War on Terror or Terror of War
While most may view war as a tragedy, for some it is just business. It is guided by the simple logic of demand and supply of the market, something that every child learns in school – if he/she is able to go to school, that is. The increase in demand leads to the increase in supply and thus in profit.
“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,” – Michael Ledeen, former consultant to the U. S. Departments of State and Defense.
It didn’t all begin on 9/11. But let’s say it did. Let’s shut off the critical parts of our brains and pretend to believe in the narrative of the mainstream media and powerful governments. Let’s forget that prior to 9/11, there was a decade long collaboration between the U.S. and the Jihadists against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan which left the country in ruins and in the hands of the crazed knuckleheads. Let’s also forget those CIA sponsored coups against the popular, democratic governments and installations of puppet regimes in the Middle East which oppressed their own people but kept the oil supply running westward.
So it began on 9/11. In response to the atrocious tragedy of the World Trade Center, the United States and its allies decided to attack Afghanistan (A point of note: fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, none from Afghanistan. And yet, the U.S. didn’t so much as frown at the former.) The most powerful army of the world, along with a host of others, went to battle with the rag-tag militia with rusted AK47s and rickety Toyota trucks. The outcome was clear. Taliban could not have withstood such overwhelming force…and it didn’t. It was routed within days. The army of God which had been so brave in terrorizing the common populace and forcing women behind burquas, fled at the first sight of danger. It seemed that the war on terror was won before it began. We believed that the mighty U.S. army, having rid the world of evil, would go back home to receive hero’s welcome, just as they do in those Hollywood’s films.
And yet…here we are, after fifteen years, in a much worse condition than we were in the start. The so-called war on terror is still raging in Afghanistan and has engulfed many other countries since. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed, millions more affected, billions of dollars have been spent on it. A whole generation has been lost in a big part of the world, the affect of which we are only beginning to feel. The monsters like ISIS and Boko Haram that the war has thrown up can almost make one feel nostalgic about the Taliban of the yesteryear – Remember those bazooka-toting gentlemen with broken slippers in dusty feet and trousers reaching a foot above their ankles? – Well, they are so passé. Now we got folks to deal with whose brutality is limited only by their imagination. They are technology savvy, armed with sophisticated weaponry – even a handful of tanks –, and sitting on a huge stash of cash from the oil wells they have captured.
And yet, for all we know, this might just be the beginning. The conflict has the potential to get so out of control that it should chill our bones just to imagine it…How come then the world’s mightiest powers managed to achieve such spectacular failure on the so-called war on terror? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the war was not just about terror in the first place. Perhaps the intention was never to finish the job and go back home. The tragedy of 9/11 provided the neo-conservative establishment in the U.S.– George Bush and the clique – an opportunity to assert their global dominance more brazenly in the post-Soviet, unipolar world where there was no one to oppose them. This would explain why just two years after the invasion of Afghanistan, they invaded Iraq on the claim that Saddam Husain harbored “weapons of mass destruction”, which we know now was a pure fabrication. Even at that time many didn’t believe in the lie. It was obvious that the invasion was nothing but the U. S. design to extend its hegemony in the Middle East and control its oil production. In many big cities in the world, including Europe and America, millions of anti war protesters came out on the streets shouting, “no blood for oil”. But despite the massive protest George Bush and his lackey Tony Blair went ahead and opened another theater of war.
The story of Afghanistan was repeated there too. Within days, Saddam Husain’s regime fell but the invading army stayed on. A sectarian puppet government was installed to do the U.S. bidding and was allowed a free hand in stroking the Shia-Sunni divide. It equaled Saddam Husain in its capacity for torture and oppression. In this anarchy and chaos, regional neighboring powers began their shadow games for dominance which complicated matter even further. While Iran supported the Shia fractions, the Sunni dominated Arab countries encouraged the likes of al-Qaeda to counter the Shia forces. What ensued was a cycle of unending brutal violence in which, by one estimate, one million people have lost their lives. The origin of ISIS lies in this. It has been distilled in the laboratory of bloodshed which has been going on for twelve years now. Most of it cadres have grown up seeing only blood and gore and accepted violence as the only way of life.
And while most may view this as a tragedy, for some war is just business. It is guided by the simple logic of demand and supply of the market, something that every child learns in school – if he/she is able to go to school, that is. The increase in demand leads to the increase in supply and thus in profit. The main beneficiary of it is obviously the weapon manufacturing industry, “the military-industrial complex”, in the famous Eisenhower term. Not surprisingly, the arms lobby is one of the biggest in the U.S. The industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars on donations to political parties and politicians. They keep senators on their pay role to ever beat the war drum. The annual U.S. defense expenditure is close to $600 billion, which is higher than the defense expenditures of the next ten countries combined. Trillions of dollars have been spent on the so-called war on terror while poverty is on the rise in the U.S. The middle class is disappearing, people are evicted from their homes, and the young people cannot have decent education without mortgaging a good part of their lives.
Another propeller of war is the oil and gas industry. It should not surprise us to know that George Bush and Dick Cheney, the president and the vice president of the United States at the time of Iraq invasion, had a huge stake in the oil industry. Just before Dick Cheney became the vice president, he was the CEO of Halliburton, a notorious oil field service company which made billions our of the Iraq war. The ties of George Bush and his family to the oil industry goes even deeper. Oil exploration has been one of their main ventures and they have had business ties with many Saudi families including – surprise, surprise – Bin Laden.
Billionaire industrialists, powerful governments, corporate media, wealthy Arab families, Jihadi fanatics are all parts of this monstrous war machine which rolls on crushing the lives of millions under it. If left unchecked, it will grow only bigger and devour nations after nations in its path. The signs are already there. The war is not limited only to Iraq and Syrian but threatening the whole region of West Asia and North Africa. Millions of refugees are on the move trying desperately to find shelter. More and more countries are getting embroiled in it. The recent flashpoint between Russia and Turkey, after downing of Russian fighter jet, should serve us as a warning. A few more incidents like this, and we don’t know where it will all lead to. After the Paris attack, now France has joined the bombing campaign. England and other European countries might follow suit. We are made to believe that the solution will be found in doing more of what landed us in the problem in the first place.
The voice of reason is being drowned in feverish battle cries. It is, therefore, more important than ever before to try to preserve our sanity and reject the jingoism that we are ever demanded to be a part of. We need to look beyond the black-and-white picture of the world we are presented with, a picture in which the forces of good are constantly at war with the forces of evil. This is not a war between this and that nation, or this and that religion, or this and that civilization. This is a war imposed by the never-ending greed and power of the few on the suffering humanity.
The solution to war isn’t more war, unless, of course, we are hoping for a miracle or total annihilation. The real solution has to be found in mutual understanding, through a creative, consensus building process. We got to demand this from our leaders. We got to come out on the streets, overcoming our fear and the myopic hatred resulting from it, and shout out loud, just as folks did during the Vietnam war and succeeded…And while we are at it, we can also sing, just for the heck of it, those fluffy songs about love, kindness and oneness of humanity, for we ain’t got no hippies to do it this time.
The author is a teacher by profession and a writer by compulsion. He likes quiet walks in the woods, noisy chats with friends, books which do not bore, ruins, and small railway stations. He hates having to write about himself.