NATO and various columnists employed by major U.S. newspapers and “think” tanks believe that military spending levels should be measured in comparison to nations’ financial economies. If you have more money, you should spend more money on wars and war preparations. I’m not sure if this is based on opinion polls in Afghanistan and Libya expressing gratitude for war as a public service or some other source of data less imaginary.
1. Victories that are only partial are not fictional.
When a ruler, like Biden, finally announces the end of a war, like the war on Yemen, it is as important to recognize what it does mean as what it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean the U.S. military and U.S.-made weapons will vanish from the region or be replaced by actual aid or reparations (as opposed to “lethal aid” — a product that’s usually high on people’s Christmas lists only for other people). It does not mean we’ll see U.S. support for the rule of law and the prosecution of the worst crimes on earth, or encouragement for nonviolent movements for democracy. It apparently does not mean an end to providing information to the Saudi military on whom to kill where. It apparently does not mean the immediate lifting of the blockade on Yemen.
It took a variety of approaches to market the 2003 war on Iraq. For some it was to be a defense against an imagined threat. For others it was false revenge. But for Samantha Power it was philanthropy. She said at the time, “An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say.” Needless to say, it wasn’t safe to say that.
If I search on Google for the words “drones” and “morality” most of the results are from 2012 through 2016. If I search for “drones” and “ethics” I get a bunch of articles from 2017 to 2020. Reading the various websites confirms the obvious hypothesis that (as a rule, with plenty of exceptions) “morality” is what people mention when an evil practice is still shocking and objectionable, whereas “ethics” is what they use when talking about a normal, inevitable part of life that has to be tweaked into the very most proper shape.
You may have heard that the U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to spend $741 billion renaming military bases that have been heretofore named for Confederates. You may think that’s a grand idea but still wonder at the price tag.
Some are inclined to recognize that Trumpies are dwelling in an alternative universe in which neither climate collapse nor nuclear apocalypse is a concern but terrifying wild hoards of Muslim Hondurans are skipping and dancing into the Fatherland armed with gang symbols, deadly rocks, and socialistic tendencies.
In June 2019, Joe Biden promised wealthy so-called donors that nothing would fundamentally change. At this moment hundreds of millions of people — from those shooting off fireworks to those ranting as though they will soon shoot up public places in their MAGA hats — seem convinced that everything will fundamentally change. Biden was wrong. Everybody else is right. Either everything will change for the better or one or both of the twin dangers of environmental and nuclear apocalypse will change everything for the worse.
Gossip is the opium of the American public. We lie back, close our eyes and happily inhale the stories about Roosevelt’s and Kennedy’s affairs, Lyndon Johnson’s nude swims with unnamed partners and, now, Nixon’s pathetic “final days” in office.
When the Democratic Party decided it preferred Trump to Bernie and would rather nominate to run against Trump a more corporate-friendly candidate who was polling more weakly against Trump, there were — in theory — at least two choices.
“We’re number one!” The United States famously fails to actually lead the world in anything desirable, but it does lead the world in many things, and one of them turns out to be the poisoning of the Pacific and its islands. And by the United States, I mean the United States military.
The vast majority of people who experience war directly, first-hand, rather than through Hollywood movies or politicians’ speeches, are the people who live where wars are waged. In wars involving distant wealthy nations on one-side, some 95% of those killed or injured or traumatized, and 100% of those bombed out of their homes are people against whom war is waged, most of them civilians and the rest of them people doing exactly what any Hollywood movie or politician would tell them — have told them — to do: fight back.
Excerpted from Leaving World War II Behind
If you were to listen to people justifying WWII today, and using WWII to justify the subsequent 75 years of wars and war preparations, the first thing you would expect to find in reading about what WWII actually was would be a war motivated by the need to save Jews from mass murder. There would be old photographs of posters with Uncle Sam pointing his finger, saying “I want you to save the Jews!”