International Politics Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: Weaning the State Department Off War-making

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. [Prachatai / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

By Ralph Nader

Other than being an adjunct booster of overseas Pentagon military operations and refortifying its vulnerable embassies, what does the U.S. State Department stand for and do anymore?

Sometimes it’s hard to see much difference with the much larger Department of Defense (DOD). Its more belligerent statements or threats since Bill and Hillary Clinton’s days have made the DOD sound almost circumspect.

Recall it was Secretary of State, ‘Generalissima’ Hillary Clinton, under Obama, who, against the opposition of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, pressed the President in 2011 to unlawfully overthrow the Libyan regime unleashing chaos, violence and mayhem in Libya and in neighboring African nations that still prevails today. (Later, Obama said it was his biggest foreign policy regret.)

Our country’s founders established the State Department in 1789 to conduct diplomacy (plus consular duties). Its charter explicitly instructs its function to be peaceful relations with other nations.

We now have Secretary of State Antony Blinken who comes from the Hillary Clinton school of routine, unconstitutional and unlawful adventures overseas. He is ignoring the arms control treaties, especially with Russia, that have either expired, are about to expire, or are violated by both Russia and the US and other nations such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Then there are the treaties signed by 100 or more countries to which the U.S. State Department has scarcely made a move for Senate ratification. These include the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Criminal Court, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on the Cluster Munitions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Waging peace and conflict resolution should be the State Department’s main mission. There is a lot of inherited work for Antony Blinken and a revived foreign service corps to engage big time. Mr. Blinken could press aggressively for ‘cease fires’ for example, as with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In 2019, former president Jimmy Carter called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” adding that only 16 years out of our nation’s 242 years were times of peace.

Washington and its “military-industrial-complex” (President Eisenhower’s words) have set records toppling foreign governments that were duly elected by the people, and propping up right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, Africa and Asia, so long as they obey us and our corporations. (See: War is a Racket by General Smedley D. Butler, 1935).

Against this militaristic mania, you may wish to know about the Veterans for Peace (VFP) organization of which I am a member. VFP is embraced by veterans from all our wars going back to World War II. Its members have written, spoken, picketed and pursued non-violent disobediences against the recent wars of the U.S. Empire. VFP has highlighted the immense harm done to millions of innocent victims in these countries, speaking out against the injuries and illnesses of returning U.S. soldiers. VFP advocates for robust peace missions and enforceable arms control treaties.

I found VFP’s short report on the connections between militarism, environmental destruction and climate violence, especially noteworthy. (See, VeteransforPeace.org: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/).

Veterans for Peace challenges the proliferating impact of militarism and the vast bloated unauditable military expenditures throughout our political economy, culture and educational institutions.

With the leadership of Executive Director Garett Reppenhagen, VFP is planning a major expansion of its activities. Membership is open to non-veterans and they welcome donations. In particular, very wealthy elderly people who are looking for a universal cause to recognize might envision what a new future of peace and social justice looks like for our posterity. They can call Mr. Reppenhagen at 314-899-4514 / reppenhagen@veteransforpeace.org.

Perhaps, the State Department can host a meeting with Veterans for Peace to remind itself of its original mission.

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. The son of Lebanese immigrants to the United States, Nader attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

23 comments

  1. Weaning the state off war-making will first require weaning the people off blind trust in the state to take care of them.

    1. Ernest, Trust???
      Lack of Trust is one of America’s greatest problems.
      Is there any polls, measurement, indicators of American trust in :
      –Our government to be fair, honest?… No wonder we have millions of guns.
      –Our Justice to be representative?… Abortion rollback now, but no gay marriage next.
      –Our police to be simply non lethal??… I can’t breathe.
      –Our citizens to be law abiding??… Flash mobs of violent crime that terrorizes business.
      –Our Electoral College to be true to majority of voters??… Likely, counts will be thrown out until they get the ‘Right’ results.
      We have an overwhelming trend of lack of trust in just about everything…. Lead in our water, unsafe schools from mass shootings, mega droughts leading to wildfires, random shootings that is not anywhere else in the world, on and on…..
      This trend is irreversible and similar to the force of gravity.
      We will get more and more of the same…. Nothing much will change.

      1. The people must have great trust in the welfare-warfare state since they vote in scoundrels at every election. Then they bitch about the other party.

        Admittedly, there is too much government for the people to ever know what they vote for.

      1. What would we do without the welfare-warfare state that taxes us, regulates us, and keeps us safe from evildoers?
        Maybe without government schooling at a formative age, we could learn to think for ourselves.

    2. ‘Elections: A Trap for Fools’. JP Sartre. “those that vote abdicate their power”
      “a liberal is a power worshipper with no power”. Orwell
      “the amerikan liberal wants to preserve the essence of the past; the amerikan conservative wants more and more progress. the European radical wants to hasten the transformation of the future; the European conservative wants to preserve the essence of the past”. Geoffrey Gorer

      1. The classic liberal believed in freedom.
        Freedom is no longer in fashion. Both parties worship the state.

  2. The State Department cannot be reformed: it and the neoliberal capitalist order that runs it must be destroyed and replaced.

    These deluded and self-admiring loons are going to generate a giant military defeat for the US, and if that doesn’t lead to human extinction — i.e. remains non-nuclear –THAT would be the kind of event that could finally trigger the final collapse.

    History can’t be counted on to repeat, but this mechanism worked well eliminating the Tsar.

  3. Well said Ralph! I just heard a great story about a teen in the 80’s joining and influencing (to put it mildly) the SUNY board of trustees and it’s chair- Antony Blinken’s apartheid-investing, Warburg banking-connected father. Paul Jay does a great interview with Jane McAlevey here, https://theanalysis.news/get-organized-to-win-jane-mcalevey-pt-1-8/ You know the importance of organizing, this is an inspiring story. I would love to see the State Department move towards it’s stated mission of creating peaceful relations and being open and honest would ease everything as well. Our cult-ure has healthy conversations about Nazi terror but not NATO and CIA terror that often imitated Nazis and even used them. They murdered women and children to blame compassionate social leaders who didn’t want to be subjugated by corporate bankers. It’s not about the left/right propaganda, it’s about corporate bankers and corporate governments versus compassionate people. Immature narcissistic mindsets are at war with compassion for themselves, others and the living world. This is why our cult-ure sees so much suicide, depression, war, false flag terrorism, polarization, habitat loss, toxic pollution, global biophysical overshoot and extinction. The corporate bankers and their corporate government have been completely out of their minds in the US since the CIA was formed. The false flag killings of women and children in order to blame compassionate social leaders is a case in point. Jimmy Carter at least has made some efforts at atonement, he said the U.S. is ” the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” There’s no mystery why, just none stop propaganda against sensible compassion.

  4. And there I was – through a long and circuitous cerebral journey, given to believe that it is in fact we, the people, who are the state!
    Isn’t that written somewhere ‘deep’ in the Constitution?

    Apparently, it is a specific department of ‘the’ deep state, which determines all of our’ fate.

    It is also now apparent that there is no one who knows how, in today’s American actuality, to go about this particular weaning process, not even the long ostracized, once formidable, Ralph Nader himself!

    1. Thanks Ralph, but every first glance at your face brings a cringe, as I remember the role you played in helping elect G.W Bush. Nothing has been the same since. You’re really old now. Just go somewhere else.

      1. Everything will continue to be the same if you vote for the two-party duopoly. Corporate welfare, welfare entitlements, and war will continue until the state becomes insolvent.

      2. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Throughout his campaign, Ralph urged Gore to be honest and direct about a number of positions that Gore kept dodging.
        I vote FOR a candidate, not against the worst candidate. I still cringe that I broke my rule a few years ago when, as a resident of West Virginia, in a very tight race, I cast a ballot for Joe Manchin rather than his opponent, Patrick Morrisey who is worse.

        I prefer to not bring a clothespin to put on my nose when I cast a ballot. Let’s be clear, the two-party system is deeply flawed yet is hegemonic. So-called third parties, which exist in large part to push the major parties to honestly address issues they would prefer to sweep under the rug or are aligned together on. Of course, the mainstream media likes it that way as it reaps massive advertising revenue during campaigns.

      3. What makes you think Gore would have been significantly different?

        Attacks on the US were already baked into the pie, due to”peace-guy” Carter’s backing for Afghan jihadis.
        https://www.counterpunch.org/1998/01/15/how-jimmy-carter-and-i-started-the-mujahideen/

        Invading Iraq and attempted “nation building” there and in Afghanistan were already baked into the foreign policy strategy.

        Nader was ahead of his time, rejecting both parts of the Republocrat scam.

        What did Democrat Clinton do?

        Started NATO’s drang nach Osten that is the actual cause of the Ukrainian war. Used NATO as an ATTACKING, NON-DEFENSIVE intervention force in Serbia.

        What did hopey-changey Obama do (in addition to saving the corrupt financial system casino?)

        Destroyed Libya, AFTER it renounced nuclear weapons development.

        Enlightenment arrives when you realize that both political parties are owned and operated by the same vermin. Both parties have already degenerated into kakocracy.

        What Nader correctly pointed out, and still does — is that both parties are rivals for corporate dollars and insider riches.

  5. Thank you Ralph Nader…I am not hopeful that we can make a change but I appreciate your recommendation to reach out to Veterans For Peace……..

  6. Thanks, Ralph; you’ve remained one of the best and most consistent voices for the public interest and aspirations for democracy in the nation that erroneously proclaims itself the beacon thereof.

    It is indeed pretty clear, isn’t it, that the State Department has become perhaps the center of war-mongering in pursuit of imperialist goals within the U.S. government. Not merely coincidentally, it has become the habitat of a Who’s Who among neocons, mostly associated with Strauss and subsequently the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). The latter’s white paper was my first introduction to what I immediately concluded was a delusional and dangerously arrogant cabal steering Presidents from Reagan onward towards a state of perpetual war with no limits.

    Some of its denizens, like Victoria Nuland have been ‘serving’ under multiple presidents. Not surprisingly, Nuland seems to have been point person, under Obama/Biden, on the engineering of the Ukraine coup that eventually succeeded in provoking Russia into a war that the Administration has made clear is intended to ‘break’ Russia; and is deeply involved in policy direction today.

    Small wonder that there is no interest whatsoever within State for dialog or negotiation, much less actual pursuit of peaceful relations.

    Thanks again for this and for pointing to VFP . Its work, along with others like VIPS, is much needed and appreciated.

    1. A major underappreciated role of the State Dept/ (CIA) is that since the “modernization” (abolition) of the domestic anti-propaganda law (Smith Mundt ACT), State is responsible for the Official Narrative spewed by the State Media. Chomsky has noted our propaganda is worse than under the Soviet Union. It is essential for a Police State to control all messaging. Look for our psychopathic leaders to stamp out sites like Scheerpost, consortiumnews, thegrayzone, blackagendareport, and chase away those who have moved to rumble or substack and other “fringe” sites. As Thatcher said “There is no alternative”. Much like the village, we have to destroy democracy to save it.

  7. The title of this article is enough to make me cringe. Weaning? Really?

    Like we have a say in the matter. Give me a break Ralph. Time have changed since 1970.

  8. naders stupidity is tiresome—-80% fully supported invasions in Vietnam and Iraq, 90% in Afghanistan…both Durkheim and Hegel understood: “the state always reflects the values and desires of its people”

  9. on November 8th the US political door opens to voters around the country. Dems and Indies can help make this a huge turning point in US history by giving Dems more congressional power to improve our government in so many ways–reducing an obscenely large $800 + military budget, securing women’s right to govern their own bodies, meaningful global warming laws, taxing the small but obscenely wealthy billionaire class, end Trump’s hopes for ’24, pass universal voting rights, increase the IRS’s power to prosecute more tax cheats, end reactionary Clarence Thomas’s dreams of ending the ‘alt’ culture, and end subsidizing big oil and their dangerous global warming actions. be there on November 8th or keep watching our planet self-destruct while billionaires keep thinking of new ways to make money from it.

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