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Violence on the Rise in Afghanistan, Iraq; the Endless War rolls on

May 11, 2010

Recent events in both Iraq and Afghanistan are showing signs that the US’s ongoing wars are NOT coming to an end as the usual official narrative goes.  As Juan Cole has written recently about this upsurge in violence and what it means for the two countries.  See his three recent articles Afghanistan: 57 Insurgent Attacks a Day; Taliban Vow Major Campaign; Karzai to Visit Washington, Guerrilla War Continues: 31 Killed in Iraq Attacks; Allawi, Maliki Meet, and Iraq Death Toll from Attacks rises to 119, Biggest since Start of Year.

I will admit that I am not the biggest consumer of corporate mainstream media.  I tend to get most of my information about the world from alternative sources on the net or in print such as Znet, the ISR, Counter Punch, Venezuela Analysis, The New Left Review, the Real News Network, and others.  When I do turn to the mainstream it is usually Al Jazeera English.  I still manage to read my local newspaper every other day here in Duluth and I catch a tiny bit of cable TV news at work (I make a point of not having a TV in my home).  So I might not be the best judge of what the media is feeding to people in this country (although I think I have a pretty decent grasp on it).  But be this as it may, even I have noticed how the coverage of the US’s multiple wars abroad have faded into the background of the news-cycles over the past few years. 

This might not be such a shock with the majority of the US population facing economic hardships on an increasingly widespread scale.  The everyday problems facing working people tend to trump the foreign imperial adventures of their government even if the connection between the two is rather apparent.  Let’s face it, its difficult to worry about much else when your focus is on finding work or trying to put food on the table.

But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rage on almost a decade after the “War on Terror” began.  As mentioned above, lack of media coverage has made the wars and other US military actions largely background noise to the plethora of other concerns facing most in the US.  While that doesn’t mean the wars aren’t being reported at all, they certainly aren’t being given the attention they deserve either.  War without end has become so commonplace that most people don’t even recognize that the country is at war anymore.  It has become part of the fabric of our social reality in the early twenty-first century. 

This normalization of the state of endless war becomes all the more dangerous in the midst of an economic crisis that is taking its toll on working people.  The Tea Party movement is a good example of this.  From what I read about the group one of their main demands is a ‘return to fiscal conservatism’.  Whatever that might mean, it seems clear that the anti-tax, anti-deficit platform which seems to attract people systematically refuses to make the connection between the costly wars abroad and the huge ‘defense’ budget and government spending.  It is this phenomenon of endless war that is conducted in the background of our everyday lives, often invisibly, that allows such a movement to operate under such contradictions without seeing them. 

Obviously a state of endless war is morally repugnant and dangerous for a number of reasons.  Perhaps the most dangerous of all is that is provides the psychological breeding ground for the rise of a legitimate populist anger that finds its outlet and answers in the extreme right, especially when the left fails to give any.  Comparisons have been made to Weimar Germany.  While history is too complex to repeat itself, there are certainly lessons to be gleaned from the past.  One that has been oft-repeated: when the left fails to mobilize popular discontent at the status quo the right does.  We are walking a dangerous path.

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