Daniel L. Davis / The National Interest & David Stockman / AntiWar.com – 2018-11-14 00:55:11
Veterans Are Not Honored by Forever War
The original goal of Veterans Day
— promoting peace — is still worth pursuing
Daniel L. Davis / The National Interest
(November 11, 2018) — I have really mixed feelings today. On Veteran’s Day, we’re supposed to be honoring “veterans, military families, and those who gave their lives in service to this great Nation. We are indebted to these heroes for the freedoms we enjoy every day.” My discomfort arises from the fact that while Washington honors veterans and service members with words every day, government actions all too frequently produce the opposite effect.
After the “war to end all wars ” (World War I), Congress enacted a proclamation to honor the veterans who had fought and died in what had been the most destructive war in history up to that point. In roughly only six months of fighting (May-November 1918), American troops suffered 204,002 wounded in battle and 116,516 killed from all causes; an average of 1,780 casualties per day of fighting before the Armistice took effect on November 11, 1918.
A 1926 congressional act somberly suggested to all Americans that as a result of the profound human suffering wrought by the war, “this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.”
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower — himself having witnessed even greater levels of carnage during World War II — likewise focused on the sacrifice paid by our military members and the search for peace.
“Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves,” he emphasized , “to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Upon assuming office in 1953, Eisenhower proved with actions he valued the sacrifice of American service members, by immediately ending the Korean War and then went to great lengths to keep the United States out of others during his eight years in the Oval Office. He keenly recognized the cost to America and our troops that war imposes and wisely used other means to secure America and ensure our prosperity as a nation.
Such recognition by American leaders seems to have vanished, especially since 9/11. Instead of honoring service members and preserving their lives by keeping war as a last resort, government leaders and the popular media almost turn them into a caricature onto which we lavish considerable praise.
While that might seem a good and noble thing, it masks the humanity and individual value of the individual — and lessens our understanding of the cost to them and their families for the perpetual combat deployments we keep sending them on.
I have friends who themselves saw considerable combat after 9/11 and, while not physically wounded, they have to live with the pain of having lost several of their friends to combat deaths. Moreover, since they left the service, they have had to deal with the even more cruel pain of losing fellow combat vets to suicide. Another of the underappreciated costs of our wars is the surviving family members.
It is difficult to comprehend the amount of pain inflicted and the number of people affected by the death of one service member. Every man or woman who dies often leaves behind a mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends. Most of America never sees their pain. It is hidden from their sight and rarely does any outside of military communities consider it. These survivors — who themselves make profound sacrifices for our country — typically suffer extreme pain in anonymity.
If the security of the country is at stake, if the future of our Republic is threatened, then the sacrifice of the troops and the pain suffered by the surviving family members would be at least more tolerable. Everyone who wears the uniform expressly understands they may one day be required to lay their lives down in defense of the country they love. Few do it with trepidation; most consider it an honor.
But we do neither our service members nor their families any favors by ignoring the price they pay as we heap praise on them, lauding them all as being “heroes.” The use of lethal military power — and the associated risk to our service members — should only be used by our leaders when the security of the United States is directly threatened or attacked.
The precious lives of the men and women who wear the uniform should not be risked by conducting missions intended on “sending a message,” posturing for some future potential clash, or for the security of some other country. We should not sacrifice our citizens for the security of Baghdad, Kabul, or to favor one band of rebels over another in civil wars across the globe.
If we truly want to honor our veterans and their families, we should insist that our leaders hearken back to the original intent of Veteran’s Day and once again “reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace” and do our best to “perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.”
Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the US Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1. The views in this article are those of the author alone and do not represent any organization.
America Should Have Skipped the War,
Not Just the Ceremony
David Stockman / AntiWar.com
(November 13, 2018) — This weekend the Donald took some heavy duty flack from liberals, Dems, the MSM and harrumphing patriots for canceling his appearance at a wreath laying ceremony at the famous WWI battle site at Belleau, France owing to inclement weather. For instance, former Secretary of State, John Kerry got himself worked into high dudgeon:
Mr. Kerry criticized the president’s decision on Twitter, saying that the weather “shouldn’t have stopped an American President”.
“President @realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops?” he wrote. “Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow â€“ & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom.”
We truly wonder whether Mr. Kerry gets the monumental irony. In his youth, he was a courageous leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement based on the insanity of America’s role in a needless war in Southeast Asia of which he was a veteran.
