At TomDispatch.com, Tom Engelhardt has a revealing article on the truly global nature of America’s war on terror, accompanied by a unique map put together by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. The map reveals that America’s war on terror has spread to 76 countries, as shown below:
This metastasizing of “counterterror” efforts is truly paradoxical: the more the U.S. military works to stop terror, the more terror spreads. “Progress” is measured only by the growth of efforts to stem terror networks in more and more countries. But the notion of “progress” is absurd: That 76 countries are involved in some way in this war on terror is a sign of regress, not progress. After 16 years and a few trillion dollars, you’d think terror networks and efforts to eradicate them would be decreasing, not increasing. But the war on terror has become its own cancer, or, in social-media-speak, it’s gone viral, infecting more and more regions.
A metaphor I like to use is from Charles Darwin. Consider the face of nature — or of terrorism — as a series of tightly interlinked wedges. Now, consider the U.S. military and its kinetic strikes (as well as weapons sales and military assistance) as hammer blows. Those hammer blows disturb and contort the face of nature, fracturing it in unpredictable ways, propagating faults and creating conditions for further disturbances.
By hammering away at the complex ecologies of regions, the U.S. is feeding and complicating terrorism with its own violence. Yet new fracture lines are cited as evidence of the further growth of terrorism, thus necessitating more hammer blows (and yet more military spending). And the cycle of violence repeats as well as grows.
A sensible approach: Stop hammering away with missiles and bombs and drones. Stop feeding the terrorist wolf with more blood and violence.
But the U.S. government is caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of violence and war, as Engelhardt notes here:
Let me repeat this mantra: once, almost seventeen years ago, there was one [country, Afghanistan, the U.S. targeted]; now, the count is 76 and rising. Meanwhile, great cities have been turned into rubble; tens of millions of human beings have been displaced from their homes; refugees by the millions continue to cross borders, unsettling ever more lands; terror groups have become brand names across significant parts of the planet; and our American world continues to be militarized.
This should be thought of as an entirely new kind of perpetual global war. So take one more look at that map. Click on it and then enlarge it to consider the map in full-screen mode. It’s important to try to imagine what’s been happening visually, since we’re facing a new kind of disaster, a planetary militarization of a sort we’ve never truly seen before. No matter the “successes” in Washington’s war, ranging from that invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to the taking of Baghdad in 2003 to the recent destruction of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq (or most of it anyway, since at this moment American planes are still dropping bombs and firing missiles in parts of Syria), the conflicts only seem to morph and tumble on.
A new kind of perpetual global war: Engelhardt nails it. To end it, we need to stop feeding it. But as the map above indicates, it seems likely that U.S. hammer blows will continue and even accelerate, with results as violently unpredictable as they are counterproductive.
2 thoughts on “The “War on Terror”: The Globalization of Perpetual War”
Colonialism at the point of a gun.
Very Ancient Rome.
The military industrial complex has parasited off enough money to cripple maintaining democracy.
Arrogantly ignorant Generals rushed into Afghanistan, ignoring the still prostate USSR and the howling Crusaders in their ranks.
Now, the Abrahamic holy wars have destabilized the oil producing nations.
By the time the monotheists slake their bloodlust, oil will no longer be a critical factor, except in powering war machines.
The US war machine, already deprofessionalized, will shrink as once allies eject us from overseas bases.
They may find a minor role suppressing rogue law enforcement re-establishing warlord fiefdoms, but the massive war machines have no good enemy.
Sending B-52s to carpet bomb farmer’s fields doesn’t help.
Other nations will not tolerate the threat a bellicose US poses.
The draconian cuts to healthcare and income will encourage protests against the corporate pillaging.
So now we have The War on Terrible. I can remember not all that long ago — two U.S. presidential administrations, actually — when we knew it as:
A War on Very Bad
From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley (lines 1821-1890)
A “war” on “Very Bad” he once declared
This man who had in no war ever fought
So, not surprisingly, he badly fared
As nothing went the way he first had thought
The cowboy movies that he had imbibed
And Batman comic vengeance that he sought
Conspired to leave him curbed and circumscribed
As bats who hang in real caves upside down
See better blind than all the ones he bribed
To tell him “yes” and never make him frown
With facts and truth he wished to have no truck
His GAWD he said, had placed on him a crown
Which he believed left room to pass the buck
Forever “upward” to The Dumbest Cluck
For what Celestial Fowl would crow out loud
About anointing such an oblong egg
Its progeny and chicken spokesman proud
To chirp cheap lies and every question beg
He pecks at straw men with red-herrings fished
From slander sewers dredged to their last dreg
For falsehoods “proving” any thing he wished
Ad hominem non-sequiturs refined
From dirt dug up and none of it undished
The soiling smear in which he soaked his mind
Left his defining deity defiled
As “wars” on “Very Bad” turn out unkind
With George’s bloody rhetoric, GAWD piled
His work in morgues upon which Satan smiled
Yes, George has told us that he got the word
To do the things he’s done from “up above”
Too bad the message somehow slipped and slurred
So that he thinks his hatefulness means love
And bombings of “bad weddings” prove he cares
That GAWD gave him the right to curse and shove
“Democracy” at anyone who dares
To stay and fight if that’s the only way
To live his life and rule his own affairs
George says that GAWD gave him the right to slay
And throw in prison those that he dislikes
He’s learned this from some people in his pay
Who sanctify the targets that he strikes
And seethe at wedding vows for gays and dykes
The “war” on “Very Bad” can have no end
For by design its vague and nameless foe
Can never die or cease to rip and rend
Our peace of mind, no matter where we go
So we must fear what none of us can see
Much less defeat in years that we can know
And since we cannot possibly agree
The fools who foment controversy think
They’ve found a way to keep us never free
But always deep in debt to their red ink
And shouting matches meant to mask with noise
The “war” on “Very Bad” that leaves a stink
Which George the Worst has found that he enjoys
Because it lets him spend time with the boys
But vague and nebulous as all this seems
To those removed from war upon the ground
In real life where the dying ends the dreams
The victims of King George have heard the sound
Of calls to arms now motivated by
A loathing for him, depthless and profound,
And all that he purports to signify:
A worldwide epidemic of unease,
Revulsion and disgust at those who ply
The tacky trade of tyrants borne to ease
Who’ve given terror now at last a face,
Surrounded by a court that aims to please.
A once-great nation falters in its pace
And in its “war” on “bad” has won disgrace.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010
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