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War Is a Hate Crime

Posted on Oct 26, 2009
AP / Rafiq Maqbool

A U.S. soldier walks in the snow at an outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

By Chris Hedges

Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week, was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon’s budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents.

It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game.

“Every thinking person wants to take a stand against hate crimes, but isn’t war the most offensive of hate crimes?” asked Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who did not vote for the bill, when I spoke to him by phone. “To have people have to make a choice, or contemplate the hierarchy of hate crimes, is cynical. I don’t vote to fund wars. If you are opposed to war, you don’t vote to authorize or appropriate money. Congress, historically and constitutionally, has the power to fund or defund a war. The more Congress participates in authorizing spending for war, the more likely it is that we will be there for a long, long time. This reflects an even larger question. All the attention is paid to what President Obama is going to do right now with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is the Democratic Congress could have ended the war when it took control just after 2006. We were given control of the Congress by the American people in November 2006 specifically to end the war. It did not happen. The funding continues. And while the attention is on the president, Congress clearly has the authority at any time to stop the funding. And yet it doesn’t. Worse yet, it finds other ways to garner votes for bills that authorize funding for war. The spending juggernaut moves forward, a companion to the inconscient force of war itself.”

The brutality of Matthew Shepard’s killers, who beat him to death for being gay, is a product of a culture that glorifies violence and sadism. It is the product of a militarized culture. We have more police, prisons, inmates, spies, mercenaries, weapons and troops than any other nation on Earth. Our military, which swallows half of the federal budget, is enormously popular—as if it is not part of government. The military values of hyper-masculinity, blind obedience and violence are an electric current that run through reality television and trash-talk programs where contestants endure pain while they betray and manipulate those around them in a ruthless world of competition. Friendship and compassion are banished.

This hyper-masculinity is at the core of pornography with its fusion of violence and eroticism, as well as its physical and emotional degradation of women. It is an expression of the corporate state where human beings are reduced to commodities and companies have become proto-fascist enclaves devoted to maximizing profit. Militarism crushes the capacity for moral autonomy and difference. It isolates us from each other. It has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our lack of compassion for our homeless, our poor, our mentally ill, our unemployed, our sick, and yes, our gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens. 

Klaus Theweleit in his two volumes entitled “Male Fantasies,” which draw on the bitter alienation of demobilized veterans in Germany following the end of World War I, argues that a militarized culture attacks all that is culturally defined as the feminine, including love, gentleness, compassion and acceptance of difference. It sees any sexual ambiguity as a threat to male “hardness” and the clearly defined roles required by the militarized state. The continued support for our permanent war economy, the continued elevation of military values as the highest good, sustains the perverted ethic, rigid social roles and emotional numbness that Theweleit explored. It is a moral cancer that ensures there will be more Matthew Shepards.

Fascism, Theweleit argued, is not so much a form of government or a particular structuring of the economy or a system, but the creation of potent slogans and symbols that form a kind of psychic economy which places sexuality in the service of destruction. The “core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure,” Theweleit wrote. And our culture, while it disdains the name of fascism, embraces its dark ethic.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, interviewed in 2003 by Charlie Rose, spoke in this sexualized language of violence to justify the war in Iraq, a moment preserved on YouTube (see video below):

“What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, ‘Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?’ ” Friedman said. “ ‘You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society? You think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna let it grow? Well, suck on this.’ That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.”

This is the kind of twisted logic the killers of Matthew Shepard would understand.

The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, in words gay activists should have heeded, that exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group made fascism and the Holocaust possible.

“The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people,” Adorno wrote. “What is called fellow traveling was primarily business interest: one pursues one’s own advantage before all else, and simply not to endanger oneself, does not talk too much. That is a general law of the status quo. The silence under the terror was only its consequence. The coldness of the societal monad, the isolated competitor, was the precondition, as indifference to the fate of others, for the fact that only very few people reacted. The torturers know this, and they put it to test ever anew.”

Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009) and “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003).


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By lichen, October 26, 2009 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

Good post, mishi.  It really pisses me off when people make such blanket statements, like pornography, or prostitution “is degrading to women,” clearly ignoring that women are not always involved, and are not always a victim in these, nor are they always violent—some couples just like to make gentle amateur vids of themselves, for instance.  Arguing that they are degrading to humans would be fine, but then they have root societal causes that have nothing to do with war or christian morality. War is violence, not sex.

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By lichen, October 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment

“The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, in words gay activists should have heeded, that exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group made fascism and the Holocaust possible.”

This statement is complete horeshit.  It was congress that attatched the hate crimes bill to a war spending one; us gay activists on the ground had no control over that.  This article is ridiculous, and actually, since we all know that the majority of democrats have no intention of opposing these democratic party war campaigns of murdering civilians in Pakistan, Afganistan, and Iraq, it is ridiculous to make the juxtaposition as if it matters.  I guess we GLBT people should just put our demands for full equality under the law aside because congressional democrats attatch bills to odd things?  I don’t think so.

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By Dave Schwab, October 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

President Obama will soon decide whether to send as many as 60,000 additional U.S. soldiers to the war in Afghanistan.

Let’s urge Obama to live up to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Tell him to withdraw troops from Afghanistan—not send more.

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By firefly, October 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

“We have more police, prisons, inmates, spies, mercenaries, weapons and troops than any other nation on Earth.”

The tragedy is that many Americans (Inherit the Wind) really have no yardstick with which to measure the absolute insanity of the war obsession that is America. In Europe, violence in movies has a higher age rating than sex. In America, it’s the other way around. In other words, the puritanical attitude towards sex (love and affection) is considered less acceptable in society than violence. In America politicians can shoot each other, but not have sex outside marriage. In Europe, politicians are ‘expected’ to have sex outside marriage (it goes with the territory). In America, guns are justified on the basis that they protect you MORE from violence. As a result, there is more gun violence in America than in Europe.

Chris Hedges is right. Americans are encouraged to be violent, to glorify violence and to hold themselves above nations that prefer peace!

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By Virginia777, October 26, 2009 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

oh yay, lets just throw another $130 billion into useless, destructive wars…


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By OzarkMichael, October 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

People like to be uniquely useful. People who feel they might be left out tend to overdo it in their effort to be seen as worthy.

This might explain Hedges very odd linkage of several issues; hate crimes, pornography, fascism. Each one of which deserves thoughtful comment. The disappointing fact that Hedges doesnt perform thoughtful analysis isnt what i am talking about today.

Instead, I am wondering if Hedges is trying too hard to make a contribution to the far Left. Trying too hard to make himself a valuable person in spite of his somewhat religious outlook. That might be the outsider part. Thats my guess.

Although some of you cant read my posts without getting apoplectic hysteria, you should consider what i just wrote. It might be a good guess and would explain a lot of Chris Hedges writing.

Perhaps he thinks he is saving a remnant of Christianity from the Leftist revolution to come. He is helping build an ark so the flood can be survived.

Except to build this ark he has to crush an awful lot of Christians with this trumped up fascism stuff. He is proving himself politically useful to the far Left. Raw uncooked meat satisfies the extremists it is thrown to, both Left and Right.

I am in a rush and must close. i cant come up with a modern political figure to compare Hedges to. He is trying to be a bridge between two fundamentally opposed views, and also between the past and the future. he will say almost anything to get in good with the far Left.

Gotta go. For now i can only rely on the rather simple “Noah” story to express it, which is of course religious and I apologize in advance for any offense.

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By elisalouisa, October 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

You put it well Folktruther that what Mr. Hedges did in a few words is remarkable
and that it found it’s mark is embodied in the TD Progs negative comments on his
emotionalism. . Ardee, I am also mystified by the constant vilification of the work
of Chris Hedges on this forum. One would assume that if his columns were not to
the liking of TD devotees they would not be there each Monday morning eager to post comments as to why Mr. Hedges’ latest column does not meet their criteria.

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By Folktruther, October 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

not only that, ardee, not only does he equate the violence against sexual minorities with violence the Foreigner, he brilliantly exposes the sexualized violence of war which is similar to the sexualized violence against gays, etc.  He is for the unity of the victimized and violated.

It’s true that being a partial Christian, he tends to be against sex, eaquating loving sex, or fun sex, with violent and coercive sex. But given that, what he did in a few words is remarkable.  and that it found its mark is embodied in the TD Progs negative comments on his emotionalism. 

It is emotion that moves people, not reason, which merely directs us.

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By gerard, October 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

This Hedges article was not his most coherent piece of work, but there are ideas in it that bear thinking about.  For instance:
  ““The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people,” Adorno wrote.
  Surely this could be said about most of the gross evils of the world today.That’s why adopting individiualism and isolationism as conscious goals has worked toward weakening (particularly American) social structures.  As the Greeks (or somebody) said “Nothing too much.” 
  The excessive self-centeredness of these ideas with their powerful appeal to greed and ignorance needs to be recognized, before the tensions between lonely, incapacitated individual units and their conflicting interests destroy our ability to cooperate, to understand each other, to build any mutually advantageous structure that will sustain human life on this planet.
  The notion of American “exceptionalism” has been one of the most pernicious of mythologies, putting an imaginary barrier between us and others in the same way that other “supremecist” notions have weakened (and are still weakening) our consciousness and preventing improvement.

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By born in Holland, October 26, 2009 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Inherit the Wind”  posted earlier that both the author and Rep. Kucinich are opposed to providing any sort of national defense. This is not a supportable claim. On Kucinich’s Policy website, the Rep states “.. we end up with fighter jets at $320 million a copy (the F-22), $3 billion submarines, $13.5 billion aircraft carriers. Try to connect the dots between these weapons and what is needed to fight guerrillas, terrorists and fringe religious fanatics.”  K also points out that our careless spending (with borrowed money—thank you Red China) “(this) is threatening the quality of life for most Americans and adversely affecting our ability to compete globally. That’s bad for national security.”  Inherit needs to understand that an enlarged, rconstituted and well-paid Army, kept here at home except in time of REAL emergency, will vastly improve both our national security and our standing in the world.

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By Leefeller, October 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

This article is so profound, I find that I am crying in my Tequila! Hedges gets better every week like a bottle of bad wine! I will find out what his sermon is all about this week, as soon as I read it!

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By ardee, October 26, 2009 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

I must say that I do not get the constant vilification of the work of Chris Hedges one finds here. Different strokes I guess.

I find his noting of the linkage of the Hate Crimne Bill to the military budget as irony to be quite profound in fact. It does indeed hold a mirror up to our society,our culture and ourselves. For one rare moment I seem to be in complete agreement with Folktruther on this…Should I be worried?

To those who find Hedges too emotional, well it is an emotional topic. To those right wingers who try desperately to change the subject, so sorry, not going to work today.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, October 26, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

This being one of Hedges’ lesser contributions, it’s no surprise that the thread’s subject has turned to Mr
Hedges himself. My dictionary defines “rant” as speaking or writing in a “wild, impassioned manner”. The
implication, of course, is that the passion clouds the judgement.

While Mr Hedges could certainly bone up on the fallacies of Questionable Cause, it’s his tendency toward
absolutes, calculated for maximum provocation, that is most suspect.

If Klaus Theweleit is correct, fascism is more an attitude than an ideology. And one thing I get from any Hedges
piece is a lot of attitude. Now, no fascist state ever began by saying, “let’s kill X”. Fascism begins with
arguments warning of the evils of This, the sins of That. In a good society, the arguments go, This and That
simply would not be tolerated. Then, sure enough, This and That begin to have a face, and a group associated
with Them. Before you know it, Group X has become a target for the hatred and fear that’s been methodically
whipped up. Then all those yea sayers act surprised by the ensuing violence, blah, blah, blah.

Chris is no fascist, but he really loves to go on about the sins of This and the evils of That. The fact that the
majority of readers on this thread agree with him, does not diminish the trace of intolerance running through
his work, not to mention the minds of many of his fans.

