My guest is David Swanson, blogger, author, peace activist and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Welcome back to OpEdNews, David. You wrote a recent piece, Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder . Is that hyperbole or is this war really being renamed?
Oh, it's no secret, although the news seems to have downplayed it by declaring the war over. This actually confused a fair number of people who remembered the recent announcement that troops would be staying for another decade and beyond. But when they declared the war over, they declared Operation Enduring Freedom over (long may the memory of its horrors endure!) And then, almost as a footnote, most reporting noted that troops would remain in place -- not to mention (literally unmentioned) drones. And the thing those remaining troops will keep doing has the little-reported and highly laughable name of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. But if you take both the war before this week and the war beyond this week to be a war, then what happened was a name change.
By the way, I'm also director of WorldBeyondWar.org
Duly noted. Your article begins with an amazing fact about the length of this war, David. Would you recap it for our our readers, please?
I said of the ongoing U.S. war on Afghanistan: "The war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. participation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war on the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican American War." That's an accurate statement as far as it goes. President Obama has been credited with "ending" and "drawing down" this war not only while expanding it to triple the size but also for a longer period of time than various other major wars combined. The catch is that this war is not over or ending. This year was more deadly than any of the previous 12.
Wars are different now in many ways, fought against groups rather than nations, fought without limits in time or space, fought with proxies, fought with robots, fought with over 90% of the deaths on one side, fought with over 90% of the deaths civilian (that is, people not actively fighting against illegal invaders of their land). So, to call this a war and the war that stole Mexico a war is like calling both an apple and an orange a fruit -- we're mixing apples and oranges. That war was fought to expand territory and slavery by stealing half of someone else's country. This war is fought to influence the control of a distant land for the benefit of certain profiteers and politicians. Yet both involved mass murder, wounding, kidnapping, rape, torture, and trauma. And both were lied about to the U.S. public from beginning to end. The war on Afghanistan has been easier to lie about, in something of the manner in which World War II was lied about during the war on Vietnam, because the war on Afghanistan has taken place at the same time as a less popular war on Iraq. Averse to even considering the idea that war itself could be a bad idea, people across the super-narrow U.S. political spectrum have insisted that because the Iraq war was bad, the war on Afghanistan must be good.
Try to get them to prove that it's good, however, and they pretty much come down to "There have been no more 9-11s." But that was true for centuries prior to 9-11 and isn't really true now, as attacks on U.S. and Western facilities and personnel have been rising during the War on Terra (the name some of us give the so-called War on Terror because you can't fight a war against terror as war itself is terror, and as Terra means the earth), along with opposition to U.S. foreign policy -- with a Gallup poll a year ago finding the U.S. widely considered the greatest threat to peace on earth. The U.S. also pulled its troops out of Saudi Arabia, actually addressing one of the causes of 9-11, even while devoting most of its energy to further antagonizing the world.
Hold on. There's a lot to talk about here. You just said "in something of the manner in which World War II was lied about during the war on Vietnam". Did you mean to say that, David? Please clarify. What lies were told about WWII and what did that have to do with Vietnam? You lost me there.
World War II became known as The Good War in contrast to the War on Vietnam which was the Bad War. In fact, it was very important for people who opposed the war on Vietnam to be able to say they weren't against all wars and to point to a good one. This has remained the case for most US-Americans for the past three-quarters of a century and it has 99% of the time for 99% of the people been WWII that they point to as the supposedly good war. But when Obama campaigned for the presidency and even earlier than that, he liked to stress that he was against only dumb wars (meaning the 2003-begun war on Iraq which he has since praised and glorified, not to mention prolonging and re-starting) and he called Afghanistan the Good War.
This is very common in Washington DC and very uncommon outside of it. There has to be a good war or one risks falling into the principled position of WorldBeyondWar.org that war is an abomination that needs to be abolished along with all preparations for more of it. I interviewed Jonathan Landay on my radio show this week ( TalkNationRadio.org ) -- he was one of the very few reporters who did any actual reporting in the corporate media in the lead-up to the 2003 attack on Baghdad -- and he, too, claimed Afghanistan was a good war and war in general is good. One has to think that way to work in Washington.
I asked him about Bush rejecting Taliban attempts to turn bin Laden over for a trial, and Landay declared that the Taliban never would have done it because so abusing a guest violates Pashtun culture, as if allowing your nation to be bombed and occupied doesn't violate Pashtun culture. Landay didn't dispute the story that it was Bush who had rejected the offer -- and we didn't really have time to get into it -- but he simply declared what had happened to have been impossible. He could be right, but I very much doubt it, and in any case that is not the reason that virtually no one in the United States knows the incident ever happened -- and had been happening for years. The reason is related to the reason USians (people from the nation of the United States as opposed to the continents of America) danced in the street when bin Laden's death was announced: to have a good war, one must fight an evil subhuman force with which negotiation is impossible.