Sunday, August 1, 2010


Occupied Afghanistan, an American gun barrel, and an Afghan highway, 04/04/10. (photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Reader Supported News | 31 July 10 PM

A modest announcement: This (is from) the first "All Original" edition of Reader Supported News. Each of the stories in this edition originate with Reader Supported News. Kudos to John Cory, Leslie Griffith and Rick Wolff for their fine efforts.


War is suicide.

It kills in arterial spurts and oozes death in listless unhurried drops. It festers and weeps with the puss of infectious fear and chills the bone in fevered sweat. It explodes in vainglorious sparkle and whimpers in smoldering insanity long after the drums go silent. War is obscenity made sacred.

We cloak ourselves in the body armor of language as protection against the truth. Carefully marketed words meant to inoculate us against the viral indiscriminate violence and provide anesthesia to numb us to the slaughter of other human beings.

And so we die - one syllable at a time as Mike Altman and Johnny Mandel's theme from "M*A*S*H" plays in the background:

"Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see ..."

They say we did not learn from Vietnam. But that's not true. The Big Green taught us exactly how to get into Iraq and Afghanistan with flags waving and Congress singing on the steps of the Capitol and the media in full battle-rattle ready to take us on a ride alongside "our brave troops."

"That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please."

I once wrote: "They say that the first casualty of war is truth but they are wrong. The first casualty of war is reality - the unreal becomes real and truth is a lie."

If you haven't read "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death" by Norman Solomon or watched the documentary - take a taste here and go get the book or movie. Perception is reality - and nothing beats a good Psy-Op on perception.

Vietnam taught three very important lessons:

1) End the draft. Get a professional all-volunteer military. Turn the troops into a fetish of freedom. They alone defend and provide our freedoms. Say "thank you" and be on your way.

2) Terminology is critical. "Friendly-fire" is color-coded to "blue-on-blue." Operation Phoenix is now the cool Tom Clancy-sounding "Black Ops" elite Rambo-like warriors striking fear in the hearts and minds of evil-doers. No atrocity here.

3) Corporatize the military, media and defense industry. Mergers are good. Prior to the Iraq invasion, Eason Jordan of CNN said, "... I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war, and we got a big thumbs up on all of them. That was important."

"I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and ..."

Torture is "enhanced interrogation." Torture is acceptable when it is a police officer controlling an unruly citizen with a Taser. Digby here and here, and Glen Greenwald here show us how standard it has become. This same police state wants to make it illegal for citizens to film them on the street, while they demand more street cameras to monitor us in the name of security. Not to worry, crowd control is also coming our way after being battle-tested. And don't look up at the sky. Technology keeps you safe while watching over you. What's wrong with that?

A man recently told me that I was despicable for writing about atrocities and war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "What would you do if every day some Hajji was shooting at you and killing your buddies," he asked. "I would go home," I said. He called me an un-American Communist. He only believes what he wants to believe and what he is told by the media like this lede from CNN: "Battlefield justice or murder?" He definitely would not like this, or this. Denial is so much more than a river in Egypt.

"Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please."

The greatest recruiting tool for terrorism is Guantanamo some say. But these people are guilty and dangerous, you say. Really? What about the story of Omar Khadr? How many others are there around the world?

And what about the views we never see? The questions we never ask? The "collateral damage?" The survivors? The people on the other end of that bombsight?

In Badakhshan, where the Kokcha River rushes out of the great Hindu Kush, the surrounding terrain reminds me of the Grand Tetons and the Snake River. Steep mountain slopes and the grassy steppe is every bit the image of Jackson Hole and the Alpine Valley prairie - so much the same and yet worlds apart.

As I walked along the river a village Elder told me, "Afghanistan has never been conquered but it has been demolished many times. We live out of sight from the rest of the world until they need a place to fight each other. Then they come here and speak promises they will never keep. Their words are loud wind that blows out of the mountains and quickly passes after much storm. And we go on with life."

The other side of this war is hardly examined in any depth or with any human face and understanding. A Hajji is a Hajji and Johnny Jihad and Tommy Taliban are brothers of the same terrorist family. End of story.

A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
'Is it to be or not to be'
and I replied, 'Oh why ask me?'

It is ironic that the two great disasters of recent times can be spelled: A-I-G. One, a huge financial catastrophe and the other, is Afghanistan-Iraq-Guantanamo.

It is said and repeated that "they" hate us for our freedoms; freedoms we so willingly hand over to the militarized corporate plutocracy on a daily basis. Death by Taser is the collateral damage of law and order. Drones will keep our borders safe. Warrantless wiretaps are the price for remaining free in an internet-connected world of terrorism. Privacy is a privilege not a right. Technology keeps our troops safer than ever on the battlefield. Invest now and get in on the ground floor of the growth industry of the future - Peace through superior firepower.

