‘The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” This is how an anonymous Nato spokesperson described Saturday’s disaster in Afghanistan. Let’s translate it into English. “We bombed a hospital, killing 22 people.” But “people”, “hospital” and “bomb”, let alone “we”: all such words are banned from Nato’s lexicon. Its press officers are trained to speak no recognisable human language.
My fantasy is that someday we will have journalists who will challenge bullshit terms like "collateral damage" with questions to people like generals and politicians:
"If by that term you mean the killing of innocent civilians such as men, women, and children, doctors, nurses, and patients, why don't you say so?"
"Every misdirected bomb, every brutal night raid, every noncombatant killed, every lie and denial and minimisation, is a recruitment poster for those at war with the US. For this reason, and many others, its wars appear to be failing on most fronts."
The US is itself a nation occupied and controlled by a military empire that has taught its soldiers to view US citizens as the enemy.
" This is not to say that there is never an argument for aerial war, but that if such a step is to be contemplated the consequences must be examined more carefully than anything else a government does."
Tell me, then, when is there an argument for aerial war when, regardless of how carefully planned, you know very well the odds of killing non-combatants is very high? In ay context outside the theatre of war, this amounts to premeditated murder.
"There are no simple solutions to the chaos and complexities western firepower has helped to unleash, though a good start would be to stop making them worse."
On the contrary. A resolution that war will never again be a policy option is simple, enough. How about backing out of the conflict, militarily, and instead offer to resolve it, diplomatically? Instead of flooding the conflict with more arms, how about offering relief to the victims?
This article is yet another that promotes the idea that war, itself, is not the problem, just the way it is being fought. Solving any crisis by criminal means should never be a policy option and war, regardless of how it is conducted, is a crime. The one ironclad prediction that can be made with any war is that it sows the seeds for more war. The MIC and its minions count on it.
Thank you, Mr. Monbiot. This is one of the most honest analyses of the spreading wars that I have read. The following bears repeating:
"But a vast intelligence and military establishment that no president since Jimmy Carter has sought to control, the tremendous profits to be made by weapons companies and military contractors, portrayals of these conflicts in the media that serve only to confuse and bamboozle: they all help to ensure that armed escalation, however pointless and counter-productive, appears unstoppable."
And thank you for not resorting to the insufferable sports-world frame that only asks rhetorically why "We" (conflating the citizenry deliberately with the military) are not winning these wars. This is a fair question:
"And if, somehow, the US and its allies did succeed, victory over Isis would strengthen the Assad regime, which has killed and displaced even greater numbers. What exactly are the aims here?"
I also appreciate your savvy in examining the specifics of language frames utilized:
"The effort is to create distance: distance from responsibility, distance from consequences, distance above all from the humanity of those who were killed. They do not merit even a concrete noun."
Bingo: "War appears to have become an end in itself."
In this era of unfettered Shock Doctrine policies unleashed, what is it that could be more profitable than the disaster of war and the theoretical cost of rebuilding all of the infrastructure so senselessly crashed and burned?
M.A.D.men (and a few like-minded women) are at the wheel... "now presenting the authorisation of its bombing in Syria as a test of manhood" = Mars rules meets Patriarchal capitalism.
The same pattern is moving into place in U.K, Canada, possibly Australia, and other nations.
Perhaps it's only a coincidence that you lift the objection I often raise to accounts produced by Tom Engelhardt and apply it to Mr. Monbiot. In the case of Monbiot, his narrative searches BEYOND the war-only-all-the-time frame and names the various tactics used to give military powers their current primacy. Tom Engelhardt only gives scant mention to the MIC and he NEVER challenges the narrow frames that indeed seek to reform the War Machine (arguably making it more efficient in winning wars).
Monbiot is not guilty of this funnel vision, so I find it less than compelling that you target him. This reminds me of the way that so many attack Bernie Sanders as if he was the AUTHOR of wars created by the military state largely put in place by pro-military conservative/authoritarian persons and the entities they serve.
"Monbiot is not guilty of tunnel vision. "
Yes, good article.
" Attempts by US forces to blow up 41 men with drone strikes killed 1,147 ( innocent people ) many were children."
The liar in chief is going to Umpqua college in Roseburg, Oregon today to give his condolences to the victims of gun violence with some kind of hypocritical, lachrymose diatribe about gun violence in America, when he is nothing but a violent war criminal! And I am sure he will bring up the subject of gun control but mention nothing about drone control!
This is a rather bitter piece of reading. I understand that the Iraq war caused mayhem and civil war and I also agree that bombs do not always reach their targets but unfortunately naivete of his position is staggering. In reality, there is a brutal Syrian dictator who is carpet bombing opposition and many various dangerous terrorist groups who behead civilians and force millions to take refuge. Just stopping bombing is not going to create peace. Monbiot is lacking vision of the solution while critiquing pretty much everyone.
"Every misdirected bomb, every brutal night raid, every noncombatant killed, every lie and denial and minimisation, is a recruitment poster for those at war with the US. For this reason, and many others, its wars appear to be failing on most fronts." Just the opposite. The more enemy fighters "they" (the 1%) happily recruit through their bloody slaughter insures the continuation of massive profits. WE are not immune to the bloodiness of our leaders. If those "they" slaughter manage to slaughter some of us in return, so much the better. After all, the corollary is also true -- the more we are slaughtered, the more "they" are able to recruit and to justify escalated killing and thus profits. They have no moral center. They worship only wealth and power, and the deaths of millions are not relevant to their accumulation. On every front we are under assault from those for whom everything is not enough. Whether through bombs or through the elimination of our right to govern their behavior through such atrocious affronts like the TPP, the 1% consolidate hegemony over every aspect of every life on this planet. Stalin? A small-timer. Hitler? Just a grain of sand on a global beach. Their violent dreams of world domination are within reach as our leaders, nothing more than corporate quislings, sell us all out. To the 1%, OUR blood is not a price THEY pay in the calculus of achieving overarching dominance. Their wars are not failing, not in the least. They are unrivaled successes as the 1%'s march to world domination rushes headlong to its "final solution", the enslavement of an entire planet.
And food fell from the sky, and water in bottles, and lights that worked if you left them outside in the day. Medicine and bandages too.
These good things and others fell like a continual rain. After a time we no longer feared the sky or the sound of approaching planes. Instead of death they brought life - and that was all we wanted, to get on with our lives. To make babies and raise them. To spend time with those we love. To live in peace.
Just like you.
Because that would result in a loss of profits, especially future profits for the MICC.
Under the Toilet Paper Plan and others of its ilk, the MICC could sue the governments advocating peace and diplomacy for causing a loss of future profits and collect hundreds of billions from the taxpayers, for reducing future arms sales.
* The should be inmates are running the asylum!
"And thank you for not resorting to the insufferable sports-world frame that only asks rhetorically why 'We' (conflating the citizenry deliberately with the military) are not winning these wars."
Your concerns about the “we” formulation that conflates the citizenry deliberately with the military are right on target. What follows is just an extension of your insight.
“We” are not winning these wars because they are not being fought on “our” behalf, for "our" objectives. It’s as simple as that. “We,” the vast majority of the citizenry, grow ever more alienated and estranged from the atrocities carried out in “our” name by what the military/industrial/media complex represents (or rather misrepresents) to be “our” military. But for a growing number of us, it’s not “our” military at all. It’s a military mobilized for missions having nothing to do with furthering “our” interests. “We” citizens relate to "our" (sort of) military as a “proxy” force deployed to serve the interests of the tiny minority who run the military/industrial/media complex (i.e., “them”), a force over which “we” have no control.
"Of course the Taliban, Isis and al-Qaida not only kill civilians carelessly, but also murder them deliberately. But this surely strengthens, rather than weakens, the need for a demonstration of moral difference."
If you do the numbers, (e.g. the number of dead) and if you challenge the stated reasons for war (which are generally B.S.), you will come to realize that the so called moral high ground that the USA government supposedly stands on is nothing more than an Orwellian farce for propaganda purposes.
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But I did notice that he said the NATO spokesman should have said "We bombed a hospital."
I thought, as I read that, about your concern on the use of 'we' to conflate the people with the government and it occurred to me that in this case it would have been appropriate, because the "we" would have been the exclusive we of the speaker, which doesn't not include the ones spoken to. (Inclusive we includes the 'you' but exclusive we excludes the 'you.')
This started me thinking about the use of pronouns and I reflected on my attempts to police my language to not use 'we' for the actions of the US government when I write about it. To be honest I sometimes use that language and most of the time catch myself and edit it.
But what I edit it to is 'U.S. government.' I just realized that is not good enough. I want to start using 'they' more.
So the evolution of language is:
We say we're for human rights but we bomb hospitals
The United States Government says its for human rights but the United States Government bombs hospitals
to the more powerful in distinguishing between them and us-
They say they're for human rights but they bomb hospitals.