Perpetual war, invisible to most, was a constant background to George Orwell’s “1984”, the prescient if misdated prophecy of the future of America. No sooner than the Iraqi and Afghan wars have wound down, our President is guns ablaze to replace those costly and bloody exercises with a new one in Syria.
A coach, they say in sports, is a guy glad to give your life for his team; we should characterize our Presidents as folk glad to give our and other’s lives and treasure, for their political gain. Since 1900, if you examine the list of America’s wars, our military has been killing people, mostly foreigners, during some 105 of the last 113 years, not including short term fighting lasting less than a year. Since America has the luxury of doing its fighting mostly in other people’s lands, Americans tend to pay limited attention.
The politicians who run the U.S. government benefit from that; President Dwight Eisenhower, the retired general of WWII explicitly warned us in his farewell speech of January, 1961. Thousands upon thousands of dead are testimony to our failure to heed his warning. However, most were foreigners, so few Americans have been concerned. Maybe a few mothers who ended motherhood with a gold star flag to display in their front window in place of a living son… And a lot of foreign mothers we never heard from.
But Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” received billions in government business at taxpayer expense and politicians received contributions and other support. Everybody was happy, right? Even the dead; none of them have ever complained.
It’s all so easy, especially when it’s all off shore. And we are responsible; we elect and re-elect the men and women who sustain it. One reason it has been easy, is that we have not faced the reality of the wars we have perpetrated. Out of sight, out of mind, no? Easy to brush off in our peaceful neighborhoods. And our politicians and their indentured media work hard to be sure we aren’t disturbed by the realities of what we have wrought.
So here is a little lesson on the reality of war, if you have the integrity to face what your representatives do, plus a strong stomach. Several of our generals have annoyed various Presidents by not sufficiently hiding these facts from American voters when said Presidents wanted them hidden while also sending newsfolk onto battlefields. A bit tricky, that. Not all liberal newsfolk stick to the party line after tripping over the corpses of women and children long enough. Even generals become tired of it.
So, what is war in reality? War is very simple: Carl von Clausewitz wrote perhaps the best known definition. “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” And so it is. In a nutshell, after you have failed to persuade, blackmail or intimidate your chosen victim into accepting your terms, you simply destroy his property and kill his people until he either succumbs or is destroyed. That is war. All else, is propaganda.
War is not more popular than it is seen to be only because it is risky; those reliant on war too often end by destroying themselves. History is full of that. War mongering is ultimately a form of hubris. A primary reason for that is financial; war is ridiculous from a financial standpoint now that capturing an enemy’s gold mines or farms or shipping business is no longer an issue. Where, now that the money for Social Security, Obamacare, Medicare et al must be conjured out of the air, will the President find the funding for his war?
The United States has accomplished no honest goals via warmaking since the Korean ‘Police Action’ unless you see the relief of Kuwait as worthy. And that was nominal at best. But the billions have been duly wasted, the cemeteries have been duly filled, the politicians’ contributions duly received and the hapless folk victimized, duly interred quietly in far places where they don’t disturb American voters.
But President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry and ‘Defense’ Secretary Hagel, the four horsemen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who opposed President Bush’s plan to get tough with Assad, are baying after killing Syrians, who already seem to be accomplishing that well enough on their own. What gain will result? It will “send a Message.” Or more recently, it will help kick Assad out in favor of the rebels, who seem to be running around attacking Christians and otherwise, behaving pretty much as does Assad. But Obama has no war at the moment, that seems to leave him feeling naked or at least, somehow inadequate. He has killed more Afghans and Americans in Afghanistan tham Bush but he’s behind because of Iraq, which was Bush, not him. Guess he has to catch up somehow… And all he needs to do, is give orders and go play golf. Others do the dying, elsewhere