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Monday, December 8, 2014

Michael Carson on Dead Bodies and Wasted Money

In a heart-felt piece in today's Salon, Army Veteran (?) Michael Carson, makes one key point:  Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were "optional' and thus not a good idea.  There doesn't seem to be any biographical information on this Michael Carson on Salon, or even on the Internet at large.  I can't even tell what rank he is.  Apparently, he is echoing the point made by Anand Gopal, in "No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes."

Carson's other best points for me were these:

"Before they [the Pentagon general and bureaucrats who have been running our wars] go any further, I have a suggestion for them: stop. Let go of your mouse. Put away all the power points that trace the different tribal leaders we should bomb and the ones that we should give money to, as well as the older power points that give money to the ones we are now bombing and bomb the ones we are now giving money to. Pause, take a deep breath, and please acknowledge that wars, whether won or lost, do not make societies smarter, but stupider."
"Once we invested a trillion dollars to build a nation through bombs, money and more bombs, we effectively undermined any pretense of understanding Afghanistan’s culture, history or nationality. What we knew or didn’t know about this or that tribal leader is ultimately unimportant. We gave up on knowledge when we went tried to bomb another world into our image, and no amount of after-action reviews, however nuanced and sophisticated, will take away from the fact that we have become stupider for having fought a war."

As I have said before, if the U.S. really were a better nation than all the rest -- if we really did have the agreed-upon moral authority that some of our leaders used to think we had -- then maybe -- just maybe -- it would have made sense for us to start wars with the hope of making parts of the world that we didn't understand better and safer places.  But we aren't -- as long as the world is full of widely differing cultures, religions, and ideas, there will be no "agreed-upon moral authority" and our optional wars will only stir resentment.  The return on all the wasted money and lives will be zilch, or less than zilch, as the resentment we stir up will make the world an even less stable and safe place than it was before we started.

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