Wednesday, June 23, 2010

War as the permanent American condition could keep the Democrats in power forever

Glenn Greenwald astutely ponders just how little attention all our various wars receive. Where is the debate that should be going on concerning these military engagements? He observes that one would hardly know this country is engaged in war at all, and writes: "Given the types of wars the U.S. chooses to wage, most Americans who express their support for them bear absolutely no perceived cost whatsoever. Worse, many who cheer for our wars enjoy that most intoxicating and distorting reward: cost-free benefits, in the form of vicarious feelings of strength, purpose, nobility and the like, all from a safe distance."

Because Americans do not feel directly affected by these conflicts, the failing economy receives so much attention and the wars do not. How can there be so little debate over something as serious as war? What happened to the partisan division over these invasions, Greenwald asks, that was apparent during George W. Bush's tenure?

He explains: "During the Bush presidency, war debates raged because those wars -- especially the Iraq war -- were a GOP liability and a Democratic Party asset." Genuine anger over the Iraq invasion drove the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 and Obama's win in 2008.

But now, observes Greenwald, "America's wars are no longer Republican wars; they're Democratic wars as well. Both parties are thus vested in their defense, which guts any real debate or opposition." Which Republicans will now speak ill of wars that were started by their party, and which Democrats are going to malign wars that their President continues to wage?

The real reason why debate over the wars has disappeared, says Greenwald, is because it serves neither party to engage in them. Yet a major factor in understanding the lack of debate is the fact that war itself has become the permanent American condition. "We're essentially a war fighting state. We have been at 'war' the entire last decade (as well as largely non-stop for the decades which preceded it), and continue now to be at 'war' with no end in sight. ... The decree that we are 'at war' has been repeated over and over for a full decade, drummed into our heads from all directions without pause, sanctified as one of those Bipartisan Orthodoxies that nobody can dispute upon pain of having one's Seriousness credentials immediately and irrevocably revoked. With war this normalized, is it really surprising that nobody debates it any longer? It'd be like debating the color of the sky."

So, in keeping the country at war, Obama has put himself in a perfect position to maintain the support of the so-called Republican opposition, which favors war without question. Throw into that camp the Tea Party war-loving darlings, and the Democrats just might find themselves in power indefinitely.

Read the rest of Greenwald's insightful remarks here.

No comments: