Made Love, Got War is the title of Norman Solomon's latest book, an autobiographical account of the peace and disarmament movements in the United States. He discusses the pitfalls and detours encountered in past struggles, and provides useful lessons for current and future activism.
Norman Solomon is a well know nationally syndicated columnist who writes on media and politics. Since 1992 he has been writing the weekly "Media Beat" column. He is the founder and director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a past recipient of the Orwell Award, which honors distinguished contributions to honesty and clarity in public language.
He has written 12 books. His previous book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death was published in 2005. The Los Angeles Times called the book "brutally persuasive" and "a must-read for those who I guess would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come." The newspaper's reviewer added: "Solomon is a formidable thinker and activist." The Humanist magazine described the book as "a definitive historical text" and "an indispensable record of the real relationships among government authorities and media outlets." A documentary based on the book was released in 2007 and available on YouTube.
In the foreword to Made Love Got War, Daniel Ellsberg, author of the Pentagon Papers, writes: ""I was born in 1931 and my generation had to reorient itself to the unprecedented threat of planetary nuclear suicide-murder. Norman Solomon was born twenty years later, and his generation has never lived under any other circumstance." Yes, but few in that generation have remained constantly aware of the fact and devoted to changing it. Human beings have always been able to put the fact of their fast approaching personal demise out of their minds, often aided by the pretense of an "afterlife." Solomon's and later generations have usually managed to put the possibility of our collective nuclear end out of our thoughts, often aided by the pretenses of the news and entertainment industry."
Solomon begins Made Love Got War with Sputnik and ends with the war in Iraq. While Sputnik was instantly fascinating and alarming, it scared the hell out of people. The American press swooned at the scientific vistas and shuddered at the military implications. Under the headline "Red Moon Over the U.S.." Time quickly explained that a new era in human had begun, opening a bright new chapter in mankind;s conquest of the natural environment and a grim new chapter in the cold war.
Norman writes about coming under FBI surveillance in the mid 1960's when he was 14 and his trips to Baghdad and Tehran with Sean Penn, narrator of the documentary. He provides us with interesting accounts of face offs with Judith Miller and other pro-war journalists before the start of the Iraq war. Along the way, we learn about his encounters with several Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, and Bush.
Martin Luther King had a profound effect on Norman. He says that when Martin Luther King Jr. publicly referred to “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government,” he had no way of knowing that his description would ring so true 40 years later. As the autumn of 2007 begins, the reality of Uncle Sam as an unhinged mega-killer haunts a large minority of Americans. Many who can remember the horrific era of the Vietnam War are nearly incredulous that we could now be living in a time of similarly deranged official policy.
Despite all the differences, the deep parallels between the two war efforts (Viet Nam and Iraq) inform us that the basic madness of entrenched power in our midst is not about miscalculations or bad management or quagmires. The continuity tells us much more than we would probably like to know about the obstacles to decency that confront us every day.
Towards the end of the book, Solomon quotes James Baldwin: "They have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime." Solomon quotes these lines approvingly, but his goal is not just to make us aware of what the U.S. military state is doing, but to stop it. To sum up, this is an excellent book, a blend of personal narrative with political history. I recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a very personal account of the antiwar movement.