April Fools believe suicide bombers can be stopped with more body scanners and police surveillance. Fifteen years of bigger, better blast walls, checkpoints, limits on access, barricades, obstacle courses and ever-expanding restrictions at airports and government buildings may fend off car bombers, but driven suiciders with a bit of planning can obviously wreak havoc whenever they wish in San Bernardino or Paris, Brussels or Boston, Ankara or Lahore.
April Fools believe the “war on terror” can be won using bombs and bomb threats, and that bombs will end it. But all the military means being used to discourage attacks on Our civilians have been killing Other civilians, and, consequently, a prolonged war morphs to a permanent one and a relative small terror group is now a caliphate with 7.8 million new refugees in flight from it. Newspapers, magazines, books, movies and endlessly detailed TV coverage of Our innocent victims necessarily and deliberately ignores, trivializes and even negates acknowledgement of the thousands of Other innocent lives shredded, maimed, or obliterated by US commandos, drones, and jet bombers. When civilian victims of US military attacks are even noted, the media regularly reports that “coalition forces” caused the death and destruction. This deflects attention from US command of the warfare especially for April Fools who concluded long ago that US bombs dropped from tens of thousands of feet, or sent from 6,000 miles away, or home invasions based on faulty information only “accidentally” kill innocent householders in targeted villages.
Scores of such accidents hint at the reasons why revenge-seeking youths might strap on bombs and detonate them here or in Pakistan, Turkey, Belgium, or France.
It’s common knowledge that violence begets violence, but this truism is tossed in the trash by foolish supporters of war on terror. Is the voting public even interested in ending the war? April Fools forget that, “The great initiative in this war is ours. The great initiative to stop it must be ours.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
More April Fools than I have noted that if your power is enhanced by war, or if you are making millions selling weapons for the fight, you could privately wish it would last forever. The government, the military, the media, and arms-dealing corporations all benefit either politically or financially from the war (and from the blowback of suiciders here and abroad), and they might all privately smile at the talk of endless war, perpetual war. As a director of Halliburton, Inc. Dick Cheney, who was Sec. of Defense for George Bush-the-First’s 1991 bombing of Iraq, and Vice President for G.B.-the- Second’s 2003 Iraq war and occupation, profited directly from the privatization of reconstruction work in Iraq and Afghanistan — a consequence that was warned of in advance of the US bombing and takeover.
Today, every presidential hopeful but Bernie Sanders — April Fools all — promotes or condones the expansion of presidential war power, intensified attacks on ISIL, the Taliban, al Qaida, Al Shabaab or Boko Haram, indefinite detention without charge, force-feeding of US prisoners of war on terror, and the imposition of martial law using US or Israeli occupation forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Palestine. President Oh-bomb-ah, who has retained all these Bush-the-2d programs, has expanded US military bases and drone attacks killing hundreds of indigenous suspects; but also killing and injuring hundreds of innocent noncombatants. In so doing, the Reaper drones, fighter jets and US commandos have enraged a whole generation of young people who know who is throwing the most and the biggest bombs, where they’re landing, and whose lives and societies are being destroyed.
Even Sanders can’t bring himself to criticize the $400 billion Joint Strike Fighter jet (F-35) program — which can only prolong the war — because an air base in the Senator’s home state Vermont could host the warplane. Bernie socialism is a still state system after all, and, as Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the state.” Carl Resek explains Bourne’s famous quip this way, “[The saying] meant that mindless power thrived on war because war corrupted a nation’s moral fabric and especially corrupted its intellectuals.”
Fools will always rush in, so the only official response to the suicide bombers in Boston, Brussels, etc. is to expand the power and reach of police services and surveillance agencies, and to further foment fear of Others. Standing in Pittsburgh’s Union Station waiting for the Amtrak last week, I heard the recorded PSA warn: “If you see something, say something.”
Well, do we see dead people? The Others, and not just our own? Seeing them, let’s say this: Suiciders are criminals to be dealt with using the criminal justice system, and they will never stop their foolish retaliations unless and until we end our own attacks, reject military aggression, and call the war what it is: unwinnable, reckless, and terrifying.
(John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin and edits its Quarterly newsletter.)