Friday, September 28, 2007

The GOP vs. the U.S. Military: Part Five - Let The Excuses Roll!

Last time, we discussed two kinds of modern armed conflict -- a bona fide crisis that can be likened to an “emergency room operation” vs. the “elective surgery” of an intervention that is meant to enforce policy. Sure, this dichotomy oversimplifies terribly. But it does clarify some important tradeoffs concerning how best to apply force. Like whether a particular overseas endeavor should be allowed to affect our economy, our honor, our laws, our reputation, our social cohesion... (or return to Part 1 of this series.)

...and especially our overall military readiness. Of all my “j’accuse” points, the one that angers me most is the Bushite betrayal of the National Guard and Reserves, using them up and stripping us bare, in an endeavor that is - at best - an attempt at utopian nation-building.

In response, a commenter posted his own powerful observation:

“The evisceration of the Reserves and Guard ought to enrage states' rights conservatives. Not only has disaster relief in the near term been compromised, but future recruitment is virtually doomed. People once joined up expecting to help their communities, fight fires or conduct disaster relief, and only deploy abroad in case of an urgent, temporary emergency or major conflict. Now they've got to take into account the probability that they’ll be thrown in the line in endless, grueling missions, as if they were full time soldiers.

“We haven't begun to experience the fallout from this particular insanity.”


* Excuses Abound!

Any Boy Scout will tell you that it’s best to “be prepared.” So what do neocons say, when you point out that our military readiness has -- inarguably -- plummeted during the GOP’s watch?

Their first line of defense is to reply that none of the rules for “elective policy wars” apply, since this really is an emergency! Indeed, a State of Emergency has been declared and re declared by George W. Bush, so often that the word loses resonance. Its primarily effect is to let administration cronies bypass stringent rules for competitive bidding of military and associated contracts, allowing billion dollar deals to be assigned, at whim, to whatever friends the administration chooses.

Again, if it were a real emergency, all of us -- rich and poor -- would be asked to sacrifice. And we would sacrifice! In order to act decisively and put the emergency behind us. (Though the last thing we would surrender is our civil liberties.)

Anyway, if the world is so dangerous, shouldn’t readiness be out top military priority?

A second excuse for abandoning high levels of military readiness goes like this: “Exactly what is the point, any more, of the US Army being trained to fight major unit conventional warfare, as if going "toe-to-toe with the Russkies" in the Fulda Gap? No one fights that way any more!”

Consider how bizarre this is. The "no one will fight that way anymore" argument is put forward by defenders of the Bush family.... who in 1991 and 2003 chose precisely to fight Saddam Hussein in the old, brute force way. Both Bushes hurled large field armies into frontal assaults against entrenched enemy forces, ignoring reasonable alternatives that might have removed Iraq’s mad tyrant far more cheaply. Now, that Army the Bushes fielded is essentially gone. Can anyone explain why this weird flip is greeted with shrugs?

Which president did work closely and respectfully with the scholar generals, to implement a “revolution in military affairs”... while maintaining high levels of conventional readiness? Bill Clinton’s campaign in the Balkans -- blatantly the most successful war in U.S. history -- applied overwhelming but surgical force toward the achievement of crystal-clear goals in rapid time. (Losing not a single American serviceman or woman along the way.)

Likewise, our post-9/11 retaliation against the Taliban regime, in Afghanistan, utilized similar procedures and doctrines, following detailed plans that were laid down during Clinton’s tenure. (Bush only had time to say “Go!” to blueprints already on the shelf and local alliances that were already in place, a fact that is clear in the timing, and yet never gets mentioned.)

.* Crux time.

“Nobody fights that way anymore" is a rationalization of stunning hypocrisy. It could as easily have been said about the way we waged war in Vietnam, allowing our forces to get embroiled in a futile, mindless, draining, alienating, counter-insurgency war of attrition on the continent of Asia. We swore that would never happen again. Yet, it did.

They offer that lame excuse in order to distract from the core point, one that needs to be hammered again and again. George W. Bush and his allies are demolishing the United States Army and Marines.

We can argue whether this vile effect is due to massive incompetence, or deliberate planning.
Whether to fix the problem by mobilizing society to greater martial commitment, or else by pulling out of a senseless quagmire and letting the pros get back to training.
We can either see this in the larger context of a neocon “war against professionalism”...

...or else focus only on the men and women of the military, who are the Bushites’ paramount victims. All of these secondary issues, reasonable people might ponder and dispute honestly.

But not the bald fact of this crime against America. That George W. Bush and his allies are demolishing the United States Army and Marines.

Only then, alas, Babylon, it gets even worse.

--continue to Part 6 of this series...

28 comments:

Woozle said...

Pet Ostrich Update

My ostrich most recently brought up a talk by Brit author Andrew Roberts on his book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. I don't know if Roberts is part of the neocon disinformation campaign or not, but he certainly seems to have bought into the "leaving = losing, winning = staying" equivalency.

At our subsequent lunch meeting, two claims came up (that I can remember, anyhow; and this is my paraphrasing of what he said):

1. "Clinton had the opportunity to go after bin Laden, and muffed it."

I'm pretty sure this is a distortion, but I wasn't able to find the details quickly. I did point out (in a follow-up email) that, regardless of this, Clinton was going after Osama back when the neocons were all saying he was overreacting, and despite his enthusiasm (much of what he says sounds eerily remniscent of things Bush has said -- only with a lot more explanation and justification) he apparently did not see the need to clamp down on civil rights, send out vast quantities of troops with no clear goal other than "victory over the terrorists", or dramatically increasing government secrecy.

2. "People want to leave Iraq because we have lost the will to win, as a
nation."

This one has been coming up for at least a couple of years now; I realized suddenly that I probably haven't been taking it seriously enough, as it seems obviously wrong to me (not to mention being rather "Will to Power" ish) and I couldn't believe that anyone but a studied rhetoricist would believe it -- but here it is, 2 years later, and it's still being repeated.

"No," says I, "people want out of Iraq because what we're doing there now is being hopelessly bungled and making things far worse on both the terrorism front and the military capability front." (Extreme paraphrasing and summarizing here; if anyone would like to see the actual email, prod me and I'll post it on Issuepedia.)

He also mentioned that Roberts came up with an "interesting suggestion" at the end (which I need to listen to), apparently involving a major stepping-up of the number of Iraqis detained at checkpoints. He seemed to approve of this idea.

Onward...

Woozle said...

P.S. Another point which came up: why aren't the Dems going after the corruption in the Iraq occupation? We both agreed that this would be a good thing, so perhaps this is (a) a good starting point for building common ground with ostriches and (b) another point to press on the leadership of the 110th Congress: Just What Are You Doing About This?

atolley said...

Apropos of breaking the military, there has been some note of the rise of mercenary troops, in the guise of "security" forces.

Now we see this starting on a different front - the "war against drugs". This is a link to an army times articles on outsourcing part of this job to (favored?) contractors.

http://www.armytimes.com/news/
2007/09/military_isr_narco_091407/

A cynic might say that this fits the whole republican meme that government cannot do anything competently and needs to be replaced by the private sector. I think one just needs a "follow the money" mentality to realize this is just about looting the US treasury.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off-topic, but quite relevant to the general theme of the Bush War on Professionalism, Paul Krugman has this to say in todays Times:

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies.


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/28/opinion/28krugman.html

-priMal

Andrew said...

The attempt to change California's presidential elections from winner-take-all to Republicans-get-some is virtually dead."

Phew!

Hawker Hurricane said...

IRT the California electoral college concept...

It's not a bad idea, if ALL the states were to do it.

As is, it's an attempt to reduce the number of Democratic electoral votes without any attempt at balance. Now, if they wanted to start in, say, Texas...

David Brin said...

Right on.

