Friedersdorf is being generous by taking humanitarian interventionists at their word about what drives their arguments for war. It’s fair to assume that many American citizens who advocate humanitarian intervention actually have humanitarian concerns. But for most policymakers and think-tank experts, humanitarianism is merely a pretext to justify war for other reasons. … [T]he most vocal advocates of U.S. military intervention in Syria have said all along that taking out the Assad regime would be a major geo-political blow for Iran in the same breath as ‘we have to stop the killing.’ While the death count in Syria is horrifying, there are other conflicts currently plaguing the Earth that are far bloodier, like in the Congo, that garner no [‘humanitarian’] arguments for U.S. intervention. You see, for a humanitarian crisis to be worthy of an American military response, the location has to be strategically vital. In case you haven’t got the point yet: the interests of the state are paramount, while appeals to save lives merely help legitimize the case for war.
Good piece from John Glaser - I’d just add that while there are no calls for “humanitarian” intervention in the Congo, we (the U.S.) are most certainly intervening in the resource rich area by proxy.
Not everyone liked the new empire. After Manila, Mark Twain thought that the stars and bars of the American flag should be replaced by a skull and crossbones. He also said, ‘We cannot maintain an empire in the Orient and maintain a republic in America.’ He was right, of course. But as he was only a writer who said funny things, he was ignored. The compulsively vigorous [Teddy] Roosevelt defended our war against the Philippine population, and he attacked the likes of Twain. ‘Every argument that can be made for the Filipinos could be made for the Apaches,’ he explained, with his lovely gift for analogy. ‘And every word that can be said for Aguinaldo could be said for Sitting Bull. As peace, order and prosperity followed our expansion over the land of the Indians, so they will follow us in the Philippines.’ … Despite the criticism of the few, the Four Horsemen had pulled it off. The United States was a world empire. And one of the horsemen not only got to be president but for his pious meddling in the Russo-Japanese conflict, our greatest apostle of war was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One must never underestimate the Scandinavian wit.Gore Vidal
[…] The unacknowledged truth behind the past decade of bloodletting in Iraq is that the country itself effectively ceased to exist after the 2003 US invasion. The northern province of Iraqi Kurdistan is today an independent country in all but name and is increasingly moving towards formal recognition of this fact - while Sunni and Shia Iraqis have come to see themselves more as distinct entities than as part of a cohesive nation. Iraqi Sunnis, a once-empowered minority, have taken up arms in recent months against the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki and have staked their terms in a manner which acknowledges the irredeemable nature of a continued Iraqi state. In the words of Sunni cleric Mohammad Taha at a rally in Samarra:
“Al-Maliki has brought the country to the abyss… this leaves us with two options: Either civil war or the formation of our own autonomous region.”
There is evidence to suggest that this state of affairs was not an unintended consequence of the 2003 invasion. The American architects of the Iraq War - while couching their justifications for war in the rhetoric of liberation - had for years previously openly acknowledged and predicted that an invasion would result in the death of Iraq as a cohesive state. In a follow-up to their 1996 policy paper”A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” - a report published by leading neoconservative intellectuals, including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, which advocated a radical reshaping of the Middle East using American military power - the report’s authors acknowledged the inevitability of Iraq’s demise post-invasion.
Predicting that after violently deposing the country’s government: “[Iraq]… would be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, thieves, clans, sects and key families” - the same individuals would nonetheless become the leading advocates of just such an invasion. The post-invasion decisions by the occupying authority to dissolve the army, patronise sectarian militias and death squads and destroy Iraq’s civilian infrastructure viewed in this light are far more comprehensible. The chaos which has enveloped the country since 2003 has not been an unintended consequence, but rather the one which was predicted years earlier by the war’s architects and then perfectly executed. Today the partition of Iraq is mapped out by American think-tanks seeking put a final end to that country and divide it into its contingent ethnic and religious parts. [READ]
The Sykes-Picot Agreement - which divided the Ottoman Empire after World War I and created the Middle East as we know it - is today violently breaking apart in front of the eyes of the world. The countries of Syria and Iraq; formerly unified Arab states formed after the defeat of their former Ottoman rulers, exist today only in name. In their place what appears most likely to come into existence - after the bloodshed subsides - are small, ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets: weak and easily manipulated, where their progenitors at their peaks were robustly independent powers. … Such states, divided upon sectarian lines, would be politically pliable, isolated and enfeebled, and thus utterly incapable of offering a meaningful defence against foreign interventionism in the region. Given the implications for the Middle East, where overt foreign aggression has been a consistent theme for decades, there is reason to believe that this state of affairs has been consciously engineered.Iraq, Syria and the death of the modern Middle East | Murtaza Hussain
I WAS very excited to read, last week, about the “ghost money” that the C.I.A. is paying to the president of my country, Hamid Karzai. I’d like to know: would it be possible for the C.I.A. to give me some, too? We do not know what President Karzai has done with this cash that arrives each month in suitcases and plastic shopping bags. Not even the C.I.A. — which every Afghan believes knows everything — can say. But I will tell you exactly what I will do with mine: I will do the things we thought the Americans were going to help us do when they came to Afghanistan nearly 12 years ago.Qais Akbar Omar (via azspot)
In order to plunder unopposed, to control, and to manipulate, the Western Empire assumed that it has to give legitimacy to its own acts of terror. Those acts have to be elevated to the highest moral ground.
To do so, traditional logical and philosophical thinking has to be decomposed, then ‘new thinking’ introduced. A thoroughly new breed of stories must emerge, and even how stories are told must change.
Some would ask: ‘How could crime be packaged as altruism’?
It can, of course, in those societies that perceive ‘reality’ after getting stoned on huge daily doses of advertisement and propaganda, two sides of the same coin, two synonyms of lie and deception.
In order for the brutal Empire to pose and to be considered as the savior of the world, first the analytical thinking of people has to be damaged, their ability to think has to be sharply reduced. The stories they are told have to become ‘light’, ‘entertaining’, extremely far from the reality.
The human spirit has to be broken, human nature reshaped.
Then all that is real and decent and pure in people has to be dragged through a muddy and nontransparent bath of nihilism. Things that used to be sacred have to be spat on, optimism humiliated, and ordinary kindness and warmth killed.
Instead, substitutes have to be injected, if needed, by force.
It is because the acts of imperialism, like constant plunder and the commodification of life itself, are grotesquely unnatural occurrences; they are morbid and pathological. And the only way they can be accepted is if the reality is canceled, and then substituted by a ‘new’, gruesome and irrational pseudo-reality.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel met his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon on Monday to put the finishing touches on a multi-billion dollars arms deal between the two allies, which will see Israel receiving an impressive package of advanced US missiles and aircraft.
“Today we took another significant step in the US-Israel defense relationship,” Hagel said at a joint news conference in Tel Aviv, reiterating Washington’s “ironclad pledge” to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
“Minister Yaalon and I agreed that the United States will make available to Israel a set of advanced new military capabilities … including anti-radiation missiles and advanced radars for fighter jets, KC135 refueling aircraft, and most significantly the V-22 Osprey, which the United States has not released to any other nation,” Hagel confirmed. [++]
Although the White House doesn’t advertise this fact in the six-page budget overview it put out [last Wednesday], the new budget eliminates nearly all of the cuts that sequestration imposes on the Pentagon. Instead of $500 billion in cuts, Obama proposes only $100 billion, and you have to look closely to spot it (‘$200 billion in additional discretionary savings, with equal amounts from defense and nondefense programs’). Along with the well-advertised cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits, this is something that should appeal to the GOP. ‘It’s another one of the peace offerings in Obama’s package to Republicans,’ Robert Litan, the director of research for Bloomberg Government and a former official of the Office of Management and Budget, told me.Obama’s Budget Rescues the Pentagon | Businessweek
The murder of Dr. King was not just the murder of a man but an assault on an idea, a movement and a vision of a society liberated from what Dr. King called the three ‘triplets’ that had historically characterized and shaped the ‘American’ experience - racism, extreme materialism and militarism. On April 4, 1967 in the Riverside Church in New York, exactly one year to the day before he would be murdered, Dr. King took an unequivocal stand in opposition to the U.S. war on the people of Vietnam, and declared that the only way that racism, materialism and militarism would be defeated was if there was a ‘radical revolution of values’ in U.S. society. Today, 45 years later, with a Black president in the White House, racism in the form of continued white supremacy has solidified itself on a global scale; extreme materialism characterizes the desires and consumption patterns of a debt constructed middle class, even as it feels the weight of a national and global economic crisis; and militarism occupies the center of U.S. engagement with the nations of the Global South.
Ajamu Baraka, The Assassination Of Dr. King And The Suppression Of The Anti-War And Peace Perspectives
If you took all the uncomfortable truths omitted from mainstream media over the past half century, compiled and indexed them, and added a dash of withering sarcasm, you might end up with a book a lot like, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy [Zed Books, 2013] the latest offering from serial dissident William Blum. Like his better-known peers Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal, Blum is a perennial gadfly on the imperial hide, puncturing falsehood and punctuating hypocrisy with an implacable zeal. On the back cover of Blum’s book Rogue State—and repeated in the current volume—is the following paragraph, probably the finest he has or may put to paper:
If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publically and very sincerely –to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America’s global interventions – including the awful bombings – have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but – oddly enough – a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. There would be more than enough money. One year’s military budget of $330 billion is equal to more than $18,000 an hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.
