally Saudi Arabia.” [2]

The drone missile assaults in Pakistan, which caused a record number of deaths – over 1,000 – last year, are carried out by the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose last director is the new secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, a transfer that presages a yet greater intensification of the deadly attacks inside the South Asian nation.

On June 5 the 40th drone strike of the year killed at least six people in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bringing the death toll this year to at least 350.

Late last month the Pakistani government ordered the U.S. to vacate the Shamsi Air Base in the province of Balochistan which had been used for drone strikes inside the nation. Washington has in the interim shifted those operations to upgraded air bases in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 3 percent of Pakistanis support the drone attacks in the country’s tribal belt.

At the end of June, 28 people were reported killed by drone strikes in the South Waziristan Agency, with a local resident quoted by Pajhwok Afghan News as stating “that 20 civilians were killed and several others injured in the second attack.” [3]

Some 2,100 of the 2,500 people killed in the strikes since they began in 2004 have lost their lives since 2009, when Barack Obama became the president of the U.S. and Leon Panetta director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

On July 5 a British Reaper drone killed at least four Afghan civilians and wounded two more in a missile attack in Helmand province. The use of the Reaper, rightly referred to as the world’s deadliest drone, marks the crossing of an ominous threshold. It is the first of what is described as a hunter-killer – long-endurance, high-altitude – remote-piloted aircraft that can be equipped with fifteen times the amount of weaponry and fly at three times the speed of the Predator used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. (The U.S. has used Reapers in Iraq since 2008 and in Afghanistan starting the following year. Toward the end of 2009 the Pentagon deployed Reapers to the East African island nation of Seychelles along with over 100 military personnel.)

On June 28 the U.S. lost the third of three drones in Afghanistan in as many days.

A recent Refugees International report stated that over 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their towns and villages during the last two years, over 91,000 so far this year: “Not only have NATO-led troops and Afghan forces failed to protect Afghans, but international airstrikes and night raids by U.S. Special Forces were destroying homes, crops and infrastructure, traumatising civilians and displacing tens of thousands of people.” [4]

Last month an RT feature suitably titled “US expands drone war, extremists expect new recruits” stated:

“The US has stepped up its drone attacks against militants in the Middle East, but the growing number of civilian deaths in the strikes has sparked public anger, with concern the action is driving up the number of extremist recruits.

“In Pakistan, CIA drone strikes aim at terrorists but end up killing mostly civilians. Public outrage is growing. Hatred and anger foster more terror.

“Washington now sees Yemen as the most dangerous Al-Qaeda outpost, and is planning to step up drone attacks on the country, establishing a base in the Persian Gulf specifically for that purpose.”

The source added:

“Americans are likely to have a freer hand going it alone, with the CIA to take a central role.

“As the agency is not subject to the accountability the US military is legally under, one can expect more bombs to fall on Yemen.

“There is fury in Yemen over the killing of scores of civilians by the drone strikes. In one attack there, the American military presumably aiming at an Al-Qaeda training camp ended up killing dozens of women and children. In another strike a year ago, a drone mistakenly killed a deputy governor in Yemen, his family and aides.

“With the expansion of the drone war it seems the US is seeking only a missile solution to fighting Al-Qaeda. Analysts say that some of the main features of this global chase are not having to take into account the voice of the nation that they are bombing and the lack of accountability when it comes to civilian deaths. These features add more paradox to the US strategy, with many asking whether America is fighting and fostering terror at the same time.” [5]

Analyst Denis Fedutinov told Voice of Russia last month:

“The US used drones already in the Balkans campaign, then in Iraq and Afghanistan and now in Libya. The US and Israel are the world drone leaders. Now America has several thousand drones of different classes.” [6]

In fact, last year U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Glenn Walters told an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement conference that ten years ago America had 200 drones in its arsenal, but by 2010 that number had risen to 6,000 and that by next year it would be 8,000. A fortyfold increase.

And in May of 2010 “NATO representatives from around the world” visited the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in the state of Indiana to observe drone flight tests.

By transferring control of the 110-day war against Libya from U.S. Africa Command to NATO on March 31 the Obama administration intended to, among other purposes, evade accountability to Congress (and federal law) under provisions of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The resolution mandates that Congress must authorize military actions initiated by the president within 60 days of their commencement or grant him a 30-day extension. The 60-day limit was reached on May 20.

The White House responded to Congressional opposition to prolonging military action in Libya by releasing a 38-page report that claimed “US military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the resolution’s 60-day termination provision.”

It also maintained that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

Which is to say, as long as American military personnel are not in harm’s way it is not a war. Legal Adviser of the State Department Harold Koh stated: “We are acting lawfully…We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

General Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, last month “said a Republican-sponsored bill that would block American Predator drone strikes in Libya would hurt the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance,” and “predicted that NATO would be unable to replace certain key U.S. missions, including the drone strikes and attacks to neutralize Libyan air defenses that threaten allied planes, if proposed funding cuts are made.” [7]

The launching of over 200 cruise missiles into Libya in the opening days of the war and the fact that, as the New York Times reported on June 21, “American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times” since command of the war was transferred from U.S. Africa Command to NATO – after which NATO has conducted over 14,000 air missions, more than 5,000 termed strike sorties – do not constitute armed hostilities in the mind of Mr. Koh, who stated last year that “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.” According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top legal adviser, deadly drone attacks are “consistent with its [the U.S.’s] inherent right to self-defense.” [8] Koh cagily refers to murdering people on a grand scale by remote activation as targeted killing rather than targeted assassination, as the second is expressly prohibited under international law.

In a rare instance of dissenting from White House war policy, last month the New York Times published the following:

“Jack L. Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, said the Obama theory would set a precedent expanding future presidents’ unauthorized war-making powers, especially given the rise of remote-controlled combat technology.”

It further quoted Goldsmith directly:

“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits.”

Neither cruise missiles nor Hellfire missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles have pilots on board, so the lives of U.S. service members are safe as Pakistanis, Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis and Somalis are torn to shreds by U.S. strikes.

Wars of aggression are now both safe and “legal.”

