With President Obama expected to deliver a national address on his plans for expanding the U.S. war against militant forces in Iraq (and possibly Syria) on Wednesday, the U.S. public is once again facing the sad fact that after thirteen years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, permanent war has become the nation's steady state.
"Here’s how you know you live in an empire devoted to endless militarism: when a new 3-year war is announced and very few people seem to think the president needs anyone’s permission to start it (including Congress) and, more so, when the announcement - of a new multiple-year war - seems quite run-of-the-mill and normal." —Glenn GreenwaldOn Tuesday, Obama met with Congressional leaders where he indicated his position that he already had all the authority he needs to execute the strategy he has in mind.
In a piece posted in Bloomberg, political correspondent Jonathan Allen said the "trick" Obama has to achieve in his Wednesday night address will be "getting the American public, Congress and allies abroad to sign on" to his new strategy to take on the group know as the Islamic State (formerly called ISIS), which operates in war zones in both Iraq and Syria.
Leaked details of Obama's planned strategy suggest that the White House does not think it needs any additional authority from either the U.S. Congress or the United Nations to carry out airstrikes in Iraq or Syria, though it appears the president wants to make that case plainly to the electorate in order to garner as many nods of support as possible.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Iraq and met with the nation's newly sworn-in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Kerry told journalists that it will soon become clear "what the United States is prepared to do, together with many other countries in a broad coalition, in order to take on this terrorist structure, which is unacceptable by any standard anywhere in the world."
But Kerry's remarks from Baghdad are haunting for those who remember promises made prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In a piece published Wednesday exploring the "no end in sight" nature of modern U.S. wars, the Associated Press reports:
For now, President Barack Obama seems to have bipartisan support as he prepares to outline his plans Wednesday for expanded operations against militants of the so-called Islamic State who have overrun large swaths of Iraq. His administration has cautioned that the effort could take several years.
Short-term, Obama has public opinion with him; a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found 71 percent of Americans supporting airstrikes against the Islamic State fighters, compared to 45 percent in June. Longer-term, a Pew Research Center-USA Today poll last month suggested that most Americans view the world as becoming more dangerous and expect militant forms of Islam to grow in influence rather than subside.
However, in a piece earlier this week it was journalist Glenn Greenwald who said the U.S. public is dangerous in its willingness—despite the colossal failures of the so-called 'global war on terrorism' initiated by George W. Bush and continued by Obama—to support a new and wider expeditionary war in Iraq and beyond. Citing the recent and brutal beheadings by ISIS of two American journalists, Greenwald argues the American public remains extremely pliable when it comes to supporting military action overseas and that both political leaders and the mainstream media pundits are once again glossing over the complexities and misguided thinking that is driving a new push for war in the Middle East. Among a series of observations about the current push for war, Greenwald writes:
Here’s how you know you live in an empire devoted to endless militarism: when a new 3-year war is announced and very few people seem to think the president needs anyone’s permission to start it (including Congress) and, more so, when the announcement - of a new multiple-year war - seems quite run-of-the-mill and normal.
How long will we have to wait for the poll finding that most Americans “regret” having supported this new war in Iraq and Syria and view it as a “mistake”, as they prepare, in a frenzy of manufactured fear, to support the next proposed war?
In an op-ed published Tuesday, foreign policy analyst and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Mark Weisbrot argues that Obama has no choice but to bring his plans for military action before the Congress and the UN Security Council. Weisbrot writes:
"There needs to be a public debate about this military intervention that has already begun, and part of that debate must be in Congress," Weisbrot writes. "After two long, unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost thousands of American lives, tens of thousands wounded and more than a trillion dollars, the American public is sick of war and wary of new, open-ended military ventures. Tens of millions of Americans – including many experts – also know that the threat of terrorism has been grossly exaggerated for political purposes."
Regarding the international community's role, he continued:
Just as the U.S. Constitution provides a check on the president’s authority to wage war, at the international level there is the law of the United Nations, which is supposed to govern the use of force in international relations. Article 2 of the U.N. charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, prohibits the use of military force against other nations unless authorized by the Security Council. There are exceptions, for threats of imminent attack, but the U.S. is not under imminent threat of attack and no one has claimed that it is.
That means that governments throughout the world should bring this matter to the Security Council, so that any military force that is authorized can be limited and oriented to ending the conflict, rather than waging war to promote the interests of any one country or alliance.