Tuesday, July 20, 2004

America Loves War. Does John Kerry?

I don’t know whether it is a harsh thing to say or a sad thing to say, but America loves war. We claim to be a peace loving people, but we are just kidding ourselves. This is obvious if one simply takes account of the enormous and surprising number of wars and major military actions that America has been in since the end of World War II. Since 1945 the wars and military actions include at least the following:
  1. Korea, where America suffered approximately 33,000 dead.
  2. A naval quarantine of Cuba, which nearly led to World War III.
  3. Viet Nam, where America suffered about 58,000 dead.
  4. Long secret wars in Laos and Cambodia
  5. An invasion of the Dominican Republic.
  6. The Mayaguez incident, where America lost 38 dead.
  7. The botched attempt to rescue the hostages in Teheran.
  8. Air strikes against Libya.
  9. Sending troops to Lebanon, where 241 died in the bombing of a barracks.
  10. An invasion of Grenada.
  11. The first Gulf War against Iraq.
  12. Naval patrols in the Persian Gulf.
  13. An invasion of Panama.
  14. Sending troops to Somalia, where 25 died.
  15. The bombing of Bosnia.
  16. Air strikes in the Sudan.
  17. The bombing of Serbia, and Kosovo.
  18. The war on terror
  19. The war in Afghanistan.
  20. The second Gulf War against Iraq
Has any other nation been in anything like this number of wars and military actions? Has Britain? Has France? Has Russia? Even Israel, which lives under constant threat?

In addition to this huge list of wars and military actions, America, depending on whom one believes, either spends more annually on its military than the next 21 countries of the world put together (which includes China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, etc, etc.), or more than all the rest of the countries of the world put together.

We love war so much that total fraud sufficed to get us into two of our four biggest wars since 1945. The fraud was American governmental fraud perpetrated on an all-too-willing American people. Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War I and Gulf War II were our biggest wars since World War II, and we got into Viet Nam and Gulf War II because of governmental lies. In Viet Nam the government viciously lied to the people about the occurrence of supposed attacks on American ships in the Tonkin Gulf. In Gulf War II the government told a host of lies to the American people about mainly or wholly nonexistent WMDs.

These lies succeeded largely because Americans are disposed to war; we love it, we think it solves problems. So we are prone to readily accept it. But why do we love it? What are the characteristics that make us prone to accept it? Well, they exist by the carload, I’m afraid: they are simply astonishing in number. All of them were discussed in a recent 18 page article appearing in a journal of opinion called The Long Term View, so they shall only be listed here.1 They are:
  1. A desire for American power and influence to be preeminent in the world.
  2. The claimed need to stop tyranny.
  3. Economic imperialism.
  4. Racism.
  5. A gross failure to know American history.
  6. Utter failure to know the history and culture of opponents.
  7. Hubris.
  8. Governmental incompetence and utterly stupid decisions by leaders.
  9. The regularly followed, but seldom identified, domino theory of causation.
  10. Falsehoods, delusions and political reasons.
  11. Congressional abdication to the president of the power to decide whether America shall fight a war.
  12. The influence of the South.
  13. The fact that America has never been invaded or had its cities destroyed by a foreign power since the War of 1812.
  14. The effect of movies and television.
  15. The fact that American leaders, unlike some foreign leaders, are never subject to criminal responsibility for their actions, nor do their families or friends fight in our wars.
  16. The new theory of preventive war.
  17. The male desire to fight and destroy.
  18. The individual desire to be part of something big.
  19. Public gullibility and apathy.
  20. Violently inclined religious fundamentalism.
  21. Nearly uncontrolled nationalism and a related civil religion of violence.

The American belief in war being what it is, there have been at least two occasions since 1945 when it has proven very difficult for us to extricate ourselves from major wars that we foolishly entered. The difficulty of extrication occurred because the two wars - - Viet Nam and Gulf War II - - were, or largely became, guerilla wars.

Our love of using war to get what we want, our militaristic belief that we can defeat others, especially "gooks" and "A-rabs", a desire not to cut and run, and a concern for the alleged chaos that would occur if we left, kept and keep us involved in combat in Nam and Iraq, all the while claiming that we want to get out as soon as possible. This claim was plainly a lie when coming from the mouths of Johnson, Nixon, Kissinger and their ilk, who kept us in Nam for ten years. It has been and almost surely will continue to be a lie when coming from Bush II, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et. al, who got us into Iraq, have kept us there for nearly a year and a half now, and are likely to have us there for more years on end if Bush is reelected. The only question is whether it will continue to be a lie if Kerry is elected, just as it proved to be when Nixon was elected. In short, would Kerry get us out of Iraq quickly if he is elected, or will we stay there to support the government we put into office?

