US Wars Far From Over

This Real News Network interview with David Swanson, which focuses on Obama’s PR on the “end” of the war in Iraq, also underscores a theme in Matt Stoller’s post on Ron Paul yesterday: the deep commitment of both parties to a large and active military.


More at The Real News

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35 comments

  1. psychohistorian

    The NC Topic term Banana Republic kept jumping out at me while I was watching the segment. Nothing to disagree with there and the chilling ending words set the stage for our future.

    I would humbly posit that Banana Empire would be a more apt Topic title. Banana Republic is just so last century.

    War and corrupt finance are the only real exportable industries America has anymore, right?

    1. Fraud Guy

      Wish I could just reply with Starr or Lennon and be done with it. How is the calculation of war for political (or commercial) profit different than corporate risk management determining what level of pain and loss to customers, society, and the environment is worth their income? (Though likely at least two of those don’t factor into many such decisions.)

      1. Woodrow Wilson

        “How is the calculation of war for political (or commercial) profit different than corporate risk management determining what level of pain and loss to customers, society, and the environment is worth their income?” –

        Well, in one scenario there really isn’t too much risk if your involved in fraud or screw up. You either continue with whatever it is you’re doing, pay a fine, or in a very rare circumstance, maybe go to jail.

        In the other scenario, the results are you end up in a body bag and shipped home.

        Of course, in today’s fucked up times, the people making those decisions to do either of the aforementioned are not themselves at risk in any way, as neither they, nor their children are put in either scenario to be at risk in the first place.

    2. Just Me

      The US also exports entertainment. Protection of the entertainment cartels (RIAA and MPAA) is the driving force behind SOPA/PIPA legislation.

  2. Paul Walker

    The whole point of the policy framework centered upon “managed mayhem’ is to ensure global conflagrations do not occur through a process of managing stimulative micro mishaps in such a way as to bleed pressure before it get too overwhelming. This outcome has best been achieved by managing global micro/macro geo-political and econometric tensions through a multiple layered policy of integrated incrementalism. It’s clear and undeniable this policy has achieved sustained rates of global integration and natural inflation thereby providing the greatest good to the whole of broad human society. Besides, the economy is too fragile to withstand disinflation in public sector outlays that protect the homeland form all those who dare to question, or refuse to believe, in the rightness of sustaining this policy that has brought the greatest era of peace and prosperity the world has ever known.

    So, everyone, do you part to support peace and prosperity. Shop at Wal-Mart, take your Xanax, tune in to Dancing With the Stars, The Kardashians and volunteer in serve in the mobile infantry. Most importantly, never ever forget the two party system is all the change you need to believe in, pull your party lever on election day and blame the other fella for all that ails society. Believing your bit of the swag that’s essential is a key component to ensuring there is a steady stream of micro tension [in]securities to lever up, rate and sell so that you have a belief system you can hold to maturity.

    1. lambert strether

      Style note: I try to say “legacy party” rather than “two party.” There’s no reason to think that the Ds or the Rs are immortal, any more than the Whigs were immortal. So let’s hasten their passing….

      1. Paul Walker

        Ya, the shell, however prettily decorated matters not when what’s inside is simply a rotten egg.

        No small wonder folks are gravitating to the real sustenance of nutritional brain snacks wherever they may be found. In this a h/t to NC for their continuing efforts to contribute meaningfully to fostering debate, the free flow of information and considered opinion. Thanks

    2. eric smith

      Could you elaborate and/or state your first paragraph more plainly? I think I catch your drift and agree but I would like to here the statement put more bluntly and in plain language to make sure I understand the concepts here. I agree, though- you said it better than anyone alse I have heard before.

      1. Up the Ante

        If he said it better than any you’ve heard before, then it’s good enough as your reply implies that you possess an even better version ??

  3. Susan the other

    War on Poverty (LBJ); War on Cancer (RN); War on Drugs (Ronnie); War on Terror (GB) and the latest, War on Global Terror. There can be a war on anything. If this is the obvious but unspoken policy of war in the US, we might appropriate the language and start demanding our own wars. War on Financial Fraud; War on Bad Schools; War on Inadequate Housing; War on Chemicals in Food; War on Useless Government Representation and Utter Malfeasance; Global War on Pollution; War on Joblessness. Long live war.

