Next week Congress can do far more than stop a feckless Tomahawk barrage on a small country which is already a graveyard of civil war and sectarian slaughter. By voting “no” it can trigger the end of the American Imperium—-five decades of incessant meddling, bullying and subversion around the globe which has added precious little to national security, but left America fiscally exhausted and morally diminished.
Indeed, the tragedy of this vast string of misbegotten interventions—from the 1953 coup against Mossedegh in Iran through the recent bombing campaign in Libya —-is that virtually none of them involved defending the homeland or any tangible, steely-eyed linkages to national security. They were all rooted in ideology—that is, anti-communism, anti-terrorism, humanitarianism, R2Pism, nation-building, American exceptionalism. These were the historic building blocks of a failed Pax Americana. Now the White House wants authorization for the last straw: Namely, to deliver from the firing tubes of U.S. naval destroyers a dose of righteous “punishment” that has no plausible military or strategic purpose. By the President’s own statements the proposed attack is merely designed to censure the Syrian regime for allegedly visiting one particularly horrific form of violence on its own citizens.
Well, really? After having rained napalm, white phosphorous, bunker-busters, drone missiles and the most violent machinery of conventional warfare ever assembled upon millions of innocent Vietnamese, Cambodians, Serbs, Somalis, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Yemeni, Libyans and countless more, Washington now presupposes to be in the moral sanctions business? That’s downright farcical. Nevertheless, by declaring himself the world’s spanker-in-chief, President Obama has unwittingly precipitated the mother of all clarifying moments.
The screaming strategic truth is that America no longer has any industrial state enemies capable of delivering military harm to its shores: Russia has become a feeble kleptocracy run by a loud-mouthed thief and the communist party oligarchs in China would face a devastating economic collapse within months were it to attack its American markets for sneakers and Apples. So the real question now before Congress recurs: how is it possible that the peace-loving citizens of America, facing no industrial-scale military threat from anywhere on the planet, find themselves in a constant state of war? The answer is that they have been betrayed by the beltway political class which is in thrall to a vast warfare state apparatus that endlessly invents specious reasons for meddling, spying, intervention and occupation.