Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

 

 

                                                Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

 

If you were living in the US in the 1960s you will know that this article is not about horticulture. You will know why Peter Seeger sang this beautiful but sad melody. You will know where the flowers have gone, “long time passing.”  When we sang this song we also sang “How many years must one man have, Before he can hear people cry?  How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”  Optimistically we thought, “The times they are a-changin’”

 

Well, folks, think again. Let’s take a hard look at the history of war in this country. If you consult Wikipedia’s inventory of wars in the United States since 1812, you will see an incredible list of warfare separated only by a time period 1922 to 1941 during which we experienced the great depression and the war drums started beating for the next world war.  One of our great generals and presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, in 1961 gave his famous speech warning us of the rise of the “military-industrial complex.”  Did we listen?  Now the war drums are beating about the danger of the Islamic State with Al Qaeda and their Khorassan branch lurking in the shadows.  Unfortunately we do know where all the flowers have gone.

 

Why am I, a psychologist and therapist, writing about war in my Advice Line column? I usually  write about happiness, love, compassion and kindness as well as techniques to help us deal with anxiety, stress and trauma. Aha, that’s why: stress, trauma and even terror! The pain and horror of war is surrounding us and causing a background level of fear without our government or media  acknowledging this for us. In the past Americans used to have to pay for wars, to scrimp and deny themselves while the war drums were beating. Today these influences are always in the background and we have little conscious awareness of their influence.  When I was very little I remember that we had to have wooden toys because we needed steel for the war. We couldn’t have regular butter. We had to have margarine with coloring in the center which we would press out to make it look like yellow butter. The news was filled with stories of patriots marching to war and their heroic but dangerous missions.  We knew that our nation was at war but that peace would return. That’s what the public was told when we waged the wars to end all wars.  Did that peace ever return? How can we have peace in our hearts when there is never ever peace in the world?

 

In thinking about the last 200 years of war in our country, I remember my years as a schoolgirl when I learned about the 200 year struggle called the Crusades. I remembered being quite puzzled about these crusades. If a group organizes and goes to war against another, won’t the other group organize and come back in retaliation?  The Pope called this a Holy War.  Weren’t religious people supposed to be for love and peace?  Who paid for these wars?  How could God pay for wars? As a child I was sad and confused when I learned about these Crusades.  Now in 2014, reading over the history of the Crusades, I am even more appalled by those tragedies and the continuing similarities of nations going to war against each other. Pope Urban II rallied his followers, “This word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God!” Some history books do tell the sordid story of this very unholy war.  In transit to raid Jerusalem the warriors wearing the Cross of the Lord pillaged the countryside. Crusaders marching to the Holy Land massacred “infidel” Jews and others on their journey. Men, women and children of all ages were killed indiscriminately. Reaching Jerusalem, the residents of the city were brutalized and slaughtered, even cannibalized, by the pious “knights in shining armor.”  During this time period groups of Hospitalers and Templars became immensely rich and powerful through banking and real estate acquisitions.  Saladin finally organized the Muslims and drove out the so-called Knights. A dismal failure to be sure, although this history is still sometimes taught as exemplifying great religious crusades.

 

So where are we today? With great fanfare, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.  Looking back on the commentary, we can see that our president was praised for his calls for peace and cooperation with other nations, for “easing US conflicts with Muslim nations” and “efforts to reach out to the Arab world.” The prize was hyped as a message of hope.  Do you feel hopeful today?  What caused our new crusader, a president of peace, to start sending killing drones abroad and now sending bombers in air strikes over civilian areas?  Why is he now telling us that we must be the first responders, the ultimate police force to save the world?  Months ago we were told that the military could begin cutting back as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars appeared to be coming to a close.  Interestingly, wars have apparently broken out across the globe and we’re told we must continue to fight across the world.  Who and what is behind this continuing call for more war?

 

It seems that there is always another threat, another need for financing more military action.  World War I was seen as “the war to end all wars…. the war to make the world safe for democracy.” This seems ridiculous, laughable today!  Who is paying for all these wars?  Are you?

 

What is it about wars and the need for “national defense” that keeps us warlike? Let’s hear from an expert. During his 34 year career as a Marine, General Smedley Butler led military actions in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean during the Banana Wars and France in World War I. He was one of the most highly decorated US generals, receiving sixteen medals, five for heroism, and the Medal of Honor twice.  Remarkably, General Butler exposed war corruption and profiteering upon his retirement in his book, “War is a Racket.” To quote General Butler’s key summary about the racket, “It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."  Who makes the profits?  General Butler identified corporations as earning incredible profits. “Take our friends the DuPont’s, the powder people... An increase in profits of more than 950%” with profits increasing from $6 million a year to $58 million a year.”  Butler identified the bankers as reaping the cream of the profits. “Their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body. It has been estimated that the war cost your Uncle Sam 52 billion. Of this sum, 39 billion was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded 16 billion in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way.” Butler’s advice to us, “We must take the profit out of war.”   General Butler was not a pacifist.  He believed in protecting our country but not using war to protect U.S. owned businesses.  Although highly decorated for his military prowess, his protests were obviously controversial.  He was arrested and court-martialed by President Hoover in 1931 but was eventually released. He was passed over for Marine Corps Commandant, resigned from the military in 1931 and died in 1940 at the age of 58.     

 

What does war-making cost? We actually don’t know. Eisenhower’s speech warned us that “the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.” I’ll report some information I gleaned through my reading. According to official reports, Americans spend more money on our military than any other nation, about 45% of the world’s total military expenditures. We have taken military actions abroad some 250 times, attacking, invading, policing, overthrowing or occupying 62 other nations.   In 2010 the Washington Post reported that the national security community “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employees, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”  In 2013 the Daily Beast reported that there are “1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence. Throughout the DC area, 33 buildings containing 17 million square feet of office space have been built since 9/11 – the equivalent of 22 capital buildings. But despite the growth of government national-security workers, we are told we must add contractors. According to reports some 500,000 private contractors also have top security clearances... There are 51 federal organizations and military commands.”   In 2014, Jonathan Turley, Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote that “The new military-industrial complex is fueled by a conveniently ambiguous and unseen enemy: the terrorist.” He now states that we have “16 spy agencies that employ 107,035 employees. This is separate from the over 1 million people employed by the military and national security law enforcement agencies.” He wrote that our “environmental and social programs are eliminated or curtailed by billions as war related budgets continue to expand to meet quote new threats.”  To continue expanding their powers, “the DOJ even changed the definition of terrorism to allow for an ever widening number of cases to be considered terror-related.”

 

In addition to the apparently ever-expanding military and intelligence services, we must consider information reported about horrendous monetary mismanagement in our military. Here are four key pieces of information. 1) ‘“According to some estimates, we cannot track 2.3 trillion in transactions, Rumsfeld admitted.  2.3 trillion: that’s $8000 for every man, woman and child in America.”   2)  ‘“The Special Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction says the US Department of Defense is unable to account properly for 96% of the money. Out of just over 9 billion, 8.7 billion is unaccounted for.”  3)  “All other federal agencies are audited annually. And with rare exceptions, they pass every year. The Pentagon alone has never been audited, leaving roughly 8.5 trillion in tax payer dollars unaccounted for since 1966.” 4)  “A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch units. When military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect US troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet for pennies on the dollar.” (Want To Know Info, 2014.)  We committed $400 billion dollars to build a fleet of F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets which is now 7 years behind schedule.  The Huffington Post reports that these funds could have built a $600,000 house for every homeless person in the US!

 

There are many reasons why we continue to go to war. You might consider an interesting book, “The Ruses for War”, John Quigley, Prometheus, 1992.  Quigley analyzed governmental rationales concluding that the government explanations differ greatly from reality.  You doubtless recall President Bush’s explanation for the war in Iraq: Saddam Hussein’s secret development of weapons of mass destruction which actually never existed.  Another interesting book is “War Is a Lie,” David Swanson, Self Published, 2010. He cogently demolishes 13 reasons for war including: wars are not fought against evil; wars are not launched in defense; wars are not unavoidable; and war makers do not have noble motives. He ends with a passionate and cogent plan, “War is Over (if you want it.)”

