War Made Easy by Norman Solomon and Collateral Murder in Iraq Courtesy of Wikileaks

War Made Easy and Collateral Murder in Iraq

Crusading journalist Norman Solomon documents in his book and movie, War Made Easy, that George W. Bush's unnecessary, foolish and costly invasion of Iraq is only the latest of repeated unnecessary and destructive U.S. military actions since World War II. The War Made Easy trailer appears below.

I don't agree with everything Wikileaks is doing. However, I believe every American should watch the Wikileaks video, Collateral Murder, if they missed it on network TV, to see what their tax dollars are buying in Iraq thanks to George W. Bush's preemptive war policy which, justified by lies alleging that the U.S. was threatened by Iraq weapons of mass destruction, resulted in more than 4,000 American and 100,000 Iraqi casualties.

John Pilger Interview with Wikileaks' Julian Assange

The Violence of Peace--America's Wars Under Obama

War Made Easy by Norman

Criticism of WikiLeaks--Bill Keller

Bill Keller:

Beyond the basic question of whether the press should publish secrets, criticism of the WikiLeaks documents generally fell into three themes: 1. That the documents were of dubious value, because they told us nothing we didn’t already know. 2. That the disclosures put lives at risk — either directly, by identifying confidential informants, or indirectly, by complicating our ability to build alliances against terror. 3. That by doing business with an organization like WikiLeaks, The Times and other news organizations compromised their impartiality and independence.,,,

As for the risks posed by these releases, they are real. WikiLeaks’s first data dump, the publication of the Afghanistan War Logs, included the names of scores of Afghans that The Times and other news organizations had carefully purged from our own coverage. Several news organizations, including ours, reported this dangerous lapse, and months later a Taliban spokesman claimed that Afghan insurgents had been perusing the WikiLeaks site and making a list. I anticipate, with dread, the day we learn that someone identified in those documents has been killed.

WikiLeaks was roundly criticized for its seeming indifference to the safety of those informants, and in its subsequent postings it has largely followed the example of the news organizations and redacted material that could get people jailed or killed. Assange described it as a “harm minimization” policy. In the case of the Iraq war documents, WikiLeaks applied a kind of robo-redaction software that stripped away names (and rendered the documents almost illegible)....

But while I do not regard Assange as a partner, and I would hesitate to describe what WikiLeaks does as journalism, it is chilling to contemplate the possible government prosecution of WikiLeaks for making secrets public, let alone the passage of new laws to punish the dissemination of classified information, as some have advocated. Taking legal recourse against a government official who violates his trust by divulging secrets he is sworn to protect is one thing. But criminalizing the publication of such secrets by someone who has no official obligation seems to me to run up against the First Amendment and the best traditions of this country. As one of my colleagues asks: If Assange were an understated professorial type rather than a character from a missing Stieg Larsson novel, and if WikiLeaks were not suffused with such glib antipathy toward the United States, would the reaction to the leaks be quite so ferocious? And would more Americans be speaking up against the threat of reprisals?


Collateral Murder in Iraq

Collateral Murder--Unedited Version

Harpers April 2011--Lewis Lapham on Mark Twain on the Spanish-American War

Lewis H. Lapham America's master of sharply pointed, elegant prose comments on his predecessor, Mark Twain:

He (Twain) refers
to the publication in the New York
papers on the preceding Friday of a triumphant cablegram sent to the government
in Washington by General
Leonard Wood, commander of America’s
army of occupation in the Philippines.

Twain summarizes the message
in a few sarcastic paragraphs. The intrepid
troops under the direction of the
heroic general have trapped a swarm of
half-naked natives (600 Moros, counting
women and children) in a crater
fi fty feet below the rim of a defunct
volcano. The Moros are armed with
knives and clubs. An equal number of
American troops hoist artillery up to
the rim of the volcano and shoot all the
fish in the barrel, abolishing them utterly,
says Twain, “leaving not even a
baby alive to cry for its dead mother.”

He enters into the record the congratulatory
telegram sent to the general
by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Washington, March 10
Wood, Manila:—
I congratulate you and the officers
and men of your command upon the
brilliant feat of arms wherein you and
they so well upheld the honor of the
American fl ag.
(Signed) Theodore Roosevelt

Twain is acquainted with Roosevelt,
describes him elsewhere in his dictations
as a “likeable,” “hearty,” and “straightforward”
sort of man, who therefore is
certain to know that he is lying, that it
would not have been “a brilliant feat of
arms” even if Christian America, represented
by its salaried soldiers, had shot
them down with Bibles and the Golden
Rule instead of bullets. He knew perfectly
well that our uniformed assassins
had not upheld the honor of the American
fl ag but had done as they had been
doing continually in the Philippines—
that is to say, they had dishonored it.

What saddens Twain and therefore
sharpens the edge of his satire (“The
President’s joy over the splendid
achievement of his fragrant pet, General
Wood”) is the laying waste of
Roosevelt’s humanity, his devolution
into “a poor, cheap, wormy thing, like
the rest of us, a sarcasm.”

