Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When War is No Longer Dangerous

Imagine a war that has been going on for 15 years, it seems inconceivable that such a thing could even happen yet US forces have been doing exactly that.  How can this happen?  For that answer, we need to turn to George Orwell and his titular novel "1984" where the character Winston learns in "The Book' that if a war continues look enough, it is no longer perceived as dangerous.

Think how you felt on Sep 11, 2001 after watching the towers fall.  There was no one in the country who could stand against sending US forces after the people who sent the hijackers.  But 15 years and after countless casualties on both sides, do you still feel the same?

We no longer feel the same level of danger that we did back then.  The public has become numb to the never-ending deployments.  Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney (and continued by Mr. Obama) in their quest to privatize war hit on sustainable model by simply NOT asking the public to make sacrifices.  We honor the troops because they make the sacrifices and no one else has to.

But to feel no danger means to also feel no reason to build new weapons.  Some of us might start to ask uncomfortable questions like how many college degrees could have been paid for with the cost of the F-35 program?  Or just the price of the USS Zumwalt ($4 billion) could have been used to build a nationwide passenger rail system?

Thus to keep people from asking those kinds of questions we must be reminded of the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran, North Korea or Russia.  Dangers that can only be kept at bay by the latest technologically advanced weapons (which may or may not work as advertised).  The need to remind us of these dangers is especially important during the election cycle.  Hence the headlines letting us know that Russia MIGHT shoot down a US aircraft should a no-fly zone be imposed in Syria (and who started everything in Syria?).

Regardless of who gets into the White House, they will have to overcome the public laissez faire attitude towards war and danger.  Inciting racial tensions is good in the short-term to remind people of danger but it isn't sustainable and doesn't not buy more Zumwalts or F-35s.  ISIS has been kind of filling that role but again terrorism isn't sustainable way of creating a sense of danger.  For that, you need nuclear weapons.

Trump's foreign policy is unknown.  Forget stump speeches, we will only now for sure what he will do if he wins the election.  Hillary on that other hand has a track record of wanting to shutdown North Korea and then Iran's nuclear weapons programs.  Should she get elected, expected the nuclear threat to ramp up to full speed.  For that matter, don't be surprised to see nuclear civil defense drills to come back  into vogue under Hillary.

To be sure, there is danger out there but how much of that isn't due to the hardline stance taken by Hillary as the Secretary of State?  In order for her foreign policies to continue, she will need to continue the development and deployment of strategic weapons.  There is no money in peace and if there is one thing we know about Hillary she is about money.

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