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How We Got Sold on Endless Wars

I receive so many emails and pitches for one cause or another that I am not able to cite them all. Some of those emails call attention to the fact that there is virtually no protest against the U.S.-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen (“No one is paying attention to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,” Washington Post, June 25, 2017) that has killed an untold number of people and caused one of the most egregious health crises since World War II, a cholera epidemic, in that country. Regime change is not an unpopular cause.

After the terror attacks of 2001, most in the U.S. backed the endless wars in which the U.S was involved, along with its allies such as England and France. Those endless wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq seemed to be a given with trillions of dollars and massive profits for war industries like Lockheed Martin and Boeing seeing profits going off of the charts. The military-industrial-financial complex has become so profitable that almost no one asks the question as to why this is happening. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda and others morphed in some cases into ISIS, and a host of other murderous militias and gangs, and no one makes the observation that maybe the U.S. and its allies helped to fuel these lethal and profitable enterprises. Central America seethes with drug wars (with an insatiable demand generated mainly from the U.S.), causing a steady flow of immigration to the U.S., and Trump makes a spectacle of this debacle while targeting innocent children in its wake. Indeed, some, but not all, of the current outcry against Russia has to do with finding a “worthy” enemy so that the insatiable appetite of the arms manufacturers goes on and on. Indeed, while not a perfect analogy, gun manufacturers in the U.S. benefit to a degree by war and the machismo and frontier mentality that goes along with war. As I write, Israel has attacked the almost defenseless Gaza Strip once again, this time over a border incident, and almost no one raises an eyebrow. It is as if the gross immorality of war, whatever its causes, is now made moral in a dystopian universe.

The laws or rules of war that have been developed over thousands of years have been thrown into the dustbin of history. After all, with murderers like ISIS, who needs or wants rules of military engagement? Even the hard-fought and hard-won lessons of World War II about the horror of contemporary warfare have almost  been  forgotten. The Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and military rules of engagement regarding prisoners of war and noncombatants have been tossed aside.

Groups like Veterans for Peace and Win Without War make excellent cases agains the horror of contemporary warfare but almost no one cares to listen besides a committed group who have developed a perspective on the issues that arise as a result of war and planning for war. While Bernie Sanders has moved toward a careful consideration of the impact of U.S.-led wars, the millions of young people, who rallied to his cause as a presidential candidate in 2016, seem largely to be asleep a the wheel regarding issues of war and peace. Since only a small percentage of people enlist in the military, there is little attention paid to military issues. The media would rather put its resources into following Donald Trump’s daily Tweets than covering any of the wars the U.S. now fights or supports. 

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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