Treatise on militarism



Publication Details

Buchanan, I. 2006, 'Treatise on militarism', Symploke, vol. 14, no. 1-2, pp. 152-168.


Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. —Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987, 422)

The 2004 U.S. election must have caused hearts to sink everywhere in the Third World. The bloody insurgency in Iraq only strengthened the position of the “War President,” giving him greater license to continue his campaign of terror. At the time of the election the death toll of U.S. soldiers was nearing a thousand with the number injured seven times that. To which toll one must add the haunting fact that of the 500,000 plus U.S. servicemen and women who served in the First Gulf War some 325,000 are now on disability pensions suffering a variety of acute maladies generally attributed to the toxic cocktail of radiation and other chemicals they were exposed to during their tour of duty. Those who fight in Iraq today can scarcely look forward to a healthier future given that it is effectively twice as irradiated now as it was in 1991. Yet still the minority who vote voted in the main for the man who put these soldiers in harm’s way; but then it isn’t as though John Kerry was promising to bring the troops home. As important as Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? (2004) is as explanation of conservatism in the heartland of the USA, it doesn’t answer this question—why did the war on terror fail to ignite anti-Bush sentiment? More to the point, why was it impossible to vote against the war? This is militarism at its peak—you cannot decide between going to war or not, only which is the most desired (least worst?) way of handling the conduct of the war.

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