Making the World Safe for Democracy (see the documentary here)
Quick Links – The Military History of Democracy, War is a Feature of Democracy, Conquer The World Democratically, NATO Emerges, Poverty Ignored, Never-Ending Warfare, Torture is Now the Norm, The “War on Terror”
The Military History of Democracy
So, I wondered, what are the military underpinnings of our democratic system? Even a cursory glance at our history shows that there was never a time in the formation of democracy where power was not won in combat or given up without violence.
Whether wresting power from kings or maintaining power over peasants, violence was and is the direct or implied threat of non-compliance in the democratic system. There is no opting out. At a personal level, if you are a citizen of Canada you cannot reject your democratic system of government and trot merrily off with your life and keep your tax dollars. Unless you want to risk a man at arms coming out and arresting you and a possible jail term. That’s the reality of your citizenship. Participation in democracy is mandatory.
So, let’s take a quick review of our democratic past and see if anything has changed – In 1066 the Norman King William I, our friend William the Conqueror, invaded England, ushering in centuries of rule by monarchs of French origin. The 12th, 13th and 14th centuries then saw the development of a distinct English culture and the establishment of a system of law, including the issue in 1215 of the Magna Carta which stated that monarchs were not free to rule by themselves and that the King was bound by the rule of law. We already know all that of course, but how was the system enforced and who did the fighting?
Here’s a pretty concise description of how things worked back then provided by www.econ.washington.edu/user/thornj/Thorntonfeudalism.doc. And backing up my contention that institutions do not change unless forced to, other than the voting part, I’m not seeing how it is much different than how things work today. However, you can decide:
“Feudalism was the social and economic system that emerged in Western Europe from the Ninth to the Fourteenth Centuries. In England, it dates from 1066, when William the Conqueror constrained the rights of agricultural peasants and imposed fixed obligations on them. Feudalism was based on the granting of land in exchange for military service to the crown. Medieval kings were warriors. They defended their territories in battle, supported by knights who supplied their kings with warriors and promised fealty to the king. In exchange, the crown endowed these lords with lands. On their fiefs, relations between the lords and the peasants working the land were defined by a strong, traditional set of mutual obligations.
A lord was a noble who owned land. He granted possession of pieces of land, called fiefs, to his vassals. In exchange for the fief, the vassal would provide military service to the lord. The obligations and relations between lord, vassal and fief were the foundation of feudalism. There was a hierarchy of agricultural labors on the feudal estates. Near the bottom of the social pyramid were the agricultural laborers, or villeins, and beneath them, the serfs.
The lord’s principal obligation was to grant a fief, or its revenues, to the vassal; the right to land was the main reason the vassal chose to enter into the relationship. In medieval society, land provided the vassal and his family with the means of subsistence.
In addition, the lord had to fulfill other obligations. Since the lord owned the land, while the serfs exercised rights of tenancy, it was still the lord’s responsibility to maintain the land and other physical infrastructure of the village. The peasants had the right to collect revenues by tilling the land. They also had traditional rights to make use of the common properties of the estate—to fish in the stream, collect wood in the forest, and graze cattle on common pastures.
Feudal institutions emerged, socially, as a response to periods of rural violence and anarchy in the Middle Ages and the need for military protection.
The manor was the basic unit of economic and social organization. It was a stable community of peasants organized collectively under the authority of a lord. Manors were usually divided into two parts: the lord’s land, which was worked by the serfs and the small farms of the serfs themselves. There were also extensive common lands used by the serfs for grazing, hunting and fishing. The typical medieval manor also contained workshops that produced clothes, tools and weapons. There were bakeries, a blacksmith, leather workers and mills.
The feudal society was based on a set of relationships, which defined the obligations between serf and lord. In return for security and the right to cultivate fields and to pass their holdings on, the serf had many obligations to their lord. Bound to the land, they could not leave the manor without the lord’s consent. They were obligated to harvest the lord’s lands (pay their taxes) before harvesting their own. They repaired the roads and bridges, and maintained the village infrastructure. They paid a poll tax, land taxes, and a number of fees to use infrastructure provided by the lord.”
Like I say, it doesn’t seem a lot different, other than the voting part, to how things work today. We pay our taxes and the government fixes our roads. Except now the government takes your taxes directly from your employer and you don’t have to give up your chickens or cows. And, just like in days gone by, one of the things your contribution to society is still used for is the military.
War Is a Feature of Democracy
And the advent of the democratic system didn’t see any changes in this regard. If nothing else, warfare and the expansion of the British Empire became an ongoing feature of democracy. By the 1920’s Great Britain, our democratic forefather, was the first modern world superpower. By 1922 the British Empire held formal sway over about one quarter of the world population and almost the same percentage of the world’s land mass. Not bad for one little democracy off the coast of Europe.
So how did Great Britain gain control of one out of every four persons on earth? This story is an incredible tale of military, tactical and communications superiority. Not only that, but it took government and industry working together to spread the control of Britain to every corner of the earth. And it was the Royal Navy that was the pointy end of the stick for Great Britain.
After the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, in which Britain beat the combined fleet of the Spanish and French, its main rivals, Britain became the undisputed ruler of the seas. This allowed Britain to start poaching the colonies of Spain and France and to start throwing its weight and influence around the world. If you decided that you weren’t going to play ball with Britain, you may find a Royal gunship or two parked in your harbor.
