Joseph Goebbels is condemned in the history books as a war criminal. Had he not escaped justice by ingesting cyanide, he surely would have been hanged for committing a genocide against humanity. Why though? Why would a man who was not responsible for pulling the triggers that led to the death of tens of millions of people be held responsible for war crimes? Because those who give allowance to injustice and justify bloodshed by pushing messages of violence are actually more guilty than those who pull triggers. This is why almost all of the top tier Nazis were sentenced to their graves while countless prison guards at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and beyond largely avoided verdicts.
In the top ten of Nazi henchmen, Joseph Goebbels ranks high on the list of reprehensible Third Reich monsters. Goebbels is credited for being the father of modern day propaganda. It was his artful messaging and crafty slogans that allowed Adolph Hitler to rise from an also-ran National Socialist to become the 20th century Caligula. Goebbels cunningly played on the emotions of tens of millions of aggrieved Germans and fed their nationalism by perverting patriotism into a sick form of xenophobia and hatred. Though Goebbels’s methods and means were despicable, there is no denying his brilliance. His acumen for using words and euphemisms to manipulate public opinion was so effective that the United States government imported a bunch of his underlings after the war ended in order to practice, and ultimately unleash, the modern age of social engineering we are treated to by way of marketing campaigns, talking points and sloganeering.
I write this article in light of the Senate hearing I witnessed last evening chaired by Tennessee Senator Bob Corker on the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF). I’m not going to be coy here; the whole event was a dog and pony show where neoliberal war hawks jousted with neocon war mongers. Democrats and Republicans differ only on the means of war; instead of discussing the legality of this never ending and Orwellian “War on Terror”, they just bickered on the margins. All the pomp and circumstance was just a smokescreen; the back and forth between Senators on both side of the isle as they took turns kabuki dancing with Secretary of Defense James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was a Potemkin village at its apex.
The hearing was meant to show that Congress was holding the Trump administration in check. What a farce! Congress checking the powers of the White House is like Kanye West mentoring Donald Trump on the virtues of humility. The truth is that our nation has been in a continuous state of war for decades as the military-financial racket uses patriotism to spread bloodshed around the world the same way Goebbels used nationalism to birth the “Final Solution”. Every politician in DC is in the pockets of corporate interests and multinational businesses. The Corporate State Media loves to make a big show of Russians hacking our elections as they intentionally overlook how Citizens United euthanized our Democracy and gave us a banana republic ran by kleptocrats.
From the outset, the hearing was exposed for the sham that it was by Senator Corker’s opening statement. Before he proceeded to wax poetic about the virtues of “defending Democracy”, Corker turned his attention to the audience (otherwise known as United States citizens) and excoriated people in the gallery to be quite or else face being chained and sent to holding cells. Silly me! I thought we were the bosses of Congress. It has gotten to the point where the citizenry is seen as nuisances who need to be dealt with harshly if we dare try to have a voice in the affairs of our government.
From there, the comedy of mendacity kept rolling along. Ben Cardin, Maryland’s Senator, took his turn to expose himself as a duplicitous corporate warmonger when he lectured the Trump administration for being too militaristic. Cardin went on to list the number of nations that America has troop presence in and then turned to the cameras for effect and expressed exasperation and dismay for Trump’s knee-jerk use of military force. Senator Cardin has to be related to Rip Van Winkle, surely he has been sleeping for eight years of Barack droning countries around the world. The list of nations he rattled off were occupied during the Obama administration as they are now. Wikileaks Tweeted about a girl from Yemen that was killed by a commando raid approved by Donald Trump seven years after her brother was droned to death by Obama. But according to Senator Cardin and one too many “liberals”, the ills of the world magically started on January 20th, 2017.
Yet, as flagrant as the entire Senate hearings were last evening, there was one moment of disgrace that rose above the rest. The Goebbels prize for pernicious marketing that the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda would have been proud of goes to the aforementioned Senator Corker. Bob went on to describe the presence of troops in Syria, Libya and the endless list of nations our government keeps bleeding by referring to service men and women as “boots on the ground”. To be fair to the soon retiring Senator from Tennessee, he is not the first nor the last to use this most malicious saying. To reduce military personnel and the suffering they go through by using euphemisms like “boots on the ground” is depraved indifference at its height and callous propagandizing perfected.Senator Corker—who pretends to be a proponent of limited government—spoke at length about the need to defend our national interests. What national interests are we defending by covertly or overtly occupying nearly half of this world’s nations and acting like the blitzkrieg bully of this planet? We spend trillions profiting arms makers and arming factions only to turn around and fight the very same “terrorists” we are creating. Or as Senator Corker calls it, “advancing our national [corporare] interests”. The ways of slick talkers never ends; there is a vast difference between cunning and wisdom as evidenced by Senator Corker’s opening statement from last evening:
“This committee has always recognized that we have a special responsibility to try to speak with one voice on foreign policy. We have a great tradition of working together in a bipartisan way to advance the national interest…where large numbers of boots on the ground are not necessary to conduct a very significant military engagement..” ~ Senator Bob Corker
Our military-financial racket laden government spends more than $598 billion a year on military expenditures; this figure is sketchy because it does not take into account the full scope of money that is spent on prime and sub-contractors in this ongoing fleecing of tax payers. We lavish money on weapons makers only to turn around and find use for these weapons of mass death by any pretext necessary. Tens of billions of dollars are wasted on weapons programs that military leaders do not ask nor want. This is what happens when graft and nepotism gives incentive to greed and self-preservation above duty to nation. If we spent a fraction of the money we waste on weapons of death by investing it in America, we could end homelessness and poverty in America as we know it. But there is no money in healing; the only way to reap fortunes is by creating havoc and bloodshed around the world.
What our government—and corporatism as a whole—has perfected is a most malicious form of messaging that normalizes vices as virtue and erases suffering and injustice. The Nazis our government imported after World War II ended taught Federal bureaucrats very well indeed [read Why US Government Brought in Nazis]. Goebbels figured out that words, speeches and euphemisms are powerful weapons that can condition the broader public to act against their own interests and comply to the wishes of depots. The lethal propaganda started by Goebbels is being continued by the Psy/Ops that is actively being deployed by government agencies and Wall Street entities alike. Some of the most brilliant minds and high priced defense consultants (I should know as I was a former high priced consultant) are hired to come up with slogans and catch phrases that serve to obfuscate the actions of this criminal military-financial racket we call government.
For the record, wars are not counted by the innocuous sounding “boots on ground”. Wars are counted by blood on ground and bodies in caskets. “Boots on ground” not only hides the malice of these immoral wars our excessive federal government keeps initiating around the globe for the sake of greed and hubris, it also serves to obscure the strife service men and women go through on a daily basis. The “boots on the ground” in Iraq, Syria, Libya and the countless nations we keep invading and droning become the shoes on pavements and sidewalks once the enlistment of soldiers is over. Every 20 minutes, a former “boot on the ground” commits suicide as a veteran ends his or her life unable to cope with the horrors of the human anguish they witnessed.
But to politicians in DC, pundits on TV and plutocrats living a life of royalty, the scale of human suffering is just a cost of doing business. They wave flags and glibly talk about patriotism while having not an ounce of loyalty to America or humanity—their only fidelity is to profits and money. We live in a bifurcated nation where the wealthiest live a life of opulence while the rest of us are seen as disposable assets. I’m reminded of this split reality by the moving words of Kerrie Ann who chided Donald Trump and the corporate political class by Tweeting that the “boot on ground” politicians keep referring to is her only son.
The Senate AUMF hearing was poetically fitting in hindsight. A room full of wealthy Senators cross examine a former Exxon-Mobil CEO Tillerson who is now our Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense Mattis who is creature of militarism who is called Mad Dog Mattis by those who know him best. Our nation is administered by wealthy, unaccountable and pathologically arrogant aristocrats. This is the precise dangers that President Eisenhower alluded to when he warned about the excesses of the military-industrial complex. We have a Congress that spends more time collecting checks from billionaires and corporations than they are in session. I wrote an open letter to my Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine along with my Congressman Gerry Connolly last week conveying my concern as a citizen and their constituent [read My Open Letter to Congress]. Care to guess whether Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Gerry Connolly answered their constituent? Of course not, they are too busy preening on TV and washing the feet of corporate lobbyists to care about an average citizen. It is time to seriously reflect as a nation and find a way to reject these moneyed toadies of corporatism we keep sending to Washington DC. There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats; both are factions and wings of the same jingoistic ideology who work for the vultures of corporatism. They carry on the legacy of Goebbels as they sanitize war crimes using euphemisms as scrubs and our indifference as ammonia—they reduce human suffering to slogans and catchy phrases. We should rightly judge politicians and pundits who use “boots on the ground” going forward as the heirs and caretakers of Goebbels’s legacy. Godwin’s Law be damned; human suffering is human suffering irrespective of scale—crimes against humanity are not dependent on body count. #BloodOnGround
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ~ George Orwell
Check out this Ghion Cast where I discuss the mendacity of both Democrats and Republicans as they further this war machine that is responsible for crimes against humanity.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where discuss the only way to overcome tyranny and stand against global injustice.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.