1) The National, June 15, 2011
http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/us-makes-a-drone-attack-a-day-in-yemen
2) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
3) Pajhwok Afghan News, June 28, 2011
4) NATO airstrikes, night raids blamed for Afghan IDP crisis – report
AlertNet, June 29, 2011
5) RT, June 22, 2011
http://rt.com/news/us-drone-war-al-qaeda
6) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
7) Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
8) Inside Justice, March 26, 2011 http://insidejustice.com/law/index.php/intl/2010/03/26/asil_koh_drone_war_law

Categories: Uncategorized

European Missile System: NATO Not Prepared To Compromise

July 5, 2011 2 comments

*****

Updates on Libya war/Stop NATO News: July 5, 2011

*****

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/07/05/52814183.html

Voice of Russia
July 5, 2011

NATO is not prepared to compromise
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca.


Standard Missile-3 launch

My first question regards Russia, and NATO, and the integrated ABM shield that Russia has been – for want of a better word – pushing for implementing a sectoral defence architecture, what Russia was looking for. What are the chances of this happening, in your opinion?

By all indications after the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Sochi, there are no prospects of this occurring in terms of – using your wording – an integrated ABM system. NATO, with the US constantly barking orders at it, as it seems, is definitely opposed to a sectoral approach that would permit the integration of Russian interceptor missile, radar and other, operations within NATO.

NATO insists on doing it alone, if you will. And, as always when it makes overtures to Russia, bringing Moscow in as a junior partner. We have to recall that at the Lisbon Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last November the US missile system, what is called the Phased Adaptive Approach initiated by the Obama administration two years ago, has been endorsed heartily, that is unanimously, by NATO.

So, what we are talking about is a continuation of the US interceptor missile system in Europe, throughout Europe, covering the entire continent, excluding perhaps Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Overtures have been made for the last decade to try to enlist Ukraine as part of the NATO project. And those efforts are still not dead, if they haven’t born fruit to date.

First of all, I think, at the root of this issue is what is the true intention of the so-called Aegis Ashore, or Phased Adaptive Approach – the Obama administration and former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates’ project – which is a four-phased programme to bring Standard Missile-3 interceptors, which to date have been ship-based, and to place them on land.

The reports are, as the third and the fourth phases arrive in the upcoming years, that as many as 20 Standard Missile-3 advanced types will be placed each in Poland and Romania – and that’s in addition to the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theatre interceptor missiles that are already placed in Poland. And then, of course, the ship-based versions on Aegis class cruisers and destroyers will be deployed as Washington sees fit – in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

What we’re seeing is an almost impenetrable missile shield being erected along the entire western flank of Russia. Russia is not allowed to be an integral part of that system and with projected or anticipated more sophisticated versions of the Standard Missile-3 that are able to intercept both intermediate and perhaps even long-range missiles, in the words of several Russian officials, civilian and military, this potentially threatens Russia’s strategic interests.

So, you mean, is there any hope that they have been wrangling over this for a long time?

The fact is that Dmitry Medvedev became the first Russian or Soviet head of state ever to attend a NATO summit, as he did in Lisbon last November, while NATO was formally endorsing a continent-wide system that some people refer to as “Son of Star Wars”.

Perhaps somebody in the Kremlin at that time had hopes that NATO would listen to reason. But I think the evidence of the Sochi NATO-Russia Council meeting suggests that NATO is not budging, it is not prepared to compromise.

Some Russian experts say there was much progress made in Sochi. You see the opposite?

I’m just quoting Russian officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, both on the issue of Libya, the war against Libya, as well as the interceptor missile defence system, which is still fantastically described by the US and by NATO, by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as being aimed at some 23 countries, I believe, some astronomical number of nations that are supposedly developing ballistic missiles.

But nations that are usually identified are, of course, Iran, Syria – interestingly enough, given the current situation in that country – and I cannot, for the life of me, understand in terms of trajectory or anything else why 20 advanced Standard Missile-3 interceptors are to be placed in Poland to intercept missiles from Iran. It’s as nonsensical as the George W. Bush version – putting ground-base midcourse missiles there.

Backing up a little bit: some experts say that NATO should have been disbanded when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. NATO was designed, as a fact, to contain the USSR and continues to operate in such a manner. What do you think about that statement? As far as the ABM shield goes, I agree with you about trajectory and the location – I mean that there could be no other reason for it rather than to contain Russian missiles.

Patriot Advanced Capability missiles were placed in Poland, in the city of Morag, 60 kilometers from Russian territory. Against whom else have these missiles been deployed, with accompanying US military personnel who are manning them?

You now have the first permanent deployment of foreign troops in Poland since the breakup of the Warsaw Pact 20 years ago. NATO should never been formed, but that having been done in 1949 most surely it should have been a precondition, as a matter of fact, for the former Soviet government of President Gorbachev that, while discussing the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and so forth, a quid pro quo, reciprocity, should have been demanded, that NATO should have been disbanded.

The fact that instead, within one decade, from 1999 to 2009, it increased its membership by 75%, going from 16 countries to 28 countries, all 12 new countries in Eastern Europe, of course, from the Baltic to the Adriatic Seas. And every one of them either former members of the Warsaw Pact – Albania for a short while – or former republics of Yugoslavia is a clear indication NATO expansion eastward is not only to contain Russia. I would argue it’s meant to confront Russia.

