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Stop Sending Americans to Die in Overseas Wars

It should tell us something that the one and only thing Democrats and Republicans in Washington can agree on is warmongering. Of course, they will bicker about the details, but in principle, when it comes to bombings and invasions and hurling truckloads of money at the Pentagon, bipartisanship rules, and hand-in-hand both parties perpetually waste American blood and treasure on the Empire and its attendant military fiascos.

On any other issue, when Obama wants something, The Great Republican Attack Machine gears up in fanatical opposition. The propaganda machine, spearheaded by Fox News, breaks out the cleavers and knives and hacks away. Where else have they ever supported Obama? Even his legislative successes never succeed because Republicans have been and ever will be hysterically bent on destroying his initiatives, accomplishments, and legacy.

So it makes sense that when Obama seeks to betray his left-wing base, Conservatives agree to jump on the bandwagon on the road to endless quagmire. Someone should remind Obama that he won two elections by pledging to end wars rather than start them.

When he was elected, the Swedes were so relieved that they gratuitously and prematurely awarded Obama the Nobel Prize. What a joke. True, he did (mostly) withdraw from the Iraq disaster, but he surged in Afghanistan and talk about the end of that endless war ignores the thousands of troops still deployed there. We never learn.

For me, Obama is never so disingenuous as when he plays warmonger. Plainly, his heart isn’t in it, and like Lyndon Johnson before him, the burden of being commander-in-chief of the Empire simply swallows up a president. The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, knew the dangers of standing armies. They would have been appalled at a global American Empire which we bestride like a colossus. Pathetically, like holding a wolf by the ears, we don’t dare let it go.

People, do you ever wonder where all the money goes and why we have an $18 trillion deficit that follows us around like a huge pet rat? Conservatives always point toward entitlements, but the real money hole is a military whose budget is bigger than that of the next 10 countries combined. When it comes to cost overruns and unconscionable waste, the Pentagon rules.

Spend a little time and research what it costs to build, staff, deploy and maintain just one aircraft carrier or one nuclear submarine – and we have dozens. Look at the cost of just one B-2 bomber and think about what one of our states or municipalities could do with that money. It might actually benefit real people instead of the defense contractors.

Every day we see the human costs of these wars in advertisements for money to support wounded veterans. Actors and music stars lay on the guilt trip over profiles of mangled veterans leading shattered lives, and the terrible burden borne by their families. How many of these same people were gung-ho to invade Afghanistan and Iraq?

Does any guilt attach to the scoundrels responsible for manipulating us into tragic and futile wars? Obviously not, because I see those same shameless warmongers, neo-cons, Cheneys and McCains beating the drums for yet another bloody folly. The peacemakers squeak like mice in the hinterlands while the armchair warriors bloviate through media bullhorns.

Peace advocates are slandered and marginalized as advocates of surrender. I never said we should not defend the home turf, and we do fund a massive domestic security apparatus for that very purpose. But these overseas wars actually fortify the enemy. Even among themselves, the violent Islamists are fragmented and deeply divided, but we unite them by providing a common enemy.

I say withdraw and sit on the sidelines while they tear each other’s bellies out. Notice that recently Jordan and Egypt have bombed Isis. Those desert sands have been stained with blood since time immemorial. Why do we drop our soldiers into that deadly sand trap and hang a target on their backs?

Let’s put the real threat in perspective: Who is most likely to kill an American over here in this country? Another American. Look at the murder rates. I don’t especially fear terrorists, especially in my snug West Virginia backwater. But I do fear our own garden variety American lunatics who are prone to murderous rampages and armed with military hardware.

So Obama has asked Congress for expanded war powers. Beware.

Since World War II, the power of the imperial presidency has grown exponentially. Far too much power resides in the executive branch, and Congress is balky about exercising its Constitutional responsibility for declaring war. What an irony it would be if Obama ends up being yet another President Quagmire, floundering in the morass of another tragic unwinnable war.

And Obama should be a little suspicious of Republican support. Might they be deviously providing him the rope with which he will hang himself? Strange fruit, indeed.

Rogerson, of Wheeling, is a professor of English at West Virginia Northern Community College.

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