Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week
Daniel Immerwahr at The Nation writes—Fort Everywhere. How did the United States become entangled in a cycle of endless war?
Shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic struck the United States, a reporter asked Donald Trump if he now considered himself a wartime president. “I do. I actually do,” he replied. Swelling with purpose, he opened a press briefing by talking about it. “In a true sense, we’re at war,” he said. Yet the press and pundits rolled their eyes. “Wartime president?” scoffed The New York Times. “It’s far from clear if many voters will accept the idea of him as a wartime leader.” His “attempt to adopt the military mien raised more than a few eyebrows,” NPR reported. What few noted at the time is that Trump, of course, was a wartime president, and not in a metaphorical sense. He presided—and still does—over two ongoing military missions, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. More quietly, thousands of US troops patrol Africa and in recent years have endured casualties in Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan. US planes and drones, meanwhile, fill the skies and since 2015 have killed more than 5,000 people (and possibly as many as 12,000) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.
Why is it so easy to screen these facts out? The relatively low number of US casualties plays an obvious role. Yet surely what matters more is how relentless the slow drip of news reporting is. The United States has been fighting in so many places, for so many vaguely defined reasons, that it’s easier for some to forget the combat altogether and ask instead whether a virus made Trump a wartime leader. In two presidential debates, neither candidate even mentioned the fact that the United States is at war.
But it is, and it’s unsettling to reflect on just how long the country has been. Students who entered college this fall have lived their entire lives during the Global War on Terrorism and its successor campaigns. The decade before that saw American deployments in the Gulf War, the Balkan conflicts, Haiti, Macedonia, and Somalia. In fact, since 1945, when Washington cast itself as the global peacekeeper, war has been a way of life. Classifying military engagements can be tricky, but arguably there have been only two years in the past seven and a half decades—1977 and 1979—when the United States was not invading or fighting in some foreign country.
The question is why. Is it something deep-seated in the culture? Legislators in the pocket of the military-industrial complex? An out-of-control imperial presidency? Surely all have played a part. A revelatory new book by David Vine, The United States of War, names another crucial factor, one that is too often overlooked: military bases. […]
THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING
- How to Fix a Food System That’s Not Designed to Feed People, by Debbie Weingarten. Industrial agriculture is bad for workers and the environment. Farmers all over the world are creating fairer food systems that work with the Earth, not against it.
- Why the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist poses a new challenge for Joe Biden, by Lawrence Freeman. In a region awash with conflict, American and Iranian interests are likely to continue to clash.
- Don’t say goodbye to Zoom yet: most people want to get back to the office, but not for the full week, by Abigail Marks, Lila Skountridaki, and Oliver Mallett. As more and more good news about vaccines has come pouring in, Zoom has watched its shares tumble. Contrary to nervous markets, however, we believe video conferencing and remote working are here to stay – whether we like it or not.
“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.” ~~Rachel Maddow, Rachel Maddow: A Biography (2020)
At Daily Kos on this date in 2016—Mike Pence defends Trump’s lies about millions of ‘illegal’ votes by declaring the lies ‘refreshing’:
We need to take a moment here and give Trump designated vice-manchild Mike Pence his due. We were all somewhat flummoxed as to how the Trump-Pence combination would work out, given Trump’s contempt for people with actual governing experience or, say, thoughts of their own, but what I think most of the press missed in their initial Pence coverage is that Mike Pence is, himself, about as monumentally dishonest as you could get without being Donald Trump. His willingness to set himself down and eagerly lie his hindquarters off about whatever ridiculous claim Donald Trump has made the previous week is remarkable.
Anyone who suspected Mike Pence was chosen for either his ideologies or for electoral considerations got played, once again: Mike Pence appears to have been chosen for an ability to distance himself from plain facts in a way that would cause other so-called Godly men stomach cramps. Not Mike Pence. Mike Pence can lie about anything.
And with that, let’s take a look at Pence’s This Week performance, Act III, an extended explanation to George Stephanopoulos as to just why, even though the soon-to-be president is clearly and unapologetically lying about millions of illegal votes being cast against him, it’s “refreshing” for him to do so.
Note that this is a multi-minute conversation. Stephanopoulous is over and over again pointing out that the president elect is flatly lying. Mike Pence earnestly defends his position that doesn’t give a rat’s ass if his boss is lying or not.
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