Looking at a map of current American military engagements overseas, one cannot help but notice their wide geographical spread and their seemingly interminable nature. Battles have raged in Europe (Yugoslavia and Ukraine), in Africa, in the Middle East, and in central Asia. The American Empire has launched this country into a series of battles that have no end in sight and no location that may not become a focal point of military force. These battles, each a war in its own right, have drawn in forces and resources from U.S. allies in Europe through NATO and even drawn in Japan. The scope of this war is global. In fact, one part of this war has been called the Global War on Terror. To understand this war and grasp its meaning, in the hope of bringing it to an end, a descriptive name is needed that tells us what this war is about. The name suggested here is the “Great War of the American Empire”. Since World War I, another disastrous war that America joined, is called the Great War, we can refer to the Great War of the American Empire also as Great War II.
Great War II comprises a number of sub-wars. The American Empire is the common element and the most important driver in all the sub-wars mentioned below. American involvement has never been necessary in these sub-wars, but the decisions to make them America’s business have come from the Empire’s leaders. The name “Great War of the American Empire” emphasizes the continuity of all the sub-wars to produce one Great War, and the responsibility of the American Empire in choosing to participate in and create this Great War. Had America’s leaders chosen the radically different path of non-intervention and true defense of this continent, rather than overseas interventions, Great War II would not have occurred and not still be occurring.
The Great War of the American Empire began 25 years ago. It began on August 2, 1990 with the Gulf War against Iraq and continues to the present. Earlier wars involving Israel and America sowed the seeds of this Great War. So did American involvements in Iran, the 1977-1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Even earlier American actions also set the stage, such as the recognition of Israel, the protection of Saudi Arabia as an oil supplier, the 1949 CIA involvement in the coup in Syria, and the American involvement in Lebanon in 1958. Poor (hostile) relations between the U.S. and Libya (1979-1986) also contributed to a major sub-war in what has turned out to be the Great War of the American Empire.
The inception of Great War II may, if one likes, be moved back to 1988 and 1989 without objection because those years also saw the American Empire coming into its own in the invasion of Panama to dislodge Noriega, operations in South America associated with the war on drugs, and an operation in the Philippines to protect the Aquino government. Turmoil in the Soviet Union was already being reflected in a more military-oriented foreign policy of the U.S.
Following the Gulf War, the U.S. government engages America and Americans non-stop in one substantial military operation or war after another. In the 1990s, these include Iraq no-fly zones, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Liberia, Albania, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Serbia. In the 2000s, the Empire begins wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and gets into serious military engagements in Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria. It has numerous other smaller military missions in Uganda, Jordan, Turkey, Chad, Mali, and Somalia. Some of these sub-wars and situations of involvement wax and wane and wax again. The latest occasion of American Empire intervention is Ukraine where, among other things, the U.S. military is slated to be training Ukrainian soldiers.
Terror and terrorism are invoked to rationalize some operations. Vague threats to national security are mentioned for others. Protection of Americans and American interests sometimes is made into a rationale. Terrorism and drugs are sometimes linked, and sometimes drug interdiction alone is used to justify an action that becomes part of the Great War of the American Empire. On several occasions, war has been justified because of purported ethnic cleansing or supposed mass killings directed by or threatened by a government.
Upon close inspection, all of these rationales fall apart. None is satisfactory. The interventions are too widespread, too long-lasting and too unsuccessful at what they supposedly accomplish to lend support to any of the common justifications. Is “good” being done when it involves endless killing, frequently of innocent bystanders, that elicits more and more anti-American sentiment from those on the receiving end who see Americans as invaders? Has the Great War II accomplished even one of its supposed objectives?
The Great War of the American Empire encompasses several sub-wars, continual warfare, continual excuses for continual warfare, and continual military engagements that promise Americans more of the same indefinitely. There is a web site called “The Long War Journal” that catalogs events all over the globe that are part of the Great War II, what the site calls the Long War. This site is a project of the “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”, which is a neocon organization that is promoting the Great War of the American Empire.
What they see, and accurately see, as a Long War is a portion of what is here called the Great War of the American Empire. The difference is that all the interventions and sub-wars of the past 25 years and all the military outposts of the U.S. government that provide the seeds of future wars and interventions are included in the Great War II. They all spring from the same source, even though each one has a different specific character.
* * *
Of course, none of this looks set to improve (or even stop escalating) following President Obama's Force Authorization this week (as Ron Paul recently exclaimed)
The president is requesting Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) resolution against ISIS. Congress has not issued a similar resolution since 2002, when President Bush was given the authority to wage war against Iraq. The purpose of this resolution is to give official authority to the president to do the things that he has already been doing for the past six years. Seems strange but this is typical for Washington. President Obama’s claim is that he does not need this authority. He claims, as have all other recent presidents, that the authority to wage war in the Middle East has been granted by the resolutions passed in 2001, 2002, and by article II of the Constitution. To ask for this authority at this time is a response to public and political pressure.
It has been reported that the president is going to request that the authority limit the use of ground troops. However it would not affect the troops already engaged in Syria and Iraq to the tune of many thousands. This new authority will acknowledge that more advisors will be sent. Most importantly it will appear to have given moral sanction to the wars that have already been going for years.
Interestingly it actually expands the ability of the president to wage war although the president publicly indicates he would like to restrain it. The new authorization explicitly does not impose geographic limits on the use of troops anywhere in the world and expands the definition of ISIS to that of all “associated forces.” A grant of this authority will do nothing to limit our dangerous involvement in these constant Middle East wars.
The war propagandists are very active and are winning over the support of many unsuspecting American citizens. It is not difficult to motivate resistance against an organization like ISIS that engages in such evil displays of horrific violence.
We have been fighting in the Middle East for 25 years. There have been no victories and no “mission accomplished.” Many needless deaths and dollars have been spent and yet we never reassess our policies of foreign interventionism. One would think after the humiliating defeat of the Republicans in 2008, as a reaction to the disastrous foreign policy of George W. Bush, that the American people would be more cautious in granting support to expanding our military presence in that region.
Even if our policies led to no boots on the ground, the unintended consequences of blowback and the enemy obtaining more American weapons will continue. The CIA has said that 20,000 foreigners are on their way to Iraq and Syria to join the ISIS. Our government has no more credibility in telling us the truth about the facts that require us to expand our military presence in this region than Brian Williams. Constant war propaganda has proven too often to be our nemesis in supporting constant war promoted by the neoconservatives and the military industrial complex.
It’s my opinion that giving additional authority to wage war in the Middle East is a serious mistake. Instead, the authority granted in 2001 and 2002 should be repealed. A simple and correct solution would be for our elected officials to follow the rules regarding war laid out in the Constitution.
Ironically there may well be some Republicans in the Congress who will oppose this resolution because of their desire to have an all-out war and not be limited in any way by the number of troops that we should be sending to this region. The only way that Congress can be persuaded to back off with our dangerous interventionism, whether it’s in the Middle East or Ukraine, is for the American people to speak out clearly in opposition.
There is no doubt that ISIS represents a monstrous problem – a problem that should be dealt with by the many millions of Arabs and Muslims in the region. ISIS cannot exist without the support of the people in the region. Currently it is estimated that their numbers are in a range of 30,000. This is not the responsibility of American soldiers or the American taxpayer.
Declaring war against ISIS is like declaring war against communism or fascism. The enemy cannot be identified or limited. Both are ideological and armies are incapable of stopping an idea, good or bad, that the people do not resist or that they support. Besides, the strength of ISIS has been enhanced by our efforts. Our involvement in the Middle East is being used as a very successful recruitment tool to expand the number of radical jihadists willing to fight and die for what they believe in. And sadly our efforts have further backfired with the weapons that we send ending up in the hands of our enemies and used against our allies and Americans caught in the crossfire. Good intentions are not enough. Wise policies and common sense would go a long way toward working for peace and prosperity instead of escalating violence and motivating the enemy.
* * *