If history has taught us anything, it is that we need to beware those populist politicians who claim to be men of peace by nature but men of war by necessity. The most violent wars this planet has ever seen, the most brutal regimes that have ever sought to repress their own citizens, the most genocidal schemes have always been nurtured under the leadership of politicians who offer war, violence and domination as a way of achieving peace.
Napoleon waged wars of aggression in country after country, terrorizing the peoples of Europe and ravaging their lands in the name of a continent-wide peace under the French flag.
Hitler, too, assured the world that his conquests were born of necessity, a means to achieve the “living space” that the German people required to live in peace.
Vietnam, too, was a war to achieve peace. If Vietnam fell to the communists, the world was told, the dominoes would begin to fall in country after country and it would not be long before the red tide flooded Western shores.
Wars are always waged in the name of utopia. Blood is always spilt in the name of the noble cause.
In our own times, we have seen first hand how the the language of peace has been used to sell us on war. The war in Iraq, we were told, was a war for peace. A war to prevent a madman from using weapons we now know he never had. We were asked to ignore the the no-bid contracts, the seizing of oil, the dead civilians, the use of white phosphorous in Fallujah, the thousands of tons of depleted uranium munitions used in that conflict leading to as many as 75% of newborn babies in some areas of the country being born with severe deformities, 24% of whom die in the first week of life.
Eventually, the tissue of lies that was the Iraq war was based on became too thin for even President Bush’s own party to support. During the 2008 presidential primaries, the candidate who received the most donations from active-duty military personnel was neither Obama nor McCain, but Ron Paul, one of the only candidates who proposed bringing all of the troops home immediately upon taking office. Not some of the troops, not in a few years, not after a surge, but all of the troops, immediately.
In 2008, Paul spoke to the conservative CPAC conference and when he called for a non-interventionist foreign policy he received massive applause. When he pointed out that there were no weapons of mass destruction or Al Qaeda bases in Iraq, the applause were even louder.
None now dispute that the Iraq war was never about peace. It was only about war.
But we are in a new era now with a new president. He does not look the same as the last president, nor does he speak in the same way. Gone is the bellicose delivery and inflammatory rhetoric, the cowboy diplomacy that so rankled Bush’s political opponents. The new president has come with promises of change and hope and paid lip service to cooperation and goodwill.
On the campaign trail, at first he said he would bring troops home immediately. Then in 12 months. Then in 18 months. Now he is quadrupling the private military contractor force in Iraq while drawing down the number of uniformed personnel in the region. The permanent bases built by his predecessor remain standing. Still, the public–desperate for the change in direction promised by the Obama administration–have been happy to fill in with their imagination what the new president has failed to deliver in reality. In a feat of doublethink so Orwellian that we can imagine Orwell himself would scarcely have believed it, there are many people who will say that Obama has ended the Iraq war.
Many, too, will go along with the adminstration’s latest canard that they are turning away from Iraq, the wrong war, in order to focus on Afghanistan, the right war. This is the war to stop Al Qaeda from regrouping, the public is told. This is the war to bring freedom to Afghani women. To bring democracy and peace to a war-torn land.
There will be no cries of dissent from the warmongers on the left. No protests against the surge in troops. No rallies where this administration is denounced, no protests where political activists demonstrate that the blood is on this administration’s hands. After all, this is the right war.
The right war despite the fact that US intelligence now privately estimate there are no more than 100 Al-CIAda operatives in Afghanistan.
The right war despite the fact that even now, 8 years on, the country is still unable to hold a free and fair election and is still being ruled by the same ex-UNOCAL representatives who the Bush administration installed as their puppet.
The right war despite the fact that Taliban representatives were brought to Texas and told that US oil companies would receive pipline rights-of-way in Afghanistan either by a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs.
The right war despite the fact that the Bush administration told Pakistan and India five weeks before 9/11 that there would be war in Afghanistan by October of that year.
The right war despite the fact that the invasion orders for Afghanistan, NSPD 9, were sitting on President Bush’s desk waiting to be signed on September 4, 2001.
It is the right because President Obama has said so, and he is a man of peace. And how many more lives need to be lost, how much more blood spilt, how many more homes destroyed and families ripped apart before we learn, once again, that war in the name of peace is still nothing other than war?
The travesty is not that another politician has tried to trick another nation into another war in the name of peace. The travesty is that the public has fallen for it once again.