Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Permanent war

The American self image as the indispensable nation committed to bringing liberty and justice to all has resulted in bankruptly overreaching tactics that are central tenets of the foundation of our foreign policy. This embraces a global military presence, global power projection, and global interventionism.

American politics' adherence to this creed as a matter of faith attempts to affirm and reinforce its validity.

The results are devastating in this time of monetary shortfall. The enormous costs extracted by this mentality: a Pentagon budget of $700 billion-plus, 300,000 U.S. troops deployed globally, and an overweening Pentagon divvying the world up into various commands; families destroyed by combat, sacrificed to the culture of lies and secrecy (from the Pentagon Papers of yesterday to Wikkileaks of today) that fosters constant overseas meddling.

What is ultimately disturbing (yet not surprising) is that even when there have been foreign policy debacles--Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan--they have never served as the catalyst for a fundamental rethink. Our checkbook may change that! We portray ourselves as either the victim (9-11-01) or an innocent bystander whose past actions pose no relevance to the dilemma at hand.

The desire to abide by the aforementioned mindset clarifies everything from the Vietnam War (which we paid the French to start in the 50s) to 9-11-01, hindering us from comprehending that defense never figured as more than an afterthought. At stake was a thoroughly militarized conception of statecraft to which those at the center of power remain deeply wedded. This conveyed that the only permissible response to violence was more "costly" violence.

No consideration affordably permits us to consider a retrenchment from that centuried creed--to change from offense abroad to defense at home. Promising prosperity and peace using the old creed propels us toward insolvency and perpetual war, because it does take time to "pacify" entire populations.

Unfortunately, we are gripped by a perpetual militarism that is the driving force of an American foreign policy that intentionally keeps countries open, by hook or by crook, to exports and U.S. multinationals, and to resource extraction. History books can and will confirm that intention--as long as our sovereignty is permitted to last, internationally.

--Bill Arnold

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