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The Fog of America's Phony War


The Fog of America's Phony War

William Astore

Overseas, the United States is engaged in real wars in which bombs are dropped, missiles are launched, and people (generally not Americans) are killed, wounded, uprooted, and displaced. Yet here at home, there’s nothing real about those wars. Here, it’s phony war all the way.


Not likely. US Americans have always turned the agile trick of ignoring the terroristic origins of the country: genocide and slavery. We can certainly continue to ignore (by and large) any terrorism at home or abroad committed for the sake of white supremacy.

Even when Martin Luther King, Jr. - putatively revered today - spoke out with legendary eloquence on April 4, 1967 against the war, most everyone turned their back on him. Most everyone forgets that day.

Even when young people got excited about an avowedly anti-corporate candidate for president, nobody seemed to notice Bernie’s reluctance to mention war or imperialism. Maybe the reason US Americans are such suckers for phony everything is because we’re phony people.


Where to begin? I think I will email Prof. Astore directly with any more lengthy comments on this very astute and impassioned piece. For now, I want to respond that I think he leaves a lot out of his analysis, mostly related to us, American civilians who just pay the taxes to perpetuate these endless wars, foreign interventions, drone strikes etc.

Mr. Astore is understandably pained and outraged at what America has become. So many people in this world now hate us for our power and violence directed at their lands, at their children. And we are so rich and so safe, relatively, that they will do anything to get here to our shores, and start a new life. The irony! Yet, I wish he would spare a thought to the Americans he describes as ignorant and “On their duffs” while our military and government continues on with said stupidity and carnage abroad. And I do think there is a resistance to it–but when there is no draft, and the media is owned by corporate connected interests, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United allowed the buying of our elected reps to continue and grow–how can we see what we aren’t shown, and what the ‘fog’ keeps from us? Also, he misstates when he says that the effects on our soldiers, in alienation, PTSD and suicide, are borne just “within their own ranks”, when they return home. The rate of domestic violence on bases, and outside them, the increase in social and medical and judicial cost of these affected soldiers, is huge.

Just a few points. I appreciate this article, as I do Andrew Bacevich’s pieces. If someone could encompass all that’s wrong with America just now, and also propose a way to arouse a public who are misled and unserved by the organs of our Congress, Pentagon and news media, it would be amazing.


“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes.”
John Prine

There’s a building in Virginia where all the money goes. But don’t forget the “defense” industries purposely planted in congressional districts throughout the republic.

Daddy spent all his money on guns, and the kids don’t have food or shoes, so daddy gets praised! (mommy too)

You can bankrupt the country with war, and then blame it on the poor.
It always works, without fail.


Excellent points. I agree - reinstate the draft and almost all of the U.S.'s invasions and “adventures” (can’t really call any of them “wars”) would come to a halt fairly quickly. Which is why they will NEVER reinstate the draft :slight_smile:


I agree with the author on so many points. Nonetheless, I think it is more than the public “sitting on their duffs” or being lazy and not questioning what the military does outside our borders. It goes deeper than that. The fact may well be that a large portion of the American public just doesn’t give a damn or, worse, yet, there’s also a large portion of the public that thinks it’s great that America is out there kicking ass on those less than exceptional people.

Consider that the last time Pew researched what Americans thought of using torture on suspected terrorists, circa 2013. A large majority of Republicans (71 percent) said torture could be at least sometimes justified, compared with 51 percent of independents and a full 45 percent of Democrats. What does this say about American values and American’s desire for peace?

With numbers like these supporting torture, how can anyone expect to mount a serious anti-war movement? As someone who has been protesting the war and the military since the Viet Nam era, I and other like me couldn’t even get foreign policy, endless war and the ever bloated spending on the military for a serious discussion during the 2016 elections. Where the hell was the peace candidate? Totally ignored and marginalized, as usual. (And I’m definitely not talking, Bernie F35 “I am no pacifist” Sanders, here.)

I had hoped that I might live to see one year when this country was no longer at war when Obama was elected in 2008. That hope, of course, evaporated, instantly. I’ve now come to believe that the only way I’ll ever live in a country that is not actively engaged in a war is to get out of this one. This is a war loving, violence loving, gun loving country. It has always been so.


A big problem, the only one that I can think of anyway, with an all volunteer military is that people don’t protest wars that don’t have an active draft these days.(As with the 'Nam) Wars still kill many thousands and countless lives are destroyed in these pointless excursions. i just wish this country didn’t run its economy on death and destruction. I sure sick of it as are many others especially the ones that pay with their lives and livelihoods.


It’s wonderful to see “a military man” write such an honest piece. Remember Oppenheimer’s statement, “I am become death…” when he saw the unthinkable of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a child, I could never understand why America had to bomb Nagasaki, as an adult, I wonder if any bombing was at all necessary, IF one looks at accurate history. The Japanese had already surrendered to the Russians, America had firebombed most Japanese cities, yet Truman issued the most heinous order–ever-- to unleash the atomic bomb.
America has become death long ago. We’ve just been in denial. We have never dealt with the atrocities we’ve committed throughout our short history, in addition to slavery, The American Holocaust, Vietnam, 9-11 and its aftermath. How many were aware that it was Obama who expanded Bush’s 2 wars into 7, drone-bombing millions of innocents? Most of the world believes that America is the greatest threat to peace and we are.
Our denial is slowly chipping away, perhaps with the web and the ability to research for ourselves, but as long as we have Corporate media complicit with the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex, we stay in the dark.


