Tag Archives: Peace

American Empire Will Not Be Stopped by a Blundering Semi-Isolationist President

As Donald J. Trump climbed up the polls, and into the Oval Office, to the bafflement of most, and the cheers of some, there was deluded optimism and melodramatic horror freely expressed about his plans once sworn in. The antiwar-cum-xenophobia demonstrated by many self-proclaimed isolationists meant that Trump’s bizarre policy collections had piqued their interest. But even with the relatively low standards that that mentality suggests–less war, perhaps, more domestic misery, certainly, especially when it comes to the lives of undocumented immigrants–Trump will likely fail. The non-interventionists who value the lives of immigrants, and the freedom of all people to live without police intervention remain unsurprised at Trump’s failures of international peace, even as they scorn the neocons just as much as the isolationists do.

America has been at war since 2001. In other ways, America has been at war nearly nonstop since its founding. As in so many other nation-states, the native population had to be culled and brutalized so that Westerners could flourish. Once that was mostly complete by the late 19th century, America eyed Cuba and the Philippines, and engaged in savage, now-forgotten wars in order to colonize there. World Wars one and two are defended by many people, especially the latter, but the savagery with which America fought even its most justified enemies spoke to its disinterest in a moral highground based on anything besides whatever the US says it right at whatever particular time. Korea and Vietnam, various Middle East scuffles and bombings, coups and interventions, not to mention the two decades spent trampling Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, and other places where terrorists occasionally lurk, all of this adds up to a searing black mark on the credibility of the shining city on the hill. Except that among the powerful and the silent majority in middle America, it doesn’t really diminish much of anything.

American wars have been on autopilot for at least the past decade. Mass outrage, most prominently seen during the Vietnam war, is the exceptional response to interventions abroad. And even in the “come on people now/smile on you brother”era, that war wasn’t stopped until two million Vietnamese, nearly 60,000 Americans, and countless Cambodian and Laos citizens were dead. At best, then, outrage as the life and death threat of the draft hangs over American 19-year-olds’ heads, can lead to the stopping of a war after a decade.

How to get out of the death grapple that is the war on terror remains to be seen. Or, perhaps it won’t be. In the grimmest, most borderline conspiratorial interpretations of the post-9/11 world, there is no reason for the US to ever get out of this war against a tactic, an extreme interpretation of a religion, against anyone who consider themselves against the US, and will engage in violence towards that end.

We may or may not have moved away from full-scale invasions like Iraq in 2003. However, Libya and Afghanistan have been destabilized plenty. And the residents of half a dozen other countries now find it necessary to accept the presence of silent robots hovering above them, Hellfire missiles at the ready. The American people are easily exhausted by wars, but they are also easily frightened into them. Letting a few troops, then a few more, then a few drones handle things is the easiest way to keep them distracted, but feeling safe enough.

 

Continue reading at CounterPunch

Young Voices Advocate Alexander McCobin writes about Syria on antiwar.com

On September 10th Young Voices Advocate Alexander McCobin got published on antiwar.com stating that “Obama Might Unwittingly Lead U.S. to a Decade of Peace”:

President Obama might have already achieved more for peace and stability in the Middle East than he is actually aware. The public debate on the Syrian Civil War and a possible U.S. strike on the Assad regime has shown that public opinion strongly favors non-interventionism to the neo-conservativism of recent history. More than a decade of warfare and U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East have illustrated that the use of U.S. military in troubled areas does not necessarily lead to stability and peace.

After a bloody decade-long occupation of multiple countries in the Middle East, the emergence of new terrorist groups, and the disaster in Benghazi, two lessons from the past ten years should be that we aren’t able to predict the unintended consequences of war and that “limited” military campaigns rarely actually come with limits.

Syria can become the tipping point for U.S. foreign policy and the international reputation of the United States. Congress has the chance to show the virtues of western democracy by blocking the President’s war efforts, retiring the agenda of hawkish politicians such as Senator McCain, and keeping the Syrian crisis in the political realm. By doing so, Congress would herald the start of a non-interventionist era of U.S. foreign policy.

In the end, we all just might be glad for having had a president who was too determined to go to war.

Alexander McCobin has also recently been interviewed by RT talking about the G20 Summit and Syria.

Furthermore Alexander McCobin recently published another post on Syria, Military Intervention in Syria Serves Obama, Not the People on www.youngvoicesadvocates.com.

 

The New Addiction: War Fever

The Nation just released a strangely relevant excerpt from the recently published in ebook format Vonnegut by the Dozen, a collection of 12 essays by Kurt Vonnegut.  The excerpt is from the essay “The worst addiction of them all.”

Vonnegut starts by praising Alcoholics Anonymous as America’s “most nurturing contribution” to the world we see today. This support group encourages people to begin recovery by identifying their vice. This is undoubtedly a powerful statement to make, it is the steepest step of all twelve. A number of authors writing about their experiences in AA have made the 12 steps the crucial plot element, and have seen accolades by Oprah’s book club and on other more reputable platforms. By requiring a confession of just what you are, the AA scheme is attributed “measurable success in dealing with the tendency of some human beings, to become addicted to substances that give them brief spasms of pleasure but in the long term transmute their lives and the lives of those around them into ultimate ghastliness.”

This is Vonnegut’s statement on what addiction is. While more may be said by those in the know, we can stick with that definition for our present purposes.

For example alcohol, or narcotics or gambling. Vonngeut is gonna focus on gambling to make his point, since gamblers do not ingest any particular substance. The actions they take, through their own biochemical processes, create for them a high unmatched by any of the substances we classify as drugs. Thus far gambling is unscheduled, probably because the chemicals and/or substances causing the high can be produced by every human brain. As it turns out, humans have the capacity to create their own toxic high through a variety of activities. We can get that brief spasm of pleasure through video games, through pornography, or even through shopping, not just placing bets and risking money, and not just through illicit activities.

Kurt Vonnegut identifies a new class of addiction in Vonnegut by the Dozen:

It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.

Of course he’s correct. They’ve been around just as long as alcoholics and sex-addicts and probably even longer. Compulsive war-preparers are “more tragically addicted” than the stockbroker, the alcoholic or the gambler, who just wants a dollar bet on who can spit farther than whom. But what might it take to get the war-preparer his high?

For us to give a compulsive war-preparer a fleeting moment of happiness, we may have to buy him three Trident submarines and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles.

…aaaahhh. For a fleeting moment of happiness, “we” have to get him what?

A couple of these:

missile

Hmmm.

Vonnegut goes on to identify the sick few who have fallen between the cracks: “If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to War-Preparers Anonymous.” Thereafter, Vonnegut fails to clarify the sick entity that he dubs “Western Civilization,” except in an unacceptably overbroad fashion. His further characterization/personification of Western Civilization is completely erroneous. It takes his substantive addendum to the character of the West from a tautology to a simple buzz in the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and maybe not even the buzz that you might pass on.

By dubbing this new category of addict Western Civilization, he makes all of us geographically located in the Western Hemisphere feel guilt, without assigning responsibility to those who are actively seeking their fix. He doesn’t stop there. He says, “Western Civilizations, which surely now includes the Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan and so on…” What a claim to make! So we all are sick? The whole globe is afflicted? We have a collective addiction to preparing for War? I cannot submit that this is what Kurt intends to mean because he goes on to say:

Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, “Honest to God, I couldn’t be sorrier for you if I’d seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort.”

That is, I couldn’t be sorrier for you (national leader, or just a neighbor) than if you were drowning in alcohol, with a liver the size of your ribcage, and you were whining for more booze. I couldn’t be more sorry for you. At this point. we should speak up. We should say to such a person, craving for the urgent, weighty sting of preparing for combat, you need help. You seek a brief spasm of pleasure from a substance that will transmute your life into ultimate ghastliness. The first step is a confession. This will be the first of many steps on the long journey back to sobriety that those people will have to take.

Finally, Vonnegut’s solution: Let us not mock them. All we have to do is separate them from the levers of power.

Here, Vonnegut admits that Western Civilization itself it not sick with this kind of addiction. Rather, Western Civilization, in failing to recognize this condition as an illness, has venerated these persons by rewarding them with complete control over the levers of power. Western Civilization, in the act of insinuating war on others, seeks to appease, not antagonistic nations, but its own addicts to war preparation. Moreover, nations will lose most of their freedom and wealth in seeking to appease such addicts.

After describing how war-prep addicts come into being (“it starts innocently enough in childhood, under agreeable, respectable auspices”), Vonnegut clarifies the contours of the addiction and how to recognize it. But until now, Vonnegut is just bringing the reader to the precipice. He lets the reader glance over when he asks:

Should addicts of any sort hold high office in this or any other country?

Absolutely not, for their first priority will always be to satisfy their addiction, no matter how terrible the consequences may be–even to themselves.

Intervention Into Syria Is As Well-Intended As It Is Ill-Advised

President Obama may soon authorize military intervention in Syria. The decision apparently rests on whether the Syrian government’s slaughter of possibly more than 1,000 of its own citizens was aided by chemical weaponry. Besides the fact that this is an odd and arbitrary basis upon which to violate another country’s sovereignty, intervention into Syria is as well-intended as it is ill-advised.

The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the attacks, and authorized a U.N. convoy to inspect the sites of the attacks to determine whether chemical weapons were used. Yesterday the convoy had to turn back after it was met with sniper fire, for which the Assad regime has also denied responsibility.

cathy-meme

There is good reason to believe the Assad regime is committing human rights violations and failing to fully cooperate with international law. However, this is true of many nations across the world at any given time, and the U.S. simply does not have the resources to intervene in every case. In addition, nothing in actuality makes the Syrian case more pressing than any other.

Most importantly, military strikes against the Assad regime would necessarily assist the rebel forces. There is no indication that a takeover by these forces would create a better situation for the Syrian people or the international community. There is, however, strong evidence that parts of the rebellion are strongly tied with Al-Qaeda.

Military intervention into Syria would mean that the U.S. is declaring war on a terrible, but democratically elected, regime, only to have it replaced by a resistance which is made up of an organization with whom the United States is already at war.

In Iran, the U.S. deposed Mossadeq. In Iraq the U.S. supported what a U.N. Security Council statement called chemical warfare by Saddam Hussein against Iran. The U.S. armed the rebels in Afghanistan who would later begin Al-Qaeda. There is no way to know the consequences of a military engagement in Syria. But if history and an ongoing war in Afghanistan is any guide, there will be no winning. Perhaps that’s why only 9% of Americans support military intervention.

We don’t want to see further decades of unrest and human rights violations perpetrated by governments we helped put in place. This is why my generation demands no military intervention in Syria.

If you’d like to speak with or book Cathy or any of our Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.