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This Week

Perspectives

Chris Jepson

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“Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8

“Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29

“Estimated percentage change since 2000 in the U.S. defense budget, not including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: +80”

Source: Harper’s Index

America has been an imperialist nation since our 1848 war with Mexico. That’s 163 years we’ve been occupying, threatening, undermining or intimidating nations (people) around the world. We’ve killed, terrorized, tortured, maimed, slaughtered, kidnapped and “renditioned” every race and ethnic group imaginable — from the Chinese during the 1898 Boxer Rebellion, to the U.S. massacre of the Philippine Moros in 1906, to the Vietnamese at My Lai in 1968. We’ve occupied Latin American nations (almost beyond count), we’ve sent “strike” forces into African nations, intervened in Middle Eastern countries, taken over Iraq and Afghanistan, warred in Asia, Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean. We’re equal-opportunity imperialists. No race or ethnic group is immune (safe) from an American military intervention.

In the 20th century, America’s only “just” war was World War II. We didn’t need to invade Afghanistan to secure retribution. The rest were wars of choice: unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. But you know what? They certainly weren’t un-American. What we do better than any other people on the planet and have for 100 years is war. No one maims, kills or destroys better than Americans. We’ve done it to benefit banana corporations in Central America. We do it for defense contractors in Florida, Texas and California. We’ll plan, prepare and prosecute wars and occupations in the name of democracy, capitalism, freedom, national security, defeating terrorism, and — dare I mention — jobs — any ol’ euphemism that gets the ships built, the satellites launched, the cruise missiles updated and the troops armed, trained and deployed.

American aggression has become so part of our national DNA, so ingrained in who we are as a people, that we can wage two wars simultaneously and it’s just ho-hum, business as usual. Another day at the office, so to speak, for America. That’s what we do. We war.

How did this “siege state mentality” overcome America? How did America come to have more than 700 military bases abroad? Station hundreds of thousands of troops in nearly every time zone on the planet? Waste trillions on national security, yet never feel quite secure? How can it be that you and I have stood by while our politicians (Republicans and Democrats alike), defense contractors, lobbyists, quacks and quislings appropriate our future through cynicism, fear and duplicity?

“She saw things at the window; she heard things at the door,” are lyrics from a Canned Heat classic titled “Amphetamine Annie.” That’s America, folks. America sees things (terrorists) at the window. America hears things (enemies) at the door.

It’s over. The emperor has no clothes. We do not need (haven’t since 1945) the military our “special interest” militarists would bankrupt us to support. No imperial power in history has sustained itself indefinitely. None. The weight of wars, of maintaining the American empire, will take our nation, take us all down.

An American had three times the chance in 2010 of dying from lightning as terrorism.

“She saw things at the window, America heard things at the door.”

We must kick the drug of militarism. America’s health depends on it.