Sunday, November 30, 2014


Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace.
(#1 Feb. 1, 2011; #2 March 26, 2011; #3 Oct. 15, 2012; #4 Sept. 8, 2013).

My blog:
War Department/Peace Department

These newsletters are divided only very generally into Causes and Prevention because most authors examine the two subjects together.  Clear identification of the causes of wars is a significant step toward preventing them.   See War Prevention and Related Newsletters.

Nos. 3-4 at end

Contents #5
Causes of Wars
FCNL, Repeal Authorization for Use of Military Force
Jimmy Carter, US Perceived as the Leading War-Monger
Klare, US Energy Production = US Aggression Abroad
Michael Payne, Oil, Root Cause of Wars and Warming
Hadley Cantril and Otto Klineberg, Tensions Causing Wars of Nationalistic Aggression
Richard Payne, Tensions of Cultural and Ideological Values among Distant Cultures
Koenigsberg and Epstein, Preserving Our Civilization
Koenigsberg, Psychological Study of Culture
TomDispatch Presents Beverly Gologorsky and Her New Anti-War Novel, Stop Here
Leonard Goodman, War Profiteers
Recent OMNI Newsletters
Previous War Causes/Prevention Newsletters

REMINDER: Tell Congress to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force  11-30-14
Progressive Secretary via 

to me
Progressive Secretary Logo
Dear Dick,
Here is a new Progressive Secretary letter. 
This letter supports a campaign by the American Friends Service Committee asking Congress to pass H.R. 2324 or S. 1919, legislation that will formally repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Your letters will be sent to Congress.
It’s time to retire the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force). Signed just three days after 9/11, Congress never intended to justify perpetual war.

The AUMF was broadly worded, but it specified targets involved in the 9/11 attacks. None of the 9/11 fighters remain in the current Middle East conflicts. 

If we fail to repeal the AUMF, the President will continue to have overly wide latitude. President Obama maintains a four-President tradition by bombing Iraq. Without better checks and balances, we will never stop waging endless war. Repeal AUMF now.
Click here to send this letter or to learn more (you can edit the subject or the letter itself in the next step, if you wish).

To ask friends to sign this letter, forward this link (doesn't contain your personal contact information):

Kathie Turner, Executive Director

Jimmy Carter: "America As the No. 1 Warmonger" 

David Daley, Salon, Reader Supported News, April 10, 2014 
Daley writes: "The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger." 

How the US Energy Boom Is Harming Foreign Policy

Rising oil and gas production close to home is enabling a more aggressive stance toward rivals abroad.  [“Reduced reliance on Middle Eastern oil has enabled the Obama administration TO TAKE A HARDER LINE TOWARD Iran, Russia, and China, among others. “  --Dick]
   |    This article appeared in the March 24, 2014 edition of The Nation.  [The actual title is “Petro-Machismo.”  --Dick]
·         Share

(Whyunsook Lee)
Opponents of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline have focused largely on its disproportionate role in global warming. President Obama gave a nod to this concern last June, when he said he would deny approval for Keystone if research indicated that its completion would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” (The president has final say in the matter because the proposed pipeline will cross an international boundary.) But proponents of Keystone—including some in the president’s inner circle—place great emphasis on its geopolitical value, claiming that it will enhance America’s economic prowess and reduce its vulnerability to overseas supply disruptions. Now, with the January 31 release of a State Department–mandated report alleging that construction of Keystone will not significantly increase global emissions because so much tar sands oil is being imported by rail and other means, it appears likely that this argument will prevail. But far from bolstering US security, this approach is bound to produce new risks and dangers.
That professions of national security would trump the future of the planet might seem absurd to many, but not to anyone who has followed the evolution of the administration’s strategic thinking. Initially, Obama’s principal international objectives were to withdraw from ground wars in the Middle East and refurbish the US image abroad. Energy played little role in this, except to burnish Obama’s status as an advocate for green technology. More recently, however, Obama has sought to counter the perceived decline in Washington’s global influence by any means available short of renewed military interventionism. An “all of the above” energy policy has come to be seen as a useful tool for this purpose. By procuring more of our energy from domestic and Canadian sources, the White House now says, the United States can free itself from dependence on Middle Eastern supplies and so exercise greater independence in its foreign policy.
This outlook has arisen in response to the application of advanced technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas and oil from previously impenetrable shale formations. Before Obama’s first term, it was widely assumed that domestic oil production would continue its precipitous decline as a result of diminishing output from existing fields. A 2006 report by the Energy Information Administration, for example, predicted that US crude oil output would drop from 5.9 million barrels a day in 2010 to 4.6 million barrels in 2030. But the surge in oil and gas extraction from shale has upended all such assumptions. In January, the EIA projected that domestic crude production would rise through 2030 by 0.8 million barrels a day—with most of the added output coming from shale oil.
At the same time, Canadian firms—with considerable foreign assistance—began to extract substantial amounts of synthetic crude from previously noncommercial bitumen deposits (“tar sands” or “oil sands”) in the Athabasca region of Alberta. According to the EIA, Canadian oil output will jump from 3.6 million barrels per day in 2010 to 6.6 million barrels in 2035. Combine this added Canadian output with rising US production, and it is possible to picture a not-too-distant time when the United States will be almost entirely free of reliance on Asian and African oil—something US strategists have dreamed of for decades.
There are obstacles, of course, to the realization of this dream. Because tar sands oil is so much richer in carbon than conventional petroleum and requires more energy to extract (thereby producing additional emissions), environmental groups like and Friends of the Earth are trying to block construction of pipelines like Keystone XL that would carry this dirty fuel into and across the United States. Also, the current boom in shale oil output could fade as the richest “plays” in Texas and North Dakota are exhausted. But all this is less important than the political implications of the boom—in particular, the emergence of a national discourse about the energy-fueled “revitalization” of America. MORE
   |    This article appeared in the March 24, 2014 edition of The Nation. Share  [Actual title: “Petro-Machismo.”  --Dick]


Sunday, November 16 2014

OIL: Root Cause of Endless War, Distinct Threat to Humanity
The need for oil has been and continues to be responsible for the destruction of nature and man. Are we so tunnel visioned? When will we stop and look at the destruction and do something about it?

Published: November 16, 2014 | Author: Michael Payne | NationofChange | Op-Ed
Oil, that most precious resource, is like a double-edged sword. It’s the energy that fuels the engines of world commerce and contributes to the betterment of our lives in so many ways. But, conversely, it is also the root cause of endless resource wars that continue to bring destruction and suffering to nations and people who are caught in the middle of the struggle to control its primary sources and supply routes.

In recent years natural gas has been rapidly increasing as an alternate source of energy and its importance will markedly increase in the future. But since oil is still by far the most important of these two resources, in this article we’ll concentrate on the increasingly negative impact that oil has had and continues to have within this world; and, in particular, how it has also become a great threat to this planet’s ecosystem due to unrestricted amounts of CO2 emissions spewing into the atmosphere.

We need to consider this pertinent question: If it were not for the struggle over control of oil in the world would the following very destructive events in world history have ever happened?

*The establishment of a powerful U.S. military presence in the Middle East over many decades following World War II. Would monumental amounts of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to control this otherwise insignificant region of the world if it did not offer something of great value to the U.S., namely oil?

*Operation Desert Storm that took place in Iraq in 1991 over Saddam Hussein’s attempt to take control of Kuwait’s oilfields; incidentally, Kuwait was a major supplier of oil to the U.S.

*The inhuman, unconscionable sanctions in the 1990’s, during the presidencies of Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton, by which more than 500,000 Iraqi children died from malnutrition and a lack of medical supplies.

*The 911 disaster when terrorists seeking revenge against the U.S. brought down the World Trade Center.

*The invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Bush/Cheney were well aware that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction; they also knew that he had huge reserves of oil located in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East.

*The emergence and growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists that are in the process of wreaking havoc and destruction in the Middle East. It’s ironic how ISIS is obtaining much of its funding by selling confiscated oil from oilfields in Iraq and Syria on the black market.

*The War on Terror, initiated by G.W. Bush and now being escalated by Barack Obama; the means by which the U.S. government attempts to justify its endless wars to control oil.

In the prelude to World War II would Japan have attacked Pearl Harbor if it were not for oil? Many Americans may not be aware that the U.S. was Japan’s principal supplier of oil at that time and, that in 1941, after Japan’s aggressive military moves in the Asian-Pacific region, the U.S. initiated an oil embargo against it. Japan then reacted to that move by launching the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor.

As the price of gasoline in America declines it’s noteworthy that Middle East experts are tying it to a plan by Saudi Arabia designed to cripple the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, and totally disrupt that nation’s close ties to Russia and Iran. This excellent article by F. William Engdahl indicates what exactly is happening as this latest scenario involving oil unfolds in the Middle East.

Yes, oil has, unquestionably, contributed directly to these wars and military conflicts that have brought immeasurable damage and suffering to the world but its effect becomes even worse when we consider the enormous threat that it now poses to this planet’s ecosystem.

The people of America tend to focus only the positive, beneficial side of oil; while they are somewhat aware of the endless wars that it has caused they seemingly have concluded that this is just something that must be done. And worse yet most of them are just beginning to become aware of the great threat that oil poses to this planet as a result of the deadly CO2 emissions that are being emitted into the atmosphere.

Most rational-minded Americans are beginning to accept the conclusions of 97% of climate scientists who are warning that, unless the nations of the world dramatically reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, and do it quickly, the future of this planet and its inhabitants is in great peril. We also know that the oceans, which cover over 70% of the earth, are being polluted by oil spills from ships, deliberate, illegal disposal of fuels, and natural seepage from sea sources.

As this planet continues to remain under siege from the harmful effects of emissions due to the use of oil, what is absolutely astounding is the fact that there is not a massive world program, with many nations involved, well underway to develop new sources of energy; and the fact that America and China, the leading users of oil, are not at the forefront of this effort.

We can’t turn back the clock but we can surely learn the lessons from these past failures. We need to listen to and pay attention to these climate scientists as they continue to sound the alarms and make the case that these massive emissions must be significantly scaled back. They continue to warn that, within a relatively few years, this condition will become irreversible; and yet, the leaders of the world are doing virtually nothing of substance to address this critically important issue. This must not be allowed to continue, change must come before it’s too late.

Two things must happen in dealing with this rapidly approaching catastrophe. First the U.S. government, no matter who is president in the years to come, must clearly accept the fact that these misguided resource wars must come to an end. These wars have done nothing but create thousands of new enemies; they feed upon themselves and cause never-ending chaos, destruction and untold suffering.

Secondly it’s time for the leaders of the advanced nations of the world to come together and create a permanent organization to establish specific objectives and guidelines for the development of new sources of energy, utilizing the best minds in the world of science and the business sector to work together to take this world in a new direction.

Dramatically reducing the world’s reliance on oil and ending the destructive perpetual wars by harnessing the power of the sun and developing other new sources of energy to restore the health of the world’s ecosystem; that’s a win-win situation for this planet and the future of humanity.

But time is running out; each and every day brings us ever closer to a planetary crisis which has the potential to eventually wipe out humanity. There is no time to waste; the point of no return is fast approaching.

Hadley Cantril.  Tensions that Cause Wars.  U of Illinois P, 1950.   (A report for UNESCO).  A statement on the causes of nationalistic aggression and the conditions necessary for international understanding by eight distinguished psychologists and social scientists.    For example, Gordon Allport analyzes the influence of expectation  in starting and continuing wars.  Wars have been so prevalent because what people expect determines their behavior, and people expect war and therefore prepare for war not peace.  Aggression is a learned habit, and therefore one war engenders another.