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Video: War is a war even if they call it a humanitarian mission

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdVusxCfpV4

RT
July 4, 2011

‘War is a war even if they call it a humanitarian mission’

To discuss the significance of Germany’s latest move RT talks to political blogger Rick Rozoff:

Thumbnail

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdVusxCfpV4

Categories: Uncategorized

Bernard Mandeville: How to induce men to kill and die

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Bernard Mandeville
From An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue
Part of The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits (1714)
Edited for modern English by Irwin Primer

[H]ow civilized soever men may be, they never forget that force goes beyond reason. The politician must…alter his measures and take off some of man’s fears; he must strive to persuade him that all what was told him before of the barbarity of killing men ceases as soon as these men are enemies of the public, and that their adversaries are neither so good nor so strong as themselves. These things well managed will seldom fail of drawing the hardiest, the most quarrelsome, and the most mischievous into combat…

As soon as the notions of honour and shame are received among a society, it is not difficult to make men fight. First, take care that they are persuaded of the justice of their cause; for no man fights heartily that thinks himself in the wrong; then show them that their altars, their possessions, their wives, children, and everything that is near and dear to them is concerned in the present quarrel, or at least may be influenced by it hereafter; then put feathers in their caps, and distinguish them from others, talk of public-spiritness, the love of their country, facing an enemy with intrepidity, despising death, the bed of honour, and such like high-sounding words, and every proud man will take up arms and fight himself to death before he will turn tail, if it be by daylight…

To continue and heighten this artificial courage, all that run away ought to be punished with ignominy; those that fought well, whether they did beat or were beaten, must be flattered and solemnly commended; those that lost their limbs rewarded; and those that were killed ought, above all, to be taken notice of, artfully lamented, and to have extraordinary encomiums bestowed upon them; for to pay honours to the dead will ever be a sure method to make bubbles [dupes] of the living.

There is nothing that more improves the useful martial courage I treat of, and at the same time shows it to be artificial, than practice; for when men are disciplined, come to be acquainted with all the tools of death and engines of destruction, when the shouts, the outcries, the fire and smoke, the groans of wounded and ghostly looks of dying men, with all the various scenes of mangled carcases and bloody limbs torn off, begin to be familiar to them, their fears abate apace; not that they are now less afraid to die than before, but being used so often to see the same dangers, they apprehend the reality of them less than they did.

[T]he ways and means to rouse man’s pride and catch him by it are nowhere more grossly conspicuous than in the treatment which the common soldiers receive, whose vanity is to be worked upon (because there must be so many) at the cheapest rate imaginable. Things we are accustomed to we do not mind, or else what mortal that had never seen a soldier could look without laughing upon a man accoutred with so much paltry gaudiness and affected finery? [Y]et these fine allurements and the noise made upon a calf’s skin have drawn in and been the destruction of more men in reality than all the killing eyes and bewitching voices of women ever slew in jest. Today the swineherd puts on his red coat and believes everyone in earnest that calls him gentleman; and two days after Serjeant Kite gives him a swinging wrap with his cane for holding his musket an inch higher than it should be. As to the real dignity of the employment, in the last two wars officers, when recruits were wanted, were allowed to list fellows that were convicted of burglary and other capital crimes, which shows that to be made a soldier is deemed to be a preferment next to hanging.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. And NATO Allies Expanding Global Military Footprint

July 4, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
July 4, 2011

U.S. And NATO Allies Expanding Global Military Footprint
Rick Rozoff

Recent statements by the defense ministers of Germany and Canada reveal that the globally-oriented Western military consortium that is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization plans not only to continue but broaden the wars and military occupations it has conducted over the past twenty years.

The bloc’s primus inter pares – in fact its ringleader – the United States, has with its Alliance partners spent the past generation at war almost with respite: The first war with Iraq in 1991, bombing campaigns and large-scale troop deployments in the Balkans (Bosnia in 1994-1995, Yugoslavia and Kosovo in 1999 and Macedonia in 2001), Afghanistan for the past decade (with military deployments to Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as part of the larger war theater), Iraq again from 2003 onward, the Horn of Africa (bases in and operations from Djibouti for attacks inside Somalia and Yemen and the maintenance of navy war groups in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden), airlift operations in western Sudan and Uganda, and the current 108-day air assault against Libya.

But, to borrow the title of a volume by French historian and novelist Zoé Oldenbourg, the world is not enough. Or, at the very least, nothing short of the entire world is sufficient to slake the ambitions of the world’s only military bloc.

In May the German government announced that while cutting the number of troops in the Bundeswehr overall it was increasing the number assigned to foreign missions from 7,000 to 10,000. (“Simultaneously.”) Berlin and its NATO allies cannot even pretend that their armed forces are necessary for defense of their respective homelands; they are completing the transformation from conscript or mixed conscript-volunteer forces to strictly professional (NATO’s term and requirement) expeditionary armies.

In late May the new German defense minister, Thomas de Maizière, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he did not exclude the prospect of his nation’s troops being deployed to “unstable countries” such as Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

Reunified (and remilitarized) Germany has engaged in combat operations and dispatched troops outside its borders in war and post-conflict zones, in Europe and overseas, since the mid-1990s for the first time since the country’s defeat in World War II, including to Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq (as part of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq), Lebanon, Chad and the Central African Republic, Uganda (to train local troops for the war in Somalia) and the Gulf of Aden as part of NATO and, less frequently, European Union missions – for all the difference that exists between the two. (The expanded version of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon established after the Israeli attack on the country in 2006 is not officially but for all practical intents a NATO-EU operation.)

Germany has 4,900-5,300 troops in Afghanistan, its largest deployment abroad since the Second World War, engaged in the first ground combat mission conducted by German armed forces since the same period.

Maizière’s comments included the assertion that “soldiers are part of [Germany’s] foreign policy, and a political process must accompany the deployment of soldiers,” while accentuating his country’s “alliance” obligations. Ones not currently being honored in the war against Libya, for sure, though Germany increased its commitment in Afghanistan to free up other NATO states’ forces for that conflict and renewed its participation in the bloc’s ten-year Operation Active Endeavor naval surveillance and interdiction patrols throughout the Mediterranean Sea.

On June 2 CBC reported that Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay pledged that “Canada is looking at setting up bases around the world to better position the military to participate in international missions.”

In propia persona MacKay said: “The focus of the planning, let’s be clear, is our capability for expeditionary participation in international missions…We are big players in NATO. We’re a country that has become a go-to nation in response to situations like what we’re seeing in Libya, what we saw in Haiti…” The reference to Haiti was presumably not only in relation to earthquake relief efforts in 2010 but to Ottawa’s military involvement in the country in 2004 and since.

