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News :: War and Militarism
Photos/Video- Veterans For Peace Anti-War Memorial Day
27 May 2014
Boston, Mass.-Memorial Day-May 26, 2014:
About 100 peace activists gathered in Boston Waterfront Park
for the annual Smedley Butler Brigade Veterans For Peace anti-war
Memorial Day commemoration.
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Boston, Mass.-Memorial Day-May 26, 2014:
About 100 peace activists gathered in Boston Waterfront Park
for the annual Smedley Butler Brigade Veterans For Peace anti-war
Memorial Day commemoration.
VFP speakers spoke of the waste of war, those killed in combat
plus those veterans who return from the US wars with broken minds
and bodies. Notably the epidemic of suicides and homelessness and
incarceration among veterans takes their toll as well.
An addition this year was the reading of peace poetry by VFP members.
Also, some Iraqi war refugees and an Iraqi poet spoke of the deadly
toll the US invasion of Iraq rendered.
The observance ended with a reading of the names of Massachusetts
veterans killed in the wars as well as names of civilian Iraqis and Afghanis killed
by the US invasions--after each name was read aloud, participants took a flower
and tossed it into Boston Harbor as a commemoration of lives lost.
The many holiday passersby were visibly moved by the message of peace--even
two high school ROTC cadets stopped to listen.


Boston chapter of Vets For Peace:
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Re: Photos/Video- Veterans For Peace Anti-War Memorial Day
30 May 2014
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(pictured - Robert Flynn, USMC, Steve Bickerton, Sr., commander of the Old Dorchester Post and Michael Ball, USMC)

Dorchester's Cedar Grove Cemetery Memorial Day observances

An estimated 3,000 people, many of them dressed in enough red, white, and blue to put Independence Day to shame, turned out on Monday to observe Memorial Day at Cedar Grove Cemetery.

The morning started overcast and chilly, with adults clutching cups of hot coffee –though a handful of holdouts stayed with iced coffee – while children zipped into jackets danced around waving American flags, waiting for the sounds and sights of the parade. The musical units, color guards, neighborhood Scout troops, and a procession of members of eight neighborhood veterans posts, a handful of whom got the honor to ride on a Duck Boat, were accompanied by pipe bands from the Boston Police and Boston Fire departments as the marchers made their way through the gates of the 145-year-old cemetery.

Watching the crowds lined along the route, Katherine Green, a retired teacher who lives on Milwood Street, said Monday’s event had the best turnout she had ever seen.
Ahead of the procession, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker pressed palms with spectators lining Adams Street outside of the cemetery’s gates and underneath a massive American flag hoisted up by two Boston Fire Department ladder trucks. Baker, a Swampscott resident, said he specifically wanted to come to Cedar Grove to pay respects because of the Civil War veterans buried there.

Other politicians, among them US Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, and state Rep. Daniel Cullinane, looked on as veterans placed a wreath at the statue of Benjamin Stone, which marks the burial plot of the neighborhood’s Civil War veterans. Captain Stone, who commanded the men, all Dorchester residents, of Company K of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment, was killed in action at the second Battle of Bull Run.

The ceremony included the firing of a volley from the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, of Irish Brigade fame, followed by taps from the John P. McKeon Amvets Post 146.

“The red of our country’s flag is made redder by your heroism,” said Michael Hegarty, chairman of St. Mark’s VFW Post 1758. “The blue is glorified by the service they have given for American ideals.”

Congressman Lynch said that while he and his wife come to the ceremonies at Cedar Grove every year, this year was especially noteworthy because Lynch’s 92-year-old father, a member of the American Legion’s Old Dorchester Post 65, passed away in April. Post Chairman Robert Kane read his name during the services, as did all post chairmen to honor the memory of members who had died over the last year.

The clouds began to break as the veterans, elected officials, and others took their places both on the stage and in the crowd. As the Thomas J. Kenney School band opened the ceremony with a musical selection that included a version of “Amazing Grace” with its fair share of squeaks and an enthusiastic percussion section, the chill of the morning gave way to sunny skies and a light breeze in time for a round of speeches from elected officials and veterans.

The officer of the day, Francis Cahill of the St. Mark’s Post, asked for a moment of silence in honor of Michael Kennedy and Edward Walsh, two Boston firefighters who died fighting the blaze on Beacon Street in the Back Bay on March 26.

No stranger to the annual Cedar Grove observance as an elected official, Mayor Martin J. Walsh addressed the crowd for the first time as the city’s chief executive. “It’s a public official’s greatest honor to sit on this stage … more so this year,” Walsh said. He then recognized Michael Ball and Robert Flynn, two former US Marines who have served in Afghanistan. Both men, dressed in their uniforms, also spoke to the gathering. Walsh, Congressman Lynch, and Sen. Dorcena Forry touched on elected officials’ responsibility to ensure that veterans receive adequate health care, employment opportunities, and housing after serving their country in uniform.

In his speech, Lynch focused on his response to concerns at Veterans’ Administration (VA) hospitals nationwide and how Massachusetts has fared. Saying he was prompted to act by calls from Boston officials, including Walsh, Dorcena Forry and City Councillor Frank Baker, Lynch referenced independent studies that he commissioned to make sure that the three VA hospitals in his district were operating effectively. Results were largely positive, he said, although the reports identified backlogs in the dermatology and mental health departments. Lynch said that hed will meet with Walsh, Dorcena Forry and others on June 5 to talk about what else they can do to help the situation.
Lynch presented flags that had flown over the US Capitol to guest speakers Ball and Flynn. “They are a shining example of what’s best about Dorchester and America and we are blessed to have them in our presence,” he said.
One of the men on the stage was 90-year-old Francis Murphy, a veteran of World War II who for most of the last half-century has been a key figure in organizing the Memorial Day events in Dorchester while serving as the "officer of the day” for many years. Illness had kept him from the observances of the last two years, but he is back living in Dorchester and was delighted to be asked to join in this year's ceremonies. Cahill saluted Murphy's many years of service and called upon him to address the assembly before the closing prayer was offered by Rev. Jason Makos.

“I have been doing it for a number of years," said Murphy. "I was very happy to get the call to be here. I am honored to do it."

Steven Bickerton Sr., commander of the Old Dorchester Post and a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam era, served as this year’s parade general chairman and summed up the day: “The people of Dorchester always show pride in Memorial Day. These 3,000 people could be at the beach today, but they’re here” he said as the warm midday sun shone down and a breeze tickled American flags clutched in the hands of both young and old.
Re: Photos/Video- Veterans For Peace Anti-War Memorial Day
30 May 2014
The comment by Lauren Dezensk to my article
is nothing more than pro-war sugar coated lies--
all the flags and parades in the US can't bring back
the war dead who died for US capitalism and imperialism.
Re: Anti-War Memorial Day
31 May 2014
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A Tale of Two Cities – 3,000 in Dorchester, 30 at the Waterfront

Wouldn't it have been interesting if 3,000 people had gone to the Veterans for Peace ceremony. What if only 30 people showed up for the politician heavy event in Dorchester. But that's not what happened. Why? Does the average person like the idea of joining the US military and dying in a war, or killing people in foreign countries? No.

Does the report from Lauren Dezensk glorify war? Does Lauren Dezensk lie? When she reports that some came to Cedar Grove Cemetery specifically to honor Civil War dead – is that a lie? Others came to put flowers on the graves of soldiers who fought in the US Army against Nazi fascist led Germany – is that a lie? The Democrats and Republicans at the event were not calling for new wars – the audience would not like that. Politicians were calling for more veteran services. Is that a lie, or something you oppose.

Two Boston firefighters who died recently were honored by their union brothers and sisters – was that a sugar coated lie? The firefighters sought to honor their fallen comrades with a large American flag because they see that as a symbol of the community as a whole. They see the best part of themselves represented in that flag.

A revolution is not a struggle against the army, it is a struggle for the army. Chelsea Manning was a soldier with a conscious. Edward Snowden joined the US military because his principles lead him to believe that force was sometimes necessary to help other people. Both these individuals changed their minds about the US military and separated the flag waving propaganda from the real aims of US Imperialism.

One might notice that the featured photo with Michael Borkson's article has an American flag flying at the Veterans for Peace ceremony.


When George Orwell was in Spain in the 1930's he saw a cause worth fighting for and took up arms against the fascists - there are things worth fighting for, and simply calling for 'peace' means very little in the end ----
I Support The Occupation Of Iraq, But I Don't Support Our Troops
02 Jul 2014
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The U.S. went to war in Iraq to remove an evil and dangerous political adversary from power. Now that we have done that, the American troops must remain in Iraq until the country is a fully functioning democracy, able to spark change throughout the entire Middle East. While I find this obvious, there are still a lot of people in our country who fail to grasp it. I support Bush-administration foreign-policy goals, but I stand firmly against the individual men and women on the ground in the Persian Gulf.

Yes, occupying Iraq does require troops, but they are there for one reason and one reason only: to carry out the orders of the U.S. Defense Department. As far as their overall importance goes, they are no more worthy of our consideration than a box of nails. Ribbons and banners in ostensible "support" of the troops miss the whole point of the invasion, which is to gain a strategic hold over that volatile and lucrative geopolitical region.

Need I remind the reader that it is our flag, not the troops, that we salute? It is our nation-state, not a bunch of 20-year-olds in parachute pants, that deserves our allegiance. As a patriot and true American, my heart sings at the thought of the Pentagon, and the zealous, calculating measures undertaken by the proud military bureaucracy of this great superpower. I feel a surge of pride when I think about our high-tech GBU laser-guided bombs, capable of carrying a 2,000-pound warhead. I tied a ribbon around my tree for the safe return of our nation's F-16s, because our military aircraft are instrumental to finishing our work in Iraq. And on the back of my car, I have a sticker stating my support for the CIA's ongoing efforts in Iraq.

I support the occupation, and the occupation alone, because when we start to support the troops, we pave the way for irrelevant concerns about their families back at home. Before you know it, questions about who is and isn't going to be home in time for Christmas will be interfering with the crucial decision-making process of our commander-in-chief.

I'd like to ask those currently trumpeting their support for the troops a question: Have you ever actually met any of these soldiers in person? Well, I have, and believe me, they are no more impressive than any other low-level functionary of a large institution.

In all honesty, my soul swells with pride at the thought of the military-strategy papers and cost-analysis reports in which the troops are represented as numerical figures. But, as for the men and women—well, in almost every respect, they are average. Although they are no less intelligent than any other American, it is certainly fair to say they lack the ability to devise the complex strategies and tactics to manage their own divisions, much less grasp the nuanced reasons for their deployment.

It is ridiculous that my "heart" is somehow morally or ethically obliged to "go out" to the troops. In fact, had the troops not been put to productive labor by the sheer might and institutional authority of the U.S. military, a good number of them would be sitting around bars, drinking and gambling. In short, we shouldn't view the troops as objects of sympathy, because their very contribution to our society is their ability to carry out simple commands on a battlefield.

Allow me to pursue this from a more personal angle. I have a son in the military. If I may say so, we've never gotten along particularly well. Frankly, he's been a bit of a disappointment to his mother and me. Nevertheless, he is our flesh and blood and always will be, and we wish him no harm. So I speak from a position of personal experience when I say that, while I do not wish death for any of the troops, death tolls should not be our greatest concern. All that matters is the pursuit of the foreign-policy goals of this great land, the land I love. America.
Bush: Maybe U.S. Military 'Just Not Very Good'
02 Jul 2014
Modified: 05:46:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, DC—Departing from his usual hopeful rhetoric during a question-and-answer session with reporters in the White House Rose Garden, President Bush suggested Tuesday that the war in Iraq has not been successful because the nation's armed forces are "just not very good."

"When the decision was made to liberate Iraq, I was going on what my advisers were telling me and what everyone has said for nearly a century—that the U.S. military is the best in the world," Bush said. "But if that were the case, and we did have the most powerful army, navy, marines, and air force on the globe, we would be winning, right?"

The president admitted that he'd been toying with the idea that a thorough lack of quality in personnel, from the top U.S. commander to the lowest-ranked private, is the only way to account for the colossal failure in Iraq, given that everything on the administrative side of the war has been carried out with the utmost care and precision.

"I know the folks on our end didn't drop the ball," Bush said. "The civilian oversight of this war and the plan of attack has been brilliant. There's no doubt about that in my mind. Hate to say it, but maybe our men and women in uniform just aren't what they're cracked up to be."

Bush conjectured that U.S. servicemen and women thrust into the horrifying chaos and violence of Iraq's Sunni Triangle may simply lack the proper perspective and cool detachment needed to implement an effective strategy against the insurgency. The commander in chief also wondered aloud why, for all their vaunted competence, American forces become disillusioned while fighting "for such a just and noble cause."

"I know I should support the troops, especially in a time of war, but if they can't handle the pressure, maybe they don't deserve my support," Bush said. "They're making me look bad."

"On the occasions I've met our troops, most of them didn't seem like they had much going for them," Bush added. "I don't think very many went to college or anything."

Bush said that in the past year he has had much occasion to think about the U.S. military's role in history, which, he recently was forced to conclude, is "overrated." He traced the roots of the misperception back to the nation's victory in World War II.

"We haven't really flat-out won a war since then, and you have to admit even that one was pretty close," the president said.

Continued Bush: "We pretty much have a 3-4 record in terms of important wars, and that's being generous, because I'm counting the Civil War as a victory. We got absolutely killed in Vietnam, which was another war where the leadership at home did a fine job, only to be let down by the troops. Not quite sure what happened in Korea. And I thought we won the first Gulf War, but apparently we didn't, because we're still there."

Shortly after the press conference, the White House announced that an advisory panel comprised of former officials from both Bush administrations and of private military contractors would be formed to devise effective solutions to problem areas in the nation's defense, namely the quality of the soldiers. Some of the likely recommendations include toughening recruitment standards so that not just anyone can enlist, and offering swift advancement opportunities for troops who show less dependence on the support current forces seem to constantly require from the American people. The panel is also expected to recommend that the nation enter into additional costly overseas conflicts as a way for the military to hone its combat skills.

Yet even the most optimistic administration estimates acknowledge that these transformations are years, if not decades away from being implemented. Meanwhile, Bush still appears determined to maintain the American military presence in Iraq, telling reporters that the only way to improve the armed forces isn't to quit, but to "keep plugging away and hope they'll get better at this war business before they all get killed."

Dailymotion video -- Purple Heart Breaking Photos
Clueless Bush, and Media, Take Bike Ride With Injured Vets on ‘Mission Accomplished Day’
02 Jul 2014
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The former disgraced President George W. Bush chose today—the eleventh anniversary of his “Mission Accomplished” photo op—to hold a bike ride for sixteen badly wounded (physically or mentally) veterans on his Crawford ranch where he once spent seemingly half his time in office (when he wasn’t starting wars).

I don’t know what’s worse—Bush’s cluelessness and lack of remorse or CNN’s reporting this story without a single word about Bush’s choosing to start a war based on lies. Bush hails the damaged vets for volunteering for military service—but he was the true war “volunteer.” They didn’t sign up for a war based fabrication and revenge and what-have-you.

One of the vets said he’d lost six buddies in Iraq and four others committed suicide after they returned home. Yet Bush called the bike ride a “joyous occasion” and a “festival.”

Here’s an apt comment at my blog Pressing Issues from someone ID’d only as “Mike.”

Just reading the story over at CNN about Bush’s bike ride at his Crawford ranch with sixteen wounded veterans from the George Bush wars. And as I read the story I saw
this quote by Bush: “This is a festival, and it is a moment for others to see people who have been severely wounded say ‘I’m overcoming the consequence of my decision to volunteer.’”

I’m overcoming the consequence of my decision to volunteer?? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Somehow, that strikes me as one of the most clueless, heartless and ignorant statements this man has ever uttered. He simply cannot envision that these people have suffered and died because of him. In his mind, what happened to them was simply the result of THEIR decision to volunteer. Not the fact that he sent them in there knowing it was all based on a lie. This has to be one of the most narcissistic and unaware human beings on the face of the planet. He simply has a way
of creating revulsion and disgust every time he opens his mouth.

Of course, media failures related to Bush and the war are nothing new.

Thursday marked the eleventh anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day. Sadly, it came amid more sectarian violence in Iraq—and further attempts at Bush revisionism upon the opening of his “art” show at his library.

In my favorite antiwar song of this war, “Shock and Awe,” Neil Young moans: “Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/ our chief was landing on the deck/ The sun was setting/ behind a golden photo op.” But as Neil added elsewhere in the tune: “History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.” Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in the media coverage of the event.

On May 1, 2003, Richard Perle advised, in a USA Today op-ed, “Relax, Celebrate Victory.” The same day, President Bush, dressed in a flight suit, landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major military operations in Iraq—with the now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner arrayed behind him.

Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a “hero” and boomed, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” He added: “Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple.”

PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was “part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.” On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, “The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a—on a carrier landing.”

Bob Schieffer on CBS said: “As far as I’m concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time.” His guest, Joe Klein, responded: “Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since

Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me.”

Everyone agreed the Democrats and antiwar critics were now on the run. The New York Times observed, “The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military
presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.”

Maureen Dowd in her column declared: “Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

“He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove’s ‘revvin’ up your engine’ myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies look like Lizzie McGuire.

“This time Maverick didn’t just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.”

When Bush’s jet landed on the aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. That was more than 4,300 American, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, fatalities ago.
Re: Photos/Video- Veterans For Peace Anti-War Memorial Day
08 Jul 2014
A Shameful Situation

Millions of Soldiers and Veterans in Serious Trouble


Despite the July 4 tributes, millions of US soldiers and veterans are in serious trouble.

Twenty two veterans kill themselves every day according to the Veterans Administration. A study by the Los Angeles Times found veterans are more than twice as likely as other civilians to commit suicide. Suicides among full-time soldiers, especially among male soldiers, are also well above the national civilian rate. USA Today reported a suicide rate of 19.9 per 100,000 for civilian men compared to rates of 31.8 per 100,000 for male soldiers and 34.2 per 100,000 for men in the National Guard.

Over 57,000 veterans are homeless on any given night according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Unemployment is much higher among post 911 veterans than the general population according to the Department of Labor.

More than 1.4 million veterans are living below the poverty line according to US Senate report, and another 1.4 million are just above the line. Of veterans between the ages of 18 and 34, 12.5 percent are living in poverty.

Over 900,000 veterans live in households which receive food stamps reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The use of food stamps by active duty service members appears to be at an all-time high, according to CNN. In addition, many active duty service families receive a special military supplemental food allowance designed to replace food stamps for low income service families.

The VA reports over 3.5 million veterans are receiving disability benefits and well over 350,000 more survivors of veterans are receiving death benefits. More than 1.3 million are Gulf War vets, higher numbers than any previous war. Benefits run from just over a hundred dollars a month to three thousand per month.

Hundreds of thousands more vets are applying for help from the VA. The VA reported they have 555,180 open and pending disability and pension claims. Over a quarter million, 268,348, have been waiting more than 125 days. It was also announced by Nextgov that as many as 300,000 disability claims filed electronically in 2013 are incomplete and starting to expire. Additionally, over a quarter million vets are appealing their disability claims decisions. A veteran’s appeal of a claim denied by the VA takes an average of 923 days to complete the appeal process.

Veteran care, which has been much in the news recently for its well documented problems, includes services such as medical care for over 6.4 million people a year, compensation for 4 million veterans, survivors and children, education benefits for 700,000, guaranteed housing loans for 629,000. VA programs cost $354 billion in 2013.

There has been a surge in demand by veterans for mental health services since returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, with some local providers in California reporting increases of 40 to 60 percent in the numbers of vets seeking mental health treatment. The VA reported to Congress that over 11 percent of its health care was directed to mental health care as opposed to just over 7 percent for the rest of the US population.

Between 2000 and 2011 nearly one million vets were diagnosed with at least one psychological disorder and almost half had multiple disorders, according to a 2014 report of the Institute for Medicine. In another report, the Institute says an estimated 8 percent of current and former service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. Other congressional reports indicate national numbers of vets using mental health to be well over a million. The VA spends over $3 billion a year on PTSD treatment annually but collect little information about the effectiveness or whether treatments are successful.

This is shameful.
Re: Photos/Video- Veterans For Peace Anti-War Memorial Day
08 Jul 2014
Modified: 08:54:08 AM
Debunking Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman on War Being Good for the Economy by Andrew Syrios, July 08, 2014

Tyler Cowen has taken a new approach to one of the most dangerous myths around; the old "war is hell, but it’s also sort of good for the economy" canard. And his reasoning is somehow even worse than the typical explanation given by Paul Krugman and the like.

Let’s start with that typical explanation asserting a silver lining for war. As Paul Krugman put it, war is "a burst of deficit-financed government spending" that ends a depression like ibuprofen ends a headache. Krugman is making the case for military Keynesianism. Their one conspicuously lonely case study is the United States after World War II. After all, the American economy took off after a brief recession in 1946. Of course, the war didn’t seem to stimulate the German, British, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Indian or French economies, which were mostly devastated. In fact, there are a lot of odd correlations that seem to disprove this theory:

After World War I, the German economy experienced hyperinflation while the Ottoman, Russian and Austrian empires simply collapsed

After the Revolutionary War, the American economy experience d hyperinflation

After The American Civil War, the North experienced runaway inflation while the south was left in ruins

The United States experienced stagflation almost immediately after the Vietnam War ended

Rome’s fall is most often blamed on military over-extension

After the Spanish Armada was defeated, Spain apparently didn’t get a boost to aggregate demand because that basically marked the end of Spain as a world power

The United States suffered recessions immediately following the wars in Korea, Serbia and Iraq (Desert Storm)

The Soviet Union collapsed while fighting a war in Afghanistan

The United States was involved in wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq when the financial crisis occurred (and while the crash wasn’t caused by those wars, the massive price tag certainly didn’t help).

And so it goes. Yes, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but if one data point proves war is good for an economy, I would suspect 20 or so might disprove it. Even the example of the United States after World War II doesn’t hold water. The myth of a war-induced recovery is simply based on the GDP shooting up and unemployment going way down. But, as Robert Higgs has noted:

"What actually happened was no mystery. In 1940, before the mobilization [for war], the unemployment rate … was 9.5 percent. During the war, the government pulled the equivalent of 22 percent of the prewar labor force into the armed forces. Voilà – the unemployment rate dropped to a very low level." (Depression, War, and Cold War)

And the GDP figures are extremely suspect as well since the government was arbitrarily setting prices while the Federal Reserve substantially increased the money supply (partly contributing to the high inflation of the late 1940’s).

Aggregate statistics alone do not make for a good economy, unfortunately. As Higgs explains, "…from 1941 to 1943, real gross private domestic investment plunged by 64 percent." In addition to that, everything under the sun was rationed. In other words, there was no war time prosperity. It was only after all the war controls were removed and the "regime uncertainty" ended that prosperity resumed. After all, the Dow Jones didn’t return to what it had been before the crash of 1929 until 1954! Apparently stimulating death and destruction doesn’t actually aid in domestic production. Who would have thought?

So there goes that excuse for war. In steps Tyler Cowen, who drops the military Keynesianism with something "distinct from the Keynesian argument." As he puts it,

"…the very possibility of war focuses the attention of governments on getting some basic decisions right – whether investing in science or simply liberalizing the economy."

This is backwards. Governments grow during war or when building up for war. What Robert Higgs refers to as the "ratchet effect" – where governments grow during crises and then shrink afterward, but to a size greater than the pre-crisis level – is well documented and exactly the opposite of liberalizing. Cowen then moves onto correlations:

"The world just hasn’t had that much warfare lately, at least not by historical standards. Some of the recent headlines about Iraq or South Sudan make our world sound like a very bloody place, but today’s casualties pale in light of the tens of millions of people killed in the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Even the Vietnam War had many more deaths than any recent war involving an affluent country."

While it’s true that violence has decreased globally, Cowen’s argument would strongly imply that the centers of innovation and prosperity would take place in the places most involved in war. Yet, I don’t see Cowen pointing to Iraq or Sudan or another part of the Middle East or perhaps sub-Saharan Africa as upcoming economic powerhouses or dynamic innovators. In addition, Switzerland, New Zealand and Hong Kong seem to be doing okay despite staying out of just about every major conflict the past half century.

One would also wonder why the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of stable, year-after-year economic growth gained ground during the relatively less violent "100 year peace" between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of World War II. Why hadn’t more progress been made in the war-filled Mercantilist era that preceded it?

Indeed, Cowen gets the correlation backwards just like the theory. Economic growth has been terrible in the last few years, but generally speaking, as global conflict has decreased, economic growth has increased. If one compares the chart he provides on battle-related deaths to one showing economic growth, there appears to be an almost perfect negative correlation.

So forget correlations, Cowen next moves on to anecdotes:

"Fundamental innovations such as nuclear power, the computer and the modern aircraft were all pushed along by an American government eager to defeat the Axis powers or, later, to win the Cold War. The Internet was initially designed to help this country withstand a nuclear exchange, and Silicon Valley had its origins with military contracting, not today’s entrepreneurial social media start-ups. The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite spurred American interest in science and technology, to the benefit of later economic growth."

Obviously none of these things would have been possible without not just government spending, but government spending to kill foreigners. This is the broken window fallacy with the added twist that the kid who broke the window must also take a shard of glass and stab his neighbor with it to truly be a public benefactor.

Biochemist Terrance Kealy gives an illustrative example of why we should question this logic. He notes that the federal government gave a $73,000 grant to Samuel Pierpont Langley of the Smithsonian Institution to develop the first heavier-than-air aircraft. Of course, the Wright brothers, with no aid from the government whatsoever, beat Langley to the punch.

But what if they hadn’t? Would we add the airplane itself to Cowen’s list of things the government, nay the military, created? Cowen could join chorus with President Obama to let the world know that the military-industrial complex created the Internet and the airplane and that’s the only way either thing could have possibly been created.

Instead the airplane, like the automobile, steam engine, light bulb, printing press, radio, X-Ray, personal computer (the ones that don’t fill an entire room), telephone and vast majority of other things, was created without any aid from the government or the military.

Indeed, it’s amazing how many people assume innovation is spurred on by war when Alexander Willén’s study on the subject concluded that "empirical research concerned with the causal effect of war on innovation is scarce." Furthermore, despite believing "additional research is necessary," Willén states that, "The basic models analyzed… suggest that there is no relationship between engagement in war and patent grants." A 2003 OECD study even found that government spending on science in general actually crowded out private investment by a factor greater than one. There’s no reason to think military spending would be different than ordinary government spending in this respect, other than it might point research toward more destructive ends.

Wars do not have a silver lining. And arguing that a major reason the economy is performing badly is because of a lack of war is about the most ridiculous and irresponsible thing one can write. But there’s some hope: Tyler Cowen did change his opinion on the morality of the Iraq War; hopefully he’ll change his mind on the positive effects of war too.
RWar Dead --- The faceless men
11 Jul 2014
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What you notice first about the two figures in Christopher Nevinson's painting Paths of Glory is the banality of their death. Their commonplace, mundane fate. They lie face down in the blasted earth, two men in British military fatigues, their helmets and rifles lying in the mud beside them.

They are indistinguishable from each other, stripped of individual identity. Nothing marks them out as the unique human beings they must once have been with names, and families, and remembered childhoods, and desire and love and hope and ambition.

From the bottom left of the composition, where the corpse in the foreground lies with the soles of his boots facing you, your eye moves diagonally upwards and to the right, to the second dead man, who has fallen forwards towards you, and you see the top of his dark head but Nevinson denies you a glimpse of his face. He has no face, no personality, no story of his own. In colour, texture and even contour, the lifeless bodies are almost indistinguishable from the land on which they lie, and which will now swallow them.

In my time as a war reporter for the BBC I have come across scenes like this. You cannot mistake the recently dead for the sleeping, for there is something bloodless, something shockingly, arrestingly lifeless about them. I have found myself transfixed by odd detail - a bootlace tied just a few hours ago, by fingers that will now never move again. What talents lie locked into the muscle memory of those fingers? Could they, as recently as this morning, have picked out a melody on a piano? With the death of each individual, an entire universe vanishes.

Nevinson's painting shocked the authorities of the day. They had sent him to the Western Front as an official war artist commissioned by the war propaganda department. His earlier work had pleased them. They'd deemed it good for British morale. He'd produced a series of drawings for an exhibition called Britain's Efforts and Ideals. His work depicted stages in the construction of an aircraft and included pieces called Making the Engine and Acetylene Welder - all good, morale-boosting stuff.

He'd come to their attention because of a series of paintings he'd produced early in the war, drawn from his time as a volunteer ambulance driver in 1914-15. They are strikingly modernist in composition.

In one, called La Mitrailleuse, or the machine gun, four soldiers - one dead, three living - are depicted at a machine gun post. It is a portrait of this first experience of truly modern war - rooted, as it now was, in mass production and the mobilisation of organised industrial process. In the painting the men are drawn with the same hard, angular, rigid lines as the gleaming silver-grey gun they are operating - the men are robotised to become, with the fiercely powerful weapon they are wielding, complementary parts of a co-ordinated destructive enterprise, humanity absorbed into the killing machine.

"All artists should go to the front," the hawkish Nevinson wrote of this early war experience, "to strengthen their art, by a worship of physical and moral courage, and a fearless desire of adventure, risk and daring, and free themselves from the canker of professors, archaeologists, cicerones, antiquaries and beauty worshippers."

You see this still in modern warfare - men made of vulnerable flesh and blood, whose living fingers hold in their muscle memory infinite talents and skills absorbed into a vast, implacable, mechanised force of nature.

One day in the spring of 2003, a few days after the American-led invasion of Iraq and the symbolic toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein, I came back to my room in the Hotel Palestine, a concrete tower block that looks out over the broad green-brown sweep of the Tigris River and the crashing teeming life of the crowded city beyond.

An arms dump had just exploded in a residential suburb. Nearby houses that had withstood weeks of allied bombardment were obliterated. Families were wiped out. But what was striking was how quickly public anger was channelled. Within an hour there was a "spontaneous" demonstration of Iraqis - hundreds, perhaps thousands, strong - already with printed placards and leaflets blaming the Americans for deliberately endangering the lives of Iraqis. I went along. I marched with them, interviewed them for television. One man told me, in fluent English, that "the United States of America is the enemy of Islam, it is written so in the Holy Koran".

I said in my report for that night's news on BBC One:

"The explosion has ignited an anti-American fury. Within hours that fury was organised. It hasn't taken long for this to turn into a demonstration of rage against the Americans. Today, nothing the Americans can say will be heard amid the din - the organised and carefully marshalled chorus - of anti-American sentiment."

And in the middle of this tumult, I came back to the relative calm of my hotel room in the Hotel Palestine. There was no electricity. Sunlight slanted horizontally into the dusty, dim corridors and I saw at the end of the passage, outside my room, two figures silhouetted against the white glare of the sun. As I approached I saw that they were soldiers, their uniforms stained with the mud of the Tigris valley, Americans, for they were cradling US Army assault rifles in their arms.

They were an intimidating presence. Until they spoke. "Sir," one of them said, and there was a quiet, shy deference in his voice. I saw that they were young, achingly young, perhaps 19 years old, lettuce-fresh faces above long, lean, loose-limbed frames - no more than boys in the grown-up garb of desert camouflage. "Sir," he went on, "we heard that there was a satellite phone in this room. We haven't been able to call home in four months

They were the first in a little trickle of young US servicemen who would come to my room for this purpose in the weeks that lay ahead. What struck me with great poignancy was this - that almost always they phoned their mothers. From the other side of the room you would hear the phone sound in some far place in Kentucky or Idaho. The boy would say "Hi Mom!" and then you would hear the excited, disbelieving scream of delight echoing down the line.

This vast military machine that we had watched assemble itself in Kuwait with its hardware and its discipline and its resolution and unshakeable belief in the virtue of its mission. It was composed, in part at least, of boys who - more than anything - missed their mothers.

I think of those two young men whose names I never learned when I look at Nevinson's Paths of Glory. Its title is taken from Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard. "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r, / And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave / Awaits alike th'inevitable hour. / The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

Government censors did not like Paths of Glory. They judged it bad for morale and refused to pay Nevinson for it. But he included it anyway in the first exhibition of his war paintings in London early in 1918, with a brown paper strip across the canvas carrying the word "censored". He was reprimanded both for exhibiting a censored painting and, bizarrely, for unauthorised use of the word "censored" in a public place. But the painting was bought, during that exhibition, by the Imperial War Museum, where it remains.

What happened to Nevinson, the hawkish young man who had spoken, earlier in the war, of adventure and courage and risk and daring, that he should, by war's end, have abandoned his brutal modernism to produce this gentle, elegiac naturalistic image of two anonymous dead boys in the mud of the Western Front?

I am struck again and again in the war zones of our own age by the tenderness of youth and the brutalising experience of combat and occupation and insurgency. I have become interested in the magnetic pull that war has on the young male imagination.

In the early part of the last century the poet AE Housman addressed this in a little four line poem that is a contemplation of a World War One cemetery. It goes like this: Here dead we lie/ Because we did not choose/ To live and shame the land/ From which we sprung. / Life, to be sure/ Is nothing much to lose, / But young men think it is/ And we were young."

Four lines, 39 words, each one in common everyday use, 37 of those 39 words monosyllables and yet the poet manages to make them carry an enormous burden of nuance and sorrow and wisdom and sentiment.

But it is an old man's sentiment. The young are strangers to its undercurrent of regret and loss. In 1915, when the poet Rupert Brooke enlisted, he wrote to a friend that soldiering "is the only life for me now. The training is a bloody bore. But on service one has a great feeling of fellowship, and a fine thrill, like nothing else in the world. And I'd not be able to exist for torment, if I weren't doing it. Not a bad place and time to die, Belgium in 1915? The world'll be tame enough after the war. For those who see it. Come and die. It'll be great fun."

Why do the young - and young men in particular - want to go to war? Why do they dread being left out of their generation's fight? Why, indeed, did I, when the opportunity to become a war reporter arose, seize it?

Soldiers and war reporters are not the same. Soldiers experience combat. War reporters, like war artists, witness it. But beyond that fundamental difference there is, it seems to me, much that we share.

My own first sustained experience of war was in 1991. I was in the Jordanian capital when the war to dislodge Iraqi forces from Kuwait was launched.

We planned to leave Amman at midnight and cross the Iraqi border at dawn. We loaded up two flat-bed trucks - one with food, water, and broadcasting equipment. The other we loaded with jerry cans of petrol. We would drive up what was known as Scud Alley - a road through the desert hundreds of miles long that was under daily aerial bombardment, only to get to a city that was, itself, gradually being dismantled by repeated daily air assaults.

I ran into a colleague who was having second thoughts about going. "Why are you doing this?" he said. "It's crazy."

I didn't know the answer until I heard myself say it out loud. "Because it's why I came this far. And because if I don't I will never forgive myself. I will have chosen a safe and cosseted life and I will spend the rest of it regretting that when I was tested I didn't go."

It is an echo of Rupert Brooke from 1915: "And I'd not be able to exist for torment if I weren't doing it. The world will be tame enough afterwards, for those that see it. Come and die in the war! It'll be great fun!"

And so off we went that night, crossing the border at dawn, not speaking but sitting in silence as we drove wide-eyed into the heart of the enemy citadel.

The war saw unprecedented state investment into the arts
Separate art schemes were launched, sharing a common interest in commissioning art as eye-witness responses to events while also maintaining a distinct priority - propaganda, memorial or record
The British propaganda bureau 'Wellington House' - later the Department of Information (DOI) - operated Britain's inaugural official war art scheme between June 1916 and March 1918, which was replaced by the British War Memorials Committee scheme, which eventually wound up in 1919
The Imperial War Museum took over the administration of the scheme in 1919 but also instigated several schemes and commissions of its own during the war and in its aftermath, employing 86 artists in total
Richard Slocombe, Senior Curator of Art at Imperial War Museum

By 1917, Nevinson had made the journey from Rupert Brooke to AE Housman, from the youthful exhilaration to the sorrow of experience. I think I know this journey.

Nevinson came to agree with the sentiments of the much more celebrated World War One artist Paul Nash, who wrote: "I am no longer an artist. I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting, to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls."

This mismatch, between the war as experienced at the front, and the perception of it at home, is instantly recognisable to me.

Years ago, you returned from war slowly, by ship or long drawn out journeys overland. You had time to adjust, to decompress. Now it is all much quicker. Not long ago I was trapped in a basement in the Afghan capital Kabul as the buildings all around were attacked by suicide bombers. An arc of violence - deafening and chaotic - swept through the heart of the city and our basement filled with the acrid stench of spent gunpowder that scorched your tongue and settled at the back of your throat. Thirty six hours later I found myself in a smart cocktail bar in a swanky media hotel in Dubai, surrounded by bright, vertiginous, shining modernity and lovely young women and carefree men. Thirty six hours. Suddenly I am beamed down from a medieval war into another reality

Soldiers and war reporters talk a lot about this sense of disconnect when they come home. Nevinson would have known this too.

The brilliant American newspaper reporter Dexter Filkins described the sense of dislocation he felt when he got home after a decade of reporting Iraq and Afghanistan like this:

"People asked me about the war, of course. They asked me whether it was as bad as people said. 'Oh definitely,' I told them, and then, usually, I stopped. In the beginning I'd go on a little longer, tell them a story or two, and I could see their eyes go after a couple of sentences. We drew closer to each other, the hacks and the vets and the diplomats, anyone who'd been over there. My friend George, an American reporter I'd gotten to know in Iraq, told me he couldn't have a conversation with anyone about Iraq who hadn't been there. I told him I couldn't have a conversation with anyone who hadn't been there about anything at all."

This too, I feel certain, the war artists who documented the trenches of the Western Front a century ago would have known. This too.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the arms dump that exploded was American.


Listen to Allan Little's report on The Essay: Minds At War on BBC Radio 3 on Monday 23 June at 22:45 BST CRW Nevinson's Paths of Glory will be on display at the Imperial War Museum London from 19 July 2014 as part of a major exhibition Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War
11 Jul 2014
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More photos from Allan Little.
Photos/Video- Veterans
12 Jul 2014
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More from an artist who saw war up close.