Suppose GuvAhnold were to step up, call a meeting of all governors and top state legislators, and say

"Let's bypass the federal govt and negotiate solutions to a dozen problems, starting with gerrymandering and the electoral college. All at once, so it is politically neutral..."

Then I would be out front pushing for an ammendment to the constitution, letting him be prez. (Dang, the image!) Would ANYBODY dare attack us?)

BTW there is strong precedent for this. Most states use the Uniform Business Code, which was negotiated precisely this way, bypassing federal law.

Great Krugman quote. Great work, Woozle. ANyone else have an ostrich report?

Woozle, ask your ostrich which is better, sumo or judo?

Ask him to ponder this. If obstinacy is the virtue he admires (apparently) without even knowing what we're fighting for, then what if some foreign enemy KNEW that obstinacy was the main American form of fatal hubris?

Across the 20th Century, we made only one new-lethal mistake that tore is down. Vietnam. If you were an enemy, what would you do OTHER than try to get us to repeat that mistake?

Woozle said...

Thanks for the feedback, Dr.B ^_^

I have the feeling that your argument is probably way too subtle for him; he may well believe that the US's primary strength as a world power is its 700-pound-gorillahood... but perhaps "using our 'resolve' (obstinacy) against us" will get through.

I'm remembering one more thing that came up... he claimed that the whole Plame affair was essentially an invention of the Dems, because Valerie Plame wasn't really a secret agent, she was just a desk worker. (I can't find any confirmation that anyone is openly claiming this.)

We did agree that Libby was essentially a fall guy, and I kept my mouth shut on the topic of whether the quasi-pardon was therefore justified (if it comes up again, I might not).

Hawker Hurricane said...

Irt Valerie Plame...
If she wasn't a covert agent, why did her bosses at the CIA ask the FBI for an investigation into who leaked her name to the press? The past 3 agency heads of the CIA all have said, on the record, that she was covert. Do I believe them, or some Republican PR man on the subject?

1. She was covert.
2. Someone at the White House gave her name out.
3. Scooter Libby was caught commiting perjury about it.

On the subject of warfare...
Assume the enemy does some research on you. He's going to attack when and where he thinks you're weak, not where he knows you're strong. Before WW2, the U.S. navy planned to re-fight the Battle of Jutland (Long range gunnery action in daylight). The Japanese navy knew this, and trained to fight at close range with torpedoes at night. We lost a lot of men because we weren't ready for the type of battle the enemy was fighting (see battle of Savo Island, worst defeat in U.S. naval history).

David Brin said...

If he doesn't get the sumo vs judo reference, just try asking "who said this?"

"We should never again initiate a political war."

"Never go to war without a clear timetable, an exit strategy, and a consensus among the American people."

"Nothing could be more stupid than to fall for the temptation of the failed, utopian notion of so-called nation-building."

Another game to play is "What would have said if Bill Clinton:

...arranged to create (with our money) a private army of tens of thousands of armed men, answerable only to one of his own political pals?

...allowed a BILLION dollars in cash to disappear by the side of an Iraqi road.

...ended competitive contracting and oversight, so that each "outsourced and privatized" contractor in Iraq costs us up to TEN TIMES what a civil servant cost to do the same job?

...multiplied government secrecy tenfold, so his opponents could not even ask questions?

...lost more Iraqi oil and money in any given week, than the UN Oil-for-food program lost during its entire existence?

In fact, we ought to hold a discussion that consists entirely of "What would have said if Bill Clinton had___" questions!


As for Plame, tell him " I agree it was a minor matter... compare to all the horrors these guys have committed since."

Brother Doug said...

A little off topic but the war we are fighting is primarily waged by the car bomb and after reading the book Buda’s Wagon it became obvious to me that anyone willing to steal a car and a few thousand dollars worth of fertilizer can make one of these with information decades old and imposable to suppress.

In Vietnam likewise the car bomb made it imposable for westerners to move in safety around the country and forced our troops in cities to hide behind steel and concrete walls.

In Afghanistan the CIA trained our now enemy to use car bombs and suicide bombers on the Russians and they were just as powerless to stop them. All the press goes to the stinger antiaircraft missile but it was the car bomb that made it imposable to govern the country.

One statistic was that for every 1 dollar of terrorist investment in car bomb’s the west needs to spend over 40,000 dollars. These are things no one is talking about, because it scares everyone so much.

Here is a review of the book:

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=10079

As for Valire Plame wasn’t she also the overseas wife of ambassador, That’s no desk job.

ThomasWilliam said...

Hmmm...

I wonder, if I may, digress for just a moment and speculate on why we are in the "War in Iraq" (WiI) in the first place. I have given this a lot of thought off and on over the past few years and have come to this conclusion:

We - the "collective" WE, that is - got a collective "bloody nose" on 9/11 and like a small child having a pout demanded that "something be done" to revenge it.

If this is accurate, then this could go far to explain why there isn't as much outcry to get out of the WiI as there should be, considering all the United States has lost in this so-called war.

The Neo-Conservatives have simply used this war as an excuse to promote their own agenda and line their own pockets. Expect the excuses to come faster and faster as the NeoCons scramble to either hide their ill-gotten gains or to win the next presidential election. At this point, the only way the Reps could win an election is for Hillary and Barack to go after each other's throats so fiercely they end up gutting each other, leaving the national election up for grabs to whichever Rep. contender manages to rise above the mass. Expect a mass exodus of second tier candidates come January of next year...

Ok, end of digression, back to the topic at hand...

"woozle":
Clinton - Bill, that is - is the last thing that most NeoCons want to reference in any way - I mean a successful, popular, Dem president who successfully led the military to several policy and military victories? Yech! :-) The only reference there should be "See, it was hard for Clinton, so you shouldn't be so hard on Bush for having trouble." (Yes, I have my own "ostrich" - but I respect his opinion way more than most NeoCons I see on TV) And as far as corruption, well, its hard to get the pigs to complain about the slop when they're getting fed too...

"atolley":
gee, gut the military and then organize groups of military style armed combatants, who don't have the same "moral training" as the mainline military, groups loyal to the "money", rather than the country? Can anyone say Praetorian Guard? Does the rise of Blackwater and other such companies scare anyone else but me? I don't want to go all "wing-nut conspiracy theorist", but isn't this the way coups start?

"anonymous":
Good quote. It seems crony-ism is alive and well in the NeoCon world view... loyalty over ability, we must have control over the agency, forget if the agency can still function...

"david brin":
Wow. National policy set at a level below Washington, D.C.?!? Heresy! :-) I love it! Every once in awhile, we need to remind the people in W,D.C. we don't need them by doing it - whatever "it" may be - without their "help".

As far as what I'd do as an enemy, that's easy: get the U.S. to make the same mistake Hitler did in WWII - spread our military resources too thin by fighting on too many fronts at once, then attack the weakened center. Umm... gee, that sounds familiar... < gulp! >
(Aside: Dr. Brin, I used the wrong honorific in my first post, forgive me.)

And to skip to your second post, I love the "What would you say if Bill Clinton had..." game, except if you really want to scare your NeoCon friend make it "What would you say if President Hillary was to ..."

... weaken the structure of the U.S. military by getting us into the middle of a religion-based civil war in the Mideast?

... continue to sacrifice military lives in a "policy" war to bring "democracy" to Iraq?

Gee, this is fun! How about starting a thread on just this, Dr. Brin? Come on!

"brother doug":
That's why the barbarians always win over the civilized - their overhead cost is much smaller!

And yes, I believe Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV. In and of itself, a job as a CIA "spook" is not a "desk job" but a "field job", but if you report to an intelligence agency and it is not publicly known, you are a "secret agent" no matter what the label on the tin says... This is one I hadn't heard of but if "woozle" (or his ostrich) would clarify/expand on this, that might clear up some things.

Now, my own 2 cents...

Why haven't the Dems (or better yet the governors of Democratic states) mounted a campaign emphasizing the misuse of the Reserves and National Guard troops? As I said in my last post, the Dems shouldn't try to find that one "killer app" argument by doing it one complaint at a time, but by the shotgun approach of getting small groups to attach the Reps on one subject. As each argument is either accepted or rejected by the vox populi, the more high-profile groups can take over/dump the ideas as necessary. I wonder if the Dems problems in attacking the Reps isn't one of infighting behind the scenes...

As far as a "permanent state of emergency", why, every time I hear this phrase, do I think of the novel "1984"?

Emergencies, by definition, aren't permanent; isn't the hierarchy
"emergency-->crisis-->disaster
-->Armageddon"? Just another tool to keep the U.S. scared, as our fear gives the government power... < sigh > and one as old as civilization itself...
And yes, if this was a real emergency, we would all be doing our part to defeat the foe; just look at the propaganda from WWII vs. the Iraq war propaganda (what little of it there is). The current players in government WANT us scared is all I can see...because it works, at least until a REAL danger comes up...

The ONLY reason to have a standing military is to be ready for the unexpected - otherwise it is a danger to freedom and liberty.

As far as "no one will fight that way anymore", can you say "China", boys and girls? Or a resurgent "U.S.S.R"? Or "Fascist Britain"? Or any other of a million possible scenarios of what could go wrong with the world? We cannot predict the future, not one bit; even though we like to fool ourselves that we can by projecting analysis of the past onto the future - that works no better for us than it does for the turkey the day before Thanksgiving!

"... George W. Bush and his allies are demolishing the United States Army and Marines." Sadly, the more I think about this idea, the more it makes sense. But it doesn't seem to be just the military, but all professional groups within the government: FEMA (holy Ghu, "You're on your own"?!? Are they KIDDING?), OMB, IRS, Dept. of ______ (fill in the blank). And, gee, look, isn't it convenient here's a private-sector business that can do the same job (ok, Boys and Girls, say "Blackwater" with me!) and gee, it's run by my friend/crony/ally ____! Without oversight, regulation, or restraint; isn't that keen! (At least it is until they come for YOU!) This is why most people ignore the national government - it is, by and large, a steaming pile! Your pit bull is a lovely animal to own - until it gets smart enough to bite you!

< pant, pant >

And this is reason why I don't talk politics much: I get so damned frustrated when I see the same mistakes over and over again... the same stupidity and always the same cry: "That couldn't happen HERE! This is America!" YES IT COULD! The Founding Fathers knew it, Abraham Lincoln knew it, JFK knew it, Nixon tried to do it - and we'd better know it too! Or it will happen here... and a heck of a lot sooner than we might think...

Ok, that all I got...

For now...

atolley said...

"gee, gut the military and then organize groups of military style armed combatants, who don't have the same "moral training" as the mainline military, groups loyal to the "money", rather than the country? Can anyone say Praetorian Guard? Does the rise of Blackwater and other such companies scare anyone else but me? I don't want to go all "wing-nut conspiracy theorist", but isn't this the way coups start?"

Yes. I've already posted teh Ellsberg article that a coup has already taken place.

Yes this is like the Praetorian Guard - we are seeing the point at which the republic could be ending.

Administration gutting professional civil service jobs. Dr. B's main thread, although Paul Krugman has be shrill on this point for at least 5 years now.

Will we even have a USA in 50 years. A number of people, including Paul Saffo thinkk that the centers of power in the US are splitting the country back into a number of separate countries. That might even be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

This is not a comment to your post but more of a "hello". Your book Postman has been one of my all time favorites - largely because of it's blatantly inspirational qualities. I am so glad to find out that this quality of the book was intentional and acknowledged by you. I am equally glad to find you active as a blogger giving the benefit of your insight and passion to those who will listen. Please keep up the good work.

-Steve

Anonymous said...

And, an afterthought - a little more relevant to the subject of your post. Have you noticed that the media appears to be allergic to the term "mercenary"? These so-called "contractors" are mercenary companies, as far as I can tell. Why not use the correct name?

And, another thought I keep having. Have any of the advocates of "victory" in Iraq come up with even a vaguely coherent set of victory conditions? Who exactly are we supposed to be fighting and how would we know if we had "won"?

-Steve

Woozle said...

A small but encouraging sign that the Dems are perhaps starting to "get it" about supporting the military? This is an excerpt from an email which arrived in my in-box yesterday from the John Kerry senate re-election campaign:

"As I travel throughout Virginia and around the country, I hear often that Washington simply doesn't understand the serious burdens faced by our military members and their families. This is true whether the issue is proper troop rotation policies - an issue I worked hard on this summer - health care, or adequate veterans' benefits."

I've posted the rest of the email here, under "Quotes From".

Of course, this could just be because Kerry was attacked heavily on the subject of his military service, back when he ran against Bush in 2004. Has anyone noticed any other Dems (in any office) making a point of campaigning in support of the military?

matthew said...

To Woozle:
Dems campaigning in support of the military? One name: Jim Webb.

matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Just back from a boy scout trip....


atolley said: “Will we even have a USA in 50 years. A number of people, including Paul Saffo thinkk that the centers of power in the US are splitting the country back into a number of separate countries. That might even be a good thing.”

What a mouthful!’

1) Have been humming the Beatles “USSR” only filling in “Back in the USSA”! One Sf author posited a future United & Secure States of America that had (obviously) clamped down considerably. It may be time to look the neocons in the eye and say this is their aim. The USSA sound itself will be a searking dig.

2) My new novel shows a balkanization of America.

3) Good thing? Well, maybe. But your attitude is telling! Now it is liberals who are talking up states’ rights! Has anyone even noticed this swing? Soon, it will be liberals speaking up about the right to bear arms.
TW said: “the only way the Reps could win an election is for Hillary and Barack to go after each other's throats so fiercely they end up gutting each other, leaving the national election up for grab...”

Well, a draft Gore-Clark-Richardson movement would not look so bad. The three biggest grownups we could possibly find, with the most experience and wisdom.

Thanks, Steve.

Again. NOW is the time for those of you who live in GOP-gerried districts to start trolling around you local Democratic clubs and find out if they are actively seeking a military vet to run against the local gopper assemblyman, or representative. The more of these crewcut and personally conservative... but acceptably democratic ... guys we can get the dems to run, the bigger a chance for a blowout in 08.

Remember, even if the gopper in place cannot be dislodged, just giving him a scare locally is worth gold! And a local vet-dem-candidate will be the best guy to ring doorbells and pick off ostriches by the dozens, the hundreds. That, too, could be vital on the larger scale.

atolley said...

Regarding mercenaries. Naomi Wolf has picked up this topic and written on DailyKos.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/
2007/9/27/163547/214

David: "Good thing? Well, maybe. But your attitude is telling! Now it is liberals who are talking up states’ rights! "

That was not my point at all. Here is the Paul Saffo reference:

http://www.youtube.com/v/s_OP1wXGmzY

There is no inherent reason that the USA should remain as a nation state. There are plenty of arguments for smaller sizes for nation states. Perhaps, as a ex-Brit, I am more used to the idea that a nation can be divided and sub-nations devolved.

David Brin said...

Well, the British Empire had arguably finished its historical mission and it was time to let go.

(In fact, an argument can be made that letting go just ONE DECADE TOO SOON may have been the BE's worst crime of all. If they had kept a loose grip on Ghana, for example, long enough for two full election cycles to take place, and for Kwame Nkruma to cycle out of office, the tradition of allowing power to transfer peacefully to a successor might have become familiar to Africans and something for them to demand as a natural order, rather than presidents for life.

(Speaking of which, if Vladimir Putin actually proceed s and allows the presidency to move on... EVEN if he retains substantial behind the scenes influence... it will be an actof legitimization that will compensate for many other things he's done. In Russian terms, it will be almost... George Washingtonian.)

Anyway, I am not convinced that America's "historical mission" is finished. Clinton's blithely consensus-based unipolar world was vastly better than this one, in which a weakened and pathetic and divided and silly/dangerous America rages about, frightening others into building ne "poles" for a divided Earth.

atolley said...

It turned out to be a quite smooth transition from the Pax Britannica to the Pax Americana. Whatever the exact timing, Britain did let go of her possessions quite quickly, much of it forced by circumstances, some of them US mediated. Given the animosity to British rule throughout the empire, I don't think we should complain too much.

How one feels about nation states depends on what is important and how it is maintained. I personally think that democracy and the european-initiated Age of Enlightenment is something worth fighting for. If that requires a dominant nation state to maintain those values, then it is worth keeping the US together to maintain it and transition those values to the succeeding empires. If, however, those ideas can be maintained without a dominant USA, then it is not so important to me to maintain the US. Let's not forget that Rome split its empire, with 1/2 surviving as a rump until the the fall of Constantinople, so a fully intact US may not be critical. How about a West Coast (CA, OR & WA) as a new state?

My biggest concern is that if the US dies, we will see the rise of non-democratic institutions dominate, such as corporations, a highly undesirable situation. OTOH, should India become the next empire, that situation might work in maintaining those values, especially if allied with a progressive West Coast of the US.

We can't know the future, although we can be sure that the US as a dominant country will eventually run its course. I just never expected that I might see it start so quickly. But looking back on Britain, it fell apart quite quickly too, although there was quite a lag in changes of attitude to come to terms with the end of the empire.

Even when I get pessimistic about the political changes in the US, at least history shows that reversals can happen. The US has swung through periods of progressivism and back, and the WWII axis powers all transitioned from military/fascist states back to peaceful, modern democracies. So there is a basis for believing in a positive US future.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmmm,

...the US army stretched thin by international crises.

...receives assistance from a mercenary army.

...controlled by a shadowy figure on the executive.

...who may have had something to do with the crisis in the first place.

...and who may, at an appropriate moment, have a 'command 66' to issue.

Nah! Couldn't be! It sounds too much like a bad science fiction movie!

Pure fantasy!

rwc said...

You may want to give Rupert Smith's book a read - The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World.
His paradigm of "war among the people" and the political necessity of aligning the interests of the people, the government and the military is quite useful in this context.

rwc

Tony Fisk said...

Seymour Hersh writes, in 'Shifting Targets', about the US administration's shift in emphahsis on Iran (surgical counterstrikes to take out the Guard, rather than the nuclear establishments)... but hardly a shift in intent!!

A bizarro answer to 'what would you have said if Clinton had done this...?'

At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.” The former intelligence official added, “There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

There's more, and it makes for grim reading (would you like twenty years with your strike?). Hershey was warned that these plans have not yet been signed off (and may never be). But check out the cartoon!!

Hmm! With tin-oil hat on, I wonder if that's why Howard is hanging on until the last moment before calling an Oz election (other than being petrified by the polls)?

Katherine Williams said...

Mr. Brin, do you think this Administration (cheney) are deliberately destroying our military in order to use Blackwater for Domestic problems (such as Bird Flu epidemic, riots like the ones they wanted in New Orleans, etc.?)

David Brin said...

It would be consistent. More consistent with observed facts than the universally held theory that they are dogmatic imbecilles who would do all this because they are spoiled brats.

In fact, the latter is the explanation that even I must deem most likely. Because I cannot bear to ponder the other theory for very long at a time. What irks me though, is that nobody else will ponder it, even for a second.

Now how openminded is that?

opit said...

I'll send you to some of the most incisive dissertations I can find on the "War" - which is most decidedly is not in the historical sense
http://existentialistcowboy.blogspot.com/