Events can be studied in at least two ways. One is to focus directly in on the event, separate the event from any context, and objectively attend to it. For example, let's take a look at that sore back of yours, you are in pain so lets prescribe some pain medication, that will fix it. Another way is to look at the event in a greater context. For example let's take a look at your sore back, well it turns out that one of your legs is shorter than the other, so we are going to give your some orthotics and that will actually lead to fixing your sore back.
Take the "war on terrorism" as another example. First off its important to understand that the term itself is problematic. As Howard Zinn points out, war is terrorism. Using one form of terrorism to fight another is a questionable practice. Consider that the vast majority of people that now die in wars are innocent civilians. With this fact in mind, how can war not be terrorism? For the uninitiated the key word is "innocent."
If we put the "war on terrorism" in a context, the backbone of American policy starts to materialize more clearly. This is why understanding a document like NSC 68 (see my post from yesterday) becomes relevant to understanding the "war on terrorism."
NSC 68 directly worked to set in motion the "cold war." What did we get from the starting of the "cold war?" We got the endless war economy that we also know as the military industrial complex. This is the juice in American economics. A lot of money goes through the Pentagon, and this affects many many institutions, corporations, and individuals, even modes of thinking, and modes of behavior. I've read that the faculty of practically every college in the country is somehow affected by the Pentagon's spending. There have been poets in universities who were funded by the Pentagon. This is how extensive military spending is at present.
When the "cold war" sort of concluded, or fizzled away, or was won as some like to say, the slack needed to be picked up. After all the endless war economy was a good thing for the institutions, corporations, and individuals in private and governmental positions. This is the money river for them. Think about it. How many American communities would shrivel up or be forced to rethink their economic lives if military spending instantly stopped. Its too overwhelming to think about. Look at the protests and upsurges in communities that take place when there is the announcement of a military base closing, forget about the closing of a weapons producing plant, or a college that does the R and D, or a plant that provides some key product in the production of weapons, or what about the process of selling weaponry to other countries and all that that entails, the weapons selling industry.
This leads us to the logical extension of the "cold war." This is called "the war on terrorism." Think about this. I have read that Al Qaeda has about 10,000 terrorist members. With almost 7 billion people in the world, 10 thousand terrorists represents 1/70,000 of 1% of the world population. The current military budget is around $500 billion. Or you could say the USA is spending $50 million for each one of those 10,000 Al Qaeda members. I don't have to remind you that as of this time, Osama Bin Laden is nowhere to be found. By the way, do you mean to tell me that we can't obliterate Al Qaeda, if that is in fact what needs to be done, at $50 million per pop per year!
The "war on terror" however has far more nooks and crannies to spend major sums of money on than any old "cold war." If you listen carefully you can hear the salivating corporations that produce the new and improved war on terror related accessories. Surveillance, stealth, secrecy, psy ops, information systems, artificial intelligence, weapons that microwave you, new forms of torture, torture technologies, the psychological studies that support the new forms of torture, new atomic weapons, genetic warfare, bio-improved and chemically enhanced soldiers, the terminology, research, development, production, distribution, and inevitable usage of all of it, this is humming. Business is good, business has been very very good. Oh and let's not forget about the dear old think tanks that come up with the justifications for using this stuff. This is the economy that George Bush is bully on. Bully, bully.
No matter how you slice, this is what we got. Iraq doesn't just end. Come on now. The "war on terror" doesn't end, it just grows wider and deeper. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, the whole gang already explained that. Its possibly the only truthful thing they ever said.
The ideological vein that brings life to the war on terror started long ago. Its a sturdy, shielded, deep and encompassing vein. Iraq is just a little artery. This is where we are at. Stop the occupation of Iraq, that's a good thing, but let's start looking at the war culture.