The last time I thought there might be a world war was in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan and his minions were placing cruise missiles designed to be armed with nuclear warheads all across Europe. Millions across Europe and the United States were protesting this deployment. Women set up permanent protest camps outside of US military bases in Britain and the US. Massive rallies, marches and occupations against the deployment took place in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain and other nations. Popular musicians (Nina’s “99 Luftballoons”, Grateful Dead’s “Throwing Stones”) penned songs against the plans and the madness of war in general. Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher schemed and maneuvered the legislatures of their respective countries into approving the basing of nuclear missiles on their soil. The madness of the leaders and the war industry that leads them and the generals like so many craven submissives was all too clear and on display to the world.
Before that, there was my childhood. It was a childhood shared by millions of people in my generation; a childhood defined by the Cold War and its numerous hot flare-ups in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It was a childhood in which I spent a few weeks of first and second grade learning how to duck and cover in the classroom while the nun at the head of the class prayed for us all not to be attacked from Cuba. On the weekends, my brother and I tagged along while my dad helped other men in the town sandbag the church and schools for their potential use as bomb shelters should the Soviet bombers decide to attack DC or the Army base ten miles away. Like so many other young folks my age and older, we saw this as normal. The possibility of the end of the world due to war was just something one lived with. Like Bob Dylan sang in his tune “Talkin’ World War Three Blues”: “Well, now time passed and now it seems/Everybody’s having them dreams/Everybody sees themselves/Walkin’ around with no one else…”
Let’s get back to the present. Earlier in the month, the United States military shot down a Syrian fighter plane flying in Syrian air space. This action was a clear violation of international law and seemingly intended to provoke a military response. In addition to that singular act, the fact that the US military is in a foreign country (Syria) without any pretense of an invitation from that nation’s government is a gross violation of that nation’s sovereignty. In response to the shooting down of the Syrian plane, Russia is now insisting both verbally and through its own military that US planes stay away from the region of Syria where the plane was shot down. Washington, meanwhile is predicting another chemical attack as a pretext for a pre-emptive attack against the Syrian nation. Obviously, this tete-a-tete between Washington and Moscow is a serious escalation of what looks more and more like a proxy war between the two powers. On the ground, the US war that is supposedly against the Islamic State is one where even the usually pro-war Daily Beast has noted the massive civilian casualties from US bombing.
Meanwhile, in northern Korea, the ongoing game of provocation between Washington and Pyongyang continues. This game, which is essentially continued primarily because of Washington, has as much of a potentially lethal ending to it as the situation in Syria. Thankfully, one of the players in Washington’s imperial game—southern Korea—is trying to change its participation. Ever since the current government was elected in a special election, the cries for war have turned to calls for peace with the north. Washington, however, seems to want nothing to do with that peace. The death of the recently returned prisoner to the US brought forth calls for revenge from various quarters in the US. Without going into whether or not the young man who was imprisoned should have been sentenced to prison (I don’t think so), let me just say this is no reason to go to war, nor is it the true reason the US would be going to war. Instead, it is a flimsy pretext.
Then there are the numerous US-involved conflicts taking place across the globe. From Afghanistan (where US troop numbers are once again being increased by at least four or five thousand) to various places in Africa to the Philippines and elsewhere, US forces are being deployed. These conflicts seem to be against faceless enemies like terrorism and drug cartels but are actually part of the same drive for control as the larger conflicts noted above. Add to these the covert operations against governments like the one in Venezuela. Should any of these wars intensify, they could easily engulf the regions they are located. In other words, like Syria, Russia and Korea, a misplaced spark could start an all-extinguishing firestorm.
Here in the US, the possibility of war being a couple shots away is mostly ignored. Some ignore the possibility because the situation is so confusing and complicated by lies and half-truths. Still others do not seem to care what happens. Clinton-haters blame Clinton and Obama while their opposites blame Trump and the GOP. The real blame falls on politicians of both parties and the system they support and manipulate in favor of their class. The fundamental reason for the growing threat of all-out war by the US is a desire to control the flow of the earth’s resources and markets; and to maximize Wall Street profits from that control. This is why the only thing the US does consistently and often is go to war. This is the definition of imperialism. Neither the GOP nor the Democrats are anti-imperialist. In other words, both parties are to blame. So are those who support the military and its wars. The arrogance and stupidity disguised as naiveté that defines the current status of the US polity in 2017 may well be the world’s demise. Friends and families of addicts hope to intervene before the addict dies from an overdose. The US has reached that point again. It’s time for rehab. It’s time to kick the habit. End the wars. Bring the troops, the mercenaries, the whole lot of them home.