Friday, June 01, 2012
Andrew Bacevich on the problem of Special Forces secret warAndrew Bacevich takes a look at the problems presented by President Obama's current approach to secret war by Special Forces in Unleashed: Globalizing the Global War on Terror TomDispatch 05/29/2012.
Bacevich doesn't try to tiptoe around the right wing's hissy fits over Patriotic Correctness. For instance, he writes:
The displacement of conventional forces by special operations forces as the preferred U.S. military instrument -- the "force of choice" according to the head of USSOCOM, Admiral William McRaven -- marks the completion of a decades-long cultural repositioning of the American soldier. The G.I., once represented by the likes of cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s iconic Willie and Joe, is no more, his place taken by today’s elite warrior professional. Mauldin’s creations were heroes, but not superheroes. The nameless, lionized SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden are flesh-and blood Avengers. Willie and Joe were "us." SEALs are anything but "us." They occupy a pedestal well above mere mortals. Couch potato America stands in awe of their skill and bravery.He also reminds us that the fact that secrecy hides much of what they do doesn't at all mean that we should assume everything is going alright. If anyway, we should assume the opposite. Bacevich writes, "From a president’s point of view, one of the appealing things about special forces is that he can send them wherever he wants to do whatever he directs. There’s no need to ask permission or to explain. Employing USSOCOM as your own private military means never having to say you’re sorry." Or, more to the point, with no need for "notification or consultation" with Congress, much less accountability to the public.
As U.S. special ops forces roam the world slaying evildoers, the famous question posed by David Petraeus as the invasion of Iraq began -- "Tell me how this ends" -- rises to the level of Talmudic conundrum. There are certainly plenty of evildoers who wish us ill (primarily but not necessarily in the Greater Middle East). How many will USSOCOM have to liquidate before the job is done? Answering that question becomes all the more difficult given that some of the killing has the effect of adding new recruits to the ranks of the non-well-wishers.Bacivich links to this article by David Isenberg, The Globalisation of U.S. Special Operations Forces Inter Press Service 05/24/2012, which reports:
It was recently reported that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) commander Adm. Bill McRaven and Deputy Director of Operations Brig. Gen. Sean Mulholland want to establish a worldwide network linking special operations forces (SOF) of allied and partner nations to combat terrorism. ...Tags: andrew bacevich, special forces
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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