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Long wars, violence and change in America

By       Message John Grant     Permalink
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It's tough these days being a non-violent peace activist. Many see the notion of "peace is the way" as laughable, and the government equates peace with military domination.

The bi-partisan War Party in America won't budge from its imperial wars despite majority polls and protests urging they do so. The right-wing base continues to narrow its range of toleration on everything. And the courts come down on the side of corporations, state power and a culture that has elevated guns into a religion.

I've worked in the peace movement for 30 years, and I believe in non-violently speaking truth to power. But the prospects for peace have never seemed gloomier or the situation more absurd.

The camp-following cheerleaders like ABC's Martha Raddatz's and others like her aside, General Stanley McChystal's frustrations as revealed in a Rolling Stone article were a profound window into the fact the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan is going badly.

In a reasonable, democratic universe, this might have kicked off a serious national discussion and a re-evaluation of the occupation itself. Instead, the war has been given a whole new lease on life with 4th of July bunting.

Except for Republican Chairman Michael Steele, who to everyone's amusement veered off message for a moment to criticize the war in Afghanistan as "a war of Obama's choosing," all elements of the War Party got their stories straight and are now in full cheerleading mode.

President Obama says we need to assure "success" in Afghanistan, something that shifts with the political winds. Senator John McCain calls for the nation to sound a "certain trumpet," lest the Taliban insurgents get the wrong idea that Americans are tired of the war when all polls suggest Americans are tired of the war. They must think the Taliban don't read the papers.

McChrystal's boss, General David Petraeus, was sworn in as the American Viceroy of Afghanistan on the 4th of July. He did Obama's "success" goal one better and said, "We are in this to win."

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In his drive-through Senate confirmation, Petraeus reassured senators that he would revise restrictions on lethal air support in cases of infantry units in trouble. This, of course, was his policy in the first place, but in the American media-mind it is now treated as McChrystal's failed policy.

This means jacking up the "kinetic" war, more aerial bombing and less sensitivity to civilian casualties.

President Obama rhetorically made a big deal over firing General McChrystal to protect his constitutionally mandated civilian control over the military. Then he put the military squarely back in the driver's seat with $33 billion in fresh funding.

"Long wars are antithetical to democracy," says Andrew Bacevich in a Washington Post op-ed. He is a retired Army colonel and professor of history at Boston University.

"Protracted conflict introduces toxins that inexorably corrode the values of popular government," he says. There is "a culture of contempt" for civilians in the ranks of the military. Bacevich concludes that Americans "need to reclaim ownership of their army."

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For the rest of this article, please go to THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING at: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/125

 

I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)
 

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