On the one hand, many Americans have nothing but time on their hands. With folks out of work, working from home, and socially quarantined, there’s never been a better time to make a sizable dent in their book queues and catch up on the sort of analytical articles found here at Antiwar.com. At the same time, largely repetitive Corona coverage 24/7 carries the inherent potential (and rapidly approaching reality) of a complete media blackout on all war and foreign policy-related events. Whether intentional or, more likely, driven by ratings-based opportunism, the media’s stoking of fear – that most impactful of human emotions – may lead a wary and confused public to laser focus on, and only on, Corona-mania. While understandable, such a state of affairs carries the intrinsic risk of encouraging or enabling bad behavior by the national security structure of an increasingly "rogue” American state.
In the face of today’s such distinct duality, truth-seeking and truth-telling media sources, rare as they increasingly may be, are more vital than ever. Forgive my obvious bias, but Antiwar.com, as the record clearly demonstrates, has long led the way on both counts. During the current and ever ramping-up, Corona-induced, mainstream media silence on America’s forever wars, count on Antiwar.com to remain at the wheel and do its job, Bill Belichick-style.
Because make no mistake: the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) may have suspended public visitation and delayed the return of cadets from Spring Break, but USmilitarism remains alive, well, and healthy as can be, in the face of COVID-19. Consider just one recent escalation – five "retaliatory” air strikes against local militias – in an undeclared proxy war the Pentagon still wages against (ostensibly) Iran, within a supposedly sovereign nation, Iraq, whose military and government neither approves of, nor was consulted about, said attacks. In fact, not only did the U.S.-raised, trained and armed (remember that?) Iraqi military declare, in the wake of the attacks, that "This action is against the will of the Iraqi state and a violation of its sovereignty," but also months before the Parliament in Baghdad had actually voted in favor of removing American troops. The empire, of course, flatly refused.
Speaking of empire: remember that imperialism – in whatever manifestation – inevitably "comes home.” Nativism, racism, police militarization, press suppression, and, most of all, civil liberties curtailment: all these define the proven, consistent boomerang domestic effects of empire. The United States of 2020, with or without Corona, is not immune from these near mandates of imperial history. Thus, it is a citizen’s duty, assisted by publications like this one, to keep an eye out for Washington’s traditional penchant for suppression. Indeed, the recent FBI investigation of this very site proves that Antiwar.com has long been manning these familiar – but now suddenly crystalized – freedom barricades.
Those of us who abhor militarism and cherish liberty must undoubtedly contribute to disease curve flattening and practice solid citizenship regarding the Coronavirus, but also keep a watchful eye on the centralized warfare state, which has proven itself – time and again – apt (perhaps designed) to seamlessly slide in the direction of strict control or even tyranny. As we seek health and safety, and care for one another in uncertain times, let us decidedly not forget, or forgive, the very recent sins and deceptions of a government that – even assuming it is being forthright about the current pandemic – has demonstrably lied about the following: the CIA torture program, the justification for the 2003 Iraq invasion, and the progress and prospects of the Afghan War, for starters.
More recently, the U.S.-backed Saudi terror war on, and blockade of, Yemen – which couldn’t continue without Washington’s ample logistical and diplomatic support – exacerbated the world’s worst cholera epidemic in what was already the Arab World’s poorest nation. According to the World Health Organization, there are now more than 1.3 million suspected cholera cases recorded in that small country, and at least 3800 related deaths. Furthermore, it is difficult to overstate the disastrous outcomes for an indigent, isolated state – with 80 percent of its population now reliant on humanitarian aid to survive and a shattered healthcare system, and which has already suffered 100,000 war-related deaths – that now braces itself for a nearly inevitable Corona outbreak all its own.
Naturally, nothing about America’s ongoing forever-war-escalations (in Iraq or otherwise), or the vital context of Washington’s complicity in, and historical exacerbation of, past epidemics, is likely to pierce a distracted and Corona-laser-focused, tunnel-vision corporate media.
Still, this publication, it bears repeating, was antiwar before being antiwar was cool. The site hit the net in full force more than 20 years ago, leading the charge against Clintonian bombing and interventions in Kosovo and the broader Balkans at a time when these actions were (seemingly) widely popular, or at least went generally unquestioned. In other words, well before the 9/11 attacks, before President George W. Bush’s election and absurdly grandiose "war on terror" suddenly galvanized "the Left," and before any significant number of American troops began flying into Dover, Delaware in flag-draped boxes, Antiwar.com fought the good fight.
Consider it a proven penchant for prescience. The Antiwar.com team has repeatedly been on the right side of history – a pretty solid reason, dare I say, to, now more than ever, trust and support this site. The writers (myself certainly included) and editors at Antiwar.com can’t predict the future, nor do we have all the answers. What this publication can promise is pervasive provision of critical analysis, a willingness to interrogate even establishment "sacred cows," and the continual courage to leave no subject unquestioned. It can also point to a record of consistency and adherence to principle that is almost unparalleled in today’s media space.
Far be it from me to minimize or dismiss the potential pandemic challenges that lie before the citizenry today. Nonetheless, God willing, most Americans will survive and endure the Coronavirus. But let’s not let the US Government go unchallenged. Please give generously to Antiwar.com.
Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and contributing editor at Antiwar.com. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War is now available for pre-order. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet. Check out his professional website for contact info, scheduling speeches, and/or access to the full corpus of his writing and media appearances.
Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen