The Longest US War, The Harshest Blow to the Rule of Law

By David Swanson

The Afghanistan war has now lasted longer than the Vietnam war or any other US war, be it one of those overwhelmingly seen as criminal or “misguided” or one of those people still try to justify. Regardless, they’ve all been shorter than this one.

Of course, the United States had been criminally and forcefully harming both Vietnam and Afghanistan for many years before the official start of the wars. Here’s how the USA Today does the calculation:

“The Vietnam War’s length can be measured in many ways. The formal beginning of U.S. involvement often is dated to Aug 7, 1964, when Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president a virtual carte blanche to wage war. By the time the last U.S. ground combat troops were withdrawn in March 1973, the war had lasted 103 months. U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. On June 7, the war will complete its 104th month.”

During the course of this still escalating war, the death tolls have not yet equaled those in Vietnam. But the financial cost has far exceeded what was spent on that earlier war. And new records have likewise been set in the area of legalizing crimes.

Afghanistan is where the United States sent habeas corpus to be buried for good. It is where we’ve developed new openness and formality around policies of torture, assassination, and unaccountability.

So it’s fitting that something else happens on June 7th, in addition to the Afghan war hitting the 104 month mark. In New York the Culture Project will present a “Blueprint for Accountability” (7:30 pm at the NYU Skirball Center or watch the live stream). Here’s who will be there:

Directed by
Academy Award-winning Producer, The Cove

With panelists:
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (Author & Environmental Activist)
RON SUSKIND (Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist)
JEREMY SCAHILL (Best-selling Author and Investigative Journalist)
ROSE STYRON (Poet and Human Rights Activist)
VINCE WARREN (Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights)
DR. ALLEN KELLER (Director, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture)

and participation from
JAMES SPADER (Emmy Award Winner, Boston Legal)
LIEV SCHREIBER (Tony Award Winner, Glengarry Glen Ross)
JULIANNA MARGULIES (Golden Globe Winner, The Good Wife)
MARISKA HARGITAY (Golden Globe Winner, Law & Order: SVU)
MATT DILLON (Oscar Nominee, Crash)

Of course, we already have blueprints for accountability. More often they’re referred to as laws. What must be developed is a plan to get them enforced against those in power. Otherwise, war will never end.

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