Come you masters of war …

1 Jun

Yesterday morning – shortly after posting Talking WW3 Blues. (Somebody has to) – I had an email from my virtual friend and fellow Dylan admirer, 1 writer Edward Curtin.

Hi Phil,
We are in big trouble now.
Pax, Ed

Indeed. An oligarchic duopoly will offer Americans a choice of felon or war criminal. In Britain the team its own oligarchy anointed (aided by the Israel Lobby) will change shirts under Sir Keir but continue on every front that counts to make the many pay for the crimes and follies of the few. Germany has a coalition nominally led by Olaf Scholz but driven by a Green yearning for Armageddon. Nonentities of Macron and Stoltenberg stripe intone end-times inducements as a sleaze ridden EU President endorses Gazan genocide, and the illegitimacy of Zelenski’s expired presidency – so much for a war of freedom versus tyranny – leaves Moscow with no one it can negotiate with. Any peace terms could be deemed non-binding by the next Kiev regime.

And then there’s Netanyahu, facing jail time the day his premiership ends, and on that count in hock to men more extreme – to Itamar Ben-Gvr, Bezalel Smotrich and Yoav “human animals” Gallant.

Yup, Ed called it right. We’re in big trouble. So without further ado and with his permission, let me offer a piece he wrote just two days ago on the why of that.

If the wars go on

I suppose my title could have been couched in the singular form, as Hermann Hesse, the Nobel Prize winning German/Swiss author, did with his collection of anti-war essays about World War I (the war to end all wars that didn’t), If The War Goes On . . .  

Or more appropriately, I might have eliminated that conditional “If” since it seems Pollyannish.

It’s a long hard road, this anti-war business.  During the first Cold War and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in the early sixties when Kennedy and Krushchev narrowly avoided blowing the world to smithereens, Bob Dylan put it right in his fierce song, Masters of War:

  (Verse 1)

Come, you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

(Verse 3)

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

Indeed there is a system of war that guarantees that the various wars go on and on ad infinitum, and they are linked.  It is why the warfare state has killed our anti-war leaders, first and foremost JFK for turning against war in the last year of his presidency.  Then in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy in quick succession.  It is why if you dare to look around the world today, you will see that there is a series of wars happening, not only in the obvious places like Ukraine and Gaza, but in places that you may never have heard of, and if you peek a bit further into their causes, you will discover that a familiar culprit with 750 plus military bases around the world has its hand in most of them – the United States of America.

These wars have their cold and hot phases.  There are days when the corporate media let them sleep and other times when the same media wake them a bit, but never enough to wake their readers up to the reality of the deadly game.  That is the media’s job as stenographers for the warfare state.  Wars being essentially the health of the state, as Randolph Bourne wrote long ago, they provide vast profits for the military-industrial complex/Wall St., whether they are in preparation or in operation, awake or asleep, hot or cold.  Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst with a moral conscience, has aptly named this vast interlocking propaganda apparatus the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think-tank complex, MICIMATT.  It is a complex that blatantly serves the interests of the masters of war who “ain’t worth the blood/that runs in [their] your veins,” in Dylan’s words.

The preparation for war is war.  What is prepared must be used up, so other weapons can be prepared to be used up, so other weapons can be prepared to be used up, and on and on until one day no one is left to use anything, for the world will be used up in a nuclear conflagration.  These weapons are produced in nice clean factories that pay good wages to people who take their pay and go their way, giving their souls to the killers.  For the U.S. economy is built on the waging of wars so continuous that it is nearly impossible to find a break between its hot and cold phases, or what seems like decent employment and the diabolic.  They are so intertwined.  It is a system of capitalistic finance, a revolutionary system that builds to destroy.

The U.S spends nearly $900  billion dollars annually on “defense” spending; this is more than China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Germany, France, South Korea, and Japan combined.  The U.S.A. is a warfare state; it’s as simple as that.  And whether they choose to be aware of it or not, the vast majority of Americans support this killing machine by their insouciance and silence.  That their country is spending up to 2 trillion dollars on modernizing its nuclear weapons disturbs them  not.  It is a death cult.  Some – as I myself have done mistakenly – talk about the “deep state” or some other deceptive phrase that conceals the truth that the official state is the “deep state.”  It stares us in the face, but many refuse to stare it back down.  It is too obvious, standing, as it does, in the way of a life of illusions.

And what is equally apparent today – or should be if one is not asleep – is that because of the war policies of the U.S., the chances of another world war and the use of nuclear weapons is rising by the day.  Despite all its denials to the contrary, the US/NATO is pushing for open warfare with Russia that will involve the use of nuclear weapons.

Our masters of war are pushing us toward a nuclear abyss.

In a recent perceptive article, “Russia and China Have Had Enough,” Pepe Escobar writes truths many prefer not to hear.  That there is no split between Russia and China but the opposite – a rock solid Russia-China strategic partnership and a determination to oppose and defeat the U.S./UK/NATO hybrid war tactics across Eurasia and the Middle East.  That the more these U.S.-led forces attempt to destroy Russia, the more the expanding alliances involved in the Shanghai Cooperative Agreement (SCO) and the expanding BRICS partnerships of emerging economies (originally just Brazil, Russia, India, and then South Africa; now also Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, with many more countries waiting to join) will gain in power.  In Escobar’s words, “. . . the Global Majority is on the move: Russia is closely cooperating, increasingly, with scores of nations in West Asia, wider Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Despite this fact, the United States and its allies blithely continue as if their control of the world order is secure.  That they can butcher and badger the world into submission.  The insane are usually deluded, but when they control nuclear weapons, the people of the world need to awaken.

Ray McGovern, a Russia expert, (see has echoed Escobar on the absurdity of the Russian China split; has emphasized how Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians has made it an isolated but desperate pariah state; and how the U.S. war against Russia in Ukraine is leading to the increased use of  U.S. tactical nuclear weapons that could lead to full-scale nuclear war.  He is not alone in this warning.

There are many signs that we are moving toward a nuclear war with calls for U.S./NATO to support more strikes inside Russia, crossing a very dangerous Russian red line.  Russia has made it very clear they will respond.  As politicians of various stripes – French President Macron, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, et al. have ecstatically been urging the Biden administration, who needs no urging, to escalate the war in Ukraine by attacking Russia proper (“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told The Economist.), Mike Whitney has written about a recent such attack that should send chills down everyone’s spines –  “Washington Attacks Key Elements of Russia’s Nuclear Umbrella Threatening Entire Global Security Architecture.” – but  since the corporate media ignore it, most will dream away and get their barbecues ready for Fourth of July celebrations.  They and the flag-dressed Dolly Parton can sing all they want about when Johnny comes marching home again, but Dolly and no one will be jolly if there are no homes to march to, no Johnnies marching anywhere but to death, no anything.  Just a wasteland.

Michel Chossudovsky, Ray McGovern, Eva Bartlett, Craig Murray, Patrick Lawrence, Vanessa Beeley, Pepe Escobar, Oliver Stone, Andrew Napolitano, Craig Paul Roberts, Scott Ritter, Chris Hedges, Alastair Crooke, Caitlin Johnstone, Peter Koenig, Finian Cunningham, Diana Johnstone, Lew Rockwell, and so many other sane but marginalized writers whose names I am omitting as I write quickly, are warning us of our closeness to nuclear annihilation.  Cassandras all, I fear.  Marginalized prophets such as writer and antinuclear activist James W. Douglass (Lightning East to West, JFK and the Unspeakable, etc.) have been issuing such warnings for decades.  It is understandable that so many turn away from such warnings, for the thought of a nuclear war induces deep anxiety hard to control.  But unless the vast majority can break through such reticence and see through the official propaganda, the world will be destroyed by madmen sooner or later.  The signs today all point to sooner, for we are on the edge of the abyss.

Former British diplomat Alistair Crooke, in a recent article – The brink of dissolution: Neurosis in the West as the levee breaks – writes about how the Biden administration’s policy toward Russia-China, not to say Israel-Palestine, being nothing more than more of the same, is stupid, self-defeating, and very dangerous.  Rather than accepting that its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is a disaster, the U.S. is escalating the conflict to a terrifying level.  Rather than accepting the obvious deep alliance between China and Russian exemplified in the recent hug between Putin and Xi and their joint 8,000 word joint statement, Biden has said, “Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now. They are being squeezed by China.” 

It doesn’t get any stupider.  But when more of the same doesn’t work and you can’t accept the reality of a changing world order, you do more of the same.  Crooke, writes:

The paradox is that Team Biden – wholly inadvertently – is midwifing the birth of a ‘new world’. It is doing so by dint of its crude opposition to parturition. The more the western élites push against the birthing – through ‘saving Zionism’; ‘saving European Ukraine’ and by crushing dissent – perversely they accelerate the foundering of Leviathan.

President Xi’s double farewell hug for President Putin following their 16-17 May summit nonetheless sealed the birth – even the New York Times, with customary self-absorption, termed the warm embrace by Xi as ‘defiance of the West’.

The root of the coming dissolution stems precisely from the shortcoming that the NY Times headline encapsulates in its disdainful labelling of the seismic shift as base anti-westernism.

More of the same, yes, that is Biden’s approach, inflamed regularly by the anti-Russian hatred spewed by The New York Times and its ilk.  It is an obsession bordering on full-fledged madness, yet it is integral to the belief that the U.S. is an empire and will remain one while the rest of the world can go to hell.  Such a mindset is behind the U.S.’s abrogating all the nuclear weapons treaties that provided a semblance of security that nuclear weapons would not be used.

Crooke ends his piece with these sobering words:

Put plainly, with the U.S. unable to exit or to moderate its determination to preserve its hegemony, Lavrov [Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister] sees the prospect for increased western weapons provision for Ukraine. The discourse of military escalation is in fashion in Europe (of that there is no doubt); but both in the Middle East and Ukraine, western policy is in deep trouble. There must be doubts whether the West has either the political will, or the internal unity, to pursue this aggressive course. Dragging wars are not traditionally thought to be ‘voter friendly’ when campaigning reaches its peak.

Let me repeat that last understated sentence: “Dragging wars are not traditionally thought to be ‘voter friendly’ when campaigning reaches its peak.”  And so?  More of the same?

Ray McGovern suggests what is more likely:

Israel [is] becoming a dangerous pariah; Ukraine/US/NATO a dangerous loser. As Israel defies the UN, and as the “exceptional” geniuses around Biden ignore Kremlin warnings regarding provocations re Ukraine, the likelihood increases for US use of tactical nukes.

Desperadoes do desperate things.  In Biden and Netanyahu we have two blood-thirsty nihilists at the end of their ropes.  These masters of war make me think that a better title for this piece would have been:

If the World Goes On.

* * *

  1. Many will recognise that the titles of this and the preceding post are taken from Dylan’s second album, The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. Released soon after the Cuba Missile Crisis, and replete with allusions to the same, it houses three explicitly anti-war songs: Masters of War, Talking WW3 Blues and the one best known beyond Dylan’s fan base, Blowin’ in the Wind. Of the three I deem Masters of War the least interesting artistically, but its raw directness – anticipating John Lennon’s straight-from-the-shoulder speak – aligns it perfectly with Ed’s. Erratum. It’s four not three. How could I have missed my favourite, a pastiche on the early English ballad, Lord Randall? A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.

4 Replies to “Come you masters of war …

  1. “And whether they choose to be aware of it or not, the vast majority of Americans support this killing machine by their insouciance and silence.”

    Not only in the passive sense suggested and not only in the USA.

    It is simply staggering that in a faux election choice in which no one outside the USA has a vote how many self-identifying and self-referencing denizens of the so called political “left” tacitly prefer, at best and by default, the un-convicted Serial War Criminal Biden (and the band of War Criminals of which he is the titular head) over the presently convicted felon Trump.

    Because, ‘you know, Trump is an obnoxious individual’. As though this petty by comparison fact ‘trumps’ (pun intended) the past, present, and rapidly approaching future War Crimes, mass murder, genocide supporting and media manipulation of the other available option.

    Because, ‘you know, at least they’re Democrats. It says so in the name’.

    And you can almost see, hear, touch and smell (as well as taste the sulphur) the former First Lady of the nineteen nineties as those who perform such a shallow analysis channel their inner Hilary Clinton in a desperate attempt to avoid using the term “deplorables” when railing against American’s who vote for or support the felon over the War Criminal’s who are taking us to the abyss. As though they had any other sane and rational choice in the context in which they find themselves.

    Such Useless Idiots are as bad, if not worse, as they should know better. As matters stand the post-modernist intersectionalist self-styled ‘left’ have turned into little more than unwitting acolytes of Ayan Rand with their obsession for the sovereign individual which is self-id over class analysis and class struggle.

  2. The power of Dylan’s writing lies in the evocative detail. My favourite line in “Masters of War” is one which I am sure most would not even notice. It’s this one:

    “I’ll follow your casket
    On a pale afternoon”

    That “pale afternoon” makes me shiver. It’s like the entire works of Poe concentrated into two words.

    • I read once, and agreed, that while Dylan went on to work of equal – though very different – brilliance, he never surpassed that second album, made when he’d barely begun shaving.

      • It was the album that made the biggest impression on me since it featured only a soloist – something unheard of for me at the time. I felt then that when you listen to the resonance of “Hard Rain’s A’gonna Fall” you can hear a kind of radiant ringing that slowly circles in the background.

        (Though one track, “Corrina Corrina” features a band – a foretaste of things to come.)

        My own favourite political song from Dylan is “Desolation Row” from “Highway 61 Revisited” because I think it’s the most accurate summing up of how our “democracy” works” i.e. as a non-stop carnival where everyone is encouraged to join in or at least watch whilst shady figures patrol the periphery to ensure no-one wanders off too far.

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