Collective Indifference To War

Andrew Bacevich provides a good analysis of the causes for America's anti-war apathy:

The Problem of Collective Indifference: Wars Go On and On
People not caring about wars has become the reality in America.

The intro:

Why do Americans today show so little interest in the wars waged in their name and at least nominally on their behalf? Why, as our wars drag on and on, doesn’t the disparity between effort expended and benefits accrued arouse more than passing curiosity or mild expressions of dismay? Why, in short, don’t we give a [expletive deleted]?
. . .

Without any expectation of actually piercing our collective ennui, let me take a stab at explaining why we don’t give a @#$%&! Here are eight distinctive but mutually reinforcing explanations, offered in a sequence that begins with the blindingly obvious and ends with the more speculative.

Here are three of Bacevich's points:

2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated. In a famous speech, dating from early in his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Dollars spent on weaponry, Ike insisted, translated directly into schools, hospitals, homes, highways, and power plants that would go unbuilt.

And 911! Sharia Law! Benghazi!:

4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more. While international terrorism isn’t a trivial problem (and wasn’t for decades before 9/11), it comes nowhere close to posing an existential threat to the United States. Indeed, other threats, notably the impact of climate change, constitute a far greater danger to the wellbeing of Americans. Worried about the safety of your children or grandchildren? The opioid epidemic constitutes an infinitely greater danger than “Islamic radicalism.” Yet having been sold a bill of goods about a “war on terror” that is essential for “keeping America safe,” mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter. To question that proposition becomes tantamount to suggesting that God might not have given Moses two stone tablets after all.

Our corrupt Duopoly and precious M$M trot out slogans as a substitute for a real conversation:

5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is -- not to put too fine a point on it -- vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive. William Safire of the New York Times once characterized American political rhetoric as BOMFOG, with those running for high office relentlessly touting the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.

Ask a politician, Republican or Democrat, to expound on this country’s role in the world, and then brace yourself for some variant of WOSFAD, as the speaker insists that it is incumbent upon the World’s Only Superpower to spread Freedom and Democracy. Terms like leadership and indispensable are introduced, along with warnings about the dangers of isolationism and appeasement, embellished with ominous references to Munich.

That's a good start. I think we can add mindless, knee jerk patriotism to the list. I wish I knew how we overcome all those hurdles and obstacles. Here's the link at Alternet:

https://www.alternet.org/human-rights/andrew-bacevich-how-we-learned-not...

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Comments

Big Al's picture

corporate media said on a nightly basis what we say here and at other blogs, like "the United States Empire now spends an astounding $1.2 trillion per year to pretend to keep you safe and spread democracy. But that's not the real reason. The real reason is to make rich people more rich, give more power to our corporations, and kill innocent kids."

Then maybe more people would wake up. But they not only don't do that, they blatantly lie. Combine that with the educational system and the illusions created about this country and it's no wonder most people don't know what the fuck is going on. The complexity of this end game for the Empire power struggle makes it all the more difficult for people to understand the big picture. The brainwashing of the American public has been very evident during this NFL flag thing and how so many have reacted as fucking robots.

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Meteor Man's picture

@Big Al

The complexity of this end game for the Empire power struggle makes it all the more difficult for people to understand the big picture. The brainwashing of the American public has been very evident during this NFL flag thing and how so many have reacted as fucking robots.

It's been all downhill since Reagan, and Carter tilled the soil for him. I had no idea how bad Clinton was, because impeachment sucked all the oxygen out of the news feed.

Bush 41 and 911 woke me up, but I was not sufficiently alarmed to get out of my rut. I followed Cindy Sheehan and Gold Star Mother's for Peace. I thought the next Democratic President would push the political pendulum back towards sanity. What really got my attention was when the Kenyan Socialist Obama picked WTF Biden for his VP.

I waited for the anti-war movement to show up, but Obama had them pacified. I have no idea how or if we will ever get back on track.

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Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

@Big Al

Exactly! Seems to me that the American people have been subjected to a more comprehensive and invasive propaganda program than has ever before even been possible - and I think that it says a lot for human potential that so many can still see through so much of it.

