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How Much War Do We Need?

Internet humor is notoriously irreverent. I recall a couple of thought-provoking right-wing comics about the peace movement. In one you see a group with signs saying "There are no just wars!", but with the exception of one who carries a sign "Except WW2!".

The point is, of course, that people only rally against the wars they don't like, but when the chips come down, any nation must stand ready to defend itself. We support the wars we like, and the trick, so to speak, for the people in power, is to market the wars to the public will like them.

A new string of articles highlighting the US military budget, naturally juxtaposing it with the Washington budget and debt crisis, raises the question:

How much war do we really need?

In 2005 the United Nations published The first annual Human Security Report, which concluded to the surprise of news addicts all over the world that violent conflict around the world is declining.

While many small conflicts remain, since the Cold War the number of armed conflicts has decreased by more than 40%, and the number of major conflicts (defined as resulting in 1,000 or more "battle-deaths") has declined by 80%.

With the US caught in a serious debt crisis, and with BRIC predicted to be the four largest economies by 2050, the calls that US imperial power is now in rapid decline have become mainstream.
"America in 2011 is Rome in 200AD or Britain on the eve of the first world war: an empire at the zenith of its power but with cracks beginning to show," wrote the Economics editor of The Guardian, Larry Elliott in June 2011.
Harvard Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr, a former US assistant secretary of defence, argues that in spite of the rise of China, projected to become the dominant economy by 2016, the US military power still plays a crucial role in forming world politics in the 21st century.

The Disastrous Effects of US Imperialism

US imperialism manifests itself as political pressure, economic sanction and military force. Diplomacy and economic measures are always backed up by the threat of military force. Any nation contemplating escalation of a conflict with USA will, in a final analysis, see an overwhelming military force descending upon them.

A recent WikiLeak perfectly illustrates how 21st century US imperialism works:

Hanes and Levis contacted the US State Department, because Haiti was considering raising the minimum wage to 61 cents per hour agains the current 31 cents, and the US State Department contacted the Haiti government and put pressure on them to halt the proposal.

The example demonstrates how Washington, backed by its unsurpassed military power, is effectively micro-managing the tiniest parts of the world for corporate profit.

Paul Craig Roberts speculates that the American empire will prevail by attempting to trigger a war between India and China. Others see the conflict between Iran and Israel, and by extention USA, as the next great war. The struggle over oil resources in the South China Sea is also considered a possible flash point for a new 21st century mega-conflict.

In a move to put an end to Chinese hackers who have consistently breached the firewalls of US official networks over the past decade, Washington has declared hacking "an act of war", while at the same time Obama calls drone bombing "kinetic action" and violates the US War Powers Act that demands that he put military action such as the intervention in Libya before Congress within 60 days of the first operations.

How the Foreign Aid Ponzi Scheme Works

China, caught in the cross-hairs of US policy makers, has stated that its military power does not constitute a threat, and that it is not the agenda of the country to establish an empire.

Meanwhile, support for the US agenda for the Middle East is waning, as the nations forming the Coalition of the Willing are counting the costs against the advantages, and finding that the military adventure does not measure up to expectations.

A new report states that Afghanistan is now officially a "war time economy" with 97% of its GDP linked to foreign spending.

Pakistan, one of the three largest recepients of US foreign aid has calculated the costs of carrying out the Washington imposed War on Terror, and the conclusion is that the direct and indirect costs for Pakistan far outweighs the foreign aid.

US foreign aid is paid out to anyone who will cooperate and comply with America's military agenda. It comes with a so-called "peace and security" clause, but effectively promotes corruption, as the money is easily funnelled into the pockets of leaders through the principle of connected vessels.

One should not be surprised that a leader who will agree to subordinate his country's interests to the interests of a foreign power for cash is also corrupted.

The US is sending out billions in foreign aid every year, even to Russia and China, but receives trillions in foreign aid from some of the same countries it gives foreign aid to - in the shape of the foreign holdings of US national treasury bonds.

This keeps up the system of global governance that we refer to as American imperialism, justifying the common phrase: "USA is the policeman of the world."

The problem, however, is that USA is not just the policeman, but represents pretty much all three branches of government. USA is the largest economy, the largest and most modern military force, and immune to prosecution for war crimes, even if she produces the majority of conflicts, casualties and human rights violations.

In global politics USA is the judge, the jury and the executioner.

That is why the system of governance in the 21st century is less than anarchic, and much less than democratic. That's why it makes sense to casually use a term like "American imperialism".

Producing Terrorism to Justify Empire

War is crucial to USA's business model for a number of reasons. The military-industrial base is the last remaining intact industrial base of the country and an object of intense concern in Congress, as Chinese manufacturers are cutting into also this area.

The Grand Area Doctrine of USA allows USA to take military action to defend her interests in literally every corner of the world, and this necessitates an enormous military apparatus.

USA makes use of this enhancement whereever and whenever it is applicable, and the only way to impede the intrusiveness of Pentagon and Washington is to counter efforts with enough economic or military counter-measures to make aggression untenable from a cost-benefit perspective.

