Perpetual War: Treadmill of America’s Mind

Like a caged hamster on a running wheel, the American people are trapped in perpetual wars that the foreign policy elites offer no way to end, only excuses to continue, observes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

The newest issue of Foreign Affairs features the theme of “America’s Forgotten Wars,” with a cover illustration that juxtaposes a carefree scene of Americans enjoying a picnic with a scene of American soldiers fighting and incurring casualties in some sandy and desolate battle space.

Hamster on a running wheel. (Photo from Wikipedia)

The picture depicts truthfully the detachment between, on one hand, the daily interests and attitudes of most Americans and, on the other hand, the disturbing reality of the United States being engaged continuously in a variety of lethal military operations in multiple lands overseas.

Andrew Bacevich has elsewhere provided several reasons why, as he puts it, “the vast majority of the American people could not care less” that their country has become mired in what amounts to permanent warfare abroad. These reasons include, for example, that the true costs of these military expeditions have not been completely tabulated and that “blather crowds out substance” in American public discourse about foreign policy.

The pattern of permanent U.S. involvement in warfare, which has prevailed for the past 16 years, departs markedly from what had been the traditional American approach toward war and peace, and therein lies an additional set of reasons why Americans at home are not now up in arms over how fellow citizens have had to take up arms and fight endlessly overseas. That tradition grew up throughout the Nineteenth Century and was cemented by America’s greatest overseas military effort ever: World War II.

The tradition was one of war being a relatively infrequent necessity that involved the United States sallying forth to slay a clearly defined monster of the moment and then, after a clear and victorious ending, returning to peacetime pursuits.

As I have discussed at greater length elsewhere, the application of this template of what war is expected to look like — and especially the expectation that any war will have a definite, identifiable end — has entailed numerous problems when applied to more continuous American activities abroad.

The problems have included the quandary of what to do about some of the detainees at Guantanamo. The past experience of holding prisoners of war until the end of hostilities does not apply, not only because of any distinction between legal and illegal combatants but also because events that led to the current detentions will never get to a point that can be identified as the end of hostilities.

Another problem has been the difficulty Congress has had in exercising its constitutional responsibility to define clearly the objective and scope of U.S. involvement in any foreign war.

The mental template of finite war also underlies the carefree American public attitude toward the unending American involvement in warfare abroad.

Looking for a Traditional End 

At some level of the American psyche is the belief that today’s combat, like most of yesteryear’s, will have a clear (and victorious) end. Thus, most Americans feel no need to contemplate and discuss what ought to be the very disturbing prospect that Americans will be fighting abroad forever.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

That the current unending warfare was launched as a so-called “war on terror” has added significantly to these problems. (Bacevich lists as another of his reasons for the acceptance of permanent war that “terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more.”)

The “war on terror” label, and the associated concept, never were logical. As the late Zbigniew Brzezinski once commented, calling this a war on terror makes as much sense as calling World War II the “war on blitzkrieg.” Terrorism is a tactic that has been used for millennia, and in that regard the countering of it is endless. The “war” terminology also has encouraged the excessive militarization of counterterrorism.

On top of this was George W. Bush’s encouragement to Americans to respond to terrorism by going shopping and to “get down to Disney World in Florida … take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” These words were in one sense prudent advice not to do terrorists’ work for them by overreacting with fear. But they also encouraged the very sort of detachment and lack of concern about endless warfare that is depicted on the Foreign Affairs cover.

Added to this are additional American tendencies in thinking about America’s involvement with the world — especially the tendency to believe that any problem abroad can be solved with enough determination and effort, and that the United States is the party that should take the lead in solving it. There is great reluctance to leave any situation that still looks like a mess, because the leaving looks like failure, regardless of what specific U.S. objectives may have been accomplished.

These American habits of thought are added to the more general human tendency to treat sunk costs as investments. The result is recurrent mission creep, in which expeditions that began in the name of countering terrorism morph into a nation-building enterprise or an effort to counter the influence of some other state.

The New Normal

That the current streak of warfare already has gone on for so long has further encouraged acceptance of it as the new normal. Much of a generation has come of age knowing the United States as always engaged in warfare abroad. Permanent warfare, and refusal to accept anything that could be depicted as defeat, has become a frame of reference not just for the general public but also for foreign policy cognoscenti.

Seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Marines conduct a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 21, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony L. Ortiz)

That framework is readily evident in the articles on Iraq and Afghanistan in that issue of Foreign Affairs. (A refreshing contrast is the piece by former Ambassador Robert Ford on Syria, titled “Keeping Out of Syria: The Least Bad Option,” which concludes that the one useful thing the United States can do is to help neighboring countries provide for Syrian refugees.)

The article on Iraq, by Emma Sky (who was political adviser to one of the U.S. military commanders in Iraq) is titled “Mission Still Not Accomplished in Iraq.” It repeats most of the now-familiar arguments for the United States to keep plodding on militarily in Iraq. This includes the idea that, even with the reduction of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate, the outcome of a civil war in a Middle Eastern country is supposedly a key determinant of international terrorism in the West. It includes Sky’s assertion that “U.S. support is still needed to discourage other countries in the region from filling the power vacuum” — disregarding how misleading is the metaphor of a vacuum when applied to international politics.

Sky’s ultimate rationale for staying militarily in Iraq seems to be, as is true of many such rationales these days, to counter Iranian influence — never mind that Iran has been on the same side as the United States in the fight against the Islamic State. Sky writes that if Iranian influence is left unchecked, “this could lead not just to an Iranian-Saudi confrontation but to an Iranian-Israeli one as well.”

This sounds like as much of a problem with Saudi Arabia and Israel as with Iran. It is, moreover, a reflection of how the mission creep has moved beyond expansive notions of counterterrorism and even beyond nation-building to immersion in someone else’s regional rivalries. This rationale also forgets how the whole Iraqi mess, including increased Iranian influence, that Sky does not want to leave while it is still a mess began with a U.S. military invasion.

The article on Afghanistan, by former military commander Stan McChrystal (co-written by his former aide-de-camp Kosh Sadat) sounds more self-aware than Sky’s about how the military effort in question is akin to endless plodding on a treadmill. McChrystal acknowledges that the course he recommends is open to the charge that it “would meet the definition of insanity — which, as that old adage has it, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Although McChrystal has some suggestions for tweaking the policy, his basic conclusion is that the United States is “stuck” with doing more of the same.

In neither of these treatments of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is there a basis for identifying or expecting a conclusion to the expeditions. There is barely any light being offered suggesting there is an end to the tunnel, let alone a view of the tunnel’s end itself.

With knowledgeable observers succumbing to the idea that permanent warfare is normal, it is no surprise that the American public does not seem to be bothered more than it is by the current wars.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

63 comments for “Perpetual War: Treadmill of America’s Mind

    • Jerry in New York
      October 27, 2017 at 21:09

      Why does this crap never get stuck in moderation? or spam-filters? I don’t come here (and make modest contributions) to see this.

      As long as I’m commenting, it bears repeating what has been quoted here before. “War is a Racket,” as Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler (USMC, ret.) pointed out.

      War is also like Wall St. It’s all about the money, and it’s only about the money. R.I.P. JFK.

  1. floyd gardner
    October 26, 2017 at 12:34

    “This sounds like as much a problem with Saudi Arabia and Israel as with Iran.” The problem IS with Saudi Arabia and NOT with Iran.

    • Abe
      October 26, 2017 at 18:10

      The Israeli-Saudi-US Axis is the problem.

      On October 24, The Intercept released an NSA document unearthed from leaked intelligence files provided by Edward Snowden which reveals that terrorist militants in Syria were under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the war which has now claimed half a million lives.

      Marked “Top Secret” the NSA memo focuses on events that unfolded outside Damascus in March of 2013.

      The US intelligence memo is evidence of internal US government confirmation of the direct role that both the Saudi and US governments played in fueling attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as military targets in pursuit of “regime change” in Syria.

      Israel’s support for terrorist forces in Syria is well established. The Israelis and Saudis coordinate their activities.

  2. ..
    October 26, 2017 at 06:40

    Speaking of endless war, American fetuses will have to row or wade across the swamp if they are to mature into adult killing machines, but I digress. Endless war means endless deception of actual or perceived enemies of Lucifer, a false god.

    “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.” –George Bush Jr.

  3. October 25, 2017 at 20:01

    A lot of people rank on a lot of other people for “not being engaged”; maybe a lot of people feel like it is a waste of time, they’re not listened to, and that the system does not respond to their cries and pleas, so they just say I don’t matter and I don’t count, and go back to sleep. I mean, take a look at the Clinton platform and stop asking me why I voted green along with Ray McGovern. Look at all the pollytishens lying for dollars and you know why it is that 1/3rd of the population has been abandoned. Uh-huh. . . I was told that Kissinger’s informal population policy was to go to countries and tell them that they had to reduce population by 1/3rd or they would come in, start a civil war, and kill them off that way. Hey, sounds kinda like Venezuela, huh. . . Uh-huh. . . and our subversive destructive drug war. . . . Uh-huh. . .

  4. REMant
    October 25, 2017 at 18:39

    They ended compulsory service establishing a standing army, consolidated bases into friendly parts of the country, shrouded a good part of the defense budget in secrecy, gave the C-in-C power to make war without Congress, and used the “independent” Fed to pay for them, and impoverish the middle-class forcing them to enlist. What do you expect?

    • Seer
      October 25, 2017 at 23:05

      The perfect crime!

      • Skip Edwards
        October 26, 2017 at 14:48

        All the while right in front of our eyes. Is it past time to dust off the Declaration of Independence?

  5. Liam
    October 25, 2017 at 14:52

    Exposing Oz Katerji And The UK Based Pro FSA And White Helmets Terrorist Propaganda Networks Operating In The United Kingdom

  6. Annie
    October 25, 2017 at 14:35

    Bring back the draft, and that will stir the American mind to think about our wars, when they fear that the lives of their sons and daughters might be on the line. It certainly was one of the main reasons there was an uprising against that war in Vietnam. Now you have a large portion of young people with few options, and see military life as a way out. I’m sure the American government will create an endless source of bodies for our wars as it continues to impoverish such a large portion of the population.

    • Seer
      October 25, 2017 at 23:04

      I’ve tended to believe this too. Things are going more toward drone warfare, and I think that, in addition to not having enough hand-raisers (folks volunteering), demographics plays a big part. We’re aging (most industrialized countries are). Fewer and fewer younger people. The thought of a bunch of old people sending what few young people they have off to fight in far away wars is the epitome of insanity.

      • Annie
        October 26, 2017 at 03:43

        “All Quiet on The Western Front” made that point, in reference to WWI, but nothing has changed, and as long as there are young men and women who see the military as there only out, so to speak, we will have our wars. Don’t forget, we’re all over Africa assisting in their proxy wars, so we have a whole stash of bodies we can call upon who are not Americans.

  7. Abe
    October 25, 2017 at 13:36

    Emma Sky is a military propaganda flack who proffers boilerplate claims that “sectarian conflict was an unintended consequence” of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and asserts that Al Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq are merely disaffected “former Baathists”.

    Sky’s kibbutznik credential bought her an administrative position in Kirkuk under the Paul Bremer’s disastrous Coalition Provisional Authority (2003-2004), and then, as “political adviser” to General Ray Odierno (2007-2010) during the US troop “surge”.

  8. Brad Owen
    October 25, 2017 at 11:55

    Jeff Berg over on Counterpunch addressed perfectly what the cost to us is, in fighting these wars. His article is titled “looking for a glass of water and a place to sh*t”. 3.6 trillion$ and counting. Imagine, he says, 3.6 Trillion$ spent on improving and expanding infrastructure around the whole World. 500 billion$ alone would provide adequate sanitation and clean drinking water for everywhere in the World where it does not yet exist, leaving 3.1 trillion$ to still work with. Next up is reconstruction after all the hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, earthquakes, etc, taking another trillion$ or so, and so on the list goes, not to mention having re-educated and re-tooled our labor force for useful & necessary pursuits (instead of being burger flippers and Malwart greeters) and winning genuine good will and friendship around the World, negating the need for expensive military outlays in the first place, and corporations like Caterpillar and John Deere would become the megamonsters instead of Lockheed-Martin. Just think of it…it doesn’t have to be the way it presently is.

    • Brad Owen
      October 25, 2017 at 11:59

      And its coming soon. I just described China’s BRI, the New Silk Road great infrastructure projects. The Tide can shift suddenly in a matter of days or weeks.

      • Joe Wallace
        October 25, 2017 at 16:33

        Brad Owen:

        Couldn’t agree more. In terms of getting a country to back a unifying vision, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is vastly superior to the Washington beltway’s initiative of domestic sacrifice in favor of perpetual war abroad.

      • floyd gardner
        October 26, 2017 at 13:30

        “A New Era” may yet emerge – though it will not be led by the London/Washington/Israel triad.

    • October 25, 2017 at 12:17

      You have captured or quandary in a paragraph. Well said and something I think about everyday and have been for about 20 years now. How hard can this really be? It is simply a change of thinking, namely thinking with a few ounces of logic.

