Whose Side is “God, god, gods, g _ d,” _ _ _ on? A Reprise and More

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, a monument at the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, Jerusalem. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author: דוד שי.

by Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D.


17 Oct 2016 – This paper is an expanded version of a paper first published in Transcend Media Service (TMS) on January 7, 2013, under a similar title. The focus of the first paper was the invocation of “God, god, g _ d” as a “moral” rationale for justifying wars, occupation, and invasion by empires, nations, religions, and dictators.

Invoking the moral authority of “God, god, gods, g _ d” is a timeless ploy used to assure military invincibility, enlist public support, and comfort public doubts about consequences of violence, destruction, and war. The 2013 paper focused on the debate between two competing British prime minister election candidates in 1878: Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Gladstone raised the question of whether “God” favored Britain or Afghanistan following British invasion and occupation. Gladstone argued eloquently, God would have no preferences because God valued all lives.

Of special interest in those times was the controversial decision to divide Afghanistan between Britain and Russia according to the 1893 Durand Line; this line established specific spheres of influence and control between the two nations, ignoring any Afghanistan concerns. (see: Durand Line, en.m.Wikipedia.org. October 14, 2016, 11:47).

Fifteen Anniversary Day of Invasion: October 7, 2016

  1. USA Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)

October 7, 2016 is the Fifteenth Anniversary day of the NATO (USA) invasion, occupation, and on-going destruction of Afghanistan. In some quarters, the Anniversary will be celebrated as an example of Western (USA) determination to avenge the 9/11 attacks with military, economic, and political responses, and to assert USA military power and global domination. The Afghanistan invasion was adroitly sanctioned by the G.W. Bush infamous Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), with its ridiculous “Manichaean” duality: “You are either with us, or against us!”

The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan has become “America’s” longest war. No victory is in sight. Some suggest the USA may remain forever. The human, environmental, economic, and moral costs are beyond comprehension (See Costs of War Project. R. Khouri, (October 12, 2016, Al-Jazeera).


While the USA and Europe recall, relive, and celebrate June 6th as the D-Day WWII landing in Europe, it is unlikely similar status will be assigned to the Afghan invasion date. Perhaps this reflects the growing shame and guilt associated with the blood stained decision (“Out, Out Damn Spot!” Thank you, Lady Macbeth, for reminding us guilt is difficult to erase).

The GWOT is now acknowledged to be a surreptitious-failed policy, contrived in Pentagon rooms by neo-cons, militarists, and right-wing zealots; it was presented as a triumphal stance asserting Bush’s legacy of leadership. The GWOT continues to be used by President Barack Obama’s Administration whenever needed. It is essentially “carte blanche” to  invade at will, without remorse, regret, accountability, or risk of criminal prosecution.

  1. Long-Planned Invasion Plans

The fact of the matter is the United States government developed plans for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq years before the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (see Corbett, 2016 for detailed and illuminating revelations of the secret government policies and decisions behind the tragic invasions). The 9/11 bombings merely became an opportunistic excuse. Carpe Diem!

There are now informed views proposing the 9/11 attack was itself part of a false-flag conspiracy; these views acknowledge (1) the architectural impossibilities of the towers’ orchestrated collapse; (2) the targeted location destruction of the Pentagon budget office and personnel office. This office location was investigating billions of dollars in military fraud; (3) obvious failures to prevent the 9/11 tragedy when information was available weeks prior to the actual attack.

Was the 9/11 tragedy a radical Islamic terrorist attack, a state-sponsored terrorist attack, or a carefully contrived plan to justify the destruction and decimation of Middle East invasions and regime changes (e.g., Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey). The destructive role of the infamous 1996-1997 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) remains to be explored (Wikipedia reference).

  1. 9/11: False Flag?

Although celebrated in some quarters, in other quarters, the Anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion will be recognized as yet another example of the continual efforts by Western international military-industrial cabals to provide causes and/or reasons to invade, occupy, and exploit non-Western nations. Although noble cries of liberty, democracy, and freedom are voiced by the USA and its NATO allies, more sinister reasons are always denied, including concerns for access to implement and exploit natural resources (e.g., oil, rare metals), strategic military positions (Silk Road gateway, military missile defense locations), and chess-board game dominance tactics enjoyed by foreign affairs experts (e.g., Samuel Huntington, Zbigniew Brzezinski).

In the non-existent world of principled media and journalism, the October 7, 2016 Fifteenth Anniversary would elicit challenging headlines of remorse, using forceful words and analyses condemning USA’s “lust” for war using the aegis of lies, deceit, fraudulent misrepresentations, celebrity endorsements, movies, games, medals, and, bombs and bullets.

  1. Total War: Learn from Nazi Leaders

Unfortunately, headlines of this nature are unlikely to occur. Unlikely, also to appear in headlines, will be accusations of the slaughter of soldiers, enemy fighters, and innocents. The sterile term for innocent-citizen deaths is “collateral damage.” How quaint! Deaths of soldiers and enemy fighters, however, are considered acceptable legal and legitimate actions! A death is a death! Enemy fighter deaths are inscribed in impersonal accounting-ledgers as numbers’ soldier deaths on tombstones.

The “Total War,” military strategy policy was advocated by Nazi Minister Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels (1897 – 1946). “Total War” is now accepted logical military strategy. When you make war, use every tactic you can to win. Among militarists, war brings a calculated indifference to human suffering, destruction, and death. Reflexive reliance upon limited military solutions raises questions about the consequences for both targets and the perpetrators. “Total War” offers flexibility to destroy.

Interestingly, an article on a recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) report (see Claire Bernish, October 14, 2016, Activist Post), alleges the Pentagon uses more than five hundred million dollars annually to “galvanize public support for its wars.” At some point, invoking “God, god, g _ d” would by an excellent PR tactic. Can’t lose if “God” is on your side, even if it is a lie!

I wonder? Is there some functional value considering war-making a psychological, behavioral, and moral disorder? While it is notably absent as a category in the two arbiters of insanity, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and ICD 10, it could be argued chronic pursuit of war warrants a disorder, disease, and/or deviancy status for either a nation, society, and or culture. Perhaps it could be called the “The Pentagon Syndrome.”

Lessons from 19th Century “Imperialism”

In 1877-1878, as Great Britain struggled to expand its imperialistic global empire spanning six continents, two men, dramatically different from one another in political ambitions and moral values, were pitted against each other in a fierce election struggle to become prime minister: Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.

At this time, Britain and Russia were at war against each other in Afghanistan, in what was euphemistically called the “Great Game,” romanticized in the novel, Kim, by Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936). The two nations were fighting over the division of Afghanistan. Little concern was given to the wishes of the Afghan peoples, who were considered by both sides to be war-like uncivilized hill tribes, deserving Western civilization’s fateful invasions.

  1. Disraeli and Gladstone

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), believed Britain should continue to expand its colonial wars and occupations. He argued the pursuit of “Empire” reflected Britain’s destiny to lead the world; Britain’s moral responsibilities to “civilize” the world. Disraeli pointed out the extensive economic wealth brought by Empire, as evidenced by the financial profits of generated from the Industrial Age (Edwardian – Victorian periods). Can you hear English composer Edgar Elgar’s (1857–1934) rousing Pomp and Circumstance Marches?

William Gladstone (1809-1898), leader of the opposition Liberal Party, argued in favor of re-considering Britain’s imperialistic expansion because of its social and moral consequences for both the people colonized, and for the moral standing of Britain’s citizens. Gladstone saw colonial wars as a “criminal assaults on innocent people” (Porch, 2001, p 42).

Gladstone appealed to conscience at a time when Western imperialism was colonizing Africa, Asia, and South America, exploiting natural and human resources, killing conquered people with impunity, and celebrating (Joseph Conrad’s gripping novel, The Heart of Darkness, 1899 & 1902, captures the sheer madness and horror of imperialism).

Results of the 1878 British election would have profound implications for the entire world. Amid the accusations, character insults, and personal attacks, fundamental questions emerged regarding (1) the morality of wars, invasion and occupation, (2) colonial domination and exploitation, and (3) national economic growth and development. Issue: “Invoking God as a moral justification for ending imperialistic invasions and wars.

Disraeli and disliked each other intensely; their quick wit made for memorable political insults. At one social gathering,” Gladstone said to Disraeli, “I predict, Sir, you will die either by hanging, or of some vile disease.” To which, Disraeli replied, “That all depends, Sir, upon whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress.”

Although quick-witted character insults brought laughter, applause, and well-known British triumphal affirmations of shared opinion: “Hear! Hear!,” but a pivotal moral moment was at hand. The election came down to Gladstone’s views the Zulu War and Afghan War (“The Great Game”) were essentially “slaughters of innocents” by British Redcoats;” an indelible stain on British identity and civility. It was a time of choice! At the height of the debate, Gladstone appealed to the British public’s sense of conscience:

“Remember the rights of the savage. . . . Remember the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan, among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own.”

Timeless words and wisdom! Anyway you spell it, Gladstone asserts God does not play favorites. Disraeli lost the election. Britain’s pursuit of empire continued, but lacked the prior resolve and support of its citizens. A nation’s conscience was laid bare. Some claim Gladstone’s words signaled the beginning of the end of the British Empire! Imperialism, of course, continues today via violent wars and invasions and associated immoral political and economic exploitation and abuse.

Question: Can awareness of the Afghanistan invasion Anniversary date lift American “public conscience” to rises in protest: Whose side is God, god, gods, g _ d, on? Gladstone’s words remain one of the most powerful arguments against the “exceptionalism” used by the USA, Great Britain, and allies (e.g., NATO) to justify invasions, occupations, and domination. No nation can claim moral superiority as a sanction from “god” or any other force or history, to justify its violent actions.

  1. Enduring Lessons

Are there any enduring lessons to be learned from the fateful words of this 19th Century election in Britain? I believe so. Some lessons come from sacred religious texts, too often forgotten amidst carefully selective proclamations from Monotheistic religion pulpits and lecterns. Some come from secular texts (e.g., Magna Carta, UDHR, and USA’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution), which speak of the enduring human values of peace, liberty, freedom, beauty, and god-given rights. Some lessons are in the daily utterances of people who see the tragic consequences of militarism and violence.

The following is a list of enduring lessons coming to mind as I reflect on the endless wars of our times. With Gladstone’s words ringing in my ears, I offer them to you:

  • You reap what you sow!
  • Who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.
  • “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed”
  • “Thou shalt not kill!”
  • “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not s that your passions are at war within you?”
  • “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”
  • Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you (Golden Rule in every major religion)
  • Violence begets violence; violence begets hate; hate begets hate; hate begets violence.
  • Every empire in human history has collapsed.
  • Empires collapse from within.
  • As empires collapse, leaders impose domestic controls, and assert their dominance.
  • It is easier to conquer a people and their land, than it is to leave depart in peace.
  • Wars are easy to start, difficult to end.
  • The legacy of Imperialism is enduring resentment.
  • Wars require money; public services are denied.
  • Major beneficiaries of war, are war industries, arms dealers, and generals.
  • Exceptionalism is always self-deceit!
  • There are no winners in wars.
  • Wars scars are permanent.
  • When you go forward for revenge, dig two graves.
  • Oaths of office cannot be used as excuses for war. The best defense for a nation is peace and justice.
  • War socializes a “culture of war; a “culture of war” socializes citizens.
  • “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation.”
  • “God, god, g _ d,” does not have favorites!

And So . . .