If that wasn’t enough to spark fear in your heart and you needed a little more convincing, the British Army could always be counted on for a good show. The iron discipline of the British Army was legendary. Coupled with their technological superiority, the tiny army of the Brits could pretty much stare down any country in a pissing contest. And the Navy could efficiently deliver their Marines to virtually any major port in the world in a very short timeframe.
The British Army was composed mainly of Scottish and Irish labourers who had been forced off their land. It’s interesting to note that the British Army wasn’t the “Royal” army. It seems that when Cromwell’s New Model Army turned on the Royals in the English Civil Wars, they never forgot about it and so didn’t quite get around to adding the title of “Royal” to “Army”. This lack of trust was also why so many members of the Royal Family were made into the Colonels in Chief of so many regiments. It was a way of trying to build loyalty.
Anyway, the Royal Navy would ensure the flow of goods and supplies to Britain’s factories and made sure her products were delivered safely overseas. Without the navy’s firepower and communications networks, the Brits couldn’t have become the British Empire. And with the advent of the industrial revolution, raw materials poured into Britain and finished products poured out. An example of this was Manchester or ‘Cottonopolis’ as it was known, buying up the world’s supply of cotton and exporting cloth and clothing.
And in order to do this, they had a little bit of an advantage. Here’s how it worked – The British East India Company made cotton processing and manufacturing workshops in India illegal. So India became a supplier of raw cotton only. Under British law, backed up by its military might, India was only allowed to purchase manufactured textiles from Britain and they weren’t allowed to spin their own, even for personal use.
So, it would seem, once you gain control of a country’s government, you can dictate laws that benefit your country’s industries. And, as it turns out, there are numerous ways other than the military where you can effectively gain control of a country. Something called foreign aid is equally as effective. However, I’m getting ahead of things. When superior American cotton started to gain traction on the world market, it was again Britain that processed it:
… [Manchester] this famous great factory town. Dark and smoky from the coal vapours, it resembles a huge forge or workshop. Work, profit and greed seem to be the only thoughts here. The clatter of the cotton mills and the looms can be heard everywhere …
—Johanna Schopenhauer , Sammtliche Schriften, Frankfurt, (1830)
Similar transformations took place in Metallurgy, Mining, Chemistry, Machining and Machine Tools, Chemicals, Paper, Agriculture, Concrete, Transportation and others. As you can imagine, the administrative demands of this sprawling world-wide democratic empire were tremendous. Methods had to be devised to quickly secure and administer everything from single industries to entire countries. And British industry pitched in wholeheartedly as massive profits were made, all backed up by the military might of Great Britain.
Conquer the World, Democratically
Administratively, the British, being an inventive lot, came up with a number of fairly simple models of spreading their unique brand of world domination. This summary is from http://britishempire.co.uk:
Company Rule was where a private company, capitalized in Britain, set up their own colonies as private commercial concerns. These were huge enterprises such as the centuries-old Hudson Bay Company, which functioned as the government in parts of Canada and North America before European states and later the United States laid claim to the territories. The HBC was at one time the largest private landowner in the world, controlling 15% of the North American land mass. All of this backed up by the might of the Royal Navy and not so royal Army.
The Colonies were those areas directly ruled by a governor on behalf of the British government and representing the Crown. The governor was responsible to the Colonial Office in London, although he usually had wide powers of discretion. These were the most common form of imperial control.
Protectorates were territories where the local rulers could continue ruling domestically but they had ceded the foreign and defence aspects of their government to the British. In return, the British respected and were prepared to defend the ruler from foreign or internal threats.
Dominions were those colonies that were granted significant freedom to rule themselves. The settler colonies were afforded this freedom. Dominions were fully independent countries after the 1931 Statute of Westminster, although their Head of State continued to be the British sovereign.
Mandates were set up after World War One as German and Turkish colonies were passed to Britain and France to prepare for self government on behalf of the League of Nations. After World War Two, the United Nations issued further mandates.
In addition to these five kinds of ‘colonies’ there were colonies set up by individuals, missionaries and even – in the case of Pitcairn Island – by escaped mutineers! These are the areas where England had some measure of formal control. In many ways, British naval, industrial and commercial supremacy was so great that it effectively held sway over an equally impressive ‘informal empire’.
The best example of this was South America where the Royal Navy was happy to uphold the U.S. ‘Monroe Doctrine’ (which said European Nations could no longer colonize the Americas) as it suited British commercial and strategic concerns at very little cost to the taxpayer. In many ways, formal control was often only extended when informal relationships collapsed or were challenged by other European rivals.”
So here we have Canada’s model of democracy. A democratic form of government that managed to propel Britain to the status of the first global superpower. So in terms of the questions we’re attempting to answer here – did British citizens, exercising their sovereignty as free people in a democratic system, overwhelmingly decide to create this superpower? Or did the unified and organized elite of the British Empire decide to go out and conquer the world? Free will or democracy masking the reality of elite rule? But maybe we’re getting ahead of things here.
As a colony, Canada was part of this sprawling global empire. And loyalty to our democratic patron was never in question. When England called, the colonies answered. And the first big test for Canada came with a little skirmish called World War 1. No one had to twist our arms when mother England went to war. Canadians from coast to coast pledged support and signed up in droves. (Although Newfoundland at this time was still under direct British control.) Other British colonies also threw in and the game was on.
As the war machines on both sides of the Atlantic cranked up, the largest convoys to ever cross the Atlantic ferried soldiers and supplies to the mother country. Fresh-faced Canadian lads who were heading off to war for glory and victory soon found out how trench warfare worked. And trench warfare was a bitch. At that time modern firepower such as artillery simply couldn’t be moved very quickly. So both sides dug in and defended large tracts of glorified ditches. And what ditches they were! Some were fairly simple but others resembled entire underground cities. And for the average Canadian soldier seeking fame and glory on the battlefield, this soon turned out to be a war of stalemates, attrition and futility. It was also one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Over 16 million dead and 20 million wounded. By the end of that little war, Canada had contributed some 65,000 lads dead and 170,000 or so wounded.
When the tensions resulting from the war to end all wars finally boiled over a few decades later into World War II, the answer to the call was once again swift and decisive. The Canadian parliament declared war on Sept. 10, 1933, just seven days after Britain and France. This resulted in Canada building the fourth-largest air force and third-largest navy in the world. Canada, with the population of just one densely populated U.S. state put together an army of over 1 million people and all that firepower. Wow. In this little skirmish, Canada amassed a casualty total of 45,000 brave lads dead and a further 54,000 wounded.
And that was the end of that, right? We bombed the Jerries into submission and everyone learned their lesson and went home, right? Not quite. There was the little matter of making sure that this will never happen again, although technically, World War 1 was the war to end all wars.
Regardless, this took the form of something called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. This little pact was signed on April 4, 1949, some four years after the end of WW II. So Canada was now formally tied to NATO, an organization that had 28 member states across North America and Europe with an additional 22 countries participating in something called the “partnership for peace”.
So, was this an example of George Washington’s message that the party system would leave governments open to something called ‘foreign influence’ as he put it? And just what does this mean for Canada? Consider that the combined might of NATO military spending represents over 70% of the world’s military budget.
So, one could reasonably argue, if Canada were a part of an organization that controls 70% of the world’s military machinery, who, in their right mind, would ever want to go to war again? It would be akin to having a neighbor with pit bulls, a crocodile on the front lawn, some lions out back, a machine gun turret on the roof, grenades and rocket launchers and the odd M16 or two poking out the windows and everyone in the house drinking beer and tequila and you go over and start complaining about the loud music.
But, as it turns out, we have had conflict after conflict (a pretty way of saying “wars”) since the WW II conflict, which came hard on the heels of the war to end all wars. There has never been, at any time since then, when democracies haven’t been involved in some form of ‘conflict’ or other. At some level, all of this just didn’t seem to make sense to me.
We had fought the war to end all wars, had shown the rest of the world how democracy was better than any other form of government and then banded together with other right-thinking countries and formed a coalition that, just even on the face of it, could not be beaten through direct military action by anyone on earth. The world should now enjoy peace and prosperity to the end of times, right?
Because democracy would be recognized as the right form of government and everyone would jump on the bandwagon and there would be no further need for the serfs to finance military adventures, right? And that should have been it for military expenditures, right? How could a modern democracy like Canada be part of an organization that now controls 70% of the world’s military and we still have all these conflicts on an on-going basis? To my way of thinking, if I had 70% of the resources for any industry, with a buy-in from over 50 countries, I’m pretty sure I could persuade anyone in that industry to see things my way.
And yet, some people, for whatever reason, just don’t seem to get the message. Anyway, more to the point of what we’re trying to determine – who is demanding this ongoing military expense? Is it the drive and unity of the elite or you and me asking for more military hardware and spy networks to protect our democratic way of life? And since the U.S. is the head honcho of NATO, I really needed to understand what our ‘NATO commitments’ mean to Canada. What or who is it, exactly, that we’re supporting? Back to the books.
One of the first things that came to mind was the phrase “making the the world safe for democracy.” This little phrase has been used since WWI to justify wars of aggression around the globe. As it turns out it was invented by the father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays. You can see a documentary about this little idea here. And it’s been used ever since to justify everything from CIA coups to invasions of countries. The modern version of this is “making the world safe from terrorists.”
The country at the hear of all of these justifications is our NATO leader, the U.S., with the highest military budgets in the world by a pretty wide margin. Writing in “Wired for War”, the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century” P.W. Singer outlined the massive buildup in U.S. military spending, especially since 9/11 (more on that later):
“From 2002 to 2008, the annual national defense budget has risen by 74 per cent to $515 billion. This figure does not include the several hundred billion dollars additionally spent on the cost of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have been funded in separate budget supplementals. If you include these, the total Pentagon budget is at its highest level in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since 1946, the last budget to reflect World War II-related spending and $36 billion and $126 billion (in 2008 dollars) more than the peak spending during the Korean and Vietnam wars (though the percentage of GDP is far lower), Research and development (R&D) and procurement costs, what it takes to design and build new weapons systems, have thus experienced an equivalent boom, or what one analyst described as “unchecked growth.”
This is what we know. In addition, there is the “black budget,” the Pentagons classified budget for buying and researching what it wants to keep secret. For obvious reasons, the black budget is not released to the public, but it is estimated by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments to be around $34 billion in 2009, up roughly 78 percent since 9/11.
A core part of this massive post-9/11 research and buying spree has been new technologies, with a particular focus on anything unmanned. The amounts spent on ground robots roughly doubled each year, while the amounts on drones grew by around 23 percent each year.”
