Sociopathic America

Nick Egnatz
Online Journal

Prisoner undergoing torture, US soldiers using nightsticks. Taken
directly from US CID photos investigating Abu Ghraib prison tor-
ture, physical abuse and sexual abuse. ( / The We!)

After voting in every national election since I came of age serving in Vietnam, I have come to the studied conclusion that continuing to participate in U.S. federal elections serves no purpose other than to convey my consent to a system which is both anti-democratic and criminal.

Anti-democratic because rather than a system of one person/one vote, we have a system of multi-millions of dollars required to run for the House or the Senate. The two corporate political parties enjoy monopoly status and refuse to allow democratic reforms. Independent and third parties have almost no chance in winning a single election of consequence. While voting for an independent or third party candidate might assuage one’s conscience, in reality it is a vote giving one’s consent to a grossly unfair system.

Personally, it took the illegal Bush wars to wake me from an American culture-induced coma and onto a path of study and activism in the pursuit of peace and social justice for all the people of the earth. Indeed for the earth itself.

But the criminality didn’t start with Bush Jr. invading Afghanistan and Iraq. Both done without permission from the U.N. Security Council as required by the U.N. Charter and the U.S. Constitution and thus illegal. As an American I was steeped in the American World View--that America was the kindest, gentlest nation on earth, that America was a representative democracy and that our policies at home and abroad, while occasionally misguided, were certainly done for the benefit of mankind. Then came Bush’s wars. Like many others when I first started protesting them I felt that they were some sort of aberration and a simple course correction would get us back on track.

The studying began. While I had knowledge of many of these things, previously I had been looking through a U.S. media/government propaganda filter that somehow magically made the most horrific of crimes seem innocuous. A partial list of pervasive, historic U.S. criminality:

Genocide of the First American people.

Slavery and then segregation of the African American people.

Wars of Aggression with the First Americans, Spain, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq.

CIA coups against democratically elected governments in Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Greece, Venezuela, Iran and Congo.

Torture of just about all the non-European people we have fought with.

Refusal to hold U.S. officials accountable for any of the above crimes as required by law. The latest example being President Obama not even calling for an investigation of President Bush and his top advisors for breaking at least 7 federal and international laws in taking us to war illegally in Iraq despite the 2005 House Judiciary Committee Democratic Report stating there was a prima facie case that the Bush Administration had done so.

International law recognizes certain crimes as beyond the jurisdiction of nations to legalize. Called jus cogens, Latin for compelling law, they are genocide, slavery, torture, wars of aggression, maritime piracy and territorial aggrandizement. Historically the U.S. is clearly guilty of all but maritime piracy. Currently the U.S. is involved in wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, torture at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and countless black sites kept secret from the public and territorial aggrandizement by our military and economic support of Israel as they continue to occupy Gaza, the West Bank and build internationally illegal settlements on Palestinian land. On May 31 Israel committed maritime piracy in commandeering the international aide ships in the Gaza Flotilla and murdered 9 activists (5 of whom were shot execution style) including joint U.S./Turkish citizen, 19 year old, Furkan Dogan. Our military support of Israel and our stonewalling in the U.N. Security Council to stop efforts to independently investigate Israel’s actions make us complicit in the crime of international piracy. That makes the U.S. six for six on the jus cogens list of the supreme crimes against humanity.


Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention states : “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Some may quibble and say that our genocide against the First American people was a thing of the past, but there is certainly a case that we currently are guilty of genocide in two separate arenas. Iraq had an estimated population of 25 million before we invaded in 2003. Carried forward the only scientific study of Iraq mortality, the Lancet Journal/Johns Hopkins Medical School Study estimated the civilian deaths in excess of 1 million. Best estimate of war refugees is 4-5 million. Baghdad was ethnically cleansed of Sunni Muslims. Twenty per cent of all Iraqis dead or driven from their homes, economy and infrastructure destroyed: Iraq qualifies as genocide.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people could also be called genocide. Our support of Israel makes us jointly complicit in their crimes starting with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 on land stolen at the point of an army from the approximate 700,000 Palestinian people who fled in what the Palestinians refer to as an-Nakba (The Great Catastrophe). Still today the state of Israel refuses to allow the, occupied since 1967 territories of Gaza and the West Bank, autonomy. The land theft continues with illegal Israeli settlements, restricted roads and countless checkpoints for Palestinians making movement in the West Bank in some cases next to impossible. Gaza remains under a 3 year siege and blockade. The people are denied commerce, building supplies to rebuild with and live in what has been referred to as the world’s largest open air prison.

The late Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff of Israeli Defense Forces, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister is perhaps Israel’s greatest hero. This is his statement to aides on what to tell the Palestinian people to expect in the occupied territories after the 1967 War.

“We have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” With that statement as Israel’s guiding light, genocide it is.

This brings the U.S. to the unenviable position of contemporary guilt on all the jus cogens supreme crimes.

Wars of aggression: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan

Slavery: discussed below

Torture: Guantanamo, Bagram, black sites

Genocide: Iraq, Palestine

Maritime Piracy: Gaza Flotilla

Territorial Aggrandizement: Palestine


With our country built on the backs of enslaved people, there is no mistaking our historic guilt. No doubt many will be as shocked as I was when I discovered that slavery was not abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment allows slavery to continue for those convicted of crimes.

