FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Beasts We Have Built

by MISSY BEATTIE

On Tuesday in “Great Decisions,” I co-taught the class whose topic was “Exit from Afghanistan and Iraq.”  Abandoning the textbook, I wanted current news.  So much has happened in the past month that I decided to print, print, print articles more relevant to the present.  And I had told my co-teacher, M, to take the video that begins each session with Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, among others, who offer statements about the role of the US in shaping world policy.  Ugh.

I must confess, here, that for the first time in my obsessive-compulsive life (I’m also a little neurotic), I procrastinated.  Example from the distant past:  When I was a college freshman, my roommate asked if I wanted to go to a movie.  I said,  “Can’t, I have an exam in two weeks.”

I told my children this, hoping they’d follow their mum’s example.  Instead, I was ridiculed with: “Nerd alert.”

Fixations aside, I was looking through some of the articles a classmate had suggested.  When I read, “American interests in the Middle East,” I shot off an email, telling R that this takes the top of my head off.  Just as American exceptionalism takes the top of my head off.  Just as the question of achieving victory in Afghanistan takes the top of my head off.

So, a couple of hours before class and with two cups of high-test espresso for trimethylxanthine oomph, I searched for info about the carnage in Fallujah that’s resulted in a never-ending tragedy of genetic mutations and birth defects, via US WMD.   Printed it.

I, also, printed an article, recommended by activist friend Jon Gold, about the mercenaries that remain in Iraq, in “support” roles.

Insert:  I’d taken Baltimore’s light rail with dear friend Maia Tabet to the Trayvon Martin rally the evening before.  When I told her about Tuesday’s topic and my concerns that it might become adversarial, Maia said, “Just don’t say ‘We.’”  She did not want me to include myself in the “We” of US imperialistic criminal behavior.

And, so, I made an announcement at the beginning of class to clarify my position.

Now, back to the video that always takes the top of my head off—the one I was supposed to watch prior to co-teaching, but didn’t.  The usual goons appeared.

Then, John Nagl, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army and a counterinsurgency expert, spoke from the screen, “Aristotle said that the only objective of war is to build a better beast.”  Whaattt?  Okay, that’s what entered my ear and brain.  A mondegreen.  Really, though, it was this: “Aristotle said that the only objective of war is to build a better peace.”  Whaattt?

After the video, M said she wanted to spend the first hour on Iraq and discuss Afghanistan after our break.

There was no disagreement that the wars are epic disasters.  And that so many Americans conduct their lives with no thought of the carnage and, therefore, no care.

H mentioned Colin Powell’s warning to George Bush that “once you break it [Iraq], you are going to own it.”

I diatribed (I know, I know) about the mercenary army and its history of barbarism.   No one disputed this.

Afghanistan provided the most discussion—especially withdrawal.

I emphasized three recent events: the burning of Qurans, troops urinating on dead bodies, and the savagery committed by a sergeant who slaughtered 17 civilians, including children.

M expressed concern about the women of Afghanistan—what will happen to them when we leave?

J said we shouldn’t impose our way of life on another country.  But this was never the actual goal of the invasion.  And so I said it.  The reason for war morphed so many times, but it was always about control of resources and Wall Street profiteering.

R said he worries about Pakistan, and for this reason believes that the US should remain in Afghanistan.

But remaining means increased casualties, inspires even more hatred, and guarantees that troops will continue to commit atrocities.

After class, we lingered, remarking that the debate was lively and compelling.

Later, while driving home, I thought about Aristotle’s quote and John Nagl’s misquote.  Aristotle actually said, “We make war that we may live in peace.”

No, Ari, war is waged to further enrich the uber-wealthy whose insatiable greed condemns us to wretchedness.

Peace, peace, peace.  Beast, beast, beast. The US Empire is a beast that is building more beasts wherever its fingerprints and footprints make contact.

Missy Beattie is obsessive, compulsive, and neurotic in Baltimore, MD where she, also, is working on paranoia to further her pathologies.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com  

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail