William S. Burroughs said “I’m not a great writer. If I were a great writer I could write a book that if you read it, it would kill you.”

Chris Hedges is a great writer, and he’s written books that, if you read them, help end killing. But first they must be read, and so I urge everyone who can afford it to buy two copies of this book and give one to somebody who might never hear of it. A New York Times subscriber for example.

Shaw said: “If you have an apple, and I have an apple and we exchange apples then we each still have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange ideas, then we each have two ideas”

I feel deeply fortunate that I live in the same world as Chris Hedges, and I feel a duty share his ideas. Merry Christmas!

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I get emotionally devastated and laid low by reading much of Hedges' work - and then filled with rage at the corruption and greed and military madness running the US Empire.

The fact that this insanity is being not only enabled, but affirmatively supported by people who call themselves "left" or "progressives' is just sickening. Maybe after a mid-term wipeout, the Dems will be forced to reflect and change course.

But they didn't after 2016, so obviously I put not stock in any of that. But I also see little chance of an anti-war/anti-empire/climate sanity economic justice uprising. Bleak times, indeed.

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Leon Trotsky said, "You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you." I found the truth of that statement as a young, working class guy who had been kicked out a college run by Jesuits and faced the prospect of an invitation from the hangman. That was the nickname I gave to the last draft in our nation's history during the Vietnam War. It based upon a quote from Dr. Samuel Johnson in James Boswell's classic biography. "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." Already several of my high school friends had been sucked down into the whirlpool of the draft and came back in coffins. I decided a middle course. I would volunteer in the Air Force for a four year enlistment and try to be trained as a medical corpsman. I got exactly what I wanted as a non-combatant aiding wounded soldiers. But looking back now I know in my old age that if you compromise, in this case between the hawks and the doves, you please no one including yourself. I should have done what I wanted to do: go to Europe and bum around on a motorcycle to dodge the draft and experience the haunts the ex-pats did such as as Ernest Hemingway did as he recounts in A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises. I changed my mind who I would have liked to hang out with when I read much later in life The Tropic of Cancer. I would have felt more at ease given my contempt for society, being around deadbeats, alcoholics, drug addicts, con artists, career sociopaths etc. Henry Miller was asked by a customs officer did he have anything to declare when he was sneaking back into America through Canada, he declared, "I'm a traitor to humanity!" It's in my nature to seek the lower depths, an outlier lighting out from civilization, to escape society, being an invisible man among the herd of independent minds. I have attained my desire in old age, becoming a hermit living alone in public housing among the other rejects of society scraping by on Social Security and VA disability checks. I just wished I had follow my instincts and done so in my youth. I wanted to be the Happiest Man Alive as Miller tried to be in his life. He failed but it was an honorable failure.

Chris Hedges' War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is the best memoir on war I have read since Michael Herr's Dispatches on the Vietnam War (who also wrote the screenplays for Apocalypse Now

- the revised script with Captain Willard's voiceover - and Full Metal Jacket. I would predict Hedges' memoir will be in the canon of war memoirs along with Goodbye to All That, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, Storm of Steel, all memoirs from the First World War, which is the war I identify with, since these memoirs deal with the meaningless of life, disillusionment with the human condition, war as an epic auto-de-fe.

There will always be a war on the horizon. It is a basic institution of humanity, culture, government. That's what Trotsky meant with his observation. I suggest one avoid it. I found out I didn't have the stomach, the nerves, the mental fortitude in Vietnam, even though I received an honorable discharge. I recall the day I got it in the mail. I was sweeping up the apartment and couldn't find the dust pan. I remember there was a large brown envelope from the mail on the coffee table. I opened it, pulled a large stiff bronze page and saw my honorable discharge. I used it a dust pan. I emptied the dust in the wastebasket. Then I crusted the discharge into a ball and threw it in the wastebasket.

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The sad thing about war is that with one exception (self-defense) force of any kind is unnecessary in a CIVILIZED world. Are we uncivilized? Yes. Do the majority of people on this planet want war? No. Most people despise it. Humanity is peaceful by nature, it is only those in power who have a monetary goal or agenda that benefit was constant war and conflict. Humanity is cooperative by nature and would strive to cooperate in any endeavor to benefit the planet and itself. Evil exists, in the form of politicians and owners of Media outlets and huge Corporations that are intent on ruling the world. We have been lied to about virtually everything because the lies inure to the benefit of those in power. Most are fear based and threaten people so that they form opinions to avoid fearsome outcomes which are illusory and fabricated. This evil killed JFK, MLK, Bobby Kennedy JFK Jr. etc. Any person who received enough public recognition regarding issues such as peace, love, compassion etc., has been terminated. The Pope has not because he plays the game and is part of the elite system of dominance. Humanity must unify around the issue of global peace, universal peace, and consistent human rights worldwide. There is no reason why every person on this planet cannot have basic human rights, and not be subject to conflict, mayhem, and war. This evil is seen in comments attributed to people such as Winston Churchill who said: If it were not for the Yanks, we could have kept the war (WW2) going for another 10 years. One can easily see the intent behind such comments, and the evil in minimizing the value of human life. To people like Churchill, life was meaningless as long as it was not his own. We must demand more from our representatives /public servants and stop treating them and calling them "Leaders". They lead us nowhere. This has been the case for over 200 years. Don't you think it's time we changed the program? Namaste, EWC

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"The provision of more than $50 billion in weapons and aid to Ukraine not only means the Ukrainian government has no incentive to negotiate, but that it condemns hundreds of thousands of innocents to suffering and death."

