in case anyone needs reminding that "USA" has always stood for
"United States of Aggression," here are a forgotten few from February's
In 1897, Teddy Roosevelt stated bluntly, "I should welcome almost any
war, for I think this country needs one." His wait lasted less than a
February 15, 1898 was a muggy Tuesday night in Havana Harbor. Some 350
crew and officers settled in on board the Maine. "At 9:40 p.m., the
ship's forward end abruptly lifted itself from the water," writes author
Tom Miller. "Along the pier, passersby could hear a rumbling explosion.
Within seconds, another eruption-this one deafening and massive-splintered
the bow, sending anything that wasn't battened down, and most that was,
flying more than 200 feet into the air."
The Maine was in Havana Harbor in 1898 on a purportedly
friendly mission. "At a certain point in that spring, (President) McKinley
and the business community began to see that their object, to get Spain
out of Cuba, could not be accomplished without war," writes Howard Zinn,
"and that their accompanying object, the securing of American military and
economic influence in Cuba, could not be left to the Cuban rebels, but
could be ensured only by U.S. intervention."
American newspapers, especially those run by Hearst (New York Journal)
and Pulitzer (New York World), jumped on the Maine explosion
as the ideal justification to drum up public support for a war of
imperialism. "Tabloid headlines depicting Spanish atrocities against
Cubans became commonplace, and the influential papers of both men were
outdoing each other in the sensationalized screaming for war," says
historian Kenneth C. Davis. When Hearst sent artist Frederick Remington to
Cuba to supply pictures, he reported that he could not find a war. "You
furnish the pictures," Hearst famously replied, "and I'll furnish the
(In 1976, Admiral Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy mounted an
investigation of the Maine disaster. Rickover and his team of
experts concluded that the explosion was probably caused by "spontaneous
combustion inside the ship's coal bins," a problem common to ships of that
In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. fought a brutal
war of conquest in the Pacific. By 1900, more than 75,000 American troops
-- three-quarters of the entire U.S. Army -- were sent to the Philippines.
In the face of this overwhelming show of force, the Filipinos turned to
guerrilla warfare. The February 5, 1901 edition of the New York World
shed some light on the U.S. response to guerilla tactics: "Our soldiers
here and there resort to terrible measures with the natives. Captains and
lieutenants are sometimes judges, sheriffs and executioners. 'I don't want
any more prisoners sent into Manila' was the verbal order from the
Governor-General three months ago. It is now the custom to avenge the
death of an American soldier by burning to the ground all the houses, and
killing right and left the natives who are only suspects."
Imagine a rally that involved plenty of marching and arms raised in a
Nazi salute to their leader. Somewhere near Nuremberg, perhaps? Guess
again. The venue was Madison Square Garden where frenzied members of the
German-American Bund cheered Fritz Kuhn as he stood before a 30-foot high
portrait of George Washington flanked by black swastikas, leading them in
a chant of "Free Amerika!" (a rallying cry which had just recently
replaced "Sieg Heil!"), while thirteen hundred New York City policemen
stood guard outside the building.
A U.S. citizen who served in the German Army during the First World
War, Kuhn's loyalty to Adolf Hitler was surpassed only by his hatred of
Jews (like Henry Ford, he went as far as blaming the Jews for Benedict
Arnold's treason). When asked if there were any good Jews, Kuhn replied,
"If a mosquito is on your arm, you don't ask is it a good or a bad
mosquito. You just brush it off." Before you dismiss Kuhn as a fringe
character, consider this: The February 20, 1939 rally described above drew
22,000 avid followers.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 giving the army
the unrestricted power to arrest -- without warrants or indictments or
hearings -- every Japanese-American on a 150-mile strip along the West
Coast (roughly 110,000 men, women, and children) and transport them to
internment camps in Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, and other interior states to
be kept under prison conditions. The Supreme Court upheld this order and
the Japanese-Americans remained in custody for over three years. A Los
Angeles Times writer defended the forced relocations by explaining to
his readers that "a viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is
hatched -- so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents, grows up to
be a Japanese, not an American."
Life in the internment camps entailed cramped living spaces with
communal meals and bathrooms. The one-room apartments measured twenty by
twenty feet and none had running water. The internees were allowed to take
along "essential personal effects" from home but were prohibited from
bringing razors, scissors, or radios. Outside the shared wards were barbed
wire, guard towers with machine guns, and searchlights.
The dislocated Japanese-Americans incurred an estimated loss of $400
million in forced property sales during the internment years, and therein
may lie a more Machiavellian motivation than sheer race hatred. "A large
engine for the Japanese-American incarcerations was agri-business," says
Michio Kaku, a noted nuclear physicist and political activist whose
parents were interned from 1942 to 1946. "Agri-businesses in California
coveted much of the land owned by Japanese-Americans."
A formal apology came to the 60,000 survivors of internment camps in
1990. The U.S. government paid them each $20,000. While Yale Law Professor
Eugene V. Rostow later called the internment camps "our worst wartime
mistake," Zinn pointedly asks: "Was it a 'mistake' -- or was it an action
to be expected from a nation with a long history of racism and which was
fighting a war, not to end racism, but to retain the fundamentals of the
With the Russians advancing rapidly towards Berlin, tens of thousands
of German civilians fled into Dresden, believing it to be safe from
attack. As a result, the city's population swelled from its usual 600,000
to at least one million. Beside the stream of refugees, Dresden was also
known for its china and its Baroque and Rococo architecture. Its galleries
housed works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Botticelli. On the evening
of February 13, none of this would matter.
Using the Dresden soccer stadium as a reference point, over 2000 British Lancasters
and American Flying Fortresses dropped loads of gasoline bombs every 50
square yards out from this marker. The enormous flame that resulted was
eight square miles wide, shooting smoke three miles high. For the
next eighteen hours, regular bombs were dropped on top of this strange
brew. Twenty-five minutes after the bombing, winds reaching 150
miles-per-hour sucked everything into the heart of the storm. Because the
air became superheated and rushed upward, the fire lost most of its
oxygen, creating tornadoes of flame that can suck the air right out of
Seventy percent of the Dresden dead either suffocated or died from
poison gases that turned their bodies green and red. The intense heat
melted some bodies into the pavement like bubblegum, or shrunk them into
three-foot long charred carcasses. Clean-up crews wore rubber boots to
wade through the "human soup" found in nearby caves. In other cases, the
superheated air propelled victims skyward only to come down in tiny pieces
as far as fifteen miles outside Dresden. "The flames ate everything
organic, everything that would burn," wrote journalist Phillip Knightley.
"People died by the thousands, cooked, incinerated, or suffocated. Then
American planes came the next day to machine-gun survivors as they
struggled to the banks of the Elbe."
The Allied firebombing did more than shock and awe. The bombing
campaign murdered more than 100,000 people-mostly civilians... but the
exact number may never be known due to the high number of refugees in the
Edgar L. Jones, a former war correspondent in the Pacific, wrote in the Atlantic
Monthly: "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway? We
shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats,
killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded,
tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled
flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved
their bones into letter openers."
David Lawrence, editor of US News & World Report, wrote: "What the
United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of
philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in
our times." When challenged with stories of American atrocities in
Vietnam, Lawrence explained, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their
hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized
An unnamed U.S. major, quoted by Associated Press on February 8, 1968,
was asked about the American assault on the Vietnamese town of Bentre. The
major explained: "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save
High above a swamp, over 60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to
Iraq, a division of the Iraq's Republican Guard withdrew on February
26-27,1991. Baghdad radio had just announced Iraq's acceptance of a
cease-fire proposal and, in compliance with UN Resolution 660, Iraqi
troops were ordered to withdraw to positions held before August 2, 1990.
President George H.W. Bush derisively called the announcement "an outrage"
and "a cruel hoax."
"U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front,
and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours,"
says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist. "It was like shooting
fish in a barrel," one U.S. pilot said. "Many of those massacred fleeing
Kuwait were not Iraqi soldiers at all," says Ramsey Clark, "but
Palestinians, Sudanese, Egyptians, and other foreign workers."
Randall Richard of the Providence Journal filed this dispatch from
he deck of the U.S.S. Ranger: "Air strikes against Iraqi troops retreating
from Kuwait were being launched so feverishly from this carrier today that
pilots said they took whatever bombs happened to be closest to the flight
deck. The crews, working to the strains of the Lone Ranger theme, often
passed up the projectile of choice... because it took too long to load."
"Every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered,
every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments,"
Chediac reported after visiting the scene. "No survivors are known or
likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed into
the ground, and it's impossible to see if they contain drivers or not.
Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to shrapnel."
"At one spot," Bob Drogin reported in the Los Angeles Times,
"snarling wild dogs (had) reduced two corpses to bare ribs. Giant carrion
birds pick(ed) at another; only a bootclad foot and eyeless skull are
Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer, said: "Even in Vietnam
I didn't see anything like this. It's pathetic."
Correction: When you're talking about America, it's not pathetic...it's
is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions
You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found
on the Web at:
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