Recent debates around a possible and likely military build-up in Afghanistan have created some divisions and tensions within the movement to stop the war in Iraq. Though it is urgent and necessary to debate the pros and cons of exposing the Afghan people to more U.S. militarism, we should, with increasing urgency, worry about exposing ourselves to the effects of continued and increased militarism: budgets broken by war, spikes in global hatred of the U.S. and the possibility of raising children in a future dominated by the anti-democratic dual dictates of perpetual war and "national security."
A recent report on how to best combat "terrorism", "How Terrorist Groups End - Lessons for Countering al Qaida," by the hardly-peace-loving Rand Corporation concluded that, "In most cases, military force isn't the best instrument." This report and the common sense conclusion that the current approach -- sending hundreds of thousands of troops, deploying massive numbers of ships and conducting thousands of air strikes -- make obvious that big money military-industrial interests have failed to deal with what some national security specialists call "asymmetric threats" (groups organized to conduct decentralized, networked and unconventional military operations). And this failure raises a critical question: why another clunky build-up in Afghanistan to fight another nimble threat?
In addition to the axiomatic great game answer that says having a military presence in a region makes it better for securing oil and other "national interests", another answer seems equally legitimate: that continued big-money militarism in Afghanistan continues to guarantee the that global corporations will rule the economic, political and personal lives of people across the world-including the people in the United States.
By reaching what appears to be another Washington Consensus around a buildup in Afghanistan, candidates Obama and McCain appear to be sending signals not to the voters, but to the Pentagon and Haliburton, Boeing, Blackwater and other military-industrial companies whose stock values depend on the extension and expansion of what Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls a "3 Trillion Dollar War." Viewed from this perspective, changing military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan is a form of coded communication between those who would govern us politically and the de facto interests that govern us from behind the Oval Office -- global corporations and military industrial interests that "protect" their investments in the name of "the national interest."
Without stopping those who profit handsomely by killing both people and peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we will not have the economic resources required to build a more just society; we will not have a political system in which the sovereignty of real citizens overrules the sovereignty of the inhuman and non-human corporate citizens that now define the meaning of "democracy"; We will not rid ourselves and the world of the interests behind the US's 737 military bases located in 130 countries and inhabiting all the continents where Gallup and other polls tell us we are hated at unprecedented levels. We will not achieve the peace and stability needed to save the planet itself. Any talk of "change" or "hope" must place priority on fighting and defeating the militarism that sucks our economy, polity and culture dry.
For these and many other reasons, we must strike out in powerful opposition to the next excuse for continued militarism, Afghanistan. Whether the face of the next president is black or white matters less than ending the sovereignty of the militarism that paints the world in the black and white, us-versus-them logic that's starving people and democracy.
For more on the discussion about Afghanistan and militarism, check out tommorrow's Meet the Bloggers show at 1 pm EST!