The always excellent Tom Dispatch has an insightful article by William Astore, a former US air force lieutenant colonel, on what he regards as his nation’s addiction to ” war”: whether at home or abroad.
“Recent American leaders have something in common with their extremist Islamic counterparts: all of them define everything, implicitly or explicitly, as a jihad, a crusade, a holy war. But the violent methods used in pursuit of various jihads, whether Islamic or secular, simply serve to perpetuate and often aggravate the struggle.
Think of America’s numerous so-called wars and consider if there’s been any measurable progress made in any of them. Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in 1964. Fifty-one years later, there are still startling numbers of desperately poor people and, in this century, the gap between the poorest many and richest few has widened to a chasm. (Since the days of President Ronald Reagan, in fact, one might speak of a war on the poor, not poverty.) Drugs? Forty-four years after President Richard Nixon proclaimed the war on drugs, there are still millions in jail, billions being spent, and drugs galore on the streets of American cities. Terror? Thirteen years and counting after that “war” was launched, terror groups, minor in numbers and reach in 2001, have proliferated wildly and there is now something like a “caliphate” — once an Osama bin Laden fantasy — in the Middle East: ISIS in power in parts of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda on the rise in Yemen, Libya destabilized and divvied up among ever more extreme outfits, innocents still dying in U.S. drone strikes. Afghanistan? The opium trade has rebounded big time, the Taliban is resurgent, and the region is being destabilized. Iraq? A cauldron of ethnic and religious rivalries and hatreds, with more U.S. weaponry on the way to fuel the killing, in a country that functionally no longer exists. The only certainty in most of these American “wars” is their violent continuation, even when their original missions lie in tatters.
The very methods the U.S. employs and the mentality its leaders adopt ensure their perpetuation. Why? Because drug addiction and abuse can’t be conquered by waging a war. Neither can poverty. Neither can terror. Neither can radical Islam be defeated through armed nation building. Indeed, radical Islam thrives on the very war conditions that Washington helps to create. By fighting in the now familiar fashion, you merely fan its flames and ensure its propagation.”
Read the full piece here.