If we don't take an introspective look at the policies and actions we've taken in the name of national security, actions that grossly violate our fundamental values, then we are leaving the door open for this to happen again.
Can American policy makers and politicians take for granted that they are ruling a nation of Homer Simpsons who can be duped into war by the very same trick that we just fell for ten years ago? Our leaders are being extra-careful not to say "WMD"s, but surely Bart and Lisa can connect the dots.
Is the Libyan war legal? Was bin Laden's killing legal? Were those "enhanced interrogation techniques" legal? These questions are irrelevant. In terms of "foreign policy," and "national security," the U.S. is now a post-legal society.
Our wars are eerily like those pursued by European monarchs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: conflicts carried out by professional militaries, largely funded by deficit spending, to protect the interests of a ruling elite.
Would the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan come to a halt more quickly if we could see hundreds of thousands of tombstones, military and civilian, spreading hill after hill, field after field, across our landscape?
Motive is slippery. Presidents may not agree on exactly what we are trying to achieve in the Middle East, but for the past several decades, they have agreed on means: whatever it is we want done, military might holds the key to doing it.
Let's start listening to them. And when we do -- when we begin to recognize them in all their frailty and complexity -- we'll realize they're as restless and conflicted about our wars as many of us are.
Instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, this 21st-century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.
What is the connection between escalation, promised force reduction, and our commitment to a "success" in Afghanistan? A mature country poses these questions and insists on plausible answers. The U.S. does none of this.
Marked by a calculated estrangement from war's horrific realities and mercenary purposes, the new isolationism magically turns an historic term on its head, for it keeps usinwars, rather than out of them.
Believe it or not, the staggering logistics effort underway to transport part of the American way of war from Iraq to Afghanistan is now being compared by those involved to Hannibal crossing the Alps with his cohort of battle elephants.