Columns / Discourse / January 15, 2020

Hidden consequences of another war

As Americans, our understanding of the true costs and broad facts of war are deeply limited by our ignorance of war’s harsh realities. We, unlike much of the world, do not go about our everyday lives under direct possibility of serious military harm.

Risks to our security are seen not in our own backyards but on television, in places far, far away with people whose conditions we find difficult to empathize with. Both our ignorance and our security are things afforded to us by the same fact: the United States has at its command the largest, most powerful military force in human history.

Our military acts in one way like a shield, but also like a series of lenses which, as the distance between us and conflict increases, further and further obfuscate the realities of war. Combined with a mass media organ who presents us information through their own frame, we find ourselves hugely separated both physically and knowledgeably from warfare.

On Jan. 3, 2020, United States military forces assassinated Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian major general, in a targeted drone-strike which was approved by President Donald Trump without an alert to Congress. Iran retaliated with a series of airstrikes.

Tensions between Iran and the US, are at an all-time high following this assassination. There were many cheers among Trump’s inner-circle of warhawks and horrified objections among anti-war and liberal elements, but the most resounding emotion among common Americans is undoubtedly great confusion. This assassination, though just one act in a long history of military aggression in the region, has had the special distinction of bringing to the forefront that great ignorance which I have previously mentioned.

The history of US aggression in the regions of Iran and Iraq is well known and long existing. For most Americans, the most obvious example is the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US as part of the Iraq War, considered by many to have been illegal, irresponsible and utterly disastrous.

Prior even to that war, the US bombed Iraq an average of once every three days, and utilized economic sanctions to shove the country and its people into deep poverty. Iran has been a target for American aggression since its people overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran and a US backed dictator.

Donald Trump, joined by a circle of warhawks, having at his disposal a military complex of massive economic warpower and clandestine intelligence networks, has made clear his desire to finish the US project of domination in Iran and the surrounding regions.

He has jettisoned the Iranian Nuclear Deal, reinstated brutal economic sanctions and heightened the possibility of real war at an exorbitant rate. And he has done so by exploiting the American people’s ignorance of war by bolstering the undemocratic, imperialist military-industrial complex.

We have to, for the sake of peace and democracy, come to terms with the brutal realities of what a war in Iran would mean: utter and complete disaster abroad and the erosion of democracy both in the Middle East and in America.

Most of our common wisdom of war is manipulated entirely by the system of military domination which sits at the right hand of the American government. We think of war as being about “good guys” and “bad guys,” and that whatever the Pentagon demands to do we must let them do without question or pause. History, true morality, class consciousness – these are nowhere to be found in our lexicon of patriotism.

Our military-industrial complex exploits and perpetuates this ignorance and neglect, and combined with the supreme executive power wielded by the President continues to destabilize, demoralize and destroy any attempts at peace in the Middle East.

We have to come to terms with reality, and the reality is we have to do everything we can to stop a war with Iran, to stop military interventions in the governments of others and to put an end to endless wars. There is nothing to be gained from murderous war, unless you are one of a few billionaires, or oil executives, or other ruling class elements who only understand profit and domination.

If you truly want peace and prosperity for the people of Iran, Iraq and the surrounding regions, there is only one logical conclusion: that our government must immediately cease military strikes against those countries, must lift sanctions which punish the people of those countries and must withdraw our troops from occupying their borders.

To do anything less or contrary would be to step further and further into a deep cave, the way out completely unknown to us.

Matt Milewski

Tags:  Donald Trump Iran iran deal Qassem Soleimani war

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