Wars and Tensions Affecting International Understanding: a Survey of Research

By Hadley Cantril and Otto Klineberg
Reviewed by Henry L. Roberts
These two books originated in the 1947 resolutions of the UNESCO General Assembly authorizing a study of "Tensions Affecting International Understanding." The first contains a common statement regarding international conflicts, with separate related articles, prepared by eight leading social scientists who met in Paris in 1948. The second is an effort to make an organized inventory of what is known about this subject, partly with a view to furthering profitable research.

[Note:  I assemble these newsletters mainly serendipitously from the online and print essays and books I read.  By accident, then, around the same time I encountered the writings of Payne, Koenigsberg, and Gologorsky, which fell together as a group on the cultural foundations of wars.  –Dick]


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The Clash with Distant Cultures
Values, Interests, and Force in American Foreign Policy
The Clash with Distant Cultures
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Richard J. Payne - Author

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An analysis of the impact of cultural values on the use of force and negotiations in American foreign policy.

"Payne's exposition of the profound influence of cultural factors on state behavior offers a needed corrective to the 'realist' school that still dominates academic writing on international relations (in which military and economic factors are emphasized to the virtual exclusion of ideational considerations); it can also help policymakers become more self-aware of the cultural biases implicit in their actions and statements. The book's hard-hitting exposition of American cultural myths and prejudices and their reflection on U.S. foreign policy, plus its accessible style, should make it useful in a variety of courses--from American Civilization to International Relations to Peace Studies--and to laypersons attentive to public affairs." -- Seyom Brown, Brandeis University

"The author addresses a foreign policy problem of major significance, that of the complex relationship between a nation's culture and its international behavior. Payne establishes a sound basis for his assertion that (1) American foreign policy has been heavily dependent on the use of culturally reinforced violence, and (2) the future cost of resolving conflicts through violence will probably become vastly more burdensome. The time is right for a book that suggests constructive new directions for American foreign policy. This is a much-needed book." -- Henry T. Nash, Wheaton College

Whereas foreign policymaking is generally viewed as a rational, unemotional, and sophisticated process, this analysis of American policies toward the Persian Gulf, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Bosnian conflict suggests that the underlying and largely unexamined cultural values of most ordinary Americans play a major role in determining the United States' choice of force or negotiation in dealing with international problems. Payne examines the linkage between the United States' tendency to use force in foreign policy and the culture of violence in America. He argues that the costs of resolving conflicts militarily are likely to become more burdensome as economic competitors seek to take advantage of the U.S. tendency to demonstrate resolve primarily through the application of force. Post-Cold War challenges, Payne argues, call for a more nuanced combination of force and diplomacy. He finds hope in the fact that a strong component of American culture favors nonviolence, embraces humanitarianism, and if cultivated can contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Richard J. Payne is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Political Science at Illinois State University. He is the author of Opportunities and Dangers of Soviet-Cuban Expansion: Toward a Pragmatic U.S. Policy, also published by SUNY Press; The Nonsuperpowers and South Africa; The West European Allies, the Third World, and U.S. Foreign Policy; and The Third World and South Africa: Post-Apartheid Challenges.

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Richard Koenigsberg (and Jason Epstein),  Why War?

