70 years of endless wars
For more than 70 years the U.S. has attacked many, many countries and overthrown their governments—including real democracies that U.S. businesses and politicians did not like. Likewise, the U.S. has armed and supported many, many dictators who served U.S. business and geo-political interests.
However, 1942 was the last time Congress actually declared war. After that, presidents have started wars, typically without approval by Congress, in violation of the US Constitution and in violation by the Vietnam-era War Powers Act.
“Do something” means violence and the militarization of our “Homeland”
When an international crisis occurs, Americans want our government to “do something.” Because militarism has been the U.S.’s default policy, “do something” is nearly always assumed to mean “do something violent! Honest diplomacy is usually bypassed.
Hawks like to say, “After 9-11 everything changed.” Compliant mainstream media have repeated it often and conditioned us to accept endless wars, the loss of our Constitutional rights, and the militarization of Homeland Security and local police. Local police departments tend to hire military veterans who have been trained in how to occupy and dominate foreign populations. Now they occupy American cities and treat our people like enemy populations, rather than as people to be served. This has led to the current epidemic of police shooting unarmed Americans of color.
Military violence has become the default assumption for how to deal with any problem, foreign or domestic.
Deceiving the American people and normalizing violence
Martin Luther King criticized the U.S. for being on the wrong side of history in violently fighting poor people while militarily protecting corrupt elites in Vietnam and elsewhere. The rest of the world knows this, but the American people are largely ignorant because our mainstream media and our politicians are subservient to the dominant economic and political elites, so they deceive the American people into thinking we are “the greatest democracy in the world.”
Politicians, mainstream media, and the dominant nationalistic culture not only misinform us but also disinform us—replace truth with lies. This national self-deception promotes “American exceptionalism,” the mistaken notion that the U.S. is so special that we are not bound by international law, and our government is entitled to attack any other nation on earth.
If we were to ask the public whether they want peace, nearly everyone would say yes. But violence and war have become so “normalized” that many people think war is the way to achieve peace. War is terrorism with a bigger budget.
Militarism backfires as military “solutions” are really the problem
Many people think “the end justifies the means.” In contrast, Gandhi, King, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation all affirm that the ends we reach depend significantly on the means we use to get there. Whatever we sow is what we will reap. Just as an acorn leads to an oak tree, militarism leads to war, but nonviolent actions lead to peace.
In many of our recent and current wars, we are fighting enemies who are using weapons we had provided to our allies. In the 1980s President Reagan armed Afghanistan’s Mujahedeen to fight the Soviet Union’s troops that were occupying Afghanistan. The Mujahedeen evolved into the Taliban and led to al Qaeda, so then the US started fighting the very forces that we had previously armed.
Recently Obama found ways (through the CIA, etc.) to arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight Syria’s unjust leader, Assad. Some of those people evolved into ISIS, so in mid-September 2014 Congress rushed to pass a bill authorizing President Obama to train and arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. Now ISIS is using weapons that the US had provided to someone, and the US, which had wanted to overthrow Syria’s President Assad, is now Assad’s ally in fighting ISIS, and the US also is on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah—both of whom our government has demonized—in opposing ISIS.
Military violence nearly always backfires. The US continually creates new enemies for the US to attack, provoking the creation of new enemies, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Of course, this means more power for the Pentagon and CIA, and more profits for the U.S.’s weapons manufacturers. The Pentagon and CIA have long understood the concept of “blowback” – the retaliation that occurs after the U.S. uses military or covert actions in another country, but the Pentagon and CIA keep escalating these violent escapades. The CIA and military-industrial complex are playing the President and Congress and American people for fools – deliberately escalating the “war on terror” for self-serving purposes of power and profit.
The U.S. government—while paying lip service to seeking peace—actually wants endless wars with more enemies. It does not really want to “win” a war, but rather to continue provoking new enemies and conducting endless wars in order to continually shift hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars every year into the business corporations that supply the War Machine—and to continually shift political power from honest democracy into the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, and other parts of militarized America.
The biggest threat to U.S. security is the recklessly violent military-industrial complex. They get rich and powerful while endangering and bankrupting the 99%.
Military “solutions” make problems worse! If we want peace, we must use only peaceful means. If we want a peaceful and just domestic society, we must use only peaceful and just methods at the local and national levels.
We need a nonviolent foreign policy grounded in profound respect for the oneness of the entire human family and in profound respect for human rights.
Glen Anderson became active in the peace movement during the 1960s and never stopped. He has worked on a wide range of peace issues for the past 45 years. In 1976 he founded the Olympia chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (www.olympiafor.org).