It's official. The United States of America is a permanent warfare state. Perhaps now the country should adopt the flag Mark Twain designed for this very occasion.
At a Senate hearing this week, Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, testified that the American war on al Qaeda will go on for at least another 10 to 20-years, minimum. That pretty much is what you call the "foreseeable future" and that then marks the explicit recognition of America as the world's one and only permanent warfare state.
Last October, senior Obama officials anonymously unveiled to the Washington Post their newly minted "disposition matrix", a complex computer system that will be used to determine how a terrorist suspect will be "disposed of": indefinite detention, prosecution in a real court, assassination-by-CIA-drones, etc. Their rationale for why this was needed now, a full 12 years after the 9/11 attack:
Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaida continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight. . . . That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."
This happily serves America's healthiest industry, its military/industrial/commercial warfighting complex. This has to be music to their ears with the knowledge that al Qaeda-type groups will form a lovely bridge while they're waiting for a more direct and lucrative
spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of "endless war". (Read more on Bacevich's warning on this blog here, and here, and here.) Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
Greenwald sums it up perfectly. Heed his warning and those of Bacevich linked above because Canada is going to get sucked into this, especially on China.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war - justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism - that is the single greatest cause of that threat.
...the "war on terror" cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: (1) it is designed by its very terms to be permanent, incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US (the operational definition of "terrorism"), and (2) the nation's most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its continuation.
Though rarely visible, the costs are nonetheless gargantuan. Just in financial terms, as Americans are told they must sacrifice Social Security and Medicare benefits and place their children in a crumbling educational system, the Pentagon remains the world's largest employer and continues to militarily outspend the rest of the world by a significant margin.
Then there are the threats to Americans' security. Having their government spend decades proudly touting itself as "A Nation at War" and bringing horrific violence to the world is certain to prompt more and more people to want to attack Americans
And then there's the most intangible yet most significant cost: each year of endless war that passes further normalizes the endless rights erosions justified in its name. The second term of the Bush administration and first five years of the Obama presidency have been devoted to codifying and institutionalizing the vast and unchecked powers that are typically vested in leaders in the name of war. Those powers of secrecy, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, and due-process-free assassination are not going anywhere. They are now permanent fixtures not only in the US political system but, worse, in American political culture.
Greenwald, Bacevich, Chalmers Johnson, Chomsky and many others have microscopically dissected this madness and revealed it to be a self-fulfilling prophesy not of conflict and triumph but of self-inflicted defeat, democratic collapse and economic ruin (except for the few running this fiendish plan). This is also where fascism is birthed and nurtured and muscled. We have to stop believing this couldn't happen to us. It already is.