Library of Social Science via 

"Why War?"
Commentary by Richard A. Koenigsberg
Extracts from “Always Time to Kill”
Review Essay by Jason Epstein
Jason Epstein on the First World War from his Review Essay “Always Time to Kill”
(Extracts selected and edited by 
Library of Social Science)
John Keegan’s book, The First World War, is an invaluable summary of how (but not why) the destruction of Europe began, In the years preceding World War I, “It was inevitable that [relations] between all [countries] should be infused with suspicion and rivalry. Policy was guided not by the search for a secure means of averting conflict, but by the age-old quest for security in military superiority.” As in the case of the Greek city-states, the strategies of defense were inseparable from the preparations for war.
Keegan finds no insuperable diplomatic or political obstacles to peace in 1914. The explosive element was the military preparations themselves, undertaken routinely and in secret by the general staffs, often without consulting the diplomats or politicians. The nations of Europe went to war mindlessly as each general staff raised its degree of mobilization in response to the others until finally the kettle boiled over.
By the time war broke out the immediate cause—Austria’s demand that it be permitted to investigate the murder by a state-sponsored Serbian terrorist of the Austrian archduke on a visit to Sarajevo—was largely forgotten. Austria did not get around to attacking Serbia for another two years.
The governments of the original belligerents—Germany, Russia, France, Austria—claimed not without justification to be defending themselves preemptively against the others. Keegan shows that even Germany can be said to have acted defensively. Its invasion of France by way of Belgium was meant to protect its rear while it prepared to confront Russia.
Although political leaders were not enthusiastic, soon the crowds—aroused by the talk of war—were roaring in the streets. The momentum which had been building through years of peace was irresistible. The politicians could not stop it, not did they try. The war ignited itself. It was not the continuation of politics by other means. It was the abandonment of politics to the military and to the streets.
The mere existence of nation-states and their general staffs, not their irreconcilable differences, had given rise to the war—as if war-making had been the underlying function of these militarized tribes all along. In the streets of Berlin, St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Paris men and women, accompanied by martial music, were calling for the blood of people just like themselves of whom they had hardly been aware a month ago, and whom they had no reason to hate now. In St. Petersburg, women tore their dresses off and gave them to the troops. Parisian women showered the soldiers with kisses.
By late July events were beyond the control of politicians and would remain so for four bloody years. In his Advent sermon for 1915, the Bishop of London urged Englishmen to kill Germans…to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young men as well the old,…to kill them lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed. As I have said a thousand times, I look upon it as a war for purity…for the principles of Christianity I look upon everyone who dies in it as a martyr.
A German religious journal printed a version of the Lord’s Prayer that began “Give us each day the enemy dead…” Before the rules of civilization could be restored, nine million people would be killed in battle and the aftershocks would reverberate into the following century. But Great Britain and Germany had no compelling reason to fight.
In 1914 Europe had not learned the price of industrialized war fought by huge conscript armies. The bishop’s war cry, which could have landed him in an asylum had he delivered it a year earlier, did not cost him his pulpit. Bloomsbury and some unions opposed the war, but the troops went to slaughter with the bishop’s best wishes and with wide public support.
In July 1914 millions of Europeans—including an exuberant Hitler, who can be seen in a famous photograph amid a throng of excited Bavarians in Munich’s Odeonsplatz—were demanding war despite widespread misgivings. Keegan shows that they had no compelling reason to fight. Yet they fought without stopping for four horrible years until the Germans ran out of manpower and quit. To this day no one can say with confidence why they fought—any more than one knows why the Greeks fought beneath the walls of Troy unless it is the nature of human beings to fight until they can fight no longer.
Aggressive war is a human trait that makes no adaptive sense. For the aggressor, the fruits of victory are often ephemeral and unintended. The Muslim conquest benefited the cities of Spain aesthetically but was ruinous to the Arab aggressors, who have yet to recover their self-confidence. The French would have been better off without Napoleon, whose bloody conquests came to nothing.
Had the United States found ways to share the continent with the native tribes instead of killing them like buffaloes, its people would be no less rich today. History teaches that prosperity rewards peace far more than it does war, but why since long before Homer have war and the preparation for war been the practice and peace only an illusion? We know why we play games, educate our young, and defend our cities. But “why,” in Keegan’s words, “did the states of Europe proceed as if in a dead march and a dialogue of the deaf, to the destruction of their continent and its civilization.
In 1989, I was on the fourth floor of the Bobst library at NYU. Having read most of the books on Nazism, Hitler and the Holocaust, I drifted across the aisle and started browsing through the volumes on the First World War—and was astonished at what I discovered.
I was astonished—not only by the persistence and magnitude of the slaughter—but by the blasé way historians described what had occurred. It seemed as if mass murder was taken for granted: nothing special. At least the Holocaust evoked shock and bewilderment. But the extermination of 9 million human beings (most of them young men) evoked little amazement.
I began studying the topic more deeply, assuming historians would reveal the causes. What was so significant that could generate such massive slaughter? Of course, historians were able to trace how one event led to another. But why did the slaughter take place? Why was it necessary? Gradually, I realized historians were unable to answer these questions.
Orion and I were reading back issues of the New York Review of Books earlier this week—as a model for Library of Social Science Book Reviews—and came across a terrific article by Jason Epstein. In his review essay, Epstein poses several questions I have been thinking about during the past 25 years.
Reviewing John Keegan’s The First World War, Epstein conveys this great historian’s conclusion: that the nations of Europe (and the world) “had no compelling reason to fight.” Keegan asked: “Why did the states of Europe proceed as if in a dead march and a dialogue of the deaf, to the destruction of their continent and its civilization?” It is this question—and others like it—that we pose in this Newsletter, and through our Websites.
The most profound flaw in the thinking of historians and political scientists is their assumption of rationality. They proceed as if it is possible to identify “real reasons” for mass murder—and for the tendency of nation-states to proceed as if self-extermination was their objective.
Epstein cites a sermon presented by the Bishop of London in 1915, who urged Englishmen to kill Germans…to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young men as well the old,…to kill them lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed. As I have said a thousand times, I look upon it as a war for purity…for the principles of Christianity. I look upon everyone who dies in it as a martyr.
The words in this brief passage (that easily could have come out of Hitler’s mouth) reveal several themes that have emerged from my research on collective forms of violence.
Warfare revolves around the idea that it is necessary to 
kill or destroy the enemy. There is blind passion in the Bishop’s words—he insists it is necessary to “kill Germans,” the “good as well as the bad,” the “young men as well as the old”. Why this belief that it necessary to kill—or kill off—each and every member of another nation or societal group?
Nations and enemies go together. It seems that one requires the other, almost as if nations need enemies in order to energize themselves—to stay alive. The nation’s identity seems to be dependent on its capacity to identify an enemy to hate, revile—and possibly kill.
The Bishop asserts that it is necessary to kill Germans “lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed.” I have found that the idea of “rescuing civilization” is central in generating warfare. War is not about “primitive aggression.” Rather, nations initiate acts of war when they imagine that the future of civilization is at stake.
Somehow, the other civilization (or group) is imagined to threaten the existence of one’s own civilization. This principle applies to contemporary political struggles—as well as the First World War. Warfare arises as a form of morality, or moral righteousness. The enemy Other is imagined to be acting to destroy one’s own society. Violent acts are therefore necessary—required.
Hitler explained, “We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany, we have performed the greatest deed in the world.” If you think about any case of political violence that you have studied or are familiar with, you will probably conclude that Hitler’s statement is applicable. Collective forms of violence are undertaken in the name of a rescue fantasy. “Yes, we are performing acts of inhumane violence. However, if our nation or society is to survive, we have no other choice but to undertake them.”
The Bishop’s war cry, Epstein observes, could have “landed him in an asylum” had he delivered it a year earlier. Warfare, it would appear, renders normal what in other circumstances would be judged insane. Outside the context of war, asking men to get out of trenches and to run into machine gun fire and artillery shells for four years—would be considered a form of insanity.
I worked with a psychiatrist in 1998 developing an all-day seminar on warfare. She was not a historian and was unfamiliar with the First World War. We were sitting on a couch watching Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957). When we came to the scene in which soldiers were compelled to get out of their trench and move into no man’s land—in the face of massive shelling (click the link to view the video), she jumped up from the couch and screamed, “It’s crazy. It’s insane.”
This, perhaps, is the normal or natural reaction of a human being who has not been socialized into the historical discourse on the First World War. And yes, what occurred between 1914 and 1918was insane. However, we don’t like to say this. We shy away from acknowledging that insane forms of behavior are contained within the fabric of civilization.
What’s more, human beings seem not to be ashamed of their proclivity toward mass murder and self-destruction. Leaders who are responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings often live to a ripe old age. Perhaps we are even proud of our willingness to kill and die for abstract ideas—our sacred ideals. It’s what distinguishes us from other animals.
Can we begin to “bracket” the ideology of warfare—to conceive of this institution as something other than who we are? Post-modernists have deconstructed nearly everything. However, the idea of warfare (and of the nation-state, which generates war) reigns supreme.
It is easy to be “against” war. However, we have yet to pose and answer fundamental questions: Precisely what is warfare? Why do we need it? Why have human beings become so attached to the idea or ideology of warfare? These are questions we seek to answer through our Library of Social Science Newsletter, our Ideologies of War website, and through Library of Social Science Book Reviews.
We may not be ready to conceive of warfare as an institutionalized form of insanity. So let’s say that warfare is like a dream that many people are having at once: a collective fantasy that has been embraced and called “reality.”
We Hope you will join us in our project of working to awaken from the nightmare of history.
Best regards,
Richard Koenigsberg 

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Why Does War Exist?

