To Stop War, America Needs a Third Party
The American political system has been captured by the military, and only an independent political power can prevent the next Afghanistan
[...] It’s all noise, designed to distract from the fact that Afghanistan is as pure a bipartisan fiasco as we’ve had in recent times. Both parties were directly and repeatedly complicit in prolonging the catastrophe. Republicans and Democrats were virtually unanimous in approving the initial use-of-force, both voted over and over to fund the war to insane levels, and both Democratic and Republican presidents spent years covering up evidence of massive contracting corruption, accounting failure (as in, failure to do any accounting), war crimes, and other problems.
Afghanistan was the ultimate symbol of the two-party consensus, the “good war” as Barack Obama deemed it, and defense spending in general remained so sacrosanct across the last twenty years that the monster, $160 billion defense spending hikes of 2017-2018 were virtually the only policy initiative of Donald Trump’s that went unopposed by a Democratic leadership. “We fully support President Trump’s Defense Department’s request,” was Chuck Schumer’s formulation in 2018, choosing then to reward the Pentagon for turning Mesopotamia into a Mad Max set and spending two trillion dollars on the by-then-inevitable fall of Kabul.
Worse, as the performance of the legacy media in the last few weeks shows, the national commentariat is also fully occupied by the military establishment. Staffed from top to bottom by spooks and hawks, the corporate press’s focus from the pre-Iraq firing of Phil Donahue through the past few weeks of guest star appearances on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC by the likes of Leon Panetta, John Bolton, Karl Rove, David Petraeus and Marc Thiessen — all people with direct involvement in the Afghan mess — has been the same. It keeps the public distracted with inane tactical issues or fleeting partisan controversies, leaving the larger problem of a continually expanding Fortress America unexamined.
We need new institutions free of Pentagon influence, probably starting with a new political party. It doesn’t even matter so much what such a party would stand for, ideologically, so long as it adheres to one basic principle: don’t accept contractor money. It seems like the only possible solution to the disease that gave us Afghanistan. Our two parties, just like our academic research institutions, news networks, and even Hollywood’s movie studios, have become de facto Pentagon subsidiaries. They’re all hopelessly corrupted by the financial powers Dwight Eisenhower warned about, in his famous speech prophesying “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” from America’s armaments sector.[...]