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The Warfare State is Part of Us

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message 1: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Héctor "One day in 1969, a biologist named George Wald, who had won a Nobel Prize, visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- the biggest military contractor in academia -- and gave a speech. "Our government has become preoccupied with death," he said, "with the business of killing and being killed." That preoccupation has fluctuated, but in essence it has persisted. While speaking of a far-off war and a nuclear arsenal certain to remain in place after the war's end, Wald pointed out: "We are under repeated pressure to accept things that are presented to us as settled -- decisions that have been made." Today, in similar ways, our government is preoccupied and we are pressurized. The grisly commerce of killing -- whether through carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan or through the deadly shredding of social safety-nets at home -- thrives on aggressive war and on the perverse realpolitik of "national security" that brandishes the Pentagon's weaponry against the world. At least tacitly, we accept so much that threatens to destroy anything and everything. As it happened, for reasons both "personal" and "political" -- more accurately, for reasons indistinguishable between the two -- my own life fell apart and began to reassemble itself during the same season of 1969 when George Wald gave his speech, which he called "A Generation in Search of a Future." Political and personal histories are usually kept separate -- in how we're taught, how we speak and even how we think. But I've become very skeptical of the categories. They may not be much more than illusions we've been conned into going through the motions of believing. We actually live in concentric spheres, and "politics" suffuses households as well as what Martin Luther King Jr. called "The World House." Under that heading, he wrote in 1967: "When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. When we foolishly minimize the internal of our lives and maximize the external, we sign the warrant for our own day of doom. Our hope for creative living in this world house that we have inherited lies in our ability to re-establish the moral ends of our lives in personal character and social justice. Without this spiritual and moral reawakening we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our own instruments." While trying to understand the essence of what so many Americans have witnessed over the last half century, I worked on a book (titled "Made Love, Got War") that sifts through the last 50 years of the warfare state... and, in the process, through my own life. I haven't learned as much as I would have liked, but some patterns emerged -- persistent and pervasive since the middle of the 20th century. The warfare state doesn't come and go. It can't be defeated on Election Day. Like it or not, it's at the core of the United States -- and it has infiltrated our very being. What we've tolerated has become part of us. What we accept, however reluctantly, seeps inward. In the long run, passivity can easily ratify even what we may condemn. And meanwhile, in the words of Thomas Merton, "It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared." The triumph of the warfare state degrades and suppresses us all. Even before the weapons perform as guaranteed."

Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
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message 2: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Héctor Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a Democrat and the majority leader, voted for the proposal after initially urging caution. "We certainly don't want to be led down the path, slowly but surely, until we wind up with the situation like we have in Iraq today," he said Tuesday. "So I am going to be very, very cautious." Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, warned Tuesday that an early draft of the proposal "could be read as tantamount to a declaration of war." "What do we do with terrorist organizations if they are involved against us?" Mr. Webb asked in a speech on Tuesday. "We attack them." Even with the two paragraphs deleted, Mr. Webb voted against the resolution. So did a number of other Democrats who are among the harshest critics of the Bush administration's handling of the war. The measure passed by a vote of 76 to 22.
Among those voting against it was Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said he feared that the administration could use the measure to justify military action against Iran.

Senate Urges Bush to Declare Iran Guard a Terrorist Group by David M. Heszenhorn in:

message 3: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Héctor The long-awaited "progress report" of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the status of the occupation of Iraq has been made, providing Americans, via the compliant media, with the spectacle of loyal Bush yes men offering faith-based analysis in lieu of fact-based assessment. In the days and weeks that have since passed, two things have become clear: Neither Congress nor the American people (including the antiwar movement) have a plan or the gumption to confront President Bush in anything more than cosmetic fashion over the war in Iraq, and while those charged with oversight mill about looking to score cheap political points and/or save face, the administration continues its march toward conflict with Iran unimpeded. Bush responded to the Petraeus report by indicating that he would be inclined to start reducing the level of U.S. forces in Iraq sometime soon (maybe December, maybe the spring of 2008). But the bottom line is that the troop levels in Iraq keep expanding, as does the infrastructure of perpetual occupation. The Democrats in Congress are focused on winning the White House in 2008, not stopping a failed war, and as such they not only refuse to decisively confront the president on Iraq, they are trying to out-posture him over who would be the tougher opponent of an expansionist Iran. Here's the danger: While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition. Of the two problems (the reality of Iraq, the potential of Iran), Iran is by far the more important. The war in Iraq isn't going to expand tenfold overnight. By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush's bad policy will simply keep failing. War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented. We are talking about the potential for conflict at this time, not the reality of war. But time is not on the side of peace.

Iraq Will Have to Wait by Scott Ritter in:

message 4: by Enespaniol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Enespaniol | 23 comments In her view – and that of 75 other members of the U.S. Senate – President Bush hasn't been aggressive or hasty enough in designating a large part of the Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards, as an international terrorist organization. The Senate resolution, approved on Sept. 26, recounts allegations that elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have supplied Iraqi Shiite militias with "explosively formed penetrator" bombs that have shattered U.S. armored vehicles and killed American troops. In response, the Senate resolution calls on President Bush to list the Revolutionary Guards as "specially designated global terrorists." In opposing the resolution, Sen. James Webb, D-Virginia, warned that the move could be tantamount to a declaration of war. Despite Webb's protest, 29 Democrats joined Republicans and neoconservative Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to pass the "sense of the Senate" resolution. The Democrats egging Bush on included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, California's Dianne Feinstein and Michigan's Carl Levin. Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar of Indiana were the only Republicans voting no. Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut also opposed the measure. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was absent but said he would have voted against it. But Hillary Clinton, who also voted to grant Bush the authority to go to war with Iraq in 2002 and staunchly supported the war for the next three years before reinventing herself as an Iraq War critic, now has reverted to her old hawkish self, jumping out ahead of Bush in urging a more hostile policy toward Iran. Besides the extraordinary notion that Bush needs prodding into greater belligerence, there is the dangerous definitional problem of throwing the broad cloak of "terrorism" over Iraqis, who are resisting a U.S. military invasion force, and their alleged Iranian allies.
The classic definition of terrorism is violence directed against civilians to make a political point. The term shouldn't be applied to an indigenous population fighting an irregular war against a foreign occupying army, since that would have made everyone from George Washington to the French Resistance to the Afghanis confronting the Soviet occupation "terrorists."

Hillary Prods Bush to Go After Iran by
Robert Parry:

message 5: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Héctor Iran is back at the top of the news. Almost every day, we hear denunciations by U.S. government officials of the misdeeds of Iran, with a clear subtext that the military option is near. We read of the increased readiness of U.S. air and naval forces for an attack. The blogosphere is replete with messages protesting against such an attack. Is it about to happen? And would it be "rational"?
Rationality depends on one's objectives. So let us analyze first what might be the objectives of those who seem to be proposing such an attack, as well as those in power who are against the idea. And then let us look at the probable consequences of an attack, were it to happen. There seem to be two principal groups of proponents of an attack -- Vice-President Cheney and his friends; the present government of Israel and its friends. The Israelis have made no secret of the fact that they have believed for a long time that Iran is proceeding rapidly to obtaining nuclear armaments and that this represents an enormous danger for the state of Israel. They wish someone to bomb Iranian installations. They would prefer that it be the United States that does this rather than they themselves, both because the United States has more airpower at its disposal and because this would be less damaging politically for Israel. But they have threatened to do it themselves, if the United States doesn't do it soon. From the Israeli point of view, this would be a repeat of what they consider their successful bombing of the Iraqi installation of Osirak in 1981. This objective is so important for the Israelis that it has come to public notice recently that, in 2002-2003, Israel was urging the United States to attack Iran before they attacked Iraq. Cheney probably has a different objective. He and his friends may be less confident that an attack on Iran would be as successful as the Israeli attack on Iraq in 1981. Cheney's objective is less what would happen as a result in Iran than what would happen in the United States. Cheney probably expects that an attack on Iran would increase Republican prospects in 2009, advance the internal militarization of the United States, strengthen further the presidency, and weaken further civil liberties. If this is the objective, then limited advantage in Iran itself would be irrelevant. It is clear that there are powerful forces opposed to such an attack. Within the U.S. government, the neo-con presence is much diminished. It seems that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff all think it is a bad idea. It is probable that important corporate leaders think so too, and that probably means that Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson also is opposed. United States allies, including the British, also seem to be opposed to military action. And it is obvious that the Iraqi government is opposed to the idea. So it is Cheney and the Israelis versus all the rest.

Attacking Iran on the Agenda? by Immanuel Wallerstein. Complete text in:

message 6: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Héctor Last week, the Senate -- via the Kyl-Lieberman Senate resolution -- handed the Bush Administration a close-to-blank check for military strikes against Iran. The resolution accuses Iran of fighting "a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq." (Hillary Clinton, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, voted for it.) Sy Hersh's chilling article in this week's New Yorker ("The Administration's Plan for Iran") shows how the Administration may attempt to use that resolution as it redefines its military and political justifications for attacking Iran.
Hersh reports that the White House has requested that the Joint Chiefs redraw its plans for a possible attack on Iran. Confronted with a lack of public support for a major bombing campaign, with the intelligence community's assessment that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a nuclear bomb, and the growing realization in Washington that Iran is "the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq," the Administration has been marketing a new and dangerous line. The view that has taken hold in the White House, Hersh writes, is "that if many of America's problems [in Iraq] are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians." As a result, "What had been presented primarily as a counterproliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism." The focus is no longer broad bombing attacks--with targets including Iran's known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure cites. Instead, " the emphasis is on 'surgical' strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which the Administration claims, have been a source of attacks on Americans in Iraq."
The revised bombing plan, "with its tightened focus on counterterrorism, is gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon," Hersh writes. One former senior intelligence official tells Hersh, " Cheney's option is now for a fast in and out--for surgical strikes." Hersh is careful to state that he was "repeatedly cautioned in interviews" that Bush has yet to issue the "execute order" that is required for military operations inside Iran--"and such an order may never be issued." But, he continues, " there has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning."

Shifting Targets by Katrina Vanden Heuvel in:

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