Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Canada Enlists in America's Permanent War for
By Gerald Caplan
Globe and Mail, Nov. 26, 2010
American and NATO troops,
including Canadians, will pull out of Afghanistan in 2014 at the latest,
unless they don't. It depends on something but no one knows what that
something might be. In his new book Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward quotes
General David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan: "I don't
think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. Š This is the kind of
fight we're in for the rest of our lives, and probably our kids' lives."
Dear me, how do I break this to our granddaughter?
Luckily for the
general he's getting full co-operation from his peacenik President. Having
campaigned against the Iraq war and promised not to get mired in
Afghanistan, Barack Obama recently sent Congress the largest defence
budget since the Second World War: $708-billion for the fiscal year 2011,
$82-billion more than for 2010. The total then grew by $33-billion for the
30,000 additional troops Mr. Obama dispatched to Afghanistan.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China's
2009 military expenditures were $99-billion, Britan's $67-billion,
Russia's $61-billion and Canada's $20-billion. As usual, the U.S. military
budget is more or less equal to that of the entire rest of the world
And thank the Good Lord for it. It costs a fortune to
have a peaceful world and America is not prepared to skimp when it comes
to world peace. In The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars became
Obama's, Tom Englehardt writes that "war is now the American way." I'm
afraid this is seriously misinformed. War has always been the American
way. After all, the quest for peace is eternal.
The world should be
more grateful. To fulfill this mission, the United States has fought more
wars, invaded more countries, supported more tyrants, sponsored more
coups, trained and funded more foreign armies, and enabled more massacres
than any other country in history. Because peace demanded it, the United
States also became the only country ever to use nuclear weapons.
Unlike Canada, the United States was founded in war and soon discovered it
was addicted. Couldn't get enough of it. Alas, one meagre column barely
allows space even to list all of America's wars and interventions since
its founding. In every decade since the Revolutionary War, the United
States has been militarily involved somewhere on Earth including, for its
first century and a quarter, on the North American continent itself.
With apologies to those inadvertently neglected, this includes the war
with France 1798-1800, the Barbary wars against North Africa 1801-05 (what
were the Marines doing over there anyway?), the Indian wars 1775-1898 (one
of the greatest genocidal crimes in world history), the War of 1812 (of
course), the 1836 war for Texan independence, the war against Mexico, the
Civil War, war in Hawaii in 1893 (yes Hawaii), the Spanish-American War,
the war against the Philippines (some 200,000 Philippine civilians
murdered, one of history's great forgotten massacres), a quarter-century
of military intervention in Central America from 1909-1933, the First
World War, Mexico 1916-17, the USSR 1919-21, the Second World War, Korea,
Lebanon, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia - are you still with me?
This is exhausting, but we've reached the 1980s. Okay: Nicaragua,
Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Grenada (Ronald Reagan ordered 7,000
soldiers to invade this tiny but menacing island and handed out 8,612
medals, some to heroic soldiers who never left the United States), Panama,
Iraq I under Bush I, Somalia. (Remember the much-publicized 18 American
Rangers killed during "Black Hawk Down"? Somewhere in Mark Bowden's book
he also mentions that in the process, some 1,000 Somalis were killed.)
This brings us to Bush II's two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, still
ongoing under his Nobel Peace Prize-winning successor. Is Bush II bitter?
We might also note that during the Cold War, in order to meet the
insidious threat to world peace from international communism, the United
States found it necessary to be complicit in enormous massacres by allies
whom it funded, armed and trained, including Indonesia (half a million
dead), Pakistan (some consider it a genocide against Bangladeshis), Chile
(you know), Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Greece (violent right-wing
military juntas in all four), Zaire/Congo, Angola and Mozambique.
In all these murderous Cold War projects, as it happens, the hand of Henry
Kissinger was prominent, according to his biographer, the respected
establishment figure Walter Isaacson. "Dr." Kissinger, for self-evident
reasons an oft-accused war criminal, is now an adviser to Barack Obama,
one Nobel Peace prize winner to another.
Oh yes, almost forgot -
for years U.S. governments maintained close working relations with the
apartheid regime of South Africa, much as it does now with the likes of
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. Did I say Israel yet?
So much for
the facts. Now for the interpretation. In every case, without exception,
the U.S. insisted it was acting to further the cause of peace, justice,
liberty and, when it remembered, democracy. In every case it was compelled
to act in the pursuit of sacred values. As an obscure writer named Michael
Ignatieff once put it: The United States is "a global hegemon, whose grace
notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most
awesome military power the world has ever known." A Vietnamese or Iraqi
could hardly have put it better.
It's true that some cranky
Americans disagree. A tiny minority of self-hating Americans consider most
of these interventions to have been immoral, illegal, imperialistic and
murderous. Most of us know better. We can make the following statements
with 100-per-cent confidence:
» None of these interventions
constituted aggression. All were just wars.
» None was to expand the
American empire, which doesn't exist.
» None was to control the wealth
of others, including natural resources, especially oil.
» None was to
make the world safe for American corporations.
» None was promoted by
the American arms industry.
» None was promoted by special interest
constituencies in the US.
» None was to spread American hegemony.
None was initiated by the United States. All were in self-defense.
Former neocon Michael Lind majestically summed up what Americans and Mr.
Ignatieff have asserted for the past 235 years: "The case for American
foreign policy rests on the coincidence of the general interest of
humanity and the particular interest of the United States." Aren't they
the lucky ones? And God shines his light on thee.
At this moment,
to pursue its crusade for world peace, etc., etc., the United States
maintains about 1,000 military bases in 130 countries on every continent
save Antarctica. (Professor Chalmers Johnson, who spent years documenting
these bases, died just this week.)
As well, Mr. Obama has just
decided to continue military aid to four countries who are known to use
child soldiers in their armies, despite America's Child Soldiers
Prevention Act of 2008. Romeo Dallaire may not yet have grasped this, but
clearly it's vital that the United States. continue to arm the Congo,
Sudan, Chad and Yemen, all partners in the U.S. pursuit of world peace,
etc., etc. A second Nobel Peace Prize seems a slam dunk.
gratifying that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our Leader of the
Opposition accept Canada's manifest destiny to embrace the American
crusade wherever it next takes us - Iran, North Korea, Syria, Yemen,
Somalia, Libya, China, Pakistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Venezuela. We
Canadians too can now look forward to a future of permanent war in the
pursuit of peace. Our granddaughter will be so pleased.