Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wondering about peace and war . . .

Andrew Bacevich's article the American Conservative, The Odds Against Antiwar Warriors, was fascinating to me. The existence of a vibrant debate on American war-making policies is always subject to immediate shutdown as soon as our troops are actually "over there." Criticism becomes treason. Rational thinking is replaced by jingoism and a the-boys-are-coming fervor. All soldiers are depicted as heroes. The "war effort" is depicted in the major media as a kind of selfless attempt to make the world a better place, spread Democracy, and eliminate evil. But it seldom works out quite as planned.

The Bacevich article is about WWI, but there are clear similarities and also dissimilarities to our own situation. The War on Terror, officially beginning as a response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, has now gone on for some 15 years with decidedly questionable results and yet relatively little public criticism. From going after the Taliban in Afghanistan to Al Queda in Iraq, from Lybia to Somalia to Syria to Yemen (and I'm sure I've missed a spot or two), every new military adventure is simply a new chapter in this ongoing WoT. There is no end in sight, and Congress seems disinclined to question its apparently perpetual funding. This state of continuous war for the greater middle east (to use Bacevich's phrase from his excellent book) is something a whole generation has now come to take for granted. It has replaced our Cold War with the old Soviet Union as the perpetual justification for increasing militarization of the budget. It is, in other words, a handy justification for the burgeoning Defense budget and proliferating military involvements all over ther world. Eisenhower's military-industrial complex has never had it so good.

Of course one might argue that all this is strictly necessary, and then we might be able to have a debate on that matter. That doesn't seem to be in the cards. The necessity of it all is more presumed than argued. Debate is the one thing we don't have.

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