A Distinction Without A Difference

With the standard dramatization that accompanies all non-stories reported by the sycophants in mainstream journalism, much has been made of the exodus of combat troops from Iraq. Advanced as a pivotal moment in the development of the U.S. “mission,” and supposedly foretokening Iraq’s coming political independence, the withdrawal is actually notable for what it does not represent — a substantive departure from the policies of savage imperialism.

Arriving in Baghdad on Monday to further memorialize the United States’ bloody occupation of the country, Vice President Biden alighted from Air Force Two to tell reporters, “We are going to be just fine,” a laconic statement that, actually, could hardly have been more accurate. Though he doubtless intended the sound bite in the characteristically reassuring style of all political misinformation, there is another, more disturbing message embedded in Biden’s spin.

If the Vice President’s “we” symbolizes an ingrained political establishment with no scruples regarding war profiteering, then there can be little doubt about the veracity of his prediction, about the fact that the state and the elites operating it will continue to make a killing — both literally and figuratively — from war. Far from the “hope and change” promised, the Peace Prize White House has unsurprisingly continued to drive the warfare state onward, ratcheting up military spending and droning innocents in the nebulous shadow war called, in the parlance of the political class, “the War on Terror.” The distinction drawn by this putative milestone, setting “combat troops” apart from every other kind, is the quintessence of government mendacity, calculated to make us forget that 50,000 troops remain in Iraq.

Given the differentiation, we are apparently meant to believe that the soldiers remaining are staying on for the local art and culture, that they are not still toting the implements of mass murder to prop up American colonialism. And the United States’ other overseas possessions, acquired through needless wars (forgive the redundancy) of the past, evince a pattern that is especially apposite in analyzing this next stage of the occupation. From the “New Nationalism” of the Progressive Era’s Spanish-American War to World War II and beyond, the insatiate state has always turned to war as its most dependable path to aggrandizement, and as a fail-safe source of new favors to dole out to the war industry.

“Modern war,” explained sociologist Robert Nisbet, “grounded as it usually is in the kinds of political and moral ideals, or claimed ideals, which can justify almost limitless expansion of the state at the expense of society, is very healthful indeed to any form of state.” The notion that the United States would want to leave Iraq “sovereign and independent,” as its Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Tuesday, is completely incongruous with the objective of indurating the state’s favored interests. Equally absurd is the idea that al-Maliki, just another in an extended family of U.S. puppets, cares at all about ideas of sovereignty or independence, both of which are concepts that can apply properly only to individuals.

That the political paradigm installed by the United States is the provenance of al-Maliki’s position ought to hint to the pitiable Iraqi people what motivates the Prime Minister, the same concerns that drive all agents of statist privilege. The United States maintains several hundred military bases in over 150 countries around the world, vigilantly guarding its empire and suborning its colonies with billions in military aid. The words “sovereign” and “independent” would have to be warped beyond recognition to subsume the relationship between the United States and satellite dependencies like Japan, South Korea and Puerto Rico, their every policy defined by America’s hegemonic dominance. So while the announcement of the “combat mission’s end” sounds momentous, it is only semantic restyling, the meretricious proclamation of a morally destitute cabal.

The message of real promise, of peace and independence, will never emanate from an institution defined by aggression or from anyone who applauds what it does. Reduced to its essentials, market anarchism is the extension of the anti-war reasoning to all patterns of human interaction, tolerating force only as an act of defense. If individuals forswear hostile intervention in each other’s lives, whether next-door or across some line on a map, then a stateless society is the ineluctable result. For many, confronted with warfare’s images of slaughter and destruction, opposition to war is instinctual; market anarchists simply extend that opposition to the less conspicuous — though just as unjustifiable — instances of violence that obtrude on every area of our lives.

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Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory