• Tell Us Why We’re At War, Candidates

    August 29, 2016

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen


    When I was a kid, successive presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie.

    I was a teenager during the Cold War, several presidents told us we needed to create massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, garrison the world, maybe invade Cuba, fight covert wars and use the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments and replace them with dictators, or the Russians would destroy us. We believed. It was a lie.

    When I was in college our president told us that we needed to fight in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua or the Sandinistas would come to the United States. He told us Managua was closer to Washington DC than LA was. He told us we needed to fight in Lebanon, Grenada and Libya to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.

    When I was a little older our president told us how evil Saddam Hussein was, how his soldiers bayoneted babies in Kuwait. He told us Saddam was a threat to America. He told us we needed to invade Panama to oust a dictator to protect America. We believed. It was a lie.

    Another president told us we had to fight terrorists in Somalia, as well as bomb Iraq, to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.

    The one after him told us that because a bunch of Saudis from a group loosely tied to Afghanistan attacked us on 9/11, we needed to occupy that country and destroy the Taliban, who had not attacked us, for our own safety. The Taliban are still there 15 years later, and so is the American army. We believed. It was a lie.

    After that the same President told us Saddam Hussein threatened every one of our children with weapons of mass destruction, that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud, that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda. We believed. It was a lie.

    In 2011 the president and his secretary of state, now running for president herself, told us we needed regime change in Libya, to protect us from an evil dictator. We believed. It was a lie.

    In August 2014 the same president told us we needed to intervene again in Iraq, on a humanitarian mission to save the Yazidis. No boots on the ground, a simple, limited act only the United States could conduct, and then we’d leave. We believed. It was a lie.

    That same president later told us Americans will need to fight and die in Syria. He says this is necessary to protect us, because if we do not defeat Islamic State over there, they will come here, to what we now call without shame or irony The Homeland. We believe. We’ll let history roll around again to tell it is again a lie.

    The two main candidates for president both tell us they will expand the war in Syria, maybe Libya. Too many of our fellow citizens still want to believe it is necessary to protect America more. They want to know it is not a lie.

    So candidates, please explain why what you plan is different than everything listed above. Tell us why we should believe you — this time.

    (This article is a reimagining of a piece I wrote about a year ago, when the war in Syria was less so, and the U.S. has not re-entered the fight overtly in Libya. I’ll update it from time to time as new wars happen.)

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Tell Us Why We’re At War, Candidates https://wemeantwell.com/blog/20… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊) said...


      […] Us Why We’re At War, Candidates https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2016/08/29/tell-us-why-were-at-war-candidates/ #lobbying from those who profit from #war and […]

      08/29/16 3:47 AM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      Minderbinder: We’re gonna come out of this war rich!

      Yossarian: You’re gonna come out rich. We’re gonna come out dead.

      –Catch 22

      08/29/16 9:20 AM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/29/16 9:38 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      “War us a racket”. S.B.

      08/29/16 10:36 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...


      War is a racket !

      08/29/16 10:37 AM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      how do u think we feel who served in one of these lies?
      jim hruska

      08/29/16 10:56 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      I think I understand as best as I can for someone who wasn’t there, as you have done a good job educating me. I’ve tried to get some of those ideas in my next book, Hooper’s War.

      08/29/16 7:10 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/29/16 1:42 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      08/29/16 1:43 PM | Comment Link

    • jo6pac said...


      08/29/16 4:41 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      Waiting for them to decide to take on that evil dictator in Zimbabwe…

      Oh wait, Zimbabwe has no oil and is not of interest to Israel or the Saudi regime.

      08/29/16 5:14 PM | Comment Link

    • Links 29/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC4, Maru OS Source Code | Techrights said...


      […] Tell Us Why We’re At War, Candidates […]

      08/29/16 6:29 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      USrael : Beyond Belief; Into ZEALOTRY (i.e., We’re the 1 Indefensible nation).

      08/29/16 8:52 PM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...


      As always, Peter, I appreciate your work and do not doubt for a moment your sincerity. Still, I feel it necessary to question the terminology that you employ in the title of this article: namely, “Tell Us Why We’re At War, Candidates.”

      In the first place, and as you ought to know as well as anybody, “we” — meaning the people of the United States — are not “at war.” We are “at AUMF” (pronounced “owmph”). And what does it mean for the United States to be “at AUMF”? Well, as someone on another website wrote succinctly:

      “The anti-terrorism operation currently conducted by U.S. forces [for fourteen years now] is being justified under the same AUMF used to go after Al Qaida, but now it’s being used to justify supporting Al Qaida with the goal of “regime change” in Syria.”

      Being “at AUMF,” then, means arming, funding, and otherwise using the same people that you claim to have once wanted — and still wish — to exterminate. In other words “AUMF” means fighting ourselves. Now, how does one square this obvious and ugly truth with the use of a vapid and meaningless word like “war”? Answer: One can’t.

      So, Peter, may I suggest that you cease using the meaningless word “war” — which no congress has declared since 1941 — and start using the properly descriptive word “AUMF.” Please stop perpetuating the problem by endlessly repeating the Orwellian Newspeak employed by our very own government and “leaders” to deceive us. Please revert to using Oldspeak, or plain English. Please help to enlarge our vocabulary rather than aid our government in restricting it to little more than orthodox cant. After all: Don’t you know that we’re at AUMF?”

      08/29/16 8:59 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Michael Murry said..
      “After all: Don’t you know that we’re at AUMF?”

      Oh, well then, I’m sure all those innocent people who have been, tortured, shot, raped, vaporized and incinerated by during our…ahem..”AUMF”.crimes, will forgive us. Right?


      08/30/16 5:01 AM | Comment Link

    •  Tell Us Why We’re At War, Candidates | Talesfromthelou said...


      […] Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com. […]

      08/30/16 9:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Karl Pomeroy said...


      The article seems right … up to the present election. Here the author oversimplifies. There’s a big difference between the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and that of Donald Trump. Trump does not seek regime change in Syria or elsewhere; Hillary does. Trump does not want confrontation with Russia; Hillary does. Trump does not want war with Iran; Hillary does. Trump did not advocate war with Iraq nor the invasion of Libya; Hillary did. It is true Trump suggests a stronger fight against ISIS in Syria and Libya. But ISIS is an exception. Seeking to destroy ISIS is cagetorically different from violent overthrow of legitimate governments, which Hillary has sought and continues to seek.

      Trump offers a clear choice for peace. The gap between Clinton’s hawkish policies vs. Trump’s more reasonable stance is documented in many articles, among them:


      Some geopolitical analysts go so far as to say a vote for Clinton is a vote for war. Paul Craig Roberts predicts nuclear war before the end of Hillary’s first term, were the Democratic warmonger elected.

      08/30/16 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      Nobody in their RIGHT MIND wants either of these morons near the White House.

      08/30/16 12:41 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Have to say this- the lesser of two evils is Trump. Clinton is insane-Trump has a semi flexible mind. Clinton’s mind is made up=kill!!!

      08/30/16 1:53 PM | Comment Link

    • rich bauer said...


      Only at the DOD can you make love and war:

      “Department of Defense workers spent nearly $100,000 at strip clubs and “adult entertainment establishments,” and almost $1 million at casinos, according to the report, which cited a May 2015 audit.

      The oversight occurred because “officials did not emphasize proper use of the travel card and management did not know what disciplinary action to take, according to the report.”

      Yeah, that’s par for the Pentagone that can’t pass an audit.

      08/30/16 3:42 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- Pentagone. Well, we can hope it will be gone eventually.

      08/30/16 5:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...


      As a veteran of the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72) I have seen what “war” looks like to those foreigners and U.S. servicemen condemned to endure such disasters. However, every time I return to the U.S. for a visit, I see no signs of “war” anywhere. For example, I see no bomb craters, but I do see quite a few potholes in the roads — at least in New York and California. I see no power lines knocked down or other infrastructure (like sewage or fresh-water systems) deliberately destroyed, as in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, et cetera. I see no darkened cities or scorched, poisoned crops. I do not see millions of new graves nor millions of homeless refugees clogging the roads as they trek from one free-fire zone to another. I see no invading armies despoiling the land or foreign bombers darkening American skies. Nothing like that. Americans know nothing of war and should stop babbling on and on about the subject which they have only seen as flickering images on their television or movie-theater screens.

      On the other hand, Americans have “AUMF.” Look it up. You can find official documents attesting to its existence. And “AUMF” means that American presidents get to kill and lay waste to anyone or anything, anywhere, as long as Americans don’t have to see or hear a word about it. Like the Orwellian Newspeak term “Crimestop,” “AUMF” means protective stupidity. Some wars involve the people of a country fighting in defense of their own homes. “AUMF” doesn’t mean that. “AUMF” means to “go shopping” and “enjoy all that America has to offer” while our ticket-punching career officer corps, adjunct dogs-or-war mercenaries, and corporate camp followers enrich themselves indulging in needless, pointless, wanton destruction without reflection, remorse, or any form of justice or accountability. “AUMF” means that; and America, in case you hadn’t noticed, “is at AUMF.”

      08/30/16 7:18 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Michale Murry! Welcome aboard, America is a strange land.

      08/30/16 8:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Shea Brown said...


      Very well said,, to the choir I agree,, the words we choose have a great effect on the nature of a productive debate. Orwellian indeed.

      08/31/16 5:02 PM | Comment Link

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