Library of Social Science via

by Richard A. Koenigsberg
Warfare is a culturally-defined institution or form of behavior that has existed within many societies throughout history. But why has warfare existed? Why does it continue to exist? What is the “function” of a societal institution that has produced massive destruction and self-destruction? Why have human beings created ideologies of war? And why do we enact these ideologies?
Are we to believe that each instance or manifestation of war has unique, idiosyncratic causes—that can be uncovered or revealed only through a study of the particular cultural and historical contexts in which a given war occurs? Or does war manifest a fundamental complex—a dynamic that is enacted in similar ways—at many times and in many places?
The Psychological Interpretation of Culture
I suggest that—in order to answer this question—what is required is a psychological approach to the study of ideology, culture and history. This approach seeks to identify the sources and meanings of society’s cultural formations. For any ideology or institution, I pose the question: “Why does it exist?”
Speaking broadly, contemporary cultural theory postulates that mind is shaped by discourse. Warfare constitutes a particular mode of discourse: an ideology or way of thinking about the social world. But why does the discourse of warfare exist? Why is the ideology of warfare a “dominant discourse”?
Cultures are social constructions. But constructed on what foundation, and for what purpose? To understand an element of culture requires uncovering the psychic function it provides or performs. For any belief system or institution within a society, one may pose the question: What psychological work does this element of culture perform for members of the society? What is the nature of the gratification that it provides? An ideology or institution comes into being—and is embraced and perpetuated—insofar as it does something (psychologically) for individuals within that society.
We tend to assume that there is a reality that exists “out there” (constituted by language, discourse, etc.). We feel that the “external world” exists separately from the minds of the human beings who experience this reality. Of course, each of us is born into a symbolic system that is present before we exist. Thus, we say that mind is shaped by discourse.
Still, we may pose the question: Why does any particular symbolic system exist in the first place? Why does each symbolic system assume a particular form? Why has this particular ideology been perpetuated (and not others)? Or—in the old language of cultural anthropology—why are certain ideas and institutions “passed along” (while others are not)?
Because we experience symbolic systems as overwhelming in their impact, we imagine that they constitute “objective realities”—separate from actual human beings. We experience society as an entity “out there”; up above us. Based on this experience, we forget the human source of our social world. We embrace cultural creations, but forget that we have created them.
Psychic Determinism: The Human Source of Cultural Forms
Freud’s analysis of dreams, slips of the tongue and psychosomatic symptoms was guided by the principle of psychic determinism, which asserted that there are no accidents in the life of the mind. Our mental life is the source of the images we dream at night, the mistakes and blunders of our everyday life and the pains in our bodies.
A psychological approach extends the principle of psychic determinism into the study of culture. We examine belief systems, ideologies, institutions and historical events based on the assumption that these cultural forms and events have not arisen by chance. We are the source of that which exists.
Why do people imagine or pretend that ideologies and institutions have a “life of their own”: as if they exist and are perpetuated independently of the human beings who create and embrace them? Why do we experience culture or society as something that descends upon us from above, as if it constitutes another domain of existence—separate from human beings?
Societies were created by human beings, and continue to exist in certain forms by virtue of the fact that we embrace that which we have created. Cultural forms exist to the extent that they allow us to externalize, work through and come to terms with our deepest desires, fears, conflicts and fantasies. Cultural ideas and institutions are not separate from the psychic functions that they perform.
Norman O. Brown: Culture as Shared Fantasy
Norman O. Brown (1959) suggests that culture exists in order to “project unconscious fantasies into external reality.” By virtue of their projection into the cultural world, we are able to “see”—and attempt to master—our fantasies. The creation of culture is thus analogous to the creation of the transference in the psychoanalytic situation: inner desires and fantasies become externalized into objects in the world.
Culture or society functions as a canvas—or transference screen—into which we project our desires, conflicts and existential dilemmas, seeking to enact our fantasies in the external world. Weston La Barre (1954) stated that man in culture is “man dreaming while awake.” To understand a particular culture, therefore, is to decipher the nature of the dream or dreams that define that society.
Dreams and desires, anxieties and fantasies—are the source of our cultural creations: “We are that.” We are not separate from that which we have created. It is not as if society—those inventions, ideologies and institutions that constitute society—are independent of human beings, although often we prefer to believe that this is the case.
We have little trouble acknowledging that we are the source, for example, of air conditioners. Writing an essay during the summer is far more pleasant working in a room where the temperature is 75 degrees rather than 100 degrees. It’s clear that we human beings created air conditioners because we wanted them to exist.
Air Conditioners Fulfill our Desires. What About War?
Air conditioners fulfill a need. This cultural creation articulates a human desire. We are the cause of this creation. We brought it into existence. The same can be said of light bulbs, airplanes and numerous other inventions that fulfill—in an obvious way—human needs, desires and fantasies. We have no trouble acknowledging—in these cases—that we are the source.
When it comes to the institution or cultural form of behavior called “war,” on the other hand, we are less likely or willing to recognize that we are the source; that we have created and embraced warfare because it represents the fulfillment of human desires. We tend to experience war as originating in a place outside of the self, as if warfare manifests against our will. Wars “break out.” They seem inevitable. They happen because they have to happen. Wars have always happened. This is the way things are. We are not responsible.
The unconscious becomes conscious, Brown says, only through “projection into the external world.” We project our fantasies into the world—share our fantasies through an ideology—and thus create reality. Ideologies are constructed based upon shared fantasies that are projected into the world. Warfare represents the enactment of a shared fantasy. By virtue of the enactment of a shared fantasy, war becomes a form of reality.
What are the nature of those desires and fantasies that give rise to warfare? How does the ideology of war represent a response to human needs? Why have we created an ideology or social institution whose main consequence is destruction and self-destruction? What is the nature of the fulfillment that warfare provides?
When I speak of “awakening from the nightmare of history,” I’m referring to the process of becoming aware of the desires, fantasies, anxieties and psychic conflicts that give rise to the ideology of warfare, and to enactments of war within specific societies at specific times and places. Many people are “against” war. We assume that we know what war is. But do we really?
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Tomgram: Beverly Gologorsky, My Neighbor, War
Posted by Beverly Gologorsky at 8:00am, December 10, 2013.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: We have a special offer as the holiday season approaches.  The author of today’s post, Beverly Gologorsky, the sort of wonderful fiction writer you don’t often encounter at this site, has just had her new novel, Stop Here, published.  Set in that classic American institution, the diner, it takes you directly down the rabbit hole of American life via a set of cooks and waitresses, their children, lovers, spouses, and assorted others.  I read it and was riveted.  It's truly one of a kind.  For those who want to offer this website a little extra holiday cheer, a contribution of $100 (or more) will get you a personalized, signed copy of Gologorsky’s remarkable new novel, a book I suspect you’re going to hear a lot more about.  If you want a sense of it, check out this striking review at the website Full Stop by Scott Beauchamp (who catches the spirit of the book when he calls it “a literary Hopper painting”) and then rush to our donation page to check out our offer. Tom]
In the years when I was growing up more or less middle class, American war on the childhood front couldn’t have been sunnier.  True, American soldiers were fighting a grim new stalemate of a conflict in Korea and we kids often enough found ourselves crouched under our school desks practicing for the nuclear destruction of our neighborhoods, but the culture was still focused on World War II.  Enter a movie theater then and as just about any war flick ended, the Air Force arrived in the nick of time, the Marines eternally advanced, and victory was ours, a God-given trait of the American way of life.
In those days, it was still easy to present war sunny-side up.  After all, you couldn’t go wrong with the Good War -- not that anyone called it that until Studs Terkel put the phrase into the language and the culture dropped the quote marks with which he carefully encircled it.  And if your Dad, who had served in one of the great draft armies of our history, sat beside you silently in that movie theater while John Wayne saved the world, never saying a word about his war (except in rare and sudden outbursts of anger), well, that was no problem.  His silence only encouraged you to feel that, given what you’d seen at the movies (not to speak of on TV, in books, in comics, and more or less anywhere else), you already understood his experience and it had been grand indeed.
And then, of course, we boys went into the parks, backyards, or fields and practiced making war the American way, shooting commies, or Ruskies, or Indians, or Japs, or Nazis with toy guns (or sticks).  It may not sound pretty anymore, but take my word for it, it was glorious back when.
More than half a century later, those movies are relics of the neolithic era.  The toy six-shooters I once holstered and strapped to my waist, along with the green plastic soldiers that I used to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima or Normandy, are somewhere in the trash heap of time.  And in the wake of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, who believes that America has a God-given right to victory?  Still, I have a few relics from that era, lead Civil War and Indian War-style soldiers who, more than half a century ago, fought out elaborate battles on my floor, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that holding one for a moment doesn’t give me some faint wash of emotion from another age.  That emotion, so much stronger then, sent thousands of young Americans into Vietnam dreaming of John Wayne.
These days, post-Vietnam, post-9/11, no one rides to the rescue, “victory” is no longer in our possession, and for the first time in memory, a majority of the public thinks Washington should “mind its own business” globally when it comes to war-making.  Not surprisingly, in an America that’s lost its appetite for war, such conflicts are far more embattled, so much less onscreen, and as novelist Beverly Gologorsky writes today, unacknowledged in much of American fiction.
There was nothing sunny about war, even in the 1950s, for the young, working-class Gologorsky.  If my childhood was, in a sense, lit by war and by a 24/7 economy in which the same giant corporations built ever larger cars and missiles, television consoles and submarines, hers was shadowed by it.  She sensed, far more than I, the truth of war that lay in our future.  That shadowing is the essence of her deeply moving “Vietnam” novel, The Things We Do to Make It Home, and her just-published second novel, Stop Here, a book that comes to grips in a way both subtle and heart-rending with the Iraq and Afghan wars without ever leaving the environs of a diner in Long Island, New York. Tom
In the Shadow of War 
Life and Fiction in Twenty-First-Century America 
By Beverly Gologorsky
I’m a voracious reader of American fiction and I’ve noticed something odd in recent years. This country has been eternally “at war” and you just wouldn’t know that -- a small amount of veteran’s fiction aside -- from the novels that are generally published.  For at least a decade, Americans have been living in the shadow of war and yet, except in pop fiction of the Tom Clancy variety (where, in the end, we always win), there’s remarkably little evidence of it.
As for myself -- I’m a novelist -- I find that no matter what I chose to write about, I can’t seem to avoid that shadow. My first novel was about Vietnam vets coming home and my second is permeated with a shadowy sense of what the Iraq and Afghan wars have done to us. And yet I’ve never been to, or near, a war, and nothing about it attracts me.  So why is it always lurking there?  Recently, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about just why that might be and I may finally have a very partial answer, very modestly encapsulated in one rather un-American word: class.
Going to War in the South Bronx
I come from -- to use an old-fashioned phrase -- a working class immigrant family. The middle child of four siblings, not counting the foster children my mother cared for, I grew up in the post-World War II years in the basement of a building in the South Bronx in New York City.  In my neighborhood, war -- or at least the military -- was the norm. Young men (boys, really) generally didn’t make it through life without serving in some military capacity. Soldiers and veterans were ubiquitous. Except to us, to me, none of them were “soldiers” or “veterans.” They were just Ernie, Charlie, Danny, Tommy, Jamal, Vito, Frank. In our neck of the urban woods -- multi-ethnic, diverse, low-income -- it was the way things were and you never thought to question that, in just about every apartment on every floor, there was a young man who had been in, would go into, or was at that moment in the military and, given the conflicts of that era, had often been to war as well.
Many of the boys I knew joined the Marines before they could be drafted for some of the same reasons men and women volunteer now. (Remember that there was still a draft army then, not the all-volunteer force of 2013.)  However clichéd they may sound today, they reflected a reality I knew well. Then as now, the military held out the promise of a potentially meaningful future instead of the often depressing adult futures that surrounded us as we grew up.
Then as now, however, too many of those boys returned home with little or nothing to show for the turmoil they endured. And then as now, they often returned filled with an inner chaos, a lost-ness from which many searched in vain for relief.
When I was seven, the Korean War began. I was 18 when our first armed advisers arrived in Vietnam. After that disaster finally ended, a lull ensued, broken by a series of “skirmishes” from Grenada to Panama to Somalia to Bosnia, followed by the First Gulf War, and then, of course, the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
I dated, worked with, or was related to men who participated in some of these wars and conflicts. One of my earliest memories, in fact -- I must have been three -- is of my anxious 19-year-old sister waiting for her soldier-fiancé to make his way home from World War II. Demobilized, he finally arrived with no outward signs that war had taken a toll on him. Like so many of those “greatest generation” vets, though, he wouldn’t or couldn’t talk about his experiences, and remained hard to reach about most things for years afterwards. His army hat was my first military souvenir.
When I was eight or nine, my brother was drafted into the Korean War and I can still remember my constant worries about his well-being. I wrote my childish letters to him nearly every day. He had been assigned to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, given a pair of lace-up boots, and told he’d be training as a paratrooper. He could never get past the anxiety that assignment bestowed on him. Discharged, many pounds thinner and with a bad case of mononucleosis, he came home with a need to have guns around, guns he kept close at hand for the rest of his life.
My first “serious” boyfriend was a sailor on the U.S.S. Warrington. I was 15. Not surprisingly, he was away more than home. He mustered out with an addiction to alcohol.
I was 18 when my second boyfriend was drafted. John F. Kennedy was president and the Vietnam War was, then, just a blip on the American horizon. He didn’t serve overseas, but afterwards he, too, couldn’t figure out what to do with the rest of his life. And so it went.
Today, I no longer live in the South Bronx where, I have no doubt, women as well as men volunteer for the military with similar mindsets to those of my youth, and unfortunately return home with problems similar to those suffered by generations of soldiers before them. Suffice it to say that veterans of whatever war returned having experienced the sharp edge of death and nothing that followed in civilian life could or would be as intense.
Rejecting War
It’s in the nature of militaries to train their soldiers to hate, maim, and kill the enemy, but in the midst of the Vietnam War -- I had, by then, made it out of my neighborhood and my world -- something challenged this trained-to-kill belief system and it began to break down in a way previously unknown in our history.  With that mindset suddenly in ruins, many young men refused to fight, while others who had gone to war, ones from neighborhoods like mine, came home feeling like murderers.
In those years, thinking of those boys and many others, I joined the student antiwar movement, though I was often the only one in any group not regularly on campus.  (Working class women worked at paying jobs!)  As I learned more about that war, my anger grew at the way my country was devastating a land and a people who had done nothing to us. The loss of American and Vietnamese lives, the terrible wounds, all of it felt like both a waste and a tragedy. From 1964 on, ending that war sooner rather than later became my 24/7 job (when, that is, I wasn’t at my paying job).
During those years, two events remain vivid in my memory. I was part of a group that opened an antiwar storefront coffee shop near Fort Dix in New Jersey, a camp where thousands of recruits received basic training before being shipped out to Vietnam. We served up coffee, cake, music, posters, magazines, and antiwar conversation to any soldiers who came in during their off-hours -- and come in they did. I met young men from as far away as Nebraska and Iowa, as close by as Queens and Brooklyn. I have no idea if any of them ever refused to deploy to Vietnam as some soldiers did in those years. However, that coffee house gave me an education in just how vulnerable, scared, excited, unprepared, and uninformed they were about what they would be facing and, above all, about the country they were invading.
Our storefront hours ran from 5 pm to whenever. On the inevitable night bus back to the Port Authority terminal, I would be unable to shake my sadness. Night after night, on that ride home I remember thinking: if only I had the power to do something more to save their lives, for I knew that some of them would come back in body bags and others would return wounded physically or emotionally in ways that I remembered well. And for what? That was why talking with them has remained in my memory as both a burden and a blessing.
The second event that stays with me occurred in May 1971 in Washington, D.C. A large group of Vietnam veterans, men who had been in the thick of it and seen it all, decided they needed to do something that would bring national attention to the goal of ending the war. The method they chose was to act out their repudiation of their previous participation in it. Snaking past the Capitol, an extremely long line of men in uniform threw purple hearts and medals of every sort into a trash bin. Most then made a brief statement about why they hated the war and could no longer bear to keep those medals. I was there and I’ll never forget their faces. One soldier, resisting the visible urge to cry, simply walked off without saying a word, only to collapse on a fellow soldier’s shoulder. Many of us watched, sobbing.
Breathing War
In those years, I penned political articles, but never fiction. Reality overwhelmed me. Only after that war ended did I begin to write my world, the one that was -- always -- shadowed by war, in fiction.
Why doesn’t war appear more often in American novels? Novelist Dorothy Allison once wrote, "Literature is the lie that tells the truth." Yet in a society where war is ever-present, that truth manages to go missing in much of fiction. These days, the novels I come across have many reference points, cultural or political, to mark their stories, but war is generally not among them.” 
My suspicion: it has something to do with class. If war is all around us and yet, for so many non-working-class Americans, increasingly not part of our everyday lives, if war is the thing that other people do elsewhere in our name and we reflect our world in our fiction, then that thing is somehow not us.
My own urge is to weave war into our world, the way Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer, once wove apartheid into her novels -- without, that is, speechifying or pontificating or even pointing to it.  When American fiction ignores the fact of war and its effects remain hidden, without even brief mentions as simple markers of time and place, it also accepts peace as the background for the stories we tell. And that is, in its own way, the lie that denial tells.
That war shadows me is a difficult truth, and for that I have my old neighborhood to thank. If war is the background to my novels about everyday life, it’s because it’s been in the air I breathed, which naturally means my characters breathe it, too.
Beverly Gologorsky is the author the just-published novel Stop Here (“a literary Hopper painting,” Seven Stories Press). Her first novel, The Things We Do to Make it Home, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Fiction Book. In the Vietnam years, she was an editor of two political journals, Viet-Report and Leviathan and her contribution to feminism is noted in Feminists Who Changed America.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.
Copyright 2013 Beverly Gologorsky

