Thursday, August 09, 2007

Quotes, Lies, and Wars

August 9 2007, marks the 62nd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, following last Monday´s (August 6) anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. As before and afterwards during the course of history, we, the people, were made to believe that there was a "noble" motive behind this killing.

However, contrary to common myth and belief, neither bombing, was of any military value. Truman and his team simply wanted to punish the Japanese, impress the Soviets, and see if the thing worked.

About 40,000 Japanese people, almost all civilians, died immediately, and many more died from radiation poisoning in the ensuing years. The bomb was a plutonium "implosion" bomb. Hiroshima had been made with highly enriched uranium, a simple design now available to nearly everyone.

The tragic anniversary has prompted me to take a look at a variety of quotations by our political leaders, some more recent, some from decades back, but all of them telling, outrageous and/ or tasteless.

The following collection is, I have to admit, slightly lopsided. I meant to include far more equally infamous quotations by politicians from my fellow countrymen. But for the most part, they don´t seem to be having to say anything worth noting (one way or the other).

Which may have to do with the fact that the role of German politics on a global scale has shrunk to near insignificance since we last attempted to spread our alleged virtues all over this world (thankfully, we didn´t get very far, although it was enough to bring death and misery to millions of innocent lives).

Which of course doesn´t mean we´re not involved in the various pieces of military mess, ranging from the war on Yugoslavia to our involvement in Afghanistan. Only Germany´s role now is that of a willing accomplice, rather than that of leader of the pack. Which isn´t much better, it´s just a little less exposed (and hence tends to go a little more unnoticed).

Talking about the war on Yugoslavia, the claims for "Operation Horseshoe", which played a major role to justify the bombings of Serbia in 1999, were ... ummmm ..., yes, I think we can call it "made up" by the German government, in cooperation by former German minister of foreign affairs, Joschka Fischer (a member of what had once been the pacifist Green party), and former German minister of defence, Rudolf Scharping (a member of the Social Democratic Party).

I well remember Scharping speaking to the German public, resembling a rabied dog, froth forming on his mouth as he was spreading (what later turned out to be entirely made up) that the Yugoslav government was about to carry out ethnic cleansing on a massive scale in Kosovo. (You can read up the details here.)

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any transcript of this. In essence, it amounts to about the same as Colin Powell´s presentation before the UN in February 2003: It was a lie to justify the bombing of a country.

Needless to say, the media never made as big a deal of bringing the fact, that these claims were simply not true, to the attention of the public, as they had been before when it came to spreading the war-propaganda. Which is why many Germans probably still believe that "Operation Horseshoe" had in fact existed. And many US citizens still believe that there were, indeed, weapons of mass destruction.

So, just because there are very few quotations of German politicians included here, that doesn´t mean that my fellow countrymen and -women are not capable of the same verbal and actual atrocities. Only their words have been less well documented in the recent past.


The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.

Harry S. Truman, excerpts from a radio address to the American public on August 9, 1945

(The target is always military, never civilian. So how come most deaths in any war are civilians?)


The youth of Germany has no problem with Jewry. Sometimes my two sons and I go to the Jewish cementary in Oggersheim.

Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl in Tel Aviv speaking to 900 Israeli politicians (January 1983)

(May you choke on your sauerkraut and saumagen!)

I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.

G. W. Bush, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C., June 18, 2002

(Sounds a bit like: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. -George Orwell, 1984)

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," Rumsfeld said. "They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here."

Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. "Stuff happens," Rumsfeld said. (Quoted here).

(An interesting notion of freedom. Luckily, in real life in a real free country, it doesn´t extend to doing such obnoxious things like having a bottle of beer in the middle of Central Park. Looting and committing crimes, as long as that happens in far away places, may be fine. But drinking in public - tututut!)

Freedom´s untidy ...

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.

George W. Bush, May 29, 2003

So what's the difference?

G.W. Bush, Dec 16, 2003, to Diane Sawyer, as she presses about the administration's verbiage about Iraqi WMD vs. the fact none were used or found

(Yes, what difference does it make what kind of justification has been brought up to destroy and uproot an entire country, to plunge it into a complete mess, have an - as of this day, August 9, 2007 - estimated one million of its citizens killed, not to forget some 3,681 US casualties? Truth, lies, phhhhht! Who can tell the difference, anyway?)

Where´s the difference ...?

See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction.

Midwest Airlines Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 3, 2003

(Hmmm ... let me see ... we have just been attacking a country. We own weapons of mass destruction which we have developed. So, what does that make us?)

This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. (Short pause) And having said that, all options are on the table. (Laughter)

G. W. Bush, February 25, 2005

(Yes, the notion to bomb a country, to kill thousands of civilians, to destroy their existence, their infrastruture, is very funny, indeed. Cheers to the press corps!)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

G. W. Bush, State of the Union, January 31, 2006

(Oh no, it´s never been about oil!)

CHENEY: The treatment they're getting -- they got a brand new facility down at Guantanamo. We spent a lot of money to build it. They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possible want. There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people.

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney in an interview with CNN´s Wolf Blitzer on conditions in Guantanamo, quoted on on February 24, 2005 (Quoted here).

(So who´s complaining? I mean, other people have to pay a lot of money for vacationing in the tropics! Hmm, does the "Vice" in "Vice President" have anything to do with the noun "vice" - as opposed to "virtue"?)

They live in the tropics ...

The above quotation nicely matches a similar one by former Bavarian head of government, Franz Josef Strauss, when giving his two pence about Chile´s infamous stadium, when he was there to visit his buddy, dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1977:

"When the weather is nice, life in the stadium is reasonably pleasant."

Chile Stadium

There is nothing to add.

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