Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Panetta’s “30-Year War” with ISIS and Terrorism, and When Voting Doesn't Matter

“Have we raised the threshold of horror so high that nothing short of a nuclear strike qualifies as a 'real' war? Are we to spend the rest of our lives in this state of high alert with guns pointed at each other's heads and fingers trembling on the trigger?”  ― Arundhati Roy

As I said last month, the trend we will see running up to the 2016 elections will be one of fear and the message of needing a ‘strong’ president as a response to that fear.  Well as the following article from Mike Krieger and Zerohedge shows, we are seeing that push accelerate as none other than former CIA Director and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says flat out to expect a 30-year war with ISIS and setting the stage by implying Hillary Clinton had the right (i.e. pro-war) strategy for Syria:

“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war,” he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.
In the book’s final chapter, however, he writes that Obama’s “most conspicuous weakness” is “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.” Too often, he “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” On occasion, he “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

Link to referenced USA Today article: Panetta: '30-year war' and a leadership test for Obama

Like I said before, Obama is being criticized for not being militaristic enough, despite his current bombing campaign in Syria and having done the same to six other countries in his tenure thus far.  Notice here how the framework of the argument is being laid out for us?  The way they’re framing the argument is that there’s no question of whether we do use military action or we don’t; it’s now all about what level and degree of military action is needed.  It’s bad enough that the stooges in or running for office are framing the argument thus, but the mainstream media is offering little in the way of viewpoints outside this argument.  Sure I agree that the way he's directing the military actions in Syria is crap-tacular, but the whole point is we shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

It is even more disgusting how little pushback, or at least higher level discussion, there is in the mainstream media about the whole idea of a “30-Year War” against the Islamic State and various other groups in the Middle East and beyond.  I admit I get most of my news in web or print form and not TV so I may have missed some random TV pundit’s or commentator’s argument against it.  But I have not seen an abundance of editorials railing against the apparently sociopathic (though being a well-connected and ‘credentialed’ one so apparently the media gives him a pass) Leon Panetta and his statement that a 30-years war is good and necessary.  The fact is it is not necessary, and it will feed the very thing it is supposed to stop.  

I suspect this is intentional.  With the economy slowly crumbling and many government promises due to be unfulfilled in the years to come, there is a desperate need for this government and both major political parties to still have the appearance of being relevant and necessary.  Since they’re growing to the point of being incapable of doing anything of actual lasting benefit to the people, they need to convince the people that there is a major threat out there somewhere and they need this government to protect them.  Some nations that have done this in the past have created such ‘threats’ out of thin air, whereas others have taken legitimate threats and hyped them up to appear much more of a threat than they actually are.  The Islamic State or ISIS or ISIL or whatever we’re calling them this week is a prime example of the latter.  They appear to be an murderous bunch of fundamentalist whack jobs, but when it comes down to it they are merely a regional military threat and not nearly as much of a risk to the US as they’re being made out.  They MIGHT be able to orchestrate terror attacks here and there in the US, but in that respect they're no different than a dozen of other such groups.  Ultimately they are not that impressive.  But if one were to have a war of indefinite length, who better to have it against than a flashy, yet clearly inferior, opponent?  Sure innocent lives will be lost, but those in power will usually find some rationalization for whatever actions they find necessary to keep that power.  And if those innocents are mostly people you don’t know on the other side of the world.... well, out of sight out of mind (seems to work well enough at keeping consciences quiet about their messy drone strikes in Pakistan...). 

There is nothing more damaging to a democratic society than constant, long-term war.  By its very nature such a constant war cannot be maintained indefinitely in a true republic or democracy, as the people will eventually tire of the sacrifice (both in lives and money/resources) required for such a war.  In order to keep the war going, the society would HAVE to move towards a more autocratic or dictatorial style of government.  We have already seen a slow but steady move in this direction ever since the War on Terror started (one might say it started even earlier with the War on Drugs), with the steady erosion of our effective 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendment rights.  Giving consent for another indefinite war is just asking the government to take more of your rights away, so why vote for any of these clowns?  Even if one were to agree that something had to be done about the Islamic State, to say that this piss-ant group of fundamentalist douchebags requires a war of a length many times greater than the war against Imperial Japan AND Nazi Germany in WW2 is beyond absurd.  To my thinking, a 30-years war is a means to an end, but that end is all about the political elite in the US consolidating more power locally and globally.  Some might say Leon Panetta is no longer in office, but realistically speaking anyone with who has been both the CIA director and Secretary of Defense and has a political career of that span is as dialed in and part of the elite political club as anyone currently holding office.

Of course now we happen to be at that horrid time… election season… where we are once again told that our votes matter and labor under the delusion that we have any lasting influence in the higher levels of office.  If you just happen to be one of the rare few who actually have a Senator or Representative whose actions (not just words) actually demonstrate a solid position against further military involvement, well lucky you.  Most of us however, will only get a choice between ‘war-hawk’ and ‘war-hawk lite’.  That’s not a choice… that’s the illusion of a choice.    And when it comes to the presidential election two years from now I predict you’re going to see the same thing, only this time on steroids.  And many of us probably will be too trapped by the fear peddled by the said candidates AND the media that we’ll fall for the same trick again.

So by now you can probably guess that I am independent and, as some like to put it, am going to “throw my vote away” on third party or independent or write-in candidates.  And you would be right.  It is as much a vote of protest as anything else, but the only real reason I vote at all is for the various ballot initiatives and local (and sometimes state) elections.  IMHO, the further up the chain the elected office, the more ‘rigged’ the game is.  But with ballot initiatives, propositions, and local offices, there still is a semblance of the public’s ability to influence events.  So I wouldn’t even be voting at all if it weren’t for that; my ‘ideologically-motivated’ or ‘protest’ vote is more or less done because it’s only a couple more pages to fill or not fill on the ballot.  And as I said before, you can always make a statement or have fun with the write-in column…

“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”     - Yoda

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