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by World Can't Wait Director Debra Sweet Early today, I'll be driving to Highland Falls, NY, near the US Military Academy at West Point, the site of many protests over George Bush's Global War on Terror. Six friends will be sentenced tomorrow in local court there for protesting Obama's expansion of the war on Afghanistan in 2009, and because it's the tenth anniversary of "shock and awe" we feel compelled to throw up a protest.
By Kathy Kelly
U.S. Marines occupy Baghdad, in March 2003, in front of the Al Fanar hotel that housed Voices activists throughout the Shock and Awe bombing.
Photo credit: Iraq Peace Team
Ten years ago, in March of 2003, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the U.S. was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S. - led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the past seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society, - the poor, the elderly, and the children.
- Send a letter for peace. Write a letter to the Iraqi people or an Iraqi individual and we'll be sure it gets delivered. Learn more.
- Attend a bridge vigil and presentation by IARP Executive Director Kathy McKay and Board Member Steve Clemens marking the anniversary on March 20 in Minneapolis. Learn more.
- Share stories of Iraqi citizens and US veterans affected by the war. Read, watch, and share the stories here.
- Provide life-saving clean water to Iraqi children. Learn more.
- Start a new Sister City relationship between an Iraqi and American city. Learn more in our report here.
- Write a letter to the editor about the ongoing human costs of the war. Check out the template provided by Iraq Veterans Against the War here.
- Organize a race or walk with your community to raise awareness and funds for clean water in Iraq or support for peacemakers in Iraq. Learn more.
- Share the new website, Costs of War, by Brown University.
- What do you dream about for Iraq's future? Write it here.
- Forward this email to a friend.
In 2006, with U.S. troops occupying Iraq, the great historian and humanitarian Howard Zinn expressed his desire for what the end of the war would bring: “My hope is that the memory of death and disgrace will be so intense that the people of the United States will be able to listen to a message that the rest of the world, sobered by wars without end, can also understand: that war itself is the enemy of the human race.”
At least in a formal sense, our country’s memories of war are to be found in school history textbooks. Exactly a decade after the U.S. invasion, those texts are indeed sending “messages” to young people about the meaning of the U.S. war in Iraq. But they are not the messages of peace that Howard Zinn proposed. Not even close.
Let me offer as Exhibit A the textbook adopted for global studies classes in Portland, Oregon, the district where I spent my career as a social studies teacher, and which is used in countless school districts across the country: Holt McDougal’s Modern World History.
The section in Modern World History on the U.S. war with Iraq might as well have been written by Pentagon propagandists. In an imitation of Fox News, the very first sentence of the Iraq war section places the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein side by side. The book presents the march to invasion as reasonable and inevitable, while acknowledging: “Some countries, such as France and Germany, called for letting the inspectors continue searching for weapons.” That’s the only hint of any anti-war sentiment. In fact, there was enormous popular opposition to the war, culminating on Feb. 15, 2003, a date that saw millions of people around the world demand that the United States not invade Iraq—if you’re keeping track, the largest protest in human history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This, of course, is a pattern in corporate textbooks: Conflate governments with the people; ignore social movements.
Just as textbooks fail to begin the story of the Vietnam War in the 1940s (or before), so that students might have some context to evaluate later U.S. military intervention, today’s textbooks similarly ignore an earlier U.S. relationship with Iraq. For example, Modern World History says nothing about the role of the United States in aiding the Ba’ath party and Saddam Hussein for years, as they crushed all opposition and later waged war against Iran—a history summarized in a recent article by Iraqi sociologist Sami Ramadani, who fled Saddam Hussein’s repression in 1969. As Ramadani writes, “But when it was no longer in their interests to back him, the U.S. and U.K. drowned Iraq in blood.”
The official title of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Modern World History uses this term without any discussion of the “freedom” that this invasion might offer. The section ends with the terse conclusion that “the coalition had won the war.” And what about that supposed freedom? Silence.
by Dirk Adriaensens on 18-03-2013
The crippling devastation of Iraq today overwhelms all else. It is difficult, given the facts on the ground, to recapture the imperial vision that was to make Iraq an exemplar of American sponsored democracy and a model for the American remaking of the Middle East. Iraq, after all, was to be a test case for the display of American pre-eminent power. That imperial vision is in ruins and Iraqi nationalism has reasserted itself.
Hawija February 2013
2003-2013: Iraqi Resistance, American Dirty War, and the Remaking of the Middle East – PART 1
- Decline of American Empire
- The Iraq war was illegal under International Law
- The real reasons of the Bush administration for invading Iraq and occupying the country
- The dramatic consequences of “blossoming democracy” for the nation and the people of Iraq.
The story of Iraq has become a tale of the total collapse of the original American objectives and the unintended consequence of the rise of a persistent Iraqi national resistance movement that, as American power declines, has demonstrated far more resilience than almost anyone imagined.
1. Decline of American Empire
On March 18, 2003 ECAAR (EConomists Allied for Arms Reduction) prepared a statement against unilateral initiatives for war in Iraq, which was endorsed by more than 200 US economists including seven Nobel Laureates and two former Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers. The text of the statement formed the basis of an ad in the Wall Street Journal. A few excerpts:
As American economists, we oppose unilateral initiatives for war against Iraq, which we see as unnecessary and detrimental to the security and the economy of the United States and the entire world community.
A Last-Second Appeal for Sanity
Ten years ago, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was only hours away, but the case for this unprovoked war was already falling apart with exposure of hyperbole, half-truths and even a forgery. On March 18, 2003, a group of U.S. intelligence veterans pleaded with President George W. Bush to postpone the attack. The text of VIPS's March 18, 2003 Memorandum for the President follows.( A list of all 23 corporate memoranda produced by VIPS since its first, on February 5, 2003, is found at warisacrime.org/vips.)
March 18, 2003
Memorandum for: The President
From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Subject: Forgery, Hyperbole, Half-Truth: A Problem
By Malachy Kilbride
Traffic had come to a complete standstill on March 19, 2003 at the intersection of 16th H Streets, NW by Lafayette Park across from The White House as a couple of hundred protesters gathered on the sidewalk. Around 21 people or so lay on the ground in the street blocking midday traffic in a die-in, an act of civil disobedience, just hours before “Shock and Awe”, the US bombing of Baghdad, was triumphantly announced by the Bush Administration and celebrated by US corporate news media.
America's Dirty War in Iraq
by Stephen Lendman
America wages wars dirty. They're all unprincipled and lawless. It's official policy. Exceptions don't exist. No-holds-barred barbarism is longstanding.
Rule of law principles don't matter. They never did. Modern technologies make today's wars worse than ever. All forms of brutality are commonplace.
by the Steering Committee of World Can't Wait Samatha Goldman:Ten years ago, I was a student in high school when the war in Iraq began. At 15, I threw myself wholeheartedly into resisting the war. I remember the agony and outrage I felt when despite mass protest, a war based on lies was waged in our names...
An Unheeded Warning on Iraq
Editor Note: Ten years ago, as the clock was ticking down to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, a campaign of U.S. government lies and exaggerations had convinced many Americans that they were the ones under threat. A few U.S. intelligence veterans spoke up, but were heard mostly in Europe and on the Internet. This was the second of three Memoranda issued by the (then-newly formed) Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) before the US/UK attack on Iraq. (The first, addressed to President Bush, gave Colin Powell's speech a C-minus for content -- a far too charitable grade, in retrospect.)
DATE: March 12, 2003
MEMORANDUM FOR: Confused Americans
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
By Ron Ridenour
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!
We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.
By Dave Lindorff
Thanks to the courageous action of Private Bradley Manning, the young soldier who has been held for over two years by the US military on trumped-up charges including espionage and aiding the enemy, we now have solid evidence that the country’s two leading news organizations, the Washington Post and the New York Times, are not interesting in serious reporting critical of the government.
In honor of the 10th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Liberation, and in hopes of helping us keep in mind that every war is based on similar lies, even if sometimes the lies are told more competently, I'm making available here the introduction to my book War Is A Lie. If you're near the heart of the empire on March 18th, join us at the 10 Years Later: Still Shocked, Not Awed event.
Not a single thing that we commonly believe about wars that helps keep them around is true. Wars cannot be good or glorious. Nor can they be justified as a means of achieving peace or anything else of value. The reasons given for wars, before, during, and after them (often three very different sets of reasons for the same war) are all false. It is common to imagine that, because we’d never go to war without a good reason, having gone to war, we simply must have a good reason. This needs to be reversed. Because there can be no good reason for war, having gone to war, we are participating in a lie.
A very intelligent friend recently told me that prior to 2003 no American president had ever lied about reasons for war. Another, only slightly better informed, told me that the United States had not had any problems with war lies or undesirable wars between 1975 and 2003. I hope that this book will help set the record straight. "A war based on lies" is just a long-winded way of saying "a war." The lies are part of the standard package.
Lies have preceded and accompanied wars for millennia, but in the past century war has become far more deadly. Its victims are now primarily non-participants, often almost exclusively on one side of the war. Even the participants from the dominant side can be drawn from a population coerced into fighting and isolated from those making the decisions about or benefitting from the war. Participants who survive war are far more likely now to have been trained and conditioned to do things they cannot live with having done. In short, war ever more closely resembles mass murder, a resemblance put into our legal system by the banning of war in the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact in 1928, the United Nations Charter in 1945, and the International Criminal Court's decision to prosecute crimes of aggression in 2010. Arguments that might have sufficed to justify wars in the past might not do so now. War lies are now far more dangerous things. But, as we will see, wars were never justifiable.
Why the Invasion of Iraq Was the Single Worst Foreign Policy Decision in American History
By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch
I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness -- and oh yes, it was madness -- not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.
Norman Solomon discusses his recent debate with former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson on the lies that took the United States into war 10 years ago, as well as Solomon's cofounding of online activist force RootsAction.org.
Total run time: 29:00
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By John Grant
"The experience we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is thus a lie -- the truth lies rather outside, in what we do."
-- Slavoj Zizek
March 18, 2013
The Langston Room at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V Streets, NW
Free and open to the public.
Sign up here: http://facebook.com/events/601163023231687
Ten years after the latest U.S. assault on Iraq began with a campaign of "Shock and Awe," we stop to consider where we've been and where we should be heading. Join:
Leah Bolger, Board Member and Past President of Veterans For Peace.
Andy Shallal, artist, peace and social justice activist and entrepreneur, is the founder of Busboys and Poets and Eatonville. He sits on the board of several art, business and peace and justice organizations including the Institute for Policy Studies, Anacostia Community Museum and Think Local First D.C.
Robert Shetterly, an award winning painter whose work is in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. For more than 10 years he has been painting the series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth. The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. A book of the portraits has won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.
Shetterly will be unveiling his latest portrait, that of David Swanson.
David Swanson, an author whose books include Daybreak (2009), War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012). Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio, and works for RootsAction.org, as well as blogging at WarIsACrime.org.
Sponsoring organizations that have helped spread the word about this event:
World Can't Wait
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Veterans For Peace
Peace Action Montgomery
OccupyWashingtonDC.org / October2011
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Busboys and Poets
Teaching for Change
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Committee for High-School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Eyes Wide Shut on the Iraq War
Edior Note: As the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War approaches, it’s worth recalling one moment when the curtain was prematurely lifted on the lies justifying the invasion – and how quickly government officials and the complicit mainstream press pulled it back down.
By Ray McGovern
Ten years ago, as President George W. Bush and his administration were putting the finishing touches on their unprovoked invasion of Iraq, the mainstream U.S. news media had long since capitulated, accepting the conventional wisdom that nothing could – or should – stop the march to war.
When I wrote about MSNBC's documentary on Iraq war lies this week, I linked to an earlier blog post of mine that drew heavily on a House Judiciary Committee report on the same topic, as well as to Lawrence Wilkerson's recent debate with Norman Solomon on Democracy Now!