    • BannanaBoat
      October 25, 2017 at 12:49

      Money is meaningless compared to the millions of lives the USA has snuffed out in the last 70 years.

      • Brad Owen
        October 25, 2017 at 13:43

        Sell that glib retort to the people simply looking for a glass of water and a place to sh*t. Jeff Berg just explained to you HOW to stop the killing, and money is at the center of it.

        • BannanaBoat
          October 25, 2017 at 16:06

          Greed is the reason for the mass murder but not mentioning mass murder in your comment leaves one unsure if , one is focused on ending the death toll or simply lamenting misspent monies.

    • Seer
      October 25, 2017 at 23:00

      Problem is, expanding the “infrastructure” (which is really that mechanism created by TPTB to control the masses) means that you have a larger infrastructure to MAINTAIN (in the face of a disgruntled Mother Nature at that!). World’s demographics have humans aging. Solve one “problem” and things like demographics throw a curve ball.

  9. October 25, 2017 at 11:51

    There are real world reasons that – “the vast majority of the American people could not care less” – about America’s endless warfare about the planet. The vast majority of Americans have almost no accurate historical information whatsoever regarding the illegal, immoral workings of U.S. foreign policy since WWII. The CIA manipulates the narratives of MSM daily, of Hollywood movies and of television, infiltrates and manipulates social & political change groups, assassinates whoever it deems necessary, overthrows whoever it deems necessary, tortures whoever it deems necessary, etc. and suppresses information about all of its illegal amoral activities which continue unabated decade upon decade upon decade.

    Even much of our – “progressive media” – fail to question or challenge critical aspects of the empire’s narrative, i.e. “Democracy Now” has repeated State Department and CIA propaganda over and over regarding the need for “regime change” wars in Libya and Syria, and the editors at “Counterpunch” simply deny the existence of the legitimacy to question the official narratives of U.S. political assassinations or of the official 9/11 story. In such a milieu it is no wonder that even many who try to inform themselves through “alternative media” find themselves woefully uniformed and misinformed regarding many basic features and realities of our empire.

    The gross manipulation of information in every media front and cyber platform is used to control the public’s “perceptions,” which in turn impacts the public’s “thinking,” which in turn impacts “behavior” of the public. So absurd have the sanitized mass narratives become that the public is now reduced to seeing Putin’s face and Russian “intervention” as it turns its collective brain to mush while searching for “Pokemon.” “Perpetual war” is only possible in a nation in which the public mind has been reduced to a level of “perpetual idiocy.”

    • Nancy
      October 25, 2017 at 14:07

      Your assessment of our reality is very bleak but sadly true. The people of the United States are pathetically uninformed, and even worse, uninterested about the crimes our tax dollars are financing. It’s all about football, the glorious flag and celebrities in this sick society.

    • JWalters
      October 25, 2017 at 19:49

      The oligarchy (big bankers) control the news media and spike the truth.

    • Seer
      October 25, 2017 at 22:57

      ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES. Americans’ lifestyles are because of these resources. BUT, before thinking that this is somehow a recent human development think again. History has plenty to tell us about former empires, all of which have rose and fallen such as the US has/will. Wars are part of expansion, and as expansion is further and further from the core the folks out in the “frontiers” have harder and harder time of being properly stocked in order to achieve successful pilfering (“natives” of those frontiers tend to eventually realize that they’re getting the very short end of the stick). The citizenry get lazier and lazier over time. They are less wanting to fight. With less available troops the system starts to fail. And then, without sufficient resources to provide growth (which is occurring exponentially) the system fails. History documents this like clockwork. Everything else said is but a level removed from the core currents, in which case the cause is never seen (and people continue to blindly lash at things attempting to “solve” “the problem”).

      • Skip Edwards
        October 26, 2017 at 14:41

        The real problem, hiding right out in the open, is the upcoming Human Caused Climate Disaster. War distracts us from this reality and allows a few people to make unbelievable wealth and most other people to drug themselves with going shopping on well worn credit card debt. Climate change could be the answer to world peace if only it would be recognized as what it truly is. Climate change is the real enemy of people and governments worldwide. We must force governments, especially our own, to put down the weapons and face the reality which faces us all and come together with the common goal of a new, renewable, non-polluting source of energy. If people in government cannot realize this and meet to solve this challenge as equal partners then why do we pay these people?

    • floyd gardner
      October 26, 2017 at 13:23

      Very well put, Gary. The “Democracy Now” types and the Senator Sanders are tasked with “rounding up the strays” and “keeping them in the herd.”

  10. Joe L.
    October 25, 2017 at 11:48

    I believe it is 93% of America’s history is war. That is why I believe that the US should never be party to peace talks because I don’t believe they ever want peace – it doesn’t sell weapons especially if you are the world’s largest arms dealer.

  11. turk 151
    October 25, 2017 at 10:54

    Thanks for the clinical analysis of our treadmill.

  12. October 25, 2017 at 09:52

    Myth always trumps reality. Some myths come close to approaching reality but the myth of American Exceptionalism does not. In the nineties PNAC outlined the steps needed to make the U.S. a de facto fascist war state. They believed that without a common purpose Americans would not only disengage from the world but “degenerate” into regionalism, tribalism and hedonism. We neede, they reasoned, a common purpose and that common purpose could only be War(!) as a way of life. This permanent war would unite disparate elements within our society and, at the same, time change the world and move it through sticks and carrots (mainly sticks) to willingly be part of the American Empire. They reasoned that some single power must rule the world and we are better off having Americans run it than, say, the Chinese who lack the Western Humanist Tradition (among leaders followers should remain narrow minded). This vision of the world, I believe, was perfectly rational. The neocons were very persuasive and I basically agreed with much of their analysis except the War(!) part.

    Key to this was a “new Pearl Harbor” event and, of course, 9/11 happened (how conveeeeenient) and it unfolded as planned. Problem was that, while everybody ran around in a state of ecstasy that at last we were at War and ambiguity evaporated and we were thus in a mighty struggle against “evil” and everybody was excited to be part of something larger than themselves and ready to do their part. Problem was that George Bush recommended exactly the opposite–go shopping because not everyone was on board, i.e, Wall Street which frowns on any collectivism whether its socialism or the frenzy of war hysteria. Thus the opportunity was lost to unite the country as we have seen this whole GWOT has evaporated and the usual suspects are stirring up war with Iran, Russia, China or anybody in desparation.

    Point is we are a fatal crossroads that the neocons did not forsee. Washington is, indeed a swamp, but it is one filled with vipers. Our leadership class is simply not able to administer an Empire. We don’t have any playing fields of Eton–we are not a warrior culture hard as we try. Our people are not brave or free but weak and cowardly full of bluster–all hat no cattle so to speak. We lack the moral and intellectual rigor that Rome, for all its failings, had for most of its history. War is not a common purpose that can unite us if those that make war are confused, mediocre, and cowardly. Trump with his bravodo and fake courage is a cartoon image of the country as a whole–he reflects our confusion and thus, has little power other than that he can grab from the Deep State that Pilar should know very well but won’t acknowledge.

    It is the CIA and other forces that control the national media and that media provides us with consistent lies and pro-war stances. They will not and have not reported (with a few notable exceptions) the actual conditions of our endless war theaters since reporters usually just take dictation from the Pentagon/CIA/State Dept.; thus, it is unlikely there is or can be any change from our permanent war footing without a major cultural (politics is a closed door) paradigm shift from anger, hate, war, misery (we Americans seem to love misery and drama) to something like compassion, love, connection you know–all that corny stuff that migh make us happy.

    Hey here’s a thought, maybe we could unite by working to create a better physical and cultural landscape something that is urgently needed.

    • Skip Scott
      October 25, 2017 at 12:29

      ….For the land of the Greeeeed, and the home of the Afraid.

    • JWalters
      October 25, 2017 at 19:45

      The plethora of televised circuses short-circuit the old-fashioned kitchen table discussions about war.

    • Seer
      October 25, 2017 at 22:48

      Nice post.

      I have a slightly different take on the assessment of what has transpired post 9/11, vis a vis from the viewpoint of the neocons. The neocons’ ehtos is tightly bound to End Times theology. They stated that they didn’t care whether things would turn into a complete disaster in the ME as that was better than keeping the status quo. Why was that? Because, as we clearly see, it was a way to perpetuate war. And it’ll take war in order to reclaim the Temple Mount. This is mankind’s “king of the hill,” a game that will be played to its end even if it means the death of billions (because only a few of the “chosen” will be left). No, it’s a big suicide mission, and it’s going exactly as planned (if you don’t believe in the importance then you’re not a True Believer, you will burn in Hell; as a disbeliever you are shunned).

  13. Skip Scott
    October 25, 2017 at 09:48

    The big element missing from this article is the elimination of the draft. Now it’s just us “expendables” that get to do the fighting and dying; ie. some poor kid looking for help with the cost of going to college, which has reached usury proportions. The latte-sippers on the other side of the country club wall have nothing to worry about, at least until the mushroom cloud appears on the horizon. We’ve come a long way from victory gardens, war bonds, and re-tooling of industry. No more shared sacrifice, just wave the flag and go shopping.

    • Tom
      October 25, 2017 at 12:41


      As a recipient of the draft back in 1967, we recall that helped promote the antiwar movement during VIetnam. Now the antiwar movement is virtually dead. No one cares. 1% of the US population has anything to do with the military while 99% have nothing to do with the military. This is not to blame the 99%. This turn of events is due to the power elites ending the draft and creating the all volunteer force of “professional military” who will do the bidding of the warmongers. I am not sure bringing back the draft will solve any of our modern perpetual war problems. I hate to see people forced to fight for wars they do not believe in. What is worse is the way we pay for these modern perpetual wars, on the credit of future generations. Perhaps is is time for all Americans to sacrifice by a WAR TAX. Maybe then they will hit the streets and demand and end to this insanity.

      • Skip Scott
        October 25, 2017 at 13:20

        I’m certainly not in favor of bringing back the draft, I’m interested in stopping these insane wars. Perhaps we should just reinstate the draft for the children of our elected officials in congress. As for fighting wars they do not believe in, I suspect that most of our so-called volunteer professionals would not believe in the wars they are fighting if they knew the real reasons behind them. They are sheep-dipped in propaganda from our MSM, and the false machismo image offered up by our so-called entertainment industry.

        • Joe Tedesky
          October 25, 2017 at 16:15

          Skip I struggle with this subject often having 13 and one more on the way grandchildren.

          My struggle begins with the fact that the American people certainly do seem disconnected from all these wars, and with that there goes any chance of the people to their ever having any real time knowledge of these wars events, and also there goes the protest against all of these wars since the public isn’t being included into these dastardly wars of aggression. Like the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.

          If I look at the young members in my immediate family, I then stray away from wanting a draft. Although I would like to see more of our young people participate in our country’s working mechanisms, but I don’t think everyone belongs in the military. So I would advocate a draft to work in the government, and not so much just merely in a battle dressed uniform to go out on reconnaissance missions. Trust me if this were the program the warriors would announce their presence. What could bring me around to advocating for a draft, is if our nation were to sparingly, and I mean very sparingly, get our country very much less involved into so many confrontations of war. So I would be okay with a draft, with a whole lot of less war.

          How about an Army who abundantly distributes blankets, and provides quality foods, and a country who by doing these type of humanitarian things will genuinely not expect anything in return for their generous aid, but only be satisfied to receive the sincere friendship of those who needed help would be enough to settle the debt for this gesture of kindness in repayment….an insane idea I know, but still a needed one at that. Shouldn’t this be something that would come easy to a Bible thumping Christian nation?

          Maybe a responsible media could alert the American public better as well. Good one Skip. Joe

          • Skip Scott
            October 26, 2017 at 08:12

            Yeah Joe, I too think a period of national service would be a good idea. Think the Peace Corps on steroids, and maybe some infrastructure projects like the CCC’s. I think the ideal time would be for two years after High School. Most kids that age don’t have the slightest idea what they want to do with their lives, and some real life experience would help them mature before they go on to college. Maybe they could try out different service options a few times a year. Up- keep in our National Parks, inner city projects, foreign aid projects, etc. etc. Of course they should also be paid enough to afford college after their two years, should they decide that’s their goal. Maybe a period of service would instill the idea that “we’re all in this together” and we need to wage peace, not war.

          • historicvs
            October 26, 2017 at 12:44

            A military draft without war or the consent of the draftee?

            “The essential idea underlying military conscription is the major premise of every dictatorship and all totalitarianism. It is the assumption that the individual citizen is but a pawn in the hands of unlimited State power.” These words are from a Declaration of Conscience signed by hundreds of prominent Americans and published on July 8, 1940, in response to FDR’s draft, the first peacetime draft in our history. This was part of the strong American opposition to involvement in a second European war, which has been so effectively censored out of “the good war” fiction of World War II.

            We have not known a day of peace since these wise words were ignored. Our government continues to invent an endless series of comic-book villains who, they tell us, are determined to deny us our exceptionalist right to uncontrollably consume the planet’s resources.

            Interestingly, the author of the 1940 Draft Bill, Senator Edward R. Brooke, went on a fact-finding tour of Nazi Germany in 1938 and returned praising Hitler for “bringing about the well-being of the entire German people.”

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 26, 2017 at 23:38

            Thanks historicvs, I always enjoy reading your historical accounts….I just wish you would write more of them. Joe

      • Annie
        October 25, 2017 at 15:02

        I just posted a similar response, and I wasn’t a recipient of the Vietnam draft. The fact that so many Americans care so little about our on going wars says one thing to me, if it’s no skin off my ass, who cares. Of course they are wrong since trillions have gone into these wars and sooner or later, an no doubt sooner, it will heavily impact their lives economically. Although so many were upset that Trump was spewing anti-Muslim rhetoric, almost all never had a word to say about the destruction of Muslim countries, and the million, or more, Muslim lives lost. Interesting, and hypocritical at best.

        • Joe Tedesky
          October 25, 2017 at 16:25

          When I look at the cost of all these long wars, it makes me wonder too how we can even still give large corporations even larger tax breaks, and subsidies. Annie, over these last few years hasn’t it become mind blowing, to how expensive these wars are, and yet the very rich expect their huge tax breaks? Talk about having your cake and eating it to. In fact, this week in our American news we should all be aware of what all this tax break business is all about, if you can. I mean look at the Defense Department spending, then correlate that spending over to the tax breaks and subsidies, and it makes one dizzy just trying to try and comprehend it all.

          So yeah Annie you made a good point, to wait until the American people get a load of the cost on the invoice for all of these tragic wars… and oh boy, is all I can say. Hey Annie at least you tried to warn them, right? Joe

          • Seer
            October 25, 2017 at 21:13

            Joe, the tax breaks are no more than a futile attempt to generate growth. Growth is DONE, FINISHED. And with it the entire economic system. I would put a substantial wager up that TPTB are well aware that this is the situation; and, given that the greatest powers (US and London) are dependent on rapidly dying USD/petro-dollar all that is happening is being done in moves of pure desperation. I’d thought the Bush II administration was stupid, but I came to believe that what they were doing wasn’t based on stupidity, it was based on desperation.

            Good news is, we’re at peak insanity. Bad news is, we’re at peak insanity.

          • Annie
            October 26, 2017 at 03:33

            I try. I’m on Facebook, and have a cousin who talks politics and all I can say is that she and those that respond are completely taken in by all the propaganda spewed by the mass media. I almost feel like an alien on her site, so much so it’s stressful. I try to inform, but it’s really a waste of time. It always amazes me that they stay in the moment with a blatant disregard for the past, and how it will impact the future. One poster even had the nerve to quote Bush on Trump’s lack of presidential qualities. Nothing more need be said.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 26, 2017 at 10:25

            “We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.” George W. Bush

            “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.” George W Bush

            “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.” George W. Bush

          • Skip Edwards
            October 26, 2017 at 14:10

            I love the conversation over this article. Two points: 1) re the draft and a WAR tax I surmise that both were brought up not as a more fair way to wage war, but rather as a way to to get people to take notice of what war costs and rise up in protest to, as one commenter said, “end this insanity.”
            2) The practical side of this is to realize that just as many former citizens of the USSR woke up one morning in 1991 to the news that their country was financially broken, we citizens of the USA are not immune to that same probability. And guess what? The oligarchs and government officials have their/our loot stashed away; just as occurred in the former USSR. They will continue to wine and dine on our loot while trying to justify in their corrupt minds how it all could have happened. That is unless, as another commenter stated, we all wake up to a mushroom cloud! No person, corporation or government has the right, moral or legal, to put put the lives of so many people at such risk. Something has to wake everybody up to stop this insanity.

    • Max Aubry Scoville
      October 27, 2017 at 16:09

      A major consideration missing in any discussion of the “all volunteer” army is that the overwhelming majority of those in military service did not enlist but were recruited, i.e. lured in by various promises directed at their various needs.

  14. David Fisher
    October 25, 2017 at 09:33

    “The pattern of permanent U.S. involvement in warfare, which has prevailed for the past 16 years, departs markedly from what had been the traditional American approach toward war and peace, and therein lies an additional set of reasons why Americans at home are not now up in arms over how fellow citizens have had to take up arms and fight endlessly overseas. That tradition grew up throughout the Nineteenth Century and was cemented by America’s greatest overseas military effort ever: World War II.