More doing so all the time, too, that (as we know, all too well,) being why McCarthyism and censorship is being so frantically instituted by those who make their fortunes from and by using such things and still live in the 'Red Scare Cold War For Profit' days, recycling the same smears and lines as before. The truth hurts those who profit by lies.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

I heard somewhere on the intertubes that the pentagon has lost 6.5 trillion dollars. And of course they can't be audited. AND half those funds if I understand correctly go to the CIA, NSA etc. AND THEY can't be audited. And any IG that states that they are seeing large gaps in what is happening with the money ISN'T getting the good press. So people aren't really seeing what is happening. All we and they know is that corruption rules and ethics drools in dc. We only get a small glimpse into the vast terror apparatus of our own making that we have. AND IT SCARES THE SH** out of ALL of us! Let's pull the covers back over our heads and go to sleep and maybe it will just all be a nightmare we can laugh at when we wake.

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glitterscale

snoopydawg's picture

@glitterscale

that we create a Los Vegas massacre every day across the pond. Again people were staggered by the violence of the shooting, but these same people have no empathy for the people that our military kills in how many countries? This includes children whose only crimes are they weren't born here in the "Land of the spied upon Free and the Home of the quivering masses Brave.

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I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.

detroitmechworks's picture

Take a look at the war movies that we see. "Jarhead" "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" "Zero Dark Thirty" "American Sniper" All promoting the quick/clean version, where the REAL emphasis is on how it affects the guy back home.

Completely ignores the fact that people are still over there. As far as hollywood is concerned, the real story is back home. The war is over.

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I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

@detroitmechworks Our country is terrible about giving a crap about how war affects others. So, yes, the movies will be about the effect on our soldiers, not the far more affected enemy or civilians.

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@Craig234

Especially since generally designated as enemies because not profiting The Right Corporations And People with the resources of the people to whom each targeted country belongs

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0 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Meteor Man's picture

@detroitmechworks

As far as hollywood is concerned, the real story is back home. The war is over.

Hollywood has been working with the military for so long that Americans don't know the difference between Zero Dark Thirty and reality, and reality is soooooo boring. They believe NCIS will save us. The brainwashing has been very effective.

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Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

snoopydawg's picture

@Meteor Man

and many people joined the Air Force after watching that movie.

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I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.

complexity. When I first started "paying attention", although still the NYT back then, ahem, I found it so hard to follow that I did not dig into it. I think that is a huge part of how the PTB use distraction and falsehood to make it so seemingly complex that people give up. And I do believe there is collective ignorance when even dealing with what "we" spend on "defense" every single year. Those numbers, for most people who only have time for headlines, become incomprehensible, and they are NEVER put into proper context. And our owners count on that. Overwhelm with sheer numbers, say it over and over again until it no longer means anything. And they get away with it. And only show the bombs taking off, never show what happens on the other end. Once I looked here and elsewhere, it didn't take me long to see how integral our wars are to everything about this country, its ugliness, greed and utter callousness. The Ugly American. That Rump's only ripped off the very weak veneer of "our civility."

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Gallup found that two days into the Iraq invasion, 70% of Americans supported it. Now Gallup reveals the majority of Americans would support military action against North Korea. The majority of Americans now believe the Russians are out enemies. Certainly not much objection to Trump shooting cruise missiles at Syrian forces (well, it did seem on TOP that the major compliant was no Russians killed).

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snoopydawg's picture

mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter.

they also think that we have the right to "just nuke them and their families." This type of mindset comes from the people who think that the military is fighting to defend our freedoms and spread our democracy. Whenever a soldier is killed, they try to outdo each other to thank them for their service and for giving their lives to keep us safe.

I have no idea how to change their mindset to see that the troops are just cannon fodder for the elites and the corporations. I doubt that they have ever heard of Smedley Butler or his book.
And I haven't seen them being upset with how the troops are treated when they get injured, but aren't treated for their injuries.
Nor do they know that a veteran kills their selves every 3 minutes.

Great essay, thanks for writing it.

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I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.

snoopydawg's picture

the latest one was for the 4 soldiers who were killed in Nigeria. Not one person asked why they were there and what they were doing. Those diaries have rules that say that no commentary about what our country is doing in the countries where the troops are getting killed. This rule is said to be in place because the families of the troops might read them. This sterile environment is a disservice to the troops that they say they are honoring. If people really want to support the troops, then they need to find a way to bring them home.

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8 users have voted.

I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.

ggersh's picture

it certainly looks like we've become Nazi Germany.
The propaganda machine works well, hardly a mention
on the news about war only about how dangerous both
Russia and NK are. We only hear the fear, never what
is actually taking place. Niger, bet you 80-90% of
amerikans never heard of it, they might believe it's
a another moon around Jupiter for all they know.

