The promoters of war don’t deserve a place in America’s mainstream discourse any more than white supremacists do. This was recently made clear when Senator Marco Rubio tweeted an image of a bloodied Muammar Gaddafi in apparent reference to what he hopes will befall Nicolas Maduro.
As horrifying and potentially criminal as Rubio’s death threat was, it’s nothing new in the rhetoric of American warmongers. Recall Hillary Clinton’s sadistically jovial line after the murder of Gaddafi about how “we came, we saw, he died.” Or Ted Cruz’ promise during his 2016 presidential campaign to indiscriminately “carpet bomb” populations in the Middle East. Or the 2017 statement from the war criminal John McCain about North Korean “extinction.”
These quotes reflect the defining paradigm of America’s political culture. Violence, ignorance, and the belief in our country’s “exceptionalism” are celebrated while the world’s poor and vulnerable people are crushed under the boot of empire. This culture of brutal conquest has been with us since colonial slavery the Native American genocide, and it’s continuing in the modern age with similar brutality; at least five million Muslims have been killed in the Middle Eastern wars that America has instigated since 1990, with our terroristic bombing and drone campaigns continuing to escalate.
The goal of neoconservatives like Clinton, Cruz, and Rubio is to make this paradigm of violence continue for the foreseeable future. With the rise in recent years of an intensely pro-war Democratic Party that calls for escalations with Russia and glorifies war criminals like George W. Bush, the culture of war in America has become thoroughly bipartisan. This has let war propaganda become utterly ubiquitous in our society. From the media sensations around unverified claims of Russian meddling, to the calls from pro-war pundits and politicians for the U.S. not to withdraw from Syria, to the current effort to demonize Nicolas Maduro for the purpose of carrying out a coup in Venezuela, there’s a push for ever more war, ever bigger military budgets, and the censorship and stigmatization of those who oppose the imperialist agenda.
If this push towards war doesn’t end soon, it will result either in an unprecedented holocaust or in the extinction of life on earth. With the return of the U.S./Russia cold war tensions and the breakup of the INF nuclear treaty, a threat of nuclear war between America and Russia has appearedthat’s even worse than the one from the last century. America’s arms race with China presents another factor that could spark world war. As the United States continues to aggress against Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, which align with the Russia/China axis, a conflict of such a scale is made even more possible.
This is the horror that we’re living with as a result of letting the neoconservative ideology become normalized. Neoconservatism is a symptom of America’s period of micro-militarism, the term that historians have for when an empire reacts to its own decline by waging war with increasing intensity. The goal that neoconservative zealots like John Bolton have of conquest against the disobedient nations, submission from Russia and China, and the creation of a 21st century U.S.-dominated unipolar world is part of a desperate attempt to restore America’s imperial hegemony. And the fact that most of these things are unattainable won’t stop the neocons from lashing out against the rest of the world in increasingly belligerent fashion.
The consequences of this late-stage imperialist paradigm can be as bloody at home as they are abroad. As the anti-war blogger Caitlin Johnstone has observed, America’s mass shooting problem partly comes from the war propaganda that the country is saturated with:
Lack of scientific inquiry notwithstanding, what else [besides America’s immersion in war propaganda] could explain the uniquely American mass shooting epidemic? Surely access to firearms is a factor, but other countries like Switzerland have similarly liberal gun laws without anything like the level of violence seen in the US. Surely mental health is a factor as well, but neither mental health problems nor lack of healthcare is a problem unique to the US. There is nothing like the mass shooting epidemic in the United States anywhere else in the world, nor indeed anywhere else in recorded history. Name me one thing unique to America that could possibly explain its unique mass shooting problem besides the fact that the American psyche is necessarily pummeled with war propaganda day in and day out in order to manufacture consent for US war agendas, and sometimes the mind gets bent so far it breaks.
The politicians and pundits who choose to propagate war agendas so that they can ride the gravy train of American imperialism are actively working to multiply the violence in the world. People like Rubio are a threat to peace, to the truth, and to human decency overall. In an ideal world, they would be pushed to the margins of our discourse, allowing us to focus on ways to nurture and enrich humanity instead of on ways to conquer and kill.