    1. gruntled

      Yes, isn’t it ironic that the word “war” is such an integral part of our language in this peace-loving nation of ours?

      1. Joe Rebholz

        Our lnguage, our thoughts, our ideas are supersaturated with war metaphors, war memes. It’s hard to think without ideas of war. So it will not be easy to get rid of war.

      2. James

        No irony intended. War has come out of the closet in all it’s splendor, never to hide in shame and secrecy again in our lifetimes. The fact that it’s the baby boom/Vietnam generation that’s embracing it; now THERE’S some irony for ya!

  4. Gil Gamesh

    The United States does not leave a country that it invades militarily. It beggars belief that Iraq, oil rich, bordering Iran, would be the first. I hear Obama has only decent, not good game. But head fakes..no contest.

    1. Paul

      If I understand correctly, a main impetus for leaving Iraq is the refusal of the Iraqi parliament to grant Americans continuing immunity from prosecution.

      Among reasons for the stance is the 2007 Baghdad massacre in Nisour Square in which Blackwater employees are alleged to have taken part.

      1. Procopius

        It makes one wonder which motive is dominating here. The political, “People are fed up with casualties, and if we can’t get the Iraqi government to invite us to stay the civil war will start up and we’ll take a lot of casualties.” Or the military, “Our Army is almost broken. We need a respite to rebuild, retrain, and recover. If you tell us to, we’ll keep on trying to fight, but there are not enough of us any more.” I guess it’s a combination of the two. I admit I was really surprised that Bush gave in to the Iraqu demands in the SOFA; I’m sure the AEI (aka the neocon cabal) was screaming to unleash our mighty forces and force them to our will (i.e. keep 40-50,000 troops there preparing to invade Iran).

  5. Valissa

    The Democratic Party’s empire advisors… National Democratic Institute for International Affairs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Democratic_Institute_for_International_Affairs

    The Republican Party’s empire advisors… International Republican Institute http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Republican_Institute

    Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_Foreign_Relations

    The Empire of Pax Americana exists and will continue to exist, despite wishing it weren’t so. Therefore wars will continue to be a big part of US future. Reality is what it is. Empires will be empires, as history well shows. Anyone who thinks any political candidate (no matter what they say in a speech) can change this is very naive. The system is stronger than any individual and anyone who is elected president ends up doing similar things and following trends from their predecessors.

      1. Valissa

        Yup, it’s all part of the extended version of The Great Game!

        I recently bought a book, which I haven’t had time to read yet, called…

        Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Goverment Co-opted Human Rights, by James Peck

        It’s one of many books from the American Empire Project http://americanempireproject.com/

        1. Valissa

          The first link can be found on todays NC links, but for convenience, i’ve included it below.

          Egypt Raids Offices of Nonprofits, 3 Backed by U.S. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/world/middleeast/egypts-forces-raid-offices-of-us-and-other-civil-groups.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

          Here’s the perspective from the human rights workers…

          Egypt: National and International Human Rights Organizations are Under Attack http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/29/egypt-national-and-international-human-rights-organizations-are-under-attack

          Of course it’s all about control/power…

          Egypt’s raids on NGOs are about control http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/30/egypt-raids-ngos-beleaguered-regime-light

    1. Ray Phenicie

      Thanks for putting those links up, the graphics and headlines at the NDI site remind me of the propaganda publications that the Soviets and the Chinese use to put out in the 1970’s; I was a student at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and spend many an hour looking at the glossy photos of waving fields of grain and alabaster cities-the two empires of the East and West run together in my mind.

  6. JohnB

    The CFR strongly recommends “time to attack Iran now”. Comes to wonder what our soldiers “recommend”?

    1. Valissa

      If CFR is saying that, one has to wonder how it fits into their larger strategy. We all know public speech should not be believed literally, but in the context of the larger and longer kabuki drama.

