The Coming of a Social-Distancing Version of WarRoundup
tags: war on terror, military, COVID-19
Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now lives in Lawrence, Kansas. He has written a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War, will be published in September. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast “Fortress on a Hill."
Covid-19, an ongoing global human tragedy, may have at least one silver lining. It has led millions of people to question America’s most malignant policies at home and abroad.
Regarding Washington’s war policies abroad, there’s been speculation that the coronavirus might, in the end, put a dent in such conflicts, if not prove an unintended peacemaker -- and with good reason, since a cash-flush Pentagon has proven impotent as a virus challenger. Meanwhile, it’s become ever more obvious that, had a fraction of “defense” spending been invested in chronically underfunded disease control agencies, this country’s response to the coronavirus crisis might have been so much better.
Curiously enough, though, despite President Trump’s periodic complaints about America’s “ridiculous endless wars,” his administration has proven remarkably unwilling to agree to even a modest rollback in U.S. imperial ambitions. In some theaters of operation -- Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and Somalia above all -- Washington has even escalated its militarism in a fit of macabre, largely under-the-radar pandemic opportunism.
For all that, this is an obvious moment to reflect on whether America’s nearly two-decade-old “war on terror” (perhaps better thought of as a set of wars of terror) might actually end. Predictions are tricky matters. Nonetheless, the spread of Covid-19 has offered a rare opportunity to raise questions, challenge frameworks, and critically consider what “ending” war might even mean for this country.
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