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Busting War Myths

Swanson the War Myth-Buster
by Ralph Lopez

Since Helen of Troy many people have suspected that most purported reasons for war are really just the excuse, and that wars are rarely fought for the reasons stated. In "War is a Lie" David Swanson carves himself a monumental task: to prove the truth of this in every historical instance for which background is available. He accomplishes his task, with a weight of evidence which can only be described as devastating. Swanson sets forth a deceptively simple yet provocative thesis: War is never the only choice, and always the worst one.

Perhaps not since Mark Twain's "War Prayer" or General Smedley D. Butler's "War is a Racket" has a voice cut through the well-practiced, frequently recycled seductions of war to focus clearly on the unimaginable human suffering which are its cost. As with Chomsky, no amount of dissembling over attempts to avoid civilian casualties forgives the grim accounting of lives, limbs, eyes, and lost minds which fill the ledgers utterly predictably.

Of course the acid test for Swanson's thesis is the so-called "Good War" (he argues convincingly there is no such thing,) World War II, in which the magnitude of evil being opposed was visible for all on the world stage. Swanson brings out many little-known facts of history such as the Western powers', including the United States' and the UK's, shameful refusal to raise immigration quotas as Hitler first sought to expel the Jewish population. The author also concisely outlines the role of U.S financiers in assisting the rise of Nazism, including the 43rd president's grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush. Whether or not one believes Swanson makes his case in this most hideous of conflicts in which 75 million people, mostly civilians, died, he leaves you with plenty to think about.

In all, Swanson provokes, smashes myths which long needed to be smashed, and places the reader in a position to perhaps reflect on a new world order, rather than war, which is nothing but the old one. Here is the real value of the book. Let Swanson's scholarship and clear moral compass sound a death-knell for an institution which should long ago have gone the way of open chattell slavery, with the same good riddance by all.


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The author also concisely outlines the role of U.S financiers in assisting the rise of Nazism, including the 43rd president's grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush.

The article makes the book certainly appealing, but I'll need to find employment before being able to purchase it or anything else (besides food and a few bus fares).

However, I wonder if the book mentions the plot against President FDR in 1933 by corporate American elites, as well as the US with respect to the Spanish Civil War.

1933 coup d'etat plot against President FDR:

Not directly related, but when mentioning the support of Nazism from elites in the US, it's also worth reminding people of the corporate-fascist plot of these elites for a coup d'etat that would've been conducted or carried out by a large number of US military troops, who would've been lead by USMC Major General Smedley Butler, if he had agreed to do this for these American elites; Prescott Bush, Heinz, Maxwell (I believe of Maxwell House), and others, according to what I've read about who some of them specifically were. Gen. Butler exposed this plot and testified about it before Congress, which evidently covered up the names of plenty of the American elites who were behind this corporate-fascist plot to overthrow President FDR in 1933 and apparently due to his "New Deal" plan.

US support for extremely fascist General Franco:

It would also be worth mentioning the backing that the US, along with the Nazis, Hitler anyway, Mussolini, possibly the UK, and the Vatican, gave to the extremely fascist General Franco in Spain prior to WW II. And the elites in the US supported Hitler and Mussolini, as well.

"The Abraham Lincoln Brigade - A Profile in Courage, Honor and Hope"

by Stephen Lendman, Dec. 26th, 2007


Or the next copy, which has reader comments,

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was an American contingent of about 2800 volunteers who fought on the side of the Second Spanish Republic during the country's 1936 - 1939 Civil War against the fascist Nationalist rebellion under General Francisco Franco. From 1937 through 1938, it aimed to stop international fascism under Hitler and Mussolini that led to WW II. This essay explains who the "Lincolns" were, why they're important, and what their relevance is to America today under George Bush. First a look at the Spanish Civil War and why these Americans fought in it.

The war began when Franco's troops invaded Spain in July, 1936 to unseat an unstable Republic that developed from the social dislocations after WW I. ...

By summer, Spain's many parties and organizations began regrouping and polarizing. In November, the Spanish Confederation of Right Groups (CEDA) coalition replaced the liberal-Socialists. Positions then hardened on the left and right leading to the 1934 "October Revolution" when Asturian miners in northern Spain became the epicenter of a general uprising throughout the country. It brought "Army of Africa" commander Francisco Franco from Spanish Morocco to the mainland for the first time in five centuries to defend "Christian Civilization" from "red barbarism." It was the start of class and regional conflict that became the Spanish Civil War two years later.

It pitted an alliance of Nationalist forces on the right under Franco against a "Popular Front" Republican/Loyalist coalition consisting of trade unionists and their political organizations:


Few in America remember the Spanish Civil War, its significance or even that it happened which says a lot about the state of education in the richest country in the world. ...

The Spanish Civil War - July 17, 1936 - April 1, 1939

Like all extended wars, this one was ugly. Before it ended in April, 1939, hundreds of thousands died and many by mass killings that included Hitler's infamous fire-bombing of Guernica on April 26, 1937 that destroyed the town and killed an estimated 1650 people. ... Guernica was in flames, but it was just a warmup, a prelude for what lay ahead.

April 1, 1939 marked the end of the Spanish Civil War. Five months later in September, Hitler invaded Poland, and the world again was at war with Spain staying out of it this time. ...

