Monthly Archives: September 2013

Suppose they gave a war

An old saying from the 60s went like this: Suppose they gave a war and nobody came. In the old days this query was whimsical and almost overly clever, the way that “astonished the world” and “against all odds” were too clever. No images came to mind to fulfill the promise of the saying. Now the President of the most powerful military nation in the world has threatened a warlike response to the misbehavior of a much smaller state, claimed that the proscribed misbehavior has happened, then announced military action will follow. And the reaction of the rest of the world and the people of the most powerful nation seem to say that, despite the threat and the power to back it up, there is not going to be the military consequences promised.

There is already a civil war that inflicts almost unthinkable suffering. And the threatening nation has not only carried out every threat for seventy years now, but covert actions have created military regimes friendly to American imperial interests in the old world and the new. The United States has led coalitions of military supporters to conquests of ancient oriental kingdoms, like Iraq, to stalemates, like Afghanistan, and to at least one defeat in Vietnam. There are powerful American military forces in more than 140 nations. The American fleet is poised to intimidate any and every nation on earth. Grandiose presidential proclamations have righteously preceded invasions of would-be sovereign nations like Grenada, Lebanon, Cambodia, Laos, Haiti, Pakistan and Iraq. Every new American display of muscle has lost the presidency more credibility abroad and finally wiped out all credulity of the American people. In 2013 we find ourselves living in a nation with a shrinking standard of living and a deteriorating quality of life for most of our people. No, Mr. President, if you try to throw a war in Syria nobody else is coming to your war.

Most Americans are aware that the rest of the world contains some very bad governments, and not all of these governments are products of American imperialism. Some of them surely ought to be reined in by the international community when and if that community finds the moral leadership and will to enforce moral international standards. But the United States has simply lost that ability to lead, and it has lost that leadership role through its own unwillingness to live up to the democratic and peaceful values it claims to wish, but frequently undermines, in other nations and in its own behavior towards others. We have lived too long with a government that is run by a ruthless financial oligarchy whose unspoken motto has been “What we say goes”. The American people and the people of the world are finally uniting in their response to the proposal that the United States unilaterally attack another nation to punish it for having a government which does not meet the approval of those Americans who decide when to kill and maim foreigners for offending them. We are uniting in responding “If you give this f…king war nobody is coming.” We are tired of your wars and we will not attend this one. Go play war with yourself.