Sunday, August 07, 2016

"We stopped asking such questions about America's Forever War™ a long, long time ago."

Why I totally support those 'jerks' chanting 'No more war!': "With four days to reconsider, I'm more behind the "no more war" protests than ever. In fact, I'm doubling down. I was thinking about this even before the news today that the U.S. has embarked on yet another round of military adventurism in the Middle East -- launching a bombing campaign (a "precision" bombing campaign, the Pentagon and its chosen mouthpiece Barbara Starr of CNN assure us) against ISIS terrorists in Libya. You'll recall that ISIS flourished in Libya only after the last bombing campaign in Libya by the United States and its allies created a power vacuum to be filled largely by bad guys. You may also recall that the legal justification for waging war in Libya is flimsy, at best. Pentagon officials say the new air strikes are sanctioned under the AUMF -- Authorization for Use of Military Force -- passed by Congress in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. No matter that Libya, for all its faults, had nothing to do with 9/11. Or that ISIS, the target of the attacks, didn't exist until a decade after the World Trade Center fell. We stopped asking such questions about America's Forever War™ a long, long time ago. Or, as the mostly pro-Hillary Democrats inside the Wells Fargo Center would put it, "USA! USA!"

It should be a scandal that the United States drops bombs from flying death robots or our obscenely expensive military jets over countries like Libya, swaths of Africa, or Syria based only on a 15-year-old congressional resolution passed after an attack carried out mostly by Saudi Arabians loyal to a terrorist group that barely exists in 2016. But we're afraid of any frank discussion of that, or the recent admission by the Obama administration that U.S. military actions in nations with which we're not technically at war have killed 116 innocent civilians. That's a number that experts find ridiculously low, by the way, and doesn't as include as many as 85 Syrian civilians who were killed in late July by a U.S. airstrike -- a story that was all but ignored in the media. Even if you strongly believe that such collateral damage is necessary to defeat international terrorism, chanting "USA! USA!" to support militarism is both jingoistic and crudely callous toward the dead. 

But this isn't exactly new. During my recent Conventionapalooza, I took an hour break to watch a PBS documentary on the most notorious modern convention of them all, the 1968 DNC in Chicago. As we now know, what happened outside the halls -- the respect shown protesters in Philly compared with Mayor Daley's head-bashing "police riot" 48 years ago -- changed radically over time. But inside the hall, Democrats worked tirelessly to stifle dissidents in '68 much as they would in '16. In Chicago, delegates who supported Eugene McCarthy or other anti-Vietnam War candidates were harassed over credentials and other petty stuff, similar to complaints from Sanders delegates here. An anti-Vietnam plank was pushed out of prime time by the party bosses; when the defeated faction burst into "We Shall Overcome," Daley and the pro-Hubert Humphrey forces tried to drown them out with a band blaring "Happy Days Are Here Again." Exactly like "USA!" chants drowning out "No more war!" in our modern times. Same as it ever was."

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