- The phrase, 'Just War,' used in reference to the battle
being waged in Afghanistan, is beginning to resonate. Not as a deep
concept, but like the names of those specialty stores you find in shopping
malls: 'Just Lamps,' 'Just Bulbs,' and 'Just Paper.' In fact, 'Just War'
turns out to be an eerily accurate marquee for the little shop known as
The United States of America. War, to the increasing exclusion of
else, is the only thing that America collectively cares about
- We don't manufacture much of anything; just war. We don't
concern ourselves with education; just war. We don't attend to the 40
Americans without health coverage; just war. We don't focus on the 30
American children living in poverty; just war. We don't support the arts;
just war. Even though a a multitude of human needs were in exist ence prior
to September 11, and have only increased since then, we continue to direct
our attention and our resources into what we do best: war. Just war.
- Need a billion dollars a day for the military? No
Need an extra $40 billion for the war on terrorism? Here it is. Need a
blank check to pursue an undeclared struggle with unexplained means and
undefined ends? You got it, because that's what America is all about: just
war. America is the world's biggest supplier of conventional weapons.
is the world's biggest supplier of torture devices. America manufactures
and exports terrorists at its School of the Americas (now the Western
Institute for Security Cooperation). America exports violent entertainment
around the globe. Prison construction remains one of our top industries.
Global slavery is the secret behind our economic success. The military
remains our biggest budget item. Whether it's war on people of color
or war on our rights at home, that's what w e're all abou! t: just
- And we've now codified that reality. President Bush's
guarantee of 'a long, long struggle,' absent a measurable goal, and without
a quantifiable conclusion, suggests that America will be in a permanent
militarized state until the end of our days, forever erasing the
between 'war time' and 'peace time.' There was an era when wars were ugly
spectacles, dreaded from a distance, entered reluctantly, and ended as
swiftly as possible. There were victory parades and celebrations, and a
return to 'life as we knew it.' There was a 'peace dividend'--the billions
of dollars no longer needed for war could finally be used for the benefit
of public health, welfare and the arts.
- But no longer. With no legal declaration of war, there
can be no cessation of hostilities. With no nations from which to demand
surrender, there will be no surrender ceremonies. In the absence of
there will be no realignments, treaties or agreements. Terrorists, whoever
they are, wher ever they are, will be rounded up in secret, tried in
and executed by secret tribunals. The waging of war will become a regularly-occurring municipal function, like trash collection or street cleani
ng--all the while
draining money out of our schools and hospitals, food out of our children's
mouths, and peace and beauty out of the rest of our lives.
- There is a moral corruption that comes from living in
a militarized society. When military demands continually defy debate, hold
center stage at the expense of monumental human need at home, and consume
resources essential for the well-being of people, our culture is
and we are diminished along with it. Our national dialogue becomes a
And our interactions become brutal and coarse.
- It's a corruption evident in Congressional disregard
for the needs of laid-off workers and Americans without health coverage.
In the Attorney General's contempt for the civil rights and freedoms he
purports to defend. In the contin uing debaseme! nt of our language into
'war is peace' doublespeak. And in the creeping fascism of pundits who
define those opposed to the war as 'irrelevant,' academics teaching history
as 'un-American,' and anyone calling for alternatives as 'lending aid and
comfort to the enemy.'
- It's a corruption that extends to our high schools, where
kids can visit ROTC recruiters on campus--whose presence, more and more,
is a condition of receiving state funds for education. It's a corruption
that extends to our colleges--where, we are told, kids are flocking to
CIA recruiters in droves, perhaps as the result of watching the new crop
of network TV dramas which employ official CIA script consultants.
- And it's a corruption that extends to our smallest kids.
Enlisted by a president who spends billions of dollars on a military
that destroys the homes and lives of Afghan children, American children
have been asked to send money to clean up the wreckage of his dirty war.
Here's a better idea: don't bomb c ivilians (by one estimate now numbering
3,500 dead) in the first place. Use the money to build and stabilize rather
than to bomb and terrorize. And teach our kids from their earliest days
that they--and their money--have value beyond supporting the war
- The corruption extends across the breadth of increasingly
harsh American mass cultural offerings, where you can take your pick of
cop chases, spectacular crashes, or real-life fights caught on tape. If
you're tired of watching crimes being committed, you can choose from a
gaggle of court shows, where a judge of your gender and racial preference
will verbally terrorize pairs of arguing litigants. You can get all the
blood and gore you could possibly want on the local news--just don't ask
the folks at the network to report how many civilians have actually been
killed in Afghanistan. Apparently, that information could have a negative
effect on the war. And war is, after all, what we're all about. Just
- With no end to the struggle in sight! , no perceivable
opposition party in Washington, and no balancing voices of reason being
given the light of day by the mainstream media, there's ample cause to
believe that America, like its counterparts that sell just lamps, bulbs,
and Scotch tape, is becoming a one-product economy: Just War. And where
there is just war, there will be no justice.
- David Potorti is the brother of a 9-11 World Trade Center
victim and recently took part in the Family Members of 9/11 Victims DC-NYC
Peace Walk. He lives in North Carolina.