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Christmas Comes Early for War Profiteers:  It's a good time to be an arms dealer.  BY LEONARD C. GOODMAN.  In These Times.  Newsletter 20 Sept 2014.    
It’s all good news for the war contractors, whose profits skyrocketed after 9/11 but dipped when the Iraq War ended, and whose surrogates are all over the corporate media urging us to send more weapons to the Middle East.
Today, while the radical warrior cult that now calls itself Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is taking over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, our tax dollars are simultaneously supporting ISIS militants in Syria (who have been siphoning off aid intended for more moderate rebels), bombing ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq, and arming Syrian rebels and the Kurdish peshmerga to fight ISIS. It’s all a win-win for the war industry and a lose-lose for the American taxpayer.
Corporations are amoral by design. While many good and decent people sit on corporate boards, their fiduciary responsibility is to maximize returns for shareholders, not to do right by the American people. This is why alliances between corporations and the state are historically so dangerous. Yet we have allowed corporate interests to capture both major political parties and to drive public policy, with disastrous results, including perpetual war.
Americans have spent trillions of dollars and seen thousands of our young people killed or maimed since 9/11, only to see the terror threat spread like a cancer.
All of this is very bad news for the American people, who will suffer the blowback from the new generation of kids in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq who will grow up hating the United States and its missiles and drones. But it’s all good news for the war contractors, whose profits skyrocketed after 9/11 but dipped when the Iraq War ended, and whose surrogates are all over the corporate media urging us to send more weapons to the Middle East.
Real diplomacy was once embraced by the press. Recall the famous handshakes between Nixon and Communist Chairman Mao Zedong, or Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Today, ideas with any potential to resolve conflict (and threaten profits) are sabotaged, shouted down or shut out of the debate. Just look at the relentless efforts to derail the treaty under negotiation with Iran to end its nuclear weapons program. A belligerent Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons may be dangerous, but it’s also good for the war business.
While efforts to remove corporate influence from public policy through campaign finance reform are failing, there is another way. We can demand an end to war profiteering. Filling government contracts should be a form of public service, like serving in the military. Contractors, like soldiers, should be paid a fair wage but should not expect to get rich on the backs of the U.S. taxpayer. Today, residents of the D.C. Area enjoy the highest median household income of any metro area in the country, thanks in large part to the river of taxpayer cash flowing to federal contractors.
Here’s one alternative model: The federal government contracts private lawyers to represent indigent criminal defendants. These lawyers are paid a fee that covers all basic overhead. Any significant additional expenses, such as private investigators or experts, must be pre-approved. Most of these contract lawyers provide high levels of service, despite knowing that these cases   make them rich.
.S. taxpayers is probably not worth developing—or, if it is, the development should be done in-house by scientists earning government salaries.
The government/corporate alliance we have now is producing more innovations in graft than in technology. Just look at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter designed by Lockheed Martin. It is the most expensive weapon ever built, predicted to cost taxpayers more than a trillion dollars—enough to buy a mansion for every homeless American, as Hayes Brown of ThinkProgress has calculated. Yet the F-35 can’t even fly without catching fire and spewing toxic fumes, and its costly stealth technology is easily defeated by radar systems that have been widely available since 1940. Today, the most expensive weapon ever built mostly just sits in its hangar.
If we can take the profit out of war, we will protect the wallets of U.S. taxpayers, free up resources for projects that actually benefit us, and interrupt the cycle of perpetual war
Leonard Goodman is a Chicago criminal defense lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul University.

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Contents of Causes and Prevention of Wars Newsletter #3   October 15, 2012
Resources Wars: Water
Michael Klare, Oil
Religion, Bible: Jenkins’ Laying Down the Sword
Nationalism: Self-Sacrifice for Nation
Rev. of Strenski’s Contesting Sacrifice
Pathological Leaders: Sociopathic, Psychopathic
Lister:  Males
Myths:  Exceptionalism
Economics: US and Libya
War Contractors/Profiteers
Tom Dispatch, Michael Klare: Economics, Oil
Poor Reasoning andCritical Thinking

Pinker, Violence Decreasing
Horgan, Wars Being Cultural Can Be Ended
Prosecute Heads of State
Resist War Industry
Essays on Libyan and Afghan Wars
Dennis Kucinich vs. US in Libya
McNeely, 2 Principles Will End US Wars
Dick, Stopping Rivalries

Contents of #4
Violence a US Pathology
Militarism:  Google Search
Vonnegut: Preparing for War the Worst Addiction
Fear-Mongering: Cyber-Warfare
Dick: Killing Innocents, Creating Enemies
Tomgram, Bacevich: US Volunteer Military of 1%
Klare:  Conflict Over Resources
Nile River, 95% of Egypt’s Water
Rationalizations for War, Justifications, Lip-Service
Dick: Global/Local, Realizing the Human Potential for Peace


Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)