United States Engaged in Perpetual War

The idea that the U.S. is engaged in perpetual war was, I believe, first phrased by historian Charles Beard to describe the foreign policies of the Deleno and S administrations, next by Gore Vidal who, in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, updated its applicability from Cold War times to 9/11 blowback days.  Vidal, using information from The Federation of American Scientists, recounts on pages 22-41, nearly 200 military actions of various sorts–in most, the U.S. has been the aggressor–since 1945; that’s about 3 per year.  Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune columnist, writes: “Since the Cold War ended, the U.S. has been at war in two of every three years”.  That’s not perpetual war, but it still a lot of them.

War is one of the costs of empire; another is bankruptcy.  The U.S. is paying these two costs–and a whole lot more!


Here’s another comment by Steve Chapman about US’s perpetual war that appeared in the Chicago Tribune (11/6/14) under the title, “Making enemies, one war at a time”:

“The United States is still involved in a 13-year-old war in Afghanistan, and President Barack Obama has undertaken a new one against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, just three years after he withdrew the last [sic] of our troops from Iraq. [At least a thousand or more US soldiers–or knows for sure how many?–remain and they have boots AND guns!!]

“The administration is also carrying on a drone missile campaign–which looks eerily like war from the receiving end–in Pakistan and Yemen. . . .

“[W]e’re creating jihadis faster than we kill them. . . .

“For most of this century we’ve been fighting wars to enhance our security, and each time we find ourselves with more enemies and less security.  By now it should be clear that is not a coincidence”.

So, US’s perpetual war for perpetual peace can also be perpetual war for perpetual insecurity.


Another statement of America’s perpetual war is William Blum, Rogue State.  The major weakness of this book is that most of the points made are supported by only a single source; in most instances, a newspaper article.  Research should always be based on information from two or, preferably, three or more different sources.  A newspaper article, for example, should be checked or verified with information from government agency reports, budgets,  observations of actual and/or trace behavior, and so on.  There are many sources of information documenting America’s perpetual war and, with the Internet, sources of information about this and many other important topics increase at a rapid pace.  Sometimes multiple source research is called “multiple methods” or “triangulation“.

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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One Response to United States Engaged in Perpetual War

  1. Pingback: US Continuously at War | George Beam's Blog

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