One wonders what Hedges’ ideal world would look like. Would sex only be permitted when the potential
partners were certified and officially “in love”? Would moderate religious belief be mandatory, with non-
approved beliefs, especially the scourge of atheism, relegated to crimes? Would any and all human endeavors
be acclaimed or condemned according to an arbitrary and immutable definition of the “greater good”?

Given that Chris’ pieces are among the most anticipated and commented on in TD, his provocations are likely
to become more arch, and his formula emulated by others. I enjoy his progressive brimstones for their
entertainment value, but if saving us from the capitalists frying pan means throwing us into the Chris Hedges’
Kafkaesque fire, I’ll just sit and let my goose get cooked right where I am, thank you.

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By samosamo, October 26, 2009 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

‘Hate crime’ or what have you is really greed crimes, because this and all wars the U.S. participates in
now are nothing less than ‘sustainable’ conflicts based more on the economics of
the military industrial congressional complex above all other why fors and
whatnots and just the rhetoric about it and the iron clad, unmovable, position of
invading other countries for hegemonic and ‘globalization’ reasons remains
sacrosanct that only by regulating corporations will it be fixed.

This makes these american ‘endeavors’ the latest(since vietnam or possibly the korean war) way for the ‘elitist’s’ economy to function to their liking.

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By prole, October 26, 2009 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

“Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who did not vote for the bill”…illustrates all that’s wrong with congress, and government officials in general – that they all don’t have the good sense and high principles that Kucinich does. It was Kucinich, who has advocated a politics of real hope and change all along, as well as consistently opposing the predations of the Amerikan war machine; while a fraud like Obama mouths the rhetoric and tried to pass himself off as an opponent of the Iraq war even though he voted for every single funding bill for it during his brief, undistinguished stint in the Senate. But we can perhaps thank that “bizarre culture of identity politics” once again for standing in the way of any actual progressive politics. Better to back a black conservative candidate than a white, heterosexual radical in the presidential campaign. So ‘progressive’ politics has degenerated into the narcissistic self-absorption and preoccupation with language and symbolism that makes it so congruent with the dominant ideology, and often fascistic in itself.  “Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game”…as they usually do. “The military values of hyper-masculinity, blind obedience and violence”….are outstanding traits of the Nancy Pelosi’s, Hillary Clinton’s and Barney Frank’s and other such ‘progressive’ identity stalwarts. As well as sexless, hyper-masculine brutes like Condi Rice. “This hyper-masculinity is at the core of” politically correct language codes and rigid censorship of free speech found in much so-called ‘hate crimes’ legislation at all levels of government (and many private institutions). “Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq”…and so is violence against NON- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”…like so much so-called ‘hate crimes’ legislation is another bumbling, misdirected effort to somehow right injustice by establishing different legal treatment for some classes of crime victims. There already is a federal statute in force outlawing hate crimes based on race, color, religion or ethnic origin, but only if the victim was engaged in a “federally protected activity” like going to school or church. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act creates a thought crime and also differentiates categories of crime victims for disparate treatment, effectively nullifying equality under the law. There’s no reason to be squeamish about questioning the so-called ‘Hate Crimes Prevention Act’ on its own glaring demerits, even without dragging the far worse “inconscient force of war” into it. Federal and state hate crime laws are unnecessary and a potential source of injustice and authoritarian thought control, as well as more prison solutions in typical fascist fashion. Any crime of violence has a punishment (except by high govt. officials in foreign lands) – adding a new crime of motivation that creates specially protected classes, such as homosexuals and minorities is discriminatory in itself. It’s only a short step from there to criminalizing speaking against members of protected classes, or criticizing their practices, under the guise of ‘hate’.  As always, the challenge is to apply existing laws in a manner that protects justice, no matter who the victim may be (or where they may be). It might also be added to what “the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, in words gay activists should have heeded, that exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group”…of gays and others in double-standard hate crimes legislation has many insidious effects

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By glider, October 26, 2009 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

I think all Americans can remember post 911 the public outrage at the lack of unqualified condemnation by prominent Islamic religious leaders.  So fast forward to today and take a look in the mirror.  Thusfar we have committed 100 times the atrocity we suffered on that day.  Now ask yourself where is the unqualified condemnation by our prominent Christian religious leaders.  What you get is all below a level that would be needed to make any difference.  Why is someone like the Pope not visiting the POTUS and touring the US for a month long dialogue on this topic?  In terms of moral guidance institutionalized Christianity is a bankrupt institution and Hedges time would be better spent cleaning up his own house than demonizing his straw man of pornography.

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By mishi, October 26, 2009 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pretty nice article, except for the gratuitous Dworkining of porn. After all, we’re
talking about queer people here. In gay male porn, women are not oppressed;
they’re merely invisible. And in lesbian-made lesbian porn, if there’s any SM involved, it’s perpetrated by women; one might argue that it’s internalized masculinist violence, but one could equally well argue it’s Something Else. And hey, there’s plenty of straight porn out there with female dommes and male submissives,
none of which, I suspect, Hedges has bothered to watch or analyze.

Also, the scapegoating of queers bothers me. I doubt that many gay activists would have actually preferred the Shepard Act be attached to a defense bill. And isn’t it asking a bit much of us who oppose the wars to say, “Hey, until peace returns to the Middle East, my facing being beaten to death on the streets is a back-burner issue?” Would Hedges ask the same of anti-rape and prochoice activists? In any case, I bet LGBT
people are, on the whole, more antiwar than the run of the American

Analysis is one thing, but Hedges stoops to guilt-tripping sexual Trotskyism,
akin to asking, “How could a majority of African Americans have voted for Prop
8, when they should have been more attuned than most to the oppression of
other people?” (Well, they did, and they weren’t.) Come to think of it, which
factions in the Middle East struggles are supporters of LGBT rights? The
inconvenient truth is that the only country there with consistently progay
policies is Israel.

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By glider, October 26, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

I agree with Hedges primary stance against these unnecessary wars.  However, he continues to push the unsubstantiated illogical absurd notion that war and pornography are linked while completely ingnoring the more direct link with his own Christian philosophy.  If you want to talk about “a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure” there is nothing else so powerful and deep rooted effecting this than the Abrahamic faiths.  I have yet to hear Hedges address this point.  He is simply brain-dead here.  His arguments on this point, examined with scrutiny just fall apart as religious rant, and detract from the greater issue of the crime of war that Kucinich and Friedman point out more effectively.  Hedges is not the solution, he is part of the problem.

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By OzarkMichael, October 26, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Folktruther opined: This is the best piece that Hedges has written for truthdig, bringing together the sexualization of the violence against the oppressed, both in lynchings and war.

the best? The flimsy connection between the killers of Matthew Shepard and the war in Iraq is some comments by a NYT columnist, who was intentionally sexualizing the war in order to mock the rationale for the war.

Thats the link? That proves the whole thing? And that is the hinge Hedges uses to bring in fascism(as usual) and even bring up Auschwitz.

Hedges serves up nothing but uncooked raw red meat for the Far Left. I hear all the fascism talk and i understand how it sells books and excites the Truthdiggers. Is that how some of you decide it is good writing?

Maybe this is the best Hedges can do, but that doesnt make it good.

There is a case to make against decisions for war. There is a case to make against violence at home. Hedges tries to make both cases at once and succeeds in neither.

Which doesnt matter to Truthdiggers since it agrees with their worldview.

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By Orley Allen, October 26, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedge’s observations about this policy are spot on, as usual. War IS a hate
crime against the third world civilian casualties that are the bread and butter of
the United State’s rapacious war machine. Our military cash cow requires human
bullet and bomb targets and it will have them, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or
somewhere else. The nation-states our military is constantly “building” are the
graveyards we leave behind everywhere we go.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, October 26, 2009 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

Yes, more Jesus is just what America needs.

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By Folktruther, October 26, 2009 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

This is the best piece that Hedges has written for truthdig, bringing together the sexualization of the violence against the oppressed, both in lynchings and war.  It is disparaged by Prog commenters because American has been indoctrinated to identify with oppression, including their own. The brutalization of american culture leads to the rejection of what he is opposing, American violence against Foreigners of any type, sexual or otherwise.

