Point of View Columns

World War III

Ever since the end of World War II most people who care about such things have sought to avoid World War III. The apocalyptic vision of a global conflagration has been enough to inspire the founding of the United Nations and literally hundreds of peace keeping missions. Yet, despite the best efforts of the well-intentioned World War III seems to have begun with the war against women in the United States, clouds of war hovering over Iran and Syria and this country mired in the muck of never ending conflict in Afghanistan. It seems that the dogs of war run silent these days.

In the United States a vitriolic campaign against the healthcare rights of women has flooded the Teapublican Party like the spill from a broken sewage pipe. Battles fought long ago are now being resumed with slogans reeking of self-righteous moral fascism.

As always, poor women are the grist for this particularly loathsome mill, but it should be clear that all women are at risk of being in the crosshairs of the right wing of the right wing. It has been proven multiple times that to the extent that women have control over their bodies and reproduction they have a greater opportunity to make affirmative, positive decisions about their future. When that control is limited or taken away, women are shackled to joyless lives with no prospect for a better tomorrow.

While the yahoo candidates of the G.O.Tea Party hoot and holler about abortion and contraception, the real agenda seems to be to deny women of basic healthcare services that are totally unrelated. But we should be clear that the milling mob of Teapublican zealots who advocate transvaginal ultrasound procedures are not only seeking to limit the number of abortions, they are also seeking to humiliate and subjugate women to the will of self-appointed moral czars. As you read this column the war on women is being fought throughout this country and in too many places around this world.

The fact that this country has been at war (in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere) for over a decade has anesthetized Americans to the cost of war. During the past decade over a trillion dollars have been spent and thousands of Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghan citizens have died.

Most Americans glimpse the war between episodes of “American Idol” or during the “salute to the troops” at half time of the Super Bowl. The cost of blood and treasure is quite simply unknown to most of us.

And this empowers the G.O.Tea Party presidential candidates to once again bang the nearly broken drums of war in support of further conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan. And as they utter words of war they lull too many Americans into a sense of omnipotence cushioned with the security of knowing that the wars they embrace will never come to the shores of this country – as if 9/11 never really happened.

The former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence unit has stated that a war with Iran is a foolish endeavor. American military leaders can’t even begin to determine what a useful military intervention in Syria might look like. But the chicken hawk warriors who have never fought a war, who have never sent men or women to their deaths, feel that it is somehow useful to urge this country into another bloodbath.

And all the while this country is sinking deeper and deeper into the madness that is the war in Afghanistan. After being at war for a decade it should be no mystery that American troops would urinate on corpses, burn Korans or go totally crazy and massacre women and children in their sleep. It is impossible to wade into the fog of war and see clearly.

There is no argument that could possibly justify American troops staying and dying in Afghanistan one more day. This country’s security will not be enhanced next week, next month or next year if U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan. But the price paid in blood and treasure is not worth the gossamer veneer of national security that is supposed to justify this mission.

The world is at war in a more insidious and dangerous way than anyone could have imagined. War has always been the last alternative of a sane society. War is now a choice that is embraced too easily and too often. In playing with the fire of death and battle it is all too possible that a conflagration will begin that will not be extinguished easily.

Point of View Columns

Muffling the Drums of War

For almost three full years we have heard the squawks and screeches of the chicken hawks with Iran as their target. These are politicians, pundits and commentators who never hesitate to send young men and women to die for causes that are false, worthless or ultimately irrelevant to the security of the United States. For these fake Bravehearts, maintaining the image of this country as an invincible warrior nation is worth the sacrifice of someone else’s blood and the treasure of this nation.

Now we are starting to hear otherwise reasonable leaders speaking about all options being “on the table” as if we were engaged in some three dimensional global chess match. The so-called threat of Iran coming into possession of nuclear weapons is morphing into a cause worthy of yet another American Crusade, even though such a venture would make prior incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan seem like basic training in comparison.

This is all starting to sound like “Ground Hog Day” with gunfire as a soundtrack. During the run up to the war in Vietnam Americans were told that national security was at stake. If the communists weren’t stopped before they got to Hanoi they would be scurrying through the streets of Los Angeles in the blink of an eye.

During the first war in Iraq we were told that the future of America rested with our ability to help a distinctly non-democratic monarchy withstand Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army. How Kuwait became so important was never cleared up, even after the war that was fought to save it.

Before the second war in Iraq we were told that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. We were also told that he was an ally of Al Qaeda which had infamously attacked the United States in Kenya, Tanzania and on American soil. These turned out to be outright lies – not mistakes in intelligence. The Bush Administration never had any proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the alliance with Al Qaeda was a complete fabrication.

The harm done by these lies, fables, fabrications and deceptions is virtually incalculable. Over 50,000 American troops died in Vietnam. Trillions of dollars were spent on the two Iraqi wars with close to 5,000 military deaths and tens of thousands of permanently maimed men and women. And, of course, there is the devastation and ruin that has been visited upon the people of Iraq.

We are being told that a military option is “on the table” when it comes to Iran because it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear power. If Iran were to actually “weaponize” nuclear materials and if it were to develop a nuclear bomb and if it were to successfully build a reliable delivery system (a lot of “ifs”), how does that automatically translate into Armageddon?

After all, not every country that owns nuclear weapons is a friend of the United States or its interests. Keep in mind that Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan within site of the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. Although it receives billions of dollars in aid from the United States, elements of the Pakistani government regularly express their displeasure with this country. And Pakistan is a nuclear power. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to its nuclear capacity.

Keep in mind that the People’s Republic of China is a nuclear power. This would be the same China that regularly engages in espionage against the United States. This would be the same China that is very clear in stating its opposition to American interests in venues around the world. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to Chinese nuclear capacity.

For the United States to take military action against Iran to keep it from possessing nuclear weapons would create an especially satanic version of irony. After all, for all its proclamations regarding the horrors of nuclear weaponry, the United States is still the only country in the history of the Planet Earth that has ever used nuclear weapons against another country.

Bully boys like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney can bellow about going to war against Iran (although I doubt that either of them has ever been in a real fight in their lives) while Michele Bachmann plays the role of over the hill cheerleader in this cheerless battle. But the awful reality of war looms like a nightmare over this country and over this world.

Perhaps after ten years of continuous war in Iraq and Afghanistan the American people have become anesthetized. Perhaps after over 3600 consecutive days of war in the news we are simply desensitized to the prospect of yet another war so we won’t really feel the death and destruction that it brings.

It is time to wake up.