“I am not at war,” I wrote in Honolulu Weekly less than a month after the 9/11 attacks and days before the US launched military action in Afghanistan. “If I were, it would be against a different enemy than the elusive one our government is seeking to destroy.”
The “real” enemies, I wrote at the time, include militarism, propaganda, jingoism and a lingering imperial impulse; indifference to suffering and injustice except for our own; the inability or refusal to see ourselves as others see us and that stubborn belief that when bad things happen, the blame always lies elsewhere.
In the 10 years since, things have gone from bad to worse. We are still mired in the longest war in American history, without a basic agreement on its goals or causes, without a realistic exit strategy and despite its devastating effects on the people in Iraq and Afghanistan and destabilizing impact on the Middle East as a whole.
Our ideals have been trampled by the demands of the national security state. Our democracy has been debased by official policies embracing kidnapping, torture and assassination, along with the lies and excessive official secrecy necessary to shield such from public review.
This endless war has drained our economy, diverting more than a trillion dollars from pressing domestic needs to a war effort marked by brazen and unprecedented levels of profiteering, waste and corruption. Meanwhile, we’re told cuts are “necessary” in social security, health care, housing, welfare and other parts of the social safety net, while states are forced to defend higher education, slash the ranks of teachers, firefighters and other public workers, as well as renege on promised salaries and pensions.
Recent polls have shown a significant majority of Americans now believe these wars are not worth the price we have paid and continue to pay. It’s time for elected officials to listen.