In war, truth is the first casualty. (Aeschylus)

Harken back to Sailor John’s words. On April 22nd, 1971, a then 27 year-old former Navy Lt. John Kerry (with a noticeable Brahmin accent) testified against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as a member of “Vietnam Veterans Against the War,” which would later come back to haunt him when “swiftboated.” This is the same John Kerry who later would endorse virtually every American military action, save that of Iran. The message is poignant. Herein I play for you the earnest message of this warrior who details firsthand the folly of war and explains brilliantly the insanity of the Vietnam mentality. Yet this is the same John Kerry who demanded military intervention in Syria to topple an evil regime whose alleged gassing of innocents at Ghouta. Remember what Semour Hersh wrote about this ruse. Where was the professional left then, the Jurassic media? They pore over every word Bill O’Reilly has uttered as to his war reportage as well as Brian Williams’ fecund imagination, they report of dress colors and llamas and Tom Brady’s balls, but when it comes to this whopper, not a peep. Nada! But read Hersh’s damning indictment.

One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’ [e.s.]

Hear not my heart. Throughout the rhetoric and the Sturm und Drang over the notion of retaliation and war there seems to be completely forgotten from the calculus of reason that we are still talking about war as in death and destruction and broken families and PTSD and shattered dreams and destroyed futures. The currency of war is bloodshed. And somehow that horrible fact has been lost among the rhetoric, the fleeting and minimally derived thought process via the Twitter glyph.

Think tank choreography. In this podcast I reference the 2009 Brookings Institution’s paper that provides the script for war. You’ll find the language most disconcerting and, sadly, prescient. And notice as well the language and that peculiarly reminiscent and familiar phrasing: “A New American Strategy.” Cf. Project for the New American Century. And, interestingly enough, the site has been scrubbed. It all comes full circle. But the neoconservative ideology is bigger and bolder than ever. You may have thought we lost that ilk for a generation. Hardly.

Give us a minute and we’ll give you a war. As a tangential note, I commend to you another think tank that you should be aware of: The Institute for the Study of War. Research the spousal unit Kagan, husband et ux., as well as RAND, Ford Foundation and Aspen Institute. Think not for a moment that the architecture of American bellicosity is drafted in the Congress and Oval Office alone. Or the Pentagon, for that matter. War’s big business whose ideology and theology are outsourced. The power of these war orchestras is enormous. But also learn and be apprized of the fact that whether it’s Israel, Iran, the US or any country as to any aggression theater, the script and memes must be crafted first. People have to have the playbook spelled out correctly and carefully.

War as a theme. I discuss the thematic aspects of engagement and further attempt to demystify and un-romanticize the theme of conflict. This is beyond the issue of Israel or the left-right paradigm. Lost in the discussion is the reality of what this means. War. And with war is the inevitable and most certain replay of the horrible scene depicted and chronicled above. As British historian and journalist A. J. P. Taylor noted, “No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic.”

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