Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Governments and Killing

By Robert Wenzel

R.J. Rummel in his powerful book, Death By Government, makes the important point that
Power will achieve its murderous potential. It simply waits for an excuse, an event of some sort, an assassination, a massacre in a neighboring country, an attempted coup, a famine, or a natural disaster, to justify the beginning of murder en masse. 
This is but one reason, though an important reason, why we should be very concerned about the escalation of US participation in the civil wars in Iraq and Syria.The US government hasn't turned on its people yet to a significant degree, but the continuing intervention of the Empire in foreign lands, with its beating of the propaganda drums, provides cover for the government to escalate monitoring and restriction of own its citizens. This is a very dangerous path.

 Wikipedia lists over 30 current ongoing armed conflicts in the world. The US can not be the world's policemen, as barbaric as the ISIS beheadings have been, this is not something new to the world. It has gone on for as long as man has been on the planet.

Rummel tells us:
After the capture of Bram in 1210, the Albigensian Crusaders, Christians all, took 100 captured soldiers and gouged out their eyes, cut off their noses and upper lips, and had them led by a one-eyed man to Cabaret, yet to be attacked. This was done to terrorize Cabaret into immediate surrender.
And
Even the great emperor who unified China and gave it his name, Qin (pronounced Chin) Shihuang, buried alive 346 scholars in order to discourage opposition. Burying people alive seems to have been a favorite weapon of Chinese rulers and emperors. For example, when the ruler of Wei kingdom (Zaozao) conquered Xuzhou he buried alive several dozen thousand civilians.
Rummel also quotes Robert Payne:
[Chinese Emperor Chang Hsein-chung] set about all the merchants[in Chebgtu], then all the women and all the officials. Finally he ordered his own soldiers to kill each other. He ordered the feet of the officers' wives to be cut off and made a mound of them, and at the top of the mound he placed the feet of his favorite concubines.
And, of course, the U.S. government has not been exempt from barbaric acts. President Harry Truman is one example that comes to mind and his approval to drop an atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and one on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

Ralph Raico notes:
The bombings were condemned as barbaric and unnecessary by high American military officers, including Eisenhower and MacArthur. The view of Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman's own chief of staff, was typical: 
the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children. 
The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime worse than any that Japanese generals were executed for in Tokyo and Manila. If Harry Truman was not a war criminal, then no one ever was.
Raico has also commented on Winston Churchill's orders for the royal Air Force to bomb Dresden:
 [A] civilized European man like Joseph Schumpeter, at Harvard, was driven to telling "anyone who would listen" that Churchill and Roosevelt were destroying more than Genghis Khan.
The most infamous act was the destruction of Dresden, in February, 1945. According to the official history of the Royal Air Force: "The destruction of Germany was by then on a scale which might have appalled Attila or Genghis Khan." Dresden, which was the capital of the old kingdom of Saxony, was an indispensable stop on the Grand Tour, the baroque gem of Europe. The war was practically over, the city filled with masses of helpless refugees escaping the advancing Red Army. Still, for three days and nights, from February 13 to 15, Dresden was pounded with bombs. At least 30,000 people were killed, perhaps as many as 135,000 or more.
Governments are very dangerous beasts. We should never encourage any of them to expand their military might, and we should never encourage them to slip into fighting mode. Given the right twist in circumstances the beast will come home to feast on us.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics