laming everything on a handful of people at
the top, no matter how destructive and abusive they've been,
misses a critical point. Systems tend to self-perpetuate. Remove
one player and the next comes in to ensure business as usual.
Remove Rumsfeld, a man who helped prop up
Hussein in the 80's and skewed intelligence towards war, and who
do you get? Robert Gates, a man who helped prop up Hussein in
the 80's and skewed intelligence towards war.
Replacing those in power won't help if the
power structure itself doesn't change. And that means addressing
how our own actions maintain this dysfunctional system.
Decades ago, Rumsfeld and Cheney hoodwinked
the American people with fearmongering lies about Soviet
military capability, setting the country on a path of paranoia
and weapons build-up. 911 let them pull the exact same trick
again, with a public more focused on macho vigilantism than on
facts and diplomacy.
But the dirty little secret remains: a
combative foreign policy requires perpetual conflict. After all,
tough-talking cowboys and weapons manufacturers have little
value in times of peace, so it's in their interest to foment
never-ending strife. Maybe that's why top Pentagon strategist
Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schissler recently warned Americans
to prepare for a 50-100 year
The Democrats also seem to be hunkering down
for a long-term battle against evildoers; their "Six for '06"
goals call for doubling the size of "Special Forces to destroy
Osama bin Laden and terrorist networks like al Qaeda." An
October 2006 report from the Democratic Leadership Council's
Progressive Policy Institute additionally noted: "
America needs a bigger and better military ... Democrats
should step forward with a plan to repair the damage, by adding
more troops, replenishing depleted stocks of equipment, and
reorganizing the force around the new missions of unconventional
warfare, counterinsurgency, and civil reconstruction."
The wild card in this march towards military
domination remains Iran. Bush has already promised Israel
protection if it bombs Iran's alleged nuclear facilities, and
just this week, Congress voted to
double the US stockpiles of military equipment in Israel
(turns out that Israel had used much of the US equipment during
its war with Lebanon this summer). Israeli prime minister Ehud
Olmert's recent admission that Israel possesses nuclear weapons
is not expected to impact the billions in aid the country
receives each year either, even though the US officially bans
funding to those producing weapons of mass destruction.
While US involvement in an attack on Iran
would invite Armageddon, Bush is backed into a corner
domestically and may feel he doesn't have a whole lot to lose.
Leading Democrats (including Clinton and Obama) have also called
for the "military option" to be available for Iran, and would
most likely push for troops/weapons to protect Israel from
Some consider war with Iran as inevitable,
but it isn't. The results would be catastrophic and the
diplomatic options have not been adequately explored. More to
the point, we must consider how the very legitimizing of
perpetual conflict is devastating our national security. The
Pentagon's budget currently runs over $430 billion per year, not
including the roughly $140 billion spent in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and Democrats are expected to increase the military
budget next year. Meanwhile, domestic social programs are being
slashed to compensate for war spending and our military has
become severely weakened.
$430 billion per year.
The upshot? We the people need to retire
tough-talking cowboys in both political parties and dump the
idea that perpetual conflict is a given. We have to hound
members of the 110th Congress to pursue every possible option
for peace in the Middle East and we must confront the fear of
faceless enemies which legitimizes rollbacks in our own civil
liberties. Above all, we must hold ourselves accountable not to
be fooled into war again.
Heather Wokusch is the author of
The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference
Now (Volumes 1 & 2), and can be reached via her site at