Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Symptoms, the Disease and the Cause of America's Endless Wars

At any one time, the United States takes part in many wars, both directly, through combat operations by our armed forces and the CIA, and indirectly, by providing battlefield intelligence from our global satellite and electronic surveillance network, and by arming, training, and advising foreign armies. 

For example, under President Obama on one single day U.S. forces bombed six countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. And on the day I write this, in March 2023, we have our own forces fighting in Somalia and are assisting in wars in Ukraine, Syria, Niger, Mali, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya.    

We also arm and train military and covert forces in over 100 countries in return for their government's cooperation with our military and covert forces. 

These countries, of course, provide the pool from which the next wars will come: When asked in 1961 about Viet Nam, when it was just another post-colonial country where the United States was arming, training, funding, and advising a friendly regime, President Kennedy's top foreign policy confidant, his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, replied: "We've got 20 Viet Name a day to handle."

America's endless wars don't spring out of nowhere. They are merely the symptoms of a disease: American empire. 

Our empire is the latest in a succession, from the ancient Greek, Persian, and Roman leagues right through the 19th and 20th century European conquest of Africa and Asia and then the Nazi Reich and the Japanese "greater co-prosperity sphere" that tried to displace the European powers. When the European empires collapsed after failing to re-establish their colonial rule after World War II, America inherited their role of domination and protection of Western interests. We also inherited the essence of imperial logic, as stated in Thucydides' Melian Dialogue of 2,500 years ago: empires must meet every challenge with terrifying force, or lose their credibility.

And the disease of American empire just doesn't spring out of nowhere either. It too has to have a cause, a power that sustains it in a democratic country. And that power, that cause of empire, is American exceptionalism. Without a strong popular belief in, or at least acceptance of, America's right, indeed altruistic duty, to dominate other countries in the name of their and our "freedom," there would be no trillion dollar military and covert budget, no network of cooperative regimes, none of the hundreds of foreign bases, no global surveillance, and no military dominance -- "primacy," as the Pentagon calls it --  of the land, air, and sea battle spaces.

So when you ask why are we at war, the answer won't be found just in the historical details of one particular situation, but rather in the need of empires to respond to challenges, and in the general belief in American exceptionalism that sustains the American empire.  

If there is one thing I've learned in working to end U.S. wars for over 50 years -- from Viet Nam to Central America to the Long War for control of the Middle East and its Iraqi, Afghani, Libyan, Malian, and dozens of other component wars, it's that until America rejects exceptionalism and empire, voluntarily or more likely as a result of a disastrous reckoning, there will always be another war just around the corner.  

No comments:

Post a Comment