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Long wars, violence and change in America

It’s tough these days being a non-violent peace activist. Many see the notion of “peace is the way” as laughable, and the government equates peace with military domination.

The bi-partisan War Party in America won’t budge from its imperial wars despite majority polls and protests urging they do so. The right-wing base continues to narrow its range of toleration on everything. And the courts come down on the side of corporations, state power and a culture that has elevated guns into a religion.

I’ve worked in the peace movement for 30 years, and I believe in non-violently speaking truth to power. But the prospects for peace have never seemed gloomier or the situation more absurd.

Camp-following cheerleaders like ABC’s Martha Raddatz’s and others like her aside, General Stanley McChystal’s frustrations as revealed in a Rolling Stone article were a profound window into the fact the counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan is going badly.

In a reasonable, democratic universe, this might have kicked off a serious national discussion and a re-evaluation of the occupation itself. Instead, the war has been given a whole new lease on life with 4th of July bunting.

Except for Republican Chairman Michael Steele, who veered off message for a moment to criticize the war in Afghanistan as “a war of Obama’s choosing,” all elements of the War Party got their stories straight and are now in full cheerleader mode.

President Obama seeks “success” in Afghanistan, something that shifts with the political winds. Senator John McCain calls for "a certain trumpet,” lest the Taliban insurgents get the wrong idea that Americans are tired of the war – when all polls suggest Americans are tired of the war. He must think the Taliban don’t read The New York Times.

A pro-war demonstrator, left, confronts the peace movement in West Chester, PA. Photo by John GrantA pro-war demonstrator, left, confronts the peace movement in West Chester, PA. Photo by John Grant

McChrystal’s boss, General David Petraeus, was sworn in as the American Viceroy of Afghanistan on the 4th of July. He did Obama’s “success” goal one better and said, “We are in this to win.”

In his drive-through Senate confirmation, Petraeus reassured senators that he would revise restrictions on lethal air support in cases of infantry units in trouble. These restrictions, of course, were policy based on his famous counterinsurgency doctrine, but in the American media-mind they are now treated as McChrystal’s failed policy.

This means jacking up the “kinetic” war, more aerial bombing and less sensitivity to civilian casualties.

President Obama made a big deal over firing General McChrystal to protect his constitutionally mandated civilian control over the military. Then he put the military squarely back in the driver’s seat with $33 billion in fresh funding.

“Long wars are antithetical to democracy,” says Andrew Bacevich in a Washington Post op-ed. He is a retired Army colonel and professor of history at Boston University.

story | by Dr. Radut