We have been in almost continuous war since 1776 and that does not count US-sponsored interventions in a myriad of developing countries. What is the human cost? What is the moral cost? Poor People’s Campaign Direct Action against US militarism: Today at 2pm.
Odds & Ends
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Today’s Feature Report: The Human Cost of War. Yesterday Truth-Out featured two articles on US militarism. After reading Truth-Out’s, The Cost of War, I decided to honor our fallen and those felled by us by spending the day researching and writing this post. It is not a pretty picture and it is by no means a complete picture. But hopefully it will motivate some of you to join Roxanne and I at the New Poor People’s Campaigns Direct Action Against US Militarism.
The New Poor People’s Campaign Tuesday, May 29. The third in six direct actions, is being held this Tuesday at the Roundhouse. Join us as this movement builds towards it national kick-off in Washington, D.C. on June 23. If you are going to participate in the June 23 march, let Roxanne and I know, as we will be there, too. Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org.
The Human & Moral Cost of War
Since 1776, not counting US-sponsored interventions, we have been at war for 125 years, meaning we have been engaged in war for over 1/3 of our entire history. This is a very conservative estimate as it only includes major wars. It could easily be argued that the US was at war with native tribes from the time they landed in North America throughout all of the 17th-18th-and 19th centuries, and today continue that colonization. This evisceration of the Indigenous population combined with the enslavement of millions of African Americans was driven by a myopic sense of moral superiority and hubris expressed as a policy in Manifest Destiny. It is a fair summation of the 17-19th century that white male America was continuously oppressing and extinguishing the lives of all people of color in this continent.
If you add in US-sponsored interventions, we have been engaged in conflict the entire 21st century and most all of the second half of the 20th. And these wars and interventions have consequences. While yesterday we honored those Americans who have died in combat. While if is commonplace to use the term “in defense of our country,” it could be argued that the majority of the conflicts in which we have been engaged have not been about defending our nation as much as spreading its hegemony worldwide. For an excellent brief summary of just ten of our 20th century interventions in Latin America, click here.
Why is the US the most warlike nation in human history? This post examines the cost and scope of US involvement in war and aggression and some of its root causes.
From The Death of NeoLiberalism, we find this description of the roots of US militarism and interventionism post World War II. “While the Roosevelt administration is remembered for the New Deal, its most lasting impact was in the foundations it laid for a global capitalist order. Realizing that the US would emerge from WWII as the sole industrial power in the world, in the early 1940s, the administration began to plan to take on the responsibility to create the conditions for the expansion and reproduction of capitalism internationally. At the war’s end, the US established the Bretton Woods institutions: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and what later became the World Trade Organization — all under the tutelage of the US Treasury Department. With the later addition of so-called free trade agreements, these gradually expanded the power of transnational corporations.
From their inception, the aim was to build a multilateral world order that would not fall into national rivalries of the sort that had produced two world wars. But that world order was to be an explicitly capitalist one, precluding a socialist alternative in Europe and in its former colonies.” Extending colonization, defending capitalism and fending off socialist challenges has been at the root of most all US wars and interventions. No successful socialist experiment could be allowed to survive, no developing country’s populist efforts to protect their own resources could be tolerated. Post WW II, the world was capitalist and we were in charge.
Trying to calculate the full human cost of all of our militarism is well beyond the scope of this post, but in just considering our recent actions in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Truth-Out’s Cost of War finds: “In Yemen, the non-profit organization Save the Children estimated that 50,000 children died in 2017 due to extreme hunger and disease. Yemen is currently under attack from Saudi Arabia with support from the United States. In Afghanistan, invaded and occupied by the United States for the last generation, at least 31,000 civilians have been killed. In Iraq, a very conservative estimate from the monitoring group Iraq Body Count found that over 200,000 civilians had died as a result of the aggressive war initiated by the Bush administration. Beyond the deaths, war is tearing apart entire societies.
The World Bank estimated that the economic cost of the war in Syria from 2011 to 2016 was four times the size of Syria’s economy. The United Nations reports that about one quarter of the entire country’s population has fled the war and become refugees, including more than 2 million children under 12.
In the United States, the equivalent would be 80 million people fleeing not just their homes, but the country as a whole.” Click here to read the full Truth-0ut article, The Cost of War.
From another Memorial Day Truth-Out Report by William Rivers Pitt: “And so there are the flags of Memorial Day, meant to honor the sacrifice of those who died in the wars. The remaining war survivors in the US are victims of a lethal machine designed to extract maximum profit for as long as possible, as are their brothers and sisters in the cold ground, as are the murdered civilians in Asia and the Middle East, as are we all.
Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq … it’s all the same war, bolstered by the same profit motive and veiled in the same empty promises. Only the dead — the fallen US soldiers and those they have killed — know the true cost of war here at the end of empire. A truly fitting memorial would be a Memorial Day when no new flags are needed, when we have all the dead we can stand and choose not to make more.”
Below is the video that was posted on Saturday. It perfectly captures how the US and its extensions: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization have been in league to expand capitalist control of all world resources and all world peoples.
Paul & Roxanne