Canada has been employing a base in Germany and of late in Cyprus (after being expelled from Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates last year) for the wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

The Canadian daily Le Devoir disclosed that the government, under a program named Operational Support Hubs Network, has completed negotiations for bases with Germany and Jamaica and is “in talks with Kuwait, Senegal, Kenya or Tanzania, Singapore and South Korea” for more.

At the same time MacKay was touting Canada as a “big player” in NATO, he confirmed that his nation’s air force will receive its first fifth generation U.S. F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) stealth fighter jets in 2016, a transaction that could cost as much as $16 billion, the largest arms purchase in Canada’s history. Decades after the end of the Cold War. What has been projected as eventually 65 of the multirole warplanes will be used first and foremost against Russia in the Arctic Ocean, but that many of the advanced aircraft are not required to be scrambled against Tupolev Tu-95s over international waters. Like Germany, Canada’s alliance obligations entail far wider – international and strategic – intentions.

Shortly before retiring as head of the world’s mightiest military organization with a World War II-level budget ($725 billion for this year), Robert Gates attended the annual International Institute for Strategic Studies-run Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, astride the strategic Strait of Malacca, and by some accounts reached an arrangement with the host country for a naval base there where new (yet to be deployed) U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ships will be stationed.

Last November Gates joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen for the 25th anniversary Australia-United States Ministerial meeting in Australia, during which visit the local press revealed that the Pentagon will gain access to several Australian army, air force and navy bases.

As with the naval facility in Singapore, the intended target is America’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region: China.

While in Singapore last month, Gates said that although there are “still some myopic souls” who believe that the U.S. cannot retain its preeminent military role in the Asia-Pacific, “In the coming years, the United States military is also going to be increasing its port calls, naval engagements and multilateral training efforts with multiple countries throughout the region.”

The Pentagon moving into bases in Australia and Singapore follows the acquisition of new American staging and forward, supply and docking and refueling, air, interceptor missile and radar, special operations, infantry, drone and other surveillance bases and other military facilities over the past twelve years in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Iraq, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Seychelles, Colombia, Poland and Bahrain (a reported new unmanned aerial vehicle – drone – base for attacks inside Yemen), and smaller or not yet acknowledged bases and other forms of permanent military presence in nations like Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Panama, the Netherlands Antilles, Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary (in the last three cases air bases obtained under NATO arrangements). If the Yugoslav, Afghan and Iraqi war precedents are an indication, base plans for Libya are already underway.

Far from the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union curbing the military expansion plans of the Pentagon and NATO by eliminating their official reason for being, those two developments have led to ever-expanding global designs by the “world’s sole military superpower” and its North Atlantic allies.

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Karel Čapek: The War with the Newts

July 4, 2011 2 comments

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Karel Čapek
From The War with the Newts (1936)
Translated by David Wyllie

The Jules Flambeau dropped anchor a mile and a half from the bay of Basse Coutances; when night came, in order to create a stronger impression, the captain order coloured rockets to be set off. This beautiful spectacle was watched by a large number of people on the shore; suddenly there was a hissing noise and an enormous column of water rose at the bow of the ship; it keeled over and there was a terrible explosion.

It was clear that the cruiser was sinking; within a quarter of an hour motor boats had come out from the nearby ports to offer help but they were not needed; apart from three men killed in the explosion itself the whole crew was saved and the Jules Flambeau went down five minutes later, its captain being the last to leave the ship with the memorable words, “There’s nothing we can do”.

The official report, issued that same night, announced that the “ageing cruiser, the Jules Flambeau, which was anyway to be withdrawn from service within a few weeks from now, hit rocks while sailing by night and, with its boiler exploding, sank”, but the press were not so easily satisfied; while the government influenced press maintained that the ship had hit a recently laid German mine, the opposition and foreign press carried headlines such as:

FRENCH CRUISER TORPEDOED by newts!

MYSTERIOUS EVENTS off the coast of Normandy

NEWTS IN REVOLT!

“We call to account,” wrote one French member of parliament in his paper, “those who gave arms to the newts that they could use against people; who put bombs in their paws so that they could kill French villagers and children as they play; who gave these monstrosities from the sea the most modern torpedoes so that they could sink French shipping whenever they want. Let us call them to account, I say: let them be indicted for murder, let them be dragged before a military tribunal for treason, let them be investigated for us to learn how much they profited from supplying the rabble of the oceans with the weapons to attack civilisation!”

And so on; there was simply a general consternation, people gathered on the streets and began to build barricades; Senegalese riflemen, their guns stacked in pyramids, were stationed on the boulevards of Paris, and waiting in the suburbs were tanks and armoured cars.

This was when the minister for marine affairs, Monsieur François Ponceau, stood in parliament, pale but decisive, and declared: The government accepts the responsibility for having equipped newts on French territory with guns, underwater machine guns, and torpedoes. French newts, however, are equipped only with light, small calibre cannons; German salamanders are armed with 32cm. underwater mortars. On French coasts there is only one underwater arsenal of hand grenades, torpedoes and explosives every twenty-four kilometres on average, on Italian coasts there are deep-water depots of armaments every twenty kilometres and in German waters every eighteen kilometres. France cannot leave her shores unprotected and will not do so. It is not possible for France to simply stop arming her newts. The minister would issue instructions for the most thorough investigations possible to discover who is guilty for the fatal misunderstanding on the Normandy coast; it seems that the newts saw the coloured rockets as a signal for military action and wished to defend themselves.

*****

The newspapers, according to their political colour, urged punishment, eradication, colonisation or a crusade against the newts, a general strike, resignation of the government, the arrest of newt owners, the arrest of communist leaders and agitators and many other protective measures of this sort. People began frantically to stockpile food when rumours of the shores and ports being closed off began to spread, and the prices of goods of every sort soared; riots caused by rising prices broke out in the industrial cities; the stock exchange was closed for three days.

*****

All this time the sea was thundering and boiling, almost as if military manoeuvres had been taking place under the water; but apart from the erupting water and steam there was nothing to see.

