(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
For those who have not noticed, the Global War on Terror has morphed into what is now being labeled as “The Long War”.
Soon after the neo-cons got their “Pearl Harbor”, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Americans what to expect. “Forget about ‘exit strategies, we’re looking at a sustained engagement that carries no deadlines.”
Donald Rumsfeld is today a discredited and widely reviled figure. Robert Gates, Rumsfeld’s successor as Defense secretary, is generally admired for manifesting qualities that Rumsfeld lacked — a willingness to listen not least among them. Yet on one crucial point, the two see eye to eye: Both believe that the United States has no alternative but to wage a global war likely to last decades.
LA Times The ‘Long War’ Fallacy by Andrew J. Bacevich
Speaking at West Point in April of this year, Gates, echoed his predecessor’s assessment. “There are no exit strategies.” Gates described a “generational campaign” entailing “many years of persistent, engaged combat all around the world.”
The Preface of the latest Quadrenial Defense Review Report (PDF) – published every 4 years – begins with this sentence.
The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war.
The report is frightening and yet while reading it I found it ludicrous, full of neocon talking points and blatant Orwellian propaganda. Noteworthy is the terminology shift:
the Pentagon document defines the main enemy not as terrorists, but rather as violent extremists or merely extremists. This choice of words is not accidental. The thrust of the strategic conceptions outlined by the Pentagon review is the organization of the US military to violently quell any and all opposition to US domination.
What are the origins of this agenda, what are its true goals? More importantly, how and when will it end?
One of the prominent neo-conservatives who served in the Bush Administration is Richard Perle. Perle is a PNAC member, a member of the Hudson Institute, a member of AEI and also is a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations. Below is a quote from Perle noted by John Pilger writing for ZNet in December of 2002.
I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about “total war”, I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America’s “war on terror”. “No stages,” he said. “This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq… this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”
Andrew Bacevich, in the LA Times piece linked above, noted that back in September 2001, Rumsfeld put it this way: “We have a choice — either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live; and we chose the latter.” In this context, “they” represent the billion or so Muslims inhabiting the greater Middle East.
It should not be difficult to understand exactly what Rumsfeld was saying, basically that our 5% of the planet’s people are consuming 25% of it’s resources and we’re going to keep it that way. Bill Moyers succinctly put it this way.
“The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largess here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad.”
Our imperial ambitions serve to create resistance to our presence resulting in a positive feedback loop which will continue to provide the never-ending pretext for a never-ending war against an ubiquitous enemy. Perpetual war. It’s not stupidity. They know very well what they are doing just as certainly that they knew there were no WMDs in Iraq.
How is the Long War effecting our lives and how will it effect us in the future? Gregory D. Foster wrote more than two years ago:
Even as Long War rhetoric artfully circumvents such politically discomfiting terminology as “insurgency,” its underlying message should be clear: We dutiful subjects should be quietly patient and not expect too much (if anything) too soon (if at all) from our rulers as they prosecute their unilaterally proclaimed war without end…
Common Dreams from April 2006
Below is a listing of what Foster told us to expect. Much is already evident.
• It will give permanency to the manufactured state of collective fear and emergency that provides pretext for the further imperialization of the presidency.
• It will thereby extend the self-marginalization of a cowardly Congress that is shamelessly willing to waive its constitutional prerogatives rather than stand up to a self-anointed wartime commander in chief.
• It will have a “cry wolf” effect by numbing the public, which is tired of the permanent state of false emergency, to real threats and emergencies when they arise.
• It will provide a defensible excuse for those in power to indefinitely postpone any meaningful demonstration of conclusive results, and thus full accountability, in their expanding martial forays abroad (except, of course, when it is politically expedient to declare that a successful end is at hand in a particular situation).
• It similarly will provide an excuse for the continued neglect of other critical national (especially “soft” domestic) priorities – Social Security, health care, education, the environment – in favor of war’s overriding importance.
• It will aggravate the undisciplined, unchecked practice of prolonged deficit spending that threatens to produce severe economic stagnation and budgetary crisis, especially as baby boomers become eligible for retirement.
• It will perpetuate the use of “emergency” supplemental military spending to circumvent the checks of the regular budget process and surreptitiously pad a bloated, gluttonous defense budget.
• It will lend continuing tacit legitimacy to the regularized use of force as a first (rather than a last) resort, diminishing the legitimacy and desirability of time-consuming, seemingly less decisive diplomacy.
• It will further blur the lines of demarcation between war and peace, domestic and international, military and police, criminal justice and intelligence, normalcy and emergency. The blurring of lines among military, police and intelligence activities will make the military less accountable to civilian authority.
• It will further threaten civil liberties, marginalize dissent and dissenters as unpatriotic, heighten government secrecy at the expense of transparency and engender continuing media self-censorship, all in the name of necessity, urgency and clear and present danger.
• It will perpetuate the self-serving Pentagon mythology of defense transformation by fostering the misleading impression that the rhetorical commitment to the Long War is matched by an underlying reality of overhaul in military missions, structures and capabilities.
• It will accentuate the alienation of the military from society in two ways: first, by reinforcing the belief of those in uniform that they are especially at risk and making undue sacrifices on behalf of a soft, lazy, unappreciative public; second, by exacerbating recruiting shortfalls and the attendant prospect of an increasingly unrepresentative force.
There is an alternative. Once again Andrew Bacevich in the linked LA Times article:
Rumsfeld got it exactly backward. Although we do face a choice, it’s not the one that he described. The actual choice is this one: We can either persist in our efforts to change the way they live — in which case the war of no exits will surely lead to bankruptcy and exhaustion. Or we can recognize the folly of generational war and choose instead to put our own house in order: curbing our appetites, paying our bills and ending our self-destructive dependency on foreign oil and foreign credit.
Now all we have to do is change course. No easy task. This war machine is barreling down the tracks and its momentum is going unchecked. As Bacevich has written in his book, The Limits of Power – “It has eaten all our seed corn, and must keep prowling constantly in foreign lands to feast on the resources of others. So war and the ever-present threat of war will continue to be the driving forces of American policy, at home and abroad, both in the public and private sectors – because that’s where the money is.”