William Kristol knows what is wrong with the United States. As he wrote recently in the flagship magazine of the neo-conservatives, the Weekly Standard, the problem with the US is that we seem to have lost our appetite for war. According to Kristol, the troubles that have befallen us in the 20th century have all been the result of these periodic bouts of war-weariness, a kind of virus that we catch from time to time.
He claims because of the US "drawdown" in Europe after World War II, Stalin subjugated Eastern Europe. Because of war weariness the United States stopped bombing Southeast Asia in the 1970s, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. War weariness through the 1990s led to Rwanda, Milosevic, and the rise of the Taliban. It was our fault for not fighting on! According to Kristol, our failure to act as the policeman of the world is why we were attacked on September 11, 2001. Of the 1990s, he wrote, "[t]hat decade of not policing the world ended with 9/11."
That revisionism is too much even for fellow neo-conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz to swallow. In a 2003 interview, Wolfowitz admitted that it was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia that led to the growth of al-Qaeda:
"(W)e can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It's been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina."
But for Kristol and his allies there is never enough war. According to a new study by Brown University, the US invasion of Iraq cost some 190,000 lives, most of them non-combatants. It has cost more than $1.7 trillion, and when all is said and done including interest the cost may well be $6 trillion. Some $212 billion was spent on Iraqi reconstruction with nothing to show for it. Total deaths from US war on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have been at least 329, 000. None of this is enough for Kristol.
The neo-con ideology promotes endless war, but neo-cons fight their battles with the blood of others. From the comfortable, subsidized offices of magazines like the Weekly Standard, the neo-conservatives urge the United States to engage in endless war - to be fought by the victims of the "poverty draft" from states where there are few jobs. Ironically, these young people cannot find more productive work because the Federal Reserve's endless money printing to keep the war machine turning has destroyed our economy. The six trillion dollars that will be spent on the Iraq war are merely pieces of printed paper that further erode the dollar's purchasing power now and well into the future. It is the inflation tax, which is the most regressive and cruel of all.
Yes, Americans are war weary, concedes Kristol. But he does not blame the average American. The real problem is that the president has dropped the ball on terrifying Americans with the lies and imaginary threats that led to the invasion of Iraq. Writes Kristol: "One can't, for example, be surprised at the ebbing support of the American public for the war in Afghanistan years after the president stopped trying to mobilize their support, stopped heralding the successes of the troops he'd sent there, and stopped explaining the importance of their mission."
If only we had more war propaganda from the highest levels of government we could be cured of this war-weariness. Ten years ago the US invaded Iraq under the influence of neo-conservative lies. Those lies continued to promote US military action in places like Libya, and next on their agenda is Syria and then on to Iran. It is time for the American people to shout "enough!"