From both Dover and Calais, destroyers and torpedo boats set out at full steam and squadrons of military aircraft flew to the site of the disturbance; but by the time they got there all they found was that the surface was discoloured with something like a yellow mud and covered with startled fish and newts that had been torn to pieces.

At first it was thought that a mine in the channel must have exploded; but once the shores on both sides of the Straits of Dover had been ringed off with a chain of soldiers and the English prime-minister had, for the fourth time in the history of the world, interrupted his Saturday evening and hurried back to London, there were those who thought the incident must be of extremely serious international importance.

The papers carried some highly alarming rumours, but, oddly enough, this time remained far from the truth; nobody had any idea that Europe, and the whole world with it, stood for a few days on the brink of a major war. It was only several years later that a member of the then British cabinet, Sir Thomas Mulberry, failed to be re-elected in a general election and published his memoirs setting out just what had actually happened; but by then, though, nobody was interested.

This, in short, is what happened: Both England and France had begun constructing underwater fortresses for the newts in the English Channel. By means of these fortresses it would have been possible, in case of war, to close it off to shipping entirely.

Then, of course, both great powers accused the other of having started it first; but in all probability both sides began fortification at the same time in the fear that the friendly neighbour across the channel might get there before they did.

In short, two enormous concrete fortresses armed with heavy cannons, torpedoes, extensive minefields and all that modern weapon technology could give them, had been growing steadily under the surface of the Straits of Dover; on the English side this terrible fortress of the deep was operated by two divisions of heavy newts and around thirty thousand working salamanders, on the French side there were three divisions of first class warrior newts. It seems that on the critical day, a working colony of British newts came across French salamanders on the seabed in the middle of the strait and some kind of misunderstanding developed.

The French insisted that their newts had been working peacefully when they were attacked by the British who wanted to repel them, that British armed newts had tried to abduct some French newts who, of course, had defended themselves. At this, British military salamanders began firing into French labouring newts with hand grenades and mortars so that the French newts were forced to use similar weapons. The government of France felt compelled to require full satisfaction from His Britannic Majesty’s government and complete withdrawal from the disputed area of the seabed in order to ensure that no similar incident would occur again in the future.

*****

At this the French government declared that it could no longer tolerate having a neighbouring state building underwater fortifications in immediate proximity to the French coast. As far as a misunderstanding on the bed of the English Channel was concerned the republic suggested that, in accordance with the London Convention, the dispute be presented to the international court in The Hague. The British government replied that it could not and would not subject the security of British coasts to decisions made by any external body. As victims of the French attack they once again required, and with all possible emphasis, an apology, payment for damages and a guarantee for the future. British shipping stationed at Malta steamed westward at full speed; the Atlantic fleet was given orders to assemble at Portsmouth and Yarmouth.

The French government ordered the mobilisation of its naval reserve.

It now seemed that neither side could give way; it clearly meant after all nothing less than mastery over the entire channel. At this critical moment Sir Thomas Mulberry discovered the surprising fact that there actually were no working newts or military newts operating on the English side, or at least not officially, as the British Isles were still bound by Sir Samuel Mandeville’s prohibition on any salamander working on British coasts or surface waters.

This meant that the British government could not officially maintain that French newts had attacked any English newts; the whole issue therefore was reduced to the question whether French newts, deliberately or in error, had crossed over into British sovereign waters. French officials promised that they would investigate the matter; the English government never even suggested that the matter should be presented to the international court in The Hague. Finally the British admiralty came to an agreement with the French admiralty that there would be a five kilometre wide neutral zone between underwater fortifications in the English Channel, and in this way the exceptional friendliness existing between the two states was confirmed.

*****

Not many years after the first newt colonies had been settled in the North Sea and the Baltic a German scientist, Dr. Hans Thüring, found that the Baltic newt had certain distinctive physical features – clearly as a result of its environment; that it was somewhat lighter in colour, it walked on two legs, and its cranial index indicated a skull that was longer and narrower than other newts. This variety was given the name Northern Newt or Noble Newt (Andrias Scheuchzeri var. nobilis erecta Thüring).

The German press took this Baltic newt as its own, and enthusiastically stressed that it was because of its German environment that this newt had developed into a different and superior sub-species, indisputably above the level of any other salamander. Journalists wrote with contempt of the degenerate newts of the Mediterranean, stunted both physically and mentally, of the savage newts of the tropics and of the inferior, barbaric and bestial newts of other nations. The slogan of the day was From the Great Newt to the German Übernewt.

*****

Movements to oppose the newts spread to almost every country in the world and a variety of organisations such as The Association for the Elimination of the Newts, The Anti-Salamander Club, The Committee for Human Protection were established everywhere. Newt delegates at the thirteenth session of the Commission for the Study of Newt Affairs in Geneva were insulted when they tried to take part. The boards that fenced off the coastline were daubed with threatening graffiti such as Death to the Newts, Salamanders Go Home etc. Many newts had stones thrown at them; no salamander now dared to raise his head above water in daylight.

*****

It was an odd sort of war, if indeed it could be called a war at all; as there was no newt state nor any acknowledged newt government which could be officially held responsible for the hostilities. The first country to find itself in a state of war with the salamanders was Great Britain. Within the first few hours the newts had sunk almost all British ships at anchor in harbour; there was nothing that they could have done about that.

Within six weeks the United Kingdom had lost four fifths of its total tonnage. John Bull was given another moment in history to display his famous doggedness. His Majesty’s Government refused to negotiate with the newts and did not call off its ban on giving them any supplies. “An Englishman,” declared the prime minister on behalf of the entire nation, “will protect animals but will not haggle with them.”

*****

Some weeks later, the nations of the world met together in Vaduz.

The conference took place in Vaduz because in the height of the Alps there was no danger from the newts and because most of the world’s most powerful and socially important people had already fled there from coastal areas. It was generally agreed that the conference progressed quickly to reach solutions to all the worlds’ current problems. Every country (with the exceptions of Switzerland, Afghanistan, Bolivia and some other land-locked countries) agreed emphatically not to recognise the newts as an independent military power, mainly because they would then have to acknowledge their own newts as members of a salamander state; it was even possible that a salamander state of this sort would want to exercise its sovereignty over all the shores and waters occupied by newts.

*****

There’s a new legend about a Great Flood sent by God to punish man for his sins. And there will be new legends about lands that disappeared under the water, and these lands will have been the cradle of human civilisation; and there will myths and legends about places like England and France and Germany…

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Interview: U.S. Violates Law For Large-Scale Killings In Pakistan

July 3, 2011 1 comment

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/187318.html

 

Press TV
July 3, 2011

 

‘US changes law to kill in Pakistan’
Interview with Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO organization in Chicago

 

 

Audio at graphic above

 

 

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is reportedly using airbases in Afghanistan to launch deadly drone attacks on Pakistan despite Islamabad’s warnings against continued unauthorized US air raids on its soil.

The US is pressing ahead with its unsanctioned drone bombing of Pakistan by using an Afghan airbase, as the CIA claims the aerial operations originally launched from a Pakistani airbase have stopped over the past three months, according to a Saturday report by The Washington Post.

The report states that the US stopped drone strikes from the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan in April after a diplomatic row over a CIA operative, Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistani nationals in Lahore on January 27.

The newspaper added that since then the CIA has carried out its drone attacks on the Pakistani soil from an airbase in Afghanistan.

Ties between Islamabad and Washington have become tense over the attacks, which Pakistan considers as a violation of its sovereignty.

Press TV interviewed Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO in Chicago.

Press TV: These drones, do we know where they are getting their information on what targets to attack?

Rozoff: Do we know how they are obtaining information and how they are targeting people for unmanned aerial vehicle attacks? I have an idea of how the operation works. Your lead-in to our conversation, of course, mentioned that over a thousand people have been killed in the tribal areas in northwest Pakistan last year. The total figures since the US drone war began in Pakistan, starting in 2004, are at least 2,500 people. I mean this is large-scale killing of course.

The so-called pilots who direct the drone attack are based in the United States, and that information is provided via video communication from the theater, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, back to the States where the strikes are ordered. That’s the general mechanism used for the strikes.

I don’t know if it has been noted, but I think it is worth paying attention to the fact that the new defense secretary of the Unites States, Leon Panetta, has come to that post from being the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, which in fact is in charge of the predator drone attacks inside Pakistan, and even though there had been a decrease in those attacks under the former chief military commander of US and NATO forces – International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, they were intensified under his successor David Petraeus, who is now taking over the directorship of the Central Intelligence Agency.

So, you have a CIA director who really ramped up the drone attacks taking over the Pentagon, and you have a military commander who officiated over or collaborated with the drone attacks taking over the CIA, which runs them. So all indications are that you’re going to see a dramatic escalation of deadly drone attacks inside Pakistan.

Press TV: How is it the US is expanding in Afghanistan, when the Afghan people and President Hamid Karzai has specifically said they want the US soldiers out as soon as possible.

Rozoff: They want ISAF out ASAP, they are correct to say that. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that the foreign troops in his country, which are an enormous amount, they are up to 152,000 US, NATO and partnership troops in the country, that’s the largest amount of troops ever stationed on Afghan soil incidentally. It’s substantially larger than the Soviet troop presence at its highest, and it is also the largest number of troops from the largest number of countries ever stationed in one warzone, over 50 countries all together with 48 officially what NATO calls Troop Contributing Nations, and other numbers in addition to that. You alluded to airbases like those of Bagram, I would also recall that at Shindand in the western part of Afghanistan.

So, one of the major objective that the United States and NATO have had in invading and occupying Afghanistan, for what will soon be ten years, is to come into possession of the Soviet-built air bases in Afghanistan and upgrade them to police the entire region, which means northward to Central Asia and eastward to the Indian sub-continent and of course west to Iran and the Persian Gulf.

Although frankly I cannot tell you from where the predator drones take off for their deadly mission inside Pakistan, you know the Bagram air base has been expanded to a monumental size in recent years, and it is a clear indication that notwithstanding Afghan President Karzai’s demand that foreign troops leave the country, the US and NATO have no intention of doing that.

Press TV: These drones are considered illegal acts of war by the UN Council for Human Rights and also considered targeted killings, how is it that the Unites States gets away with these inhumane acts?

Rozoff: That’s a very good question. I would say it is simply the moral default of the world that permits them to get away. You know that very loosely phrased UN resolutions permitted the United States and NATO to move into Afghanistan ten years ago in the first place, comparable in many ways to UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973 recently, which have been allowed for what is now a 105-day war against Libya with no end in sight.

The fact is that the major legal adviser to the US State Department, Harold [Hongju] Koh, uses exactly the term that you have just used, “targeted killings” in Pakistan. Dawn News, one of the major English-language news sources in Pakistan, estimated some 18 months ago that last year there were over 1,000 killed, but a year prior to that, of 700 people killed in Pakistan, five of them were so-called al-Qaeda operatives or forces, so there was a 140 to 1 ratio of civilians killed for every targeted terrorist. Yet Harold Koh in the State Department uses the term targeted killing, not targeted assassaination, which in fact it is, because of a law passed in the 1970s in the United States in response to CIA operations prior to that which makes it a violation of the law to conduct targeted assassinations, so they simply changed the name.

Now, if you are somebody in Pakistan whose entire family is wiped out in a Hellfire missile attack, it’s small consolation to be told that it wasn’t a targeted assassination but a targeted killing. And in fact in my opinion this is a gross violation of international and certainly humanitarian law.

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Salvatore Quasimodo: In every country a cultural tradition opposes war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Italian writers on war and militarism

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Salvatore Quasimodo
From Nobel Prize in Literature lecture (1959)

I knew that young men quoted verses from my lyrics in their love letters; others were written on the walls of jails by political prisoners. What a time to be writing poetry! We wrote verses that condemned us, with no hope of pardon, to the most bitter solitude. Were such verses categories of the soul – great truths? Traditional European poetry, as yet unrestricted, was unaware of our presence: the Latin province, under the aegis of its Caesars, fostered bloodshed, not lessons in humanism.

*****

War, I have always said, forces men to change their standards, regardless of whether their country has won or lost. Poetics and philosophies disintegrate “when the trees fall and the walls collapse”. At the point when continuity was interrupted by the first nuclear explosion, it would have been too easy to recover the formal sediment which linked us with an age of poetic decorum, of a preoccupation with poetic sounds. After the turbulence of death, moral principles and even religious proofs are called into question.

*****

The last war was a clash of systems, of politics, of civil orders, nation by nation. Its violence twisted even the smallest liberties. A sense of life reappeared in the very resistance to the inimical but familiar invader, a resistance by culture and by folk humanism which, in Vergil’s words, “raised its head in the bitter fields” against the powerful.

In every country a cultural tradition remains detached from this military movement. This tradition is not merely provisional, although it is considered as such by the conservative bankers who finance construction on civilization’s “real estate”. I insist upon saying not merely provisional, because the nucleus of contemporary culture (including the philosophy of existence) is oriented not toward the disasters of the soul and the spirit, but toward an attempt to repair man’s broken bones. Neither fear, nor absence, nor indifference, nor impotence will ever allow the poet to communicate a non-metaphysical fate to others.

*****

The politician wants men to know how to die courageously; the poet wants men to live courageously…In our time the politician’s defence against culture and thus against the poet operates both surreptitiously and openly in manifold ways. His easiest defence is the degradation of the concept of culture. Mechanical and scientific means, radio and television, help to break the unity of the arts, to favour a poetics that will not even disturb shadows…The corruption of the concept of culture offered to the masses, who are led by it to believe that they are catching a glimpse of the paradise of knowledge, is not a modern political device; but the techniques used for this multiple dissipation of man’s meditative interests are new and effective.

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Libya And Millennium Of War

July 2, 2011 1 comment

Stop NATO
July 2, 2011

Libya And Millennium Of War
Rick Rozoff

On June 26 the West’s war against Libya reached its hundredth day. Launched on March 19 with a barrage of bombing raids and Tomahawk cruise missile attacks conducted by American, British and French warplanes, ships and submarines, control of military operations, including a naval blockade of the Mediterranean nation and the deployment of special forces in the country’s east, was ceded by U.S. Africa Command to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 31.

In the interim the Western military bloc reports that its aircraft have flown over 13,000 missions under the auspices of so-called Operation Unified Protector, including more than 5,000 combat-related sorties. Daily tallies are posted on NATO’s Allied Command Operations (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) website as though they are public service announcements. The practice is rather bellicose braggadocio, rank rodomontade; boasting of the Alliance’s ability to control the airspace of and pummel at will a now all but defenseless nation of six and a half million inhabitants.

In late May deputy commander of the Russian General Staff General Igor Sheremet was quoted by RIA Novosti as warning: “We expect Western countries to have at least 80,000 cruise missiles by 2020, including about 2,000 of them nuclear-powered.”

Although over 200 sea-launched cruise missiles were expended in the opening days of the now over hundred-day assault against Libya (100 on the first day), the U.S. and its NATO allies will have a plentiful supply, an almost inexhaustible arsenal, of high-speed, long-range guided missiles capable of being equipped with conventional and nuclear warheads for attacks against any nation or combination of nations targeted by the West for regime change, invasion and occupation as was done with Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya over the past 12 years.

With the permanent presence of warships and submarines assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, both headquartered in Italy, and combat aircraft based in the same country and other Mediterranean Sea states, and with British, French, Canadian and other NATO members’ vessels stationed there in the weeks leading up to the campaign against Libya and since (including the Charles de Gaulle, the only non-American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier), the armada assembled in the Mediterranean makes it the most heavily militarized sea in the world.

It represents a decade-long development (NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor naval patrols in the Mediterranean will be ten years old on October 4) which is steadily expanding into the Black and Arabian Seas. In the first case with two U.S. guided missile cruisers deployed off the coasts of Romania, Ukraine and Georgia and nearly two months of U.S. Marine Corps-led Black Sea Rotational Force war games in Romania in recent weeks and, in the second, permanent American and NATO warship deployments in the Red and Arabian Seas from the Suez Canal to the Bay of Bengal in an expansive war front that includes Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On June 21 the newest and oldest U.S. aircraft supercarriers (all eleven such vessels in the world are American), USS George H.W. Bush and USS Enterprise, with their carrier strike groups and carrier air wings, passed each other in the Bab el-Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. The Enterprise was returning to the Mediterranean and the George H.W. Bush arriving from the same location. American carrier strike groups consist of an aircraft carrier, at least three other warships and an attack submarine; a carrier wing includes several squadrons: 60 or more fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

The Suez Canal remains the conduit through which U.S. warships cross from the Sixth Fleet’s area of responsibility to that of the Fifth Fleet: The Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and East African coastline south to Kenya.

Egypt’s Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces he heads up are just as obliging to American global military ambitions as was the former Hosni Mubarak government.

Two centuries ago the British writer and critic William Hazlitt denounced, with a degree and depth of indignation absent in current times, what he aptly called the systematic patrons of eternal war.* He was fortunate to be spared living in the 21st century which, ushering in a new millennium, has not witnessed a single year without the Pentagon and NATO conducting military interventions and waging wars outside the territories of its member states. In Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The Napoleonic Wars ended in the fifteenth year of the 19th century. One contemporary war alone, that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will last at least for the first fourteen years of this century and probably longer, with more wars like the current one against Libya to follow.

Commemorating the beginning of the first millennium of the Common Era, the Catholic Church begins its December 25th mass with the Christmas Proclamation, which contains these words:

In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation
of the city of Rome.
The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace…

The second millennium, though not without violence, was largely without war until the First Crusade of 1096.

The third began with war, which has continued uninterruptedly from South Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

A world inured to – reconciled to – wars of aggression as an innate part of the human condition would be wise to heed the words of Alfred Tennyson’s 1850 poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells”:

Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

*William Hazlitt: Systematic patrons of eternal war
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/william-hazlitt-systematic-patrons-of-eternal-war

Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/obama-doctrine-eternal-war-for-imperfect-mankind

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Franz Werfel: To a Lark in War-Time

July 2, 2011 2 comments

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Franz Werfel: Selections on war

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Franz Werfel
Poems
Translated by Edith Abercrombie Snow

The First Transport of Wounded
1914

Careful! No outburst now! Tremble! Hush!
You people, you folk, it is true! Yes, it is true!
Do not sob out, you people!
Hold the scream tight in your throat!
Still! Lower your head
That now is bowed down forever, you women!
Your kerchief, your hand hold to your mouth! Hush!
People, you folk, it is true!
Not a word more, no more wailing!
Quietly pass on that horror-stricken look,
And touch each other, oppressed ones, with a gentle touch!
Look there, over there, where now I point with my hand!
Bow down lower, sleep-walkers, pain-begotten ones,
You wretched, oh you lamentable age!

*****

To a Lark in War-Time

Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert SHELLEY

Thou heavenly quivering beneath the deathlike above!
Thou ethereal whirring above the deadly beneath!
Thou ever prolific, prolific soul!
Oh hope, not ours,
In the midst of this tearless abyss!
We lift our hardened feet
To drums and convicts’ march.
Trumpets, whips on the open flesh
Flog us and force us ahead.

Still we can feel thee aloft
Over our slavish necks,
Thee, little ardent one,
Thee, God’s flamelet of song.

Oh thou life, thou innocent speck,
Thou art not of us!
Because we lie,
We bellow and glare
When the guard herds us to soup.
We fear just one thing,
Our master, the whip.
And so we are not what we are.

But thou, tiny lark,
Thou unblemished, exquisite truth,
Thou doest thy life,
Thou livest thy song, and
Thou art what thou art.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne on war: Drinking out of skulls till the Millennium

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

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Nathaniel Hawthorne
From Chiefly About War Matters
By a Peaceable Man (1862)

Will the time ever come again, in America, when we may live half a score of years without once seeing the likeness of a soldier, except it be in the festal march of a company on its summer tour? Not in this generation, I fear, nor in the next, nor till the Millennium; and even that blessed epoch, as the prophecies seem to intimate, will advance to the sound of the trumpet.

One terrible idea occurs, in reference to this matter. Even supposing the war should end to-morrow, and the army melt into the mass of the population within the year, what an incalculable preponderance will there be of military titles and pretensions for at least half a century to come! Every country-neighborhood will have its general or two, its three or four colonels, half a dozen majors, and captains without end,–besides non-commissioned officers and privates, more than the recruiting-offices ever knew of,–all with their campaign-stories, which will become the staple of fireside-talk forevermore. Military merit, or rather, since that is not so readily estimated, military notoriety, will be the measure of all claims to civil distinction. One bullet-headed general will succeed another in the Presidential chair; and veterans will hold the offices at home and abroad, and sit in Congress and the State legislatures, and fill all the avenues of public life. And yet I do not speak of this deprecatingly, since, very likely, it may substitute something more real and genuine, instead of the many shams on which men have heretofore founded their claims to public regard; but it behooves civilians to consider their wretched prospects in the future, and assume the military button before it is too late.

Even in an aesthetic point of view…war has done a great deal of enduring mischief, by causing the devastation of great tracts of woodland scenery, in which this part of Virginia would appear to have been very rich. Around all the encampments, and everywhere along the road, we saw the bare sites of what had evidently been tracts of hard-wood forest, indicated by the unsightly stumps of well-grown trees, not smoothly felled by regular axe-men, but hacked, haggled, and unevenly amputated, as by a sword, or other miserable tool, in an unskilful hand. Fifty years will not repair this desolation. An army destroys everything before and around it, even to the very grass; for the sites of the encampments are converted into barren esplanades, like those of the squares in French cities, where not a blade of grass is allowed to grow. As to other symptoms of devastation and obstruction, such as deserted houses, unfenced fields, and a general aspect of nakedness and ruin, I know not how much may be due to a normal lack of neatness in the rural life of Virginia, which puts a squalid face even upon a prosperous state of things; but undoubtedly the war must have spoilt what was good, and made the bad a great deal worse. The carcasses of horses were scattered along the way-side.

The enervating effects of centuries of civilization vanish at once, and leave these young men to enjoy a life of hardship, and the exhilarating sense of danger,–to kill men blamelessly, or to be killed gloriously,–and to be happy in following out their native instincts of destruction, precisely in the spirit of Homer’s heroes, only with some considerable change of mode. One touch of Nature makes not only the whole world, but all time, akin. Set men face to face, with weapons in their hands, and they are as ready to slaughter one another now, after playing at peace and good-will for so many years, as in the rudest ages, that never heard of peace-societies, and thought no wine so delicious as what they quaffed from an enemy’s skull. Indeed, if the report of a Congressional committee may be trusted, that old-fashioned kind of goblet has again come into use, at the expense of our Northern head-pieces,–a costly drinking-cup to him that furnishes it! Heaven forgive me for seeming to jest upon such a subject!–only, it is so odd, when we measure our advances from barbarism, and find ourselves just here!

At no great distance from the Minnesota lay the strangest-looking craft I ever saw. [The Monitor] It was a platform of iron, so nearly on a level with the water that the swash of the waves broke over it, under the impulse of a very moderate breeze; and on this platform was raised a circular structure, likewise of iron, and rather broad and capacious, but of no great height. It could not be called a vessel at all; it was a machine,–and I have seen one of somewhat similar appearance employed in cleaning out the docks; or, for lack of a better similitude, it looked like a gigantic rat-trap. It was ugly, questionable, suspicious, evidently mischievous,–nay, I will allow myself to call it devilish; for this was the new war-fiend, destined, along with others of the same breed, to annihilate whole navies and batter down old supremacies.

Already we hear of vessels the armament of which is to act entirely beneath the surface of the water; so that, with no other external symptoms than a great bubbling and foaming, and gush of smoke, and belch of smothered thunder out of the yeasty waves, there shall be a deadly fight going on below,–and, by-and-by, a sucking whirlpool, as one of the ships goes down.

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