By: Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal
After the horrendous events of September 11, 2001, George Bush claimed that the “terrorists” attacked us because of “our way of life.” In justifying the Gulf War I, George W. Bush also claimed we were defending “our way of life.” Launching the “war of terrorism” (which embraces both Afghanistan and Iraq) was to protect “our way of life.” In Donald Rumsfeld’s exit speech, he warns the world that the U.S. is not reluctant “to defend our way of life.” I would really appreciate hearing their idea of “our way of life.”
What way of life are we killing for? What way of life are our troops dying and being maimed for? What way of life are we hocking our nation for?
It does not seem that it is for truth, justice, and liberty. After all, our legislators have signed away our protections. They have allowed the Bush administration to lie, keep secret critical information, and operate without oversight. They have enacted laws that allow both torture, and the holding of prisoners without access to courts indefinitely. Likewise with “freedom.” Freedom to do what, or freedom from what? Freedom of (and from) religion – increasingly not true. Freedom to our private lives – hardly what with massive surveillance and databases to track all of our life activities.
In November, the public clearly voted for change. The polls show overwhelming lack of support for the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq. So what change are we looking at? Well, the main plan seems to be the “double down” strategy. In other words, a significant increase of U.S. troops in Iraq. This is despite Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker’s prediction that Iraq will “break” the Army.
So back to the question of “our way of life.” Does this refer to our right to consume beyond the resources of the planet? Perhaps it is the right to shop. Maybe it refers to remaining blissfully blind to the exploitation of people around the planet. Maybe it refers to the “right to empire.” Or perhaps it refers to the right of unfettered wealth accumulation by the few.
Does it refer to the freedom of corporations to create their own empires – which the people of the United States protect and enhance – support through funding a massive war machine? Or does it refer to the profits that flow to some from both creating the weapons of death and destruction, and the no-bid contracts to “rebuild” what has been destroyed?
True Majority recently sent around their somewhat outdated Cookie Campaign which shows the Pentagon budget at $35 billion (a figure we have since left in the dust – $468.9 billion for the 2008 request) compared to the budgets for education, Head Start, and other programs (most of which have shrunk). It also depicts the U.S. Pentagon budget compared to other nations. Of course, our budget trumps that of any other military budget in the world, and virtually all of them combined.
On the horizon is another huge supplemental request for an $127 to $150 billion for operations in Iraq – according to Army Times (12/15/06). Virtually all of the costs of both Afghanistan and Iraq have been funded through supplemental appropriations. Why? Because supplemental appropriations have less oversight and are harder to track. This huge request is on top of an approximately $70 billion supplemental that was recently passed.
Iraq is in the midst of civil war, or looming genocide, depending on who you are reading. The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq has gone over 3000, and the estimates on Iraq civilians who have died numbers as high as 656,000. Iraq is in tatters; Afghanistan is in tatters. The U.S. military is in tatters, and the U.S. economy is swamped with debt. The Taliban is retaking control of Afghanistan – a conflict that is becoming increasingly bloody. The Middle East is teetering on the brink of region-wide conflict.
In spite of it all, the rallying call is “our way of life” – backed by fear mongering.
Since the cost is so high all around, I would really appreciate an elaboration on exactly what is meant as this patriotic call to arms is continually repeated. It is given as both justification for death and destruction on one hand, and the elimination of our social and fiscal security on the other. Just what cost are we paying, and what are we getting in return.
I think it is past time for a national dialog on “our way of life.” What do we think it is … and what do we want it to be? Once we have a consensus on that, perhaps we can rationally decide how much, and in what currencies (environment, social, economic, democracy, lives …) we are willing to pay for it.