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How “Liberals” Can Sustain Militarism & Enable War

How “Liberals” Can Sustain Militarism & Enable War


Its been over a year since a major US news network has mentioned any U.S. participation in the Yemen war. Such inattention normalizes U.S. military action and contributes to the greater indifference to militarism throughout U.S. society.

In the News:

“On July 2, a year had passed since the cable network’s last segment mentioning US participation in the war on Yemen, which has killed in excess of 15,000 people and resulted in over a million cases of cholera. The US is backing a Saudi-led bombing campaign with intelligence, refueling, political cover, military hardware and, as of March, ground troops. None of this matters at all to what Adweek (4/3/18) calls “the network of the Resistance,” which has since its last mention of the US’s role in the destruction of Yemen found time to run over a dozen segments highlighting war crimes committed by the Syrian and Russian governments in Syria.”

“For a bit more context, in the time period of July 3, 2017, to July 3, 2018, MSNBC dedicated zero segments to the US’s war in Yemen, but 455 segments to Stormy Daniels. This isn’t to suggest the Stormy Daniels matter isn’t newsworthy—presidential corruption is per se important. But one has to wonder if this particular thread of venality is 455 stories more important than Trump aggressively supporting a war that’s killing hundreds of people a month, injuring thousands, and subjecting millions to famine and cholera.”

Insight from Peace Science:

  • Liberal democracies often justify their reliance on military force as necessary to maintaining freedom, as well as frame security threats in terms of the dangers posed to the everyday lives of regular people, such that individuals will be willing to give up some freedom for personal security.
  • To understand how liberal militarism is sustained, we must consider the ways military force is made to seem normal and rational in terms of both geopolitics and everyday experience.
  • At the geopolitical level, the British state justifies military action by identifying its moral responsibility to respond to threats to its allies and by equating military action with security—despite the fact that it ends up producing insecurity for many, both inside and beyond its borders.
  • As part of everyday experience in some liberal democracies, a racist fear of refugees, the desire for normalcy, and ambivalence about military action combine to reproduce liberal militarism and ultimately normalize and enable war.


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