Thursday, April 19, 2012

We are always at war

Ol' B Psycho points us to another idiotic writer at an influential news organization who wants to use the "we're at war" excuse for a state crackdown on basic civil liberties.

Anytime I hear that argument, I have to ask, "If we are at war today, then when were we not at war?" The "if" clause is needed because there is currently no declaration of war by the US Congress, so the speaker is clearly not using the legal definition of "war". Instead, he's using his judgement based on the current level of military activity. The trouble is that the US military is always involved in some sort of activity. The extent of engagement fluctuates, but it is always there.

Off the top of my head, here are our current active wars...
1) The Taliban in Afghanistan
2) The Taliban (and associates) in Pakistan
3) Random terrorists in Yemen
4) Islamists in Somalia

On top of these, we have numerous places where the military is poised to get involved in case the President gets uncomfortable with local political developments (e.g. Libya, Syria, Iraq). We also have the wars of our allies -- Israel vs. her enemies, Taiwan vs China, Georgia vs Russia, South and North Korea, various Middle Eastern countries against their own people, and probably many more. Finally, we have our chronic conflicts with Cuba and Iran, which definitely included covert acts of war, and probably still involve covert actions. And then there's just the general policy of aiding coups in the various banana republics.

So we're involved in a lot of "wars" -- many of which stretch back decades. So when was the last time we weren't at war? More specifically, when was the last time that someone couldn't use "we're at war" for justifying some heavy-handed state action? By that criterion, the Cold War definitely counted as a war. This was immediately followed by first Gulf War, which continued with the siege, invasion, and occupation of Iraq. With just the Cold War and Iraq, we've been constantly at war since WWII. If the siege of Iraq doesn't cut it for you, we also have been targeted by Islamist terrorists since at least 1993 (the first WTC attack).

So if anyone uses this argument to claim that "today is different", all I can say is "STFU tyrant."

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