FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Beasts We Have Built

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  

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail