Sunday, September 21, 2014

perpetual warfare


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

September 21, 2014


                The Project for a New American Century’s September 2000 report, America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources for a New Century, was prophetic.  The premise of the report:

“As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

“[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities….”

                For the 21st century, it was the manifest destiny of the US to dominate the world, for the world’s good, and ultimately, to defend against foreign threats including terrorism.  It worried that “…the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing eventlike a new Pearl Harbor…”  A year later, there was 9/11.

                Then there was the Patriot Act, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, a whole series of places and enemies the US struck, a never-ending series of needs for the US to exert, as the Project called for, “leadership.”  Now the US president and secretary leads a coalition, now led by US with the former colonial masters of the region, Britain and France, expressing the long-term will to “destroy” the Islamic State the Levant,” openly declaring “war” against a state it will not recognize, without embarrassment at doing the very thing the Constitution says Congress is to do.  Expressly a war without end, in its waning years, the administration led by President Obama embraces the role of leading perpetual global warfare.

                It is as though this president cannot bear to leave office known to have lost US military “preeminence.”  For a president who originally campaigned for an end to US warfare, it is a testament to the power of the political culture in which we live.  It is remarkable to me how marginal I find myself questioning that the US has to take the lead in “stopping” or “eliminating” ISIL.

                The tragedy is that the moral expedience of US realpolitik has to be transparent even to most of those who for interests of their own are “willing” to be seen as US allies.  In Iraq, we are supporting Shia forces that bomb and shell Sunnis in ISIL-held territory, while in Syria, we support Sunni forces who are dedicated to overthrowing Shia Alawites in Syria.  Despite all the righteous rhetoric in US political, media and everyday conversation about US being the world’s primary guarantor of peace and human rights, moral expedience and hypocrisy is a globally apparent reality.  In this reality, we even turn out to be a major source of military equipment to the very groups we attack, as to ISIL.

                Perpetual warfare is a very good way to create enemies perpetually.  I don’t expect it in my lifetime, but I hope someday the political culture in my country gets a president who allows her- or himself the humility to be a generous participant in peacebuilding and peacemaking efforts, a voice of conscience like that today of a Pope Francis, rather than a leader of global military exploits.  For the moment, we are the world’s leading unrepentant force for death and destruction of the 21st century.  Ultimately, it is our own loss.  As always, there are US voices against perpetual warfare.  May they endure.  Love and peace, hal

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