Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, wrote in 1993 that in the last century (the 20th, if you don’t remember) 167 million to 175 million men, women and children had their “lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage.”
And, of course, the first decade in this new century has been nothing but war.
(Illustration found here).
Oddly coincidental, but fitting, the 50th anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous ‘military industrial complex’ speech fell on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — two anti-war-department voices that apparently have been drown in the noise of US bombs falling all over the planet.
And one must remember this little nugget:
â€œNaturally the common people donâ€™t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and itâ€™s always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.
It works the same in every countryâ€
— Hitlerâ€™s Reich Marschall Herman Goering on April 18, 1946
Good warmongering advice: George Jr. and The Dick followed Goering’s advice and unleashed a horror upon the globe at the beginning of this century’s first decade — innocents will continue to die needlessly forever.
In fact, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said lies led to war — â€œBefore taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,â€ Rockefeller said. â€œIn making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.â€
And so it goes.
And George Jr.’s war buddy, Tony Blair, is also coming under a lying shadow.
In newly-released evidence, Blair-boy shut-out legal advice on the legal aspects of invading Iraq.
And more on the Brits: Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Afghanistan between May 2007 and April 2009, says UK’s army went to war there for a reason to exist, not for any useful motive.
Cowper-Coles writes that the Afghan War gave the army â€˜a raison dâ€™Ãªtre it had lacked for years and resources on an unprecedented scaleâ€™.
It is this, the unprecedented availability of resources, he says, that drove the strategy in Helmand and not an â€˜objective assessment of the needs of a proper counter-insurgency campaign in the provinceâ€™.
All in all, itâ€™s a damning portrait of the British military.
Afghanistan seems to feature as little more than a pretext for any number of internal demands, be it for more personnel or more equipment.
As for the troops themselves, the Afghan conflict appears as little more than an opportunity to keep them busy, a form of military exercise for the proper war that never comes.
Itâ€™s absurd and, given the wretched state in which Afghanistan now finds itself, tragic.
It is this, then, the ever-more desperate search for a reason for the war in Afghanistan, that left the British army to search for its own raison dâ€™Ãªtre. It has created a conflict of brutal surreality, where the military means have become their own end.
Gareth Porter, one of more astute observers of bad war, pulls together how Ike’s little warning half a century ago is now such an entrenched reality there might not be any way out of it without a giant public shit fit.
The CIA sought and obtained virtually unlimited freedom to carry out drone strikes in secrecy and without any meaningful oversight by Congress.
The Pentagon embraced the idea of the â€œlong war,â€ a 20-year strategy envisioning the deployment of U.S. troops in dozens of countries, and the Army adopted the idea of â€œthe era of persistent warfareâ€ as its rationale for more budgetary resources.
The military budget doubled from 1998 to 2008 in the biggest explosion of military spending since the early 1950s — and now accounts for 56 percent of discretionary federal spending.
The military leadership used its political clout to ensure that U.S. forces would continue to fight in Afghanistan indefinitely, even after the premises of its strategy were shown to have been false.
Those moves have completed the process of creating a â€œpermanent war stateâ€ â€“ a set of institutions with the authority to wage largely secret wars across a vast expanse of the globe for the indefinite future.
The percentage of Americans who believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting has now reached 60 percent for the first time. And as the crisis over the federal debt reaches it climax, the swollen defense budget should bear the brunt of deep budget cuts.
As early as 2005, a Pew Research Center survey found that, when respondents were given the opportunity to express a preference for budget cuts by major accounts, they opted to reduce military spending by 31 percent.
In another survey by the Pew Center a year ago, 76 percent of respondents, frustrated by the continued failure of the U.S. economy, wanted the United States to put top priority in its domestic problems.
The only thing missing from this picture is a grassroots political movement organized specifically to demand an end to the permanent war state.
Such a movement could establish firm legal restraints on the institutions that threaten American democracy through a massive educational and lobbying effort.
This is the right historical moment to harness the latent anti-militarist sentiment in the country to a conscious strategy for political change.
Fat chance, huh?
And even so — so it goes.