American loves to go to war and does so often. And the reason they do so is because the wars always take place elsewhere and there are no civilian casualties or damage at home. The costs are borne by people in other countries, almost always people of color or poor or both and they simply do not matter. For the US, the only cost that matters is the economic cost or the level of US military deaths that the public will accept.
That this cynical calculation is always at play should be of no doubt to anyone. It is usually unspoken but sometimes explicitly stated, such as former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright who, when told by an interviewer of the deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to US imposed sanctions on that nation, blithely replied “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.” Why wouldn’t it be worth it in her eyes? The cost-benefit analysis is clear. The costs of the deaths of children are borne by the Iraqis. The benefits are to the US. What’s not to like?
And now senator Lindsay Graham, inexplicably considered a moderate in the eyes of the US media but a truly horrible person who urges going to war against pretty much everyone, has also come out in the open and, as Mehdi Hasan reports, said that a war with North Korea would be worth it and why.
“All the damage that would come from a war [with North Korea] would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an interview with CNN last week.
Why? Because non-American blood is cheap. Because non-American lives are considered collateral damage. Because the non-American victims of American bombs and bullets in faraway war zones — Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan — are what the British historian Mark Curtis calls “unpeople”: those whose “lives are deemed worthless, expendable in pursuit of power and commercial gain.”
Does that sound hyperbolic? Well, listen again to the Republican senator from South Carolina, who has form when it comes to calling for the killing of innocent civilians on the Korean peninsula. “If there’s going to be a war to stop [Kim Jong Un], it will be over there,” Graham told NBC’s Today show last August. “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And [Trump’s] told me that to my face.” Graham continued: “That may be provocative, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States.”
That these outrageous comments passed largely unnoticed should tell you all that you need about the deep-seated contempt with which the people of color in in the rest of the world are viewed. This attitude is utterly bipartisan.
Yet whether or not Graham is “out of his damn mind,” to quote former Obama-era National Security Council official Tommy Vietor, is besides the point. As Albright’s 1996 interview so vividly illustrated, showing indifference to the dark-skinned victims of U.S. wars, sanctions and arms sales has always been a bipartisan habit in Washington, D.C. Remember: dozens of top Democrats, including presidential candidates such as John Kerryand Hillary Clinton, lined up to endorse President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and later ignored the growing number of Iraqi civilian casualties. “As difficult as [the Iraq war] was,” Leon Panetta, Obama’s defense secretary, nonchalantly remarked in 2011, “I think the price has been worth it.”
The problem is that the US government does not suffer any political costs for its wars of aggression as long as its casualties are low enough. And so it goes to war again and again.