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Monday, March 16, 2015

Sad commentary - only the dead have seen the end of war

A decade and a half after 9/11, the war on terror continues to open new fronts from Syria to Libya to Nigeria. And it’s hard to see this changing under a Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush administration. Perpetual war is unlikely to end in our lifetimes. Until we accept this, the post-9/11 erosion of human rights is likely to continue.- Rosa Brooks
Our civilization has proably never experienced a time of total peace. Humans have a habit of killing each other off, for reasons usually rooted in greed, religious dominance, political power or sex.   

In our time, the concept of peace could become an anachronism. Terrorism, religious zealotry and fear have replaced peace in our vernacular. In other words, the word peace risks becoming a decorative symbol on Christmas cards. Never to be a reality.

Columnist Rosa Brooks writes "There's no such thing as peace", in Foreign Policy News (FP). Here are a few excerpts from her colum:

There’s No Such Thing as Peacetime

We've spent years believing the war on terror will end and civil liberties will be safe again. 

It's time to accept that the war will go on forever -- and take steps to protect life and liberty in the new normal.

Most of us view perpetual war as deeply inimical to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

We’re not wrong: Since the 9/11 attacks, two successive U.S. presidential administrations have embraced indefinite detention, massive secret surveillance programs, covert cross-border targeted killings, and a host of other troubling practices. In reaction, those concerned with rights and the rule of law have called for an end to the post-9/11 “war paradigm,” insisting that counterterrorism should not be conceptualized as war and urging a return to a law enforcement framework.


“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

“I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” President Barack Obama said in February. That this statement came as the U.S. president unveiled his request for Congress to authorize military force against yet another enemy — the self-styled Islamic State, this time — was an irony lost on few observers.


In the century’s first 15 years, the United States has already fought two large-scale ground wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and used air power and special operations forces to kill perceived enemies in a dozen other places, from Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya to Somalia, the Philippines, and Syria.

The stunning rise of the Islamic State is yet another reminder that turning the page on war is easier said than done. The notion that states can monopolize violence seems increasingly quaint: The technologies of destruction are cheap and widely available, and acts of brutality can easily be broadcast on YouTube and Twitter

We are, as the military puts it, in an era of persistent conflict. It’s an era that won’t end soon.

Brooks provides an in depth analysis about how the concepts of war and peace infringe on our human rights, and freedoms and especially on our civil liberties. Although much of her essay is a legal brief, her premise is chilling.  Peace in our time cannot be adequately defined, because the old fashioned rules developed by previous eras and civilizations to define "war" and "peace" no longer apply.  In fact, they're obsolete. Therefore, it logically makes sense, she writes, to reconsider the rules about war, in a "new normal" world, where the concept of peace cannot be experienced.

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