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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Dead Rhetoric of War

The Dead Rhetoric of War

By Chris Hedges
Truth Dig
September 18, 2013

The intoxication of war, fueled by the euphoric nationalism that
swept through the country like a plague following the attacks of
9/11, is a spent force in the United States.

The high-blown rhetoric of patriotism and national destiny, of the
sacred duty to reshape the world through violence, to liberate the
enslaved and implant democracy in the Middle East, has finally
been exposed as empty and meaningless.

The war machine has tried all the old tricks.

It trotted out the requisite footage of atrocities.

It issued the histrionic warnings that the evil dictator will turn
his weapons of mass destruction against us if we do not bomb
and “degrade” his military.

It appealed to the nation’s noble sacrifice in World War II, with
the Secretary of State John Kerry calling the present situation a
“Munich moment.”

But none of it worked.

It was only an offhand remark by Kerry that opened the door to a
Russian initiative, providing the Obama administration a swift exit
from its mindless bellicosity and what would have been a humiliating
domestic defeat.

Twelve long years of fruitless war in Afghanistan and another ten
in Iraq have left the public wary of the lies of politicians, sick of
the endless violence of empire and unwilling to continue to pump
trillions of dollars into a war machine that has made a small cabal
of defense contractors and arms manufacturers such as Raytheon
and Halliburton huge profits while we are economically and politically
hollowed out from the inside.

The party is over.

The myth of war, as each generation discovers over the corpses of
its young and the looting of its national treasury by war profiteers,
is a lie.

War is no longer able to divert Americans from the economic and
political decay that is rapidly turning the nation into a corporate
oligarchy, a nation where “the consent of the governed” is a cruel
joke.

War cannot hide what we have become.

War has made us a nation that openly tortures and holds people
indefinitely in our archipelago of offshore penal colonies.

War has unleashed death squads, known as special operations
forces to assassinate our enemies around the globe, even
American citizens.

War has seen us terrorize whole populations, including populations
with which we are not officially at war, with armed drones that
circle night and day above mud-walled villages in Pakistan, Yemen,
and Somalia, as well as Iraq, and Afghanistan.

War has shredded, in the name of national security, our most
basic civil liberties.

War has turned us into the most spied-upon, monitored,
eavesdropped and photographed population in human history.

War has seen our most courageous dissidents and whistle-blowers,
those who warned us of the crimes of war and empire, from Chelsea
(formerly Bradley) Manning to Edward Snowden, become persecuted
political prisoners or the hunted.

War has made a few very rich, as it always does, as our schools,
libraries and firehouses are closed in the name of fiscal austerity,
basic social service programs for children and the elderly are
shut down, cities such as Detroit declare bankruptcy, and chronic
underemployment, and unemployment, hover at 15 percent, or
perhaps 20 percent.

No one knows the truth anymore about America.

The vast Potemkin village we have become, the monstrous lie that
is America, includes the willful manipulation of financial and official
statistics from Wall Street and Washington.

We are slowly awakening, after years on a drunken bender, to the
awful pain of sobriety and the unpleasant glare of daylight.

We are being forced to face grim truths about ourselves and the
war machine.

We have understood that we cannot impart our, “virtues” through
violence, that all talk of human rights, once you employ the industrial
weapons of the modern battlefield, is absurd.

We see through the Orwellian assertions made by Barack Obama,
and John Kerry, who have assured the world that the United States
is considering only an, “unbelievably small limited” strike on Syria
that is not a war.

We know that the Pentagon’s plan to obliterate the command
bunkers, airfields or the artillery batteries and rocket launchers
used to fire chemical projectiles is indeed what the politicians
insist it is not a war.

We know that the launching of several hundred Tomahawk missiles
from destroyers and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea on Syrian
military and command installations would be perceived by the
Syrians, as we would should such missiles be launched against us,
as an act of war.

A Tomahawk carries a 1,000-pound bomb or 166 cluster bombs.

One Tomahawk has appalling destructive power. Hundreds mean
indiscriminate death from the sky.

We have heard the careful parsing that does not preclude,
should the Pandora’s box of war be opened and chaos envelope
Syria, the possible deployment of troops on the ground.

We have listened to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, concede that “there is a probability for collateral
damage.”

We know this means civilians will be killed to prevent the regime
of Bashar Assad from killing civilians.

Only the circular logic of war makes such a proposition rational.

And this circular logic, no longer obscured by the waving of flags,
the bombast of “glory and honor,” the cant of politicians, the
self-exaltation that comes with the disease of nationalism, means
that Barack Obama, and the war machine he serves, are going to
face a wave of popular revulsion if he starts another war.



Chris Hedges is a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York
Times and he is the author, with Joe Sacco, of “Days of Destruction,
Days of Revolt.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_dead_rhetoric_of_war
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