Friday September 29, 2023

Endless war

September 11, 2021

According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, Tom Engelhardt notes, the United States has so far spent $6.4 trillion on the so-called war on terror, which is now 20 years old and counting. And this figure doesn’t include the ongoing costs of caring for American veterans of those conflicts, which could push the actual total up to around $8 trillion.

These are wars that have blatantly failed to accomplish their stated missions, but they have displaced some 38 million people – and killed an estimated 387,000 civilians – also according to the Costs of War Project. None of this seems to matter. Even as we allegedly pull out of Afghanistan, the American defense budget increases. Orwell was right. Endless war is the real point of all this.

Gen Stanley McChrystal, former commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, explained it all pretty bluntly. He once said, as Brian Terrell points out, that “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.”

And Terrell writes: “The US war on Afghanistan did not end – it has only adapted to technological advances and morphed into a war that will be more politically sustainable, one more intractable and more easily exportable.”

So just as the pandemic goes on, and just as the climate crisis goes on, war of one sort or another goes on and on and on, perhaps only stopping when human civilization itself collapses, in floods and fires and eco-instability. Humanity's failure to address the climate crisis marks “the first time that a species has decided to eliminate itself,” Michael Moore points out, adding: “That’s real terrorism.”

Have we truly structured our world around the simplistic notion of ‘I win, you lose’? The cynics say yes, shrug and go on about their day, but there is indeed more to who we are than this. A different future – beyond war, poverty and climate catastrophe – percolates in the human heart.

I quote the preamble of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.”

So where, where, is the “spirit of strengthened global solidarity” by which the agenda’s goals will be met?

When I absorb the news of the day, I sense no awareness, or even interest, in such an agenda, for which, as ever, I blame the mainstream media. Eight trillion dollars have been surrendered to 20 years of high-tech killing and nation-wrecking, but this is hardly questioned.

Excerpted: ‘The Moral Idiocy and Suicidal Tendency of Endless War’