A 241 Year Fairy Tale About American Democracy

war is a lie


War is a Lie

By David Swanson

Just World Books (2016)

Book Review

In War is a Lie, author David Swanson presents extensive historical evidence that the US has never been a democratic republic – that this is a carefully crafted fairy tale the ruling elite has been telling us since the late 18th century. He also demolishes the myth that warfare is deeply ingrained in human nature. Ninety-eight percent of people are deeply opposed to killing and warfare and require extensive brainwashing to commit to either. Although the species homo sapiens is 60,000 – 1000,000 years old, they have only engaged in war for the last 10,000 years. Many human civilizations (including the people of the Arctic, Northeast Mexico, Australia and Nevada’s Great Basin) had no experience of war prior to contact with Europeans. Among the more astonishing facts Swanson reveals is that 80% of the US troops drafted into World War II declined to kill enemy troops.

Starting with the Revolutionary War, War is a Lie is full of delightful little factoids that are omitted from high school and college US history courses.

Among the high points:

Revolutionary War

The two real goals of the US War of Independence were to 1) remove the King’s representatives from positions of power in North America and replace them with colonial merchants and bankers and 2) to overturn the British ban on western expansion (via the slaughter of indigenous tribes). The Continental Army consisted mainly of poor farmers who were forcibly conscripted, brutally mistreated and rarely paid (even though General Washington was the richest man in the colonies. During and after the war, numerous “democratic reforms” were enacted to motivate these the “recruits, with all being promptly nullified.

War of 1812

Contrary to what we’re taught in school, the US started the War of 1812, with the intention of invading and occupying Canada. They lost this war.

Mexican-American War (1846-48)

Another war about western expansion that resulted in the US annexation of Texas, California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Colorado and Oregon. Many Irish and other European immigrants fought for Mexico.

Civil War

Swanson maintains the Civil War was also about western expansion and whether the North or South would control the new western territories. Swanson stresses that Lincoln could have easily freed the slaves without launching a war (other countries did so). The Emancipation Proclamation was issued well after the war started, as public sentiment turned against the war due to high casualties. Swanson reminds us that the Proclamation only applied to states that had seceded – slavery remained legal in Union states.

World War II

Swanson details the deliberate Wall Street strategy of arming Hitler to neutralize the Soviets, highlighting orders US pilots received not to bomb German munitions factories owned by Americans. He also writes at length about the Nazi eugenics experiments that originating in the US under the guidance of Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harrison. I was intrigued to learne the Rockefeller Foundation funded Josef Mengele’s experiments on Jewish prisoners. Swanson attributes Roosevelt’s eagerness to enter World War II to increasing working class militancy in the US (which the compulsory draft ended) and fears of full blown insurrection. He also discusses numerous efforts Hitler made (as late as 1940) to negotiate a peace settlement with the allies – which they rebuffed.

16 thoughts on “A 241 Year Fairy Tale About American Democracy

      • I can understand that history may be biased. And I can understand you can’t fit everything into one book. But propaganda is unacceptable. Students should be able to learn at least 2-3 sides of a historical event/issue in any history book. And they should be assigned a choice of school library books to look further into various historical events or movements. Each could give oral book reports so fellow students could gain broader insight over the school year. (If I were a teacher, I might get fired for low student standard test scores!)


  1. ” . . . . orders US pilots received not to bomb German munitions factories owned by Americans. . . ”
    German munitions factories owned by Americans during WW II?


  2. Yes, Aunty. Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and numerous other Wall Street companies built tanks and weapons to help arm Hitler after World War I. Some were prosecuted under the Trading With the Enemy Act, but many still owned factories in Germany following the Allied invasion. Allied pilots were forbidden to bomb them.


  3. David has it right. War is a lie. It’s murder for profit, period. Everything else said about it — to justify it prospectively or retrospectively — is bullshit.

    I’ll have to read David’s book and finish viewing the video ( for the moment — feeling the weight of something like despair over the entire issue — I have to set it aside. Sometimes reading and thinking about it is more than I can bear. This is one of those times . . .)


    • You make a good point, Norman, about the retrospective lying. One of the things Swanson mentions (in both the book and the talk) is Obama’s efforts to rehabilitate both the Korean War and the Vietnam War – when both were absolutely disasters – both for the American people and the countries we invaded and occupied.


  4. I see you posted this review three years ago, but I just read it. I’m currently reading Ron Chernow’s biography, “Washington,” which corroborates what you’ve posted about the Revolutionary War, and then some. Even though Chernow is a masterful apologist for all the creeps he writes about, he does show a lot of detailed research.


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