This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

Feel free to reproduce any blogs by Dr Staggenborg without prior permission, as long as they are unedited and posted or printed with attribution and a link to the website.

For other blogs, please contact the author for permission.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Respect for national sovereignty has been the basis of international law designed to prevent preemptive warfare since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 ended the 30 Years War.  The idea was to prevent wars by agreeing that empires and international alliances would not interfere with the internal affairs of any nation. The idea was rejected by later Empire builders, leading to two world wars largely brought on by the British Empire’s machinations. This policy of ignoring international law has been followed by the US ever since and now poses a risk to peace and national sovereignty everywhere.

Americans are taught that Hitler’s attempt at creating a fascist New World Order was the result of  his insane personal ambition alone. We are not told that since the Allies defeated Germany, the US has been working to create its own Empire, one that is fast coming to resemble Hitler’s.  Despite the obvious signs of a police state being created in the US with the passage of the Patriot Act, the 2012 NDAA authorizing Presidents to arrest and indefinitely imprison without charge Americans he or she deem enemies of the state and the NSA program of unlimited domestic surveillance, most Americans refuse to see it. The bellicose nationalism that so many decried when Bush was in office continues largely unopposed. The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war has been replaced by use of terrorists to fight proxy wars in the name of “responsibility to protect,” a doctrine that exists nowhere in international law. There is a good reason for that. It is a direct violation of the UN charter and of the Kellogg-Briand treaty that made war illegal except in self-defense.

If we are ever going to see the end of war, it is imperative to understand the systematic way in which generations of Americans have been indoctrinated to accept the idea that it is inevitable.  The explanation is not that complicated. The problem is that so few people are working to educate Americans about their real history since WWII, leaving them to allow their leaders to repeat the same mistakes that lead to the downfall of all empires.

As detailed in The Irregulars, the British Intelligence Service was very active in the United States prior to and after its entry into WWII. Given the prevalence of American isolationist sentiment prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, its main mission was to promote pro-war propaganda and to discredit anti-interventionists. It worked tacitly with the Roosevelt government and later with the Office of Strategic Services to carry out this mission. Given the long British experience with subversion and espionage, the fledgling OSS was quite dependent on the BIS, forging personal bonds between the principals that continued after the CIA was created to serve US industrialists after the war. At that time, the head of BIS in America successfully lobbied to have OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan to head the new post-war US spy service. 
The CIA was established by the National Security Act of 1947 that completely restructured the US military and intelligence agencies to reflect a new imperialist agenda. The war profiteers had assumed so much influence over the US government and the media by that time that they saw a huge potential to profit from building a sprawling military-industrial-government complex under the guise of fighting communism. In addition to creating the first peacetime intelligence service in the history of the US, it established the position of Secretary of “Defense,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the “National Security” Council. In the aftermath of the war, a consensus was forged that “American interests” were synonymous with those of corporate powers that have essentially dictated foreign policy ever since. This assumption is best summarized in a statement by Cold war architect George Kennan of the State Department in 1948:

“…we have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task…is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security…We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction…We should cease to talk about vague and — for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
That year, a turning point in US and world history had occurred. On Kennan’s advice, Truman signed a National Security Directive authorizing the CIA to conduct covert operations in such manner that the US government could plausibly deny them if uncovered. The decision to extend the actions of the CIA beyond intelligence gathering for the president would prove to have fateful consequences. From NSC Directive 10/2:

"…covert operations" are… all activities…conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. “

“…such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare ; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures ; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.

The importance of propaganda in waging the Cold War cannot be overstated. Without it, American military intervention would never have been tolerated by a public that since prior to WWI had largely heeded Washington’s advice to “avoid foreign entanglements.” The CIA role in creating propaganda was well established by the early 1950’s when the CIA Director of Office of Policy Coordination (the covert branch of the CIA at that time) established Operation Mockingbird This program explicitly authorized the CIA to carry out propaganda operations in foreign media, including that of US allies in Europe. Building on relationships established by the BIS and OSS with friendly journalists and publishers, the CIA created an elaborate network of news sources that disseminated propaganda that not only spread disinformation to citizens of other nations that was picked up by US media, but also directly to Americans.

Although the CIA was only officially authorized to operate outside the US, it has been used since the early  Cold War to indoctrinate Americans with the idea that communist threats are everywhere. CIA-vetted propaganda provided the rationale for creating a military–industrial complex so vast that Eisenhower was compelled to warn Americans about it as one of his last acts as President. The CIA's propaganda function is now carried out overseas by the government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which bills itself as an NGO. In the US, the media, corporate think tanks and official sources such as the CIA, State Department and the military coordinate to create an atmosphere that maintain an exaggerated fear of terrorism (and now Russia and China) that is used to justify both imperial wars abroad and suspension of civil liberties at home.

The list of ways this control of the corporate media has influenced American history is too extensive to list here. It has led to coverups of criminal CIA activities overseas and at home, the creation of a fear-based foreign policy and a bias toward war that has completely transformed American attitudes toward war and other foreign interventions, most of which remain unknown to them. Only now have the war profiteers become so obvious in their plans for corporate world domination that Americans are beginning to appreciate the true costs of war.  In stridently opposing US strikes on Iran and Syria, the traditional American reluctance to go to war for corporate Empire is beginning to reassert itself.

It is possible to end war. That day will only come when enough people reject the self-fulfilling prophecy that it is inevitable.

This post was updated on 1/20/22


  1. Here is a detailed history of the CIA and the military from a 1977 Rolling Stone article by Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame:

  2. An excellent summary of why we are so involved in war. Thank you for making this information so easy to read and understand. The more people know, the more they work to change our government and thus our world.

    1. Thanks, Michele! Sorry I didn't see this comment. I don't seem to always get notices of new comments.

  3. Spot on, Rick! Retired military officers Larry Wilkinson, Danny Sjursen and others also point to Nixon's sneaky decision to get rid of conscription, to make Americans not care, as well as the ever-escalating national debt card--at about $27 trillion of national debt-- upon which war costs are placed without raising taxes to pay the costs (but which would deflate the dollar overnight if the dollar is replaced by some other currency as the world's "reserve currency."

    A former foreign service officer and I described this perfectly sordid "Recipe Concocted for Perpetual War" but, you guessed it, we got turned down by 15 corporate news outlets! Unfortunately as long as this recipe exists, I'm afraid that Americans will prove incapable of caring about foreign victims of US Empire and incapable of being educated.

    1. Thanks, Coleen. Coming from you that is high praise, indeed!