That he can do this so concisely and brilliantly is due to his religious background.  there is no better argument for the need of a spiritual ideology to enforce basic, decent morality than this attack of authorized American brutality, and the Prog responses to it.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, October 26, 2009 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

By MeHere, October 26 at 12:08 pm #

MeHere comments:

“I think C. Hedges is actually saying the reverse of that.”

You mean genocide will inevitably lead to owning a copy of Butt Bandits II?

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By Anarcissie, October 26, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

‘The word “rant” is a pejorative that encourages people to dismiss what is being said as ridiculous, irrational etc. etc. ...’

It might also be a critique of the speaker’s performance, rather than the intent of his argument.  People have been ranting about war throughout recorded history—the Iliad, a poem fascinated with war, calls it “hateful” even while describing it in loving detail.  Obviously, rants don’t deal with the problem.

And then we have gratuitous excursions into Mr. Hedges’s feelings about pornography, and, just to put icing on the cake, a video of Thomas Friedman blithering.  I mean, really….

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By MeHere, October 26, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

G. W. Hitler comments:

“If we buy the logic of his article, we can conclude that owning a copy of Butt
Bandits II will inevitably lead to genocide.”

I think C. Hedges is actually saying the reverse of that.

montanawildhack asks:

“So why have not Israeli soldiers been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers in Iraq l,
Iraq ll and Afghanistan?”

They have been fighting along with us but not directly in combat situations—
they have us doing that for them. But they are involved in other kinds of
military activities, such as intelligence, which are part of these wars. Besides,
Israeli soldiers are quite busy with their own local genocide.

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By hmk, October 26, 2009 at 7:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t get it.  Since almost all the commenters have such disregard for Chris Hedges and his articles - why the hell do you continually read them?  Is it because you don’t know how to be anything but negative so you don’t dare read someone you can agree with?  The terms “rant” and “screed” show up a hundred times more frequently in Mr Hedges’ comment section than anywhere else I’ve ever seen on the web.  I read Mr Hedges’ articles because I genuinely enjoy them.  I may not agree with everything he posits, but I agree with enough he has to say to make it worth my time. I would have liked for him to have linked our preoccupation with militarism with our obsession with sports.  We have this absurd belief that sports instill people with “team spirit.”  That’s bull; it isn’t “team spirit” at all; it’s “my team right or wrong.”  And that’s the greatest link between sports and the military.  The values of sports feed directly into the vileness of war.  You cannot have one without the other.

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By diman, October 26, 2009 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

C.Curtis.Dillon writes: Stalin sent most of the war’s prisoners (German and Russian) to the Gulag because they could not be trusted…

Wasn’t it because of the same reason, F.D.R’s executive order #9066, sent 120,000 law abiding american citizens of japaneese descent into the internment camps? Just because they were born outside of the U.S.A and i guess couldn’t be trusted. This is democracy we are talking about here, aren’t we?

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By Anarcissie, October 26, 2009 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

Hedges is, as usual, hysterical.  But even so, this is no excuse for visiting Thomas Friedman on the unwary.

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By gerard, October 26, 2009 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

The word “rant” is a pejorative that encourages people to dismiss what is being said as ridiculous, irrational etc. etc.  It is used by people as a way to oppose ideas that contradict their own embedded beliefs. The resistance to ideas that contradict one’s own beliefs is the problem.
  When you justify modern war on the basis that wars have been going on for centuries you imply that wars will go on forever.  Such statements are irrational—just as irrational as to say that wars will end tomorrow.
  As to the hypocrisy of attaching these two very different bills—that’s worth another whole article in itself because it’s so typical of the sly ways Congress is operating these days.
  And as to “these days”:  It is becoming more and more obvious and dangerous that violence not only klls bodies, it kills the human soul. In addition,  the more massively and insidiously destructive the weapons become, the more people can see that ways must and can be found to stop it before it destroys the human race. Stop making the weapons, for instance
  Another mistake is to equate individual spontaneous outbreaks of violence with the trained-in violence of war—spontaneous versus deliberate, “irrational” versus “rational” if you really want to mix up the words.  If the “trained-in” violence (and there are many kinds of it) were stopped, war as a legitimated institution of government would tend to stop. Huge subject.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, October 26, 2009 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

What I’m most impressed by is Hedge’s deft vilification of pornography in what started out being an antiwar rant.  If we buy the logic of his article, we can conclude that owning a copy of Butt Bandits II will inevitably lead to genocide.

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By Someone, October 26, 2009 at 6:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Israel isn’t a part of those wars (at least directly) for 2 simple reasons:
a. Israel isn’t a part of NATO.
B. Israel participating would create more damage then use, if you want an example simply look at the first gulf war (where in order to create the widest possible coalition Israel did not attack Iraq even though it was directly attacked by scuds originating from Iraq)

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By palmer, October 26, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When an expert comes into the room, the uninformed and,more precisely, the inexperienced should sit quietly and listen intently. I find it remarkable, especially when you consider Mr. Hedges’resume of horror, how anyone without anything close to his history would have the adolescent self-centeredness not only to comment authoritively, but to disagree.
  In the future, when the veterans are speaking, please have the children leave the room.

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By JDM, October 26, 2009 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges’ Presbyterian neo-orthodox sensibility and views is often too
intense for me although I agree with everything he says. (I grew up in that
background and admire it, but am much more gentle in my communications
and activism compare to Hedges’ fire & brimstone passion). 

However, this article cuts through an important issue: a cynical “divide and
conquer” strategy is being intentionally used to defuse the power of
progressive groups.  For progressive social change to happen, much more
solidarity is necessary. 

Adorno spoke from watching what happened in the build-up to Nazi Germany. 
Even more liberal business people and Christians were co-opted—because
they focused on their self-interests and self-preservation. 

It’s shocking that after the atrocities of the Second World War and subsequent
wars in Korea, Vietnam, as well as what happened under Stalin in the USSR and
Mao in China (continuing today in the form of ethnic cleansing in Tibet and
financial support of Burma and Sudan), that people have not learned that we
must support universal concern for all humanity.

If Hedges’ would temper and stop indulging in his emotions (so extreme, they
come across as intellectual violence), he would be much more powerful and

This, as is all his messages, a crucial article.

Thanks to Mr. Hedges & Truthdig for excellent and essential reporting.

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By William Occam, October 26, 2009 at 6:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well done Chris Hedges, you once again are able to ask the hardest and most profound questions that “good citizens” like the chaps above who write (or should I say writhe) in reaction to your column. Like the Old Testament authors, most reviled by their own society, the painful criticism of our own culture is belittled and shunned. Its seen as a hatred of ones own society when it fact it is a deep love of life and an emotional longing for a better society and a better nation. To say that Chris Hedges hates this country is stupid and immature.

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By sollipsist, October 26, 2009 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wait, I’m confused…

“The ‘core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure,’”

“...exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group made fascism and the Holocaust possible.”

Am I missing something, or are these assertions essentially contradictory?

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By montanawildhack, October 26, 2009 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

As usual Mr. Hedges has given us very little to think about or comment on so I’ll provide something…  I’ve been wanting to ask this question to the truthdig audience because some of you are even more smarter than me….  Here goes..

We’ve been told forever that Israel is our best and/or only ally in the Mid-East…. So why have not Israeli soldiers been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers in Iraq l, Iraq ll and Afghanistan? 

I’ve Never heard this question asked by the Main Stream Media and I think it deserves an answer….

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By elisalouisa, October 26, 2009 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

The irony of attaching a hate crime civil rights law to a measure supporting the
Pentagon budget tells you about our Congress and the primary motive of saving
their rear ends while approving funds for war. Their constituents do not matter
nor their the innocent people our drones murder. It all comes together in the last
paragraph, “The inability to identify with others”. Our Democratic Congress does
not identify with the people who voted them in. Rather the power elite who fund
their campaigns and intend to gain from the natural resources in that area are of
utmost importance. These wars are indeed hate crimes.

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By paul bass, October 26, 2009 at 4:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“from Basra to Baghdad suck on this!”

the apex of American “intellectuals”
what barbarians we are…

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 26, 2009 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

Being a resident in part of Stalin’s nightmare (Ukraine), I can understand the string that “Inherit the Wind” is pushing.  I’ve been studying the “Great Patriotic War” and how Stalin sent most of the war’s prisoners (German and Russian) to the Gulag because they could not be trusted.  In his mind, it was better to marginalize or destroy them than to take the chance that they would create problems for his state and government.

America is certainly not unique among nations that have fostered war ... most nations at one time or another are guilty of this transgression.  That said, a nation that prides its democratic heritage and sells the concept throughout the world has a moral responsibility to downplay the violence of and need for war.  We have accomplished little in either Iraq or Afghanistan but enrage and radicalize these countries for generations to come.  If there are more terrorist attacks on American soil, it will be a direct consequence of our failure.

I guess I would agree with part of Hedges’ rant ... it seems somehow incongruous to attach language outlawing hate crimes against the LGBT community to a bill funding more slaughter in Afghanistan.  I’ve been writing for a while about the disconnect in America between our casualties (6500 or so) and the million+ in Iraq and hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan.  Every life lost is a tragedy whether it is a young boy from Kansas or a young family in Kandahar.  They are both equally wrong.

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By Howie Bledsoe, October 26, 2009 at 3:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whoa, Mr. Wind;
I agree with you in many respects, but I think his main point here was the cynicism involved of attatching a happy, let´s all love each other bill to an unhappy, let´s kick some Arab ass bill. And let´s not forget, after the war paint and dances, the Native Americans would normally shoot some arrows at one another, perhaps one or two would die, some would be injured. Most would go back home to boast to their wives. Today, with drone planes dropping bombs, and spraying depleted uranium on civilians from 200 miles up, “smart” nukes and chemical warfare, the new bombs that literally suck the air out of your lungs, etc. yes, Mr. Wind, things are ALOT more fucking different than, say, the Ming dynastic wars or Sparticus with his sword and sheild.

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By Frank, October 26, 2009 at 2:53 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges has committed a hate crime against America with this article.

Unfortunately, the hate crime law for promoting hate against your own country or
military hasn’t been codified in law yet.  But if hate crimes are a valid concept, as
the left adamantly insists, then we need to add this law right away and keep
adding hate crime laws until nobody that has any hate about anything is allowed
to speak.  Then as soon as we develop effective brain scanning technology, we can
check people to be sure they aren’t even thinking hateful things about
anything or anybody. Only then we will be ‘free’ from hate. RIght, Lefties?

Hedges…epic fail.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 26, 2009 at 2:40 am Link to this comment

I don’t even know where to start pulling this irrational rant apart.

I’ll start by saying that Hedges is attacking our society and its ills as if they are unique and grew up in the US in the last 100-200 years, rather than these are old, old issues that would be recognized by ordinary people living under Sargon of Ninevah or China in the Warring States era.

Since he (and the perpetually irrelevant Dennis Kucinich) TOTALLY discount any society preparing for war even in self-defense, he fails to recognize that young men (and now women) being trained to go to war, whether we like it or not, need to be steeled to face the Hell of war.  Ancients used to WHIP soldiers to drive them into battles. Under Stalin, Soviet soldiers learned that being taken prisoner meant you were likely to be shot if you were released or escaped as “suspect”.

Soldiers in so-called “primitive” societies went through elaborate rituals to turn off their emotions and fears using paint, dance, religious chants etc.  We grew up in the US learning about the Native Americans’ “War Dance” and “War Paint”.

I’m not defending this, I’m attacking Hedges’ constant inability to see things out of their context, to always see them as how they are NOW, and to then condemn OUR society on that basis for conditions that are literally thousands of years old.

It is his fundamental premise: that our society is uniquely sick, and that this sickness is a phenomenon of our electronic information age, going back to the dawn of the telegraph, that is fundamentally flawed and renders all of his inferences as questionable.

These things that RIGHTLY need to be questioned about current actions and current policies require valid premises, not this kind of fuzzy, sounds-good, made up nonsense that is so easily disproven.

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By joedee1969, October 26, 2009 at 2:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is why honesty and this film about gays are so important:

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