Permanent War: Longstanding US Policy


images-1Wars define America. They reflect longstanding policy. They’re permanent. They’ve been waged every year in the nation’s history. They target enemies at home and abroad. When none exist, they’re invented.

Peace is a non-starter. It’s always been that way. It never had a chance. It doesn’t now. It’s systematically spurned.

America’s culture reflects belligerence. It’s glorified in the name of peace. It’s normal and commonplace. Pacifism is considered sissy and unpatriotic. America the Beautiful never existed. It doesn’t now.

Peace, human dignity, and democratic values are more illusion than reality. Enormous sums go for militarism and war. Unconscionable amounts are spent today. More on that below.

Vital needs go begging. Things go from bad to worse. Endless wars continue. One leads to others. Ravaging the world one country at a time or in multiples is policy.

Paul Craig Roberts is right. He calls America “a lost land where nuclear weapons are in the hands of those who are concerned only with their own power.”

“Washington is the enemy of the entire world and encompasses the largest concentration of evil on the planet.” It’s systematically destroying it one country at a time.

It’s got oceans of blood on its hands. It’s responsible for tens of millions of deaths. Its human rights record is by far the world’s worst. It’s unprincipled. It’s unconscionable.

Its rap sheet includes diabolical crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. They persist worldwide. They’re largely unreported.

Media scoundrels glorify America’s wars. They’re called liberating ones. Patriotism demands support, they say. Lawless aggression goes unmentioned. Death toll numbers, mass destruction, and nations laid waste aren’t explained. It’s standard managed news practice.

Post-9/11, America’s Nuclear Policy Review asserted a preemptive first strike nuclear policy. The Bush administration’s 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirmed it.

In 2006, Iran was mentioned 16 times. Lies substituted for truth. It said “(w)e may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran.”

Post-9/11, America asserted sole right to use nuclear weapons preemptively. They target nuclear and non-nuclear states. In countries like Iran, they’re for fortified sites able to withstand non-nuclear attacks.

America claims the right to do it in retaliation for nuclear, biological or chemical attacks, or in case of unexpected military developments whether or not they’re threatening.

Bush and Obama administrations violated 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions. The ABM and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties are ignored. So are the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. It prohibits additions to current stockpiles.

In 2010, the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) reiterated earlier policy. It’s old wine in new bottles. It remains in force.

It says America “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons “that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat.”

The 2005 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations remains unchanged. Offensive and defensive deterrents aren’t distinguished. It says:

“The new triad (land and sea-based strategic bombers, land-based missiles, and ballistic missile submarines) offers a mix of strategic offensive and defensive capabilities, active and passive defenses, and a robust research development, and industrial infrastructure to develop, build, and maintain offensive forces and defensive systems….it provides additional military options.”

Current Obama policy leaves land/sea/air triad deterrents unchanged. They’re on high alert. Nuclear missiles can be launched preemptively.

So can bunker busters with conventional or nuclear capability. The so-called Mother of All Bombs “massive ordnance penetrator (MOP)” is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet of reinforced concrete. It does so before detonating an enormous explosive blast.

These type weapons threaten humanity. Enough of them can cause nuclear winter. Doing so would block out sun for years. Life on earth would end. The possibility is real. It’s chilling.

America used nuclear weapons before. Smart money says they’ll be used again. Obama’s worse than Bush. He may order the unthinkable. Humanity may not survive his second term.

Washington’s wars aren’t cheap. Professor Linda Bilmes explained. She teaches budgeting, cost accounting and public finance at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Government. She’s a leading expert in her field.

She and Joseph Stiglitz co-authored “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.” Her important paper “Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits” covers a little discussed issue.

Her new report explains more. It’s titled “The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets.”

Combined, they’re America’s “most expensive wars in US history.” Their estimated cost is from $4 - $6 trillion. The largest portion is for longterm medical care and disability payments.

It’s for service members, veterans, and families. War left hundreds of thousands of combatants physically and emotionally damaged. America consumes its own. Its human cost gets little attention.

Epidemic post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) levels alone affect hundreds of thousands of combat forces and vets.

The VA estimates over 30% of Vietnam vets, around 10% of Gulf War forces, and up to 20% of Afghanistan and Iraq troops.

VA/DOD officials consistently understate problems. Independent reports say nearly half of Afghan and Iraq combatants and vets have emotional and/or physical combat injuries.

Bilmes estimates around one-third of them suffer from “anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

About a quarter million incurred traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Around 56% (1.56 million) need medical care for life. Half of them “already applied for permanent disability benefits.”

War tolls go largely unreported. Hundreds of thousands of service members won’t ever be the same again. Physical and emotional damage is permanent.

Amounts spent ahead will increase exponentially. Overall war costs impose “substantial long-term debt servicing” obligations.

“The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”

Other costs include enormous amounts for military equipment replenishment. VA budgets increased from $61.4 billion in 2001 to $140.3 billion currently.

Afghan/Iraq medical care and disability costs so far total $134 billion. An additional longterm $836 billion is needed. It’s true for all US wars. After they end, decades of expensive care remain.

It goes mostly for “diseases of the musculoskeletal system (principally joint and back disorders); mental health disorders (including PTSD); central nervous system and endocrine system disorders; as well as respiratory, digestive, skin, and hearing disorders.”

America’s wars continue. Obama plans new ones. Their human toll alone is unconscionable. The fiscal one increases exponentially.

Target countries suffer most. They’re ravaged and destroyed. Millions of lives are lost. Millions more are injured and/or displaced. Vital services go begging. Essential infrastructure isn’t rebuilt.

Poverty is extreme. So are unemployment, malnutrition, repression, fear and human misery. Toxic contamination causes pain, disease and early death.

Imperial priorities matter most. War crimes continue. Daily killing persists. Occupation is permanent. America arrives to stay.

Torture, ill-treatment and other human rights violations go unmentioned. Nations become cutthroat capitalist laboratories. Plunder on a grand scale persists.

Ordinary people are entirely shut out. Western corporate predators take full advantage. War criminals go unpunished. Obama’s got more death and destruction in mind. It bears repeating. Humanity may not survive his second term.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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About the author

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.   After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at year end 1999.   Supporting progressive causes and organizations, he began writing in summer 2005 on a broad range of issues. Topics regularly addressed include war and peace; social, economic and political equity; and justice for long-suffering peoples globally - notably, victims of America's imperial wars, Occupied Palestinians and Haitians.In early 2007, he began hosting his own radio program. Currently he hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. Airing three times weekly, it features distinguished guests discussing vital world and national issues in depth.Today perhaps more than ever, vital social, political and economic change is needed. What better way to spend retirement years than working for it. We owe at least that much to our loved ones, friends and humanity.