I recently wrote of how our major political parties have become compromised by their cynical transactions, and how that state of compromise means that they both occupy the same solution space on many major areas of public policy.

This includes militarism: there is little political power in opposition to our war adventures abroad.

According to some figures, the USA spent 3 trillion dollars on the Iraq part of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), by the time we care for our veterans. The rest of the GWOT will likely be another trillion. For those of us still worrying our little heads over deficits, that’s about a fifth of it. That’s the financial cost to us. In blood we have lost something on the order of 7,000 people. Many, many more have life-changing injuries, to body, mind and soul.

The costs to the people we went to war to reform? Before the GWOT started, there was one failed state, now there are many. The GWOT set off the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, which seeded millions into stateless refugee camps, fertile ground for future generations of terrorism.

The wars did not empower a single credible political entity dedicated to modern governance anywhere in the region. Quite the contrary: Turkey, not too long ago seen as the best hope for representative governance, regresses to the authoritarian default.

None of this has checked China, our clearest geopolitical adversary, and the most dangerous enemy to classical liberalism. Quite the contrary: they profit in picking up the pieces. Middle eastern leaders are compromised too, as they sign deals with China, evidently bought with their silence on the million Uighurs sent to “re-education” camps, in an actual attack on a traditional Muslim culture (as opposed to cartoon ones).

While we wore out the Navy planes we might need to counter China, bombing donkey carts in landlocked Afghanistan, China has laid the groundwork for a world network (One Belt One Road), which they will use to manage trade to their advantage far into the future, spending only a trifling one trillion dollars to do it.

The excessive power of the Imperial Presidency is a common refrain, but how do we reconcile that with the President’s inability to unwind our many wars? Just look at the gnashing of teeth when he withdrew our protection to the Peshmerga illegally occupying Syria (remember that?), to see how immovable our war status quo is.

In our age of gridlock, money for the wars was approved with seamless bipartisanship (and rare government efficiency). This, despite our status as the most indebted nation in history, still looking at a possible Depression from COVID.

Opposition to all this makes up a percentage of Donald Trumps’ support. That’s part of his “outsider” appeal. Insiders are seen as compromised by the war-making lobbies, the only beneficiaries of the wars, it seems, other than pure status quo systemic inertia.

We seem incapable of coming to terms with our incompetence in war-adventuring. The Democrats compromised to become a war party during the GWOT, and it’s hard to believe a Biden Presidency will be more “liberal” on foreign wars than Trump, since the last two DEMOCRATIC candidates for President were the two politicians most implicated in them, on either side of the isle: GWBush made one attempt at war-molding, Hilary Clinton was part of three.

Joe Biden has been part of those, and many more. Joe Biden would have had us intervene in Syria over Assad’s chemical weapons program. The situation was rescued by Russia, who actually succeeding in disarming Syria of their WMD, gaining something of strategic value, while Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton wanted to fight them over their influence.

I said our approach to foreign wars was incompetent. Incoherent would be more accurate. Compromise abandoning and evolving to incoherence describes many of our bipartisan battles. The incoherence has no end in sight.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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