Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The war we do not want, but now believe will never end

First, two significant quotations.

From Randolph Bourne's War is the Health of the State:

The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.

From [Major General, USMC, retired] Smedley Butler's War is a Racket:

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Now, as if to prove the point of her critics that she is an idiot, Sarah Palin says:

We can win in Afghanistan by helping the Afghans build a stable representative state able to defend itself. . . . I recently joined a group of Americans in urging President Obama to devote the resources necessary in Afghanistan and pledged to support him if he made the right decision.

Note to Sarah: nobody has ever actually done this in over 2,000 years, and not for lack of trying.

Why is what Sarah Palin thinks--no matter how nutty--important?

Because it makes the point that even the political opposition has joined the corporate-military-industrial-driven insanity of sustaining a permanent war state.

Which makes the American people realize that, even though poll after poll finds a majority of our citizens (a) don't believe the war can be won, and (b) don't think we should continue it, the majority of our citizens also believes that the government will simply continue the war, anyway.


Showing an increasing resignation to America’s state of perpetual war, a poll conducted by Clarus Research Group shows that a vast majority of Americans, 68 percent, say the US will never win or lose the Afghan War, but it will merely continue unresolved.

The general consensus seems to be in keeping with comments from the Obama Administration, which has repeatedly ruled out settling on any sort of exit strategy. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates only yesterday declared that any withdrawal would give the appearance that the mujahideen had defeated a second superpower after a decade-long occupation.

Even officials within the White House have insisted that President Obama is being awfully vague about what he hopes to accomplish eight years into the war, the only thing Obama insists he’s not trying to accomplish is leaving.

Multiple polls have shown Americans firmly against the continuation of the conflict, and one would think this would portend an eventual end. Yet years of even larger opposition failed to end the war in Iraq, and today’s poll suggests Americans are now largely of the opinion that nothing they say can end a war their government is determined to continue.

So much for the theory that our elected representatives answer to us.

1 comment:

rc said...

Are we fighting a war in Afghanistan?

I know I hear something about it occasionally on the National news. Rarely on local news.

I hear an awful lot about Iran and Pakistan, are we fighting wars there to?

I remember hearing something awhile back about some dude named Bin Laden (s).

But didn't we dismiss him so we could shock and awe the hell out of Iraq?

I'm confused could somebody define war for me?

Is this like the domino theory of the Vietnam era in reverse?

Lets see, if Iraq can fall, and then Afghanistan, Iran is in the middle which has miles of coastline on the oil rich Caspian sea......

And Oh yeah a few years back there were rumblings about "Blackwater (Xe) in Azerbaijan (damn, coastline on the Caspian Sea) which is next door to Georgia who Russia spanked pretty good. Something about pipelines I believe........

Oh hell no that kind of thinking is conspiracy theory thinking.

So o.k. why are we in Afghanistan again?

Al-qaeda? Oh wait, aren't they more active in Pakistan?

O.K. so it really must be Bin Laden.
Wait a second. Didn't he use to be a friend?

Oh damn thats right I forgot the Taliban. Evil as they may be just what is it they have done to us again?

O.K. I'm confused so I'll ask again, are we really fighting a war in Afghanistan? Why?

To win the hearts and souls of the Afghani people?

Then whose hearts and souls come next.

Surely not ours, we would never look in a mirror would we?