“We Are Now In The Longest Continuous Period of War In American History”

Endless War Is the Agenda

Pulitzer-prize winning reporter James Risen reminds us:

We are now in the longest continuous period of war in American history. And yet there is remarkably little debate about it.

Many Americans assume “because 9/11”.

But regime change in Iraq, Lybia, Syria and Afganistan (and see this) was planned before 9/11.

Let’s take Iraq, for example.  Former CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill – who sat on the National Security Council – also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11. Top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change even before Bush took office. And in 2000, Cheney said a Bush administration might “have to take military action to forcibly remove Saddam from power.”

Cheney apparently even made Iraqi’s oil fields a national security priority before 9/11. And the Sunday Herald reported: “Five months before September 11, the US advocated using force against Iraq … to secure control of its oil.” (remember that Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, a high-level National Security Council officer and others all say that the Iraq war was really about oil.)

Indeed, we’ve seen it all before.

We explained last year:

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


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.


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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  • John Francis

    Oh what wisdom our Founding Fathers had, but our current leaders think they know better – the result is clearly there for all to see.

    • jo6pac

      Leaders are only doing what their puppet masters want and I do agree that they need to be jailed for treason along with their masters

  • MCB

    Keep hammering this message home GW! I’m an Air Force Vet of 8 years and I’ve had enough!!!

    • Bill Gradwohl

      The military provides the muscle (and no brains) to allow the fools in government to do their dirty business. The military is absolutely part of the problem. Without the military, they could scream, shout and jump up and down, but they couldn’t really do anything.

  • Carl_Herman

    You’re a hero, GW 🙂

    Thank you for doing what you can to bring us to our “Emperor’s New Clothes” finale to Earth’s long-running tragic-comedy!

  • SupernaturalCat

    “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia” ~ Orwell, 1984

  • faceshaker

    The US should end its entangling alliance with Big Business and put commercialism back in the cage where it belongs. I don’t like the tail wagging the dog.

  • Today, the vast majority of wealth is actually a simple illusion: On everyone’s balance sheet IOU’s (both debt securities and political promises of future benefits) are carried as both asset and liability, but maniacally optimistic people only seem to “see” the asset side.

    In this way, by incurring more and more debt, people in this frame of mind believe they’re getting wealthier. Look at the hand-wringing over the “wealth disparity.” The “wealth” that is rising today is simply central-bank enabled debt growth, which is “counted” on “balance sheets” at essentially face value.

    Some of this inflation tried to flow into real stuff (real estate, commodities) but that stuff is, well, REAL, and ramping its price eventually hits a point where sobriety returns. Bonds and stocks are intangibles, and their prices (or total “market capitalization”) can be ramped seemingly without limit.

    The key word here is “seemingly.”

    Central bank inflation is now a closed loop, pumping intangible asset values ever higher in a pure form of Ponzi finance. The perpetual war crowd is a one-trick pony. They don’t know how to step off this system any more than do the folks running central banks.

    Both the war system and their funding mechanism, central banks, are headed for a complete flame-out when the herd psychology allowing “debt is wealth” illusions goes into reverse. This is what the US Military is really war-gaming; what to do when the largest Soviet-style monopoly in the world (run from the Pentagram) has its Berlin-Wall-Falls reversal. Will they gracefully accept reform, or will they bring out the tanks on Main Street and double-down?

  • tazman

    I have a bone to pick with everyone who keeps repeating that America’s longest war is Afghanistan. Au contraire, we are still at war with Korea. A cease fire ceased (mostly) active shooting, but we are still at war with N. Korea to this day as there has never been a suit for peace on either side.

  • theBuckWheat

    Free men have many enemies, foreign and domestic. Notwithstanding the threat to liberty that Leviathan is, we must not fool ourselves for one second about the threat that Islam poses to those who refuse to submit to it. #ConvertSubmitDie

    • JCDavis

      Our real enemy are the neocons who want to expand our empire (the West) to the entire world. In order to achieve this end, they have subverted the republic by spying on all three branches of government. Obama, who ran as an anti-neocon, is now no more than their pawn.

  • midway54

    And now with the newly minted Plutocratic Party (created by only thirty percent of eligible voters in the recent election) assuming the majority in the House and Senate the perpetual wars for perpetual profits will continue indefinitely.