Yet the only war of the 20th century more senseless than Vietnam was the so-called Great War, and most especially America’s intervention in an old world tragedy for no good reason whatsoever. That is to say, the Marine heroes of the bloody battle of Belleau Wood did not die “in the trenches for the cause of freedom”.
To the contrary, they died there owing to the fanatical megalomania of President Woodrow Wilson. The latter maneuvered America into the Great War in April 1917 when it was nearly over, and for the purpose of giving himself a grand seat at the peace conference afterward to reshape the world in accordance with his messianic vision.
That was a horrible reason in itself for the 116,000 deaths of American servicemen during the less than 12 months that they were actually engaged in battle at the tail end of the war. The real tragedy of their sacrifice and the real crime of Wilson’s pointless intervention was that it snatched victory for the allies, who didn’t deserve it, from the jaws of stalemate among the militarily exhausted, financially bankrupt and politically demoralized combatants on both sides of the conflict.
In a word, save for Wilson’s intervention the war would have been over in 1917. In consequence, there would have been a peace of the exhausted, not the vindictive, destructive peace of the “victors” at Versailles, which paved the way for Lenin and Stalin in Russia and Hitler and the totalitarian mobilizations that fostered World War II and the Cold War beyond.
That is to say, the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice of November 11, 1918 is not about just another historical date passing a big round number. Instead, it is a reminder that the Great War and the Carthaginian Peace which followed was the incubator for almost all the ills of the next 100 years — and not just the Stalinist nightmare in Russia, Nazi Germany and the holocaust or the long gray night of Cold War during which the Nuclear Sword Of Damocles hung precariously over the planet.
It also gave rise to the Big Government interventionist state in America; turned the Federal Reserve from a decentralized “bankers’ bank” into an all-powerful fiscal arm of Washington and eventually the monetary central planner for the nation; and most insidiously of all, generated the baleful notion of America as the Indispensable Nation and the follies of Empire which have flowed therefrom.
Needless to say, amidst all it harrumphing about the Donald’s “no show” at Belleau Wood, Imperial Washington is showing it true colors. It is so steeped in the culture, rationalizations and prerogatives of Empire that it fails to appreciate the profundity of the Donald’s surely less than noble reasons — fear, apparently, that the Orange Comb-Over might get waterlogged — for eschewing the one hour car trip to the Aisne Marne American Cemetery.
Far, far better that America had eschewed the war entirely 100 years ago, and that no American had ever been sent into the meat-grinder at Belleau Wood. Obviously, their snuffed-out lives would have turned out for the better, but so would have America’s and the entire world’s.
Accordingly, during the next three days we are presenting a series on the wrong path taken 100 years ago during 1917-1919 by the very worst President ever to occupy the Oval Office.
Indeed, even as he prepared on Armistice Day for his triumphal trip to the Paris Peace Conference a month later the messianic Wilson might better have contemplated the meaning of what ace fighter pilot, Eddie Rickenbacker, saw as high piloted his fighter plane just 500 feet over the fog-shrouded battlefield slightly before 11 AM on November 11, 1918. In his diary he noted:
And then it was 11:00 A.M., the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I was the only audience for the greatest show ever presented. On both sides of no-man’s-land, the trenches erupted. Brown-uniformed men poured out of the American trenches, gray-green uniforms out of the German.
From my observer’s seat overhead, I watched them throw their helmets in the air, discard their guns, wave their hands. Then all up and down the front, the two groups of men began edging toward each other across no-man’s-land. Seconds before they had been willing to shoot each other; now they came forward. Hesitantly at first, then more quickly, each group approached the other.
Suddenly gray uniforms mixed with brown. I could see them hugging each other, dancing, jumping. Americans were passing out cigarettes and chocolate. I flew up to the French sector. There it was even more incredible. After four years of slaughter and hatred, they were not only hugging each other but kissing each other on both cheeks as well.
Star shells, rockets and flares began to go up, and I turned my ship toward the field. The war was over.
Except it wasn’t and not for a century. Yet back then the soldiers on both sides knew the war was pointless and that there was no victory to be had — just an end to the insane brutality of the whole enterprise. Better that they had all gone home after the politicians on both sides finally threw in the towel.
But it was not to be because the vainglorious Thomas Woodrow Wilson foolishly believed that he had been called by God to remake the world for the betterment of mankind. So doing, he sacrificed American blood and treasure so that the vengeful French and the Empire-minded Brits could impose a punitive, draconian peace on the gray-green German uniforms which Rickenbacker saw that morning ready to go home and to forgive and forget.
