US relies on an "utterly unsustainable late-stage imperial dependence on the war industry for our economic vitality."
Feb. 4, 2018, "Recipe Concocted for Perpetual War is a Bitter One," Robert Wing and Coleen Rowley
"Perpetual war is leading to a host of societal ills, yet debates on
war and peace are almost entirely absent from public discourse, Robert
Wing and Coleen Rowley observe."
"Last October marked the 16th anniversary of our unending war – or
military occupation – in Afghanistan, the longest conflict on foreign
soil in U.S. history. The cost to human lives in our current cycle of U.S.-initiated “perpetual wars” throughout
the Middle East and Africa is unthinkably high. It runs well into
millions of deaths if one counts – as do the Nuremberg principles of
international law – victims of spinoff fighting and sectarian violence
that erupt after we destroy governance structures.
Also to be counted are other forms of human loss, suffering, illness
and early mortality that result from national sanctions, destruction of
physical, social and medical infrastructure, loss of homeland, refugee
flight, ethnic cleansing, and their psychological after-effects. One has
to witness these to grasp their extent in trauma, and they all arise
from the Nuremberg-defined “supreme crime” of initiating war. Waging
aggressive war is something America is practiced in and does well, with
justifications like “fighting terrorism,” “securing our interests,”
“protecting innocents,” “spreading democracy,” etc. – as has every
aggressor in history that felt the need to explain its aggressions.
Yet few gathered across the country in October, much less gave a
thought of lament to the harm we are doing. It’s a topic we’d like to
forget. Recalling that domestic opposition to the Vietnam War grew
exponentially over the similar (but far shorter) timespan of that
aggression, one might wonder what has changed. A numbed, distracted
America has reached the point where bellicose presidential threats to
destroy North Korea with its puny nuclear arsenal, and cancel the
agreement keeping Iran from developing one, barely elicit shrugs among
One explanation for our current apathy is that our Military
Industrial Complex (President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s term for the
institutionalized promoter-beneficiaries of warfare) has long since
developed means to effectively counter any collective war-weariness.
Vietnam-era MIC apologists publicly worried that “sickly inhibitions against the use of military force” would jeopardize American “interests” around the globe. In time-honored fashion they cast “back-stabbing” blame for the “Vietnam Syndrome” on
war-opposing figures of the time like Daniel Ellsberg, Jane Fonda, Dr.
Benjamin Spock, even Walter Cronkite, and the millions of so-called
“me-generation” draft-resisters who they said caused the “loss” of
Does Vietnam look “lost” to America today? Hardly. What was lost in
Vietnam were millions of its own people, a countryside devastated by
saturation bombing and the eco-poison Agent Orange, whose toxicity still
devastates people there, and the still-present effects of that war.
Lest we forget, it was visited upon them in our name, at our hands,
by our leaders and the profit-making military-industrial backers we
tolerate. Add the millions of deaths and utter destruction of Cambodia,
along with Laos, and we arrive at a massive, prolonged Holocaust-level
crime perpetrated by our country, which also suffered – although not
nearly at the same rate.
Along with 58,000 official American lives lost, plus hundreds of
thousands of physically and many more emotionally damaged veterans, we
as a society lost whatever post-World War II moral standing we thought
we enjoyed. However we may try to fool ourselves, we all know this
The MIC managers’ answer to our Vietnam unease was brilliantly
synergistic, and has made the subsequent costs of war largely invisible
to us. First, they quickly eliminated the draft,
fine-tuning Vietnam-era social engineering via temporary
college-deferments – which had reduced but did not eliminate military
service burden-sharing among the better-off – into no burden at all for
In its stead they created a “professional” army whose ranks are
manned by “volunteers” from the ever-growing pool of de-industrialized
America’s less-advantaged – joined more recently by immigrants seeking
US citizenship. The British imperialistic model of employing “surplus”
populations as enforcers of global military dominance was thus reborn
Our “poverty draft” does not elicit much concern among well-off
conservatives and liberals as long as token soldiers get honored in
commercials, sporting events and holidays.
Our remarkably swift transition from “boots on the ground” to
overwhelming reliance on aerial bombing, drone, mercenary, and surrogate
(including US-supported Al Qaeda and ISIS proxy) warfare under Obama
completed the domestic pain-relieving process of engaging globally in
the “foreign entanglements” our first president warned us against. The
lopsided asymmetry of this kind of war-making is such that our
casualties have become a tiny fraction of a percent of the totals.
American war deaths have dropped to levels so infinitesimally low that
government lawyers can claim with a straight face (arguing against the
need for congressional war authorization) that US-NATO’s aggressive bombing campaigns do not even constitute “war” anymore.
Nor has our government raised taxes to cover war costs (something our Founding Fathers assumed would provide inherent constraints and help make war unpopular). Rather, it has put war costs, already conservatively estimated to be $5.6 trillion since 9/11, onto the ever-expanding national debt ceiling, which “like a speed limit sign that is never enforced” now stands at over $20 trillion,
with no end in sight. This level of debt would normally and will
eventually – particularly combined with our unending trade deficit –
reduce the buying power of the dollar and raise prices for everything we
import. It has not yet done so because the dollar’s status as the
surrogate world trade currency is propped up by U.S. hard and soft
This is the poison icing on the cake of the MIC’s maintenance of war:
our abundance of cheap world goods depends on it. On a level we fear to
examine, our livelihoods are complicit in the ongoing wars being waged
in our name.
Unsurprisingly, we tend not to concern ourselves with our
government’s harming of distant others when we do not see it. If those
harmed are effectively demonized by our compliant consent-manufacturing mass
media so as to make us believe “they deserve it,” our sympathy tends to
disappear altogether. But to be human is to care about other humans,
and we pretend otherwise at our own moral peril. Veterans who cannot
keep buried their psychic wounds of combat – from Vietnam to the present
wars – are committing suicide at the rate of 22 per day.
Given our somnolent acceptance of the notion that this unprecedented state of perpetual war is somehow protecting our safety, it’s ironic that military service is emerging as significantly correlated with,
if not a cause of, America’s dramatic increase in mass shootings and
other domestic terror-type killings. (PTSD-related murders overall also
remain uncounted.) Researchers studying recent lists of mass
shooters find veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters. Post-combat
related “copy-cat” homicidal violence might be a direct externality of
training and then assigning young people to commit murder overseas.
A super-hero style militaristic culture promoted by the Pentagon and CIA-backed entertainment industry (also see this) helps
sustain public momentum for war but does not generate peace at home.
How much worse will this problem become now that the military is
relaxing its standards and accepting applicants with histories of mental
illness? Earlier writing-on-the-wall consequences appeared when
“Oklahoma bomber” Timothy McVeigh killed 168; “DC Sniper” John Muhammad
killed 17, and Robert Flores shot his three professors. All three were
veterans of the first Gulf War.
A Homeland Security analyst warned that
we were creating human time bombs – only to be personally disparaged
for his politically incorrect but accurate prediction.
We have an engorged, non-stop war-making machine that is reliant on
high tech weapons systems, normalized ubiquitous surveillance, the
congressional hostage-taking presence of defense manufacturing and
support industries or bases in every district, the narrowing of mass
media discourse to stage-managed, stereotyped liberal-conservative
mudslinging and subsidized glorification of war prowess, and not least,
the continual re-creation of enemies to fight.
Beyond post-traumatic killings and suicides, and our massive debt,
the costs of maintaining this behemoth afflicts America in other ways.
Blowback is likely a factor in our record-level teen suicides, road rage
incidents and shootings both of and by an increasingly militarized
police force; an epidemic in opioid and other addictions; a hollowed out
productive economy that underpays most workers; “Ponzi” style financing
of our economy, and our utterly unsustainable late-stage imperial
dependence on the war industry for our economic vitality.
We can also add the compounding of poisons into the air, water, and
soil that will touch everyone’s children long into the future as we
focus our wars where the oil is. This is in order to control the world’s
petroleum supply, which is wrecking the world’s weather [no link to substantiate this statement about world weather] – via the
activities of the number one institutional polluter in the world: the
Our out of control national destructiveness and its unspeakable costs
constitute the “spiritual death” that Martin Luther King warned us
about at the height of the Vietnam War, yet they remain mostly
unaddressed in public discourse. How much longer before, finally, we
can no longer pretend not to notice the taste of poison in this recipe
concocted to make war palatable?"
"Robert Wing is a former diplomat and Asia/China analyst. As
acting Consul General in Sumatra, he monitored the Aceh insurgency and
set up safety networks to protect US citizens. In Hong Kong, he tracked
reports of American POW/MIAs and oversaw the US program for Vietnamese
“boat refugees”, enacting measures to protect those who were endangered
and securing the release and resettlement of refugees from longstanding
detention at a camp in China.
Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis
Division Legal Counsel who disclosed serious pre 9-11 FBI failures to
the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry, the Senate Judiciary Committee
and to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. Rowley was
consequently selected along with two other whistleblowers as Time
Magazine’s 2002 “Persons of the Year.”"
News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.
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