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It is Time to End the Empire

For weeks American conservatives have been ridiculing President Biden for his Afghanistan withdrawal, proving once again how clueless mainstream conservatives are. The corporate press has had the back of the Biden administration consistently throughout his presidency and campaign. Whenever the corporate press broke pattern and commented on Biden negatively, it was nearly always because he was not sufficiently progressive in their view. However, this recently changed.

During the Afghanistan debacle, the corporate press suddenly abandoned Biden. Additionally, the first time the corporate press broke their habit of criticizing President Trump was when he bombed Syria. CNN host Fareed Zakaria went as far as to say that because of the bombing, “Donald Trump became president last night.” For those who believe the media is usually wrong in its coverage of their preferred candidate or politician, there is an interesting pattern emerging.

While there is no denying that the vast majority of the corporate press publishes almost exclusively left-wing content, it is also true it protects the establishment. Bernie Sanders presents an anti-establishment persona. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is part of the establishment. Biden received far more support from the press than Bernie did, not because Bernie is farther to the left, but because they perceived a Biden presidency as better for establishment interests than a Sanders presidency. Government bureaucrats know that war is better for their budgets and their interests, so unsurprisingly, the corporate press’s penchant for the establishment causes them to push for war.


"The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. … Write that on the blackboard 100 times and never forget it."


While the corporate press is not always lying and not every take it presents is wrong, it has a habit of doing at least one of the two quite often. While the Nixon quote above can certainly be taken to mean that the press is always wrong, I do not think that is what he meant. The quote has an interesting framing; it implies that the press is part of the establishment. Children are taught in school that the press exists to keep the establishment in check, to expose its secrets, and to fight for those with little power. In reality, the press does little if any of that.

It is important that conservatives pursue long-term goals rather than political expediency. Sure, it may be easier to make Biden look bad when the press is assisting, but it is far preferable to push conservative goals than to dunk on Biden. Rather than pursuing political expediency, pursue truth.

The truth is that withdrawing from Afghanistan is the best thing Joe Biden has ever done, by far.

The debate over how much the United States should occupy the Middle East is presented as a balancing act over America helping the world and America helping herself. I reject this premise.

American occupation of the Middle East has benefitted neither America nor the Middle East. For how rarely this perspective is presented in corporate media, the case against war is incredibly easy to make. Half a million people have been killed as a direct result of United States’ wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan alone since September 11, 2001. Indirect deaths as a result of our interference in the Middle East likely tallies well over two million. Opinion Research Business estimates that deaths from the War in Iraq alone total over one million.

In addition to the millions slaughtered, the United States military is not even backing leaders who are much better than their predecessors. A 2015 report stated that, "instead of weeding out pedophiles, the United States military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages." Later, the CIA gave them Viagra.

As for how these interventions have benefitted America, our wars in Western Asia and the Middle East have cost an estimated 6.4 trillion dollars since 2001. Thousands of our soldiers have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have been wounded. An additional 300,000 U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from serious mental health issues. I would not consider this beneficial to our nation.

We are told that the United States government's rampage throughout the Middle East is a War on Terror. Unfortunately, terrorism is a tactic designed to provoke a responding attack, which then unites the people against the occupational force. This tactic was used successfully in the independence movements in Ireland, Israel, and South Africa, as well as the Russian Revolution.

Osama bin Laden attacked America so that we would occupy the Middle East and drum up support for terrorist organizations. America foolishly gave him exactly what he wanted. If we had left as soon as we took out Osama bin Laden (which we had multiple opportunities to do early on, but chose not to) or al-Qaeda, there would be fewer terrorists today. Even al-Qaeda's membership before the World Trade Center attacks was likely far higher than it would have been if we had not been militarily involved in the decades prior to September 11th.


Of course, there were plenty of mistakes in the Afghanistan withdrawal; however, how much better could it have been done? Implementation of central policy for our federal government is a responsibility for large bureaucracies. These large bureaucracies are inefficient, and most mistakes are not the fault of the president. There should have been no expectation that pulling out of Afghanistan would have gone smoothly - just as there should have been no expectation that our initial invasion or subsequent occupation would have gone as planned.

Furthermore, incentives play a major role in withdrawal, as they do in everything else. The bureaucracy receives more funding, and officials are more likely to retain their jobs and get promotions when wars are raging. For example, the source of employment for generals is war and preparation for war. Bureaucracy has incentives to perpetuate war, which includes botching withdrawals to create popular support for reengaging in combat. Even when generals do not intentionally perform poorly during a withdrawal, they often cause similar results because they do not believe in the mission of the withdrawal.

Even if a group were to work together, it is not at all mandatory that they pursue one goal for the same reasons. When Congress imposed a sugar quota due to lobbying by American sugar companies, Congress wanted money from lobbyists, and sugar companies wanted to cut out competition and raise the price of their product. While the sugar quota caused mass use of corn syrup in American foods, which is less healthy and tastes worse than sugar, that was not the end goal - it was a mere byproduct of powerful actors pursuing their own self-interest.

Many people do not understand this crucial fact about incentives, which is why the idea that large groups of people working toward one goal without appearing to communicate is often called a "conspiracy theory." It is not necessarily that this group of people is conspiring: They merely have incentives that cause their goals to align. This is not to say that what are called conspiracy theories are always true, of course. There is no shortage of ridiculous conspiracy theories, such as QAnon and RussiaGate.

One such alleged conspiracy theory is the Military Industrial-Complex. The Military Industrial-Complex refers to elements of military and defense companies that have incentives to maximize warfare. Many people think that it is not plausible that interest groups are pushing for war even if it would harm so many other people overseas, so they do not believe that the Military Industrial-Complex exists. The great general-turned-president Dwight Eisenhower disagrees. He warned in his final speech from the White House that the Military Industrial-Complex is a real threat.

For most people this is a hard pill to swallow because they do not understand the extent to which the United States military occupies the rest of the world. We are currently militarily involved in wars in at least eight countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Niger, Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan. Afghanistan is still listed because, while we did withdraw our troops, we are still conducting drone strikes, as evidenced by the seven children accidentally killed after our withdrawal.

We have over 750 military bases in over eighty countries. That is around eighty percent of all the military bases on the planet. We have at some point had troops in 84 of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations and been involved militarily with all but three of them: Andorra, Bhutan, and the 62 square-mile Liechtenstein. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden have bombed Iraq, every President since 1989.

No longer can Americans sit by while Republican politicians and pundits argue that the United States government needs to protect people overseas, their Democratic colleagues argue that Republicans are too jingoistic, and then both groups slaughter millions while Americans are not paying attention. No longer can American conservatives wave “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and claim to hate big government while they support the government’s most invasive activity, the invasion of a country. No longer can American progressives claim to care about racial minorities while their beloved politicians fund the Saudis in their slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Yeminis. Americans must wake up. It is time to end the empire.//

Joe Esoteric


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