13th Amendment, ratified December 6, 1885

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (Italics mine)

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The correctional industrial complex of federal, state, local and privatized prisons now houses 2.5 million inmates, a fivefold increase since 1980. This has coincided with the War on Drugs, tougher sentencing laws for the poor and working class and the privatization of our prisons. With 5 percent of the world’s population we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, 5 times the rate of the rest of the world. A black man is 7 times more likely to be imprisoned than a white man and a Hispanic 2 1/2 times. Federal law stipulates that it takes 100 times more cocaine powder than rock cocaine for a mandatory 5-year prison sentence. There is surely no correlation that wealthy white people use cocaine powder and impoverished people of color use rock cocaine. (Satire mine)

After the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, southern states arrested and convicted Black Americans on bogus charges of petty thievery or not carrying out their commitments to share cropping agreements. It doesn’t take much of a skeptic to imagine that due process wasn’t their due before being convicted and then leased out to pick cotton and build railroads for wealthy capitalists.

Ever since the Reagan Revolution made government the villain and capitalists the heroes, there has been a headlong rush to strangle social spending and privatize everything from security in war zones to fire protection and the operation of our prison system. Since private prison companies would now make a profit doing what government employees had done before, there was a tremendous incentive to increase the number of prisoners. The private prison contractors were allowed to set up factories and call centers in the prisons and coerce the prisoners into working for 20 cents an hour or suffer isolation from the rest of the prison population in solitary confinement. There is even a move to start charging prisoners room and board so that they will have no choice at all but to take part in forced labor for profit. Presently $2 billion worth of goods are manufactured in U.S. prisons at what for all practical purposes are slave labor wages.

This ignoble history and return to slavery is now being carried out in our prisons and for the betterment of IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin and Target Stores to name just a few of our corporations currently using the forced labor of our prison systems.

The case could also be made that the entire globalization policy pursued by U.S. capitalists and their Washington lackeys for the last 30 years is nothing more than a return to slavery. Historically, the U.S. has had tariffs to protect domestic manufacturers and workers. No more, our average import tariff is now 2 percent compared to 20-30 percent for the two centuries preceding the neo-liberal globalization period of the last three decades. What has been done is allow U.S. manufacturers and employers to give their workers a pink slip, close their doors in the U.S., set up shop in the third world country with the lowest common denominator wage and then send the manufactured goods back to the U.S. duty free to be bought by an increasingly stressed and unemployed working class. Our capitalists have been allowed to penetrate the third world economies and in many cases force the peasants into working in the enclave manufacturing zones by buying their farmland and using it to grow cash crops for export. The peasants are then forced to survive working in globalized sweatshops for 20 or 30 cents an hour. Those that think this capitalist largesse given to the poorest of countries is somehow helping their people are sadly mistaken. Mexico is estimated to have lost 5 million peasant farmers after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). China has undercut Mexico and as their industry suffers more and more Mexican peasants are returning to their ancestral homes in the U.S.

While President-elect Obama was waiting to take office, Israel bombarded and invaded Gaza. The results were horrific, 1,445 dead Palestinians including 545 women and children. Israel’s casualties were significantly less, 13 dead which included 4 killed by Israeli forces. Israel’s reason for the carnage was to stop the wildly inaccurate rockets occasionally fired at Israel from the Palestine. There had been a truce in place, but Israel broke it by entering Gaza and killing 6 members of Hamas building a tunnel. Gaza has been under siege by Israel and Egypt for 3 years and with 1.5 million people it is referred to as the largest open air prison on earth. International human rights groups consider the siege illegal. One phone call from Obama with a threat to cut off aid to Israel would have stopped the carnage somewhere short of the 1,445. It never came.

There is little doubt that the CIA and the Obama Administration had their hands in the successful Honduran coup last year and the unsuccessful Ecuadorean coup of last month.

These examples are mentioned to highlight the criminal ‘business as usual’ policies of the U.S. under a new president many thought and hoped would pursue an ethical and legal path.

This article will not go into the criminality of continuing the capitalist exploitation of the working class, both at home and abroad. Not because I believe they are unimportant, I have written numerous articles chronicling the destructiveness of U.S. capitalism. The point here is to focus on the continued, pervasive criminality of the U.S. government since its inception with respect to jus cogens laws.

A sociopath is one whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience; a cold-blooded serial killer lacking both guilt and remorse. I submit that the U.S. is and has been such an entity. The murderous, antisocial behavior is documented above and the fact that the vast majority of citizens will disagree with my conclusion, is proof that we as a people lack a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Voting in an election to continue this system of criminality is something that my conscience will no longer tolerate.

The so-called progressives will say that by not voting I am abandoning the field of battle and allowing the right-wing forces of evil to rule the day. My retort is that voting for Democrats and or Republicans who support the current and historic criminality of the U.S. ensures that the U.S. remains a sociopathic entity.

With special thanks to John Stanton, Contributing Writer for OnlineJournal, for his article “Second decade of the New American Century: ‘A Clock Work Orange’ meets ‘American Psycho’“. In it, Mr. Stanton advances the premise of America as a sociopathic society.

Nick Egnatz is a Vietnam veteran. He has been actively protesting our government’s crimes of empire in both person and print for some years now and was named “Citizen of the Year” for Northwest Indiana in 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers. Contact Nick at



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