The editorial board of the New York Times has an Orwellian knack for war. Sixteen months ago, when President Obama gave oratorical lip service to ending “perpetual war,” the newspaper quickly touted that end as a democratic necessity. But now – in response to Obama’s speech Wednesday night announcing escalation of war without plausible end – the Times editorial voice is with the endless war program.
Under the headline “The End of the Perpetual War,” published on May 23, 2013, the Times was vehement, calling a new Obama speech “the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.” The editorial added: “For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.”
The Times editorial board was sweeping in its conclusion: “Mr. Obama told the world that the United States must return to a state in which counterterrorism is handled, as it always was before 2001, primarily by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies. That shift is essential to preserving the democratic system and rule of law for which the United States is fighting, and for repairing its badly damaged global image.”
But the “essential” shift is now dispensable and forgettable, judging from the New York Timeseditorial that appeared hours after Obama’s pivotal speech Wednesday night. The newspaper’s editorial board has ditched the concept that the state of perpetual war is unsustainable for democracy.
It was only an item on page 5 of the NY Times about an incident on the Estonian-Russian border. The Estonians charged that one of their officers had been kidnapped, or detained – take your pick – by the Russians who promptly denied the story. The Estonians, empowered by their membership in NATO and Obama’s recent visit are quite aware that Article 5 of the NATO treaty obliges every member nation to come to their aid if attacked. Far from his nation’s voters who think less and less of him, Obama seems to have given little Estonia a virtual blank check when he said that if anyone – meaning Russia – made a move against the Baltic states Russia would have to fight the US too. That’s our President. Tough abroad and weak at home.
Fortunately, nothing has happened on the border, at least not yet. But by continually calling every border episode an "invasion," as Ukraine does, is designed to get the attention of NATO and Washington, especially since the US pays the major portion of NATO’s bills and nothing can happen without its approval.
No wonder Ukraine desperately wants to be included in NATO and why our perpetually bellicose hawks would like nothing more than to give Putin, no angel he, a good whack and teach Moscow who’s the real boss. All this, of course, without calling in American ground troops (and scaring Americans at home), as Obama and everyone in Washington’s Iraq-tainted War Party keeps repeating, while wink-winking, knowing that no-one really believes in that fairy tale should things take a bad turn.
Ukraine, bankrupt and corrupt, has become our latest freedom-loving heroes, battling the brutal pro-Russians in its eastern region while hosting our Vice-President, CIA Director and super hawks like John McCain. Overlooked are some of the new champions of liberty we’ve inherited.
Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly –his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush
Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.
Since his first term as a prime minister (1996-99), Netanyahu has showed particular savviness at fashioning political and military events to neatly suit his declared policies. He fabricated imminent threats that were neither imminent nor threats, for example, Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Later, he took on Iran.
He created too many conditions and laid numerous obstacles for peace settlements to ever be realized. The late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, labored for years to meet Israel’s conditions, and failed. Abbas has taken the same futile road. But Netanyahu’s conditions are specifically designed to be unattainable.
American criminal law takes a nuanced view of murder by creating several punishable degrees of it. First degree murder is generally defined as premeditated murder. The murderer has a plan to kill and has taken sufficient time to map out his crime. Second degree murder involves the killer who hasn’t necessarily taken the time to plan out his crime, but nonetheless has an "evil mind" and intends to kill. Another variety of second degree murder involves the killer who engages in conduct so depraved that the law says he should’ve known that his behavior would likely result in death. There is also manslaughter, sometimes referred to as "negligent homicide", wherein the killer was behaving negligently (less egregious than depraved behavior) and killed someone in the course of his negligent conduct. These are age-old American legal traditions.
Somehow, American war culture manages to turn a blind eye to these longstanding, basic legal principles when it comes to its government’s wars. Americans have no room for nuance when it comes to war. A war with massive civilian casualties is the same as a war in which there are no civilian casualties, as long as some vague government objective is met. For anyone who doubts this lack of distinction, simply look at the body of historical work that exists surrounding "The Good War" – World War II.
War is hell, they say. War is a dirty business; sometimes, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. There are countless despicable metaphors used to describe war which are intended to distract people from what war really is: non-punishable mass murder.
Unfortunately, no matter how reckless, depraved, ill-informed or misconceived American war-making is, the war-makers are never held to the same standards that run-of-the-mill murderers are. George W. Bush, were he tried in a criminal court of law (loud laughter), wouldn’t stand a chance of being slapped with anything less than first degree murder. No American president would escape that fate.
The state is the archenemy of the individual, as has been demonstrated by libertarian state analysts from Herbert Spencer (Man Vs. State) to Albert Jay Nock (Our Enemy, the State) to Murray Rothbard (Anatomy of the State). However, it is not only our chief enemy, it is also our chief maker of enemies. The parasitic state is not only perpetually at odds with us, but it is constantly setting us at odds with others. It is not only a millstone around our necks, but a target.
States make enemies on behalf of its subjects, primarily because threats make it easier to marshall support from the frightened and indignant public for expansions of its power, both home and abroad. This is agreed upon both by opponents and practitioners of this policy. Rothbard wrote that:
…the State has for centuries used the “foreign threat” to aggrandize its power over its deluded subjects.
“…war and a phony “external threat” have long been the chief means by which the state wins back the loyalty of its subjects.”
And the leading Nazi Hermann Göring stated at the Nuremburg Trials that:
“…it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.(…) …voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked…”
This aspect of the state has been especially important in recent news. The bourgeoning Islamic State, or ISIS, seems straight out of super villain central casting. And when the political class isn’t panicking over ISIS, it is scaremongering over the “imperial designs” of Vladimir Putin.
The footage of President Obama strolling through the ancient ruins at Stonehenge was an apt bookend to the meeting of NATO, a Cold War relic that should have been abolished after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. But while hundreds of protesters marched through the streets calling for NATO to be dissolved – "From Iraq to Ukraine, NATO only causes pain," they chanted – NATO leaders saw the crisis in Ukraine as an opportunity to breathe new life into the moribund military alliance.
The recent NATO meeting in Wales was supposed to be about how to wind down NATO’s 12-year military adventure in Afghanistan – without admitting the monumental failure of leaving behind a fractured, impoverished nation that can’t even figure out who won the last election. Afghanistan, however, was barely mentioned. Nor was the disastrous NATO intervention in Libya that has resulted in a failed state rife with violence. And while there was some handwringing about how to deal with ISIS, it was clear most NATO countries did not want to join Obama in a new military quagmire. The meeting’s main focus was the conflict in Ukraine, a conflict that NATO played a key role in creating.
A creature of the Cold War created in 1949 to defend Europe from Soviet expansion, NATO did not dissolve when the Soviet Union collapsed peacefully. But it did assure Russia that it would not expand eastwards beyond the reunified Germany, and it would not station significant numbers of troops in Eastern Europe.
NATO broke the pledge. In 1999, it admitted three former Warsaw Pact countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. In 2004, it admitted the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Today the NATO security alliance covers 28 member states. It does not include Ukraine, but Ukraine is pushing for NATO membership.