America is a declining empire trying to resurrect itself through military intervention and armed occupation.
The more than $1 trillion decade with Iraq has finally ended. But neocon dreams of democracy for Iraq did not pan out. Iraq has a corrupt, shaky and ineffective government. Thousands of people continue to die in sectarian violence as Iraq wallows in a bloody civil war.
As for Afghanistan, most of the original terrorists in al-Qaida who planned 9/11 are either dead, in prison, on the run or holed up in Pakistan. Washington tells us that Pakistan is our most trusted Muslim ally, ignoring Peter Bergen’s 2011 New York Times bestseller The Longest War: The enduring conflict between America and al-Qaeda. Bergen writes that Pakistan has consistently been found to be “one of the most anti-American countries in the world.”
It seems obvious that the continued occupation of Afghanistan — a country that has defeated the armies of the Russian tsars, the British Empire and the Soviet Union — is doomed to fail.
We Need Cronkite
What makes news today are celebrity overdoses, dirt on Presidential candidates and the best new reality series. But consider what Walter Cronkite said on Feb. 27, 1968, following the Tet Offensive: “It seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.”
Cronkite made this statement four years into that war. America is into its second decade of fighting in Afghanistan, and even a stalemate now seems impossible.
If the goals of victory were the killing of Osama bin Laden and the almost complete destruction of al-Qaida within Afghanistan, then victory has been achieved. But if the neoconservatives still believe we can institute a democratic government in Kabul, they are either naïve or initiating wars simply for the sake of war.
For decades, our government has been arrogant in imposing Western principals and ideals. Washington cannot understand that Afghanistan, a tribal and Muslim country, will not accept Western ideals any more than we would accept a prescript declared on us by a foreign power.
Imposing On Others
I am a peaceful fellow who is past middle age. I always tried to either walk or, better yet, run away from a real conflict. But if armed Chinese soldiers occupied and patrolled the streets of my city, I would clean the barrel on my hunting rifle. I am willing to bet that a great many of you would do the same to resist foreign occupation.
Yet Washington thinks American ideals should be welcomed with outstretched arms. Some of this has to do with the experience of World War II and how Europeans welcomed the United States as a liberator.
Here is the catch: The period 1925 to 1945 was an aberration — 20 years of dictators. Consider that before Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, much of Europe had thrived for decades with democracy. The United States helped restore that political order (except in Spain, which suffered with Franco until his death in 1975).
While the United States left scores of military bases in Europe to protect the West from a possible Soviet invasion, there was no occupation. The boys were back home months after victory in Europe. The Nazis had occupied Europe. Because of that, the murderous will of the French, Polish and Dutch resistance was visited upon German troops.
On this subject I was struck last year while re-watching Ken Burns’ PBS series, The Civil War, first broadcast in 1990.
In one segment the documentary tells of how Union cavalry surrounded a lone Confederate soldier who had no horse and whose clothes were dirty and tattered. A Union officer said to him that it was obvious that he had no wealth and not the means to own slaves. The officer asked: “Why are you fighting this war?”
The Confederate answered: “Because you are here.”
The Washington establishment fails to consider this universal truth in human nature. Senator John McCain continues to advocate the bombing of both Syria and Iran. And with the courageous exception of Ron Paul, the contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination strongly favor using the military over diplomacy and oppose any reductions in defense spending.
Exactly who is this enemy that America must outgun? Nobody has a good answer.
Neoconservatives always call upon the lesson the world learned when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler. How much better the world would have been, they argue, if Britain had stood up to Germany.
But is that the only lesson of the past 100 years? What of President John Kennedy’s refusal to launch a military strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis? It can be argued that America’s diplomacy-first gambit saved the human race.
If you don’t like the Kennedy example, consider World War I. Because some crackpot shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, war erupted. That war cost 20 million lives. Diplomacy could have prevented that war and, as a result, prevented the rise of Hitler and, thus, World War II.
I can only scratch my head when I listen to leaders like McCain. Have any of them read history?
Wars Serve A Purpose
Why war trumps diplomacy is explained by Stephen Glain in his new book, State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire. Glain concludes:
U.S. relations with the world, and increasingly America’s security policy at home, have become thoroughly and all but irreparably militarized. The culprits are not the nation’s military leaders, though they can be aggressive and cunning interagency operators, but civilian elites who have seen to it that the nation is engaged in a self-perpetuating cycle of low-grade conflict. They have been hiding in plain sight, hyping threats and exaggerating the capabilities and resources of adversaries. They have convinced a plurality of citizens that their best guarantee of security is not peace but war, and they did so with the help of a supine or complicit Congress. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. presidents have ordered troops into battle twenty-two times, compared with fourteen times during the Cold War. Not once did they appeal to lawmakers for a declaration of war.
I am not saying we should never use force. I believe America has enemies, and those enemies should be dealt with in a swift and deadly manner. I also believe that only if another nation is a real and “legitimate threat” to the United States should we initiate war.
America should be using the best special forces in the world with surgical strikes on those that would do us harm. America should use the RQ-1 Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles on terrorist groups and even possible terrorist groups. I am prepared to live with some collateral damage that will result from such strikes. This will be less deadly to foreign civilians and will save the lives of our young men and women in uniform, while helping to restore America’s standing in the world.
Compare this strategy to the armed occupation of Afghanistan. It is a non sequitur, and the real powers who run this country know it.
They know, and they just don’t care.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report
Editor’s note: It’s time to make your submissions for this month’s You Sound Off! feature, which will run March 28. Get your submission in by March 26. It should be no more than 750 words (if they are longer, we probably won’t read them). We will select the one or two we think are the best of the week to publish. We reserve the right to edit for grammar and style but will try not to alter the meaning.
Send your submissions to email@example.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number (only your name will be published) so we can contact you if we need to clarify something. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.–BL