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Ralph spends a lively hour with David Vine, Professor of Anthropology at American University, discussing his book “The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts from Columbus to the Islamic State.” Plus, Ralph announces that the Congress Club letter writing campaign is ready to kick off.

David Vine is Professor of Anthropology at American University and a member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists. He is the author of several books including Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World and Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. His latest book is The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic StateNote: David Vine has committed to donating all profits from book royalties and speaker honorariums to the Chagossian people and non-profit organizations serving other victims of war.

I think the drone program has been an abomination. And I would challenge anyone to identify a single drone assassination that one could claim was legal in any sense. But I think beyond the legality and the inhumanity of this kind of assassination complex… Beyond that, the drone program is an example and a symbol of the way in which the entire War on Terror has been counterproductive. I actually spoke to someone in the White House, who was part of that drone killing program in the Obama administration. And it hadn’t even occurred to him and others in the White House that these drone strikes might have been counterproductive.

David Vine, author of The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State

US bases abroad show us how the United States is an empire that has sought expansion. US officials have sought expansion. And that US bases abroad have not just enabled the long series of US wars, but have actually made war more likely. Because when you build bases abroad– bases on other people’s territories– these tend not to be defensive in nature. They tend to actually be offensive in nature. They tend to be platforms for war. And that’s, indeed, what we’ve seen through the long series of US wars since independence.

David Vine, author of The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State

Obama was such a disappointment here. Given the way he talked in his campaign, and his training as a constitutional lawyer… [He] was observed as having a great deal of interest in pushing buttons that evaporate people 6,000 miles away, who they don’t have any evidence that they’re conducting any imminent strike against anything called “America.”

Ralph Nader

“Biden– not in a heavy way but a continuing way–he made direct attacks, military attacks, in Iraq and Syria. Not in response to a direct attack by an adversary. And he basically is saying now he’s going to attack anywhere, regardless of whether there is something going on that’s threatening us imminently. And this completely contradicts his interview with Chris Matthews of about 12 years ago, when he basically said “Only Congress can declare war, and this should be an impeachable offense!” So here we go again. You’ve got this enormous pressure, regardless of whether we’ve got a Republican [or] Democrats in the White House. And the increasing taboo in the Congress of even challenging the military budget.

Ralph Nader

I think that many US government officials from the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations are war criminals and should be prosecuted as such. I think that’s unlikely to happen in the Biden administration, unfortunately. Part of the way that government officials, they think about covering their own asses…if you start going after former officials, you worry about opening yourself up for later prosecution. Of course, if you went after former officials for the crimes they’ve committed, you might also hope that, then, that would encourage current officials to not break the law.

David Vine, author of The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 384 Transcript (Right click to download)

20 Comments

  1. Ben Leet says:

    The Defense (Pentagon) budget was $1.2543 trillion in 2019, the finding of Smithberger and Hartung writing in The Nation, 2019. Officially it was $750 billion. It’s two-thirds larger than the official cost. It is our welfare program for unemployed adult males, a jobs program. Excessive military spending fosters a sick paranoid sociopathic view of the world, a view that thinks “we are surrounded by enemies”. I looked up household net worth today. U.S. Private savings equals $136 trillion (Flow of Funds, Federal Reserve), that is $1 million per household, yet the lower 40% own just 0.2% of all wealth — hard to believe. I mention that because it’s another instance of an anomaly that is not well-known. We may all be millionaires, on average, but 40% of us are nearly penniless. Yet we spend trillions on defense in a world of paupers. Maybe a majority of humans survive on less than $10 or less than $5 per day. They are our enemy? We’ve lost our moral compass. Talk in this interview of people who advocate a state of permanent war, of endless war, underscores the near boundless failure hope and goodwill. Fortunately this insanity may end, with books like the interviewee’s coming out.

  2. Douglas Jack says:

    Isn’t it disingenuous to blame the USA, when it itself has been controlled ‘Lock-Stock-&-Barrel’. We know the US & its partners like the 5-Eyes, aren’t in the Middle-east for oil, because every year, we burn up far more oil through the war machine, than even we are able to steal. Donald Trump honestly said, we are in the Middle-east for one unmentionable oligarch established colonized country alone & its not the USA, its puppet.
    So who owns the USA? Who finances the ‘s’election costing 100s of 1000s of $ to become a Representative or millions of $ to become a Senator or billions of $ to become President? Its not the American public! The USA & its colonial antecedents have been puppet regimes for ~400 years. Who owns the US & western Finance-Media-Religion-Education-Military-Industrial-Legislative-Judicial-Complex? Each of these are controlled entities by trillionaires going-on quadrillionaires. Who owns the minority but controlling Multinational shares of the US-Federal-Reserve, Bank-of-England & Bank-of-International-Settlements hence World-Bank & International-Monetary-Fund? i.e. Who controls the issuing of money to friends, families, associates for their pet Nuclear, war, arms, munitions, pesticide, GMO, plantations, digital communication projects at its origins before it trickles down to the rest of us? This oligarch command & control is the genocidal foundation of ‘exogenous’ (Latin ‘other-generated’) colonial empire.

    HOW TO STOP ANY WAR ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
    INDIA’s SWADESHI EXAMPLE OF EFFECTIVE SELF-EMPOWERMENT To go beyond ‘exogeny’, India’s ‘Swadeshi’ (Hindi ‘Indigenous’ aka ‘Self-sufficiency’) movement ‘organized-people-from-the-tree-roots’ to grow food, fibre, spin thread (India’s Spinning-Wheel flag), weave, build or organize Collective Multihome Housing (eg. apartment, townhouse & village) aka ‘Ashram’ intimate, intergenerational, female-male, interdisciplinary, critical-mass, economies-of-scale collaboration. Mohandas Gandhi came back to India from South-Africa in 1915, eventually becoming oriented to Swadeshi & an enthusiastic advocate, manifesting self-sufficiency in his own day-to-day actions as a model. India understood it could not win independence by fighting in British courts, false-Governor parliament, etc, according to colonial rules, command & control https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy/extending-our-welcome-participatory-multi-home-cohousing
    India realizing personal & collective power flows from economy, proactively self-organized. People gained pride & trust in their own capacities again to fulfill essential goods & services locally with local human & physical resources. By the time Swadeshi had affected only 5% of the Empire’s foreign finished-goods import & raw-material export trade to & from India, 100s of US, Canadian, British, Australian & New-Zealand companies were going bankrupt. The 15,000 kilometre foreign shipping & 5 year planning cycle is economically vulnerable. With effective proactive Swadeshi the British empire had no choice but to accept India’s ‘Swaraj’ (Hindi ‘self-rule’) by 1947. India didn’t reactively ‘protest/demonstrate’ its way to independence as much as proactively ‘manifest’ aka with each person ‘Becoming the change-we-want-to-see-in-the-world’.
    Today’s Multinational shipping & planning is even more fragile, inefficient & vulnerable. ‘Indigenous’ (Latin ‘Self-generating’) ‘Economy’ (Greek ‘oikos’ = ‘home’ + ‘namein’ = ‘care-&-nurture’) is primarily organized around the intergenerational Multihome with Industry & Commerce as subset economies. Today 70% of people live in Multihomes with an average of 32 dwelling-units or ~100 people the same as all humanity’s indigenous ancestors. We’ve only had our memories erased about how to collaborate in Relational Economy. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy
    Swadeshi is an example of all humanity’s worldwide indigenous ancestry. http://www.indigenecommunity.info

  3. Don Harris says:

    The first step to stopping the military industrial congressional complex is to separate the military industrial part from the congressional part.

    The glue that holds them together is the big money that finances the candidates and the party (The Deathocrats and Republikillers are two divisions of one big money party).

    We can separate them by using Ralph’s theory that politicians want our votes more than big money.

    Ralph could inform citizens about One Demand and make it part of the Congress Club.

    This could enable citizens to work together across party lines on an issue that 80% of citizens want- getting the big money out of politics.

    Citizens can demand that politicians finance their campaigns only with small donors (no more than 200 dollars from any one donor per election-200 primary, 200 general) and enforce that demand with votes in the primaries and general election in 2022 putting Ralph’s theory to the test.

    Writing letters to big money politicians telling them you want them to do what the big money interests do not want them to do is not likely to be effective as it provides no incentive to encourage a proper response.

    As little as 10% of voters in 2022 making this demand and proving they are serious with votes in the primaries and general elections would be enough to wreak havoc in some districts as it could be made up of crucial swing voters. This would encourage more citizens and candidates to participate in 2024.

    You have your marching orders, Ralph. .

  4. Kathryn Jennings says:

    Where can I buy “The United States of War” other than from Amazon?

  5. Jeff Story says:

    Another great show! On the question of what the War in Afghanistan is doing to our country, not at all unlike the Vietnam War more veterans are committing suicide than the total combat deaths. One can’t help but also note the huge amount of heroin coming out Afghanistan. This too is reminiscent of the Vietnam War. With the recent OxyContin epidemic it really makes you wonder about the USA’s motives for that war. We need to stop the pain, evidently.

  6. Gus Bagakis says:

    This is the program I’ve been waiting for. The connection of war to capitalism. Now all I have to do is connect it to Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism. Keep up the good work and thank you for promoting hope and change.

  7. stan moore says:

    Following Margaret Mead’s seminal “War is only an invention – not a biological necessity” 1940 article a lot of work on the topic of war has been done. Referring to archeological and other evidence uncovered in the interim 70 years Rutgers anthropologist, R Brian Ferguson tells “War is not part of human nature” (Scientific American, 1 Sept 2018).

    Nonetheless, war persists. A leaked earnings call to Lockheed Martin’s CEO from a worried Deutsche Bank analyst about the then upcoming Iran nuclear deal may give a hint why contemporary war persists (“Big Bank Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Press Weapons Sales” Intercept, 20 March 2015)

  8. Rita says:

    Another great episode! Thank you all. History and writing by dedicated researchers and other humanities academics like Mr. Nader’s sister, Mr. Vine and so many others are critical. Understanding the open floodgate of imperialism before, during and after WW2, understanding the role that unregulated foreign direct investment plays in empire, understanding how we got to where we are today is so critical – both personally and collectively. Censorship uses many tactics. So many classic and important histories are just not to be found for any price or no reasonable price. Truth seeking gets more expensive as the prices on some books discourage those with questions. More and more books list for hundreds of dollars. Why are they not found in my libraries then if they are so valuable. Amazon and search engines seem to be able to attempt to steer you away from your valid questions and interests to something they’d rather have your mind focused on. One decent history book on U.S. foreign direct investment can easily go for over $250. My public and even my local university library offerings grow less and less helpful, I suspect due to corporate and other donor objections to academic works that do not comply with standard propagandist narratives. Heaven forbid the public should be able to access academic journals and articles. Why is that? There are histories of all kinds there. It seems they would rather we be stupid and addicted to Fox or CNN. Shame on those who lock information away. One more note – I am filled with dread each time Ralph recommends someone buy an extra copy of a book and “donate it to your local library”. Am I the only one noticing a concerted effort to rid public libraries of anything that doesn’t promote the status quo imperial, militaristic, neoliberal or neoconservative political economy policy themes? Economic and History sections are filled with polemics and patriotic stories instead of academic works. Please people, by all means buy the books you like, but if you donate good books that do not follow the standard military- industrial-corporate-political narratives – they likely will end up discarded or sold for a buck or two to raise money to buy more polemics and maybe some more cushy furniture! Many of the books mentioned on Mr. Nader’s show are not to be found in my libraries, nor do I expect they will be in the future donated or not, for the very same reasons the authors are often not interviewed by major media. Libraries…I have loved them since I visited my first one, but they are no longer the place for questions and learning – at least in my experience over the last 30 years. Libraries seem to be following the same path as public schools. They are now places to be conditioned, propagandized, and entertained, not for intellectual development. Build your own libraries, folks, and share them with anyone you think will appreciate them.

  9. Beto says:

    “Obama was such a disappointment here….”
    tired of hearing from liberals express this bout obama the killer. Did they really expect something different from a guy who said that he admired Reagan?

  10. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    I wanted to hear which were those 11 years the US wasn’t at war, but it was never delivered 🙁

  11. Nancy Camargo says:

    I followed the link, as suggested above by Skro35. Thank you!

    It is recommend there to ask your library buy this book. Good idea, I thought. I will do that, and once my library gets it, I will be able to read it, since I am not generally in the group of those who buy books. I searched my local library first to see if the book had already been purchased. A welcome surprise, it was available as a hold, and I will receive it in a couple of weeks.

    I do not have the disheartening experiences with the library that Rita has, above. My public library is a tremendous and invaluable resource for me. It is the City of Los Angeles Public Library. Perhaps the librarians there could help Rita by recommending a way of interacting with her library to improve her experiences.

    I want to mention how much I have enjoyed and appreciated the public library’s Overdrive program. It is a way of using the library from home digitally. It has magnificent features. I can check out a book, and when the check-out period expires, the book disappears from my loans page. No need to return. No fines for overdue books. A renew feature is also available. Also, when a hold is ready for me, I get an email reminder, and the hold appears on my holds page for me to accept as a loan or postpone. One of the parts I like best is that if I am not ready for a hold when it becomes available, I do not need to start over and wait in line for the book again. I can skip my turn for any number of weeks, as I choose, and I am still in line for the book at the end of that time. I can read the books in my browser or as something called an epub book. I highly recommend trying the Overdrive system, if your library has it, or asking your library to get it.

    The survival of democracy requires an educated and informed populace. I believe our libraries are a vital resource.

  12. Paul Haeder says:

    The DoD, military, the corporations, and Israel, too, all part of the murder incorporated United Snakes of Amerikkka.

    This is what this rapacious company wants? quote — “The Pentagon should start electronically connecting its most important weapons first as it builds a broader strategy to link everything on the battlefield, the head of the world’s largest defense contractor says.

    Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet also believes companies should help write the technical standards for the Pentagon’s effort, just as private industry did with mobile phone standards in the 1990s that laid the foundation for the current generation of commercial wireless.”

    From Danny H — “Disaster capitalism,” a term made popular by author Naomi Klein, describes the many ways in which massive profits are accumulated from tragedy. Hurricane Katrina provides one of the starkest examples of the parasitic nature of capitalism. After the lower 9th ward of New Orleans was decimated and countless Black Americans uprooted, the public school system was privatized in its entirety. The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced numerous examples of “disaster capitalism.” Billionaires such as Jeff Bezos have seen their profits grow handsomely over the past year amid mass death and economic devastation.

    A major limitation of the term “disaster capitalism” is that it insinuates that another kind of capitalism is possible. The myth that capitalism is not inherently exploitative or predatory is nothing new to the United States. Since the end of World War II, liberal economists such as Robert Reich have argued that a gentler form of capitalism is possible so long as New Deal-type reforms are a permanent fixture of economic life. Yet no amount of regulations or protections negate the fact capitalism doesn’t merely profit from disasters; it is the disaster. — end quote — Danny Haiphong

    Oliver Stone hits it with his new documentary —

    https://www.rt.com/usa/529114-oliver-stone-jfk-cuba/

  13. Beto says:

    Steve the socialist cohost repeats the lie in his introduction that the US was founded on genocide, slavery blah blah. Since he doesn’t like it here, I strongly suggest he move to Haiti, Cuba or Venezuela. Good luck, Steve!!!

    • Skro35 says:

      What is “socialist” about recognizing the genocide of Native Americans and the institution of slavery? And you’re not the one who gets to tell me where to live, Beto. No one put you in charge of that for anyone.

      • Beto says:

        the key point is “founded on”. Of course, slavery took place but was not the reason why this great country was founded despite the lies of the author of the 1619 scam project (now debunked by several historians). As for the Indian genocide? No. If that had been the case, few if any would have been left over due to the technical superiority of the US army. They were forcibly removed, yes, but not exterminated. Today, there are at least 2 million of them. By the way, these were not their land as Indians in N. America were mostly nomadic and lacked the European/American concept of private property. And last but not least, once in Cuba enjoy the new revolution going on!.

    • Afdal Shahanshah says:

      I don’t think Steve is a socialist yet, but we’re working on him 😉
      Soon…

  14. Stevie Duster says:

    Personally, my favorite interview in the long history of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour program. Better to sound off after having first read the author’s newly published book which I’ll be taking my own advice and do, but not before making a suggestion here to Paul Jay that his viewers also get a chance to hear David Vine, Professor of Anthropology at American University, discussi his book “The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts from Columbus to the Islamic State.” on Analysis News with Paul Jay.

  15. Ben Leet says:

    I am reading an article about an air force soldier charged with “leaking” classified information about Drone warfare. His name is Daniel Hale, the article is at Common Dreams, July 25, 2021. A short quote: “The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged, but still drivable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction.

    The driver stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakable burka… And in the back were their two young daughters, ages five and three years old… The eldest was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated. — https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/07/23/pre-sentencing-letter-drone-whistleblower-daniel-hale-says-crisis-conscience

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