Looking for bipartisan consensus? Unfortunately, endless wars fill the bill.

0
209

Follow the money.
Follow the money.
Follow the money.

Rinse and repeat.

How to Challenge the Elite Consensus for Endless War, by Andrew J. Bacevich (The Nation)

There’s only one way: ​We have to harness the energy of millions of fed-up voters.

 … the contours of basic policy evade critical examination, and American wars continue as if on autopilot.

The circumstances permitting this mindless undertaking to persist are so well-known that they hardly bear repeating. They include a brain-dead policy elite; a military system that insulates the vast majority of Americans from sacrifice; a cynical decision to saddle future generations with the responsibility to pay for today’s wars while the present generation enjoys tax cuts; congressional abdication of its constitutionally assigned war powers, compounded by more than a few members of the House and Senate being deeply in hock to the military-industrial complex; the hiring of what Tom Engelhardt has dubbed “warrior corporations”—profit-minded contractors, proxies, and mercenaries—effectively hiding the magnitude of war from American view; the absorption of available political energy by eminently worthy causes—the anti-Trump resistance and #MeToo offer examples—that inadvertently consign war to the margins; and finally, divisions within the feeble anti-war camp, one wing leaning left, the other leaning right, with neither willing to make common cause on matters where their views coincide.

Of course, underlying these is the enduring conceit, regularly celebrated in Washington, that Providence summons the United States to exercise global leadership now and forever, with that leadership expressed primarily through threatened or real military action. All of these together create a layered and interlocking defense that insulates the militarized status quo from challenge.

Even so, the profound American disregard for actual policy outcomes remains something of a puzzle. After all, at some level we see ourselves as a pragmatic people, preferring what works to what doesn’t. Yet as far as our wars are concerned, the gap between declared intentions and the results achieved continues to grow from one year to the next, while political elites, for the most part, pretend not to notice. Let Afghanistan, a conflict now promising to extend into eternity, serve as the prosecution’s exhibit number one.

Here, I submit, part of the problem lies with Trump himself, widely viewed by members of the intelligentsia as a noxious charlatan. For this very reason, when the president, however inadvertently, utters a self-evident truth—that our post-9/11 wars cost a lot and aren’t working—his endorsement of that truth drains it of significance. It’s akin to an involuntary reflex: If Trump says our wars have achieved nothing, then surely they must have done some good, right?

Yet, however ironically, Trump’s own ascent to the presidency might itself offer a clue about how to extricate ourselves from these “forever wars.”

LEAVE A REPLY