‘All Options Are on the Table’

Then why is bombing the option that's always chosen?

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

There they go again. The geniuses inside the DC Beltway are bombing the Middle East again, specifically 85+ targets in Iraq and Syria allegedly supported by Iran. It’s funny: I don’t recall a Congressional declaration of war against Iraq and Syria (or Iran, for that matter), but who needs to be limited by the U.S. Constitution, am I right?

After the recent attack that killed three U.S. soldiers, I heard again that hackneyed expression from DC that “all options are on the table” in response. Amazing how the option that’s always picked by U.S. presidents is the military one. If it’s not “bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran,” as John McCain once jokingly sang, it’s bomb Iranian-backed units in Iraq and Syria, because that’s the best way toward greater stability and peace in the Middle East. Perfectly logical.

Yes, he died in 2018, but he’s America’s most likely presidential winner in 2024.

Speaking of John McCain, I like the joke that’s making the rounds that no matter who Americans vote for as president, they get John McCain, which is a shorthand way of saying that the National Security State is the unofficial fourth and most powerful branch of the U.S. government. Or, if you prefer, the MICIMATT, the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academe-think-tank complex.

Speaking of the media, you can always count on U.S. media talking heads issuing resounding hosannas to the highest whenever a U.S. president bombs a foreign country. Remember when reporters gushed that Donald Trump had finally become a real president in 2017 when he bombed Syria? Trump, who expressed his contempt for John McCain, finally became him – and earned the MICIMATT’s approval – when he started bombing and launching missiles to kill foreigners.

Finally, we often hear the expression from U.S. government-types that the only thing “they” understand is physical violence and war. It’s often far more accurate to say that the only thing “we” (the MICIMATT, that is) understand (and profit from) is physical violence and war.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.