by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
October 2, 2014
A NATION DEVOTED TO ENDLESS WAR CANNOT SURVIVE FOR LONG
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Congress can't agree on what to do about climate change, much less find consensus about whether it even exists.
Congress can't agree on a way to create jobs and grow the economy.
Congress can't agree on the best way to deliver health care, or upgrade our public infrastructure, or improve our public schools.
But there's one thing Congress can agree on: keeping our nation locked in a constant loop of endless war against an ever-shifting list of enemies.
The legislative body that earlier this year voted to cut $8.7 billion from the federal food stamp program is OK with coming up with about $20 billion a year to drop bombs in Syria and Iraq against this year's Hitler, the Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL for short.
That $20 million figure sounds suspiciously low. Remember, back in 2003, when the Bush Administration said the Iraq war would cost about $60 billion? The real cost turned out to be more than $1 trillion, and it'd much higher when you include Afghanistan operations, which were part and parcel of the Iraq war.
It's not cheap being the planet's last imperial power. And when the default response to every crisis is violence, the bill goes up fast.
As usual, Chris Hedges in his column this week for TruthDig.com, best sums up the mess we now find ourselves in.
"Endless war, which results in endless terror, leaves the arms manufacturers and generals giddy with joy. It is a boon to the state, which is possessed of an excuse to extinguish what few liberties we have left. It fuels the militancy and hatred that fanatics need to justify their slaughter and attract recruits. But it is a curse to humankind.
"The war machine is impervious to election cycles. It bombs, kills, maims, tortures, terrorizes and destroys as if on autopilot. It dispenses with humans around the globe as if they were noisome insects," Hedges writes.
"No one dares lift his or her voice to protest against a war policy that is visibly bankrupting the United States, has no hope of success and is going to end with new terrorist attacks on American soil. We have surrendered our political agency and our role as citizens to the masters of war," he says.
Although our leaders won't say so, I believe a majority of Americans can agree on this point: we can't afford war.
We haven't the time, the money, or the resources to keep fighting endless wars. Not with millions of Americans still out of work. Not with our roads and bridges crumbling. Not with our struggling schools or our overburdened health care system. And especially not with climate change threatening our planet.
But endless war is what we're facing. And endless war means stoking endless fear, which means maintaining a panicked populace that willingly obeys the call for war and curtailment of civil liberties that always comes with war.
No nation that has bought into that line of thinking has ever survived for long.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.