Back then, it was a rare time when oppressed workers, peasants and leftist intellectuals stood on one side and were aided by Soviet Russia, the international Socialist movement and the International Brigades. Against them were centralized state power elitists that included monarchists, the Catholic church, and the landowning and industrial fascist right supported by Germany, Italy and Portugal. Workers wanted a classless, stateless social democracy with implications far beyond a civil conflict in Spain.

They were attracted to it when Franco invaded and threatened their vision. Spontaneously they seized factories and other workplaces, collectivized the land, formed workers' militias throughout the country, dismantled the pro-fascist Catholic church, confiscated its property, and established political institutions run by workers' committees. It was a remarkable event for a short-lived social transformation toward a genuinely autonomous, free and democratic society until Franco finally prevailed.

In a decade of economic depression, disillusion, the rise of fascism, torment and turmoil up to WW II, the Spanish revolution was a sign of hope for working-class emancipation across the world, including in the US. It inspired intellectuals, trade unionists, and others as well as freedom-fighting men and women of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. They went Spain to support the type government they wanted at home and hoped would emerge if the "Popular Front" prevailed.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade

They were around 2800 American volunteers who fought alongside the "Popular Front" Republican Loyalists as the American contingent of the International Brigades. From 1937 to 1938, they joined with 35,000 others from 52 countries to defend the free Spanish Republic against Franco's Nationalist fascist alliance.

They were mostly young men and women from across America, deeply affected by the The Great Depression's despair, and they feared the fascist scourge engulfing Europe could affect them back home. They were ordinary people - working class, students, teachers, artists, dancers, athletes, the unemployed and others unified in a common belief that it's "better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Most were members of the Young Communist League (CP). They allied with Industrial Workers of the World members ("Wobblies"), socialists forming their own (Eugene) Debs Column, and unaffiliated others. They were all committed in a common struggle. ... They also risked arrest or recrimination back home by defying a State Department prohibition against traveling to Spain so by doing it they broke the law. (my emphasis)

It was worth it for what many saw as the quintessential struggle between democracy and tyranny. British author, social critic and journalist Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, felt the same. He went to Spain in 1936 to be with the Republican side and joined with the POUM coalition. ...


The "Lincolns," wanted democratic freedom and fascism defeated. Its volunteers became known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade although fighting units chose their own names and identities. In keeping with the "Popular Front" culture, they became part of the Fifteenth International Brigade along with nationals from other countries. They called themselves the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the George Washington Battalion, and the John Brown Battery that included 125 doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and technicians with the American Medical Bureau. They were all volunteers for a noble cause and among them was the first ever racially integrated unit in US history and first one ever led by a black commander. Most never fired a rifle or had military training, but they were committed to learn and they did fast.

They also practiced what they believed in the ranks and created an egalitarian "peoples' army." Rank-and-file soldiers at times elected their own officers and generally shunned traditional military protocol. ...


Of the 2800 "Lincolns," around one-third perished. Survivors came home heros, got no official recognition for their efforts, were lucky to escape recrimination for breaking the law, but were later harassed and hounded as explained below.


... They're remembered, however, in the official Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA). The effort was founded in 1979 by Lincoln Brigade living veterans as an "educational and humanitarian organization devoted to the preservation and dissemination of the history of the North American role in the Spanish Civil War....and its aftermath."


... In the end, the revolution failed from its own divergent ideologies and internal conflicts. They frustrated Orwell enough to say "Why can't we drop all of this political nonsense and get on with the war." It also lost to a more powerful Nationalist force that outmanned and outgunned them because Hitler and Mussolini supplied many more aircraft, artillery pieces, tanks, bombs, small arms and ammunition to give Franco the edge.

It let him outlast Spanish Republican forces that got less aid from the Soviet Union while countries like Great Britain, France and the US stayed technically neutral. But a careful look shows otherwise. Britain and France refused to supply arms or assist the Republican side. Even FDR's government was duplicitous. It pressured the Martin Aircraft Company not to honor an agreement made prior to the 1936 insurrection to sell aircraft to the Republic and also strong-armed Mexico not to ship Republicans war materials that were bought in the US for that purpose. The Mexican government complied and instead sent some financial aid. (my emphasis)

Roosevelt said companies supplying the Republic were unpatriotic, but had no such feeling for those trading with the Nationalists like General Motors and the Texas Company, now part of oil giant Chevron. It cancelled contracts with Republicans but sold oil to Franco much like the dealings Charles Highham described in his 1983 book, "Trading with the Enemy." He documented how US corporations like Chase Bank, Standard Oil, Ford, GM and IBM did business with the Nazis in WW II in direct violation of the law. They betrayed their country and got away with it. (my emphasis)

The Spirit of the "Lincolns" in the Age of George Bush


The Web site for the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives", which isn't linked in the above article, is the first link returned by doing a Google, and the Wikipedia page for ABL says this is the external link for the archive.

"Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Spanish Civil War History and Education - ... Archives"

I don't know if the above ALBA web site has this, but the following NYU page for ALBA guides refers to "International Brigades Archive (Moscow)" and a "comprehnsive list of the U.S. Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War".

Because David Swanson's book, "War is a Lie", is meant for anti-war activism, to provide people with real reasons to be inspired or motivated to oppose wars and the continuation of them, it's not necessary to include every possible historical example backing up his point. But the two 1930s histories, above, would certainly make for very good inclusions. So if the book doesn't presently contain these two histories, then, and if a second edition is ever produced, these two histories could be added at that time; only stated as a suggestion.

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