Friday, December 31, 2010

Something to think about: how many wars do our invicible generals win?

To see the Pentagon press releases and our press corps' stenographic news reports, our glorious generals haven't lost a single battle since around the time Custer went down at the Little Big Horn. A huge part of mainstream military doctrine revolves around the claim that the Tet Offensive in 1968 was yet another in the endless stream of battles won.

But wars? Not so much, as William Pfaff reminds us in A Far From Happy New Year Truthdig 12/28/2010:

Since the Korean War (a draw, plus a cease-fire that remains dangerously unresolved) and the Vietnam War (away from which the unsuccessful U.S. tiptoed, while continuing to issue empty threats which had no public backing), the U.S. has won wars only against former CIA "asset" Col. Manuel Noriega of Panama, a Cuban airport construction crew on Grenada, and Saddam Hussein, thereby delivering Iraq into the hands of Iran.
Pfaff, like some other of my favorite commentators on military affairs, emphasizes that military spending contributes to what he apparently sees as a problematic level of debt. Though I sympathize with his general point about military overreach, it's not because the US is running out of debt capacity or that our borrowing costs are soaring. Neither of those is the case.

Scare talk about budget deficits may be one of the knives plunged into the Social Security system in 2011. I don't want to encourage it even in support of reasonable proposals.

But Pfaff gives a good summary of where American foreign policy is now at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011:

The U.S. is entering the new year, and a new age, still with a policy paradigm of aggression, war and global domination in the stubborn belief that the agency for accomplishing its security is to attack religious radicalism in other people's countries, teach democracy to societies ill-equipped for it and fight nationalist resistance (other people’s nationalism, not America's). The inevitable result will simply be more aggression, war, reciprocal terrorism, defeat and failure. This promises a far from happy new year!
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