United States wars and rhetoric

This video from the USA is called Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.

By Norman Solomon in the USA:

Peace No Longer Even Gets Lip Service

Thursday 26 May 2011

In times of war, US presidents have often talked about yearning for peace. But the last decade has brought a gradual shift in the rhetorical zeitgeist while a tacit assumption has taken hold – war must go on, one way or another.

“I am continuing and I am increasing the search for every possible path to peace,” Lyndon Johnson said while escalating the Vietnam War. In early 1991, the first President Bush offered the public this convolution: “Even as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of peace, not war.” More than a decade later, George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress: “We seek peace. We strive for peace.”

While absurdly hypocritical, such claims mouthed the idea that the United States need not be at war 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

But these days, peace gets less oratorical juice. In this era, after all, the amorphous foe known as “terror” will never surrender.

There’s an intractable enemy for you: beatable, but never quite defeatable. Terrorists are bound to keep popping up somewhere.

A permanent war psychology has dug a groove alongside the permanent war economy. And so, we hear appreciably less about Washington’s ostensible quest for peace.

Right now, we’re told, President Obama is wrestling with the question of how much to reduce US troop levels in Afghanistan. It’s a fateful decision. We should pressure members of Congress and the White House, pushing for military withdrawal and an end to the air war.

But, just as the reduction of US troop strength in Iraq allowed for escalation in Afghanistan, a search for enemies is apt to be inexhaustible. When Uncle Sam’s proclaimed global mission is to prevent other countries from being used as a base for a terrorist attack on the United States, the Pentagon’s combat tasks are bottomless.

Whether or not the “war on terror” buzz phrase gets official use, the tacit assumption of war without end is now the old normal, again renewed in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. Every day, the warfare wallpaper inside the mass-media echo chamber is a bit more familiar, blurring the public vision into drowsier acceptance of perpetual war.

Years ago, US military spending climbed above $2 billion per day. Some of the consequences can be understood in the context of words that President Dwight Eisenhower uttered in April 1953, during a speech that began by addressing “the chance for a just peace for all peoples” and ended with the word “peace.”

In the speech, Eisenhower declared: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children … This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Maybe, as a former commanding general, Ike felt some freedom to talk like that. But in the current era, trapped within the “war on terror” matrix, Washington’s political framework leaves very little space for serious talk of peace.

See also here.

Five Eye-Opening Facts About Our Bloated Post-9/11 “Defense” Spending: here.

Noam Chomsky: “The May 1 U.S. attack on Osama bin Laden’s compound violated multiple elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion of Pakistani territory. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by the 79 commandos facing almost no opposition. President Obama announced that ‘justice has been done.’ Many did not agree – even close allies. British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who generally supported the operation, nevertheless described Obama’s claim as an ‘absurdity’ that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law”: here.

Dumb Question of the 21st Century: Is It Legal? Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch: “Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden’s killing legal? Is it legal for the president of the United States to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ legal? These are all questions raised in recent weeks. Each seems to call out for debate, for answers. Or does it? Now, you couldn’t call me a legal scholar. I’ve never set foot inside a law school, and in 66 years only made it onto a single jury (dismissed before trial when the civil suit was settled out of court). Still, I feel at least as capable as any constitutional law professor of answering such questions. My answer is this: they are irrelevant”: here.

After 40 Years, the Complete Pentagon Papers. Michael Cooper and Same Roberts, The New York Times News Service: “It may be a first in the annals of government secrecy: Declassifying documents to mark the anniversary of their leak to the press. But that is what will happen Monday, when the federal government plans to finally release the secret government study of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers 40 years after it was first published by The New York Times. At first blush, it sounds like the release of one of the worst-kept secrets in history – finally unlocking the barn door four decades after the horses bolted. The study, after all, has already been published by The Times and other newspapers, resulting in a landmark First Amendment decision by the Supreme Court. It has been released in book form more than once. But it turns out that those texts have been incomplete: When all 7,000 pages are released Monday, officials say, the study can finally be read in its original form. That it took until the era of WikiLeaks for the government to declassify the Pentagon Papers struck some participants as, to say the least, curious”: here.

The official release of the Pentagon Papers 40 years after they were leaked and published underscores the profound shift to the right by the media and the entire political establishment in the intervening decades: here.

John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus: “They were both responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in causes they believed were righteous. They both occupied top spots on the World’s Most Wanted list. They were both the subject of raids that were years in the making and required extensive intelligence work. But in all other respects – and particularly in the messages they sent to the international community – the operations against Ratko Mladic and Osama bin Laden couldn’t have been more different”: here.

Jason Leopold, Truthout: “In a stunning new interview set to air on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado tonight, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, for the first time, levels explosive allegations against three former top CIA officials – George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee – accusing them of knowingly withholding intelligence from the Bush and Clinton White House, the FBI, Immigration and the State and Defense Departments about two of the 9/11 hijackers who had entered the United States more than a year before the attacks”: here.

C.I.A. Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight. Scott Shane, The New York Times News Service: “In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda. The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript”: here.

7 thoughts on “United States wars and rhetoric

  1. Old bomb kills 2 in Bin Thuan

    VIETNAM: A war-era artillery shell exploded in Binh Thuan province on Monday, killing two people and wounding two more.

    A man who was cutting the shell for scrap metal on the side of a motorway died at the scene following the blast, while shrapnel killed a passer-by who was sitting on the back of a motorbike.

    Unexploded bombs have killed more than 42,000 people since US occupation forces left in 1975.



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