To the Fog of Wars in the global community with the exception of those who supply most of the weapons there are also a couple of wars here

War on education

War on voting rights

War on people of color

War on immigrants

War on the ecology (of this planet)

War on “drugs”

War on Health Care

War on communication ( mass media used for propaganda) War to limit public access to WWW

War on civil rights (war on voting rights should be included here)

In addition to and beside all those who want to see “americagreatagain”


Well expressed, Mister Astore! What you have written about in this article, is indeed our greatest threat, in the sense that it drains our ability to begin addressing the reality of our real problems.


People don’t march in the streets against war anymore because it’s a wasted effort. This country goes to war no matter how many pour into the streets against war. I agree with dissent though. Bring back the draft. People would become conscious again, in the streets and demanding peace. But, as ‘dissent’ reminds us, that’s why they’ll never bring back the draft.


People don’t go into the streets to oppose endless war because they are too busy doing something else. Besides who wants to be roughed up by the cop goon squad for using free speech.


Nothing makes me sicker than these wars. They are destroying our country morally and financially. This is the greatest Evil of our time.
This is the hardest thing about living here, we are forced to be a part of this .


I found your article very very difficult to stomach. Disgusting. War is not necessary, ever. There is always a better way. You taught military history at a military school. Kind of hard to not find something good about war, eh?

The Iraqi war, to depose a tyrant? Actually, a leader who had been a close US ally, but had suddenly decided he didn’t like us anymore.

The Civil War, a necessary war? Ok, slavery is evil. How many of the dead in the bloody, bloody Civil War were slaves or freed slaves? Better to have allowed the secession and worked it out state by state. Grant a good general?Um. Good at killing people. And a drunk, maybe necessary when killing is what you are good at. Again, you have to make soldiers feel good about themselves.

WW II was necessary? Good grief! The US didn’t help Euopean countries when Germany was expanding. The US didn’t help China during the Opium Wars. The US didn’t help China, Korea, and SE Asia when Japan invaded. In fact, US companies were selling scrap metal to Japan.The US helped China when it was working on a nuclear bomb and needed a place to send it.


We need to excuse in this fine article the overuse of the word, “phony.” Phony and Fake are inadequate labels for our societal illness. We, largely are, in fact, a people opposed to many issues that our legislatures impose upon us without their paying any heed at all to the letters, votes, and street demonstrations that the populace use to overcome the arrogance of our “leaders” and their brushing aside our dissent or opposition. Even my favorite congresspersons lapse in holding to their principles and fail to explain themselves when challenged. Representatives are supposed to represent their constituents–not the ones with the most money, but with equal respect for each individual.


It’s all Business War …
… or is it War Business?


It’s not a ‘war’, it’s a business


I don’t think so Aleph.

I’ve been working to understand the psychology of what we call ‘civilization’, and in order to do this one needs a baseline - a definition or understanding of what a ‘normal human being looks like’.

Two approaches suggest themselves, one internal or intrinsic (look inside oneself); the other external, archaeology & paleoanthropology, evolutionary theory, modern brain research etc…

Both should produce the same result, I would think.

The following excerpts are from Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe” (2016), and in every case my internal experiences coincide with these external looks into the human being:

“self determination theory, which holds that human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered “intrinsic” to human happiness and far outweigh “extrinsic” values such as beauty, money, and status.” (p.22)

"_Journal of Affective Disorders concluded in 2012. “In effect, humans have dragged a body with a long hominid history into an overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight deficient, sleep-deprived, competitive, inequitable, and socially-isolating environment with dire consequences.” (p.23)

“Social life is politically egalitarian in that there is always a low tolerance by a group’s mature males for one of their number dominating, bossing, or denigrating the others,” Boehm [anthropologist] observed. “The human conscience evolved in the Middle to Late Pleistocene as a result of… the hunting of large game. This required… cooperative band-level sharing of meat.” (p. 26)

“You’ll have to be prepared to say that we are not a good society - that we are an anti-human society,” anthropologist Sharon Abramowitz warned when I tried this idea out on her… “We are not good to each other [Abramowitz]. Our tribalism is to an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold, and mystifying. Our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that.” (p. 94)


“All the praise in the world doesn’t mean anything if you’re not recognized by society as someone who can contribute valuable labor.” (p. 100)

"“Recent studies of something called “social resilience” have identified resource sharing and egalitarian wealth distribution as major components of a society’s ability to recover from hardship. And societies that rank high on social resilience - such as kibbutz settlements in Israel - provide soldiers with a significantly stronger buffer against PTSD than low resilience societies. In fact, social resilience is an even better predictor of trauma recovery than the level of resilience of the person himself.” (p. 103)

It might be the case, given the above, that those who ‘succeed’ in our society are the misfits, and that it is not ‘the people’ who are phony, but our inherited culture.

If so, this we can fix!

It is also a strong argument in this same book that once you see and define yourself as a victim, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fight back instead.


That’s the best statement I read yesterday, in any publication, ThomasMarx, particularly “You can bankrupt a country with war, and then blame it on the poor.” So true.

We spend over two billion dollars per day on the US war machine, and the poor are made the targets of our country’s woes.

The right wing and some Dems constantly attack any “programs of social uplift,” to recall Dr. King’s term, so that we can spend more money on the war industries.

This was Dr. King’s view over 50 years ago.

Still, “It always works, without fail.”



The best metaphor that I can come up for the Military, Industrial, Congressional, Complex is this: DRACULA, BECAUSE IT CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT THE BLOOD OF INNOCENT PEOPLE!