06 October 2010

End this Endless War

For the past several years, I, along with probably most progressives, have been focused on the damage done to our economy by financial deregulation and misconduct, but lately I'm coming more and more to see the most debilitating cancer on our country's politics and economy as the endless war. Not just Iraq (which it just isn't true is over) and Afghanistan, but the whole culture of American empire and projection of military power as a policy in its own right. 

I believe it really is as stark as this: this must change, or we are doomed as a free society. We simply cannot muster the moral will or the resources to fix our economy, move forward to a post-oil energy system, or address the utter failure of the social contract which has manifested itself since 1980 (health care, full employment, infrastructure, energy independence, fostering a production economy... the list is long)... without first ending this culture of war as an end in itself. Even the financial debacle is, in my view, related: it is the failure of moral integrity as a nation which allowed it to happen. 

Even apart from that, the cost of these wars is crippling us: some estimates put the total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan at over five trillion dollars, about half our national debt. And for the first time in history, we have in the last decade been waging these wars mostly off the books, essentially without paying for them at all, instead encumbering our nation with unsustainable debt. If moral argument doesn't carry the day, the economic argument is strong: we can no longer afford both guns and butter; but in the post Cold-war world the need for a vast military machine actually waging war just doesn't make sense anymore.

We must reestablish the principle that only Congress may declare war, and that war may not prosecuted without its authorization (meaning its express declaration of war). This is, in fact, the only reasonable interpretation of the black letter of the Constitution, but we've chosen to ignore that, as a people, for far too long. We must also make make clear to our elected representatives that they must never authorize sustained warfare except in the face of direct military threat. We cannot use the need for law enforcement as an excuse to wage war, and we cannot allow wars to be prosecuted for any policy purpose other than actual defense of our nation. And we must dismantle the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex that Gen. Eisenhower warned us about fifty years ago, and end, even more particularly, the culture of military contracts and privatization of military functions. The resources and jobs involved can be redirected towards creating a renewable energy economy, rebuilding and extending our transportation and other infrastructures, and creating a society that works for its people. These kinds of jobs create a much greater multiplier effect than military contracting does anyway.

We have been prosecuting war without either truth or just cause, for years on end, and as a consequence, the people do not trust the government, and the government does not tell the truth or even enforce its own laws and principles. It is very much analogous to a cancer: it infects and destroys everything in the body politic.

The prospect of change is incredibly daunting: wresting control from the warhawks, who have their hands in almost everything (including most politicians in both parties) will be a huge struggle. But, even more than the failures of the financial sector, I am more and more convinced that it is this culture of war for its own sake that is the primary factor destroying what's left of the essential idea of America, and bankrupting her both morally and economically. 

If those of us who still love the real America, the America of the Constitutional Convention and the Bill of Rights, do not make the effort to force this rotten and evil system to change, we will reap the cruel and bitter harvest: the final end of liberal democracy as we had known it in our country. I just don't see how it can be any other way.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true especially the daunting part. It goes back to the misnamed Korean War which was never declared; Vietnam, CIA secret Wars, Drug Wars, Wars on poverty, wars on women, wars on ordinary people, immigrants illegal or not, the war capitalists wage on ordinary people, media wars, and on and on. Just about anything that has gone on since Dec 7, 1941 could fit into the "war mentality" that has been carefully crafted by Satan oops no, I mean profit motivated business and governments for 70 years. Three years before I was born...and the apparatus and impetus toward war and conniving was there long before that fateful day.
    I am old. I don't want to have to fight something I can't control. I was on the front lines of the Drug War helping addicts fight the primal battle against their own brains. That is pretty gut wrenching work. I'm tired. So fight on and do what you can. I'm sending my ballot in today.


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