The Next War

"I'm going to be killing people. I'm actually joining the Marines and will be doing this in real life."

War springs eternal. Compare the words of the 18-year-old boy
quoted above by Philadelphia radio station WRTI, as he was wielding a
pretend machinegun at a video-game parlor/Army recruiting center at a
Philly shopping mall, with those of two neocons, Charles Robb and Charles Wald (retired senator and general, respectively), writing last month in the Washington Post:

cannot afford to wait indefinitely to determine the effectiveness of
diplomacy and sanctions. . . . Instead, the administration needs to
expand its approach and make clear to the Iranian regime and the
American people: If diplomatic and economic pressures do not compel Iran
to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military has the capability
and is prepared to launch an effective, targeted strike on Tehran's
nuclear and supporting military facilities."

running out of time to act, they add, turning the fear crank,
ratcheting up the pressure like good used car salesmen. Iran could have a
nuclear bomb by the end of the year, they warn, citing no evidence for
this assertion. Evidence? They all but cried: "We don't want the smoking
gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Adm. Mike Mullen's ambivalent acknowledgment several days ago on "Meet
the Press" that the military indeed has a plan for invading Iran, to be
used if necessary, "the next war" has begun, suddenly, to take shape in
the media. No public input needed! We're the spectators here. Stay
tuned. We'll bring it to you live.

Missing, of course -- of course!
-- in any discussion of a no-nonsense military solution to Iran's
nuclear intransigence is: A) the least reflection on the disastrous
quagmire of the current wars, which were sold as quick-strike operations
to eliminate immediate threats (which, in the case of Iraq, turned out
not to exist); B) any assessment of the damage we have done, to the
Afghans, the Iraqis or ourselves, or of the multi-trillion-dollar cost
of these debacles; C) any reflection on our own hypocrisy (we have 5,113
nuclear warheads; our allies, including Israel, have as much as a
thousand more), or a consideration of the logic of Iran's own
self-protective instincts, i.e., that if they actually possess a bomb
the U.S. is far less likely to invade their country.

what we get is the grown-up, Ph.D.-level equivalent of the naive
18-year-old Marine wannabe playing war at the Army's entrapment, I mean
recruitment, center in Philadelphia. Effective, targeted strikes!
This'll be awesome!

more worrisome to me than neocon op-eds is the sense of inevitability --
indeed, reverence -- that accompanies "impartial" mainstream reportage
of war, especially the war that hasn't been fought yet. The unspoken
understanding is that war is a high-level, classified decision made in
the public's interest but utterly divorced from its input or wishes.

In an essay published on AlterNet in March, Frank Joyce
wrote: "Thanks to the superseding power of the transnational
corporation, democracy 'peaked' in the United States some time ago."

fear he's right. The military-industrial consensus has no interest in
democratic input. Consider the helplessness even of Dwight Eisenhower,
whose famous warning about the military-industrial complex came in his
farewell address, as he was surrendering the reins of power. He made his
point as a private citizen, not as an elected official with a plan to
curb it.

little-discussed adjunct to the military-industrial complex is the
entertainment industry, which, in the 50 years since Eisenhower issued
his plea for awareness, has burrowed deep into the American and global
psyche, turning violence into an ever more exhilarating abstraction.
Thus the announcement of each virgin war generates a wave not of horror
but excitement.

"A culture of killing and violence has become embedded in human consciousness," writes Michel Chossudovsky. This means that World War III, perhaps set off by a U.S. invasion of Iran, is possible.

there is a latent counterforce to all of the above. The industrial wars
of the last century have created an extraordinary blowback problem for
the global war profiteers. In the United States, we don't dare
reinstitute the draft. Not only was the draft the focal point of the
antiwar movement, but the draftee Army eventually rebelled against the
war and brought it to a halt. There is a huge antiwar movement in the
U.S. and around the globe, awaiting a single spark of ignition to
manifest in the 21st century.

fervent hope is that this happens sooner rather than later -- that the
mere threat of an invasion of Iran is enough to shatter the corporate
war consensus. Let's take geopolitics out of the hands of the
profiteers. Let's reclaim our democracy before it's too late.

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