The first casualty of the last war, and the next war, and the next

Aeschylus, an Ancient Greek writer of theatrical plays. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Greek writer and poet Aeschylus (525–456 BCE—a very long time ago!) proclaimed that “Truth is the first casualty of war.” Isn’t it just as true in the US as elsewhere that supporters of war try to prove they are in the right, and use lies and distortions to support their position?

And think of the advantages to the military-industrial-media complex of gaining support for a “war on terror” instead of a war only on the selected evil country of the moment.  Given our government’s policies, there are likely always to be a few terrorists around. What a swell way to guarantee a perpetual war with perpetual profits—in money and/or power.

In his Monday post, Dr. Anthony Marsella wrote passionately about how the power structure in the US has used Propaganda, Media Deception and Abuses, and Lies to convince Americans that being dragged along one path of violence after another is not only in their best interests but also the right thing to do.

Once the mainstream corporate media, a strong arm of the power structure, has planted misinformation in people’s minds, it can be a challenge to get those people to rethink their views. (Remember the expression “Don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.”) For example, long after it was well established that Iraq did not have the weapons of mass destruction that were the purported reason for the 2003 US invasion, some people, especially conservatives, continued to insist that the weapons were there.

In order to override misinformation, lies, and propaganda, it is helpful to have the facts  communicated by people who are seen by their audience as having some credibility.  That is why the efforts of anti-war veteran activists to lead us from the path of war to the path of peace are so important.

 Check out the sites for:

Iraq Veterans Against War:

Vietnam Veterans Against the War:

Veterans for Peace:

 And, in particular, listen to this interview with Ross Caputi, a frequent contributor to this blog:


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4 Responses to The first casualty of the last war, and the next war, and the next

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    I well remember how I rejoiced when the news about Vietnam Veterans Against the War was first broadcast. Although I can’t recall exactly how I went about responding directly to this group, the gist of my message to them was a heartfelt “Good for you!” Now, decades later, the activities of anti-war veterans continue to inspire the same three words. Their work on behalf of peace meant a lot to us when we were children and is even more meaningful now that we are adults with a path to choose. Let’s pray that it’s the right one. Choosing peace over war would improve the lives of millions around the world.

  2. T. Paine says:

    Listening to Ross Caputi’s interview on you tube made me think about the injustice of collateral damage. War makers hold that civilian casualties are an inevitable consequence of war . Nothing could be further from the truth. Accidents can occur but an offensive operation of war that is premeditated and will knowingly involve loss of civilian life is wrong.

  3. Thanasi Kastritis (TK) says:

    “Truth is the first casualty of war” is poetry to my ears. It transcends the bias of my Greek heritage simply because it is so true. Hyperbole, exaggerations, and lies are byproducts of war that proliferate and then diffuse to many sectors of society. They are found in strategic press-releases by the government to the people, in late-night bar talks about combat between veterans, and in speeches used by politicians to condemn or raise support for an issue or cause. Hamlet once said that “brevity is the soul of wit,” a mantra that many countries around the world, including the US, do not abide to.

    McAlister emphasized just how dangerous language can be when promoting violence. When euphemised, it can spur action or mask atrocities. Such acts are prevalent throughout history. Pope Urban’s initiation of the First “crusade” to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control was largely politically rooted in re-opening trade routes into the east and maintaining the Church’s influence over the area. Hitler labeling the mass execution and genocide of the Jewish people as a Final “Solution.” The Pentagon Papers documented the Johnson administration knowing that chance of military success in Vietnam was waning, yet the government continued to feed the public with hopeful propaganda of victory while simultaneously lying to Congress. Most recently, the Bush administration calling waterboarding and other forms of torture “enhanced interrogation techniques,” despite these methods being outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Annas’ article cites that on June 30, 2003, President Bush said that “torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere,” and that “America stands against and will not tolerate torture.” My response to that is simply, “Abu Ghraib.”

    It is a shame that trust in the government is so low, given that “we the people” elected these officials to represent us honestly and fairly. Now the government has become this huge, secretive entity that masks its wrongdoing with scapegoating and excuses. Sincere apologies should come out of shame, guilt, and the adherence to morality. They should not be forced out of internal reviews, investigations, and threat of legal ramifications. Recently the US bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and President Obama came forward and apologized after intense media scrutiny and condemnation from the organization it attacked. The APA was hired by the Department of Defense to come up with enhanced interrogation techniques to combat terrorism and extract information from detainees in the post 9/11 era. Annas notes that many physicians were hired to oversee torture at Guantanamo bay, which completely contradicts and violates the Hippocratic Oath they swear to obey. Hypocrisy and deception only have adverse effects when applied to how information is communicated to the public, resulting in lower levels of trust in the government domestically and more hatred towards the US internationally. The success of usually unethical, clandestine behavior is contingent upon secrecy. Much like a vampire, it will flourish in the dark but wilt when brought to light.

  4. Meg Kelley says:

    To quote a certain famous lawyer from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” I think that it’s also fair to say that people will believe what they want to believe. Is it easier to turn on the nightly news and eat up whatever information the mainstream media feeds us rather than doing our own research and checking the facts? I’m inclined to say yes, it is easier. To their “credit,” the media feeds the public what it wants to be fed. Do people really want to know how many innocent civilians have died in Afghanistan or Iraq because of U.S. involvement? Do they really want to know how much money our government pours into research, development, and utilization of drones? Do people really want to see the struggles that veterans face upon returning home?

    Daniela V. Dimitrova and Jesper Strömbäck conducted a study looking at the differences between Swedish and U.S. news coverage of the Iraq War. Their results showed that the U.S. media was dominated by episodic battle coverage and left little-to-no room for coverage of anti-war protests or responsibility issues. Swedish media, on the other hand, was more likely to report on anti-war protests around the world and discuss responsibility issues. The authors suggest that perhaps these differences can be explained by differences in opinion about the war: the U.S. clearly supported the war, while Sweden was opposed to it. Additionally, the authors found that the war reporting in the American media closely followed the official government agenda. Not supporting the war or the government’s decision to be involved would most likely have been seen as un-American and unpatriotic. So the media’s adherence to the government’s agenda and the public’s adherence to the media’s reporting could have been an overall adherence to what was considered to be patriotic.

    Of course, buying into propaganda is anything but patriotic. The mainstream media consistently offers us an easy way out, and, for the most part, we consistently take it. While I do think that the media holds a lot of the blame for the misinformation, lies, and propaganda, I also think that people need to take more responsibility for what they look for, listen for, and choose to believe. It’s time that people start doing more research and checking their facts, even if that means turning off the nightly news and looking at a variety of Google search results instead. Sure, not all of the information on the internet is going to be accurate, but if you dig a little deeper, you’re likely to find some truths. A lot of those truths can come from listening to anti-war veteran activists as well. Undoubtedly, not everyone can “handle the truth,” but I think that it’s high time that we at least start looking for it.

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