Just as an aside and it certainly has nothing to do with anything ‘democratic’ but in his book “The End of Poverty”, Jeffrey Sachs made some estimates about what it would take to end world poverty. To end extreme poverty in 20 years, Sachs estimated the total annual cost per year would be about $175 billion, which is 0.7% of the total income of the 30 countries who belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). If we extrapolate that terrorists are recruited from extreme poverty conditions, this may be money that would be well spent in the current ‘war on terror’. Anyway, I digress.
So the question that I asked myself is: if the democratic system is so good, why does the democratic West need to spend so much of our money on weapons of mass destruction? After all, if your system brings about sovereignty at the lowest levels, and if most people are peaceful law-abiding citizens, why is it that we need all this military hardware?
Is the world such a dangerous place for democracies? Are we somehow in danger of imminent attack from the allied forces of evil that we need to spend this money year after year, decade after decade? Will foreign tanks from non-democratic countries be rolling down my street anytime soon I wondered? But, more to the point in terms of democracy, there was a troubling little phrase in the report that caught my eye – “black budgets” which is a Pentagon term for “classified budget”. What did that mean, I wondered? Back to the research.
Wikipedia says: “A black budget is a budget that is secretly collected from the overall income of a nation, a corporation, a society of any form, a national department, and so on. A black budget usually covers expenses related to military research. The budget is kept secret for national security reasons.” So the obvious question is: who controls the said black budget which in the U.S. was $32 billion in 2008 and has steadily increased since? The military or the politicians?
The answer to that, from numerous sources was the U.S. Military and not the politicians. On wired.com in an article entitled “Exposing the Black Budget” Phil Patton asks: “The Cold War is over. So why, Paul McGinnis wanted to know, are major CIA, NSA, and Department of Defense programs still being kept secret from Congress and US taxpayers?”
It turns out the official black budgets are U.S. Department of Defence budgets without any explanation to anyone except the military, hence the term “black”. You can find out how much money is going into classified black budgets by subtracting the “black” budgets from the “white” budgets, for lack of a better term, or budgets that are being documented publicly.
But, it also turns out that there is another completely hidden set of expenditures that are being used for “black” purposes without any public oversight. In the U.S., the CIA has the power to generate funds through appropriations of other federal government agencies and other sources without regard to any provisions of law and without regard to the intent behind these budgets. In other words, in the United States, our NATO leader, the duly-elected representatives of Congress may approve funding for one thing and the CIA takes that money and does something else with it. Who knows what? Certainly not the taxpayer and usually not Congress as a whole, although some Congressmen are privy to the information. So what does all this have to do with democracy?
As it turns out, NATO is horribly concerned with countries like Egypt and other regimes in Africa, Asia and Latin America where the military often makes their own decisions without regard or oversight from publicly elected officials. In other words, the military acts without civilian control.
In “An Essay on Civilian Control of the Military” Dr. Richard Kohn writes:
“Civilian control has special significance today more than ever. Throughout the formerly communist world, societies are struggling to build the institutions for democratic governance. NATO has made civilian control a prerequisite for joining the Alliance. In encouraging democratization, the United States and other western powers use civilian control of the military as one measure of progress toward democratic process.”
And yet, our democratic leader of NATO has a military that acts entirely on its own without civilian oversight where black budgets are the norm. No one is trying to hide this fact. Which, incidentally, is a criteria for exclusion from NATO. So maybe when you join NATO your military can’t act by itself but after you join it can. This is all pretty confusing.
And the mystery deepened. On Sept. 10, 2001, one day before 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense for the U.S. testified that the Pentagon could not account for $2.3 trillion dollars in military spending. So, not only does the military of our NATO leader make its own decisions, but it also appears that the U.S. military is not accountable to publicly elected officials. To the tune of $2.3 trillion. That seemed like an awful lot of money to lose track of.
So if, by the West’s own standards civilian control of the military is a measure of progress toward democratic process, where, exactly, does that leave us with our NATO leader with trillions of dollars unaccounted for and black budgets that the military directly controls? Are they also moving toward democratic process?
And just how big are those budgets, I wondered. Besides the U.S. at $515 billion (plus any special appropriations for wars and black budgets) the next highest military spending is by China at $166 Billion, the Russians at $91 Billion, the United Kingdom at $61 Billion, with Japan, France and Saudi Arabia all at around $57 to $59 billion. Canada, by the way is down around $22.5 Billion, which brings us into 14th place. This is all according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
In other words not only is the NATO leader’s military not accountable to the politicians, but the U.S. outspends the 2nd place finisher, China by more than $349 billion. This was mindboggling – if our main NATO partner had the single largest military budget in the world by some $349 billion and if NATO countries controlled over 70% of the world’s military budget, who or what exactly, are we fighting? Enemies ready to break down our gates with tanks ready to roll down my street? Or were they fighting something else? And were Canadians, as Georgie pointed out, open to ‘foreign influence’ from such a powerful ally, I wondered?
And, in trying to answer that little question, I came across a pretty interesting read by a guy named William Blum that casts the ‘good guy’ image in a little different light and may have some bearing on the ‘foreign influence’ debate. It’s called “Killing Hope – U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II”.
According to Blum, the U.S. wasted no time in securing their ‘interests’ around the world after WW II and, it turns out, even before the war. Starting in the Philippines during the 1940’s and 50’s President McKinley declared that the U.S. could not ‘give them back to Spain’ and that there was nothing left to do but to “educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.”
I’m not exactly sure what that meant but the Philippines is one of the poorest countries in the world right now. The U.S. also helped China fight the Commies from 1945 to the 1960’s, Italy from 1947 to 1948 (anybody remember them being the enemy in WWII??), Greece from 1947 to the early 1950’s (another economic basket case) and continuing to the present day, the U.S. has been engaged in CIA or military ‘interventions’, and something called foreign aid (which apparently comes with some pretty stringent strings attached). According to Blum, the tactics employed to save all these people from themselves were pretty questionable and certainly didn’t seem to incorporate anything like sovereignty at the lowest levels.
Apparently the big enemy was all things Communistic. So far be it from allowing a country to decide on which system of government was best as per our democratic principles of letting the people have a say, they made sure people made the right decisions using everything from covert CIA actions to military interventions, to ‘loans’ and ‘aid’. In many cases this meant installing ruthless leaders that were only too happy to suppress, jail and kill ‘dissidents’ that did not agree with the approach. What did this amount to? Imagine in Canada if the U.S. were to install military bases and then made sure we elected the right candidate. According to Blum, this was standard operating procedure, before and after World War II, starting with Korea.
And just what was it about Communism that had our modern democratic forefathers all in a lather? Well, I got to imagining if I were a multi-billionaire presiding over trillion dollar industries such as the oil industry, defence, automotive, shipping, metals, chemical, energy or pharmaceuticals or other very high-profit, continual expenditure industries, what would I fear most? I would think that it would be the idea of the common rabble nationalizing my industry. So the idea of someone, anyone, threatening my livelihood, power and influence would probably be met with some resistance. I may be inclined to defend it at any cost and if I were involved in these ‘strategic’ industries, I would probably enjoy some influence with my democratic government and all that cool military hardware.
And, as we have seen with modern democracies, dating back to the British stint at being a superpower, when things were a little more out in the open, I may be inclined to call for a little bit of the old gunboat diplomacy, as it were. Barring that, anything from a full-scale invasion or clandestine CIA plots would also fit in. And if some of the common rabble happened to be killed in the struggle for freedom, oh well, such is the price of freedom.
As far as Canada’s involvement in making the world safe for democracy, our participation was tested in a little ‘conflict’ started in a place called Korea that galvanized the resolve of NATO and would prove a test of the bad Commies against the good NATO and provide a blueprint for the war in Vietnam. Now the “official” version of the Korean War is readily available from any number of resources and it all sounds pretty credible. Bad guys attacking the outnumbered good guys. Good guys desperately defending South Koreans from the clutches of Communism.
In fact, I watched a program the other day compliments of the National Geographic channel entitled “Greatest Tank Battles – Tank Battles of Korea” in which they presented just this scenario, complete with interviews of U.S. war hero veterans, cool graphics although not much in the way of dead bodies – I guess the graphics programs aren’t that good. Until I was told by my daughter’s boyfriend that the graphics look like they come from some video game they play, although he said that the photorealistic deaths in the video game are really very good. I guess they were using old software when they made the shows because it didn’t actually show anyone dying, just tanks being blown up.
Anyway, Blum seems to present a very well documented and researched version of events that doesn’t seem to click with the National Geographic version of events. It includes U.S. support of a corrupt government, military atrocities, the introduction of napalm, wholesale destruction of villages, carpet bombing in North and South Korea, management of news and this was on the democratic side of things – the good guys! Here’s how Blum describes it:
The initial ‘official’ justification for occupying Korea was to kick out the Japanese after WWII. In order to best accomplish this, the Soviet Union and the U.S. agreed on splitting the country in two temporarily at the 38th parallel. The official version of events was that this wasn’t intended to make two countries, and both the U.S. and the Soviet Union said unification was the intended goal.
The Koreans, on the other hand, were actively working, on a number of fronts to rebuild their country after the war and had been establishing local governance groups. Unfortunately for the Koreans, as all of this was happening, the U.S. and the Soviet Union decided they could no longer get along and settled into something called the ‘Cold War’.
Prior to the official start of the Korean War in 1945, both sides had been skirmishing for years along the artificial border. However, an ‘invasion’ by the North was blamed for the US presenting a resolution condemning North Korean aggression. Now at that time, Truman had already ordered the US Navy and Air Force into combat, so the UN decision was really just a rubber stamp. The UN at that time was composed of countries that were heavily dependent on the US for aid and economic recovery after the war. The adoption of the UN declaration for war on the part of South Korea was also aided by the fact that the UN Security Council did not have any Soviet bloc members at that time.
However, during the debates at the UN, there were some interesting questions raised. Yugoslavia, for one, said there seemed to be lack of precise information that could enable the Council to pin responsibility on the North and even went so far as to suggest that North Korea be allowed to present its side of the story. Of course, this didn’t happen. Egypt, on the other hand, said that the matter was a civil war and should be treated as such.
“The finishing touch,” wrote I.F. Stone, “was to make the ‘United Nations’ forces subject to MacArthur without making MacArthur subject to the United Nations.”
So it was to be an American show, rubberstamped by the UN. Military personnel from some 16 countries, including Canada took part but the Americans ran the war. This seems to be widely recognized. Even U.S. President Eisenhower later wrote in his memoirs that when he was considering US military ‘intervention’ in Vietnam in 1954, also part of a “coalition,” he recognized that the burden of the operation would fall on the Unites States but the “token forces supplied by these other nations, as in Korea, would lend real moral standing to a venture that otherwise could be made to appear as a brutal example of imperialism.” Keep in mind that this is an American president, writing in his own public memoirs. It must have worked because the tactic was borrowed by other U.S. presidents – George Bush called his little group the Coalition of the Willing.
The official reason for the war, at least on the democratic side, was in defence of the U.S.-backed leader in the south, a fellow by the name of Syngman Rhee. In order to bring their guy in, the U.S. had to suppress the home-grown government that had sprung up and had been carrying out administrative tasks, distributing food and other duties. The fact that the locals were setting up their own government did not sit well with the US Army Military Government in Korea. That’s right; the US military was the government in the south, a tactic borrowed from the British Empire of old. And they would have their own guy running the show at all costs. And Korea really set the model for this type of ‘intervention’ by the U.S. up to the present day.
Now maybe Blum is just some Commie spy, pinko radical and he made the whole book up. However, John Stockwell, former CIA officer and author called the book: “The single most useful summary of CIA history”
Noam Chomsky (he of MIT fame) said the book is “Far and away the best book on the topic.”
The American Library Association said the book was “A valuable reference for anyone interested in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.”
Anyway, I recommend this book if you want to go through in detail the documentation summarized here.
Torture Is Now The Norm
Now, whether you agree with Blum or consider him some sort of subversive is really not what we’re trying to prove or disprove. The fact that these wars have happened and are happening right now is historical and present-day fact. And what we’re really interested in trying to determine is who is driving the need for this massive military machine that is our modern democratic NATO group? A group that controls 70% of the world’s military might? Did it come about because sovereignty, residing at the lowest levels (presumably you and me) had a burning desire to ensure that the world was safe from Commies or was it a creation of the elites that have a vested interest in keeping the world safe from Commies?
And while the West’s media will trumpet about China’s or Syria’s or Africa’s human rights abuses, our NATO partners don’t seem to have a lock on any moral high ground. A little place called Guantanamo was one of the most public faces of the West’s human rights abuses (yes Canadians are part of this, remember we belong to NATO). Understand that in Guantanamo, many of the prisoners were held for decades without ever coming to trial and were tortured. A Reuters news report states:
“It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” the 11-member task force, assembled by the nonpartisan Constitution Project think tank, said in their 577-page report.”
You’ll recall that in Canada, Parliament was shut down either to (take your pick) – give everyone a chance to enjoy the Olympics or to sidestep a committee that was investigating whether Canada participated in torture. Anyway, it’s a matter of public record that our NATO partners engage in torture. Once again, I have to ask – the drive and initiative of the elite or you and I asking our military to torture people so that Canadians can be safe in their own homes?
And I did get a very small glimpse of just how something called foreign policy works right to the present day compliments of my old buddies at National Geographic. The May 2013 National Geographic Magazine published a small article called “Going Nuts”. Turns out that people all around the world want pistachios. It’s a heart-healthy nut with a growing global market. Because of sanctions imposed on Iranian exports that effectively blocked exports of the former world supplier of pistachios, the U.S. has now ramped up production to a new high and has captured a large chunk of the global market.
So it would seem that there are real profits involved in any of these ‘conflicts’ and not just for people supplying the technologically advanced trillion-dollar military hardware. War, as it turns out, is good for business on a number of levels. So maybe nothing has really changed since the democracy of England dominated the waves to become the first superpower, with the full support and collaboration of big business. That certainly is a matter of historical record. No secrets there.
And as we have seen in a previous chapter, once you assemble a bureaucracy you really want to give it a job. Armies are no different. If we don’t have an enemy to fight, what’s supposed to happen? Everybody just can’t get fired and trot off home and you and I get a lower tax bill – although I would vote for that if someone asked. The other issue is sovereignty. If Canada has NATO commitments that conflict with what you and I want (with you and I theoretically being the lowest sovereign level in the Canadian democratic system), who trumps whom? NATO or you? Who’s in charge?
So now I have to go back to the original statement of Pareto and Mosca who said that democratic institutions would shift the exercise of power from oppression to manipulation. And what are they manipulating? Could it be our sense of fair play? Is it that you and I want to do good, that we want to be on the “right” side.
Here’s a little example: On June 4, 2013, CTV News reported that the Crown was seeking a six-month jail term for a man who admitted beating his German Shepherd with a baseball bat and leaving it to die in a dumpster. Pretty horrific, right? People commenting on the story were outraged. Here’s some samples in the ‘comments’ section on the story:
“Harrison: The only way I would “help” this pathetic piece of garbage which is supposed to pass for a human being, is by holding the jail door open and when it closes, I would throw away the key.
Jim: This scumbag should do 2 years minimum and a $10,000 fine. Pathetic!”
Anyway, you get the idea. So what about Iraq, for example? Our NATO partners dumped 177 million tons of bombs onto this country in what Blum called the most concentrated aerial assault on any country in the history of the world. Let me put this in perspective. In World War II, the allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs. In total. Throughout the war. What some observers have called the last justified war of mankind.
Do you think an innocent dog or two died in that bombardment? If Canadians are incensed when someone beats a dog to death, what about our response to NATO, an organization of which we as Canadians supposedly have some say, creating millions of refugees, of the death, dismemberment and wounding of innocent civilians and children? Where is our outrage in this case? Have we been managed and manipulated to accept a wholesale assault against humanity the likes of which have never been seen while we want to ‘throw away the key’ for someone beating a dog to death? Where do these ‘terrorists’ come from that my government is so eager to protect me from? I can’t begin to guess.
Does anyone remember a little conflict in Afghanistan, a war Canadians were directly involved in? This was in a country that you could barely considered developed. Bombing them back to the stone age would be a short walk. Adults there have a life expectancy of about 40, infant mortality is around 25 percent, primitive sanitation, widespread hunger and malnutrition, 90 percent illiteracy, no railroad, an infrastructure that was primitive at best with most people leading a nomadic or subsistence lifestyle in dirt huts.
But, their government there was looking to reform the country with price and profit controls, land reform, separation of church and state and other leftist sounding doctrines. What was the West’s response? Go in and kill Al-Queda and the Taliban. How bad was this war? Northern Alliance troops rode on horseback. How was it justified? It was a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11/2001. Was this a manipulation as the Italians have suggested or a reasonable, measured response to an intolerable situation?
The War on Terror
Which brings us to another war. The War on Terror. If ever there was a righteous cause to declare a war, 9/11 was it, right? A bunch of terrorists bringing down buildings in the United States? At last there’s some definitive proof of how much danger we’re in, right? Why we have to spend 70% of the worlds’ military budget. Why we have to drop 177 million tons of bombs on a country, right? And after researching this, I almost decided not to include the following in this book. Because, for me, the implications are just too horrific. But, as I said initially, I’m following where the evidence leads me.
And, let me tell you right now – you can research this and decide whether it’s where the evidence is leading you. And here’s what happened. In the course of researching this book I discovered an organization representing some 1,800 architects and engineers who right now are disputing the official U.S. report on why the three buildings collapsed on 9/11. That’s right. Three buildings. Two were hit by jetliners and collapsed. And a third steel-framed building, the so-called Building 7, collapsed, supposedly because of some office fires.
Let’s put this into perspective – there has never been, in the 110-year history of steel-framed buildings, a total collapse of any steel-framed building due to fires or being struck by airliners. Even raging, day-long fires that have consumed entire steel-framed buildings have never, ever, in the history of modern steel-framed buildings ever caused one to collapse. Yet three of them collapsed on the same day. Buildings that were designed to withstand airliner strikes and fires.
When the Empire State Building was hit by an airliner in 1945 (a B-25 bomber), it didn’t collapse. Not even close. It was built in the 1930’s. Yet, here we have 3 buildings that collapsed on the same day supposedly because of airline strikes and a fire. Modern steel-framed skyscrapers that were designed to absorb airliner strikes without collapse. There are two scenarios to account for this – the engineering behind the buildings had failed or something else caused them to collapse.
So what about this group of architects and engineers? 1,800 of them are asking for something very simple. Something that their government will not provide. And that is this – a simple public peer review of the official findings to determine whether the methodology of the scientists who blamed the collapses on airline strikes and fires was scientifically valid. In other words, politics aside, was the science valid? That’s it. They’ve been trying to get this for years. I do know something about scientific studies and one thing is that studies can pretty much be made to say anything.
In order for any scientific findings to be considered valid, credible scientific journals will submit papers to independent experts and ask whether they think the findings of a study are valid. And the scientists will also tell you that if you’re making extraordinary claims, you require extraordinary proof. If three steel-framed buildings collapsed on one day after a century of buildings never collapsing, you’ll need to tell people exactly how you arrived at this conclusion. Seems fair.
Remember something called cold fusion? The holy grail of energy production? Some scientists came out and made the extraordinary claim that they had accomplished it. The implications to the world were enormous. The first response from the scientific community? Show us your research. If we can duplicate it, we’ll believe you.
So, the official explanation of three steel-framed buildings collapsing on one day, something that has never happened to a single steel-framed building either before or since was put out to the community and used to justify hundreds of billions of dollars of military expenditures. Except that they would not release the science behind the claims. A war was justified based on this incident. Hundreds of billions of dollars were committed. People died.
You would think that the government would want to submit their findings to the wider scientific community to prove the validity of their claims. You can check the credentials of the people asking for a peer review at ae911truth.org. Keep in mind that these people are putting their professional reputations and careers on the line in joining this organization and asking for this very basic request. When I started looking into this, I have to say that I had my world view shaken. Will 9/11 at some point become the big lie of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Time will tell. Proceed at your own risk.
And just how did the terrorists decide to target the West? How did they pick us? What is their motivation? That we deserve to die because of our decadent ways? Or, as George Bush asserted, that they’re actually jealous of us? Is that why they send the terrorists after us? Or could it be that we’ve created the odd enemy from the millions of people that have been displaced and killed in the name of democracy? When you drop millions of tons of bombs on people, will there be repercussions?
And, as we have seen, since there is no way to directly assault the people who control 70% of the worlds’ military budget what are your options? So is it worth spending hundreds of billions of dollars to protect the West from terrorists by starting wars or would it be more economical to go in and rebuild entire countries?
And what about a war on terror? Who benefits? You and me? Or the recipients of military budgets that have risen to unheard of levels in the world? To the tune of trillions of dollars worldwide. And, when, exactly, would a ‘war on terror’ be over? When do we declare victory? Or is this an on-going war without end? Did you feel any safer after we declared war? Does wholesale spying on every Canadian’s phone and internet habits make you feel safe?
Lest you think I’m a raving peacenik or that I’m ‘soft on terror’ – let me just add a personal note here – it’s not my intention to convince you one way or another whether you think our history of wars is justified. I have made up my own mind based on my own research a summary of which I’ve presented here and I urge you to do the same. That is not the point of my writing this.
