Robert C. Koehler: On the Momentum of Cynicism and War

"No matter how futile, repulsive or dysfunctional war may be, it persists" Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in her book Blood Rites. A fascinating story in the New York Times just after Christmas showed this "persistence" unfolding before our very eyes. Remember Iraq? The sale of arms to Iraq, $11 billion worth of almost everything: Fighter jets, battle tanks, cannons, armored personnel carriers, armor and helmets, even sport utility vehicles, is going to move forward even though it makes little sense from multiple points of view, including US geopolitical interests. As far as I can tell, the sale is going through because "war persists", or something persists, a force invisible to reporters and beyond the control of diplomats, at least those who speak on the record. "The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale," the Times informs us, "despite concerns that that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government." Well, so much for "democracy". So much for talking about anything noble. Excuse me if I seem to be speaking as though I'm surprised. The only thing that surprises me is how quickly and thoroughly our pretenses disintegrate once we're done with them, and how badly we get on with business as usual. Or rather, business as usual gets on with us.        

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