Instead, Wilson and the Allies eventually sent them home humiliated and destitute, signatories to the German “War Guilt” clause in the treaty of Versailles and the punitive burden of war reparations which accompanied it; and, more importantly, as the future politically combustible tinder from which the scourge of Hitler and Nazism soon arose — and then nearly a century of wars thereafter.
Rather than harrumphing at the Donald, it would be far the more becoming if Imperial Washington took the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice to reflect upon its own derelict and bloody hands.
Woodrow Wilson And The
Rise Of The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 1
The Indispensable Nation meme originates not in the universal condition of mankind and the nation-states into which it has been partitioned. Instead, it stems from an erroneous take on the one-time, flukish and historically aberrant circumstances of the 20th century that gave raise to giant totalitarian states in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, and the resulting mass murder and oppressions which resulted there from.
What we mean is that Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany were not coded into the DNA of humanity; they were not an incipient horror always waiting to happen the moment more righteous nations let down their guard.
To the contrary, they were effectively born and bred in April 1917 when the US entered what was then called the Great War. And though it did so for absolutely no reason of homeland security or any principle consistent with the legitimate foreign policy of the American Republic, it’s entry tilted the outcome to the social chaos and Carthaginian peace from which Stalin and Hitler sprang.
So you can put the blame for the monumental evil of 20th century totalitarianism squarely on Thomas Woodrow Wilson. This megalomaniacal madman, who was the very worst President in American history, took America into war for the worst possible reason: Namely, a vainglorious desire to have a big seat at the postwar peace table in order to remake the world as God had inspired him to redeem it.
The truth, however, was that the European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson’s putative defense of “freedom of the seas” and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.
Indeed, the shattered world extant after the bloodiest war in human history was a world about which Wilson was blatantly ignorant. And remaking it was a task for which he was temperamentally unsuited — even as his infamous 14 points were a chimera so abstractly devoid of substance as to constitute mental play dough.
The monumentally ugly reason for America’s entry into the Great War, in fact, was revealed — if inadvertently — by his alter-ego and sycophant, Colonel House. As the latter put it: Intervention in Europe’s war positioned Wilson to play,
“The noblest part that has ever come to the son of man”.
America thus plunged into Europe’s carnage, and forevermore shed its century-long Republican tradition of anti-militarism and nonintervention in the quarrels of the Old World. From Wilson’s historically erroneous turn — there arose at length the Indispensable Nation folly, which we shall catalogue in depth below.
For now, suffice it to say that there was absolutely nothing noble that came of Wilson’s intervention.
It led to a peace of vengeful victors, triumphant nationalists and avaricious imperialists — when the war would have otherwise ended in a bedraggled peace of mutually exhausted bankrupts and discredited war parties on both sides.
By so altering the course of history, Wilson’s war bankrupted Europe and midwifed 20th century totalitarianism in Russia and Germany.
These developments, in turn, eventually led to the Great Depression, the Welfare State and Keynesian economics, World War II, the holocaust, the Cold War, the permanent Warfare State and its military-industrial-surveillance complex.
They also spawned Nixon’s 1971 destruction of sound money, Reagan’s failure to tame Big Government and Greenspan’s destructive cult of monetary central planning.
So, too, flowed the Bush dynasty’s wars of intervention and occupation, and from them a fatal blow to the failed states in the lands of Islam foolishly created by the imperialist map-makers at Versailles. The legacy: endless waves of blowback and terrorism now afflicting the world.
The rise of the murderous Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes during the 1930s and the resulting conflagration of World War II is held to be, correctly, the defining event of the 20th century. But that truism only begs the real question.
To wit, were these nightmarish scourges always latent just below the surface of global civilization — waiting to erupt whenever good people and nations fell asleep at the switch, as per the standard critique of the British pacifism and US isolationism that flourished during the late 1930s?
Or were they the equivalent of the 1000 year flood? That is, a development so unlikely, aberrant and unrepeatable as to merely define a horrid but one-off chapter of history, not the ordinary and probable unfolding of affairs among the nations.
We contend that the answer depends upon whether your start with April 2, 1917, when America discarded its historic republican policy of nonintervention and joined the bloody fray on the old continent’s Western Front, or December 7, 1941, when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor allegedly awoke America from its isolationist slumber and called it to global leadership of the so-called American Century.
