In this paper, I will first consider the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the latest examples of the new Western way of war, and analyse their casualties alongside those of previous campaigns in the Gulf and Kosovo. I shall identify the new type as “risk-transfer war,” a central feature of which is a “militarism of small massacres.” I shall argue that this new type thus offers only a partial answer to the problems, for the legitimacy of warfare, caused by the systematic targeting of civilians in earlier “degenerate war.” Despite a closer approximation to “just war” criteria, the application of which the new mode I shall discuss, inequalities of risk between Western military personnel and civilians in the zone of war revive the question of legitimacy in a new form. The paper then suggests that in our concern for relatively small numbers of civilian casualties, we may be applying to war standards from which it has historically been exempt. In this context, I shall conclude by proposing that the contradictions of the new Western way of war reinforce a 'historical pacifist' position towards the general legitimacy of warfare.
The argument I make in my book is that what I describe as the new American militarism arises as an unintended consequence of the reaction to the Vietnam War and more broadly, to the sixties... If some people think that the sixties constituted a revolution, that revolution produced a counterrevolution, launched by a variety of groups that had one thing in common: they saw revival of American military power, institutions, and values as the antidote to everything that in their minds had gone wrong. None of these groups — the neoconservatives, large numbers of Protestant evangelicals, politicians like Ronald Reagan, the so-called defense intellectuals, and the officer corps — set out saying, “Militarism is a good idea.” But I argue that this is what we’ve ended up with: a sense of what military power can do, a sort of deference to the military, and an attribution of virtue to the men and women who serve in uniform. Together this constitutes such a pernicious and distorted attitude toward military affairs that it qualifies as militarism. An interview with Andrew Bacevich, international relations professor and former Army colonel, and author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War--and here is a review. Recently by Bacevich: We Aren't Fighting to Win Anymore - U.S. troops in Iraq are only trying to buy time.
posted by y2karl
on Feb 21, 2005 -