“We will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail.” – President Bush, 2001.
The war in Afghanistan started on this day fifteen years ago. Former president George W. Bush spoke the above words just days before the invasion, and it is abundantly clear that the U.S. has not grown tired of war. It has been waging this war for over 15 years now (despite what Wikipedia says). And though the U.S. has not tired of war, the U.S. has indeed faltered and often failed in this so-called global war on terror.
But becoming tired of war is not the real problem.
Too many of us are sick of war and sick from war. “War is always an evil,” Jimmy Carter, another former president, said recently. And evil is what makes humans sick—sick in our minds and sick in our souls. U.S. combat veterans are not just coming back with physical wounds from fighting, but sick in their constitutions—negatively changed forever in their minds and souls. I should know. I am one.
But it is our whole society that is now sick from war after so many years of senseless and unnecessary national violence. This U.S. government’s disposition towards violence has spread to the streets of our communities, with our police increasingly using military tactics and equipment to quell any hint of opposition to the U.S. corporate and government domination systems. We should not be surprised. The U.S. has been in some sort of war conflict for 222 of its 239 years of existence.
It is obvious that the U.S. is not tired of war; but, its citizens are desperately sick from war.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist …” – President Obama, 2014
Today, President Obama has continued U.S. military warfare in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and God only knows where else. All this without any Congressional declaration of war against any of these countries. When the U.S. military recently attacked militants in Libya, where were the news headlines: “U.S. Now At War With Libya!” I might understand no outrage, but not even a mention to that effect in the mainstream media?
Imagine if one of Africa’s national leaders said, “We will wage a steady, relentless effort to take out violent racists wherever they exist,” and then began dropping bombs on suspected violent racist’s homes in ten different Western nations. There would be outrage; there would be calls for a war crimes tribunal. Is this a fallacy of false equivalence? Only if you think that the U.S. is morally exceptional, which, of course, it is not. The U.S. is a nation, which is simply an abstraction, like any other nation. What is real, what is concrete and observable is a nation’s actions.
It is time to call what the U.S. government is doing overseas what it is: gravely immoral and evil. Our militarism is evil and it is making the U.S.’s citizenry and communities sick, both spiritually, materially, and emotionally. Worse yet, U.S. imperialism is not just killing militants but also many tens of thousands of innocent civilians, making the societies of other nations desperately sick as well.
It is time to end all U.S. military interventions overseas, stop all U.S. arms sales to other nations, close Guantanamo, and decrease the size of the U.S. military budget by half.
The only way to heal from this war sickness is to end the wars!
(c) Paul Dordal, 2016