United States Counterterror War Locations 2015-2017
Photo Credit: TomDispatch
Embarrassing spectacle. Treasonous. National security crisis. These are some of the reactions to the Helsinki Summit between Presidents Trump and Putin on July 16, 2018. Some among us believe that Trump is responsible for all that’s wrong with America. Not so, Tom Engelhardt reminds us in his latest book, A Nation Unmade by War (Haymarket Books, May 2018).
In A Nation Unmade by War, Engelhardt focuses on “a nation increasingly unsettled and transformed by spreading wars to which most of its citizens were, at best, only half paying attention.” He views Trump’s election as “part of the costs of those wars come home” and envisages that America’s 45th president “might preside over the most precipitous decline of a truly dominant power in history, one only recently considered at the height of its glory.”
When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the United States became the sole superpower. Dreams of creating a planetary Pax Americana led to the build-up of this country’s military might. The realization of that dream came on September 11, 2001, with al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center, and the subsequent launch of America’s Global War on Terror. This never-ending war has now consumed an estimated $5.6 trillion from September 2001 through fiscal year 2018 (Costs of War Project, Brown University, November 2017).
Meanwhile, the basic needs of millions of Americans have gone unattended, hollowing out parts of the heartland. Mounting college student loan debt has jeopardized the future of young people. The country’s infrastructure is crumbling. A dysfunctional two-party political system has added to the chaos. The rise of the National Security State, with its militarized police and border forces, has become the de facto fourth branch of government.
A one-percent economy, a one-percent society, and a one-percent political system have paved the way for a one-percent government under Donald Trump – a celebrity business mogul with potential for authoritarianism.
“Trump is a message, a warning of the first order, and if that were all he were, he would just be an inadvertent teacher about the nature of our American world and we could indeed thank him and do our best to move on,” the author observes.
But we cannot ignore Trump. He has access to our nuclear stockpile. What’s more, as a climate change denier, he believes he can make America great again by taking us back to the fossil-fueled 1950s.
While Washington under Trump continues to funnel more funds into our never-ending wars, few Americans express responsibility for the spread of terrorism, failed states, destruction of lives and livelihoods, the tsunami of refugees, and the rubblization of some of the world’s great cities.
Engelhardt calls on us to imagine a government “distracted by its hopeless wars and the terrorist groups they continue to generate, facing the possible frying of our world and not lifting a finger to deal with the situation… It’s the definition of an empire of madness.”