Last week President Obama gave a speech from the Oval Office announcing the end of “the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq.” Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy, sees this speech not as a platform to boast of reduced U.S. militancy around the world, but one to promote a policy of perpetual war.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, “the war on terror” served as a rationale for establishing warfare as a perennial necessity. The Obama administration may have shelved the phrase, but the basic underlying rationales are firmly in place. With American troop levels in Afghanistan near one hundred thousand, top U.S. officials are ramping up rhetoric about “taking the fight to” the evildoers.
In addition to the state of endless war Solomon believes the U.S. finds itself in, he was also disturbed by the president’s praise of the Iraq war effort, seeing that praise as vindication for every U.S. war (since Obama originally called that effort “dumb”), writing that “the Oval Office speech declared that every U.S. war—no matter how mendacious or horrific—is worthy of veneration.”
While watching the president talk about the U.S. economy and getting Americans back to work—another key point of the speech—Solomon checked the monetary cost of the war in Afghanistan—more than $329 billion—and wondered what has changed in 40 years since George Wald, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, said, “Our government has become preoccupied with death, with the business of killing and being killed.” “If, nine years after 9/11, we are supposed to believe that U.S. forces can now ‘start’ taking the fight to ‘the terrorists,’” Solomon writes, “this is truly war without end.”