The Oldest Trick in the Book

The US government dragged us into the First World War by baiting the Germans with the Lusitania.  The US government dragged us into the Second World War by baiting the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, then ignoring warnings that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent.  The US government dragged us into the Vietnam War with a phony attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.  The US government dragged us into an endless war in the Middle East by creating the nightmare of International Terrorism.

This is not new with the USA.  For as long as there have been warring tribes, the people have wanted peace and their leaders have wanted war.  War concentrates power.  War magnifies corporate profits.  War justifies secrecy, masks corruption.  War is good for the rulers, but a disaster for the people.  War is an unspeakable atrocity.  War is a lie.

In 421 BC, ten years into the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes wrote the play called Peace, satirizing exactly the tactic that the US and other modern governments use to drag a loyal and faithful populace into war.

Trygaeus, a middle-aged Athenian, miraculously brings about a peaceful end to the Peloponnesian War, thereby earning the gratitude of farmers while bankrupting various tradesmen who had profited from the hostilities. He celebrates his triumph by marrying Harvest, a companion of Festival and Peace, all of whom he has liberated from a celestial prison.

The play opens with slaves working furiously to gather excrement to feed a giant dung beetle.  Kafka’s surreal imagination had nothing on Aristophanes.

Watch an Australian college production

Today is World Peace Day.

 

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