Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Serial War

I was of a mind to write about pot today . . . I've read a couple of things on that subject to comment about, but it keeps get pushed back by my daily encounters with other articles on the Net that are much more pressing. For example, this one today in Huffington Post by David Bronwich. It touches on a subject that always gets my attention: war and peace. This is a long piece, and you should read it if you can spare the time. The main argument of the piece is this: the United States has become a country that will be constantly engaged in wars. Bronwich calls them "serial wars." Our young people are actually being taught to expect no end of war--no end to wars.

It was not always this way. In the wake of World War II, the country, indeed, the world was virtually united on the idea that human beings had to advance beyond war--for its own survival. The Cold War did not negate this idea. The "lesson of Vietnam" was "never start a war without knowing what you want to accomplish and when you intend to leave."* Whether Democrats feel obligated to wield the sword more robustly than the Republicans, who according to folk wisdom are more adept about all aspects of war, is arguable, but not essential to the argument. The key event that shaped the "American military-political consensus in favor of serial wars against transnational enemies of any sort" was the defense of Kosovo during the Clinton administration. It was the kind of clear conscience war that won universal media support. It appeared humanitarian, but in actuality was not.

So, according to the argument, Clinton and Kosovo brought us to the current period, in which we're totally self-deluded about our wars. For behind the legitimization of both our current wars "lies a broad ideological investment in the idea of 'just wars'--chiefly, in practice, wars fought by the commercial democracies in the name of democracy, to advance their own interests without an unseemly overbalance of conspicuous selfishness." Savor this. In plain English, it says we have come to the mind set that sees our wars which have no purpose other than preserving corporate capitalism as good. That means we're always the good guys.

The article goes on to show how this attitude easily accepts the notion of crossing the border of one county into another. We will constantly be weighing the strength of our footholds in a region in anticipation of the war to follow. Tell me true: does it look like we're ever going to get out of war the Middle East? Not from where I sit.

*Just as an aside, our conflict in Afghanistan does not meet these conditions.
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