By Mickey Z.
07 February, 2007
Just in case anyone needs reminding
that "USA" has always stood for "United States of Aggression,"
here are a forgotten few from February's Files:
In 1897, Teddy Roosevelt
stated bluntly, "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this
country needs one." His wait lasted less than a year.
February 15, 1898 was a muggy Tuesday night in Havana Harbor. Some 350
crew and officers settled in on board the Maine. "At 9:40 p.m.,
the ship's forward end abruptly lifted itself from the water,"
writes author Tom Miller. "Along the pier, passersby could hear
a rumbling explosion. Within seconds, another eruption-this one deafening
and massive-splintered the bow, sending anything that wasn't battened
down, and most that was, flying more than 200 feet into the air."
The Maine was in Havana Harbor in 1898 on a purportedly friendly mission.
"At a certain point in that spring, (President) McKinley and the
business community began to see that their object, to get Spain out
of Cuba, could not be accomplished without war," writes Howard
Zinn, "and that their accompanying object, the securing of American
military and economic influence in Cuba, could not be left to the Cuban
rebels, but could be ensured only by U.S. intervention."
American newspapers, especially those run by Hearst New York Journal
and Pulitzer (New York World), jumped on the Maine explosion as the
ideal justification to drum up public support for a war of imperialism.
"Tabloid headlines depicting Spanish atrocities against Cubans
became commonplace, and the influential papers of both men were outdoing
each other in the sensationalized screaming for war," says historian
Kenneth C. Davis. When Hearst sent artist Frederick Remington to Cuba
to supply pictures, he reported that he could not find a war. "You
furnish the pictures," Hearst famously replied, "and I'll
furnish the war."
(In 1976, Admiral Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy mounted an investigation
of the Maine disaster. Rickover and his team of experts concluded that
the explosion was probably caused by "spontaneous combustion inside
the ship's coal bins," a problem common to ships of that era.)
In the aftermath of the Spanish-American
War, the U.S. fought a brutal war of conquest in the Pacific. By 1900,
more than 75,000 American troops In the face of this overwhelming show
of force, the Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare. The February 5,
1901 edition of the New York World shed some light on the U.S. response
to guerilla tactics: "Our soldiers here and there resort to terrible
measures with the natives. Captains and lieutenants are sometimes judges,
sheriffs and executioners. 'I don't want any more prisoners sent into
Manila' was the verbal order from the Governor-General three months
ago. It is now the custom to avenge the death of an American soldier
by burning to the ground all the houses, and killing right and left
the natives who are only suspects."
Imagine a rally that involved
plenty of marching and arms raised in a Nazi salute to their leader.
Somewhere near Nuremberg, perhaps? Guess again. The venue was Madison
Square Garden where frenzied members of the German-American Bund cheered
Fritz Kuhn as he stood before a 30-foot high portrait of George Washington
flanked by black swastikas, leading them in a chant of "Free Amerika!"
(a rallying cry which had just recently replaced "Sieg Heil!"),
while thirteen hundred New York City policemen stood guard outside the
A U.S. citizen who served in the German Army during the First World
War, Kuhn's loyalty to Adolf Hitler was surpassed only by his hatred
of Jews (like Henry Ford, he went as far as blaming the Jews for Benedict
Arnold's treason). When asked if there were any good Jews, Kuhn replied,
"If a mosquito is on your arm, you don't ask is it a good or a
bad mosquito. You just brush it off." Before you dismiss Kuhn as
a fringe character, consider this: The February 20, 1939 rally described
above drew 22,000 avid followers.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
signed Executive Order 9066 giving the army the unrestricted power to
arrest hearings (roughly 110,000 men, women, and children) and transport
them to internment camps in Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, and other interior
states to be kept under prison conditions. The Supreme Court upheld
this order and the Japanese-Americans remained in custody for over three
years. A Los Angeles Times writer defended the forced relocations by
explaining to his readers that "a viper is nonetheless a viper
wherever the egg is hatched Japanese, not an American."
Life in the internment camps entailed cramped living spaces with communal
meals and bathrooms. The one-room apartments measured twenty by twenty
feet and none had running water. The internees were allowed to take
along "essential personal effects" from home but were prohibited
from bringing razors, scissors, or radios. Outside the shared wards
were barbed wire, guard towers with machine guns, and searchlights.
The dislocated Japanese-Americans incurred an estimated loss of $400
million in forced property sales during the internment years, and therein
may lie a more Machiavellian motivation than sheer race hatred. "A
large engine for the Japanese-American incarcerations was agri-business,"
says Michio Kaku, a noted nuclear physicist and political activist whose
parents were interned from 1942 to 1946. "Agri-businesses in California
coveted much of the land owned by Japanese-Americans."
A formal apology came to the 60,000 survivors of internment camps in
1990. The U.S. government paid them each $20,000. While Yale Law Professor
Eugene V. Rostow later called the internment camps "our worst wartime
mistake," Zinn pointedly asks: "Was it a 'mistake' from a
nation with a long history of racism and which was fighting a war, not
to end racism, but to retain the fundamentals of the American system?"
With the Russians advancing
rapidly towards Berlin, tens of thousands of German civilians fled into
Dresden, believing it to be safe from attack. As a result, the city's
population swelled from its usual 600,000 to at least one million. Beside
the stream of refugees, Dresden was also known for its china and its
Baroque and Rococo architecture. Its galleries housed works by Vermeer,
Rembrandt, Rubens, and Botticelli. On the evening of February 13, none
of this would matter.
Using the Dresden soccer stadium as a reference point, over 2000 British
Lancasters and American Flying Fortresses dropped loads of gasoline
bombs every 50 square yards out from this marker. The enormous flame
that resulted was eight square miles wide, shooting smoke three miles
high. For the next eighteen hours, regular bombs were dropped on top
of this strange brew. Twenty-five minutes after the bombing, winds reaching
150 miles-per-hour sucked everything into the heart of the storm. Because
the air became superheated and rushed upward, the fire lost most of
its oxygen, creating tornadoes of flame that can suck the air right
out of human lungs.
Seventy percent of the Dresden dead either suffocated or died from poison
gases that turned their bodies green and red. The intense heat melted
some bodies into the pavement like bubblegum, or shrunk them into three-foot
long charred carcasses. Clean-up crews wore rubber boots to wade through
the "human soup" found in nearby caves. In other cases, the
superheated air propelled victims skyward only to come down in tiny
pieces as far as fifteen miles outside Dresden. "The flames ate
everything organic, everything that would burn," wrote journalist
Phillip Knightley. "People died by the thousands, cooked, incinerated,
or suffocated. Then American planes came the next day to machine-gun
survivors as they struggled to the banks of the Elbe."
The Allied firebombing did more than shock and awe. The bombing campaign
murdered more than 100,000 people-mostly civilians...but the exact number
may never be known due to the high number of refugees in the area.
Edgar L. Jones, a former
war correspondent in the Pacific, wrote in the Atlantic Monthly: "What
kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway? We shot prisoners
in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated
enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into
a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled flesh off enemy skulls
to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into
David Lawrence, editor of
US News & World Report, wrote: "What the United States is doing
in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended
by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times."
When challenged with stories of American atrocities in Vietnam,
Lawrence explained, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts
have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence."
An unnamed U.S. major, quoted
by Associated Press on February 8, 1968, was asked about the American
assault on the Vietnamese town of Bentre. The major explained: "It
became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it."
High above a swamp, over
60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to Iraq, a division of the
Iraq's Republican Guard withdrew on February 26-27,1991. Baghdad radio
had just announced Iraq's acceptance of a cease-fire proposal and, in
compliance with UN Resolution 660, Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw
to positions held before August 2, 1990. President George H.W. Bush
derisively called the announcement "an outrage" and "a
"U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in
the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams
for hours," says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist.
"It was like shooting fish in a barrel," one U.S. pilot said.
"Many of those massacred fleeing Kuwait were not Iraqi soldiers
at all," says Ramsey Clark, "but Palestinians, Sudanese, Egyptians,
and other foreign workers."
Randall Richard of the Providence Journal filed this dispatch from the
deck of the U.S.S. Ranger: "Air strikes against Iraqi troops retreating
from Kuwait were being launched so feverishly from this carrier today
that pilots said they took whatever bombs happened to be closest to
the flight deck. The crews, working to the strains of the Lone Ranger
theme, often passed up the projectile of choice...because it took too
long to load."
"Every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered,
every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments,"
Chediac reported after visiting the scene. "No survivors are known
or likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed
into the ground, and it's impossible to see if they contain drivers
or not. Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to
"At one spot," Bob Drogin reported in the Los Angeles Times,
"snarling wild dogs (had) reduced two corpses to bare ribs. Giant
carrion birds pick(ed) at another; only a bootclad foot and eyeless
skull are recognizable."
Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer, said: "Even in
Vietnam I didn't see anything like this. It's pathetic."
Correction: When you're talking about America, it's not pathetic...it's
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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