'Terrorism' and the Perpetual Emotion War Machine: It's Time to Renounce the Failed War on Terror
By Norman Solomon / commondreams.org

As a perpetual emotion machine -- producing and guzzling its own political fuel -- the “war on terror” continues to normalize itself as a thoroughly American way of life and death. Ongoing warfare has become a matter of default routine, pushed along by mainline media and the leadership of both parties in Washington. Without a clear and effective upsurge of opposition from the grassroots, Americans can expect to remain citizens of a war-driven country for the rest of their lives.

Across the United States, many thousands of peeling bumper stickers on the road say: “End this Endless War.” They got mass distribution from MoveOn.org back in 2007, when a Republican was in the White House. Now, a thorough search of the MoveOn website might leave the impression that endless war ended with the end of the George W. Bush presidency.

MoveOn is very big as online groups go, but it is symptomatic of a widespread problem among an array of left-leaning organizations that have made their peace with the warfare state. Such silence assists the Obama administration as it makes the “war on terror” even more resolutely bipartisan and further embedded in the nation’s political structures -- while doing immense damage to our economy, siphoning off resources that should go to meet human needs, further militarizing society and undermining civil liberties.

Now, on Capitol Hill, the most overt attempt to call a halt to the “war on terror” is coming from Rep. Barbara Lee, whose bill H.R. 198 would revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force that Congress approved three days after 9/11. Several months since it was introduced, H.R. 198 only has a dozen co-sponsors. (To send your representative and senators a message of support for Lee’s bill, click here.)

Evidently, in Congress, there is sparse support for repealing the September 2001 blanket authorization for war. Instead, there are growing calls for a larger blanket. Bipartisan Washington is warming to the idea that a new congressional resolution may be needed to give War on Terror 2.0 an expansive framework. Even for the law benders and breakers who manage the executive branch’s war machinery, the language of the September 2001 resolution doesn’t seem stretchable enough to cover the U.S. warfare of impunity that’s underway across the globe . . . with more on the drawing boards.

On Tuesday afternoon, when a Senate Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on “targeted killing,” the proceedings underscored the great extent of bipartisan overlap for common killing ground. Republican super-hawk Sen. Lindsey Graham lauded President Obama for “targeting people in a very commander-in-chief-like way.” And what passed for senatorial criticism took as a given the need for continuing drone strikes. In the words of the subcommittee’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, “More transparency is needed to maintain the support of the American people and the international community” for those attacks.

This is classic tinkering with war machinery. During the first several years of the Vietnam War, very few senators went beyond mild kibitzing about how the war could be better waged. In recent years, during President Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan that tripled the U.S. troop levels in that country, senators like John Kerry (now secretary of state) kept offering their helpful hints for how to fine tune the war effort.

The “war on terror” is now engaged in various forms of military intervention in an estimated two-dozen countries, killing and maiming uncounted civilians while creating new enemies. It infuses foreign policy with unhinged messages hidden in plain sight, like a purloined letter proclaiming “What goes around won’t come around” and telling the world “Do as we say, not as we do.”

Political ripple effects from the Boston Marathon bombings have only begun. While public opinion hasn’t gotten carried away with fear, much of the news media -- television in particular -- is stoking the fires of fear but scarcely raising a single question that might challenge the basic assumptions of a forever “war on terror.”

After a city has been traumatized and a country has empathized, a constructive takeaway would be that it’s terribly wrong to set off bombs that kill and maim. But that outlook is a nonstarter the moment it might be applied to victims of U.S. drones and cruise missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. The message seems to be that Americans should never be bombed but must keep bombing.

The death of Richie Havens days ago is a loss and reminder. Each of us has only so many days ahead. We may as well live them with deeper meaning, for peace and social justice. To hear Havens performing the song “Lives in the Balance” written by another great musician, Jackson Browne, is to be awakened anew:

I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they’re never the ones to fight or to die

And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books includeWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State".

 

4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 18,708 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 4,897 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
The Little Engine That Couldn't: How We're Preparing Ourselves and Our Children for Extinction
Daniel Quinn · 2,762 views today · In a recent semi-documentary film called Garbage, a toxic waste disposal engineer was asked how we can stop engulfing the world in our poisons. His answer was, "We'd have to...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 1,526 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 993 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 883 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 872 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 800 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 793 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 718 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 649 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 633 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 618 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Bitter Lake (2015)
136 min · 553 views today · Adam Curtis: Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 462 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 437 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 416 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 396 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 359 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real
4 min · 329 views today · "You are what you love and not what loves you." - From Charlie Kaufman's film "Adaptation"
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
'Terrorism' and the Perpetual Emotion War Machine: It's Time to Renounce the Failed War on Terror