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The Forever War

With all the domestic issues currently facing the U.S., the war in the Middle East tends to get lost in the news coverage these days. I suspect for a lot of people that the assumption is that since Barack Obama got elected, that problem was essentially solved. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, our military involvement in the Middle East is, if anything, slowly expanding. Bill Moyers’ interview with Jeremy Scahill touches on a lot of the relevant issues. Extricating ourselves from the quagmire that Obama inherited from Bush-Cheney is going to be extremely tough — which no doubt was a significant part of the Bush-Cheney plan all along. As stupid and ignorant as Bush was, Cheney was just as smart and clever. He and his PNAC buddies scripted this whole military operation so that it could easily survive the best intentions of a “non-friendly” administration for a number of years. Yes, we will be haunted by the evils of the Bush administration for a long, long time.

There are two critical issues here that no one really seems to want to address. First, as Scahill points out, this is really not a “war on terrorism” at all, but rather a war of occupation. And as such, all it does is just encourage more terrorism. You occupy a foreign country and in the process kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, you just turn more and more people against you. That’s a no-brainer. Why isn’t anyone asking the question, “What would happen if we just pulled out of the Middle East all together?” If we’re not there raping and pillaging and plundering, what reason would they have “to hate us?” Wouldn’t that do more to solve the terrorism problem than anything else? Of course, the problem with even asking that question is that it presupposes our ability to function without oil from the Middle East. Which of course is the only reason why we were ever there in the first place. So ultimately the whole issue comes down to cutting our national addiction to oil. Yet another issue that no one seems to really be discussing much these days.

The other critical issue that is brought out in the Moyers’ interview is how much of this war has been privatized and is thus being fought on a “for profit” basis. On the surface alone, the idea of fighting wars for profit should strike every American as crazy. If you are a corporation looking to maximize profits — which is the sole reason for the existence of any corporation and the only thing a corporation really does — then clearly what you want to do is expand the war in order to expand your profits. So there’s no way you are going to disengage from these military operations as long as you have corporations running the show. How can anyone be surprised to see the Iraqi war expanding to Afghanistan and Pakistan and who knows where else? It’s no different than Walmart opening new stores wherever they think there’s a profit to be made.

So basically what this all comes down to is good old money — money for the oil companies and money for the companies that are waging the war. Capitalism at it’s best. What a mess.