War Mania

The hierarchy has so rigged our war machine that it now operates on autopilot, perpetuating our national war mania.

Our nation is suffering a decades-long compulsion to wage war. It’s not that the American people are crazed for constant and senseless military conflict; the hierarchy has so rigged our war machine that it now operates on autopilot, perpetually dispatching our combat forces into hostilities with little reason, public awareness or national consensus.

Ponder this: Since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the U.S. has been in multiple wars every single day. How many can you name? Sure, we hear about the big conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, but here’s a sobering statistic: More than 200,000 U.S. troops are now deployed for war in at least 177 countries and territories. I say “at least” because, as the respected military publication Stars and Stripes reveals, nearly 44,000 additional troops are assigned to places the Pentagon simply lists as “unknown.” Of course, the hierarchy knows where these secret military actions are, but We the People are not to be told.

One of President Donald Trump’s biggest applause lines in the 2016 election was his pledge to get the U.S. out of “endless wars.” Even I cheered for him on that! It was such a popular promise that he has reprised it at his many pep rallies, basking in roars of approval. In fact, no wars have actually ended, and all the while, Trump has been quietly deploying more troops into more war zones.

Last fall, one of his deceitful ploys played out in Syria. Trump triumphantly announced he was pulling the entire U.S. contingent of 1,000 combatants out of the war mayhem in that bedeviled land: “WE ARE BRINGING OUR SOLDIERS BACK HOME,” he tweeted in all caps to his faithful believers. But then the “commander’s” defense secretary corrected him by saying that a couple hundred troops and a big stockpile of our weaponry would stay “to ensure we secure the oil field” held by Syria. Promises aside, oil rules.

Wait, there’s more continuing war mania. The rest of our forces in Syria were not really coming home but merely being shifted next door — to Iraq, on Syria’s eastern border. Also, former Trump Mideast war envoy Brett McGurk pointed out that Trump had quietly added 14,000 troops to the Middle East in the previous four months: “(H)e can’t tell his political rallies that he’s getting troops out of endless wars when he’s sending 14 times the amount back into the region.” But he did.

Wait again. Another sleight of hand in the presidential war game is to twist the definition of “foreign entanglements,” against which George Washington cautioned future presidents. To reinforce that warning, Congress passed the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The act specifically bars trigger-happy presidents from injecting America’s troops and treasure into foreign hostilities without informing Congress and getting its timely approval. Yet, almost every president since has used semantic legalisms to slip out of this democratic requirement and wage war by executive fiat. Trump, for example, has us mired in Yemen’s horrific civil war, where we’re acting as pawns of the Saudi royals who are in the third year of a bloody assault to establish themselves as the region’s alpha dog. This war has directly killed more than 100,000 people and created an out-of-control famine that has left some 10 million civilians on the brink of death.

The White House, though, grinds ahead, ignoring the blood on its hands, the spreading humanitarian crisis of mass starvation and any responsibility to our own rule of law (specifically, the War Powers Resolution). No need to seek congressional authority, the Trumpers assert, because they’re technically not waging a “war.” The U.S. forces, drones, satellite targeting, strategic planning, etc., are merely “assisting” the Saudis, not directly killing. In response, a bipartisan measure to force an end to our military involvement in Yemen (introduced by congressional champions of constitutional rule Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna) passed in both the House and Senate last April. But President “Stop the Endless Wars” vetoed it as a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

Jim Hightower