On the anniversaries of My Lai and Iraq, we say “for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

On the 45th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre,  you might want to read this, from the Washington Post:

Pham Thanh Cong leans forward, his 55-year-old face a patchwork of scars and dents, and explains what’s wrong with My Khe hamlet. Vietnamese families are built around a three-generation structure, Cong says. Parents work the fields while grandparents take care of children. In time, children will become caregivers and grandparents the cared-for. Eventually, the generations will shift and the cycle will repeat. Families have been this way since there were families in Vietnam.

But in My Khe, a generation is missing.

On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, you might want to read this, from Dan Savage in 2002:

War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. Saying no to war in Iraq means saying yes to the continued oppression of the Iraqi people.

While the American left is content to see an Iraqi dictator terrorizing the Iraqi people, the Bushies in D.C. are not. “We do not intend to put American lives at risk to replace one dictator with another,” Dick Cheney recently told reporters. For those of you who were too busy making papier-mâché puppets of George W. Bush last week to read the papers, you may have missed this page-one statement in last Friday’s New York Times: “The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein.”

These developments–a Republican administration recognizing that support for dictators in Third World countries is a losing proposition; a commitment to post-WWII-style nation-building in Iraq–are terrific news for people who care about human rights, freedom, and democracy.

The War on Iraq will make it clear to our friends and enemies in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that we mean business: Free your people, reform your societies, liberalize, and democratize… or we’re going to come over there, remove you from power, free your people, and reform your societies for ourselves.

And as you contemplate a nation that can commit these crimes—the generals who devise them, the politicians who defend them, and the writers who celebrate them—you might want to read this, from Frederick Douglass:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.


  1. john March 17, 2013 at 1:07 am | #

    Richard Nixon’s got your revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy right here:

    “By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks — or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had ‘blood on his hands.'”


  2. Tom March 17, 2013 at 3:22 am | #

    Thank you for finally calling out Dan Savage, that influential and important foreign policy and international affairs pundit who for so long has had Americans under his spell when it comes to policy on war-making and diplomacy!

  3. Malcolm Schosha March 17, 2013 at 8:06 am | #

    Corey wrote:
    “Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

    I would describe the war in Iraq as barbaric, and pointless too. But to say it is barbaric “without a rival” is nonsense. Would it not be enough to say those two wars were barbaric, while leaving the dishonor of worst for other nations who deserve it even more than the US?

    Tomorrow is the anniversary to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Germans killed at least 300,000 Jews there, in total. Probably more Jews were killed by Germans in the Warsaw Ghetto alone than were killed by US forces in Iraq and Vietnam combined. The total number of deaths in the war initiated by Germany (WW2), is thought to be as high as 40-60 million…most, by far, in Russia.

    Another candidate for most barbaric is the Islamic conquest of India, which Will Durant describes as “…probably the bloodiest story in history”……….

  4. jonnybutter March 17, 2013 at 8:15 am | #

    Malcolm, I think the key word in Douglass’ (not CR’s) comment is ‘hypocrisy’.

  5. Scott Preston March 17, 2013 at 8:55 am | #

    “The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked (Karl Marx, “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” New York Daily Tribune, January 22, 1853).”

    Nothing really specific, of course, to American civilisation as to a civilisational type (for Marx, specifically what he classifies as “bourgeois civilisation”). And it was probably exactly against this civilisational type — the hypocrisy of it — that Nietzsche juxtaposed his “blond beast” — a barbarian indeed, but at least an honest barbarian.

    I’ve been reading Phillip Knightley’s The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker from the Crimea to Vietnam. Your post seemed quite appropriate at the moment. Ultimately, it raises for me the question of the roots of blood-lust. Just as capitalism translates the vice of greed into a virtue as “profit motive”, war translates the evil of blood-lust into the virtue of “valour”. Blood-lust. The question.

  6. g2-7f77829912e1318f97cee4dad19c1a2e March 17, 2013 at 9:55 am | #

    “We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism.”


  7. stephenkmacksd March 17, 2013 at 11:30 am | #
  8. ralphiesmom March 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm | #

    I had no idea how well Dan Savage’s name suited him. I live in Seattle but did not pay attention to the Stranger back then. He was not so famous. Well now that I know I will try to make him infamous for his bloodthirsty ravings.

  9. NewHavenGuy March 18, 2013 at 1:12 am | #

    I was wrong about Iraq too, but happily had no power to abuse. 51/49, my naive self couldn’t imagine that even W’s crew would lie so badly and so baldly about something so important. (Nuke proliferation is what I meant by important, not the hollow military Saddam kept boasting about.)

    My Lai weighs more heavily on my mind, and of course the way that war was waged by us generally. I believe the word is Schrecklichkeit.

    A horrible irony occurred to me the other day- American mistakes, misjudgments and inhumanity led to a huge slaughter is Southeast Asia not so long ago. Millions killed, most of them civilians, most killed by our firepower. And yet, I don’t see how this changed the Cold War or the big picture by more than a degree or two.

    USSR already knew that we’d nuke them if an invasion if the FRG looked like it was working, China must have been delighted to see us kill so many Vietnamese, but I think ‘the opening’ would have happened soon enough anyway.

    The irony? That admittedly much-less-bloody mess we will leave in Iraq and Afghanistan will have political and economic repercussions for decades if not generations. Hope I’m wrong on that.

    (And thanks for the Douglass quote. More fun at LGM, honest it even shocks me now and then. Typical CPAC crazy, except then I remember that CPAC roughly = the Republican Party. And that no one is even surprised by it anymore.) http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/03/the-racists-the-shoe-shine-bo

  10. jonnybutter March 18, 2013 at 11:10 am | #

    Nice bit of prop from the ‘bad’ guys here Easy to forget that we’re talking about something, er, visceral here.

Leave a Reply