When Brad Friedman reposted my Hubris review, he suggested I ask Wilkerson for a response. I did and here it is:
David,Several misleading and even spurious bullets and headlines that make strong claims that are not supported in the surrounding narrative. For example, no one ever DID warn Powell about Curveball, in fact quite the opposite. This particular source--billed as an Iraqi engineer who had defected--was George Tenet's--the DCI's--strongest weapon. And incidentally, the title "Curveball" was never heard until well after the 5 Feb presentation.Your use of INR's assessment of "weak" repeatedly, is weak itself. INR was at the time one of 15 intelligence entities in the US intelligence architecture at the federal level. (Add Israel France, the UK, Jordan, Germany, et al, and of course you get even more). INR's assessments were often viewed--indeed still are--as maverick within that group (and were particularly so viewed by George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin. Indeed, INR's insistence on putting a footnote in the October 2002 NIE with regard to its doubts about Saddam's having an active nuclear weapons program was only grudgingly acknowledged and allowed by Tenet. And in truth, INR itself concurred in the overall NIE's finding that chems and bios existed (and the NIE was the root document of Powell's 5 Feb presentation).I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated. But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and--I am increasingly convinced, outright lies--to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell.To see my point dramatically, one must realize that whether Powell had given his presentation or not, the President would have gone to war with Iraq. That doesn't relieve Powell or me or any of us who participated in preparing Powell of responsibility; it simply places the bulk of that responsibility squarely where it should rest.You, Ray McGovern, and I will never reach accord on this I'm certain; but I must say that just as I may have biases from my long association with Powell, I believe both of you should examine your biases with regard to the man. Just as it was very difficult for me to face the fact I had participated in a hoax, it probably is just as difficult that you two admit you may be too aggressively critical of Powell. Both our conditions are recognizably human and yours more forgiveable than mine to be sure. lw
Thanks for this response.
I'm CCing Brad Blog which posted my commentary and might want to post your reply.
Here's my reply to your reply (also available to publish) :-)
Whether or not anyone told Powell of Curveball's reputation, Powell's own staff, the INR, told him the claims were weak, the claims that came from Curveball and from numerous other sources. The INR told him the claims were weak and questionable and even implausible.
An open letter to the international oil companies operating in Iraq, a decade after the U.S. invasion of Iraq
Ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was undertaken ostensibly to overthrow the former dictator and to promote human rights and democracy, we see that a more essential, long-term goal was for international oil companies to acquire control over Iraq's newly privatized oil resources, creating a "liberated" Iraq that would serve as an economic model for a "New Middle East" and spread neo-liberalism throughout the region.
The project has been a failure on all fronts.
Those who suffer the consequences are Iraq's citizens. Their country is wracked by violence and mounting sectarian conflict. Their rights are violated. Vital services – water and electricity – are unavailable, while international oil companies receive priority access to these scarce resources, and operate under long-term contracts to develop Iraqi oil fields, that were signed while Iraq was still occupied.
As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air. The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week, and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world, as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people.
From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.
But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC's role.
Yet, my primary response to that is joy rather than disgust. It is now cool to acknowledge war lies. Truth-tellers, including truth-tellers rarely presented with a corporate microphone, made that happen.
MSNBC host and Obama promoter Rachel Maddow even introduced Hubris by pointing to another war lie -- the Gulf of Tonkin incident that wasn't -- and a war lie by a Democrat in that case. Similar lies can be found surrounding every war that has ever been, which is why I wrote War Is A Lie. We have to stop imagining that "bad wars" are a subset of wars.
But, of course, using Maddow as the presenter and narrator of a film about Republican war lies during a period of unacknowledged Democratic war lies unavoidably gives the thing a partisan slant. Watching Hubris, I was reminded of something that Michael Moore tweeted last Friday: "Senate Repubs: U started 2 illegal wars that broke the treasury & sacrificed the lives of thousands of our troops & countless civilians."
Of course, the Senate that gave us the two wars in question was in reality controlled by Democrats, and the war lies were pushed hard by Senators Kerry, Clinton, and their comrades. Hubris touches on this reality but not with sufficient clarity for most viewers -- I suspect -- to pick up on it.
The film presents a great deal of good evidence that the war on Iraq was based on lies. Unavoidably, endless terrific bits of such evidence were not included. Less excusably, also left out was an analysis of the evidence that only dishonesty -- not incompetence -- explains the propaganda that was produced.
Hubris is the wrong word for what took the United States into war with Iraq. The forces at work were greed, lust for power, and sadistic vengeance. The word "hubris" suggests the tragic downfall of the guilty party. But the war on Iraq did not destroy the United States; it destroyed Iraq. It damaged the United States, to be sure, but in a manner hardly worthy of mention in comparison to the sociocide committed against Iraq.
Hubris, the film, provides a reprehensibly ludicrous underestimation of Iraqi deaths, and only after listing U.S. casualties.
It was not pride but a disregard for human life that generated mass murder. Congressman Walter Jones, who voted for the war, is shown in Hubris saying that he would have voted No if he had bothered to read the National Intelligence Estimate that very few of his colleagues bothered to read.
