Perpetual Wars of the United States of America
EDITORIAL, 18 Sep 2023
The military-industrial complex needs enemies. Without them it would wither. Thus, at the end of the Second World War, this vast power complex was faced with a crisis, but it was saved by the discovery of a new enemy: Communism.
However, at the end of the Cold War there was another terrible crisis for the military establishment, the arms manufacturers and their supporters in research, government and the mass media. People spoke of the “peace dividend”, i.e., constructive use of the trillion dollars that the world wastes each year on armaments. However, just in time, the military-industrial complex was saved from the nightmare of the “peace dividend” by the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
No matter that the attacks were crimes committed allegedly by individuals rather than acts of war, crimes against which police action rather than military action would have been appropriate. The Bush Administration (and CNN, Fox, etc.) quickly proclaimed that a state of war existed, and that the rules of war were in effect. The Cold War was replaced with the “War on Terrorism”.
To a large extent, this over-reaction to the events of 9/11/2001 can be interpreted in terms of the needs of the military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower had warned. Without a state of war and without enemies, this vast conglomerate of organizations and pressure groups would have languished.
If the aim of the “War on Terror” had been to rid the world of the threat of terrorism, acts like illegal assassination using drones would have been counterproductive, since they create many more terrorists than they destroy. But since the real aim is to produce a state of perpetual war, thus increasing the profits of the military-industrial complex, such methods are the best imaginable. Urinating on Afghan corpses or burning the Koran or murderous nighttime raids on civilian homes also help to promote the real goal: perpetual war.
Even the events that initiated the “War on Terror” seem to have been made worse than they otherwise might have been in order to give a better excuse for invading Iraq, and attacking Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and civil liberties.
There is evidence that a number of highly placed officials in the US government knew as early as April 2001 that the World Trade Center might soon be attacked. The testimony given by CIA insider Susan Lindauer is very explicit about this point. There is also evidence that charges of thermite were placed on the steel structures of several buildings, to melt the steel and thus ensure collapse. Molten steel and traces of thermite were found in the ruins before these were sealed off from public scrutiny by the FBI.
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an organization of more than a thousand accredited architects and engineers, have produced a two-hour documentary film pointing to evidence that the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was due to explosive charges of thermite rather than to fire or the impact of airplanes.
For those who belong to the military-industrial complex perpetual war is a blessing, but for the majority of the people of the world it is a curse. Since we who oppose war are the vast majority, can we not make our wills felt?
The Military-Industrial Complex Controls Both Political Parties
Politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, are slaves of the Military-Industrial Complex, which supports their campaigns and personal wealth with vast amounts of money. According to SIPRI (The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), the U.S. spent $877 billion on “defense” in 2022, that is to say, almost a trillion dollars.
Christian Ethics and War
The United States is a very religious and predominantly Christian nation. Its citizens would like to see themselves as being good people (God’s people?), although their nation’s perpetual wars bring death and destruction to the remainder of the world. It is strange that US citizens fail to see the contradiction between Christian ethics and war.
Here is a quotation from The Sermon on the Mount:
“Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy.’ But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them who curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”
This seemingly impractical advice is in fact extremely practical. Escalating cycles of revenge and counter-revenge can be prevented by unilateral acts of kindness. If Christian countries like the United States followed this ethical principle, it would be impossible for them to wage war.
Before discussing other defects in the concept of deterrence, it must be said very clearly that the idea of “massive nuclear retaliation” is totally unacceptable from an ethical point of view. The doctrine of retaliation on a massive scale violates not only the principles of common human decency and common sense, but also the ethical principles of every major religion.
Having said these important things, we can now turn to some of the other defects in the concept of nuclear deterrence. One important flaw is that nuclear war may occur by accident or miscalculation either through technical defects or human failings. This possibility is augmented by the fact that, despite the end of the Cold War, thousands of missiles carrying nuclear warheads are still kept on a “hair-trigger” state of alert with a quasi-automatic reaction time measured in minutes. There is a constant danger that a nuclear war be triggered by error in evaluating a signal on a radar screen.
For example, the BBC reported recently that a group of scientists and military leaders worry that a small asteroid entering and exploding in the earth’s atmosphere could trigger a nuclear war if mistaken for a missile strike.
A number of prominent political and military figures–many of whom have ample knowledge of the system of deterrence, having been part of it–have expressed concern about the danger of an accidental nuclear war. Colin S. Grey expressed his concern as follows:
“The problem, indeed the enduring problem, is that we are resting our future upon a nuclear deterrence system concerning which we cannot tolerate even a single malfunction.”
General Curtis E. LeMay has written,
“In my opinion, a general war will grow through a series of political miscalculations and accidents rather than through any deliberate attack by either side.”
Bruce G. Blair has remarked that
“It is obvious that the rushed nature of the process, from warning to decision to action, risks causing a catastrophic mistake…. This system is an accident waiting to happen.”
Nevertheless, the US government plans to spend 1.7 trillion dollars over the next ten years to “modernize” the country’s nuclear arsenal.
War is always madness, always immoral, always the cause of unspeakable suffering, economic waste and widespread destruction. It is always a source of poverty, hate, barbarism and endless cycles of revenge and counter-revenge—vendettas. And the USA never let go of them as exemplified by Cuba’s 63-year embargo.
It has always been a crime for soldiers to kill civilians, just as it is a crime for murderers in civil society to kill people. No flag has ever been wide enough to cover up atrocities. But today, the development of all-destroying thermonuclear weapons has put war entirely beyond the bounds of sanity and elementary humanity.
Can we not rid the world of these insane and anti human weapons before everything of value in our beautiful world is reduced to radioactive ashes? Can we not rid the world of the institution of war?
John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website: https://www.johnavery.info/
Tags: Military Industrial Complex, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear war, Pentagon, US Military, USA, War Economy
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Sep 2023.
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