{"168990":{"id":"168990","parent":"0","time":"1581639360","url":"http:\/\/truthout.org\/articles\/six-key-questions-we-should-be-asking-about-the-uss-never-ending-wars\/","category":"USA","title":"Six Key Questions We Should Be Asking About the Us's Never-Ending Wars","lead_image_url":"http:\/\/newsnet.fr\/img\/","hub":"newsnet","url-explicit":"six-key-questions-we-should-be-asking-about-the-us-s-never-ending-wars","admin":"newsnet","views":"119","priority":"3","length":"18659","lang":"en","content":"\u003Cp\u003EMy first question is simple enough: After 18-plus years of our forever wars, where are all the questions?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAlmost two decades of failing American wars across a startlingly large part of the planet and I'd like to know, for instance, who's been fired for them? Who's been impeached? Who's even paying attention?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EI mean, if another great power had been so fruitlessly fighting a largely undeclared set of conflicts under the label of \"the war on terror\" for so long, if it had wasted \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/watson.brown.edu\/costsofwar\/figures\/2019\/budgetary-costs-post-911-wars-through-fy2020-64-trillion\"\u003Etrillions\u003C\/a\u003Eof \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.militarytimes.com\/opinion\/commentary\/2020\/02\/06\/the-iraq-war-has-cost-the-usarly-2-trillion\"\u003Etaxpayer dollars\u003C\/a\u003E with no end in sight and next to no one in that land was spending much time debating or discussing the matter, what would you think? If nothing else, you'd have a few questions about that, right?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EWell, so many years later, I do have a few that continue to haunt me, even if I see them asked practically nowhere and, to my frustration, can't really answer them myself, not to my satisfaction anyway. In fact, since 2001 - with the exception of the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq when America's streets suddenly filled with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators asking a range of questions (\"How did USA's oil get under Iraq's sand?\" was a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/414\/signage_of_the_times\"\u003Etypical protest sign\u003C\/a\u003E of that moment) - our nevernding wars have seldom been questioned in this country. So think of what follows not as my thoughts on the war in question but on the war in questions.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cbig\u003EThe Age of Carnage\u003C\/big\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn October 2001, in response to the 9\/11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush launched a bombing campaign not just against al-Qaeda, a relatively small group partially holed up in Afghanistan, but the Taliban, an Islamist outfit that controlled much of the country. It was a radical decision not just to target the modestsized organization whose 19 hijackers, most of them Saudis, had taken out almost 3,000 Americans with a borrowed \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176183\/tomgram:_engelhardt,_a_9_11_retrospective:_washington's_15-year_air_war\"\u003Eair force\u003C\/a\u003E\" of commercial jets, but in the phrase of the moment to \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov\/news\/releases\/2007\/02\/20070215-1.html\"\u003Eliberate\u003C\/a\u003E\" Afghanistan. These days, who even remembers that, by then, Washington had \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/1984\/chalmers_johnson_on_the_cia_and_a_blowback_world\"\u003Ealready fought\u003C\/a\u003E a CIA-directed, Saudi-backed (and partially financed) war against the Soviet Union in that country for a full decade (1979-1989). To take on the Red Army then, Washington funded, armed, and supported \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/175010\/tomgram:_anand_gopal,_making_sense_of_the_taliban\"\u003Eextremist Islamist groups\u003C\/a\u003E, some of which would still be fighting in Afghanistan (against us) in the twenty-first century.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn the context of that all-American war, a rich young Saudi, Osama bin Laden, would, of course, form al-Qaeda, or \"the base.\" In 1989, Washington watched as the mighty Red Army limped out of Afghanistan, the \"\u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176519\"\u003Ebleeding wound\u003C\/a\u003E\" as its leader then called it. (Afghanistan wasn't known as \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2009\/01\/25\/weekinreview\/25cooper.html\"\u003Ethe graveyard of empires\u003C\/a\u003E\" for nothing.) In less than two years, that second great power of the Cold War era would implode, an event that would be \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176647\/tomgram:_andrew_bacevich,_on_misreading_victory\"\u003Econsidered\u003C\/a\u003E history's ultimate victory by many in Washington. President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who first committed the U.S. to its Afghan Wars, would, as last century ended, sum things up \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/dgibbs.faculty.arizona.edu\/brzezinski_interview\"\u003Ethis way\u003C\/a\u003E: \"What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?\"\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAfghanistan itself would be left in ruins as Washington turned its attention elsewhere, while various local warlords fought it out and, in response, the extremist Taliban rose to power.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003ENow, let me jump ahead a few years. In 2019, U.S. air power expended \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.stripes.com\/news\/middleast\/us-dropped-bombs-in-afghanistan-at-record-level-in-2019-1.616428\"\u003Emore munitions\u003C\/a\u003E (bombs and missiles) on that country than at any time since figures began to be kept in 2006. Despite that, during the last months of 2019, the Taliban (and other militant groups) launched \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2020\/01\/31\/world\/asia\/afghanistan-violence-taliban.html\"\u003Emore attacks\u003C\/a\u003E on U.S.-and-NATO-trained-and-financed Afghan security forces than at any time since 2010 when (again) records began to be kept. And it tells you something about our American world that, though you could have found both those stories in the news if you were looking carefully, neither was considered worthy of major coverage, front-page headlines, or real attention. All these years later, it won't surprise you to know that such ho-hum reporting is just par for the course. And when it comes to either of those two on-the-record realities, you certainly would be hard-pressed to find a serious editorial expression of outrage or much of anything else about them in the media.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAt 18-plus years or, if you prefer to combine Washington's two Afghan wars, 28-plus years, we're talking about the longest American war in history. The Civil War lasted four years. The American part of World War II, another four. The Korean War less than four (though it never officially ended). The Vietnam War, from the moment the first significant contingent of U.S. advisors arrived, 14, and from the moment the first major U.S. troop contingents arrived, perhaps a decade. In the Trump era, as those air strikes rise, there has been a great deal of talk about possible \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2020\/02\/11\/world\/asia\/afghanistan-taliban-peace-deal.html\"\u003Epeace\u003C\/a\u003E\" and an American withdrawal from that country. Peace, however, has now seemingly come to be defined in Washington as \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2020\/02\/05\/world\/asia\/nato-afghanistan-troops.html?searchResultPosition=2\"\u003Ea reduction\u003C\/a\u003E of American forces from approximately 12,000 to about 8,500 (and that's without counting either private military contractors or CIA personnel there).\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EMeanwhile, of course, the war on terror that began in Afghanistan now stretches from the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176642\/tomgram:_danny_sjursen,_the_(failed)_war_on_terror's_precursor\"\u003EPhilippines\u003C\/a\u003E across the Greater Middle East and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.defenseone.com\/ideas\/2019\/10\/hidden-damage-trumpssecret-warsomalia\/160339\"\u003Edeep\u003C\/a\u003E into the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/176272\/tomgram:_nick_turse,_the_u.s._military_moves_deeper_into_africa\"\u003Eheart of Africa\u003C\/a\u003E. Worse yet, it still threatens to expand into a war of some sort with Iran - and that, mind you, is under the ministrations of an officially \"antiwar\" president who has nonetheless \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2019\/10\/21\/world\/middleeast\/us-troops-deployments.html\"\u003Eupped\u003C\/a\u003E American military personnel in the Middle East to record levels in recent years.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EOf course, this is a story that you undoubtedly know fairly well. Who, in a sense, doesn't? But it's also a story that, so many years and so much - to use a word once-favored by our president - \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.theguardian.com\/commentisfree\/2019\/aug\/04\/trump-promisednd-american-carnage-daytonl-paso\"\u003Ecarnage\u003C\/a\u003E\" later, should raise an endless series of disturbing and unnerving questions here. And that it doesn't, should raise questions in itself, shouldn't it?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EStill, in a country where opposition to endless war seems constantly to falter or fade out amid a media universe in which Donald Trump's latest tweet can top any war news, it seems potentially useful to raise some of those questions - at least the ones that occur to me - and perhaps for you to do the same. Isn't it time, after all, for Americans to ask a few questions about war, Americanstyle, in what might be thought of as the post-9\/11 age of carnage?\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EIn any case, here are six of mine to which, as I said, I don't really have the answers. Maybe you do.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003EHere goes:\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Col\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EWhen the Bush administration launched that invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and followed it up with an invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, did we, in some curious fashion, really invade and occupy ourselves?\u003C\/i\u003E Of course, in these years, across the Greater Middle East and Africa, the U.S. played a remarkable role in creating chaos in country after country, leading to \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/176094\/tomgram:_engelhardt,_tomorrow's_news_today\"\u003Efailed states\u003C\/a\u003E, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.unhcr.org\/en-us\/figures-at-a-glance.html\"\u003Edisplaced people\u003C\/a\u003E in staggering numbers, economic disarray, and the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nytimes.com\/2018\/07\/06\/world\/middleeast\/isis-global-terrorism.html\"\u003Espread\u003C\/a\u003E of terror groups. But the question is: Did the self-proclaimed most \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/time.com\/4474619\/read-hillary-clinton-american-legionspeech\"\u003Eexceptional\u003C\/a\u003E and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.voanews.com\/usa\/obama-us-one-indispensable-nation-world-affairs\"\u003Eindispensable\u003C\/a\u003E nation on the planet do a version of the same thing to itself in the process? After all, by 2016, the disarray in this country was striking enough and had spread far enough, amid historic economic inequality, social division, partisan divides, and growing anger, that Americans elected as president (if not quite by a majority) a man who had run not on American greatness but on \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/176133\/tomgram:_engelhardt,_has_the_american_age_of_decline_begun\"\u003EAmerican decline\u003C\/a\u003E. He promised to make this country great \u003Ci\u003Eagain\u003C\/i\u003E. (His declinist credentials were not much noted at the time, except among the heartland Americans who voted for him.) So, ask yourself: Would President Donald Trump \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176645\/tomgram:_engelhardt,_on_hijacking_history\"\u003Ehave been possible\u003C\/a\u003E if the Bush administration had simply gone after al-Qaeda on September 12, 2001, and left it at that? Since January 2017, under the tutelage of that \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.usatoday.com\/story\/news\/politics\/elections\/2019\/07\/11\/trump-again-calls-himselfstable-genius\/1703154001\"\u003Every stable genius\u003C\/a\u003E,\" the U.S. political (and possibly global economic) system has, of course, begun to crack open. Is there any connection to those forever wars?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EHas there ever been a truly great power in history, still at or near the height of its militarily prowess, that couldn't win a war?\u003C\/i\u003E Sure, great imperial powers from the Romans to the Chinese to the British sometimes didn't win specific wars despite their seeming military dominance, but not a single one? Could that be historically unprecedented and, if so, what does it tell us about our moment? How has the country proclaimed by its leaders to have the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/175337\/tomgram:_william_astore,_we're_number_one_(in_self-promotion)\"\u003Efinest fighting force\u003C\/a\u003E the world has ever known won nothing in more than 18 years of unceasing global battle?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EHow and why did the \"hearts and minds\" factor move from the nationalist left in the twentieth century to the Islamist right in the twenty-first?\u003C\/i\u003E The anti-colonial struggles against imperial powers that culminated in America's first great losing war in Vietnam (think of Korea as kind of a tie) were invariably fought by leftist and communist groups. And whatever the military force arrayed against them, they regularly captured - in that classic Vietnamra phrase - \"the hearts and minds\" of what were then called \"Third World\" peoples and repeatedly outlasted far better armed powers, including, in the case of Vietnam, the United States. In a word, they had the moxie in such conflicts and it didn't matter that, by the most obvious measures of military power, they were at a vast disadvantage. In the twenty-first century, similar wars are still being fought in a remarkably comparable fashion, Afghanistan being the most obvious. Again, the weaponry, the money, everything that might seem to pass for the works has been the property of Washington and yet that ability to win local \"hearts and minds\" has remained in the hands of the rebels. But what I wonder about is how exactly that moxie passed from the nationalist left to the extremist religious right in this century and what exactly was our role, intended or not, in all this?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EWhen it comes to preparations for war, why can't we ever stop?\u003C\/i\u003E After all, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended in 1991, the United States essentially had no enemies left on the planet. Yet Washington continued essentially an arms race of one with a finish line so distant - the bomber of 2018, Earthspanning weapons systems, and weaponry for the heavens of perhaps 2050 - as to imply eternity. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex surrounding it, including mega-arms manufacturers, advanced weapons labs, university science centers, and the official or semi-official think tanks that churned out strategies for future military domination, went right on without an enemy in sight. In fact, in late 2002, preparing for his coming invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush had to cook up an \"\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.politico.com\/story\/2019\/01\/29\/bush-axis-ofvil-2002-1127725\"\u003Eaxis of evil\u003C\/a\u003E\" - Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, two of which were mortal enemies and the third unrelated in any significant way to either of them - as a justification for what was to come, militarily speaking. Almost 20 years later, investing as much in its military as the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.pgpf.org\/chart-archive\/0053_defense-comparison\"\u003Enext seven countries\u003C\/a\u003E combined, updating and upgrading its nuclear arsenal to the tune of \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.armscontrol.org\/factsheets\/USNuclearModernization\"\u003E$1.7 trillion\u003C\/a\u003E in the coming decades (and having \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/portside.org\/2020-02-02\/us-military-has-deployedw-nuclear-weapon-hasxperts-worried-about-war-reportsays\"\u003Ejust deployed\u003C\/a\u003E a new \"low-yield\" nuclear weapon), and still investing \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176659\/tomgram:_william_astore,_the_self-defeating_military\"\u003Estaggering sums\u003C\/a\u003E in its planes, tanks, aircraft carriers, and the like, the U.S. military now seems intent (without leaving its forever wars) on \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176570\/tomgram:_michael_klare,_fighting_the_next_war,_not_the_last\"\u003Ereturning\u003C\/a\u003E to the era of the Cold War as well. \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/post\/176661\/tomgram:_michael_klare,_war_in_the_arctic\"\u003EFace-offs\u003C\/a\u003E against Russia and China are now the military order of the day in what seems like a d\u00e9j\u00e0-vu-all-over-again situation. I'm just curious, but isn't it ever all over?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EHow can Washington's war system and the military-industrial complex across the country continue to turn failure in war into success and endless dollars at home?\u003C\/i\u003E Honestly, the one thing in America that \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176648\/tomgram:_engelhardt,_victory_at_last!\"\u003Eclearly works\u003C\/a\u003E right now is the U.S. military (putting aside those wars abroad). We may \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.commondreams.org\/views\/2019\/07\/26\/trump-promised-massive-infrastructure-projects-instead-weve-gotten-nothing\"\u003Eno longer\u003C\/a\u003E invest in \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.infrastructurereportcard.org\"\u003Edomestic infrastructure\u003C\/a\u003E, but in that military and the giant corporate weapons makers that go with it? You bet! They are the true success stories of the twenty-first century if you're talking about dollars invested, weaponry bought, and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176653\/tomgram:_mandy_smithberger,_a_recipe_for_disaster\"\u003Erevolving doors\u003C\/a\u003E greased. On the face of it, failure is the new success and few in this country seem to blink when it comes to any of that. How come?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003Cli\u003E\u003Ci\u003EWhy doesn't the reality of those wars of ours ever really seem to sink in here?\u003C\/i\u003E This, to my mind, is at least partially a question about media coverage. Yes, every now and then (as with the \u003Ci\u003EWashington Post\u003C\/i\u003E's \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.washingtonpost.com\/graphics\/2019\/investigations\/afghanistan-papers\/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents\"\u003EAfghanistan Papers\u003C\/a\u003E last December), America's forever wars briefly break through and get some attention. And yes, if you're a war-coverage news jockey, you can find plenty of daily reports on aspects of our wars in the media. But isn't it surprising how much of that coverage is essentially a kind of background hum, like Muzak in an elevator? Unless the president personally decides to \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176649\/tomgram:_allegra_harpootlian,_droning_the_world\"\u003Edrone assassinate\u003C\/a\u003E an Iranian major general and prospective future leader of that country, our wars simply drone on, barely attended to (unless, of course, you happen to be in the U.S. military or a \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.tomdispatch.com\/blog\/176633\/tomgram:_andrea_mazzarino,_what_my_personal_war_costs_me\"\u003Emilitary spouse\u003C\/a\u003E or child). Eighteen years of failed wars and so many trillions of dollars later, wouldn't you have expected something else?\u003C\/li\u003E\u003C\/ol\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003ESo those are my six questions, the most obvious things that puzzle me about what may be the strangest aspect of this American world of ours, those nevernding wars and the system that goes with them. To begin to answer them, however, would mean beginning to think about ourselves and this country in a different way.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/truthout.org\/donate\"\u003EThe stakes have never been higher As attacks on women's rights, health care, the environment and democracy intensify, we're going to need truth-telling journalists more than ever. At Truthout, unlike most media, our journalism is free from government and corporate influence and censorship. But this is only sustainable if we have your support. If you like what you're reading or just value what we do, will you take a few seconds to contribute to our work? Donate Now\u003C\/a\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\nTo stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/eepurl.com\/lsFRj\"\u003Ehere\u003C\/a\u003E. \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/truthout.org\/authors\/tomngelhardt\"\u003ETom Engelhardt\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003ETom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of \u003Ci\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.amazon.com\/dp\/1608461548\/ref=nosim\/?tag=tomdispatch-20\"\u003EThe United States of Fear\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/i\u003E as well as \u003Ci\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.amazon.com\/dp\/155849586X\/ref=nosim\/?tag=tomdispatch-20\"\u003EThe End of Victory Culture\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/i\u003E, runs The Nation Institute's \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/TomDispatch.com\"\u003ETomDispatch\u003C\/a\u003E. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is \u003Ci\u003ETerminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050\u003C\/i\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/truthout.org\/articles\/six-key-questions-we-should-be-asking-about-the-uss-never-ending-wars\/\"\u003Etruthout.org\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}}