Needless to say, the Deep State’s ideology of the Indispensable Nation and its projects of Empire are rooted in the Pearl Harbor narrative. That is, the claim that global affairs go to hell in a hand basket when virtuous nations let down their guard or acquiesce to even modest acts of regional aggression.
The now faded verities of republican nonintervention, by contrast, properly finger Woodrow Wilson’s perfidious declaration of War on Germany as the event that changed the ordinary course of history, and paved the way for the once in a 1000 years aberration of Hitler and Stalin which ultimately ensued.
Not surprisingly, the official historical narratives of the Empire glorify America’s rising to duty in World War II and after, but merely describe the events of 1917-1919 as some sort of preliminary coming of age.
As a consequence, the rich, history-defining essence of what happened during those eventful years has been lost in the fog of battles, the miserable casualty statistics of war, the tales of prolonged diplomatic wrangling at Versailles and the blame-game for the failed Senate ratification of Wilson’s League of Nations thereafter.
In this connection, the defeat of the League of Nations is treated as a colossal error in the mainstream narrative. It is held to constitute a crucial default by the Indispensable Nation that hurried the rise of the totalitarian nightmares, and only compounded America’s task of righting the world in the 1940s and after.
In fact, however, the defeat of Wilson’s treaty was the last gasp of republicanism — an echo of the stand that had kept America true to its interests and noninterventionist traditions as the calamity of the Great War unfolded.
In effect, Henry Cabot Lodge and his so-called Midwestern isolationists (actually the original America Firsters) were trying to turn the clock back to April 1, 1917.
That was the day before Wilson summoned the Congress to war based on his own megalomania and the high-handed maneuvers of his State Department. After William Jennings Bryan’s principled antiwar resignation in June 1915, the latter had been operating in complete cahoots with the Morgan interests (which had risked billions financing England and France) and had essentially maneuvered the messianic Wilson into war.
Consequently, the powerful truths of what actually preceded the 1919 defeat of the League have been lost to standard history. In what follows, we mean to revive these crucial developments and inflection points because they clearly do demonstrate that the 1000 year flood of 20th century totalitarianism originated in the foolish decisions of Wilson and a few others, not the DNA of mankind nor a death urge of the nations.
Needless to say, that is not a matter of academic history; it makes all the difference in the world of here and now because virtually every maneuver of Imperial Washington, such as it current demented attacks on Iran, are predicated on the Hitler and Stalin syndrome. That is, the hoary belief that there is always another one of these monsters lurking in the ordinary political, economic and cultural conflicts of the nations.
To the contrary, of course, if the world actually needs no Indispensable Nation the whole predicate for Empire is invalidated. The raison d’etre of the Imperial City and all its hegemonic projects of “leadership”, meddling, intervention, and occupation, in fact, belong in the dustbin of history.
Needless to say, that is also why Imperial Washington was so aghast at Donald Trump’s election. By whatever cockamamie route of thinly informed reasoning he got there — he did seem to comprehend that the national security of America and the policing of a global Empire are not the same thing at all.
So herewith is a capsulized dissection of the 1000 year flood — explaining why Stalin and Hitler should have never happened. Accordingly, the hot, cold and permanent wars that followed thereafter condemn the case for Empire, not make it; and they show that Trump’s America First is a far more appropriate lodestone for national security policy than Imperial Washington’s specious claim that America is the Indispensable Nation.
As indicated above, the Great War had been destined to end in 1917 by mutual exhaustion, bankruptcy and withdrawal from the utterly stalemated trenches of the Western Front. In the end, upwards of 4.0 million combatants had been killed and 8.3 million wounded over four years for movement along blood-drenched front-lines that could be measured in mere miles and yards.
Still, had America stayed on its side of the great Atlantic moat, the ultimate outcomes everywhere would have been far different. Foremostly, the infant democracy that came to power in February 1917 in Russia would not have been so easily smothered in its crib.
There surely would have been no disastrous summer offensive by the Kerensky government to rollback Germany on the eastern front where the czarist armies had earlier been humiliated and dismembered.
In turn, an early end to the war in Russia would also have precluded the subsequent armed insurrection in Petrograd in November 1917, which enabled the flukish seizure of power by Lenin and his small band of fanatical Bolsheviks.
That is, the 20th century would not have been saddled with what inexorably morphed into the Stalinist nightmare. Nor would a garrisoned Soviet state have poisoned the peace of nations for 74 years thereafter, while causing the nuclear sword of Damocles to hang precariously over the planet.
The same is even more true regarding the rise of Hitler, as we examine next time.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin . . . And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.
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