Culled from a larger article about a veteran’s efforts to provide a means of therapy to other veterans by encouraging them to write about their experiences, here is the nasty truth that the mongers of war want you to ignore (emphasis added).
More than 2 million Americans have deployed in the post-9/11 wars, and they’ve all come back with something. Besides physical wounds and full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder, there are subtler torments: “moral injury,” an affliction separate from PTSD that comes from experiences that transgress deeply held moral beliefs; the weird desire to go back to a place they hate, because now nothing else makes sense; the feeling of extreme isolation, because whereas before they lived among people they’d have died for, now they live among people who barely know there was a war; the nagging certainty that they’ll never feel as alive as they did over there, or as connected to others, and that nothing will ever feel as important.
I encourage you to follow the link and read the rest.
The mongers of war want you to think that war is a John Wayne movie. In the movies, though, unlike in wars, everyone gets up and goes home whole after the shooting stops.
Read the rest, then ask yourself, “Why is it that men too old to serve are so eager for war?”
Old men lie. Young folks die.
Joseph J. Ellis, professor of history at Williams College, spots a trend.
When you study how the U.S. goes to war, there is a prevalent though not perfect pattern. The triggering event is often a sudden crisis that galvanizes popular opinion and becomes the immediate occasion for military intervention but subsequently is exposed as a misguided perception or outright fabrication.
The Mexican War began when President Polk cited an attack on American troops in Texas – troops he had deliberately placed there to provoke Mexico. The Spanish American War began when President McKinley claimed that the battleship Maine had been blown up by Spanish saboteurs; subsequent investigations showed that the explosion originated inside the ship, probably due to an accidental fire in the munitions compartment.
Read the rest to see how often this pattern has repeated.
The next time you hear the war drums beating, be very skeptical.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dan Simpson counsels against heeding the war fever currently being spread by Republicans. A nugget:
Fortunately, at least three aspects of our society keep us anchored and out of the latest conflict of the day.
The first of these is a deep-rooted sense of our own best interests. Most Americans understand fairly well that we don’t want our sons and daughters in miserable places such as Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine standing at risk to their lives between people who want to fight over something that has nothing to do with us.
The second is that we as Americans have a very short attention span. Notice, for example, that Syria, an intense passion not long ago, is now sloping off into channel-changing obscurity.
The third grace that may save us from self-destruction through meddling in other people’s affairs is a decent sense of what is really important to us.
Do please read the rest.
Bloomberg’s Pankaj Mishra, published in the Japan Times, questions the relevance of Cold War thinking–and Cold War thinkers–now that the Cold War has been over for almost a generation. He suggests that recent domestic drumbeating about Crimea is, at least in part, an attempt by Cold Warriors to regain their think-tank mojo (and their think-tank gigs).
The Cold War credentialed a kind of “thinker” who cannot think without the help of violently opposed abstractions: good vs. evil, freedom vs. slavery, liberal democracy vs. totalitarianism, and that sort of thing.
Forced into premature retirement by the unexpected collapse of communism in 1989, this thinker re-emerged after Sept. 11, 2001, convinced there was another worthy enemy in the crosshairs: Islamic totalitarianism.
Unchastened by a decade of expensive, counterproductive and widely despised wars, these laptop generals have been trying to reboot their dated software yet again as Russian President Vladimir Putin formalizes his annexation of Crimea.
He goes on to suggest that confrontational Cold War thinking led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as the USSR reacted to its perceptions of American intentions. (We experience the long-term effects of that whenever we stand in a security line at an airport, for that nurtured the Taliban and other forms of Islamic political radicalism, including Al Qaeda).
Follow the link to his article for his arguments. Follow the second link to learn more about the common origins of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The Face of Battle is a book that attempted to recreate for the reader the front-line soldier’s view of battle at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. It does not paint the pretty, romantic picture portrayed in your average movie or television show.
I have read it. You should too.
Here, Thom speaks of the face of battle. His words are directed to President Obama, as they were in the context of Syria, but they apply to everyone who casually advocates blowing stuff up (something, it should be noted, that President Obama does and did not do).
Rajan Menon thinks that blowing up stuff in Syria is not relevant to America’s international “credibility.”
The foundational assumption of many arguments for hitting Assad is that America’s reputation is on the line. It’s said that bad things will happen if Obama folds: Friends and allies will doubt America’s pledges to protect them; adversaries (Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and others), smelling weakness, will act with impunity.
