December 2001

Intellectuals and the war: From retreat to surrender

James Petras


Opposition by Western leftist intellectuals to Washington's devastating war in Afghanistan has virtually collapsed. This raises the question of whether the end of a tradition of intellectual opposition requires a new beginning, which in turn requires severe reflections on the recent past.

There were clear signposts of intellectual retreat as early as the mid 1960's when many intellectuals supported the US war in Vietnam until it was clear that the war could not be won, and then opposed it. By the early 1970's many left intellectuals abandoned their brief affair with the independent anti-war and anti- racist social movements to return to the Democratic Party and its liberal standard bearer, George McGovern.

The first unmistakable shift toward a rediscovery of the virtuous nature of imperialism came during the Carter Presidency. Following the overthrow of US backed dictators and colonial rulers in Ethiopia, Nicaragua and especially in Iran, and with new radical leftist regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau, the Carter Administration launched a new counter-revolutionary military offensive, accompanied by human rights rhetoric. The Carter Presidency armed and organized a variety of reactionary forces to destroy or undermine the new governments. Hundreds of millions of dollars in arms were channeled to Savimbi in Angola, the Contras in Nicaragua, Renimo in Mozambique and the tribal warlords in Afghanistan. Many Western intellectuals however were intoxicated by Carter's human rights rhetoric.

This overt imperialist counter-offensive, which devastated the targeted countries and reversed progressive reforms was justified as part of a human rights campaign and a significant sector of the Left endorsed it. The massive US intervention in Afghanistan was backed by the Pakistani military dictator, General Zia and his secret police and the Saudi Arabian treasury. The US and its client-states recruited tens of thousands of fundamentalist volunteers from all over the Arab world. They proceeded to destroy mixed gender schools, secular institutions, and slit the throats of hundreds of women teaching in rural schools and the peasant recipients of the secular government's land reform program. The US sponsored reactionary uprising of tribal warlords and overseas mercenaries forced the secular leftist regime in Kabul to appeal to the USSR to provide military aid and soldiers.

The US intervention and counter-revolution had two purposes: to overthrow a leftist regime and provoke the entry of the Soviet Union in a ground war of attrition. The sequence of events provides an important context for understanding the betrayal of the Western intellectuals. The true sequence of the establishment of a secular leftist regime in Afghanistan, followed by US–sponsored terrorism against the civilian population and finally Soviet intervention at the invitation of an attacked ally and neighbor was totally obliterated by Washington's propaganda machine. The US sponsored uprising was labeled the "Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan",the intervention by foreign fundamentalist mercenaries was dubbed the Afghan Mujahadeen liberation struggle. Zbigniew Brizenski, President Carter's National Security Adviser openly boasted that the US military intervention began six months before the Soviet entry in Afghanistan and was designed to weaken the Kabul regime and force it to pressure for Soviet ground troops.

Almost the totality of the Western Left – and most of the Left in the Third World – sided with Washington in attacking "Soviet intervention". Virtually no Western intellectual supported the beleaguered secular regime in its campaigns for gender equality through education and land reform.

As the various retrograde warlords advanced against the combined Afghan and Soviet troops, they raped and killed thousands of working women, forced thousands of female doctors and teachers to flee the countryside or confine themselves to the house and wear the burkha.

None of the Western feminist organizations, nor any of the feminist Marxist leaders denounced the US- sponsored counter-revolution and the reversal of reforms by the advancing fundamentalist warlords. Instead, they joined the "anti-Soviet chorus".Most of the left sects, the alphabet soup of Trotskyist, Maoist and Anarchist grouplets added their anti-Soviet rhetoric to the US orchestrated campaign. Some, of course, criticized the Mujahadeen for their excesses and sought to find a "Third Way" progressive tribal warlord.

The retreat of the Western Leftist intellectuals (WLI) faced with "Afghanistan I" was strategically important. By finding common ground with US interests and policies, the WLI began the process of undermining the whole notion of imperialism as the main defining nature of the US state.

The " new thinking" that began in 1980 caused many Western Left intellectuals to conceive of imperialism as simply a policy, not as a structure of power and economic expansion. An imperial policy accordingly was simply a product of a specific constellation of government officials competing with other officials. As a result imperial or humanitarian foreign policy depended on the context, values and influential politicians. The "new thinkers" among the WLI proceeded to attack the anti-imperial left for being "anti-American" or "orthodox Marxists" because the anti-imperialists never found anything positive in US policy. One of the positive features cited, for example, was Washington's opposition to the "Soviet invasion of Afghanistan". The WLI suspended critical judgement and serious research into the sequence of the US- sponsored tribal uprising and Soviet entry. Following "Afganistan I" an important section of the WLI joined the ranks of humanitarian imperialism.

Political strategists in Washington sensed that their successful formula for securing the support of Western intellectuals in the Afghan war was worth repeating. They were right.

Washington justified its intervention in Grenada by citing a "Stalinist" takeover of a populist government. In Panama, the US justified its invasion by claiming to oppose the "narco-dictator" Noriega. In the Gulf War, the US went to war to oppose a "new Hitler". Humanitarian imperialism swayed a few more WLI. They wavered in their opposition, some claiming that they "opposed" both the invading US forces and the dictator. They forgot that an imperial invasion destroys a country and its right to self-determination, a prior condition to any struggle against a dictatorial ruler.

This facile equation, equating invading imperialists armies to local dictatorships opposing the country's occupation became the hallmark of WLI evasion and moral decay. The "theory of the double demon" was a transit point between consistent anti-imperialism and apologetics for humanitarian imperialism. The nature of the regime opposing the imperial invasion is secondary to the imperial conquest of power, particularly for intellectuals in the imperial states. The choice is not humanitarian imperialism or Third World dictatorships, but self-determination or recolonization.

The discussion of war begins with this basic choice within the inter-state system. The historic dynamic of successful imperial conquest in one region leads inevitably to greater aggression and conquest of other regions. The result is continuous wars and the ravaging of countries and continents. This is why the opposition to local dictators is subordinated to the anti-imperialist struggle.

Prior to and during the 20th century and especially during the last twenty-five years, the major wars have been anti-imperialist in nature. Washington started with Grenada, followed by Panama and Iraq, then the Balkans, Afghanistan and many other countries to come. Washington's exercise of imperial power is each time more devastating in its application and more destructive in its consequences.

This dynamic of historic imperialism is lost to the WLI who consume the humanitarian propaganda with which Washington and its media mouthpieces bombard the world, losing sight of the inter-relation between one imperial war and another.

The turning point for the WLI was the Gulf War. This was the "last stand" for the Left before its collapse during NATO's savage bombing and occupation of the Balkans. Just days before President Bush Sr. launched his military attack on Iraq, most left intellectuals opposed the war. They demanded a diplomatic settlement and peaceful withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, or simply opposed US intevention as part of a petroleum motivated strategy. Washington's rapid and overwhelming military victory – aided by its European junior partners – without significant loses turned a divided public into an overwhelming pro-war majority. The bulk of the WLI opposing the war were silenced. Many retreated or joined the vocal pro-war chorus of ex-leftist intellectuals, tied to Israeli foreign policy who applauded not only the war, but demanded a march to Baghdad.

The demonization of Saddam Hussein in State-media propaganda ( an "Arab Hitler" ) was echoed by the repentent leftists. They conveniently abdicated their critical intelligence to embrace the partition and occupation of Iraqi land, sea and airspace, and a genocidal economic blockade that led to 500,000 infant deaths.

The fusion of pro-Israeli and pro-imperialist sentiments fueled a particularly vitriolic intellectual stratum, which found ample space in the major print and electronic media. Their personal attacks on principled Left intellectuals served to intimidate or curtail criticism by wavering colleagues.

Once again the "double demon" rhetoric re-emerged. The mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the de facto colonization of the country, the economic blockade, legalized espionage to identify bombing sites via UN arms inspectors, was equated with the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, who was defending the country from complete obliteration. The perverse politics of "moral equivalents" overlooked the historical logic of escalating imperial expansion and the growing power and willingness to destroy any resistance to that expansion.

Iraq was the test case for the use of massive military power against a second level power – as opposed to marginal states like Panama and Grenada. The US-NATO bombing and invasion of Yugoslavia extended the parameters of intervention to a European regime which had engaged in no invasions, had a market economy and had a multi-party, elected government. In this case, inter-ethnic conflict spearheaded by separatist politicians, and encouraged by the NATO powers served as the pretext for imperial intervention. Washington sided with the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian pro-fascist regime while Germany supported the Slovenians, and the Albanian mafioso regime backed a sector of annexationist Albanian Kosovars – all opposed the Serb-led multi ethnic Yugoslav Republic.

Washington publicized one-sided exaggerated or concocted "atrocity stories" filled with the blood and gore of Serbian ethnic cleansing. They deliberately omitted the throat slitting of Serb civilians by fundamentalist Muslim volunteers in Bosnia, or the expulsion of 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina region occupied by the Croat army.

Washington-NATO's propaganda barrage of intense images of real and faked atrocities made a massive impact on the public and particularly on WIL. Almost the entirety of the WIL supported Washington's humanitarian war and its massive bombing of civilian targets in Belgrade, Kosova and elsewhere. Hospitals, factories, bridges, passenger trains, radio and TV stations were bombed. The WIL did not waver, bleating the case for the Bosnian victims in Sarajevo, the Albanians in Kosova.

The moral and intellectual blindness of the WLI prevented them from recognizing that the major atrocity committed in Sarajevo was concocted by the Muslim Bosnians: the bombing of their own marketplace, killing scores of shoppers, to secure Western sympathy and provide NATO with a pretext to intervene militarily " to save the Muslims from genocide by the Serbs". Moral and political blindness secured NGO intellectuals a NATO certificate of Ethical Politics and facilitated the pocketing of millions of dollars in the "reconstruction" period. The Ethically certified WLI turned a blind eye during the US-NATO intervention in Kosova and subsequent arming of the terrorist Albanian Kosova Liberation Army and the murder and brutal expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Serb civilians, Roma, Christian Albanians, Turks, Bosniaks, and Jews. The deafening silence and abject apologetics of the WLI of NATO's terror bombing of Yugoslavia and KLA ethnic cleansing signaled the end of Western left-wing intellectual politics as we have known it over the previous fifty years.

The moral strip tease of the WLI began with the first Afghan War when the intellectuals dropped their outer garments: denying support to a secular regime in Kabul and backing the US sponsored fundamentalist uprising. Next they shed their shirt and pants by giving back-handed support to the imperial conquest of Iraq ("Something had to be done to stop him!"). In the Balkans off came the underwear: WLI support of the massive destructive war against Yugoslavia parroting the Pentagon's line of a humanitarian war. (Some Trotskyist sects actually proposed buying arms for the white slaving, drug running, ethnic cleansing KLA. ) A case of political reaction mixed with mental psychosis.

Of Double Demons and the Great Demon

Washington's current war against Afghanistan evoked the least intellectual dissent of any of the recent imperial wars. Silence and complicity had become a habit. In the Balkan War the WLI had surrendered their moral and political principles. They no longer could analyze the sequence of destructive imperial wars; instead each war was considered as another humane response to tyrants, traffickers and terrorists. Equally reprehensible, they equated the global aggression of an imperial tyrant with the resistance of a local authoritarian.

The intellectual and moral grounds for political capitulation was laid far before the first 15000 pound bombs ( ' daisy cutters ' in the Pentagon's sick parlance ) fell on Afghanistan. Moral cowardice was rooted in the intellectual silence over the Palestinian struggle. Abdicating moral responsibility and political principles the WLI pretended horror at the "violence" in the Middle East. Torture, expulsion, killing and maiming of nearly 20,000 Palestinians – Christians, Muslims, secular leftists – and the destruction of thousands of homes, thousands of acres of olive and fruit groves for colonial settlements was "balanced" by repudiation of the suicide bombings of buses and bars by desperate colonial subjects unable to fight armored carriers, helicopters gunships and guided missiles. Cowardice as much as moral vacuity led to silence, moral ambiguity and abandonment of the most elementary anti-colonial principles. Cowardice born of fear of being labeled an "anti-Semite" by Jewish intellectual zealots and unconditional supporters of Israeli colonization of the occupied territories and expulsion of the captive population. Intellectual cowardice in the face of the fact of daily killings and institutionalized torture – none of this hidden behind foul-smelling smoking chimneys. WLI fearing recrimination by aggressive pro-Israeli colleagues would argue, " After all the Mid East conflict is important for them, its not my priority". Thus speak many WLI among themselves , in the absence of their pro-Israeli colleagues. "Palestine" is not a priority because of fear of political labeling and ostracism in the media and professional spheres.

Fear also springs from state-media propaganda and the rabid flag waving multitude in the case of Afghanistan. When September 11 led to October 7 when the President, backed by both parties, Congress and all the mass media declared war on Afghanistan and confronted the world with his aggressive " You're either with us or you're with terrorists", most of the WLI never hesitated. They put on their uniforms, saluted and proceeded to discuss war targets, terrorism and national security. "Total war" ( indiscrimant bombing of all civilian and military installation ) became an accepted, if not stated part of the anti-terrorist discourse which pervaded the WLI. Many former Leftist critics accepted the basic premises of the war: that Bin Laden and an international conspiracy backed by Afghanistan was responsible for September 11 and Washington had a right to " defend its people" – by bombing the Afghan people. Crucial to the conversion of the WLI to Afghan War II was the fact that the terror bombings of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon were magnified into world historic events, "unprecedented in modern times" according to the hyperbolic pronouncements emanating from Washington and the US mass media and echoed by their counterparts in the rest of the world. In reality, the death of between 2500 and 3000 people was hardly an unprecedented event. Nearly that number of Serbs were murdered or 'disappeared' by the terrorist KLA in Kosova during NATO's occupation. US and British bombing and blockade of Iraq led to hundreds of thousands of deaths among children in less than ten years – about 1,000 deaths a week. Many other examples of US directed political violence with greater rates of mortality than September 11 could be cited. In a word, the death toll was hardly an "unprecedented" human tragedy. Nevertheless, the WIL docilely fell into line, chanting the mass media's mantra and spreading the message that a US-NATO war against Afghanistan is a "just war", with the pious caveat that the war should avoid civilian casualties. Dishonesty derived from cowardice – these intellectuals knew full well that the war would be total, massive bombing of all targets, including hospitals, homes, refugee camps etc. would ensue. Their reservations were drowned by the combined voices celebrating a "just war".

Among some New York intellectuals the September 11 attack brought to the surface totalitarian values derived from their unconditional support of the Israeli terror state. Seymour Hersh and others among the liberal left literary establishment advocated the torture of family members of suspected terrorists, citing and praising the despicable methods commonly practiced by the Israeli secret police. The left convert to imperial state terror, conjured the paranoic spectre of an imminent terrorist rampage, which they claimed, justified torture as a policy of "national defense".

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft didn't go quite as far as these New York intellectuals – they "only" arrested hundreds of Arab suspects, suspended the rights of habeas corpus and defended President Bush's proposal for secret military tribunals and execution of those convicted in secret trials.

The ambiguities which had dogged the New York intellectuals for years – their support of Israeli repression of Palestinians and their criticism of US military intervention elsewhere were resolved: now they could support the US war against Afghanistan and the Israeli massacres of Palestinians. The synergy of this embrace of violence, swept away the last critical doubts. The New York intellectuals fully backed total war. They propagated a paranoic vision of terrorism everywhere to fuel permanent warfare. These were the cultural totalitarians who listened to Bach and praised the B-52s, who edited glossy cultural journals and smirked at Kabul in rubble, who praised the Israeli Symphony Orchestra and ignored the 6000 Palestinian children maimed in this most recent year of repression. Their vision is and will always be a cultural totalitarianism.

If the New York intellectuals, because of their pro-Israeli ties, were at the furthest extreme of the WLI war party, there were many others who found their own reasons to justify their capitulation to the imperial war machine. Feminists who originally supported the Carter to Clinton war against secular, gender progressive Afghan regime ( they all opposed " the Soviet invasion " ), switched lines and supported the US war against the Taliban. The US war became, in their eyes, an opportunity to liberate women from oppression, forgetting that every Afghan leader in the US backed Alliance was a practitioner of female oppression. What is constant among the feminist wing of the WLI is not their support of gender equality, but their loyal support of US global power, in hopes of squeezing funds and places in the NGO chow-line.

Not all WLI supported the war, not outright at least. Some resorted to the predictable double demon argument: equating the September 11 attack with the sustained terror bombing of an impoverished country. The death of some 2500 US citizens by an as yet unproven mastermind was equated with the terror bombing of 27 million people, the killing and torture of thousands of civilians and war prisoners and the displacement of 3-5 millions of refugees from their destroyed homes and villages. The theorists of the double demon argue that the "principle" of terror matters, not the quantity of victims. For imperial policymakers the criteria is not quantity, it is quality: one US victim equals 100,000 Afghan refugees; 20 stock brokerage firms equal 20,000 hospitals, clinics, schools, stores and market places.

The fundamental perversion of moral equivalency is found in the two sides of the equation: US state terror is clear to everyone; the other side is a big question-mark, but with an asterick-no one suspects the Afghan regime of responsibility for the attacks. At the most they are accused of providing a safe haven for the alleged terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The Afghan regime offered to negotiate and turn the accused over to an independent international court if factual evidence was presented. No evidence capable of sustaining a conviction in any court worthy of its name has ever been presented, as Tony Blair admitted after presenting a list of circumstantial "proofs".

The theoretical and moral issue is that there is no equivalent guilt for war and terror on "both sides". One side, Washington is guilty of mass terrorism in pursuit of a military victory, the other side, the Afghan regime, has never been proven to have been involved in a terrorist incident in the US and has been willing to consider a judicial resolution of the suspect in its territory. The Bush administration's use of state terror is immoral. The Taliban's proposal of diplomatic negotiations over judicial evidence was a civilized and humane approach to inter-state conflicts.

If the WLI reliance on the moral equivalency ploy is plagued by false assumptions and immoral conclusions, what purpose does it serve? For the WLI it provides a political cover. It allows them to distance themselves from the defenders of Afghan independence and to reassure the imperial state and its chorus of supporters that they agree that the Taliban were parties to the bombing in the US. Above all, equivalency is thought to provide political protection, while criticizing the war as the wrong medium to address the Taliban's "crime". The effect is to legitimate the cause of imperial aggression while condemning the bellicose response. In the real world, the WLI association of the Afghan regime and Bin Laden with the terrorist incident of September 11 fueled the sense of a wounded empire. After feeding into the media's terror frenzy, the WLI's criticism of the war is inconsequential. Having reinforced the justification propagated by the state, the WLI's doubts about the war reach few and convince fewer.

As in every previous imperial war, the opportunist left avoids fundamental issues by focusing on secondary issues, to justify their political hypocrisy. They focus on and magnify every and all defect in the policies and practices of the regime opposing imperial power. They cite women's oppression, illiteracy, infant mortality rates, authoritarianism, restrictive religious practices. The reactionary politics of the Taliban are viewed through a microscope and the message is trumpeted to the world repeatedly. The real message is that the regime deserves to be destroyed, the B-52 carpet bombing is a liberating event… WLI do not actually support the B-52's, they just contextualize the act of violence and then wring their hands in despair. The retrograde forces supported by the US and the massive destruction of the minimum social fabric existing in Afghanistan is viewed from a telescope which also evokes more hand wringing. The WLI avoid fundamental issues: self-determination, anti-colonialism, an imperial-imposed client regime and the logic of past, present and future imperial invasions. These issues are buried and instead the mass media presents a discussion of the freedom of money-changer in Kabul, video-venders in Kandahar and brothel owners everywhere.

If the New York intellectuals in uniform provide advice to police interrogators and applaud the bombings and call for new wars against "the Arabs", in Los Angeles, Hollywood cultural bosses and actors volunteer their services to the military conquerors. On December 3, 2001 more than 40 senior film and television executives and union leaders met with Karl Rove, White House political adviser and Jack Valenti, boss of the Motion Picture Association of America to consider how the cultural industry could mobilize support in the US for the war and among the troops overseas while propagandizing the rest of the world. The first platoon of Hollywood foot soldiers – including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts – traveled to US military bases to arouse the war spirits. Cinema "stars" as representatives of US media culture are playing a leading role as propaganda tools for the imperial war. Emblematic of the savagery of the war, David Keith, film star of Beyond Enemy Lines – a military film – told US sailors on an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea " you are the fists to smash their mouths…and our teeth to rip out their throats" (Financial Times, Dec. 2, 2001 p. 9 ).

Hollywood is preparing a series of films which in style and substance will explicitly transmit the Washington line on the war. The purpose is to convince Americans to support the expansion of the war to new regions, prepare the US public to accept future casualties ( if necessary) by presenting US invasions as just wars with high chances of victory. The propanganda films will "recontextualize" the facts of a past war according to a Hollywood producer. A film based on the US invasion of Somalia will present the Africans as aggressors and the invading US troops as liberators. Hollywood's role in the wars of conquest is important. The political message of Hollywood's films will complement Washington's imperial rhetoric by glorifying imperial predators, "personalize" conquerors by including romances between conquerors and conquered and ennoble conquest while omitting torture and civilian destruction. The films will transform victims into executioners and conquerors into liberators, and praise local collaborators as patriots.

What does Hollywood get out of this "voluntary" collaboration with the state? As multi-billion dollar corporations they share the interests and ideology of imperial policymakers. They also hope to capitalize on the war fever to draw big audiences and lucrative profits. In a word, they hope transmitting state propaganda will enrich their coffers. Radio and television joined the ranks of the war machine from September 11. One of the leading "news" broadcasters, Daniel Rather of CBS, publicly stated he is "ready to take orders from President Bush". Television saturated households and offices with images, interviews and commentaries supporting the bombing of Afghanistan. They excluded any "negative news" and downplayed or excused civilian casualties and deprecated the opposition both in Afghanistan and in the rest of the world. The sources of TV and radio "news" invariably and exclusively came from US officials, pro-war experts or client warlords. These biased commentaries reinforced official Washington's political position. The mass media censor out any mention of US complicity or responsibility for past or present atrocities – such as the torture and murder of 600 prisoners in Mazar I Sharif. None of the media mention US support for the Fundamentalists in their war against the secular Afghan regime in the 1980's. Not a word is included about Washington's working relations with fundamentalists in Bosnia, Kosova , Chechnya and Macedonia throughout the 1990's and into the new millenium. There is no media discussion of Washington's $40 million subsidy to the Taliban in May 2001 – for wiping out the cultivation and transport of opium. Above all the media avoid linking the flight of millions of Afghan refugees to the US bombing of cities and villages.

Faced with this media onslaught most Western intellectuals retreat to their "horror of September 11" – as an excuse for their unwillingness to publicly declare opposition to total war.

In the face of the tragedy of the Afghan people caused by the massive bombing and murderous assaults by client warlords, carving up the country and unleashing drug traffickers and brigands plundering anything less than armed caravans of long distance traders, most Westen Left intellectuals, who have not succumbed to the totalitarian temptation, retreat to their books, libraries and offices. Is it out of cynicism or cowardice? In the face of monstrous crimes against humanity they return to their study of arcane subjects and are absorbed by their everyday mundane chores.

There are dissident and courageous intellectuals and journalists. The British journalist, Robert Fisk, is a brave example of this minority. He asks whether there should be a War Crimes Tribunal for the perpetrators of Total War. We are still awaiting a response from the WLI.

Antiwar demonstrators protest, unacknowledged by the mass media, and slandered by the New Totalitarian rightists, French intellectuals like Bernard-Henry Levy and Jacques Julliard for their "anti- Americanism". These intellectual "friends of America" know only the America of empire and are ignorant of its revolutionary anti-imperialist lineage.

Many former WLI relieve their anxieties by mouthing the chauvinistic froth and celebrating a 'just war'. Others vacillate through moral equivalence. Most retreat to apolitical reflections.

Western left intellectuals have come to a moral dead-end. Today's intellectual surrender has its roots in the reflex anti-communism of the early 1980's and the self-delusive support of humanitarian imperial wars of the 1990's. Their transvaluation of total war as a "just war" is a perversion of moral imperatives at the service of empire. Imperial wars, as Jean Paul Sartre once wrote, are the cancer of democracy.

The rebirth of Western leftwing intellectual practice will require more than a critical intelligence, it will require moral courage capable of resisting the easy choice of double demons and moral equivalences. The new leftist intellectuals will have to say what needs to be said about colonial states despite their colleagues ethnic sensibilities. Above all they will recognize that they live in an empire and have a special responsibility to recognize that empires do no pursue humanitarian wars, only wars against humanity.