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USA: The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War - by Robert Crawford

To start with a quick overview of our present situation. Most of you are familiar with this recent history; yet, it bears repeating. For 15 years now, since 2001, the US has been at war.

The longest single battlefield has been the war in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan Tribal Areas. It has spanned two administrations. The Taliban remains undefeated and is gaining ground and war lords pursue their own political and military agendas.

The 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, now almost universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest military mistakes in recent times, has virtually destroyed a country that had been created by the imperial powers during WWI. Warfare between a Shia dominated Iraqi government and the Sunnis—now mostly controlled by ISIS—has become a struggle for territory and cities. This war has been internationalized.

The Syrian civil war, which has become another international war, continues its rising death toll and propels the greatest refugee crisis since WWII.

The U.S., British and French air war on Gadhafi’s Libya in 2011 has resulted in another failed state, ongoing civil war, and more U.S. and allied bombing.

Insurgencies in Yemen, Somalia, northern Nigeria, along with military attempts to suppress them continue to cause huge numbers of civilian casualties and further displacement. These conflicts have also been internationalized.

Since 2006, the Israeli siege of Gaza and the essentially one-sided warfare against Hamas, culminating in the brutal assault of 2014, has caused extraordinary suffering. The government-backed settler land grab in the West Bank makes the prospects of a just peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians more remote. In all these wars, civilians are the primary victims.

As you know, the US is neck deep in this descent into perpetual and proliferating warfare. Historian Andrew Bacevich calls it America’s WWIV. Despite repeated military failures and negative unanticipated consequences, the US still pursues the illusion that it can shape the contemporary Middle East through a combination of drone warfare, bombing, Special Operations and other covert actions. It continues to invest heavily in the militaries of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other U.S. allies.

American military dominance (which must be distinguished from effectiveness) is the most fundamental fact of today’s international order. The U.S., after all, maintains a projection of global power with hundreds of thousands troops stationed abroad” who occupy or use “some 761 ‘sites’ in 39 countries”—what critic Chalmers Johnson called “an empire of bases.”

Anyone with eyes wide open must come to this topic with more questions than answers—to say nothing about the burden of grief and even despair that many of us carry. I continue to struggle with both the questions and the difficult emotions.

For those of us hoping for a more peaceful world and a more peaceful American foreign policy, the core political question—what is to be done?—is perplexing. As long as American soldiers are not dying in significant numbers, Americans, for the most part, seem uninterested—and certainly uniformed—about US wars and their consequences. The corporate controlled media are no help; instead, they do everything possible to hinder understanding and serious debate. Historical amnesia is a particularly American affliction. Each of these obstacles are serious problems we need to confront.

My topic, here, is the political rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election. Even though it is a small part of the puzzle, the rhetoric of the presidential candidates reveals a great deal about the historical moment and the larger forces that shape this nation’s perpetual wars.

My first contention is that there is an ideology of militarism that dominates our political culture and it is being perpetuated by both the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, despite their significant differences.

We know or should know how militarist ideology exploits our fears of terrorism, and perpetuates the illusion that our safety depends on the worldwide projection and use of military power.

We know or should know that this ideology was developed and honed throughout the Cold War and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the national security establishment had to find a new enemy to justify its continued rule.

We know or should know that militarism is an ideology that denies its own contributions to the continual escalation of violence in the Middle East and to terrorist attacks in the West.

Note EU-Digest: What is probably most amazing, reading the above report, is that the EU member states don't need to be geniuses to figure out that something in the equation related to their US servitude, when it comes to US foreign and military policies, has not only been a complete failure, but also a financial drain on their budgets. Europe, and specially the EU needs to seriously start thinking about developing its own more independent foreign policy and stop supporting US military adventures whereever they may occur.  

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