Bureaucracies repeat patterns until they learn new ones. The bigger and more entrenched the bureaucracy the less likely it is to learn anything. The US military is a bureaucracy. It tortured humans in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. It used the excuse of WMD to destroy Iraq and it intends to use the threat of a future WMD to attack Iran. It has used the pretense of human rights to invade nations that refuse the terms of their submission. Most importantly, and more generally, the Pentagon and its political enablers continually plan for war as if the next one will have a different outcome than the wars that came before. In other words, they repeat not only the same idea, but even the same strategies and tactics, despite the fact that those strategies and tactics have essentially failed no matter what the geography of the battlefield looks like or the political nature of the latest enemy. Shock and awe or counterinsurgency, every single US war of the last sixty years has had its share of both and every single US war of the last sixty years has not produced the results the voters were promised. Yet, the wars drag on.
Unlike US voters, Washington’s enemies have figured out the patterns implicit in US war making. Consequently, what is at best a stalemate to the military machine directed by the Pentagon becomes a victory for its foes. The military’s experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan all prove that no matter what the US military throws at the respective resistance forces, it cannot win without eradicating most of the population. Since not even the popular will of the United States seems likely to stomach such an obviously genocidal move, the best the US military can do is turn the countryside into wasteland. Naturally, this does not endear Washington or its cohorts to the resisting population. In Iraq and Afghanistan, this strategy has also ensured continued conflict among the nation’s citizens and between the US and the locals.
While military members, politicians and the rest of the concerned populace watch the reaction of the Afghans to the recent massacre of civilians by what we are told is a deranged soldier, the clamor for a NATO withdrawal will surely grow louder. This is as it should be. It has been a long time since there was any military or political reason for foreign troops to be killing and dying in that land. Indeed, the continued presence of those troops and their mercenary cohorts proves the argument that it is the war itself that is the reason for more war. In other words, there is plenty of money to be made in the process of destruction, death, and “rebuilding” the Afghan people have been made to endure in the name of freedom. As a recent cartoon made clear: “We are in Afghanistan to protect the soldiers that are in Afghanistan.” In other words, the US military presence in Afghanistan exists because of the US military presence in Afghanistan. As for that deranged soldier: while his actions may be a slight aberration from the normal actions of soldiers in that nation, it is no more of an aberration than the massacre at My Lai was in Vietnam. Obama’s statements to the contrary, US soldiers are not trained to respect the Afghan people. It’s not the soldier that is deranged. It’s the imperial policy of Washington that is.
In Iran, a scenario somewhat similar to that which preceded the war on Iraq continues to play out. Washington, Tel Aviv and their co-conspirators insist that Iran has no right to possess the same type of WMD (nuclear weapons) that Tel Aviv and Washington have in excess. Furthermore, Washington and its allies insist on their right to attack Iran if and when they deem it necessary. No matter what Iran says and no matter what they do in terms of acquiescing to Washington and Tel Aviv’s demands, that nation will be attacked should Washington deem it necessary. The media in the west decry Iran’s supposed refusal to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, claiming that such a refusal is equivalent to possessing forbidden WMDs. In reality, Iran is doing what any nation in its position would do. It is demanding that it set the terms of the inspections and not Washington Tel Aviv or London. If the UN inspections of pre- invasion Iraq are any indication then Tehran is absolutely right in denying IAEA teams access to the military bases where nuclear activity is taking place. It was admitted after the fact that the some members of the inspection teams in Iraq actually served as spies for the Pentagon as it made plans to invade and occupy that country. If I recall correctly, a leader of one such team actually resigned in protest when he realized his team had been used in such a manner. There is no reason to think that the IAEA teams might not be asked to serve a similar purpose in Iran. Even if the teams themselves are not engaged in espionage as a group, there could be individuals only too willing to provide Washington with military information that would help the US and Israeli militaries in any attack. While espionage is part of war and diplomacy, no nation in its right mind invites spies onto its military bases, especially when those spies are working for a nation discussing the best way to make you do its will. As for the sanctions against Iran, Washington hopes they serve the same purpose as they did in Iraq. That is, they will soften up the country for an attack by bleeding it dry.
In addition (or perhaps instead of) all this, there is an obvious approach to the unfolding crisis between Iran and the United States. That solution would be this: accept Iran’s suggestion to begin work on creating a nuclear-free zone in that part of the world. Such an agreement would diminish further the likelihood of nuclear war and also improve the chances of a just peace. After all, if Tel Aviv were required to give up its nuclear weapons, then perhaps it might start dealing with its neighbors more equitably. Instead, it pretends that it is somehow judged by a different standard that allows it to violate whatever international laws and human rights it deems necessary.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.