NOEL TURNBULL. Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine etc etc etc

Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine, remember the Gulf of Tonkin, remember the weapons of mass destruction and now remember the Kokuka Sangyo tanker.

For a country such as the US, which has been at war for 226 years (93% of the time) in the 243 years since its independence in 1776, it’s remarkable that it has resorted so often to manufacturing excuses to go to war instead just doing it as it usually does. Of course, the manufacturing is partly a result of the abiding ignorance, misremembering, malevolent intent, propaganda and fundamental belief in the nation’s peace loving nature which infect its population and many of its political leaders.

Over the past week or so we seem to be sliding towards a similar situation – urged on by the fundamentalist Christian Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; those well-known peace loving supporters of democracy and liberty the Saudis; and, the usual suspects in the media. The British are already offering support and no doubt Australia’s supine conservative politicians will soon follow suit.

But the genuinely fake news underpinning the cases for the 1848 annexation of much of northern Mexico (the war being known in Mexico as the Intervención estadounidense en México); the defeat of the Spanish in 1898 and the beginnings of the creation of an American empire; the escalation of the Vietnam War; the massive ramifications of the Iraq invasion; and, any impending Iranian conflict have resulted in a growing cynicism in parts of the US population and other countries about what the US is actually on about and how potentially dangerous it can be.

Ulysses S. Grant, who fought in the Mexican War, was the first major figure to start questioning US international warlike aims. Grover Cleveland, Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie opposed the post-Spanish war annexations. With Vietnam only Senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening out of all other Senators and House Representatives opposed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorising more military action – although within a few years millions of Americans were demonstrating against the war. And the WMD case was seen through quickly and millions mobilised against the war in a trend which has become more and more prevalent – people around the world simply don’t trust US assertions which are designed to lead to military action. The reality is that – unlike Meg Ryan’s performance when she and Billy Crystal are eating in Katz’s – faking it doesn’t work as well any more even if the amount of misleading propaganda deployed online during elections sometimes makes us doubt that. Indeed, many people are now more likely to doubt the fake than they were way back in 1846.

In some cases the damage gets rectified. Mexicans are repopulating the States they lost to the US in 1848 and may, sometime this century, become the dominant population group once more. Vietnam is prospering and one can only imagine what they would have achieved if they hadn’t had to take time off to defeat the French, the Americans and the Chinese. In other cases the ramifications are still with us. If Johnson and his advisors had not been gripped by pernicious group think and fear of appearing weak millions of those from Vietnam, America, Australia, Korea and New Zealand who were killed would have lived. There would also have been no Vietnam syndrome which were factors in the Bush-Cheney desire to show that the US could still ‘kick ass’ in situations slightly larger than Grenada. And the LBJ Great Society plans – side-tracked by Vietnam and economic problems – may have created a US very different from what it is today. The invasion of Iraq – compounded by the effects of climate change on Middle Eastern agriculture – triggered horrors which are still with us. Ironically, we would have much better off if the US and Australian conservatives had not believed in imaginary WMDs and instead believed in very real climate change and Tony Blair hadn’t had a messianic streak.

What happens next? Who knows? is the only honest answer. But when we combine the views of millenarian fundamentalists in positions of US power; having a blustering draft dodging idiot as a President; the innately warlike predispositions of US foreign policy; and, the risk of miscalculation the outcomes could be very significant to say the least.

Incidentally, a pedant would argue (and many do) that the US has not been at war 93% of the time since 1776 because the US is only at war when a declaration of war is made. It has only declared war about 11 times since the first such as 1812 – against the British – in the second early example of the special relationship. In recent years it has preferred constructions such as “giving authority to use military force” although the difference is not much consolation to a villager targeted with napalm or, these days, a drone.

And, if there was ever a war they should have been in from get go it would have been World War II. But that took a strike on Pearl Harbor – two years after the war started – to get them into the action.

Noel Turnbull is retired and blogs at


Noel Turnbull’s has had a 40-year-plus career in public relations, politics, journalism and academia.

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5 Responses to NOEL TURNBULL. Remember the Alamo, remember the Maine etc etc etc

  1. Why no mention of Netanyahu and the significant cohort of powerful Israelis who are collaborating with Trump’s gang and the Saudi ruling family to crush Iran?

  2. Jim Kable says:

    I was walking the caminho português when this latest false flag action emanating from the US took place against the Japanese tanker and though I saw only headlines for two days I knew immediately that the US was up to its old tricks – confirmed by further reading. I was living in Japan when the WMD lies saw the US destroying Baghdad and murdering many of its civilians. Cousins from both the US and the UK were sent there to bring more mayhem upon that country while the Australian PM – yet another politician who has never served in a war – bleated his version of “all the way with the USA”! It’s beyond time thst we booted the US troops out of Darwin, shut diwn their drone-murdering assistance spy satellite installations in northern Australia – and applied sanctions against that bullying imperial state.

  3. David Brown says:

    oh… and for something different….

    the US seem to be using sanctions leading to real and exaggerated starvation and humanitarian suffering to justify threats of replacement of a duly elected president by a US compatible puppet in Venezuela…. note they claim the election of Maduro was flawed because the opposition got so few votes (because they boycotted the election)

    sort of subtle self-created excuses for regime change

  4. David Brown says:

    you didnt mention the recent fake Syrian chemical weapons attacks arranged by the (UK) white helmets (and the later suppression of the OPCW minority report) that were used to justify (at least) 2 bombing raids in Syria….

    but of course there are just so many to keep track

  5. steve johnson says:

    “War is a racket”

    Marine Corp Major General, Smedley D. Butler’s short book called “War is a racket”, based on his career in the military.

    While Foster and Allen had been selling bonds to America between wars to keep Hitler’s economy afloat and companies capable of accessing resources, a retired Marine Corp Major General, Smedley D. Butler came out with a short book called “War is a racket”, based on his career in the military. Butler, a two time Medal of Honor recipient, had a few suggestions as to how to put a spanner in the wheel of this “machine”, one of which was to have the officers and directors of armament factories, steel companies, munitions makers, ship builders and airplane manufacturers conscripted and paid $30 a month. This was what the lads in the trenches got. Another was legislation on the limitation of militaries to self defense so that the Navy would be limited to 200 miles off the coastline and the Army to the territorial limits of the country, ensuring that war, if fought, could never be one of aggression.
    Smedley toured the country with his book and anti-war speeches and strategies to great applause, but with very little effect. He did not have the power and influence of John Foster Dulles. Hjalmar Schacht had been head of the Reichbank until 1933 when Hitler appointed him Economics Minister, working closely with Foster to create systems to make it easy for German companies and Agencies to borrow American money without which the German economy would have come crashing down. American columnist, Drew Pearson described Foster as the chief agent for the “banking circles that rescued Adolf Hitler from the financial depths and set up his Nazi party as a going concern.”
    Foster was pushing on with all these German connections but Allen felt the cold shadow of war creeping closer and urged Foster to pull the plug as quickly and as best he could, which he finally conceded was in their best interest.
    The very same companies, banks and industrialists that had been dealing through Foster and others in the lead up to World War II, had in 1934 plotted to overthrow President Roosevelt in a military coup d’état. The du Ponts financing the American Liberty League, General Motors, friends of Morgan Bank and others financed the coup with a three million dollar army of terrorists modelled on the French Coix de Feu. The plot had found support from Hermann Schmitz, Baron von Schroder and other Nazis.
    They, made a poor choice however, in selecting General Smedley Butler of Pennsylvania as their leader, who was so horrified by the proposed coup that he exposed it to the authorities. Butler was quoted as saying “War was largely a matter of money. Bankers lend money to foreign countries and when they cannot repay, the President sends marines to get it. I know – I’ve been in eleven of these expeditions. “The Senate munitions investigating Committee confirmed Butler’s “suspicions that big business – Standard Oil, United Fruit, The Sugar Trust, and the big banks – had been behind most of the military interventions he had been ordered to lead.”
    This coup was aborted and so began Smedley’s book and crusade. With the level of pro-Nazi treason in the U.S. and Great Britain, if Roosevelt had not survived this and other plots, fascism would most likely have been successful in World War II. General Smedley Butler had received two Medals of Honour in pursuit of US investments in foreign lands but he certainly deserved a third for his efforts in repulsing fascism.

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