Endless War Is a Feature – Not a Bug – of U.S. Policy

Why We Are In a Perpetual Series of Wars …

We are in the middle of a perpetual series of wars. See this, this, this and this.

As just one example, in 2010 the war in Afghanistan became the longest war in U.S. history.  But – no matter what you’ve heard – there are no plans to get out any time soon.

As Glenn Greenwald notes today:

Despite the happy talk from [the Pentagon’s top lawyer, the war on terror] is not ending soon. By its very terms, it cannot. And all one has to do is look at the words and actions of the Obama administration to know this.

In October, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the administration was instituting a “disposition matrix” to determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based on this fact: “among senior Obama administration officials, there is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade.” As Miller puts it: “That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”

The polices adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down, the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president has diluted decades-old Miranda warnings; codified a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy, repression and release-restrictions at the camp; minted a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens; renewed the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another five years, as well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely held detainees.

Does that sound to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing and secrecy permanent?

Why is the war of terror being waged indefinitely?

Many have said that “war is the health of the state”,  and Thomas Paine wrote in the Rights of Man:

In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice, nor warped by interest, would declare, that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.

George Washington – in his farewell address of 1796 – said:

Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.

James Madison said:

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

Madison also noted that never-ending war tends to destroy both liberty and prosperity:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Greenwald noted in October:

As the Founders all recognized, nothing vests elites with power – and profit – more than a state of war. That is why there were supposed to be substantial barriers to having them start and continue – the need for a Congressional declaration, the constitutional bar on funding the military for more than two years at a time, the prohibition on standing armies, etc. Here is how John Jay put it in Federalist No 4:

“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.”

In sum, there are factions in many governments that crave a state of endless war because that is when power is least constrained and profit most abundant.

Indeed, top American military officials and national defense experts say that our specific actions in the “war on terror” are creating more terrorists and more war.

As Greenwald points out today, the endless nature of the war on terror is a feature, not a bug:

There’s a good reason US officials are assuming the “War on Terror” will persist indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs.

***

There’s no question that this “war” will continue indefinitely. There is no question that US actions are the cause of that, the gasoline that fuels the fire. The only question – and it’s becoming less of a question for me all the time – is whether this endless war is the intended result of US actions or just an unwanted miscalculation.

It’s increasingly hard to make the case that it’s the latter. The US has long known, and its own studies have emphatically concluded, that “terrorism” is motivated not by a “hatred of our freedoms” but by US policy and aggression in the Muslim world. This causal connection is not news to the US government. Despite this – or, more accurately, because of it – they continue with these policies.

***

There is zero reason for US officials to want an end to the war on terror, and numerous and significant reasons why they would want it to continue. It’s always been the case that the power of political officials is at its greatest, its most unrestrained, in a state of war. Cicero, two thousand years ago, warned that “In times of war, the law falls silent” (Inter arma enim silent leges).

***

If you were a US leader, or an official of the National Security State, or a beneficiary of the private military and surveillance industries, why would you possibly want the war on terror to end? That would be the worst thing that could happen. It’s that war that generates limitless power, impenetrable secrecy, an unquestioning citizenry, and massive profit.

Just this week, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration need not respond to the New York Times and the ACLU’s mere request to disclose the government’s legal rationale for why the President believes he can target US citizens for assassination without due process. Even while recognizing how perverse her own ruling was – “The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me” and it imposes “a veritable Catch-22″ – the federal judge nonetheless explained that federal courts have constructed such a protective shield around the US government in the name of terrorism that it amounts to an unfettered license to violate even the most basic rights: “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret” (emphasis added).

Why would anyone in the US government or its owners have any interest in putting an end to this sham bonanza of power and profit called “the war on terror”? Johnson is right that there must be an end to this war imminently, and Maddow is right that the failure to do so will render all the due-process-free and lawless killing and imprisoning and invading and bombing morally indefensible and historically unforgivable.

But the notion that the US government is even entertaining putting an end to any of this is a pipe dream, and the belief that they even want to is fantasy. They’re preparing for more endless war; their actions are fueling that war; and they continue to reap untold benefits from its continuation. Only outside compulsion, from citizens, can make an end to all of this possible.

Indeed,  the American government has directly been supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups for the last decade.  See this, this, this, this and this.

(Remember, if there aren’t scary enough enemies in real life, we’ve got to create them.  Oops … did I say that out loud?)

And the American government lies – and even kills its own – to justify new wars.

Top American economists say that endless war has ruined our economy.  It benefits a handful of elites, while levying a tax on the vast majority of Americans.

Congress members – part of the super-elite which has made money hand over fist during this economic downturn – are heavily invested in the war industry, and routinely trade on inside information … perhaps even including planned military actions.

No wonder the American government is making the state of war permanent, and planning to unleash new, widespread  wars in the near future.

Postscript: Under Bush, it was the “war on terror”. Obama has re-branded the perpetual fighting as “humanitarian war”.

But - underneath the ever-changing marketing and branding campaign – it’s really just the good ‘ole military-industrial-and-banking complex consolidating their power and making money hand over fist.

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  • ForestSilverwood

    I’m 100% certain physical wars would end the moment every human on earth had a computer of some sort with uncensored access to the internet.

  • gozounlimited
  • Curious

    Forest just how is internet access going to stop wars?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SL5ZMN5RT52VY3HIETAJLNUS2Y Jon

    Making international banks and corporations richer by waging war is the prime directive of the US government.

  • http://www.wolfbritain.com/ S. Wolf Britain

    None of this is any accident. They’re intentionally creating the enemies to keep the “War (OF!) Terrorism” going, just as in Orwell’s “1984”, including against the American people increasingly. They will not be satisfied until everyone in the U.S., and all over the world, is a slave and servant to a completely corporate-fascist, totalitarian state, the global government state. And all those who do not completely, unreservedly bow down and sell their souls entirely to this evil, will be treated as “terrorists”, to be dealt with however the state deems fit by “the Ministry of ‘Love”, including torture and execution. All of this is proven by the eradication of our civil liberties in the U.S., the state’s violation of human rights both domestically and internationally, the passing of unconstitutional and otherwise illegal “laws” supposedly “legalizing” indefinite detention (including of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil) and assassination (including of U.S. citizens as well), going after dissent and dissenters (including journalists), and more and more torture of U.S. arrestees through tazering and lethal beatings which are increasing all across the U.S., etc. In addition all of the major U.S. government agencies, including Social Security of all people, are purchasing huge amounts of ammunition. Even the Federal Reserve, which is NOT a U.S. government agency, but is instead a private international bank, has been authorized by Congress to setup its own police force within the borders of the U.S.; and they are buying up huge quantities of ammunition as well; along with Homeland Security, FEMA, etc. So, obviously, they are getting ready to carry out the “War (OF!) Terrorism” against the American people, too. In fact, it has already begun.

  • scrabble master

    Ever wondered that this phrase “enduring freedom”

    is built on the same letters as it’s secret intention

    ending’ ur freedom ?

  • Jerod Hatch

    It has taken well over 200 years to dismantle and uncouple the steely protective genius written into our Constitution. But the time has come. This proves indeed that finite reasoning cannot defend against supernatural evil on it’s own.

    But Christ has offered us an escape from fear. When you depend upon Him, He does not fail to provide us with protection, or even simply the strength to endure losing all. His purpose in each is to provide us with the steely nerve to proclaim His Right, and his righteousness, so that those who hear Him may be turned from their naïve ways, and those who won’t, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, will have no excuse when He returns.

    Proverbs 1:22 – 27
    “How long, O simple ones, will you love being
    simple?
    How long will scoffers delight in their
    scoffing
    and fools hate
    knowledge?
    If you turn at my reproof,a
    behold, I will
    pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words
    known to you.
    Because I have called and you refused to
    listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one
    has heeded,
    because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
    I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
    when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you…

  • Juan Gonzales

    Learn about freedom and democracy @ freedom-school.com

  • Fleurdamour

    The War on Terror is an endless boon to those invested in war industries, even better in some ways than the decades-long Cold War. Its openendedness means the violence merchants can make profits indefinitely. That’s why they wanted the US to go to war with Syria. Iraq is winding down, they have to find another business opportunity. Eisenhower was right, the military-industrial complex is a golem that has taken on a monstrous life of its own.

 

 

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