"War Prayer 2015"

Thank God for a renewed sense of common purpose in these desultory, fractured, and hyper-partisan times.


The United States is in the grip of war hysteria. Recent polls show about three-quarters of us support stepped-up bombing runs in Syria and Iraq and 60 percent support (more) ground troops being dispatched to the Middle East to fight the Isamic State (ISIS).

Politicians, including virtually all the leading Republican candidates for president, are calling Barack Obama, who has rarely been shy about dispatching the military to wherever he wants to do whatever he wants, weak. Hillary Clinton, who as a senator voted for the authorization to use military force (AUMF) that approved the global war on terrorism (GWOT) in September 2001 and to invade Iraq in 2003, has said that "ISIS is not going away" and supports increased military intervention around the world as a general rule.

And so, with apologies to Mark Twain, let's show gratitutde for war this Thanksgiving weekend because 

Constant war means not only that we can—thankfully—keep fighting the last war but also that we can refuse to ask, much less understand, anything about its objectives, tactics, and lack of efficacy.

The greatest gift of war, of "civilizational conflict," is that it makes it possible to ignore the soul-crushing ironies of history both big and small.

How can we acknowledge that we are fighting on the same side as Bashar al-Assad, the very dictator whose regime we seek to destroy?

How can we appreciate that our strongest allies in the current fight, Russia and Iran, are our sworn enemies in every other context? And that other friends—the Saudis, for instance—are not only the enablers of terrorists but practitioners of medieval, anti-modern justice?

How can we live with ourselves refusing refugees—even orphaned children—from a part of the world we've done so much to destabilize?

How can we not understand that after years of uninterrupted bombing, droning, and killing that we are supposedly less safe not despite our war but because of it?

And that there are other ways of combating terrorism and defending American lives and interests than repeating precisely what has failed not in distant memory but the immediate past?

Read the full "2015 War Prayer" at The Daily Beast.