Iraq and Afghanistan and everyone else? Sorry about the collateral damage to you and your families, but some day soon you will be free enough to understand that it was for your own good. Here, have a Coca-Cola. Love you, man. Bomb ya' later.

We buy the victimhood of false patriotism. We buy fear by the barrel and servitude by the gallon. We sell conformity as righteousness and plaster billboards with utopian consumerism under the red, white and blue of "American Exceptionalism."

One war is too many and a hundred is never enough.

Our addiction has turned to infection and blood poisoning. Overcome by fever and sepsis we rationalize the irrational and succumb to the hallucinations and the sweet voices in the darkest corners of our minds -

"Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
... and you can do the same thing if you choose."


Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


+2 # Daniel Fletcher 2010-07-31 20:33
Thank you John Cory. You've answered many questions and doubts I've had lately. Yes, war is suicide and we are dying. Who can doubt the quiet bleeding of an American soul that can no longer tell the difference between collateral damage and human persons every bit as worthy of life as we?

What have we wrought? And who in America gives a damn as long as they get theirs...what ever that is? Gee, all that fighting and dying for our freedom. I wonder if we're worth it. Hard to say since what we do with it is so horrible. I'll let karma decide and hope that my children are not consumed in the fire to come.

+2 # Peacedragon 2010-07-31 20:46
Some of the best writing I have ever seen.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

+2 # x dane 2010-07-31 23:36
It is a tragedy what we have become. Too many of our fellow citizens have closed their eyes and minds. It is easier that way. Don't think about it. And for heavens sake, don't talk about it.

Saddam was evil, he killed so many of his own people. And how many have died since we LIBERATED THEM?? Millions are displaced inside and out of Iraq. When we leave, what will happen??

+3 # Peter Edler 2010-07-31 23:47
Thanks for a great atmospheric piece - all right and true of course. For the US war has become permanent, so, as George Orwell put it, war is peace. But what sort of peace at home (if you can call it that) has been bought for war abroad. The US (if not necessarily America) has become the Evil Empire, with Reagan's Russia a distant second. Still, the question is: So what? We're all human, one family, whether we know it or not. If we're torturing other members of our family we're torturing ourselves. Indeed, let's pray for love and peace. Pete Edler, Stockholm

+2 # Hors-D-whores 2010-08-01 00:08
Thanks for making the nightmare so real John Cory. (Your articles are always mind-blowing-ly good) As bad as things seem and that we are hopelessly helpless to stop the war mindset this country has gotten so comfortable with, things can be worse should the Republicans gain Congress in November. I'm shaking at the thought of what can and will transpire.

+2 # Daniel Hickey 2010-08-01 02:30
Heartfelt thanks for your offering of truth. I live in Brazil, a "friend" of the USA, but here the vast majority see American Exceptional-ism as simply a Empire using war to protect its interests, and yes, they see America as addicted to war as a solution. What is most astonishing to them is the unconscious support of this thinking by majorities of "educated" Americans.
daniel hickey

+2 # Rodney Ferris 2010-08-01 02:35
This is a powerful statement with important dimensions, leaving me in tears and sadness. What is missing is the destruction of love and human kindness as irrelevant values except as necessary to gain a perspective on our collective insanity. We are killing our brothers and sisters and ourselves all together and calling it other meaningless names. That war could be called an "obscenity made sacred" is to dignify what cannot be. This piece calls it like it is, a truth we cannot escape except to STOP IT NOW.

1 comment:

  1. See Reader Supported News for more on issues related to War/Global Warming/Torture and more...

    > Karl Grossman reports: Being broadcast around the country in the next several days through
    > Free Speech TV on 200 cable TV systems in 39 states & both Direct TV and the Dish Network; also available on the Internet is
    > View it at
    > In the program, Kevin Kamps of Beyon"Nuclear Power: Dirty, Dangerous and Expensive."d Nuclear explodes the myths now
    > being promulgated by those promoting nuclear power. He tells of the
    > insoluble problems of nuclear waste, how nuclear power plants
    > routinely emit radioactive poisons, how catastrophic accidents can
    > happen, how nuclear power plants are pre-deployed weapons of mass
    > destruction for terrorists, and the enormously high costs of nuclear
    > power. He exposes the falsehood that the French nuclear program has
    > been a success and that nuclear power does not contribute to global warming.
    > I host the program. It is directed by Emmy Award-winner Steve Jambeck. Joan Flynn is the producer.
    > The schedule of the show on Free Speech TV is:
    > Monday, August 2 @ 9:30 a.m. ET, Friday, August 6 @ 11:30 p.m. ET,
    > Saturday, August 7 @ 11:30 a.m. ET, Saturday, August 7 @ 6:30 p.m. ET
    > Check out the website of
    > On the satellite Dish Network it will be airing on Channel 9415 and
    > on DirectTV on Channel 348.