“Credibility” has great power in national security debates.
In reality, the credibility gambit often combines sleight of hand with lazy thinking (historical parallels tend to be asserted, not demonstrated) and is a variation on the discredited domino theory. This becomes apparent if one examines how it is being deployed in the debate on Syria.
Making a futile and pointless gesture, one that is agreed will ultimately accomplish nothing, though, will most certainly undermine “credibility”; such is politics a la Animal House.
Follow the link.
This is just one episode in the long and bloody saga of a Muslim world in transformation, and at the same time torn between acceptance and denial of the world. This episode is also another trap for the West, which is only bound to lose money, influence and its cohesion to the glee of fanatics, Russians, Chinese and assorted satraps all over the world.
This trap opened with the Iranian Revolution and continued with the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. That historical event contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union but created a psychological trap for the West, that of invincibility. That led to the first Gulf War and insidiously and cumulatively developed into a direct threat to the West slowly dragging us into a vortex of barbarity, self-deception and degradation of political life.
And the answer to the question is
Below the fold because it autoplays.
I write mail in response to this news report:
The Honorable Tim Kaine
United States Senate
388 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Kaine:
I see in today’s Virginian-Pilot that you voted for intervention in Syria because, to paraphrase your statement as quoted in the story, “Somebody should do something.”
As it appears that “doing something” will not end the civil war in Syria, will not bring peace in any form, will not, in fact, accomplish anything other than to blow up more stuff and people, I submit, sir, that “Somebody should do something” is not a sound basis for policy formation.
Copied to my other elected representatives incongruously assembled.
Consider it cc-sa.
The resident curmudgeon at my local rag takes the temperature of this area, home of the largest complex of military bases in the world, and finds no sign of war fever.
In fact, quite the opposite.
Judging from the headlines at the news sites I frequent, the Very Serious People seem to have decided that the crucial question regarding Syria is whether or not Syria used gas warfare. Framing the question in that way implies that, if the answer is yes, some sort of attack is ipso facto justified.
Ignoring that there is no such thing as a “surgical strike” except in the fantasies of warmongers, the actual question is lost in the frame:
What would an attack accomplish, other than killing some folks?
- Would it end the civil war in Syria?
- Would it topple the bad guys and elevate the good guys (ignoring, again, that there don’t seem to be any good guys on either side of the fighting, just innocents in the middle)?
- Would it protect the innocents?
- Is there anything outsiders can do to end the carnage?
No one argues that any of these can be answered with a “yes.”
The argument instead seems to be that, by raining remote-controlled death, our disapproval would be made manifest, as a God rains lightning from the sky.
In other words, it is the “diplomatic” equivalent of punching a hole in a wall out of frustration.
The frustration still exists, and now your hand is injured and you have to repair a hole.
This is not diplomacy.
This is the impotent masturbating with missiles.
Image via BartCop.
Reg Henry is concerned about a rush to war.
Egged on by criticism at home that he had appeared weak — forever the fear of America’s leaders — President Obama in June approved some arms shipments to the Syrian rebels, although it’s not clear if any were delivered.
That had the makings of a mistake anyway. A moderate rebel in Syria might be someone who allows you a blindfold before he chops your head off. If amnesia did not have such a national hold, we might remember that arming the Mujahideen when the Russians occupied Afghanistan seemed like a good idea at the time, but the blowback gave us Osama bin Laden and his pals.
The same critics who urge Mr. Obama to war now will be urging him to more war later.
It appears that we can’t learn from history.
Hell, we can’t even learn from the present.
Addendum, Later That Same Morning:
PoliticalProf talks sense.
Dick Polman reports on the drummers of the war drums. A nugget:
Most predictably of all, neocon talking-head Bill Kristol is manning up on Fox News: “(Obama) is not a president who wants to start another war, that’s the way he sees it. I think it’s totally irresponsible for the American president to have that.” Sometimes, “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
This is the same guy who declared on the eve of war 10 years ago that Iraq would be a breeze, that the Bush invasion would pacify a warring people: “There is a certain amount of pop psychology in America that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni….There’s almost no evidence of that at all.” Ten years later, in Iraq, the Shiites and the Sunnis are still blowing each other up; for most of those 10 years, American soldiers died in the crossfire. But in Washington, there’s no shame and no penalty for being dead wrong, which is why Kristol still reigns on Sunday morning TV.
As Driftglass often points out, in the punditocracy, there is no penalty for being wrong all the time.