Op-Ed by Don Via, Jr.
No matter how many times a commentary is provided on the subject, it is still nauseating to witness fervent tribalism perpetuated in real time. Weird how the one side of the demographic that was all in favor of finally “Ending the Forever Wars” for 4 years during the last Administration, are now the same ones clutching their pearls and regurgitating talking point after talking point of State Department nonsense to prolong that catastrophe. Where did all that “drain the swamp” rhetoric go?
Vice-versa, the ones that are now presumptuously patting themselves on the back — as if the dementia patient they empowered to currently reside in the Oval Office is in any way cognitively functional enough to do anything other than get out of bed in the morning — didn’t just spend the last four years foaming at the mouth at the dare mention of a withdrawal.
It is the false “Left vs. Right” paradigm on display. Odious and pestiferous as ever.
Neocolonialists are once again saturating the public with the same tired mantras of the Bush era; grandstanding with outdated Ronald Reagan quotes, draped in an American flag with the scent of apple pie. Pitting Americans against each other because “you don’t love your country enough”, “the little people of the world need help and America must save the day!”
Leaving out the fact that they “need rescuing” from the disaster we caused.
It’s so easy to package up this issue, put a nice little bow on it, and say “It’s the other side that’s to blame. But not me, not my team!” It feels good, it’s virtuous, it’s self-righteous, and it is also a gross oversimplification of events; that in every feasible way has been facilitated by the entirety of the ruling class for decades. Not just the side you don’t like.
If there’s any lesson that is to be learned from the fall of Kabul, it’s that it is time for Americans to wake up and take some responsibility. Take a pragmatic look at the nature of the American war machine. Not the flag waving raw-raw “we’re spreading freedom and democracy” resoundingly illiterate inculcations spoon fed to the masses in movies and on prime time television — but tangible facts concerning our monstrosity of a foreign policy.
Can we stop pretending that wars of aggression justified under false pretext, and fought at the behest of corporate interests are in any way spreading ‘freedom and democracy’ around the globe? Do people really still believe that? Surely you jest. It is purely a nationalist fantasy.
Since the day President Eisenhower cautioned us of an emerging military industrial complex — in which Eisenhower himself echoed the sentiments of legendary Marine Corps General Smedley Butler some 30 years prior — We have all bore witness to the assembly of that forewarned apparatus coming to fruition in stride.
“America the beautiful” has become an ugly corporatist empire. That is not just a pessimistic hyperbole of pseudo-progressivism, as some assert. It is a harsh reality grounded in fundamental truth.
The United States has approximately 800 military bases in over 70 countries spanning the globe, with the DoD acknowledging active personnel in at least 160 countries. Not counting clandestine operations still classified from the general public. What other nation can make such a boast? None.
“We have to be strong because we’re the leader of the free world!” some assert. But that’s hardly the case, yet they assert it nonetheless. Despite the blatant hypocrisies and pertinent facts that should have debunked that mythology long ago.
Meanwhile, though the US has been in a state of constant warfare for at least two generations throughout the war on terror, the truth is no one alive today can actually recall a time when America was at peace. Since 1776 we have been engaged in some state of war for an estimated 228 years, out of a total of 245.
To say that the US exists in a state of perpetual war is an understatement.
In fact, when former President Jimmy Carter reiterated that claim in 2019, he followed it up by saying the United States is the most warlike nation in the history of the world. While that claim is admittedly arguable to students of ancient history, it’s not without merit. However, with regard to modern times it is certainly accurate. In the past 300 years no other global superpower has come as close to achieving full spectrum dominance on such a scale as the United States.
Their revolving-door of perpetual war is not without benefit to the ruling class either. The immense profits reaped from continued bloodshed are what specify ours as a corporatist empire unlike any other. Recent reports have shown that returns on initial defense contractor investments in the war skyrocketed. War profiteer corporations made a killing off of senseless killing.
An investigation from The Intercept highlighted well over 900% return on investment for some of the largest defense contractors.
Specifically, Raytheon saw a 331% return, followed by General Dynamics at 625 percent. Boeing and Northrop Grumman were among the top three who broke the nine hundred percent return barrier, gaining 975% and 1,196% in returns respectively. Only surpassed by Lockheed Martin, who raked in a whopping 1,236% return on investment.
As revealed in a February 2021 report by Open Secrets — an independent nonpartisan research group dedicated to tracking political finances — These are the same corporations that spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress to influence foreign policy (for us peasants, that would be referred to as bribery).
The aforementioned “Big Five” contractors accounted for an incredible 50% of all defense lobbying in 2020, out of 200 companies. Totaling a combined 60 million dollars.
The short of it is this: weapons manufacturers pay the politicians who decide whether or not we stay at war to maintain conflict. So long as the bombs keep dropping, or someone somewhere needs “liberating”, everybody gets a slice of the blood-soaked pie.
That is the true face of the corporatist American Empire. And until that changes, nothing else will.
They handed us the Afghanistan catastrophe on a silver platter, built on 20 years of outright lies.
WikiLeaks’ recent revisit of their most damning of the Afghanistan war logs, originally published in 2010, demonstrates via the internal documents of the DoD and intelligence apparatus this overwhelming deceit was entirely intentional. Afghanistan was seen as a gold mine to be pillaged and they left it in shambles to do it.
And at the end of it all, the Taliban is stronger now than they have ever been. Americans stuck in their pseudo moralistic echo chambers can bicker back and forth about which of their favorite politicians would have better mismanaged the inevitably chaotic withdrawal. But the Taliban didn’t get that way overnight.
They didn’t launch a recruitment drive as soon as they heard we were packing up shop and reinvigorate themselves in a few short weeks. They were underground, waiting. They know from experience that long-term strategy oriented guerrilla warfare works.
After all, it was the CIA that trained their progenitor. Looks like it worked.
What’s more, despite as awful as the Taliban are, much of the Afghani people are embracing them as their only alternative to brutal US occupation, while others choose to flee the country. But how could this be, weren’t we supposed to be “saving” them? As it turns out, killing more civilians than the Taliban and ISIS combined is a pretty piss-poor strategy of endearing ourselves to the people of Afghanistan. There’s a thin line between terrorist and “freedom fighter”, and someone who just wants you to get out of their country and leave them alone.
Apparently when you pillage and conquest an innocent country for twenty years it radicalizes more “terrorists” than you could ever hope to defeat. Golly gee, who could have seen that coming?
Hopefully, just maybe, the American people will be the ones who see it coming the next time around — when the military industrial complex inevitably tries again.
They may already be trying again. As multiple “people’s uprising” groups, consisting of fighters also formally backed by Western interests, begin to make their presence known. The people of Afghanistan fear that a civil war could be looming on the horizon. Meanwhile, talking heads and “security experts” are already priming that narrative, ready to exploit it and turn the situation into Syria 2.0.
It is entirely possible, we must consider, that the massive surplus of US military equipment intentionally left behind, and now in the hands of the Taliban, was a calculated and deliberate action intended to exacerbate the crisis in a way that fits imperialist agendas.
These prospects have already gained a concerning amount of plausibility following the tragic attacks at Hamid Karzai International Airport on the 26th, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. Coincidentally just a day after Western media outlets warned of a potential attack.
This is in and of itself incredibly troublesome, as we should keep in mind the history of US intelligence deliberately deceiving the public regarding foreign attacks in recent years. As well as the several times proven and documented fact of the US and its allies supporting the Islamic State Terror organization.
We have to ask ourselves if we are witnessing a repeat of the same tactics. In any case we cannot afford to fall into the same trap yet again.
Enough with the pointless partisan bickering. Your preferred politician; a statist stooge, a glorified goon for the establishment, would not have – could not have, fixed this. Only we have that power, but we have to realize it. That is precisely why the current system keeps us divided against each other. Inundated with nonsensical sound bites that when put into actual context, on the backdrop of a very consistent imperialist foreign policy of the last 60 plus years, are absolutely hollow.
By now their playbook is obvious, we just have to read it. Read it and then burn it. Burn it by refusing to cooperate with their system anymore. By no longer complying, no longer empowering these psychopaths that steal our money to fund their atrocities.
They always tell us that people died for our right to vote but they never tell us that people died because we voted for them. As insulated as we are from the consequences that blood is still partially on the hands of those who continue to support their way of doing things. That statement isn’t meant to be condemnatory, but rather a reality check.
We have the power to change it. But only if we do it together. Change only starts with understanding — understanding the true nature of why wars are fought. That what we’re told and what really is, are as far apart as night and day. It starts with understanding the perspective of someone else living thousands of miles away that you might never meet. Understanding the fact that we are all just human, trying to survive.
Then act upon that understanding with compassion, and a resolute desire for peace. Because if you talk to any average person, no matter where in the world they are, the overwhelming majority of the time that is all any of us ever really want.
A personal favorite quote from Anne Frank sums it up quite nicely — “We all live our lives with the intention of being happy. We are all different and yet, all the same”
The enemy is not your fellow man. The enemy is the system that makes you think your fellow man is the enemy.
“While it may be easier to dismiss your enemy as evil, hearing them out on policy concerns is actually an amazing thing, because as long as your enemy is a subhuman psychopath that’s gonna attack you no matter what you do, this never ends. But if your enemy is a policy, however complicated — that we can work with.” — Former CIA Counterterror Officer Amaryllis Fox, addressing the nature of US foreign policy (see here).