By David Swanson
July 21, 2016
If you believe that Hillary Clinton might be working with (or be) Lucifer, if you believe that supporting Israeli wars helps bring about the re-election campaign, as it were, of Jesus Christ (who will deal with those Israelis like the Muslims and atheists they exactly resemble as soon as he gets here), if you think eternally burning to death is a fate too mild for Muslims who burn people to death (something no missile made by Raytheon would ever do), if you believe military weaponry is appropriate for police as long as they focus on the real criminals (Black people), if you want Muslims banned and deported, you just might — I’m going to go out on a limb here — you just might be a Republican.
But if you are a hard-core promoter of wars like Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, Jamie Weinstein, Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Richard Perle, George Shultz, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and many others, you have either endorsed or said very positive things about Hillary Clinton. How to explain this? Are the most rabid war supporters on one side and the most dependable war makers getting nominated by the other? Well, maybe.
But if you believe that the U.S. military is a force for good that hardly ever kills anyone worthy of redemption, that the chief role of the military is to rescue poor innocents from evil by overthrowing tyrants and spreading democracy by drone missile, if you believe air wars are more humane because in air wars nobody gets hurt, if you think presidents checking off kill lists on Tuesdays is ideal as long as it’s the right presidents doing it, if you cheer for diversity in the U.S. military and want the Selective Service expanded to force every 18-year-old woman to register for the draft, if you believe Honduras and Ukraine and Libya had it coming or you have no idea what I’m referring to, if you think suggesting the abolition of NATO or a halt to overthrowing governments is crazy talk, and if you believe a good heavy bombing campaign of Syria would be the perfect way to demonstrate that we care about Syrians and value them as human beings, you just might be a Democrat.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is the most dependable war monger nominated by a major party in the United States in many years. She has the most consistent and lengthy record of doing what she’s paid to do, of marketing U.S. weaponry abroad, of manufacturing justifications for wars, of lobbying branches of the U.S. government and foreign governments to support wars. And she’ll do so while keeping up a pretense of abiding by some selection of laws.
What if it were to strike Donald Trump that arming the world, including the opposite side of many U.S. wars, with U.S. weapons was dumb or not great? What if he were to conclude that NATO really did have to go? What if he were to alienate possible accomplices before a new war? What if he were to just skip ahead to nuking everybody, or start sharing nukes with any non-Muslim or non-Mexican nation? He’s too unpredictable.
But Trump is almost guaranteed to continue, escalate, and launch new wars, just like Clinton — though that has little to do with what his supporters — the group that Ted Cruz calls servile puppies — want. In a representative system, one would suppose that electing the leader of the most war-crazed party would bring on the most war.
In fact, what Trump or Clinton does will not necessarily bear much in common with what the majority of Republicans or Democrats want. So, it does make sense for real war mongers to base their pick on the candidate rather than the party. But how will party demands play out under one of these two regimes?
I’ve studied themarketing of wars, and the most successful war marketing campaigns in the United States include, in order from most to least necessary:
1) The pretense of a threat to anyone in the United States, most powerfully if it is a threat of torture or rape or death by hand or knife. It need not be the least bit realistic.
2) The demonization of an entire foreign population.
3) The demonization of a particular foreign person.
5) The pretense of urgency, inevitability, and ideally of the state of being already underway.
6) The pretense of upholding the rule of law.
7) The pretense of humanitarianism. Point #7 will pick up a section of the population’s support, even among people opposed to some of the other justifications. But alone it won’t work. Points #1 and #2 can do well without #7.
Any of these points can be strengthened or undone by partisanship if the war is labeled the possession of one political party or the other. And once the war is really up and rolling, a new justification slides into the #1 spot, namely the need to “support the troops” by killing more of them. A Trump war would have the support of Trump followers, but that category does not include many Republicans and Independents, much less Democrats. Those groups are all maybes.
Left-leaning and Democratic peace activists would be quite likely to oppose a Trump war — albeit in the face of nasty police attacks. A Clinton war would have the support of Clinton followers, but that category is as limited as Trump’s. Would war-mad Republicans find supporting a war or opposing Clinton more appealing?
The devil, if not Lucifer, is in the details. But the peace movement would be limited to people willing to challenge Democrats in the cause of peace — and that could mean that Clinton could get away with lower ranked excuses (such as numbers 4 through 7), but there is no reason to imagine she wouldn’t reach for numbers 1-3 as well.
Laugh about it, wrote Paul Simon. Shout about it. When you’ve got to choose. Every way you look at it you lose. Unless you support Jill Stein and/or build a more principled peace movement.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie.