Friday, August 31, 2007

The Way to War

As I continued my reading in Dom Crossan's God and Empire, a book that suggests that empire, civilization, and violence have historically run together, I came across this haunting recounting of a conversation with Herman Goering, Hitler's partner, during his time in a Nuremberg Jail. US intelligence psychologist Captain Gustave Gilbert records these words of the former German leader:

Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russian nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country that determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship . . . . The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. (Crossan, God and Empire, pp. 35-36).

These words are truly haunting, because they are so true. And propagandists have always known how to stir the people up and lead them into war -- then as now. To oppose the war in Iraq is to not support the troops, which means you're unpatriotic and you don't love America, and of course you must be naive as well. For surely we must fight for what's right. Or at least that's what we're told, and if we're made to be afraid we buy into the rhetoric of war.

2 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

And, currently, they are working toward war with Iran as they did with Iraq.

calvin said...

This is one of Crossan's finest, if not the finest of his books. I just finished it, and enjoyed every bit of it.