Wednesday, September 13, 2017

William J. Astore — The ‘World’s Greatest Military’ Is Indeed Great—at Defeating Itself

Once upon a time, when there were still two superpowers on Planet Earth, Washington’s worldwide military posture had a clear rationale: the containment of communism. Soon after the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 to much triumphalist self-congratulation in Washington, the scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson had an epiphany. What he would come to call “the American Raj,” a global imperial structure ostensibly built to corral the menace of communism, wasn’t going away just because that menace had evaporated, leaving not a superpower nor even a major power as an opponent anywhere on the horizon. Quite the opposite, Washington — and its globe-spanning “empire” of military bases — was only digging in deeper and for the long haul. At that moment, with a certain shock, Johnson realized that the U.S. was itself an empire and, with its mirror-image-enemy gone, risked turning on itself and becoming its own nemesis.
The U.S., it turned out, hadn’t just contained the Soviets; they had contained us, too. Once their empire collapsed, our leaders imbibed the old dream of Woodrow Wilson, even if in a newly militarized fashion: to remake the world in one’s own image (if need be at the point of a sword).
Since the early 1990s, largely unconstrained by peer rivals, America’s leaders have acted as if there were nothing to stop them from doing as they pleased on the planet, which, as it turned out, meant there was nothing to stop them from their own folly. We witness the results today. Prolonged and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Interventions throughout the Greater Middle East (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and beyond) that spread chaos and destruction. Attacks against terrorism that have given new impetus to jihadists everywhere. And recently calls to arm Ukraine against Russia. All of this is consistent with a hubristic strategic vision that, in these years, has spoken in an all-encompassing fashion and without irony of global reach, global power, and full-spectrum dominance.
The logical conclusion under capitalism.
At a Pentagon awash in money, with promises of more to come, missions are rarely downsized. Meanwhile, what passes for original thinking in the Trump White House is the suggestion of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, to privatize America’s war in Afghanistan (and possibly elsewhere). Mercenaries are the answer to Washington’s military problems, suggests Prince. And mercs, of course, have the added benefit of not being constrained by the rules of engagement that apply to America’s uniformed service members.
Indeed, Prince’s idea, though opposed by Trump’s generals, is compelling in one sense: If you accept the notion that America’s wars in these years have been fought largely for the corporate agendas of the military-industrial complex, why not turn warfighting itself over to the warrior corporations that now regularly accompany the military into battle, cutting out the middleman, that very military?
Longish, but worth reading in full.

The upshot.
Incessant warfare represents the end of democracy. I didn’t say that, James Madison did.…
A friend of mine, a captain in the Air Force, once quipped to me: you study long, you study wrong. It’s a sentiment that’s especially cutting when applied to war: you wage war long, you wage it wrong. Yet as debilitating as they may be to militaries, long wars are even more devastating to democracies. The longer our military wages war, the more our country is militarized, shedding its democratic values and ideals.
"It's OK when we do it." And, "it can't happen here."

The ‘World’s Greatest Military’ Is Indeed Great—at Defeating Itself
William J. Astore, Lt. Col (ret) US Air Force

See also

Bracing Views
With the Pentagon, Trump Has Morphed Into Hillary Clinton
William J. Astore


Noah Way said...

The US military - as the security arm for US corporations - is yet another form of corporate welfare. Military uniforms should have corporate logos. Decorations should recognize this service, instead of the Star Awards there should be Bronze Oil Drums, Silver Oil Drums, Gold Oil Drums and Oil Drums with Oak Leaf Clusters.

Kaivey said...

Yes, the American tax payer pays to defend 'American interests' around the world but it is really the corporations interests that is being defended. And the corporations have no interest in the fate of Americans who jobs they are offshoring all the time. The US public is being screwed while the media keeps them passive.

Kaivey said...

When privatization was the name of the game and the British miners were under attack by the Tories the British farmers who lived in the country shires would say at their Tory clubs how there can be no more nanny state and that everyone had to take care of themselves. But when the farmers subsidies got reduced and more competition was introduced the farmers didn't like it, especially when the supermarkets started really squeezing them too. Then market forces started to become not such a great thing anymore. And so too the generals who probably cheered on the benefits of capitalism and the market for everyone else now don't like it that their jobs are being privatized and their armies are disappearing.