Burying America’s War Crimes Is Similar To Denying The Holocaust
Americans are kept compliant with endless war the same way white supremacists and anti-semites rationalize their actions. With both there’s an effort to deny or dismiss past atrocities that have come from holding these worldviews. In neo-Nazi circles, the Holocaust is revised as an event that’s been either exaggerated or completely made up. And the much larger (and right now far more threatening) white supremacist culture constantly affirms that slavery happened too long ago to be relevant, while blocking out the militarized police assault on black and brown people that continues to this day.
There’s a similar motive between those who want us not to believe in past racial genocides and the propagandists of the U.S. war empire. Pentagon officials have regularly refused to confirm civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria; neoconservative public figures like Sam Harris insist on Iraq War body counts that are implausibly low; Obama’s record seven wars, depleted uranium bombings, and barbaric drone program go unconfronted by Democratic Party loyalists. These aren’t isolated incidents. They’re the continuation of a decades-old project to erase history, driven by leaders with the same motives of white supremacist demagogues: to maintain their control.
Two generations ago there was the censored media coverage of the Vietnam War; a generation ago there were the pro-war psy ops the U.S. was starting to flood the world with; this propaganda effort has gotten more expansive and tinged with violent imagery over the years, but it overall molds into one long deception. I’ve reiterated this in all of my articles lately because Americans need to be aware of it urgently right now. Partly from the suppression of the last Korean War’s atrocities, wherein nearly three million people were killed as the U.S. pummeled North Korea with bombs and artillery, the president is able to threaten an unprovoked nuclear holocaust against the North Korean people.
The wild irrationality of that plan, added onto America’s preparations for war with Iran and rapid expansions this year of the existing conflicts, is how an empire reacts to its own decline. “Historians of empire call these military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, examples of ‘micro-militarism,’” wrote Chris Hedges this month about the fall of American power. “The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism when during the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain did so in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and then quickly had to withdraw in humiliation, empowering a string of Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over the nation’s few remaining colonies. Neither of these empires recovered.”
Hoping for the power structure to defeat itself in this way would be what an impotent opposition does, similar to the minute ritual many on the left went through last year of debating whether Trump or Clinton might be best for our cause. Without a unified, active major movement towards radical progressive change, the bargains we make with the future will still end in our destruction. Multiple climate research sources published a report in April saying the last year where catastrophic climate change is avoidable will be 2020. If carbon emissions continue to rise or stagnate after then, temperatures will inevitably go up more than two degrees Fahrenheit, making sea levels rise meters by the end of the century and making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.
Even the poorest people can take part in the movement to stop this, since it starts with questioning corporate state propaganda, spreading suppressed information, and speaking out against racism and bigotry in our immediate lives. Next we need to seek out or create our local progressive organizing groups, and use them to transform the country city by city. Ultimately we’ll have to take drastic actions toward revolt, like refusing to pay taxes, protesting amid risk of police retribution, and not going to work or buying products for days at a time.
The encouragement we can take for these struggles is that we’re building onto a rise in popular movements that’s been happening for several years, and that clearly scares the elite. But these movements aren’t strong enough yet, and without massive mobilization toward them, the worst atrocities will be yet to come.