Another talking head in the film is Lawrence Wilkerson. He is, of course, the former chief of staff of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is shown explaining that the reason not to attack Iraq was that doing so would take a focus away from attacking Afghanistan. Clearly this was not a reason that led to Wilkerson or Powell taking any kind of stand.
Wilkerson says in this film that he and Powell knew the war was based on lies, that the claims were junk, that no WMDs were likely to be found, etc. Yet, when confronted last week by Norman Solomon on Democracy Now! with the question of why he hadn't resigned in protest, Wilkerson claimed that at the time he'd had no idea whatsoever that there were good arguments against the war. In fact, he blamed opponents of the war for not having contacted him to educate him on the matter.
The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold. Powell was not a victim. He "knowingly lied."
The same goes for Bush, Cheney, and gang. According to Hubris it may have just been incompetence or hubris. It wasn't. Not only does overwhelming evidence show us that Bush knew his claims about WMDs to be false, but the former president has shown us that he considers the question of truth or falsehood to be laughably irrelevant. When Diane Sawyer asked Bush why he had claimed with such certainty that there were so many weapons in Iraq, he replied: "What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."
What's the difference? In a society based on the rule of law, the difference would be a criminal prosecution. MSNBC and Hubris steer us away from any ideas of accountability. And no connection is drawn to current war lies about Iran or other nations.
But the production of programs like this one that prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq are the best hope Iran has right now. MSNBC should be contacted and applauded for airing this and urged to follow up on it.
Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq's threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most of the pundits and journalists who promoted the justifications for the war paid no price for their failures.
As FAIR reported at the time, even before the Powell address there were reasons to be skeptical of the administration's claims. On February 4, 2003, FAIR published "Iraq's Hidden Weapons: From Allegation to Fact," which made the point that "it has not been demonstrated that Iraq continues to hold unconventional weapons." FAIR criticized coverage like that of the New York Times (2/2/03), which asserted that "nobody seriously expected Mr. Hussein to lead inspectors to his stash of illegal poisons or rockets, or to let his scientists tell all."
As the FAIR release concluded:
The media convey to the public the impression that the alleged banned weapons on which the Bush administration rests its case for war are known to exist, and that the question is simply whether inspectors are skillful enough to find them.
Powell's address was instrumental in pushing a faulty media line on Iraq's WMDs further. That much was clear in the coverage right after his appearance at the United Nations, as FAIR documented on February 10 in "A Failure of Skepticism in Powell Coverage."
In Andrea Mitchell's report on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03), Powell's allegations became actual capabilities of the Iraqi military: "Powell played a tape of a Mirage jet retrofitted to spray simulated anthrax, and a model of Iraq's unmanned drones, capable of spraying chemical or germ weapons within a radius of at least 550 miles."
Colin Powell: Conned or Con-Man?
Editor Note: A decade ago, President George W. Bush was hurtling toward an aggressive war against a country not threatening the United States. Only a few people had a chance to stop the rush to war with Iraq, but one – Colin Powell – instead joined the stampede.
By Ray McGovern
Ten years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations in a speech which routed what was left of American resistance to the Bush/Cheney push for invading Iraq. The next day, the Washington Post’s editorial pages spoke for the conventional wisdom, filled with glowing reviews of Powell’s convincing arguments.
Today, of course, we know that much of what Powell said on Feb. 5, 2003, was wrong. He himself has acknowledged that the speech was a “blot” on his record.
By Dave Lindorff
For a masterpiece in cognitive dissonance, just look to the foreign editors and the managing editor of the New York Times, who ran two stories in Saturday’s paper without referencing each other at all.
When Truth Tried to Stop War
Editor Note: The year 2013 is the one-decade anniversary of the U.S. political/media system’s failure to stop a criminal President from launching a war of aggression on Iraq. It was a shameful time when only a few brave individuals, like the U.K.’s Katharine Gun, did the right thing.
By Ray McGovern
Ten years ago, Katharine Gun, then a 28-year-old British intelligence officer, saw an e-mailed memo from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that confirmed for her in black and white the already widespread suspicion that the U.S. and U.K. were about to launch war against Iraq on false pretenses.
By John Grant
By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:
By Michael Uhl
Jonathan Schell‘s probing review of Nick Turse’s new book Kill Anything That Moves originated on Tom Dispatch and migrated to Salon, where it appeared under the head “Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought.”