Today the national dish of Britain is “Curry.” Britain and Russia remain rivals. The United States of America is involved in hot-wars and cold-wars around the globe; USA sullied and flawed invasions and regime-change strategies and tactics have resulted in millions of deaths, displaced people, floods of refugees, and mass migrations redefining nation identities and boundaries.

The United States of America has been at war in Afghanistan for 15 years. Estimations of human, environmental, economic and moral costs are staggering; yet even so, they do not capture the full consequences of our tragic invasion for Afghanistan, for Afghani people, and for our conscience. Numbers are tossed before us as a balance sheet of assets and liabilities. My “God, god, gods, g _ d,” or whatever force may be! The horror is apocalyptic!

This is genocide and ethnic cleansing by any name, term, or definition! It is endless war; destruction of a nation, people, culture, and history. This is savagery at the hands of the USA’s paradoxical self-defeating counter-terrorism war. This war fills immoral military-industrial complex coffers, and a suffering people’s coffins. Gladstone’s words echo today if we choose to hear them: “Remember the sanctity of life . . .

And Now Africa . . .

And as if to dismiss any semblance of moral authority, the USA has announced it will send USA troops to 35 African nations. The strategy is the same: advisers, troops, occupation, regime change, exploitation. Stop it! We are not the Empire of “God, god, gods, g _ d!” We are a cruel, brutal, merciless, vicious nation. No amount of PR can disguise this fact! Have we no shame?

We punish and abuse our own citizens! Stop this delusional portrayal of our nation as sanctioned by “God, god, gods, g _ d.” We are not! We are a corrupt and bought nation, sold like a slave to the highest financial bidders! What happened to us? Are the roots of our actions traceable to our own savage history? Are we now? Have we always been a “Culture of War?”


Corbett, J. (2016, October 12). Afghanistan War: What you are not being told? Corbett Report: 10:16 PM.

Khouri, R. (October 12, 2016). The frighteningly high human and financial costs of war. Al-Jazeera.

Marsella, A.J. (2014). War, peace, and justice. Alpharetta, GA: Mountain Arbor Press.

Marsella, A.J. (2011). The United States of America: A “culture of war.” International Journal of Intercultural Research, 35, 714-728.

Porch, D. (2001). Wars of empire. London, UK: Wellington House.

Wikipedia: Durand Line, October 14, 2016, 11:47 AM.

Wikipedia: Project for a New American Century, October 16, 2016 8:54 AM.


Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Emeritus Professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus in Honolulu, Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 21 books and more than 300 publications noted for challenging the ethnocentricity and biases of Western psychology and psychiatry, and for advocating peace and social justice. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 October 2016.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Whose Side is “God, god, gods, g _ d,” _ _ _ on? A Reprise and More, is included. Thank you.


Posted in "Just war", Armed conflict, colonialism, Genocide, Media, militarization, Propaganda, September 11, 2001, Terrorism, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National WHAT Day?

“Stop police violence”. “This clip art is derived from clip art that was released into the public domain by the Open Clip Art Library.

Have you heard the news? Friday, October 21, is the 21st National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation Day.  There are protest activities scheduled all around the country—including Massachusetts   –and internationally.

Engagingpeace has expressed concern over the militarization of police, and featured several posts on police violence—with reference, for example, to Trayvon Martin , Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner  and the 68-year-old grandmother terrorized by a SWAT team that invaded the wrong house.

Not all police officers are violent; not all police officers are racist.  Moreover, many police officers serve in dangerous areas, face genuine threats, and endure grueling occupational stress. But the problems of police bullying, violence, and murder are real.  It is worth recognizing the value of attempts to address the problems.

Posted in gun violence, militarization, police violence, Protest, racism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the U.S. doesn’t prosecute its war criminals

The Peace Palace at the Hague, Netherlands, home to the International Court of Justice primary judicial branch of the United Nations. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Author: Lybil BEr.

