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Change We Can Believe In, X

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Change we can believe in: Perpetual war

The death Saturday of political scientist Chalmers Johnson led to reflections by, among others, James Fallows, Steve Clemons, and Daniel Larison. Larison quotes the following passage from Johnson’s 2004 book The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic:

If present trends continue, four sorrows, it seems to me, are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative impact guarantees that the United States will cease to bear any resemblance to the country once outlined in our Constitution. First there will be a state of perpetual war leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a growing reliance on weapons of mass destruction as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut. Second, there will be a loss of democracy
and constitutional rights as the presidency fully eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from an
‘executive branch’ of government into something more like a Pentagonized presidency. Third, an already
well-shredded principle of truthfulness will increasingly be replaced by a system of propaganda, disinformation, and glorification of war, power, and the military legions. Lastly, there will be bankruptcy, as we pour our economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchange the education, health, and safety of our fellow citizens.

Reading this yesterday, I was reminded of Saturday’s news from the NATO meeting in Lisbon that we will be in Afghanistan until at least 2014:

NATO and Afghanistan agreed Saturday to the goal of a phased transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014, but NATO officials acknowledged that allied forces would remain in Afghanistan, at least in a support role, well beyond that date.

NATO and American officials also warned that if Afghanistan had not made sufficient progress in managing its own security, 2014 was not a hard and fast deadline for the end of combat operations.

“We will stay after transition in a supporting role,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO, said at a news conference on Saturday after signing a long-term security agreement with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.

NATO officials had previously said it was likely that tens of thousands of support troops would remain in Afghanistan past 2014 to provide training and other security guarantees to Kabul.

. . .

Mr. Obama also confirmed the American military, which now has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, would remain in some form. “Certainly, our footprint will have been significantly reduced,” he said. “But beyond that, you know, it’s hard to anticipate exactly what is going to be necessary.”

It would appear that President Obama anticipates being at war — should he be re-elected — for the full eight years of his presidency. That’s as perpetual as it gets. And he’s well down the road to visits of Johnson’s other three sorrows.

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