At last the American government has found the perfect formula for war without end: Invade and bomb Middle East states. This creates jihadists which must be got rid of. So bomb the jihadists. This creates more jihadists who must also be bombed and so on. The military/industrial complex is in business in perpetuity. Endless peace by waging endless war as forecast by Gore Vidal has now come to pass. And the UK, obedient as ever, clicks into the backup position. The UK government’s propaganda is blatant and shameless. We must bomb ISIS because it presents a direct threat to the United Kingdom. Right. We are told that ISIS could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us ’within a few hours flying time of our country’. The ISIS fantasy ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ are as much a direct threat to the UK as were Saddam Hussein’s, also nonexistent, Weapons of Mass Destruction. This transparent don’t-worry-they’ll-believe-anything fear-mongering is treating the public with contempt. If there is any threat to the UK it is being generated by the UK politicians with their endless wars in the Middle East.
RUSI, the UK’s highly authoritative Royal United Service Institute, informs us that the UK’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were failures. In Afghanistan under British presence, they inform us, the violence increased as did the opium trade and resistance to foreign presence became more intense. In Iraq the war spread terrorism and many more people died than would have been the case under Saddam Hussein. All this meaningless blood and mayhem has so far cost the British taxpayer around 30 billion pounds – at a time when the Coalition government is cutting social services for lack of funds!
All that is ignored. The UK government, blind to the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan for which it is responsible and insensitive to the widespread death and suffering they have caused are, unbelievably, instigating yet another war in Iraq and, moreover, preparing the British public for an additional war – this time with Syria. All this in a period of relative world peace. Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, no other state commits serial crimes of aggression with the exception of the United States.
So who benefits? Firstly there are all those politicians who have doubts about their own authority and, one suspects, manliness. They display their macho credentials by their willingness to invade weaker countries and kill their citizens. They thereby exhibit their steely resolve, not afraid to take ‘tough decisions’. Our little state has been in 9 wars during the last 24 years, 1990,1998, 1999, (2 wars), 2000, 2001 (2 wars), 2003, 2011. The Iraq war has lasted as long as the first and second world wars combined and the Afghan war has lasted longer. We can see the results of bombing campaigns in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. Bombs but no boots on the ground is the UK militarists’ cry. No embarrassing body bags. OK maximum risk to civilians but not our civilians. Of course all this killing is carried out for humanitarian reasons. As George Monbiot writes, these ‘Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East’.
Who else benefits? The military/industrial complex, of course. The 2013 US expenditure on ‘defense’ was $640 billion dollars. This was over 7 times the expenditure of its arch-enemy-of-choice, Russia. Plucky little United Kingdom managed almost 58 billion dollars worth. Not bad for a Westminster clique which is squeezing the poor into food banks. A front page headline in The Guardian reads ‘New squeeze on working poor’. The chancellor promised that a new Tory government would, ‘…hit 10 million households with a two-year freeze on benefits and tax credits’, and this ‘..will cut £3 billion pounds a year from the welfare budget…’ These are the same people who, with the Liberal Democrats in Coalition, presented the banks with countless billions of taxpayers money to save them from the disastrous results of their inordinate greed. Before getting into power, the Liberal Democrats promised to cut the too-big-to-fail banks down to size. No way. Hasn’t happened. As the fat cats get fatter and the poor get poorer the Westminster clique of white male millionaires spend around 35 billion pounds a year on “defense” (read weapons and war).
The concept “Endless war for perpetual peace” has its terrifying cousin in “Prepare for war to prevent war.” This becomes vastly more terrifying when it refers to preparing for nuclear war.
The developments in the nuclear arena are of a piece with the reckless killing, spending and risk-taking of the bomb-’em-into-our–way-of-thinking brigade. The existence of arsenals of nuclear weapons puts us all at risk all the time. But never mind that. The movers and shakers have their nuclear bunkers and their own agenda.
President Obama claimed to be campaigning for a “nuclear-free world.” In fact, a recent federal study put the collective price tag for upgrading the US nuclear arsenal over the next three decades at up to a trillion dollars. Under the headline “U.S. ramping up major renewal in nuclear arms,” the New York Times tells us that at Kansas City, a sprawling new plant , working on America’s atomic warheads is “Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers,.. and …modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines.” There is a wave of nationwide revitalisation of the atomic bomb programme. This includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers.
The UK government has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). This obliges them to get rid of their nuclear weapons. The International Court of Justice, asked for an Advisory Opinion, declared that “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” The NPT and the Advisory Opinion might as well never have happened. The UK government has started to renew its nuclear arsenal at an expected cost of around one hundred billion pounds. And governments puzzle over why citizens don’t trust them!
In my view, it cannot be stated often enough that the leaders of the nuclear states are willing to put the survival of the human race at risk in order to enhance their own sense of importance; to be, as they see it, shakers and movers on the world stage. To achieve their power-obsessed ends they are prepared to treat citizens with contempt. They blatantly and criminally ignore treaties and promises to the electorate to rid the world of this curse. They say one thing and do the opposite. Does sociopathic behaviour get more extreme than this?
Our war obsessed leaders tell us that the existence of large numbers of Armageddon weapons, under their control, many of them held on hair-trigger alert ready for launch within minutes, make us safe. Do you believe them? I don’t.
1. Seumas Milne, The Guardian, 2.10.14
3. 1990 – The Gulf, 1998 – Iraq, 1999 – East Timor, 1999 – Yugoslavia, 2000 – Sierra Leone, 2001 – Macedonia, 2001 – Afghanistan, 2003 – Iraq, 2011 – Libya.
4. The Guardian, 1.10.14.
6. The Guardian, 30.9.14.