How To Be At War Forever


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/02/how-to-be-at-war-forever.html


#2

maybe it’s a coincidence that we are now being told we are now in a new cold war with a resurgent Russia and that Vladimir Putin is behind everything bad in the world.

I really wish writers wouldn’t casually drop turd nuggets like this. I can be opposed to perpetual war and be rightfully wary of an autocrat who murders journalists with polonium. They’re not mutually exclusive. Moreover, if you think things like the DNC hacking aren’t state-sponsored hacking on behalf of Russia, then make the case for that. Don’t just insinuate it and gaslight the rest of us for having the gall to be opposed to interference in our election by a foreign power.


#3

Works for the War on Drugs too. “Record busts” are touted as a sign of progress rather than a sign that the problem is getting worse. (If we were actually making progress the busts would be progressively smaller and rarer.)


#4

But we can refine that further, can’t we? It’s not that they are saying that Putin isn’t that bad - rather the argument is that it’s not our sole responsibility to police Russia. Sure, he’s a bad actor, but he really isn’t behind everything bad in the world. We know now that the Soviets were not behind every bad thing in the world during the cold war, but the rhetoric of the cold war actually made us believe that and pushed out towards policies that assumed that. Again, nothing in that is an excuse of the Soviet regime, merely suggesting that they aren’t the puppet masters of all bad things.


#5

I don’t think the russian angle will work out well for anyone trying for a wag the dog situation there…like the chinese, their gear is so obsolete now that all they have are numbers…and even then, their soldiers are, just like the PRC’s troops, mostly good for shooting civilians and synchronized intimidation maneuvers on city streets.


#6

1984 - sounds like


#7

Despite American history being well outside my area of expertise, I know that George Washington, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Alexis deTocqueville all explicitly warned us of this.

Here’s deTocqueville’s 1840 comment, from “Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies, War”:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sulla and Caesar; the danger is of another kind. War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it.

(quote from Wikipedia)


#8

This is my singular albeit only somewhat related contribution to this discussion:

(Note: I am fully aware that it’s now 224 out of 240 years, but I wasn’t about to take the time to make an accurate meme just to please the nitpickers.)

I’ll just show myself out.


#9

The problem is “terrorism” and even “islamo facism” is an ideology, not a country.

Germany, Britain, Japan, France, even various Native American tribes can all surrender and concede and stop the fighting.

This other stuff you can never “win”. It is like a video game in the 70s or 80s - there is no final level, it just gets harder and harder until you die or get bored with it. Even if ISIS or ISIL surrendered, the next Al-whatever would pop up. New recruits are constantly being born.

This is also why the war on drugs isn’t a war, it is a tool to keep us quiet when another civil liberty is violated.


#10

Was just going to post this figure. We Americans forget that when we became a nation, our founders had expected us to be neutral in the same vein that Switzerland has been. It was only a few years before we broke that mold and began the inexorable trek towards endless conflict. And we haven’t stopped to look back.


#11

It’s rather nauseating, when you stop and really think about it.


#12

But no one’s really claiming they’re “behind everything bad in the world.” That’s a straw man. We conflict with Russia on hacking & the Ukraine while we’re working with them on the International Space Station and Syria. It’s a complex relationship because the world is complex.


#13

True. Also very, very expensive and destructive. Read a stat once that compared how we as a country are viewed when we go to war against someone as opposed to providing aid (real aid, not bribes) and the cost. hands down aid made us welcome and is very cheap compared to war.


#14

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but US has been deliberately and strenuously avoiding large-scale military involvement in Syria. It would have been rather easy to just jump in after Assad had “crossed the line” and used chemical weapons if that was the only motivation of US foreign policy.

I know you can’t write about how conspicuous it is that they still haven’t found bin Laden anymore, but come on…


#15

I think some people think that… but then again, some people think the MOOSLIMS are behind every bad thing. Or that China is behind every bad thing. We also use disagreements and tensions to perpetuate a state of tension with Russia (or China, or whoever) in order to keep ourselves as dominant as possible. Additionally, despite our many pretentions to the contrary the only country whose actions we can actual control and shape is our own. Our need to make sure everyone is constantly either at our beck and call or in our camp is a major part of the problem here… here I mean to say Americans (you maybe not be an American).

I am aware that things are complex, but thanks for that helpful reminder.


#16

You’re welcome.


#17

You can give the “maybe it’s a coincidence that we are now being told we are now in a new cold war with a resurgent Russia and that Vladimir Putin is behind everything bad in the world” passage a really generous reading, but in itself it’s pretty bad - the passage is as naively black and white as what it claims to criticize.

US-Russia relations are tense and complex, but much of the recent tension is due to Russia invading Ukraine (using a lot of very troubling tactics), annexing territory, and arming extremists with SAMs who shot down a passenger jet. Well, that and their apparent increasing belligerence in interfering with US elections - the DNC leaks have so many Russian fingerprints on them it’s hard to believe they weren’t involved. So it’s not so much that the US is inventing a new enemy to carry on a perpetual war, as Russia’s been behaving really badly recently. And nobody is saying Russia is behind “everything bad in the world.”


#18


#19

Well, not since the early 60s, anyway.

Nowadays it’s Islam that is behind “everything bad in the world,” isn’t it? Or am I lagging behind the times again? Is it Hillary now?


#20