The Endless War: War with ISIS Could Take 30 Years

In a recent article for The Intercept, Journalist Glenn Greenwald called attention to the latest installment of what appears to be a never-ending cycle that involves the United States going to war in the Middle East.

At this point, it is literally inconceivable to imagine the U.S. not at war. It would be shocking if that happened in our lifetime.

Greenwald explained that the U.S. government has changed the meaning of the term “Endless War” from a “dramatic rhetorical license” to a “precise description of America’s foreign policy.”

Long before Americans were introduced to the new 9/11 era super-villains called ISIS and Khorasan, senior Obama officials were openly and explicitly stating that America’s ‘war on terror,’ already 12 years old, would last at least another decade,” wrote Greenwald.

Greenwald referenced a 2012 article from the Washington Post, which stated that some U.S. officials say “no clear end is in sight,” and that the United States has reached “only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”

Pentagon Official, Michael Sheehan, confirmed this when he was asked how long the war on terror would last, at a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, in 2013, and he said it would be “at least 10 to 20 years” from that date.

After a hearing in 2010, in which members of the Obama administration admitted that in their eyes, the war on terror has “no geographic limit,” Maine’s Independent U.S. Senator, Angus King, said it was the “most astoundingly disturbing hearing,” he had been to. 

“You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today,” said King, following the hearing.

Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made,” wrote Jack Goldsmith, a former Department of Justice lawyer, on the blog Lawfare.

Only in America are new 30-year wars spoken of so casually, the way other countries speak of weather changes,” commented Greenwald.

According to Greenwald, “All of that received remarkably little attention given its obvious significance.” He claimed that any doubts as to whether this “Endless War” was official “American doctrine,” should be eliminated after recent comments from two leading Democrats, both “former top national security officials in the Obama administration.”

Greenwald’s first example was Obama’s former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, Leon Panetta. In an interview with USA Today, Panetta addressed Obama’s new operation, saying, “I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war.

Panetta said that this war “will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats,” and he went on to criticize President Obama for being insufficiently militaristic, even though, Greenwald mentioned, Obama officials are the ones who have told the public to think of The New War “in terms of years.

Panetta referred to possible emerging threats coming from “Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.” Greenwald pointed out that the use of the word “elsewhere,” meant that this war not only has no time constraints, it also has no geographic constraints

Greenwald’s second example of a Democrat, who removed all doubt that an endless war was just another part of U.S. foreign policy, was Hillary Clinton. At a recent event in Ottawa, Ontario, Clinton called the battle against Islamic State militants “essential,” and claimed that it would be a “long-term struggle.”

Greenwald concluded that this “endless war” would entail a “massive transfer of public wealth to the ‘homeland security’ and weapons industry.”

A state of endless war justifies ever-increasing state power and secrecy and a further erosion of rights.