Yes, the Reich lives on.

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“We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

― Chris Hedges

@ggersh

Been looking that way from the outside for a while, to those not bombarded with the same degree of propaganda for the same length of time and not living within to be subjected to the incremental conditioning process inflicted upon the American people.

It always amazes me when people speak of America as 'possibly edging toward fascism' and 'almost in danger of becoming a police state' - but it's now so painfully obvious that it's hard to miss, even through the PR fog and bullhorn blares of 'well, you still aren't being arrested for( many of) your internet comments and still have elections, so America's The World's Greatest Democracy! Thank the Flag, children, Salute the Flag!'

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

Like a dog lying motionless while the experimenter continues to press the button that delivers electrical shocks to it.

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Who does all the planning?/Who does all the work?/Who gets no vacation/Not one pay raise, not one perk?/Whose third-rate insurance comes without a dental plan?/Your average, humble squire/Not the meathead in the can.
--Galavant

Strife Delivery's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal If I may piggyback off your comment there, that study has some very interesting nuance to it.

Yes, experimenters would shock dogs through electrified floor plates. They did not have the means to escape. Eventually, they would stop moving and just lie there.

What is ultimately interesting about the experiment is that the experimenters removed one of the walls. The dog would have been able to escape if it so chose to do so. But, when they resumed the shocks, the dog did not move. That is a key feature to take away from the experiment. That even when the opportunity to escape is presented, if someone has acquired "learned helplessness" (ultimately the phrase the describes the situation) then they will not resist.

I think in one sense that those who read about the reality of what we do and the horrors we inflict, I think that those individuals live in a state of despair and helplessness. But, Americans love being controlled. The easiest way to control someone is to tell them how free they are. The easiest way to get someone who is weak to believe you is to tell them how strong they are. Americans love to say how free they are but they demand to be controlled. When Americans are told we have to kill people, they cheer.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Strife Delivery I'm not entirely sure...well, it depends on whether you mean they love to be actually controlled, or to believe that they are controlled. The former--possibly. The latter--not at all. Americans will abandon anything before they abandon the idea that they could make it all all right if they were smarter, better, harder working, more motivated. That's how God shows us who the chosen are--they're the ones that succeed. Anybody who is anybody succeeds regardless of the context or the odds.

That may be why you say that the best way to control them is to tell them they are free.

BTW, thanks for putting that additional info about that study in. I wonder how long they had to torture the dog before it stopped doing the sensible thing when the wall was removed?

Again BTW, I'm glad I have the info those studies provide, but Jesus Christ, I could never do that to a dog.

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Who does all the planning?/Who does all the work?/Who gets no vacation/Not one pay raise, not one perk?/Whose third-rate insurance comes without a dental plan?/Your average, humble squire/Not the meathead in the can.
--Galavant

Strife Delivery's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Former, not latter. If they believe they are being controlled, the mask is destroyed. You constantly and consistently tell people that they are free and they just accept it. Not a critical thought in wondering if they are truly free. If people took the time to think about our current reality, they would know they aren't free. That's what I meant by we demand to be controlled, we love to be controlled. We need someone to feed us our desire and boost our ego.

We are so strong.
We are so free.
We are God's chosen.

Why think more about it when it just feels good?

Also, no prob on the study. And yes, I couldn't do that either to a pooch.

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@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Exactly. And what's that poor dog going to do anyway - vote for Dem-uglicans?

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Wink's picture

indifference to the war(s) - including mine - becuz most citizens (nor their kids) aren't fighting them. Somebody else is fighting them, so... who cares? I gave up giving a flying fuck about the war(s) about 2010 when it became clear that our savior, Obama, wasn't going to end anything.
The only reason these days to give a fuck about the never-ending war(s) is the money the MIC spends on them instead of spending that money on MFA and S.S.

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. All about building progressive media. (-1.9) On Twitter @winkradio.

divineorder's picture

@Wink the people over there being killed on my nickel.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Wink's picture

@divineorder
collective indifference to that, too. Been a long time since anyone's given a damn, and that's just the way the Oligarchy like it.

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. All about building progressive media. (-1.9) On Twitter @winkradio.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Wink I don't feel that way at all. But then, I consider myself endangered by all of this.

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Who does all the planning?/Who does all the work?/Who gets no vacation/Not one pay raise, not one perk?/Whose third-rate insurance comes without a dental plan?/Your average, humble squire/Not the meathead in the can.
--Galavant