“War is like love; it always finds a way.” So wrote Bertolt Brecht, and when it comes to American politics and foreign policy in 2014, you can bet on Brecht being right. There is no major anti-war party in the USA today. Despite claims to fiscal austerity, Democrats and Republicans fall over themselves to fully fund the Pentagon and its ongoing wars across the globe. Our misguided involvement in Afghanistan lurches into its thirteenth year with promises that it won’t end until 2024 at the earliest. The only certainty for 2014 is more dead bodies, more casualties of war, more money wasted.
Barbara Tuchman, a historian who knew how to write for the educated public, was right in pointing out the persistence of folly in history. A heavily militarized U.S. foreign policy is an illustration of that. Our country continues to seek global dominance through militarized measures, perhaps because we’ve exported so much of our non-militarized economy to countries having cheaper labor. War and weapons are now are primary export. That, and our desire for total information dominance that produced all of the abuses that Edward Snowden is revealing.
As we persist in war and weapons and surveillance, we’d do well to recall the words of John Bright, a British statesman who spoke about war and its dangers in the House of Commons in 1854. Here’s what Bright had to say:
“It is a painful and terrible thing to think how easy it is to stir up a nation to war … and you will find that wars are always supported by a class of arguments which, after the war is over, the people find were arguments they should not have listened to.”
When are we going to stop listening to arguments in favor of more wars and more weapons and more infringements of our rights, all justified in the name of “toughness” and “sanity” and “security”?
Sadly, not in 2014.
But if we’re truly looking to make meaningful resolutions for 2014, how about bringing our troops home? How about building fewer weapons? How about working to eliminate our nuclear arsenal? How about spying less and trusting more?
There are those that think that pursuing a less militant course is naive. But what’s truly naive is the idea that constant warfare is consistent with any kind of enlightened democracy.
Let’s work together to ensure my prediction for 2014 is wrong. Let’s find ways to stir up our nation to pursue peace.