Are wrong, dangerously wrong. In discussing the piece by Samuel Moyn and Stephen Wertheim, Larison arrives to an astonishingly shallow conclusion:
War becomes normalized when it is taken for granted that the U.S. is always acting morally even when it engages in aggression and tramples on international law. Instead of seeing resorting to force as the rare exception, it becomes the default response. Peace becomes almost unthinkable because we have become so accustomed to living without it. We haven’t lived in peacetime in more than 18 years, and there are now generations of Americans that cannot remember a time when the U.S. did not have troops fighting in a number of foreign countries. If Americans no longer aspire to peace, it is partly because we have chosen to define the war of the last two decades in such a way that we can no longer define what an America at peace would look like.
This is one of few minor reasons but it is not the main one no matter how much judicial or moral spin one puts on it. America fights wars because she always fights them there and relatively on cheap. Period. I will, if I may quote myself:
While speaking to the US military at Fort Bragg after the official conclusion of US operations in Iraq in 2011, in what can only be described as an acute case of myopia and ignorance, President Obama doubled down on a his dubious “finest fighting force in history” claim, assuring all that “we know too well the heavy cost of that war.” Here was the problem: America doesn’t. With the exception of those who fought and died or were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and their immediate families, America, as it was with every American foreign war, never knew the real costs. Even as bodies of American GIs started to arrive in coffins into the US from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans continued, as if nothing really happened, to go to work, buy lattes at espresso stands, sell and buy cars, go on vacations, travel around the world and pay their mortgages. Normal life went on as if nothing of significance happened.
That, together with the war being highly profitable for corporations involved, are the main reasons for the United States fighting those wars--they have very low immediate (long terms is a completely different story) costs. I can declare here whatever I want while exercising in futility of calling on International Law and ethics "taking front stage" in considerations when starting a war, but until the body count is in relatively low thousands over protracted period of time, and there is no draft and body-bags arrive to a very few well-guarded locations, things will continue like that. This situation is also a part of America's cancerous affliction of exceptionalism because wars are fought THERE, on TV, not HERE, as it was on 9/11. In real war, such nine-elevens would be multiplied many times and that is how one of very few mechanisms for preventing war looks like. Well, this and a complete depletion of the resources which we observe today--in the long term it finally caught up with America. We don't want a real war in US proper, but ongoing (it will get much worse as time goes by) crisis may provide some additional options for some cleaning of the act. We will see soon, I hope, if that is the case.
So, while intent of Larison is noble, truth is--he, and authors of the article still reside in an exceptionalist bubble--only pain, only conditioning by suffering are strong enough stimuli to completely change America's clock work wound for war. This, in the end, may require a dramatic change of the elites--present ones are utterly corrupt, incompetent and, in the end, do not know what real war is. In this sense, it is very important that some sort of soul-searching and initial political mobilization is happening.
Under Trump, who applies “maximum pressure” to all foes foreign and domestic, American militarism is more perilous than ever. It is also more undeniable. That is one reason the current moment is surprisingly hopeful. The call to end “endless war” continues to rise on the flanks of both parties, even as it is flouted by leaders of each. More and more Americans insist that, whatever interests are served by endless war, their own are not. More than twice as many Americans prefer to lower than raise military spending, according to a 2019 Eurasia Group Foundation survey. Veterans support Trump’s pledge to bring Middle East wars to a close: A majority of vets deem the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria not to have been worth fighting. The Afghanistan Papers ought to strengthen the consensus. Americans deserve a president who will act accordingly.
These are those long-term effects and costs which we may be witnessing now and while I reserve my opinion about Trump, let us hope that, in the end, it will be the voice of a majority of Americans who may put a stop to all this madness, not a catastrophic military adventure which will make all America's wars to date combined look like a stroll in the park. I, certainly, hope so.
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