Tag Archives: arms trade

A Momentum of Cynicism

By Robert C. Koehler

“But no matter how futile, repulsive or dysfunctional war may be,” Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in her book Blood Rites, “it persists.”

A fascinating story in the New York Times just after Christmas showed this persistence unfolding before our very eyes.

The sale of arms to Iraq (remember Iraq?) — $11 billion worth of almost everything, fighter jets, battle tanks, cannons, armored personnel carriers, armor and helmets, even sport utility vehicles — is going to move forward even though it makes little sense from multiple points of view, including U.S. geopolitical interests. As far as I can tell, the sale is going to go through because “war persists” — or something persists, a force invisible to reporters and beyond the control of diplomats (at least those who speak on the record).

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The Big Lie Marches On

By Robert C. Koehler

The war is over, sort of, but the Big Lie marches on: that democracy is flowering in Iraq, that America is stronger and more secure than ever, that doing what’s right is the prime motivator of all our military action.

And the troops will be home for Christmas. Hurrah! Hurrah!

(The men will cheer, the boys will shout, and we’ll all feel gay, except maybe Rick Perry.)

“The war in Iraq will soon belong to history,” President Obama told the troops at Fort Bragg last week. “Your service belongs to the ages. Never forget that you are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries — from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you — men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.”

Maybe, as he fulfilled his campaign promise and shut down the Iraq operation after nearly nine years of occupation, slaughter and nation-wrecking, the president had no choice but to extol the glory of our fake values, to pretend — to those who fought it — that this was an honorable war, waged in self-protection and righteous vengeance.

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A vortex of death and wealth

I have several reading/speaking engagements coming up related to my new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound: On Sunday, April 24, I will be speaking at Mothers Trust, in Ganges, Michigan. On May 6, I will be reading at the Quaker Friends meetinghouse in Lake Forest, Illinois. Specific details coming soon. In addition, I will be moderating a panel discussion following a showing of the film Concrete, Steel and Paint at 6 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, 1870 Campus Drive, on the school’s Evanston campus.

By Robert C. Koehler

Whatever the strategic — and humanitarian — considerations behind NATO/U.S. intervention in Libya, a larger force utterly indifferent to both, and seldom sufficiently newsworthy to merit mention, unites tyrant and rescuer and keeps the world tangled in an endless cycle of hellish violence far beyond the scope of the conflict that generates it.

I’m talking about the global arms trade, for which wars large and small, whatever their cause, whatever their “legitimacy,” are necessities without which the goods would not move. They’re also more than that, but not the sort of thing we salute or honor with granite statuary.

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