Right now it looks as if Kerry would be no better than Bush in this regard if elected president, might even be worse than Bush lest Republicans and superpatriots accuse him of cutting and running, of throwing away our prior military victory, of forsaking the new government, of handing Iraq back to Baathists or to fundamentalists. One says this because we do not hear Kerry saying we must get out of Iraq and get out now. We do not hear him saying, as he did about Nam, "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die in Iraq?" No. When he says anything about the subject, he makes the same kind of noises as George Bush. Of course, he did vote for the war, and now he won’t just flat say we should get out and get out now - - you know, he might lose some votes if he did that, and John Kerry is on lots of sides of lots of issues in order to avoid losing votes. His goal in life since he was a kid has always been to be president, and taking definite stands is not the way to do that, according to the conventional political wisdom of the last 44 years.

There are a lot of very unhappy similarities between Viet Nam and Gulf War II. We got into both because of governmental lies. In each case we had a president who was in way over his head in foreign affairs. In each case we had a very obstinate Secretary of Defense. In each we had an overriding geopolitical fear: communism in Viet Nam and terrorism in Iraq. In each we were going to "liberate" people but had no knowledge or understanding of the culture of the people we were going to "liberate" or of the culture in their general area of the world. In each case we were stupid for thinking we could get the "liberated" to be miniatures of us. In each there were lots of Americans who thought the war wrong, stupid, immoral or some combination of those. In each the President and his henchmen in the executive and congress said that people who opposed the war were traitors. In each we got embroiled in massive guerilla warfare. In each the politicians said we can’t just leave or there will be chaos - - the favorite word of politicians and lawyers. In each we stayed on and on - - for 10 years in Nam, and who knows how many years it will ultimately be in Iraq? In each we would have lost nothing and would have been better off if we just got out, just withdrew lock, stock and barrel. After all, were we really hurt by the fact that the communists took over in Viet Nam? Will anyone even pretend this today, when the Soviet Union has collapsed, China is increasingly part of the world economic structure, we cultivate friendship with Viet Nam, and citizens of our allies stopped hating us on a daily basis for our daily incineration of Asians?

How likely is it that anything different will be the result of just getting out of Iraq lock, stock and barrel? Right now our presence in Iraq is causing Iraqis to hate us, is causing the entire Arab and Muslim worlds to hate us more, is causing allies to dislike us and their citizens to despise us, and is building support for and causing an increase in terrorists - - whom, we fear, are going to carry their battle to our homeland, just as we brought a rain of death and destruction by bombs and artillery to some of their homelands. It’s hard to imagine that the situation would become worse if we got out of Iraq.

But there has been no sign that John Kerry understands any of this or would act on it. All that we have been given to understand so far is that Kerry would merely do the same things as George Bush, that Kerry too - - though he would of course deny it - - is in thrall to military action, to the military fix, to the methodology which has often and so abysmally failed (but which kills people by the scores of thousands and sometimes millions). So right now it looks like Kerry would be no better than Bush. Sad. Very sad. One does not want to sit home again and not vote on election day because neither candidate is worth a damn. One does not want to vote for Nader - - right as he is about so much - - lest votes for Nader cause the mentally arrested Bush to win again, with all that that means for civil liberties, for judgeships, for the economy, for an increase in the plutocracy that this nation has become. And yet . . . and yet. . . we simply are not being offered a choice with regard to Iraq.

Nor does Kerry seem to have any comprehension that, if he is elected, his presidency is likely to be ruined if we stay in Iraq while a guerilla war rages. Getting into or staying in war is what ruined Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Richard Nixon’s presidency, Woodrow Wilson’s second term, and George Bush II’s presidency. It will happen to Kerry too if he wins the election but we stay in Iraq.

So, as of now, we are not being offered a choice with regard to Iraq. Right now Bush and Kerry are clones in this regard. It reminds me that George Wallace - - of all people, George Wallace - - once said of the Republicans and the Democrats, "It don’t make a dime’s worth of difference." So often George Wallace has turned out right - - and what a criminal, immoral shame it is when George Wallace turns out right. But, with regard to Iraq, it looks now like "It don’t make a dime’s worth of difference." Right now it looks as if Kerry is as much in love with military action and war as the mentally deficient Bush.

1. The Long Term View is available in academic libraries, in lots of but not all book stores, and from The Massachusetts School of Law. The 143 page issue which carried the aforementioned article was devoted entirely to the question of, and was called, Why We Seek War. The issue had articles by professors, authors, historians and others.

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