“But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Holmes, April 22, 1820.
Jefferson used this analogy frequently in reference to slavery (which believe it or not, as a slave owner, he attempted to abolish more than once), but it applies the War on Terror, among other things. Please keep this quote in mind as you read what follows.
Since the end of World War II, there has been a pattern to US involvement in foreign wars:
The Korean War began with full media support and 65% public support of President Truman sending ground troops in to Korea (in August, 1950). One year later, support was cut dramatically, with 49% believing it was a mistake, while only 38% said it wasn’t. Throughout the war, public opinion bounced up and down a bit, but never reached the same level of support that it had when the war began. By the time President Eisenhower was elected, and he restarted talks of a truce, the “light at the end of the tunnel” caused public sentiment to take a positive turn. (As a bit of an aside, I highly recommend watching and listening to Eisenhower’s 16-minute farewell address, which can be found in its entirety here. A shorter, two and a half minute version of it, which gets down to the nitty gritty of discussing the “military industrial complex” and its influence over government, and liberty, can be watched here.)
The Vietnam War not only had full support of the American media, but support for escalating the war was achieved by the CIA’s execution of a false-flag attack (a now-declassified event that I detailed here). In the beginning, the Vietnam War held a 61% approval rating, while only 24% said it was a mistake. Before the end of the war, it had reversed itself, with 61% saying it was a mistake, and 28% saying it wasn’t.
And support for our current War on Terror, which began as Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, sat at 76% in favor one year before the invasion (only a few months after 9/11), and 71% in favor as the invasion began. By 2013, 53% of Americans thought the Iraq War was a mistake.
The war in Afghanistan started out at 93% in favor, but by 2014, 49% of Americans said it was a mistake, while only 48% said it wasn’t. Now, it’s hard to find current approval ratings for the War on Terror in general, but in December of 2016, Gallup’s survey on the direction of the United States as a whole sat at a historically low 27% in favor. That means 73% of the country is not happy.
If only 27% of your customers at your company were satisfied, you’d be out of business in no time. But not only does the government keep on keeping on, but they aren’t even changing anything. Why? Because they aren’t afraid of losing their jobs. They believe their jobs are secure, because so far they have been.
That’s why I’m running for office.
But the bigger point here is that this pattern of public support of war, followed by dissatisfaction with warfare, can be easily explained:
1) As I already pointed out, the media supports warfare. They always have. The New York Times, The Washington Post, all of the networks, throughout our history have supported every single major war at its outset. And considering what media’s role is in society, when they support a war, they’re as much salesmen as they are anything else. Legendary Tom Brokaw even said, “All wars are started on propaganda” while somehow attempting to defend the media’s role in not calling the government to task for pushing the propaganda in the first place.
Essentially, the media acts as an agitator, stirring the people up to support warfare, and that’s the primary reason support is always so high at the outset.
2) We, as patriotic Americans, are stirred up by the media, but ultimately we have very little say in whether or not our government gets our country into a foreign war. So, most of us, as patriots, want to support our military, and support our government, through what is assumed to become a trying time. It’s wishful thinking. But the longer a war drags on, and the more the public feels its losses as our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers come home wounded – or not at all – we grow weary of it.
If I’m elected to congress, I will be one congressperson who is willing to skip past the early support and try to look at how proposed wars will be viewed years into the future.
Conservatives and liberals alike are tiring of this never-ending War on Terror. In December of 2016, The American Conservative pointed out that terrorism is increasing the most in the exact countries where our government is the most involved in combating it – Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Iraq. They also point out that it’s a war that cannot be won.
And liberals have also come to the realization that the War on Terror is actually making terrorism worse.
Of course the War on Terrorism is making terrorism worse. Classified paperwork detailing President Obama’s drone-strike policy was leaked to The Intercept in 2015, and it revealed that the way our military intelligence counts the dead in a drone strike is basically an outright lie, because the only civilian casualties they count as such are people who can be proven not to be males of fighting age. That means any males of fighting age killed in the strike are considered “enemy combatants” regardless of whether or not they actually were.
And even then, the numbers are entirely inaccurate. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated the true number of civilians killed in drone strikes to be as many as 1350 from 2004 through part of 2015, in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan alone, while the Obama Administration in 2016 claimed “up to 116” civilian casualties.
Obama’s count left out Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, and the BIJ’s numbers left out Syria and Iraq as well. But in July of 2016, one series of US air strikes on one village in Syria killed at least 73 civilians, including women and children.
If you didn’t know this stuff before, you do now. And if you’re angry, good. I am, too. The reason I bring this up is because I want you to understand the logic of the War on Terror, and why it’s destined to make the situation worse, not better:
Every single civilian who’s killed in US Military or Allied air strikes leaves behind family and friends who will often become terrorist sympathizers, or even terrorists themselves. I believe many of us would feel the same way if a foreign power was flying over us and killing us with impunity. A lot of us would try and fight back. It’s human nature, and people living in the Middle East are just as human as any of us.
This, ultimately, is why we have the wolf by the ear. “Self-preservation,” in the short-term, might say we need to hang on to the wolf’s ear, but “justice” will not be achieved for the people in that region until we let the wolf go. It’s possible letting go will get us bitten, but that’s going to be true regardless of when we decide to let go, and we know we have to let go at some point because we can’t keep doing this forever – nor should we.
I believe now is the time to let go of that wolf’s ear. We need to get it over with, and then avoid grabbing another one. We need to stay out of other people’s countries and end this policy of policing the world as if it’s ours alone. It’s not.
The country we have here is wonderful. If we want to keep it that way, we need to focus our attention, money, and effort here, not there.