 

The public is war weary. Economic power is being consolidated at the top, and many of us have grave concerns about our economic security. More and more are actually living in poverty. Why would we want to go to war?  A major influence to be considered is the power of the media beating the drums for war.  Want To Know Info provides us with a concise and cogent analysis of current media policies and influences written by Robert McChesney, Research Professor at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois. McChesney described a bias of professional journalism which reports according to “values conducive to the commercial aims of the owners and advertisers as well as the political aims of the owning class” with the perspective that “democracy tends to be defined by their ability to maximize profits.” He has reported a “striking consolidation of the mass media, especially the giants which include AOL Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, News Corporation, Bertelsmann, Vivendi Universal, Sony, AT&T and General Electric.”  “The largest 10 media firms own all the US TV networks, most of the TV stations in the largest markets, all major film studios, all major music companies, nearly all of the cable TV channels, much of the book and magazine publishing industry and much, much more. The logic of mass media industries is that a firm can no longer compete if it is not part of a larger conglomerate.” He states that “investigative journalism, especially that which goes after powerful corporate or national security interests, is discouraged. Largely irrelevant human interest/tragedy stories get the green light for extensive coverage. These are cheap, easy to cover, and they never antagonize those in power.”  McChesney reports that “the propagandistic nature of the war coverage was made crystal clear by AOL Time Warner’s CNN a few weeks after the war began in Afghanistan. CNN president Walter Isaacson authorized CNN to provide two different versions of the war: a more critical one for the global audience and a sugarcoated one for Americans. Isaacson instructed the domestic CNN to be certain that any story that might undermine support for the US war be balanced with a reminder that the war on terrorism is in response to the heinous attacks of September 11.”

 

What about 9/11?  Many consider 9/11 a kingpin in the continuation of our so-called “war on terror.”  What if the official version, the 9/11 Commission Report, is inaccurate or even a fabrication? What if we are actually not so vulnerable to foreign threats that a few terrorists could actually cause such terror and devastation?  Although not reported by the official media, doubt and suspicion are growing in an ever widening and credible fashion. An increasing number of books and journalists are providing extensive coverage of these issues. 50 senior government officials, over 100 professors, over 2000 architects and engineers, over 250 pilots and aviation professionals, physicists and chemists, firefighters and first responders and some 9/11 families, all are now on record questioning the official report.  You can consult Need To Know Info for a summary of this information.  A must-read book is “How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Welfare State,” by Paul Craig Roberts, Clarity Press, 2014. Dr. Roberts, notably, is a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and an associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He has testified before Congress on 30 occasions and was awarded the U.S. Treasury’s meritorious service award for outstanding contributions in the formulation of US economic policy.  Roberts states that “No aware and informed person believes that the US national security state and the intelligent services of Washington’s NATO allies and Israel’s Mossad were outsmarted by a handful of Arabs operating independently of any government and intelligence service.” According to Roberts, “the second part of Washington’s argument is that in order to be safe, Americans must give up the civil liberties granted to them by the U.S. Constitution.”  The book is actually a compilation of Robert’s articles from 2008 through the end of 2013.  He states that ”it is totally and completely obvious that the wars have nothing to do with protecting Americans from terrorism. If anything, the wars start up and create terrorists. The wars create hatred of America that never previously existed.”  Mincing no words, Dr. Roberts wrote that “Americans need to understand that they have lost their country. The rest of the world needs to recognize that Washington is not only the most complete police state since Stalinism, but also a threat to the entire world.”   

 

The threat of 9/11 is a key reason why our civil liberties are increasingly circumscribed and our government collects incredible amount of information about us.  A 1.5 million square-foot Utah Data Center has been constructed by the National Security Agency for 1.7 billion dollars to collect and store information about our citizens. It will be able to store a yottabyte of information.  In case you don’t know, a yottabyte will include 500 quintillion pages of text of secret information about us. Other strange and expensive purchases have been reported and are verified by multiple media sources. The Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.6 billion rounds of hollow point bullets, about five per person in this country. Hollow point bullets are designed to kill, but are so powerful that they are actually forbidden by international law for use in war. DHS has also purchased armed personnel carriers with gun ports. None of this equipment has been purchased for use in wars outside our country. 5 million coffins have been purchased by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency.) They are described as cremation coffins large enough for multiple bodies. President Obama recently signed an order for $1 billion worth of disposable coffin liners. A number of FEMA camps have been constructed around the country. Some locations have been documented while others are suspected, with some estimates of up to 800 locations.  None of these purchases have been clearly explained and  none are planned for use in warfare outside of our country.  Would our government ever round up law-abiding citizens who have not been adjudicated?  Yes. In 1942 President Roosevelt signed a law for the internment of 127,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in concentration camps in this country. Their only crime was a suspicion of possible loyalty to the country of their ancestry!  

 

President Eisenhower told us, “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”  It is clear from the above information that we have lost our way and have neither security nor liberty.

 

The drums of war are beating now about the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL.) with the Al Qaeda group Khorasan singled out as possibly even more intent on attacking the United States.  My question is, are we just continuing the Crusades in the Middle East? Why have we been bombing and killing in Iraq and Afghanistan? What did we get except more war? If we would leave these countries alone, perhaps they would leave us alone. Why is our defense always an offense?

 

Right now you are probably thinking about beheadings. Surely we must defend ourselves to protect us from such awful things reaching into our borders! The media even reported a beheading carried out by an American citizen. Think for a minute about the intense media coverage of beheadings which likely inspired copycat action here in our country. As awful as they are, why has there been such intense media coverage of beheadings if not to justify additional US military action as we defend the world against such atrocities? We are told we must understand our noble mission as we hear our president assert that our country will always be the first to lead and defend other nations. But now let’s look at the bigger picture. War always creates atrocities as well as patriotic defenses of the homeland’s military actions. Take a few minutes to check out Internet reports of the atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don’t behead but we do kill many innocent civilians including children. Only a few reports actually reach the popular media. I recall with horror and disgust information about our troops urinating on dead bodies. Some information has been presented by the media to us about our drone strikes, often with an emphasis on justification of their use against terrorists. Again an Internet search provides more detailed information.   According to data provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, from 2004 through 2012 2,562-3,325 people were killed by our drones in Pakistan, with 474-881 being civilians including 176 children.  The strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Please consult a report prepared by the Living Under Drones organization which has provided an important analysis of this issue.  I could not help but be horrified by the thought of the psychological costs of living under drone warfare. “Drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.” Given all the civilian drone deaths, the picture worsens over time. A recent White House statement to Yahoo News reported even looser standards with less protection against civilian deaths in our current airstrike bombing in Syria.  To be informed citizens we must look at the whole picture and not be satisfied with selected media snapshots about our patriotic military defending us against terrorists.

 

Ample information suggests that the US actually may have been backing and supplying the Islamic State group with weapons and financial support as a part of the so-called Free Syrian Army and that these “freedom fighters” practice beheading citizens themselves. Our own general made a video statement about our support for ISIS before it was quickly removed. The video has been saved and does exist however. US Air Force General Tom McInerney was quoted as saying “In Syria we backed… some of the wrong people and not in the right part of the Free Syrian army. I’ve always maintained… That we were backing up the wrong types. Some of those weapons from Benghazi ended up in the hands of ISIS. So we helped build ISIS.”  (Fox News, 8/23/14)  Look up the Internet report by Global Research (9/12/14) providing details and even videos showing that the “freedom fighters” which we supported against Assad for the last three years have themselves been beheading Syrian citizens and priests. As just one example, in December 2012  a nun. Sister Agnes-Miriam, reported that “The free and democratic world is supporting extremists.” providing details wherein a young Christian man was beheaded and his body fed to dogs.  Correlated information is available in the report by Professor Michael Chossudovsky, “Going After the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project? 9/12/14. 

 

Details in the back story about the Islamic terror groups will be emerging as we continue our military involvement in this region. The big picture, however, is clear.  Our modern crusades in the Middle East are actually stimulating war, terror and destruction no better than the so-called Holy War Crusades. When will we ever learn?

 

We must keep studying and analyzing the current “military-industrial complex.” Think about the information presented already in the Chatham County Line about the influence of the corporations, financial institutions and corporate media as well as the inaction of our so-called congressional leaders. Think about the need for a free press and Internet both of which are imperiled today. Think about what you must do to remain a free, informed and independent citizen of our nation.

 

President Eisenhower warned us that we “must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead of proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” We are well on our way to becoming this community of dreadful fear and hate.  What are the social and spiritual effects of our permanent militarization? Today we seem no better than the Crusaders pillaging their way through the countryside for an unholy war. 

 

Where have all the flowers gone?

Will we continue to find them in the graveyard?

When will we ever learn?

 

What will YOU do to advocate for peace, to pray for peace, to act for peace?