This paragraph was famously quoted by Osama Bin Laden in one of his grainy video homilies to the world in 2006. A minor media storm followed, hovering over Blum like a drone over a Waziristan hamlet. Once the furor subsided, however, Blum’s connection to OBL contaminated his reputation as a public figure. In the half dozen years since, Blum has received scant few speaking invitations from universities after enjoying a steady diet of engagements in the years prior. One can just envision the blandly decorous university administrator, seated in his mahogany office, dismissing out of hand a proposed invite to Blum, admonishing naïve student advocates to use a bit more discretion in their choice of speakers. But it was their loss.
Blum’s latest offering confirms that his exile from the college circuit has done nothing to dim his fury. The new book is a compilation of essays and articles dating from the middle of the Bush years through 2011, and covering a vast range of foreign policy issues. Blum writes with disarming informality, a writer with little time for the artful turns of the poet or novelist. His mission feels too urgent for anything but blank candor. In contrast to a more measured analyst like Chomsky, Blum holds nothing back. He launches salvo after salvo at the edifice of imperial falsification, a veritable babel of cloaked belligerence. Yet his indignation is leavened by healthy doses of humor, including a late chapter that envisions a global police state of comical extremes.
Blum’s central objective, it seems, is to expose the American mythology of good intentions. He states in the introduction, writing about the American public, “No matter how many times they’re lied to, they still often underestimate the government’s capacity for deceit, clinging to the belief that their leaders somehow mean well. As long as people believe that their elected leaders are well intentioned, the leaders can, and do, get away with murder. Literally.” [continue]
[P]erhaps the last overlooked anniversary of these years might be the 12th anniversary of American cowardice. You can choose the exact date yourself; anytime this fall will do. At that moment, Americans should feel free to celebrate a time when, for our ‘safety,’ and in a state of anger and paralyzing fear, we gave up the democratic ghost. The brave thing, of course, would have been to gamble just a little of our safety — as we do any day when we get into a car — for the kind of world whose anniversaries we would actually be proud to mark on a calendar and celebrate. Among the many truths in that still-to-be-written secret history of our American world would be this: we the people have no idea just how, in these years, we’ve hurt ourselves.Tom Engelhardt
The organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been to ensure that every nation in the world stays within a security structure managed and controlled by Washington. Nations, regardless of their ideological orientation, that refuse to follow U.S. wishes find themselves demonized and pressured to conform, while nations whose states are not centralized enough to control their territory are called “failed states” and are subjected to often counterproductive “nation building.”
In colloquial terms, Washington seeks to act as the world’s policeman. Defenders of U.S. hegemony often darkly warn of the disorder that might result if the United States did not shoulder this difficult task. They offer the 9/11 attacks as the ultimate darkness to spring from an unpoliced world, limiting the national security debate between Democrats and Republicans to what MIT scholar Barry Posen calls “the modalities of hegemony.”
But when it comes to any meaningful discussion of whether the United States has any business running the rest of the world, the silence is deafening. Congress and the mainstream media almost never discuss why the United States should maintain a global force structure, why it needs to station an estimated 1,000 bases in over 100 countries, why it requires exorbitantly expensive weapons systems, or why it has a “vital interest” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or in the region surrounding China. These questions are never asked because of the ruling elite’s consensus on the need for hegemony.
It is true that most Americans still fear terrorism and, more generally. foreign threats to their security. Opinion makers have cultivated these fears in every possible way since 9/11, with terrorism replacing Communism as a bogey-man justifying the policy of hegemony, or what Stephen Walt calls “deep engagement.”
Yet polls also consistently show that majorities of Americans support cutting the military budget instead of Social Security, Medicare, or other essential programs. That tells us that while people think the military might keep them safe, they are absolutely sure that Social Security does.
In other words, support for the hegemonic foreign policy is soft. But to crack the hegemonic consensus, the peace movement must offer an alternative to hegemony that offers real security to the American people — a new democratic foreign policy that does a better job than hegemony of providing human security. [continue]
The US war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. But the cost could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades when interest payments are included, according to study released on Thursday.
The study comes from the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. It not only estimates the staggering financial costs, but the human costs as well.
The low-end estimate for Iraqi civilians killed is about 134,000, although the Watson Institute says the war may have contributed to as many as four times that number.
The much-cited, peer-reviewed Lancet study found in 2006 that about 650,000 Iraqis, both civilians and fighters, had died from the war up until that point. Credible research estimates that more than 1 million Iraqis were killed, with 4.5 million displaced.
“Despite the US military withdrawal,” the report says, “Iraq’s health, infrastructure, and education systems remain war-devastated.”
“Meanwhile, the $212 billion reconstruction effort was largely a failure with most of that money spent on security or lost to waste and fraud,” Reuters reports. […]