By Harley Austin | United States
17 years ago, on October 7th, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan. They have been in the endless war since. As a result, thousands on both sides have died, and permanent scarring, both physical and mental, has affected countless others. The invasion of Afghanistan would also pave the way for the Iraq War and countless other U.S. interventions in the Middle East that continue to this day.
According to the United States government, they invaded Afghanistan to go after Al Qaeda, namely Osama Bin Laden. However, 17 years later, and 7 since Bin Laden’s death, over 8000 troops are still in the country. This, of course, is only a small part of the overall American presence in the Middle East.
Despite promises from multiple presidents to withdraw troops from the Middle East, the U.S. is still heavily involved. With 21 trillion dollars of national debt, a 720 billion dollar military budget, thousands of deaths, and Trump setting his sites on a new target: Iran, it’s time to serially evaluate the country’s massive military intervention. To do this, we have to analyze the results and intentions of our endless wars.
The Pretext of “Fighting Terrorism”
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” -James Madison
The primary excuse the government gives for American imperialism is “to fight terrorism”. However, this is absolutely fallacious, given the US’s history of funding terror groups or soon-to-be terror groups. Ignoring the anti-Soviet support of fundamentalist and nationalist “rebel” groups in the 1980s, the U.S. has funded numerous terror groups. In many cases, they have supplied groups with both money and equipment.
Most recently, the U.S. armed rebels in Syria in an attempt to topple Bashar Al-Assad. Similar practices have also taken place in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Yemen. In fact, a U.S. and Saudi coalition in Yemen is now allied with the Yemeni Al-Qaeda with the full support of its American members.
Counter-terrorism is also the excuse for a massive infringement upon American rights: massive surveillance. By passing the PATRIOT Act in wake of 9/11, the state virtually voided the right to privacy. The pretext for this has been the typical government security scam of “keeping people safe”.
However, there’s only one thing surveillance has kept safe: the government. Whether it be cruel and unusual punishments of suspected “terrorists” or the NSA’s collection of the private data of millions of innocent Americans without warrants, spying has been used the same way all government authority is used: to gain and maintain power.
The Pretext of “Spreading Democracy”
The second major excuse has been “spreading democracy” or “toppling dictators”. This has been a go-to excuse for unjust U.S. military intervention since Woodrow Wilson. Like the previous pretext, the idea of America “spreading democracy” is ridiculous, given its long track record of using coups, rebellions, and instability to install complacent dictators. From Latin America to South America, to Cold War Europe, to the Middle East, the U.S. has pulled the strings behind regime changes for over 100 years. Such a practice started as a means of expanding imperialist control over the world. Since then, it has grown in both scope and subtlety.
The first major case of “toppling dictators” in the Middle East was Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War in 2003. This also contained the myth that “Saddam had WMDs”, which clearly was not true. Saddam did, however, nationalize Iraqi oil, as mentioned below. The absolute fiasco of the “post”-war Iraq only led to massive instability and the rise of more terror groups. Conveniently, the U.S. was able to then start more wars.
A Fearsome Repetition
This whole scene repeated itself in Libya in 2011. This time, the official justification was a desire to bring a cease-fire to the Libyan Civil War. In reality, it was an obvious U.S. attempt to depose Gaddafi, who also nationalized the oil industry. Since then, there have been attempts to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through both supporting rebel groups and making questionable claims of using chemical weapons.
Now, however, the U.S. has set its sights on Iran, its Middle Eastern rival ever since the Iranian Revolution in the 70s. Ironically, it was the U.S.-backed 1953 coup (against an Iranian Prime Minister who nationalized the oil industry) and the Western-backed Shah that led to that revolution. Today, the United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, despite doing so themselves. Unfortunately, another war or regime change appears imminent. However, the goal will merely be to remove a thorn from America’s side under the guise of good intention. War is what the United States wants, and it succeeds.
The Real Reasons: Oil and Empires
Now that we’ve covered the pretexts governments have used to justify the War on Terror, let’s look into two of the real reasons we’ve been at war. Like all empires in history, the United States is after resources. Specifically, they are targeting oil and imperialist might.
The Oligarchy of Oil
Oil companies have had massive pull in U.S. politics for decades. In domestic cases, they have used their influence to gain subsidies and “environmental protection” agencies to crush their competition. Once again, restrictions lead to cronyism, practically making “Big Oil” its own industrial complex. In foreign cases, oil companies used their millions in lobbying powers to protect their interests abroad.
The reason for this is simple. Denationalization of massive oil reserves brings a black gold rush of Western companies desperate to gain resources. The U.S. dollar is also the sole currency for international exchanging of petroleum. With great power over the oil trade comes a great desire to keep non-compliant countries in line.
The desire for oil also conveniently intertwines with the desire for imperialist control in one place: Saudi Arabia. A fundamentalist monarchy, Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. ally for decades. This is primarily due to the massive amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia.
Middle Eastern Geopolitics
Moreover, there is another major issue at hand: the miniature Cold War between the Saudis and Iranians. Saudi Arabia, predominantly Sunni, and Iran, predominantly Shiite, have been fighting for centuries. However, things intensified during the Cold War, when the Soviets and Americans entered the mix. As America created instability, Iran and Saudi Arabia began a proxy war that has spread across the region. From Iraq to Syria to Yemen, the two have been funding insurgencies and allied terror groups.
Since Iran is an American enemy due to past intervention, the U.S. has allied with Saudi Arabia. It has also been willing to use its military might to crush Saudi enemies in order to maintain the oil-for-weapons trade. Such an alliance, along with the coalitions formed from it, have been behind numerous atrocities. Most recently, this includes the bombing of a bus full of Yemeni children.
The Military Industrial Complex
This leads to the main reason for modern warfare: defense contractors. Many may think that the inherently destructive consequences of war mean that nations would want to avoid them. While citizens may hold this view, governments often do not. A parasite on the people, the state actually benefits from war, in both imperial and monetary means. The government and private defense contractors hold a symbiotic relationship. Together, their cooperation forms the military industrial complex.
An industrial complex is when government regulation favors certain companies to the point where that company becomes a de facto extension of the state. The nominally private organization depends on the state to survive. Industrial complexes exist in any industry the government tampers with, from agriculture to energy.
The one we will be discussing is the military industrial complex. Some of the major names in it are defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and many more. The military gives these companies contracts to build destructive weaponry for wars. Though the private sector makes the equipment, the taxpayers ultimately pay for it, due to the contracts. This accounts for a sizable portion of the overall military budget.
By definition, the military industrial complex is flawed and in opposition to the idea of liberty. However, what it does in our political system makes it far worse. The companies depend on a large military budget and wars to exist. Congress can easily make sure they have no shortage of either. Last year alone, defense contractors spent 65 billion dollars lobbying Congress, which makes this particularly easy. This coincidently occurred in the same year in which the military budge drastically increased to 720 billion dollars.
To put it simply, the cycle works like this. First, military contractors lobby Congress. Then, Congress continues the endless War on Terror and increase the military budget. The US taxpayers are forced to pay for this through taxes and the country goes further into debt. Finally, the defense contractors gets billions of dollars manufacturing weaponry and start the whole process again in the next fiscal year. Modern War does nothing but steal the money from the US taxpayers and give it to politicians and defense contractors. The government and the military industrial complex get rich of our money and We the People are left with the bill and the debt.
A Simple Solution
The solution to this issue is relatively simple. First, the American people must stop voting for politicians who support wars and an increased military budget. This consists of both major parties. War, the state-sponsored killing of civilians and the unnecessary destruction of foreign nations, deserves no support. A benevolent intention does not excuse mass murder, and neither does an R or a D on a ballot. Endless war is not a national strength: it is a tyranny of a parasitical government.
Second, the American people must stop joining the military. The state needs bodies to operate the military and its industrial complex, and with this, it can kill on grand scales. Those who join the military are actively working for the state In many cases, they are ill-informed, truly believing they are fighting for their country. Thus, it is essential to peacefully inform the public about the true nature of the military. Yes, they are serving their country, but in a way that only enables slaughter. In order to end wars, we must deprive the state of the manpower it needs.
Finally, the American people must actively speak out against the War on Terror and all unjust government actions stemming from it. We must not give our rights away. Syria, Iran, and the terrorists do not take them away; the culprit is the American government.
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