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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/18/15

Escalation Is Escalation Is Escalation: Lesson of Vietnam War

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Message William Boardman
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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

Carnival of Terror
Carnival of Terror
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When will we decide to get off the terrorism merry-go-round?

The attacks in Paris have already created yet another distorting lens through which Western nations view reality darkly. The tragedy on the ground in the city of light is real enough, but the greater tragedy is the greater reality of assuming that the politics of endless war is some sort of answer to the vicious circle it creates and perpetuates. The impulsive rush to war is also a rush to ignore history and context: French colonial control of Syria ended less than 70 years ago, French bombing of Syria is intensifying.

And then there's Yemen.

Yemen is a key to understanding the perverse puzzle of the Middle East morass. Yemen embodies the collective savagery that American policy unintentionally promotes and spreads.

"Yemen" is a word that went unuttered in the Democratic debate November 14, when all the participants shied away from taking a hard look at very hard realities. Do the candidates and the reporters not understand the significance of Yemen? Are the candidates leery of too many voters beginning to understand Yemen? To understand Yemen is to understand that there is no candidate for president taking a loud and principled stand against the US-supported illegal war in Yemen, a war led by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf state allies who commit atrocities, war crimes, and crimes against humanity on a daily basis, horrendous acts of war that make Paris look like a picnic.

To understand Yemen is to understand the insane contradictions of US policy that is based on irreconcilable assumptions and goals. To understand Yemen is to understand that the US cannot succeed with its current policy in the Middle East. To understand Yemen is to understand that the US and its Western allies no longer have a meaningful stake in a conflict that has no decent purpose.

Yemen is where the Saudis and their allies are waging a merciless, criminal war against one side of the civil war there, the Houthis. The US helps the Saudis bomb and kill mostly civilians, while enforcing the naval blockade that prevents Yemenis from leaving the kill zone in greater numbers. The Houthis are fighting both Al Qaeda and ISIS, which together control most of the country but a minority of the population. So the Saudis are fighting on the side of ISIS in Yemen at the same time they have all but stopped fighting against ISIS in Syria. All of this makes a perverse sort of sense from the Saudi perspective, since the Saudis have spent decades nurturing the Wahhabi version of fundamentalist jihadism that has now flowered as ISIS, the Islamic State.

Why is endless US war on non-threatening countries not a campaign issue?

Given continuing US military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as well as presumably other, more covert places, the wonder is that there's still no opposition in the streets or much of anywhere else to the endless wars of the Bush legacy. Almost as wondrous is that the endless warlords like Dick Cheney and his unindicted co-conspirators aren't cheering on the present president for loyally executing their mindless folly as he extends Bushian madness to the point of achieving the first military quagmire of global scale. At any given moment the US has Special Forces operating in a hundred countries, give or take, having carried out operations in at least 147 countries this year.

Years later, as the world approaches Orwell's 1984 totalitarian vision of all-war-all-the-time, mainstream reporters (like those at the Democratic debate) not only fail to illuminate reality, they fail even to probe it. Is it not of interest that the US carries the burden of the Orwellian nightmare almost alone? Of the three superpowers of Orwell's imagination, Russia and China continue to be reluctant to match the "exceptional" US drive toward military hegemony over the planet. Europe also continues to be an unreliable permanent warrior state and Latin America is pretty much all hopeless when it comes to war.

This cannot be a state of things that our candidates for president have not noticed. Among Republicans, the tendency is to call for more war anywhere, to double down on failure and make it worse as soon as possible. Among Democrats there is some presentiment of caution, or at least some desire not to make it worse any faster than "necessary." No one is yet saying that making it worse is NOT necessary. Serious reporters, if there were any, would be asking all candidates to explain why they think this futile, destructive, irrational status quo is OK by any standard of reason and decency.

Why NOT get out of Afghanistan?

Why NOT get out of Iraq?

Why NOT get out of Libya and Syria and a hundred other countries?

When it comes to the US air war on the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, most of our allies are already getting out of harm's way. They are abandoning the fight against ISIS even though ISIS presents a far more imminent threat to most of them than it ever will to the US. Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and the rest of the international criminal coalition are much more interested in bombing even more defenseless Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to a lengthy front page report in the November 8 New York Times.

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
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