We have so many wars because we support them. Nothing changes until that changes.

Summary: We have found so many wars, small and large, since WWII that it’s difficult to count them. Since 9/11 we’ve accelerated our game, with our military intervening across the globe. Why are we doing this? The answer is easy to see, as this post shows.   {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Personal note: Years ago I talked with one of the designers of Africom, who told me it would become one of DoD’s growth areas. I thought he was daft. They did 546 military “activities” during 2014.

Bombs for Peace

Contents

  1. We’re usually excited about the next war!
  2. We love the war once it starts!
  3. Which is the war party?
  4. The people responsible for this situation.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1)  We’re usually excited about the next war!

How many Americans supported our military actions before they began? We turn to Gallup to see our history.  Strong support after 9/11 to invade Afghanistan; moderate for Iraq #1; low for Kosovo, Syria and Iraq #2. Gallup described the return to Iraq as “direct military action in Iraq to support the Iraqi government against militants there.”

Gallup polls: support before eachwar

(2)  We love the war once it starts!

Shepherds don’t poll the flock before deciding what to do. Nor do our leaders care about our opinion when starting wars, except with the opposition so strong that we might strike back at the ballot box.

Let’s look at the past 30 years of Americans’ support of wars after our leaders have started them. Strong except for Grenada and Kosovo (over 50%) and Libya (under 50%).  Gallup described our latest intervention as “military action the US is taking in Iraq and Syria against Islamic militants, commonly known as ISIS.” S

Gallup’s surveys show that support varies by how closely the question matches the public’s “hot” button (as carefully produced by propaganda). Pavlov’s dogs responded to a bell, not a buzzer or gong.

 

Gallup: poll of support after military action begins

Gallup explains this pattern:

Now that military action is already under way, Americans’ support for it is significantly higher than in June when Gallup asked about proposed U.S. military actions to “aid the Iraqi government in fighting militants there.” At that time, after ISIS gained control of parts of Iraq, 39% of Americans were in favor of direct U.S. military action in Iraq and 54% opposed.

This increase is not atypical, as support commonly increases from the time military action is first discussed as an option until it is taken. For example, 23% of Americans favored U.S. military action to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait in August 1990. By January 1991, just before the U.S. began the Persian Gulf War, 55% were in favor. Immediately after the U.S. began the war, 79% approved of it.

Henry the Chicken Hawk
Henry the Chicken Hawk. Fierce!

(3)  Which is the war party?

Neither party is a war party. In our time both parties love war. Since truth is tribal in America, our support or opposition to war swings wildly  depending on what our tribe’s leaders tell us (we salute after wars start, but will change our minds if it goes poorly). In September 2013 Republicans opposed Obama’s intervention in Syria; now they attack Obama for insufficient vigor in attacking Syria.

Consider our support for the Libyan intervention, polled by Gallup 3 days after it began.

Republicans and Democrats take opposing viewpoints on most issues, but they are in general agreement on Libya. Slim majorities of both groups approve of the action. … The lack of a significant Republican-Democratic difference could be the net result of Republicans’ inclination to support military action and Democrats’ inclination to support the Obama administration’s policies. Gallup found similar dynamics at play during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

Gallup: support for intervention in Libya

Mirror

(4)  The people responsible for this situation.

The Democratic Party has become a “war & domestic surveillance” party, a dramatic transformation from their views in the 1970s. It’s less surprising when we look at our past and present. The Democrats were usually the pro-foreign war party in the first half of the 20th century; the GOP was the “isolationist” party (i.e., against foreign wars, as were the Founders). That gave voters a choice.

After Eisenhower we have had an echo, not a choice — with two pro-war parties. Vietnam was the line. Ike kept us out; Kennedy and Johnson surged us into Vietnam — with the GOP’s applause.

After Vietnam the Democrats became the peace party. The GOP attacked them for it, and voters repeatedly punished the Democrats for it. America is a democracy, so the Democrats trimmed their sails to accommodate public opinion. The Democrats’ leaders aggressively burnish their hawk credentials, as we see with Obama and Hillary. Even the Left has hawks, waging war in foreign lands under the banner “Responsibility to Protect“.

Katy Perry pointing.
Yes, you. And me.

Of course our support for war doesn’t just happen. See my posts about our warmongers (supporting war is a good career choice in America, and can be done in many ways — most quite safe). But nothing can shift the responsibility for the Republic’s wars from the shoulders of its citizens. You and me.

When substantial numbers of us vote against hawkish candidates and those who supported disastrously failed interventions, then the political situation will change. Until then, we know who to blame.

(4)  For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See this page for ideas about political reform. Especially see these posts our warmongers.

 

 

4 thoughts on “We have so many wars because we support them. Nothing changes until that changes.

  1. Help me. What is the % of the American GDP that is attributed to defense spending either directly or indirectly? With America it helps to follow the money when looking for the reason behind almost everything.

    Outside looking in it seems almost as though war is endemic to the American nature… Many guns, Army schools and universities producing a militaristic populations and then they are expected to sit on their hands and wait for promotion? They want and need an enemy to test all that they learn about warfare; pump life into their veins and keep the economy vibrant.

    Hitler rearming, revived the German economy. Returning to my original question… should you not be praying for a really big conventional campaign against the Russians or the Chinese? Just kicking the cat but worth considering.

    1. 7Zander,

      The defense sector broadly defined is less than 6% of US GDP — including the department of defense, aspects of Homeland Security that deal with foreign threats, Veterans Dept, and military parts of DoD. It’s big, but not as large as some imply. Apple’s sales are roughly equivalent to 40% of the defense sector (an apples-oranges comparison to help see the scale). But unlike Apple, Defense is not a growing sector.

      “They want and need an enemy to test all that they learn about warfare; pump life into their veins and keep the economy vibrant.”

      “Why” is often the most difficult question. The most acute analysts of the US military (e.g., Chuck Spinney) show that war is NOT the business of our defense apparatus (the sector). It needs us to fear enemies so that we’ll continue funding them. But actual war is bad for them. It is literally true that “peace is their business”. We see this in their unconcern about our failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. War is messy business, one for which our defense sector is neither prepared for or skilled at.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.