Swans Commentary » swans.com December 5, 2005  



Better Dead Than...


by Philip Greenspan





(Swans - December 5, 2005)  Suicide bombings have become an effective low-cost tactic by those who do not possess the hardware to fight against military opponents. Since the 1980s it has turned up in over 25 countries, usually against the interests of the U.S., Israel, and other Western nations. "Better Dead Than Red" -- a phrase bandied about during the 1950s, the initial phase of the Cold War -- might with one word changed be an apt description of this phenomenon.

Since WWII millions have put their lives on the line to rid their lands of British, French, Dutch, Belgian, Portuguese, Spanish, and American occupiers. Not only were they willing to sacrifice their lives but they knew they might be subjected to excruciating tortures for their defiance. Weren't they implying that they'd rather be dead than be subjects of those imperialist countries?

How citizens of those imperialist countries might react if they were occupied was revealed when the Nazis occupied almost all of Europe during the Second World War. France, Belgium, the Netherlands and others were overrun quickly. Underground resistance groups, supported by the allies, emerged but their numbers were small and their activities did not make much of an impact on the continued military operations of the Nazis. Heavy fighting by the Germans continued on the Russian and other fronts -- North Africa, Italy, and after D-Day in France, Belgium and Germany -- unshaken by the underground activities. Most citizens of those countries, much as they hated the Nazis, were unwilling to put their lives on the line.

The belligerent that finally stalled and then reversed the relentless German military machine was, horrors, a red country, the "Evil Empire." It lost the largest number of troops, 10.6 million, and civilians, 12.5 million, during that war. When the Soviet Union was attacked it had been in existence for roughly twenty extremely harsh years. Most citizens, having lived under the non-red government of the Czar, were able to compare different regimes based on experience. By their immense commitment to victory over the invaders weren't they declaring that they'd accept death if they could not remain Red?

Two other countries, Cuba and Vietnam, now acknowledged as Red had no experience with a communist government when their citizens fervently repulsed foreign invaders. Conditions in both countries since then have been difficult for its citizens. Now knowing what living in a Red state is like how would they respond if their country was confronted again? I am confident that they would fight just as zealously as previously. Why do I think that way when most published information by acknowledged authorities in the establishment would lead one to an opposite conclusion? Those acknowledged authorities have such a poor track record for prognostication that their opinions could be ignored. Recent history reveals that the bullshit they spout is usually a reflection of the US government's position and generally varies from reality. Cuba and Vietnam have survived in spite of the hostile actions they have endured from imperialist nations while subject governments -- Iran, Indonesia, Chile, the Philippines, etc. -- that those imperialists fostered and supported were ousted by their people.

Governments and their leaders that have been stigmatized by the U.S. but have not yet merited the label communist -- has that word lost its venomous potency in this era of terrorism? -- have also won the fervent support of their people. The most notable example today is Venezuela and Hugo Chávez. Chávez has captured the hearts and earned the loyalty not only of his own people but of an enormous number in Latin America and throughout the world. He and Castro top the CIA's shit list of those slated for elimination. Those two are very wary customers. They have sensed trouble and survived.

People are realizing that those despised by the big bully may be the true humanitarians. Fidel Castro has over the years extended aid to the needy throughout the world by dispatching Cuban doctors and nurses to poor areas where they are in dire need. Hugo Chávez in his way is following suit with offers to the poor -- including those in the northeastern USA -- of subsidized energy to heat their homes. Perhaps those leaders survive the onslaughts of the bully because they have such strong support and encouragement from decent people everywhere.

Over the years many leaders who earned the loyalty of their people in overthrowing imperialist governments or their puppets were in turn removed by the CIA. Mohammed Mossadeq of Iran was the CIA's initial success. His replacement, the Shah, ruled for 25 years before the Iranians gave the Shah the bum's rush. Some other leaders who left the world stage through the machinations of the CIA were Jacobo Arbenz Guzman of Guatemala, Sukarno of Indonesia, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Salvador Allende of Chile, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Omar Torrijos of Panama, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti.

Elimination of the Soviet Union (SU), the "Evil Empire," was the biggest CIA prize of all. Its elimination was not the result of a war or an uprising of its citizens. The SU just fell apart. No fierce internal struggle brought it down. Thereafter republics within the SU sought independence and readily gained it.

During the approximately 70 years of the SU's existence it continually encountered hostility from major world powers that feared a viable socialist state might infect their own bailiwicks. The World War I allied nations including the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, and Japan intervened against the SU in the civil war that brought the Soviets to power. The enormous losses the SU suffered in WWII can be blamed on a fanatical anti-Communist, Adolf Hitler -- a monster who rose to power with the backing of capitalists willing to support Hitler's plans to rearm Germany and destroy that worrisome communist government.

In the occupied countries during the war the heroic exploits of communists won many over to their cause. When the war ended the US feared that those communists might gain political influence. Accordingly the U.S. devised a generous (so they claimed) plan, the Marshall Plan (MP), to help the destitute peoples of Europe rebuild their countries. Acceptance of the benefits required recipients to comply with certain conditions, some of which stymied the communists. The Soviets, the most desperate people, received no MP aid because they refused to accede to the requirements for obtaining help.

The SU's constant fears of another attack from the west induced it to form a buffer zone of eastern European countries. Limiting the independence of those countries created additional animosity against the foreign SU intruder.

The ensuing Cold War pitted the SU against wealthier and more powerful Western nations. The West pulled into their orbit Third World nations that they promptly exploited. Inexperienced in the exploitive methods of the imperial masters the SU gained allies by expending funds needed for the benefits of its own citizens. It overspent to maintain a strong military defense against its antagonists again appropriating funds that should have bolstered the welfare of its citizens. Eventually the jig was up! The SU went down! And OUT!

They OVEREXTENDED their resources; they NEGLECTED their citizens; they LOST IT ALL!

All things considered I believe the survival of the SU for 70 years was quite an accomplishment! With so much hostility and so little aid it must have had substantial support from its citizens for a good deal of that time. Yes, I am well aware of the enormous crimes, horrors and evils, particularly during Stalin's time, that were perpetrated on its very own and I do not deny that they occurred. But when you look behind the mythical curtains of history at the U.S., Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, you will find equally atrocious practices. The excellent PR tactics in the west have minimized their own transgressions and blown up those of their opponents.

A long list of transgressions of the reputedly well-intentioned U.S. could easily be compiled. I'll cite some major ones. The US conquest of the continent was achieved by genocide of the indigenous inhabitants. Slavery was an accepted practice vigorously enforced under Constitutional mandate. Not only does the U.S. secretly condone torture and assassination but since 1945 its notorious "School of Assassins" has been training Latin American soldiers in their use. Medical experiments have been conducted on unsuspecting citizens, including testing the effects of atomic radiation on thousands of GIs; also mind-control experiments, MK-Ultra. The mass murder of innocent civilians by criminal or unwarranted use of chemical, biological and other weapons. The callous disregard of the harmful, long-term, irreversible effects of its weak pro-business environmental regulations.

Those who have suffered from the actions of the CIA are well aware of the evils of the U.S. The arrogance and hubris of the current administration has made millions more aware of previously covered up practices. Most of the world today considers the U.S. the planet's greatest danger. Citizens' demands have compelled some of the few leaders who joined the Iraqi coalition to pull their troops out.

Iraqis are conveying to the U.S. the message so many other occupied peoples had delivered over and over again -- translated into the American vernacular "Get the hell out of here!"

Generals who differ from the adamant White House position on the Iraq war cannot air their thoughts if they wish to retain their positions. Representative John Murtha, a decorated Marine combat veteran, a longtime hawk, and the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House, has the contacts and the confidence of the top generals. He knows what they are thinking. His recent speech advocating a change in the course of the war is surely a reflection of the generals' thoughts and should be considered seriously. Amongst his comments were the following statements: "...The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. . . . The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S. . . . But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. . . . A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified..." His speech ended with the words, "It is time to bring them home." Many retired military men who no longer fear demotions have expressed similar thoughts. General William Odom and others have actually said or implied that the war is lost.

The U.S. has OVEREXTENDED the military; it NEGLECTS the grunts; the war is LOST!

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Internal Resources


Patterns which Connect

America the 'beautiful'


About the Author

Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).



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This Edition's Internal Links

I'm Shocked, Shocked - Deck Deckert

Soldier Dead - Milo Clark

Why We Should Never Go To War - Robert Wrubel

Iran And US Foreign Policy Designs - Ardeshir Ommani

Debunking Bob Woodward - Louis Proyect

"CAPOTE": How Far Should We Go? - Film Review by Charles Marowitz

A Playwright's Guide To Life - Book Review by Ivan Gold

Roasting Marshmallows - Poem by Linda Eve Diamond

The Insurgent Word: Evil - Poem by Gerard Donnelly Smith

Blips #30 - From the Editor's desk

Letters to the Editor

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Published December 5, 2005