Most countries outside the West does not have this capacity, and this is a huge contributor to the production of terrorism. The desperation is frequently described as a by-product of "assymmetric conflict," which simply means that a very weak player is being threatened or a attacked by a very powerful player and succumbs to illegal tactics.

The effectiveness of terrorism today testifies to its origin: USA is effectively producing it with its unrelenting stance on what activists and development experts in the Third World refers to as "economic rights", in contrast to the human rights highlighted by the affluent West, the social and cultural rights.

Perhaps USA is even consciously producing terrorism, in order to perpetuate the perception of a need for the world to rally around the world's largest military-industrial complex.

Even without conspiracy, nefarious CIA instigation and false flag operations, and economic destabilization through the World Bank and IMF two man con game, USA can simply manipulate the world using the dynamics of "assymmetric conflict" to produce terror. That is the privilege of holding the long end of the stick.

Meanwhile, other problems are neglected, drowned out by the narrative of perpetual war. A billion people suffer starvation, and in 2010 alone 42 million were displaced by natural disasters.

The effects on the global community of this autocratic power is harrowing, contributing to dangerous xenophobia and right wing terrorism at home and abroad.

Scores of American soldiers are being killed or maimed, only to return to a harrowing lack of prospects at home, and veterans are now considered the biggest threat to US security.

The Cost-Benefit of "Muscular Foreign Policy"

All this highlights to what extent USA is invested in making money from war, and to utilize military threat to further its interests.

It is imperative to Washington to justify not only its conduct and its policies, but its existence as a global hegemon.

The rest of the world must be depicted as on the brink of collapse, as profoundly chaotic, uncivilized... as the realm of barbarism, where only the light of freedom and democracy in the American meaning of the terms can provide progress and relief from a multitude of pangs.

What to Washington is "muscular foreign policy", however, constitutes to the rest of the world bullying, oppression and violation.

If USA is the policeman of the world, it is a corrupt policeman with economic investments directly tied to the persons and groups under investigation. It is a cop with a license to kill, impunity to prosecution and power over the judges and the politicans. American empire more resembles a mafia than an actual police force.

The issue of policing the world is also relevant to the methods applied by American forces in actual conflict zones. The armed forces are not a police force. They are not sufficiently trained to interact with the local population, except for the photo ops of candy bar distribution among the children.

The armed forces of not only USA but the entire Western coalition are ignorant about local customs, often full of contempt of foreign cultures, and in some cases indifferent to foreign lives.

When we look at the need for US military power to be a balancing force to "the chaos of the world", we must ask ourselves how much of this chaos is imagined, how much is exaggerated, and how much is produced by the West.

Like scientists do in clinical experiments, we must carefully subtract our own influence from the measurements, as well as place strict limitations on our biases.

How much of the crisis is produced by fallacies in the US? How many conflicts are produced by the selfish interests of Western government and corporations? To what extent does the economic paradigm of Washington destabilize or undermine the development of foreign countries.

Only when this is done, we can begin to ask the question: "How much war do we need?"

Dialogue With USA in the 21st Century?

It is undoubtedly necessary to have USA and the other Western powers deeply involved in solving the challenges of our increasingly interconnected world.

Every country and every region must adopt responsibility for their own progress. All responsibility for corruption, sectarian conflicts, poor development and bad governance in general cannot be wiped off on the West.

Shared burden of responsibility is another by-product of the emerging multi-polar world order.

However, it follows with advocacy of US hegemony and military concentration, that USA must also carry the majority of blame. To argue in the same breath that USA will and must retain its leadership position while at the same time outsourcing blame is simply hypocritical.

The majority of the world, including Americans, want food, housing, employment and affordable health care, while "socialism" is still a four letter word on Capitol Hill.

There is a direct conflict of interest between the American corporatism and the billions of citizens directly or indirectly represented by the "world government" headed and financed by USA.

The Arab Spring, responding directly to dire need and to oppression by dictators and to corruption of the civil institutions claimed not to exist in the MENA region, reflect this conflict of interests. It is as much a revolt against a sattrap system as it is an internal argument manifesting as protests sweeping the entire region.

The shared interest between citizens in the Arab world and the Western world can be seen in the way protests migrate and spread also in USA and in Europe among discontented citizens who are beginning to decode and deconstruct the rhetoric and the policies of the dominant regime.

Nobody argues against the right of USA or any other nation to defend its borders and to take to arms against a foreign invader, but the discussion of American militarism is not about that - it is about the casual bombing and hasty invasions of foreign sovereign nations for altogether dubious purposes and with disastrous effect.

For the world to reduce cultural conflicts in order to be able to work in unison to solve collective global problems - such as climate change, displacement and impoverization, energy crisis, natural disasters and pandemics - these protests much settle into a vertical dialogue between the ones who have and the ones who have not.

If such a dialogue is rejected by the only side in the equasion that can reject them, the people in power, then we may find we need far more war than any of us want - including even the US military-industrial complex and the armed forces.

It was the gargantuan error in calculation of the previous decade that US policy makers thought that for the US military-industrial complex there is no such thing as "too much war."

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