Harper's, April 2011, Lewis H. Lapham

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Comments 19 comments

Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 6 years ago from St. Louis

And now the Republicans want to repeal health care, cut unemployment benefits, and social security. Who profits from these wars?

profile image

JBunce 6 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

Thanks very much for this hub... very interesting and well written. Somehow or other this title has managed to escape me until now, but I happen to be at the Minneapolis Central Library right now and a quick check of the online catalog tells me they currently have a copy of the book checked it. I'll be checking it out before I leave.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Tnx for the comments. The book is worth reading. I sent a copy of the book and movie dvd to my senator, Carl Levin. I got a thank you note from a member of his Washington staff, but I don't know whether he read the book or watched the movie.

doc snow 6 years ago

Thanks, Ralph. The war made me feel pretty damn bitter; I initially supported it because I'd been observing for years what an evil regime Saddam was running, and was concerned about his compliance with post-'91 commitments; the thought of him possessing nuclear weapons was highly disturbing.

Soon enough, of course, it became quite evident that the 6-month time-frame Secretary Rumsfeld put forth for the latter was utterly illusory, and that President Bush's assurance that "we already know of hundreds of (CBW) sites" was no better-founded. It's only a partial excuse that Saddam was evidently trying to finesse a bit of a bluff aimed at deterring Iran; we know the Administration had lots of good intel that could have led them to make much better decisions, had they chosen to heed it.

In addition to the direct damages you mention, there's a tremendous cost which we're paying now, due to the distraction from the task in Afghanistan. In my opinion, we really missed a 'golden hour' there, when we could have really made a positive impact on Afghan civil society much more easily than we are now struggling to do.

(And there's evidence that we're likely to give up on that, by switching from a "counter-insurgency" to a "counter-terror" strategy. So much for our concern for human rights--especially women's rights and the rights of religious minorities--in Afghanistan, which we boasted of when we went in.)

We could, pre-Iraq, have made Afghanistan a relative paradise, totally debunking the Bin Laden meme that America hates Muslims, probably cutting back world opium production very significantly, creating stability in a volatile and dangerous area of the world--remember, Pakistan is nuclear-armed!--and accruing some serious good karma for taking some responsibility for the mess we helped create by the CIA-supported insurgency against the Soviets. (I'm not saying that we shouldn't have given that support, just that we shouldn't have walked away from the post-war cleanup. If we hadn't made that choice, perhaps 9/11 never would have happened.)

Perhaps best of all, from the point of view of domestic American well-being, we could have done all that and still SAVED massive amounts of money. The Washington Post has estimated that costs of the Iraq war exceeded $3 trillion; the current national debt is a bit shy of $15 trillion, so we could have shaved that by more than 20% with those savings alone.

But the Post also asks:

". . .absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan? . . .

. . .would oil prices have risen so rapidly?

Would the federal debt be so high?

Would the economic crisis have been so severe?

The answer to all four of these questions is probably no."


I summed it up in a song--hopefully to be released later this year as part of a CD project I have in hand--called "Words Fail Me":

"Can't spend a buck to make a child well,

But you'll spend dozens to blow them to hell."

Well, I did say upfront that I've come to feel very bitter about the Iraq war.

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 6 years ago

GREAT Hub Ralph!

Blessings and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thanks for sharing the insightful information.

Had Wikileaks changed, or been accused of changing/altering, the documents they published in any way this would be a much different story.

Wikileaks has been feeding the U.S. leaked documents from other countries for years. The response from the U.S. became outrage only when the tables were turned.

The outrage should not be so much against the leaks, but the underlying behaviors and decisions outlined in the documents.

The U.S. has embasseys in nearly all the countries in the world under the guise of peace and harmony. To discover the disrespectful and underhanded behaviors is what caused my outrage.

We have wonderful men and women volunteering for our armed services based on the information they have been given. Far, far too many has been killed under false pretense.

Thank you for sharing this GREAT Hub.

Blessings always, EarthAngel

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments. We're on the same wavelength.

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

We are managed,treated like mushrooms... and fed mis-information for many hidden agendas...

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Very true, and the "main stream media" too often aids in the process. So far as I could determine neither the NY Times nor the Washintton Post reported on the Iraq helicopter incident in a timely and thorough manner. And both papers supported George Bush's lying us into a foolish, unnecessary, costly invasion of Iraq.

George Nagle 6 years ago

In Garry Wills recent book, Bomb Power, he makes the case that presidents are constrained, perhaps even captured, by the modern security state.

Notice how Obama as president endorses the draconian security policies of Bush e.g., opposing any judicial redress for a Canadian mistakenly abducted by the CIA and sent to Syria (or Egypt or Lebanon or whatever) and tortured. As a senator he opposed such policies.

In the context of the security state it's easier for presidents to go to war than not. (my conclusion, not necessarily Wills') Besides, it's good for business.

Eisenhower warned us. The military-industrial complex is alive and well.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

Thanks, George for your usual perceptive comment. Happy New Year!

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

NYTimes Editor, Bill Keller:

On April 5, 2010 WikiLeaks released cockpit video footage from a U.S. helicopter gunship in Baghdad. The footage, which documented the killing of 12 people, was released in two versions: the full, original video and an edited video. Critics of WikiLeaks charge that the edited video misrepresented events; Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has responded that “it’s ludicrous to allege that we have taken anything out of context.”


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

"The Violence of Peace" by Stephen Carter Reviewed by James Traub in the NYTimes Book Review

Carter notes that Obama, who formerly taught constitutional law, has been quite explicit on the subject of just wars. He subjects Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize address to close scrutiny, citing a passage that declared a state may engage in warfare only “if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.” But a president who lays out such lofty standards is then liable to claims of hypocrisy if his actions belie his principles.

Carter observes that while Obama has issued an executive order banning torture, he has continued the tactic known as rendition, which allows American forces to seize designated enemy combatants and move them to other countries for interrogation. Obama’s executive order mandates that the treatment of those detainees be monitored, but many of the countries in question routinely torture prisoners. The net effect, Carter concludes, is that the Obama administration has continued the use of coercive interrogation, but that “American hands will no longer be dirtied.”


Harvey Stelman profile image

Harvey Stelman 6 years ago from Illinois

Ralph, If you mention Bob Dylan's songs, why not mention Jimmy Hendricks resume. He was a para-trooper in the Army, and never spoke about the war. Everyone thought he was a peace advocate, untrue.

All administrations have done things they don't want leaked. FDR was advised to turn away ships that had Jews and Italian's, he went along with his Sec. of State. That's why there are so many Jews and Italian's in Latin and South America. That wasn't known at the time, we were all taught how great FDR was. He was a terrible progressive President. H

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Nine Afghan boys collecting firewood "accidentally" killed in attack by two U.S. helicopters.

"Nine boys collecting firewood to heat their homes in the eastern Afghanistan mountains were killed by NATO helicopter gunners who mistook them for insurgents, according to a statement on Wednesday by NATO, which apologized for the mistake.

The New York Times

The boys, who were 9 to 15 years old, were attacked on Tuesday in what amounted to one of the war’s worst cases of mistaken killings by foreign-led forces. The victims included two sets of brothers. A 10th boy survived.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Lewis Lapham in April Harper's on Mark Twain's autobiography:

Twain summarizes the message

in a few sarcastic paragraphs. The intrepid

troops under the direction of the

heroic general have trapped a swarm of

half-naked natives (600 Moros, counting

women and children) in a crater

fi fty feet below the rim of a defunct

volcano. The Moros are armed with

knives and clubs. An equal number of

American troops hoist artillery up to

the rim of the volcano and shoot all the

fish in the barrel, abolishing them utterly,

says Twain, “leaving not even a

baby alive to cry for its dead mother.”

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Pentagon Inspector General report finds nothing wrong with Rumsfeld's program which cultivated and fed information to a stable of TV network military "analysts."


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

"Or recall how we were taken into the Iraq war. That was the origin of Mr. Rumsfeld’s curious words 10 years ago. When he murmured about “things we do not know we don’t know,” he was touching on the unconventional weapons that Saddam Hussein might — or might not — have held.

"In a sense, Mr. Rumsfeld was more right than he realized. Those of us who opposed the war may be asked to this day whether we knew what weaponry Iraq possessed, to which the answer is that of course we didn’t. Nor, as it transpired, did President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld or Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.

"But that was the wrong question. It should have been not “what weaponry does Saddam Hussein possess?” but “Is Saddam Hussein’s weaponry, whatever it may be, the real reason for the war, or is it a pretext confected after a decision for war had already been taken?” The answer to that was obvious and could have been known to all, but too many people chose to unknow it.

"Then there was another unknown known: the likely consequences of an invasion. Shortly before it began, Mr. Blair met President Jacques Chirac of France. As well as reiterating his opposition to the coming war, Mr. Chirac offered the prime minister specific warnings. Mr. Blair and his friends in Washington seemed to think that they would be welcomed with open arms in Iraq, Mr. Chirac said, but that they shouldn’t count on it. It was foolish to think of creating a modern democracy in an artificial country with a divided society like Iraq. And Mr. Chirac asked whether Mr. Blair realized that, by invading Iraq, they might yet precipitate a civil war."

Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the New York Times 1-1-12

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

4-16-13NYTimes EDITORIAL "Indisputable Torture of Prisoners"

Indisputable Torture of Prisoners - NYTimes.com

A new nonpartisan study confronts the legacy of brutality against detainees by the Bush administration.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

4-16-13NYTimes--"Bipartisan Report Says U.S. Practiced Torture after 9-11"


A nonpartisan review concluded that the use of torture had “damaged the standing” of the United States and “potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel.”

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