American folly-starting and fighting endless wars

Jun 4, 2024
White House and lawn, green grass and blue skies in the sun

Politics have come to this in America. Several former US presidents committed extremely serious war crimes that killed, maimed and displaced huge numbers of people without any suggestion that they be charged with these crimes. However, a former president Donald Trump has been found guilty of the crime of trying to cover up a brief sexual encounter with a porn actress that he denied occurred. Just how this is a crime is a little hard to understand.

Trump would’ve been much better to ‘fess up’ from the start. Christian preachers often do it. One minute they’re thundering away about the evils of adultery. The next they are confessing loudly that they have sinned mightily by having sex outside the bonds of holy matrimony. If they break into boisterous gospel singing about the magnitude of their lusty sins, more money floods into their weekly television programs.

Trump, Jimmy Carter and Gerard Ford are the only presidents since World War II not to have started a war, or extended an existing one. But Carter made a terrible mistake, letting his national security advisor – a zealous anti-Soviet campaigner – help create the Al Qaeda terrorist group to fight the Soviet army which was trying to protect a competent communist government in Afghanistan. The creation of Al Qaeda backfired on the US in 2001 when it flew planes into the World Trade Centre in New York where seven buildings were destroyed.

After Ford became the Vice President who replaced the disgraced Richard Nixon as President, he let the Vietnam War end on schedule and strongly rebuked Israel for failing to end the Arab-Israel war in 1975. He cut off aid to Israel for six months. In contrast, Joe Biden has been extraordinary slow to stop the much worse horrors Israel is unleashing in Gaza.

Compared to Ford, Carter and Trump, the other presidents have been more attracted to war. Eisenhower refused to choose the peace that was on offer after a nationalistic Vietnam resistance movement in the north finally drove the French colonists from the country in 1954. An international conference adopted the Geneva Accords that divided Vietnam into north and south and specified a general election to unify the country be held no later than 1956. Eisenhower preferred war, explaining in his memoirs that Ho Chi Minh was so popular he would easily win the election.

Eisenhower then used a clause in the Accords to stop the election and sent in the US military. Today, President Joe Biden likes to describe America as the home of democracy and a stickler for elections.

Back then, the newly elected President John Kennedy expanded the war in Vietnam. President Johnson went in much harder. Nixon eventually stopped the war but not before carpet bombing Hanoi and other cities in the north. In addition to war crimes, torture, assassinations, and the widespread use of toxic herbicides, the US dropped over 6 million tons of bombs on Vietnam – more than the combined total in World War II and Korea. But apparently none of the key aggressors has done enough to be convicted of a crime as grave as Trump’s consensual sex act which he tried to cover up.

Over 3 million Vietnamese are estimated to have died. Despite the massive damage, the US never paid a cent in reparations. No one faced war crimes charges. Now Biden wants to seize Russian assets to pay for reparations of the damage Putin’s war is doing in Ukraine.

Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada; Bill Clinton attacked Serbia without the endorsement of the UN Security Council. George Bush Senior invaded Panama in 1989. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, Bush gained UN support to invade it and expel Iraq.

His son George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan after al Qaeda terrorists destroyed the World Trade Centre. The terrorists, who had used Afghanistan as a base, did not hang around there for long. But the war lasted for 20 years before the US left.

In 2003, Bush invaded Iraq on the pretext it possessed weapons of mass destruction. Bush knew the intelligence was fake but pushed ahead in partnership with John Howard and Tony Blair. The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was soon captured and executed, but the situation for the Iraqi people did not improve. Saddam had never allowed any Islamic terrorists into the country. A vicious new group ISIS emerged, as well as Al Qaeda.

The Costs of War project at Brown University revealed in 2021 that the US was involved in eight wars in the previous 20 years, including Iraq, costing it an estimated $8 trillion and killing more than 900,000 people.

After President Obama was elected in 2008, he became entangled in the war in Afghanistan. He also approved the use of drones to kill an unprecedented number of suspected terrorists in a form of extrajudicial executions.

I might be wrong about saying Trump should have confessed he had sinned with the porn star. Instead, he claimed he was the victim of a crooked judicial and political system. This seems to be doing him little or no harm politically. If he wins the election, he still might have to go to jail for a while.

No other healthy democracy functions like this.

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