The Ukrainian government is a puppet regime, and has already been instructed not to negotiate. Incentives have nothing to do with it, only orders.

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Thanks, Chris. I found this latest book of yours one of the most moving anti-war books I have ever read - though Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" is a good benchmark. I have been in many war-zones - though thankfully years after the conflicts have ended - or appeared to have ended. This week-end in Canberra I will attend the AWM-sponsored "Requiem for POWs" arranged etc - and conducted - by Christopher LATHAM - several other War-related Requiems already under his arrangement as a Cultural Officer-attachment at the Australian War Memorial. Some serve (and feel sullied), some are present to bear witness (you); others try to teach against the interests and destruction of the warmongers (me)! I hope you are okay...

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Thank you Chris, for the tenacity with which you have told the truth....I've never had to witness war personally, but I've always known that to kill another human being has to be an act of utter desperation...War creates that desperation, and I've always abhorred it.

Saddened and somewhat shocked to discover how few of my progressive friends and acquaintances share my revulsion.....amazed by how quickly some of them accuse me of being on Putin's side.

Even now, when negotiations would likely be a simple matter of finding an honourable exit for both parties.......even the President of Ukraine prefers the continued deaths of his people, and the unending destruction of needed infrastructure.

Extinction may be too good for us.

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It was disheartening to see that when I clicked on "Buy this book" I was sent to Amazon. Surely Substack /Hedges can do better than that.

I'll purchase it elsewhere.

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The culture war raging in North America helps he better understand the reasons for war. It is the human desire of social dominance that invites it. It is always the elites starting and perpetuating wars... and they direct the non-elites to fight and die in those wars.

Today the elites are out of control. They have taken to abuse their power and wealth to gain more power and wealth, and without any regard to civility nor morality. The modern media is filled with these people. So is our national government. War is a byproduct of this as it serves their power and wealth.

The remedy requires a majority of elites to grow self-awareness that they are prone to these destructive ego pursuits. The clash of titans needs to be constrained by the titans. Those of wealth and power that behave badly... without a high bar of civility and morality, need the harshest of punishments. And that punishment needs to be levied by their own class. The non-elites cannot make the changes needed. It is a myth that bottom-up revolutions ever happen. They are always perpetrated by elites.

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Oct 26, 2022·edited Oct 26, 2022

Chris, I read "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" shortly after it was published, and I can honestly say that your book changed me as a person and changed my life. I saw that the facade of glory and noble purpose that is wrapped around war is always a lie. There is no "good" war, because all war is bad without exception. In some cases, war may be an unavoidable necessity for one side or the other, but almost never for the aggressor.

Since becoming aware of all this, I have been skeptical and scrupulous in examining the rationales that are given for wars by the war planners and their mouthpieces in the media. In not a single instance have I been able to find an acceptable justification for any of the United States' many wars across the globe. The current conflict in Ukraine is the most egregious, in my opinion, and also the most fraught with danger of total annihilation. The aggressors in this war are the United States and NATO. Russia's invasion of Ukraine was in response to what it justifiably saw as threats to its very existence. Will the American Dr. Strangeloves be permitted to continue driving our nation and the world down the road to destruction? It remains an open question.

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Most Amerians are more interested in sports or engaging in happy vapid activities that learning about what is happening to the Empire. They will be shocked when it collapses! Once in awhile one finds another individual who is willing to listen and begins to see what is going on. Difficult search, but occasional success is rewarding. Hedges reminds me of Alec Barr in Ruark's Honey Badger.

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Thank you Chris for opening my eyes and mind to see past the fog of misinformation, to see behind the curtain that dances before us making sure we will never pull it back and view the machinations of the puppet masters.

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Humanity has no idea what it feels like to live one day without bloodshed somewhere on the planet. It is time we find out.

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I never know how to respond to ethnocentric drivel.

The British Empire is no more and all that is left is America's ethnocentric ignorant vile reactionaries.

The Holy Roman Empire created the war in Ukraine to end the 80 years war and in 1`794 the European Empires ruled the world.

By British standards the war in Ukraine is a minor skirmish.

The Russian Empire cannot stand it must follow the British Empire into the dustbin of history.

America is still fighting the British Civil War.

British and European civilization is one of constant bloodshed and tyranny and the USA is simply the latest chapter in what Lord Acton said "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

We all remember the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1853.

Russia decided they would possess Crimea and were routed by the English and Ottomans who considered the Crimea neutral territory free of Romanovs, Hanovers, Kaisers and Ottomans.

Russia helped destroy the Enlightenment which began not in Paris, London, or Rome but in Vilnius Lithuania and the USA must decide to put up with the end of Empire or destroy this small chapter in the life of the universe.

We are all Ukrainians

America is neither a nation nor an Empire. It is simply a military waiting for its Kings and Princes to decide whether our species has a future.

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Everything is so very true and tragic (I always wonder if it is not just the hormones in our youth that make us so 'fond of war') and beautifully said. I am a foreigner in this country, so I cannot vote, but after what happened today with the so-called progressives and their letter (I read it and did not like it, but if it would have achieved something, I guess I would have changed my opinion) to the president (who obviously is an old boneheaded war-hawk), I would never again vote for democrats (and I am raised a socialist ...). This country's government disgusts me as does the lunacy of germany and others in Europe. All these governments need to go!!! They are not speaking for US, THE PEOPLE!!!!

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"I was pulled back into the morass." I must have read this paragraph 50 times and copied it into my notebook to have it close at hand to read again. Thank you. Now I'll buy both books.


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