Why doesn’t the U.S. prosecute its war criminals? This has been on my mind for a long time, and I’m reminded of it anew after seeing Donald Trump’s threat to prosecute/jail Hillary Clinton should he become president, not to mention the chants of “Lock her up” at Trump rallies.

One bulwark against fascism in the U.S. has been our cultural adherence to “insure domestic tranquility” in the preamble to the Constitution. That adherence has in turn become part of our political culture. In particular, elections in the U.S. are ways to change leaders and policies without violence; unlike in other countries the winners in the U.S. are not expected to threaten to jail or execute the losers. Or prosecute them by bypassing the presumption of innocence. Absent these protections, history shows that not only leaders but also their followers leap to civic violence when elections do not turn out as they like.

It may be true that we carry the political custom of insuring domestic tranquility too far. I’d certainly like to see the U.S. join the International Court of Justice. I’d like to see Henry Kissinger, for example, brought before it. But as a matter of justice, not the result of an election.

So of all the things I don’t like about Trump’s candidacy, the one that’s most frightening is that a great deal of his constituency seems to believe that the fascism embodied in his statements to jail his opponent is OK. I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be an eerie replay of the destruction of the Weimar Republic. I don’t usually panic by claims that, say, electing a warmongering president will destroy the country; the country seems to get through these things, at least domestically. But now I worry that even if Trump fails, what will those fellow citizens who agree with him do? And what should reasonable citizens do to discourage the dangerous extremism of Trump and his excitable followers, who after all are our neighbors?


Ed Agro, an occasional contributor to Engaging Peace, is administrator of the online war tax resisters online forum wtr-s. The above essay is a slightly edited version of the one that recently appeared in that forum.


Posted in Democracy, politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s in a name? (This one doesn’t smell so sweet.)

“The Landing of Columbus” — by Albert Bierstadt; 1893? In the public domain. The native peoples in this painting had good reason to pray. Their world was about to be destroyed.

Columbus Day.  Everybody loves a day off, but honestly, does the United States really want to continue celebrating the name of a man who was a slave owner, a slave trader, a greedy, cruel, vicious dishonest brute? A lot of people have been asking that question.

The demythologizing of Columbus has begun; an engaging and chilling example can be found in the comic strip story by Matthew Inman. [His exposé is based on information from  A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen, both of which use primary sources such as eyewitness accounts, journal entries, and letters from Christopher Columbus himself. It’s worth reading.]

In recognition of the genocide started by Columbus’s invasion of the not so new “New World,” some communities have renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day or Native American Day  to recognize and honor the native people whose lives, communities, and cultures have continued to suffer . South Dakota has renamed the day as Native American Day and this year Vermont (I love Vermont!) is celebrating Indigenous People Day.

Matthew Inman  recommends renaming Columbus Day as Bartolomé Day after Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566), a settler in the New World who initially participated in atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples by Spanish colonists but ultimately came to reject all forms of slavery. Although his name will never catch on for a U.S. holiday, he appears to be a man very much in the image of John Newton (1725–1807), who wrote Amazing Grace .

Our most recently named federal holiday is Martin Luther King Day, honoring a man who is an icon of the nonviolent pursuit of civil rights and social justice.  Let us not forget that Columbus is also an icon; he represents what is most repellent, most harmful, and perhaps most dangerous in many segments of the United States today.  Greed was his predominant motive. He lusted for wealth in the form of gold but enslaving and selling men for labor and women for sex would do.  He relentlessly pursued power.  He did not hesitate to use military violence to accomplish his goals. Sound familiar? Are these the people whom we want to represent the United States?

Recognizing that Columbus is the anti-hero surviving in our culture will not be pleasant, but it is a task that is long overdue. Maybe today should become U.S. Redemption Day.


Posted in colonialism, Genocide, Nonviolence, politics, Propaganda, racism, slavery, Stories of engagement, Torture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment