Say 'No War' You Cowards

A child killed in the Iraq War, 2004.
Photo: Getty

How are the psychological conditions in which a nation comes to accept fundamentally insane wars created? For an answer, you need only read the words of the sober, respected, and responsible New York Times editorial board.

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This, truly, is a formulation of the issue that should be placed in the Newseum to illustrate exactly how the establishment press—under the guise of being the responsible and unbiased voices in the room—smooths the path to war for bloodthirsty, power-mad leaders.

Want war with Iran? Ask Congress first. In this headline you see all of the soulless, substance-free worship of process and power that defines the worst failures of the Washington press corps. On a day when U.S. war tensions with Iran have reached the point of actually launching military strikes, the editorial board of the New York Times, which can serve as well as anything in the media world as a proxy for “the voice of the establishment,” is focused most closely on the bureaucratic process by which war is authorized. They write that “cooler heads must prevailand Congress must be consultedas American and Iranian forces inch closer to open conflict in and around the Strait of Hormuz.” The most stringent lifelong right-wing warmongers who now hold power within the administration of our addled racist TV man president will surely think twice when they read these words from the New York Times: “if Mr. Trump and the Warhawk Caucusled by the national security adviser, John Bolton; the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; and Senator Tom Cottonwant a wider military conflict with Iran, they first need to persuade Congress and receive its approval.”

This insane, unnecessary sham war of a discredited ideology must be properly authorized, you see. We must have our paperwork in order before we start raining missiles down on Iranians who have already been economically destroyed by our sanctions. If the New York Times editorial board were babysitting your kids, they would make sure that they signed each and every release form before they let them go play in traffic.

This is how it happens. This is how the press becomes complicit in war. The mainstream press does not call for the war outright; they simply allow themselves to be dragged along into war by more cutthroat actors, insisting the entire time that the paperwork must be in order. This happened in Vietnam, and it happened in the buildup to the disastrous Iraq war, and you can see it happening again now. It is as if we are cursed to get into the same car wreck once per decade, watching it all play out in front of our eyes in dreadful slow motion, paralyzed and unable to stop it. If we have learned anything from all of the reporting on the Trump administration—and, for that matter, all of the reporting on previous administrations that went to war—it is that the process is just a tool for the final goal. The people who make wars don’t care about the process. They will manipulate the process as necessary to reach a desired end. The only suckers stuck on process are the press, the hapless referees, waving their finger about Congressional authorization as the warplanes are being armed.

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As much as the media has bragged about how it is a heroic voice of truth and light, and as much as it has used the idea that the press is the front line of truth’s resistance to Donald Trump as a way to juice subscription numbers, when it comes right down to it, the sort of people who are empowered to speak for a thoroughly establishment institution like the New York Times find it impossible to free themselves from the hypnosis of Washington process in order to see the bigger picture. They are too close. They have just enough access to imagine that they are important players in this drama. Because of that, they are blind. This is why, in the buildup to the Iraq war, it was quite easy for millions of 19 year-olds to see that the entire enterprise was a predetermined, unjustified con job, yet the most powerful institutions of journalism in the United States could not. Forest, trees. The U.S. government has many years of practice exploiting this basic flaw in the way that self-important media outlets approach their jobs. And it will be exploited again.

The only thing to write is “no war.” You know, and I know, and every regular man and woman waking up and sending their kids to school and going to work knows that there is no fucking earthly reason for the United States of America to go to war with Iran in 2019. We do not need it. We are not calling for it. We do not need to be protected. This time around, the deliberate and intentional process of escalating “incidents” is even more transparent than it was before Iraq. A fucking random oil tanker? A fucking drone shot down? Nobody wants this, except a small sliver of right wing political players who have been pursuing this fight for many years and now, inside of a weak and persuadable and incompetent and corrupt administration, see their chance. You know this. I know this. Republicans know this, and Democrats know this as well. Now is the time to say no. No war, no war, no war, no war, no matter how much a few middle-aged men in suits who will not die in that war want one. No, no, no. This is all that needs to be reported. And yet here we are again, watching the press contort itself into unnatural shapes, struggling within the straitjacket of its own proclaimed lack of bias, used as a tool by unscrupulous politicians, unable to say what every rational person knows in their bones: This is crazy.

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About the author

Hamilton Nolan

Senior Writer. Hamilton@SplinterNews.com