    The tradition was one of war being a relatively infrequent necessity that involved the United States sallying forth to slay a clearly defined monster of the moment and then, after a clear and victorious ending, returning to peacetime pursuits.”

    Couldnt really read past this point. This is demonstrably false and the author knows it. The USA has been at war with someone for about 95% of its history, its what we do. The fact that most Americans dont know this speaks volumes about how well the propaganda has always, and continues to, work so well. The author is an educated man and knows for a fact that this is true, and yet tries to peddle a different story to us! Alt-news indeed!

    See William Blum or Wikipedia for a comprehensive list.

    • BannanaBoat
      October 25, 2017 at 13:02

      Article written by an [ex?] Company man.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 25, 2017 at 15:47

      David thank you for correcting the historical record, if you had not mentioned it I was tempted too. Our peacetime moments have been nothing more than another way as to regroup and rehab our troops and equipment. So when we aren’t at war we are at home gearing up for the next horrific adventure of war which we can conjure up to go get ourselves ready and make life miserable for a whole lot of new people, or as in some cases we even sometimes revisit some of our old haunts where American bombs going bursting in air, hoorah…then there’s the fear of blowback, and there goes our citizen civil rights.

      BTW, I consider the first Poppy Bush inspired ‘Desert Storm’ liberation of Kuwait to be the beginning of America’s long battle to conquer the Middle East, as prescribed in the Oded Yinon Plan. Hey, there’s an idea, let’s tell Tel Aviv we Americans are tired of fighting these wars of destruction for the betterment of ‘the Greater Israel’ and then let’s see what happens next.

      Good comment David. Joe

      • Seer
        October 25, 2017 at 21:06

        Joe, yes, never was really about going to war to preserve peace, it’s been about conquest. Imagine, an empire engaging in wars just for conquest, what is this world coming to?

        • Joe Tedesky
          October 26, 2017 at 01:52

          A big part of wars longevity hinges upon repetitive weapons sales. Winning means coming to an end. Bogged down, or said by a patriot a quagmire is, ‘staying the course’, but no matter how you say it bottomless wars are beautiful profit generators, for those who have no conscience from their thriving from other people’s death & destruction.

  15. Sally Snyder
    October 25, 2017 at 09:20

    Here is an article that looks at the American company that is the biggest beneficiary of America’s constant war-footing:

    It is the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money that has created this corporate behemoth.

    • Sam F
      October 25, 2017 at 18:09

      The thesis that “knowledgeable observers” are “succumbing to the idea that permanent warfare is normal” and “the American public does not seem to be bothered” is too shaky. Trump was elected largely on his promise to get us out of foreign wars, and any observer who thinks that “permanent warfare is normal” is neither knowledgeable nor normal, but rather a warmongering propagandist like Sky and McChrystal conducting their Global War Of Terror against the People of the United States. As soon as the MIC/zionist/WallSt oligarchy is in Guantanamo where they belong, the public will gladly rediscover normalcy.

      • JWalters
        October 25, 2017 at 19:36

        Where corruption reigns, follow the money. The so-called “War on Terror” has produced a bonanza of war profits. It encompasses the Iraq war, the spin-off violence that has engulfed the region, and potential wars with Iran and Russia.

        Back in 1791 Tom Paine warned, “That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true.” These men pursue their goals by controlling news media and politicians, using their vast profits from war.
        “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”

      • floyd gardner
        October 26, 2017 at 12:39

        Amen, Amen and AMEN!

    • October 26, 2017 at 06:09


      The link that Sally Snyder cites above is on target but I would
      definitely recommend William G Hartung’s book on
      Lockheed Martin, PROPHETS OF WAR….. It is well-written,
      easy to read (digest) and provides a more complete view of
      Congress, The White House.and Lockheed…..

      PS. Personally I doubt the US is disposed to make changes.
      Senator Bernie Sanders attacked GOP Senators for voting
      for the Budget (S 780, I believe). Senator Sanders courageously
      voted against the budget and deserves our congratulation.

      The total vote FOR the budget was 89 for, ll against. It
      is more than disingenuous to blame the GOP for all of those
      affirmative votes. There must have been more than a few
      Democrats in the 89. (Roll Cll at WWW.

      William Hartung’s book will give you the reasons in detail. DS

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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