Perpetual war is leading to a host of societal ills, yet debates on war and peace are almost entirely absent from public discourse, Robert Wing and Coleen Rowley observe.
By Robert Wing and Coleen Rowley
Last October marked the 16th anniversary of our unending war – or military occupation – in Afghanistan, the longest conflict on foreign soil in U.S. history. The cost to human lives in our current cycle of U.S.-initiated “perpetual wars” throughout the Middle East and Africa is unthinkably high. It runs well into millions of deaths if one counts – as do the Nuremberg principles of international law – victims of spinoff fighting and sectarian violence that erupt after we destroy governance structures.
Also to be counted are other forms of human loss, suffering, illness and early mortality that result from national sanctions, destruction of physical, social and medical infrastructure, loss of homeland, refugee flight, ethnic cleansing, and their psychological after-effects. One has to witness these to grasp their extent in trauma, and they all arise from the Nuremberg-defined “supreme crime” of initiating war. Waging aggressive war is something America is practiced in and does well, with justifications like “fighting terrorism,” “securing our interests,” “protecting innocents,” “spreading democracy,” etc. – as has every aggressor in history that felt the need to explain its aggressions.
Yet few gathered across the country in October, much less gave a thought of lament to the harm we are doing. It’s a topic we’d like to forget. Recalling that domestic opposition to the Vietnam War grew exponentially over the similar (but far shorter) timespan of that aggression, one might wonder what has changed. A numbed, distracted America has reached the point where bellicose presidential threats to destroy North Korea with its puny nuclear arsenal, and cancel the agreement keeping Iran from developing one, barely elicit shrugs among us.
One explanation for our current apathy is that our Military…