      “All warfare is based on deception.” Sun Tzu

      I am reminded of the old Star Trek episode “I, Mudd” (1967) and this dialogue:

      [trying to confuse an android]
      Captain Kirk: Harry lied to you, Norman. Everything Harry says is a lie. Remember that, Norman. *Everything* he says is a lie.

      Harcourt Fenton Mudd: Now I want you to listen to me very carefully, Norman. I’m… lying.

      Norman: You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie, then you are telling the truth, but you cannot tell the truth because you always lie… illogical! Illogical! Please explain! You are human; only humans can explain! Illogical!
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708432/quotes

      Just for fun, here’s discussion of “everything I say is a lie” at Philosophy Forums http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/everything-i-say-is-a-lie-is-this-a-paradox-or-a-fallacy-29969.html

    2. James

      Soldiers have a vested interest in making war “work.” The last thing you want to ask most career ladder climbing generals or colonels is, “is it doable?” Even if they have misgivings, they’re almost certainly to couch them in politically accepted terms and phrases. Just ask Eric Shinseki or Anthony Zinni about the hazards of doing otherwise, although, even in retirement I doubt either would be brutally honest about what they went through. The officer corps is, if anything, even more politically mindful than their civilian counterparts, who at least have an electorate to appeal to. The military’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness: it’s can-do, warrior mentality. Civilian pols like Bush/Cheney and now (amazingly) Obama have proven to be experts at manipulating that mentality for their own purposes. Unfortunately, credibility with the professional military is now a prerequisite for any liberal pol who wants to be taken seriously. How else to explain the sudden hawkishness of none other than that all-time liberal school marm scold, one Hillary Clinton? Although both Clinton and Obama now appear as caricatures of their campaign selves, they’ve got what they really want: credibility (“gravitas”) within the MIC and the country as a whole. Say what you want about war and the military, but the American public makes it’s sentiments known very clearly every four years. Talking tough on defense is how you get elected in this country (hence the current diversionary tactic to take attention off Iraq by finding yet another existential threat in Iran), and until that changes we’ll only get more of the same.

      1. James

        The abolition of the draft and the establishment of a professional standing army was also a political masterstroke, in that it aligned economic and warring interests perfectly by establishing the military as a job creator/ welfare provider. No surprise then when that same principle was applied to corrections, civilian law enforcement, immigration, ATF, and that great boondoggle of all boondoggles HOMELAND SECURITY (worth the price of 9-11 all alone!), an agency whose only apparent purpose is to declare war on the US public itself – all in the name of “security” of course. War is hell? Depends on your perspective. From the elites standpoint the calculation is much simpler. War is about money and power with no end in sight. Once the supply is guaranteed (and it is, witness the free advertising the MIC gets with almost every televised football game), it literally creates its own exponentially increasing demand. Even any unfortunate “peace” that might break out in the aftermath is win-win. What’s not to love?

  7. Fiver

    There is so very little recognition of what a policy of Empire, militarism and state terror does to those engaged in it. The US and Israeli leaderships long since crossed the line into the pathological – diplomacy exists only to set up the real first choice, i.e., violence rooted in the belief that force works if applied with an utter disregard for human life. The respective populations, meanwhile, become more and more demoralized, as in de-moral-ized – the devastating effects of which are everywhere to be seen.

    I posted the following on the previous NC/Real News NW Iraq story (interview) long after everyone else had commented and moved on. This is all so utterly depraved – and none of it even remotely necessary:

    It seems to me that people need to think about this much more cold-bloodedly, as that is how several decades of policymakers have gone about their reptilian business.

    1) The US did NOT “lose” in Iraq. It destroyed the country, and with it the capacity as an independent State ever to become even a remote threat to paranoid, superpower Israel or ever to use its oil counter to US “interests”. It did so not just by pulverising its infrastructure, but by utterly crushing the morale of its people, including deliberately inculcating sectarian mayhem. The oil fields are totally locked down – you hear virtually nothing about security problems on that score. US multinationals are back in, and will rapidly expand. The US is arming and essentially running (15,000 minimum working for State Dept – who knows how many not reported at all) the national security client state that is Iraq, there is little left of the munitions left by Saddam’s military to be used by the few remaining insurgents (anyone who so much as squinted the wrong way was killed), and, contrary to Wilkerson, Iran is in no position whatever to do anything other than disrupt civilian life, not the government or oil production.

    2) Same story with Afghanistan. Its capacity for any independence is all but destroyed. Another couple years will “finish the job”. There actually is a limit to how many new “recruits” to the insurgent cause there are ONCE YOU’VE MURDERED (these are war crimes)most of them and utterly terrorized the rest of the population. The Nazi occupation of Europe, or Stalin in the Ukraine is instructive in that regard – the Resistance was of no account whatever on its own. When one side has overwhelming superiority in force, it’s only a question of how brutal it’s prepared to be.

    3) Libya was knocked over only for oil for Europe (North Sea in decline) and megabucks in “reconstruction” contracts. The completely non-credible “strategic” cover was fear of a “militant Islamic Egypt” attempting to go for the oil. The 60,000 minimum dead Libyans count for nothing whatever in the calculus.

    4) Syria is now a target of opportunity for regime change. What started as protesters brutally put down has morphed into arming opponents of the regime – civil war looms. It is very, very likely that the protesters were themselves infiltrated and used from the get-go.

    5) Iran, as noted, is NOT in an enhanced position because of Iraq. Anything but – it is militarily very weak, surrounded, and being slowly throttled. Not fast enough for those driving this, though. And here is where Wilkerson is, in my opinion, lying:

    Everyone seems to think a war with Iran would be some sort of Iraq on steroids. Not a chance. If this comes (should Iran not dissolve internally due to immense externally originated pressures first) there will not be boots on the ground. There will be a series of strikes on dozens, maybe hundreds of “suspected” nuclear facilities, and if Iran responds in any way at all, roughly 10,000 targets of all description will be obliterated. And that’s it. Hezbollah or Hamas will also be destroyed should they be foolish enough to act. It’s over. No occupation. No re-building. Nothing but a burning wreck and tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands dead – and a lasting warning to all who would resist globalized, militarized, corporatist power.

    No oil from the region for China except as deemed fit by the US. And the end of the War on Arabs and Islam, a half-century conflict none of these peoples asked for, but got, just because they happened to be living on the ground above the world’s biggest reserves of high- quality, easily produced oil, and objected to having their resources (and in the case of Israel, their lands) stolen, and their cultures pissed on without end.

    And all the while, staggering sums of money to be made for elite insiders of all description.

    I’m well aware that this is a mighty grim assessment, but I honestly believe we just have to get it through our thick heads that the people calling the shots DO NOT CARE about the US lives lost, or trillions expended, or much of anything else. In fact to them, the whole thing has been/will be “cheap” considering the enormity of what was to them the “prize” – strategic control of the world’s lifeblood through mid-century (in their minds) and a “safe” Israel.

    1. James

      “Everyone seems to think a war with Iran would be some sort of Iraq on steroids. Not a chance. If this comes (should Iran not dissolve internally due to immense externally originated pressures first) there will not be boots on the ground.”

      Desert Storm without even the pretense of an invasion or Shock and Awe on a far grander scale. Total war on the cheap. Definitely a possibility in a time of government austerity. I can imagine the AF and Navy in particular signing up for this wholeheartedly. The AF has been looking for something to call all their own since they spun off into being. LeMay’s probably got a woody as we speak.

    2. bigsurtree

      With respect to Iran, Russia would have to be bought off first; perhaps China to a lesser extent. Very unlikely Iran will ever be attacked by the U.S. — Israel may be another story. Risks would be insane.

  8. Ray Phenicie

    Thanks Yves for posting this and keeping the progressive community better informed. I seriously view this website at the end of a troubling year, as the best place for news and it is the starting point for my ‘morning paper.’ I find it very troubling, after spending 43 years of my adult life struggling with political affairs in this country, that so little progress has been made in keeping the flame of liberty and equality still flickering. This website deserves some kind of award; I can only toss a few flints in the tip jar from time to time.

    thanks again and Merry New Year!

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