But here is the point – in our modern democratic system, with its ability to record your every phone call and internet session, has anyone ever presented you with a choice in all of this? If democracy is sovereignty at the lowest levels, has someone ever directly asked you whether you thought invading any country was a good idea?
As we have seen, the decision to declare war historically rested with the King. It now rests with your Prime Minister and his Cabinet. So what, if democracy has progressed, has changed in the last centuries?
I certainly don’t recall being asked if I thought a war was a good idea. Yet our governments have spent hundreds of billions of our dollars – your money, my money – fighting these wars. Has anyone ever asked you if you thought there was an alternative? Even just as a matter of courtesy? Or do we just simply accept that this is being done for our own good? Is that how all this is decided? Supposedly on our behalf but without our input? That’s why I’m writing this. To get to the bottom of this question: If I live in a democracy where my vote is supposed to count, how come no one is asking me what I think? Or is it all just a foregone conclusion that this is what I need? Or should I just accept what an independent military is telling me?
And just what is it that the military doesn’t want me to know? That they’re killing dogs? Why is someone like Julian Assange my enemy? Assange – spurned by the Western press, blamed for countless atrocities to the military for exposing embarrassing low-level government emails, which, incidentally are routinely released by other governments in the world. But along with the embarrassing emails came something that somebody didn’t want you to see. And that was a video of a U.S. military Apache attack helicopter machine-gunning to death a dozen people, including two Reuters employees, in an Iraqi suburb in a completely unprovoked attack.
Where two young children were seriously wounded. Where bystanders who wanted to help the wounded were also gunned down. Where is our outrage in this case? Do we clamor for an investigation? When do we “throw away the key” for actions like this? Is this the democracy we’re all so concerned about? Should the people who participated in these deaths do “2 years minimum and a $10,000 fine”? Is this as “pathetic” as killing a dog? Or is the collateral damage of 12 innocent people acceptable, as long as it’s not in Canada?
Daniel Ellsberg, who wrote the “Pentagon Papers” which exposed the U.S. military’s lies to the public and Congress about Vietnam had this to say about Assange: “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me … I would be called not only a traitor – which I was called then, which was false and slanderous – but I would be called a terrorist … Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am.”
As Blum reports in “Killing Hope”: “This is the one part I didn’t want to see,” said a 20-year-old private. “All the homeless, all the hurting. When we came through the refugee camp, man that’s something I didn’t need.”
“At night, you kill and you roll on by,” said another GI. “You don’t stop. You don’t have to see anything. It wasn’t until the next morning the rear told us the devastation was total. “We’d killed the entire division.”
I firmly believe that most people are conscientious, take pride in what they do and that they want to do the right thing. More on this later in the ‘solutions’ section. When I worked for government I met a lot of very bright very hardworking and very dedicated people who were trying to make a difference from inside the system. If the Canadian public at large could connect directly with these folks, I believe that there would be a good chance that our dysfunctional democracy could be vastly improved. To the point where 95% of the people aren’t dissatisfied with our politicians and by extension, our public institutions. Where you could have some input into all of this.
So here we have some democracies that engage in some very questionable activities, from what I’ve seen and read. The question I have is this – who is driving these activities? Is this something that the democratic masses clamor for? Is this what society wants? Our first democratic forefather, Great Britain, was the world’s first superpower. Is this the objective of the people or those mysterious elites?
Just to reiterate – while I’ve shared my conclusions about my research, It’s not the intent of this book to convince you one way or another whether our military adventures are justified or not, but rather who is asking for them. The point of this book is trying to determine who is actually running the show from a democratic standpoint. But, if you are interested in further research on the topic, to see what’s been done in your name, you can take a look at some of these ‘interventions’ and ‘conflicts’ and make your own decision:
United States Intervention in Greek Election, 1947-1949
Operation PBFORTUNE, Guatemala, 1952
Operation Ajax, US overthrow of Iranian Government, 1953
Operation PBSUCCESS, Guatemala, 1954
Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961
Operation Powerpack, Dominican Republic, 1965 – 1966
Korean War, 1950 – 1953
United States overthrow of Guatemalan Government, 1907-1933
Operation Blue Bat, Lebanon, 1958
United States Intervention at Panama Canal, 1958
Vietnam War, 1962 – 1973
United States Occupation of Laos, 1962 – 1973
United States Intervention at Panama Canal, 1964
Cambodian Civil War, 1969 – 1970
United States Overthrow of Chilean Government, 1964
Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 1974
Operation Eagle Claw, Iran hostage crisis, 1980
First Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1981
Contra War, El Salvador, 1981-1990
Occupation of Beirut, Lebanon, 1982-1984
Invasion of Grenada, Grenada, 1983-1984
Operation El Dorado Canyon, Libya, 1986
Iran-Iraq War, 1987 – 1989
Operation Just Cause, Panama 1989 – 1990
Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1989
Persian Gulf War, Iraq, 1991
Operation Desert Shield, 1991
Operation Desert Storm, 1991
Somali Civil War, 1992 – 1994
Operation Provide Relief, 1992
Operation Restore Hope, 1992 – 1994
Yugoslav wars, 1994 – 1999
Bosnian Conflict, 1994 – 1995
Kosovo Conflict, 1997 – 1999
War on Terrorism, 2001 – present
Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan 2001 – present
Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines 2002 – present
Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa 2002 – present
Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 – present
Waziristan War, 2004 – present
War in Somalia, 2006 – present
Operation Iraqi Freedom – Trans Sahara 2007 – present