From My Memoires:
I was paging through my Apple iTunes files today, and came upon an old favorite, Lee Greenwood’s I’m Proud To Be An American. Dated 1992, a full twenty-five years ago, it’s not necessarily a patriotic song. It’s more a song of admiration for one’s country. There’s been a lot of water over the dam since then. As if to remind us, yesterday United States Naval Institute Proceedings published We Have Been At War A Long Time by Captain John Byron, USN (Ret). The author reminds us that if you have a sixteen year old grandson, he has never known a time without war. We aren’t talking about war as a distant abstraction, where the Hotentots are fighting the Xhosa. We are talking about war where Americans are fighting and dying, though not to protect the United States, or even United Fruit.
Over eighty years ago a retired Marine named Smedley Butler wrote a small volume called War Is a Racket. I have the book. He wasn’t just a disaffected jarhead; he was a retired Major General, and the recipient of two awards of the Medal of Honor. He had become cynical about the employment of U.S. Forces overseas. If he could see the proliferation of our forces in over eighty countries today, he would chuckle at how things had only gotten further out of control.
U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan as long as we pay the Afghan government to host us. That government will never stand on its own. Afghanistan remains the graveyard of empires, and the “government” in Kabul, as well as the Taliban, must surely chat amongst itself in wry amusement when no Americans are about at the thought of our quest to establish a western democracy in their country. The Russians must be pleased as well.
As a former CIA field officer recently pointed out, we once had the Afghan war won, but we refused to leave.
To the southeast of Afghanistan, we are back in Iraq, to the tune of 14,000 troops. Once we finally leave that contrived state for the second time, either the Iranians will keep Iraq propped up, or it will fall down again - another one of our brilliant shots at a Muslim Middle East western style democracy for people who do not understand the concept.
We have special warfare troops all over Africa, training other country’s soldiers, most of whom serve corrupt regimes that often don’t even pay them regularly (that’s why the Malian Army ran away in the face of the Tuareg rebels marching on Timbuktu in 2015).
We have an ever increasing presence in Syria, with an apparent aim of opposing the current ruler, but no clear objective. Admittedly, continuing that civil war does bleed Iran of its ability to do evil elsewhere but at what price in human carnage? Vladimir Putin and the mullahs of Iran intend to keep the weak kneed ruler of Syria in power for their own reasons, and they have the focus that American presidents never have, so we are wasting our time in that unhappy country.
We seem desirous of depriving our own citizens of every possible social program, yet there is no end to the funds we are willing to expend on military energy world wide in efforts that appear to lead nowhere. None of these efforts benefit the United States in any way. They merely expend energy and national treasure as the “worlds only super power.” (Not for long. China has stolen most of our intellectual property, and our important secrets. Next, she will steal our place in the world).
If your son or daughter is killed in one of these adventures, these overseas adventures become less abstract. But in any case, the incomprehensible cost of these operations should give you pause. When the Congressional Freedom Caucus pledges to shut down the government if we don’t cut spending on social programs, tell ‘em to go where the real money is:
- Overseas Contingency Operations that are over funded - the extra money is harvested for military hardware goodies each year
- Two different flavors of new ICBMs - shore and sea based (one new one isn’t enough?)
- A brand new bomber
- A new fighter with flaws that should make the Pentagon blush
- A new class of aircraft carrier so over gilded while at the same time flawed that the designers should be ashamed to claim ownership. If one of the ship’s new electro magnetic catapults must be taken down for repair or maintenance, all must be placed out of commission. What moron signed off on that design?
When we created the new “professional acquisition corps,” we were supposed to be getting a bunch of real pros, who would avoid the big mistakes, and streamline the process. It looks like we just got a new corps, instead.
Yes, war really is a racket. I’ve worked in the Pentagon; I have seen how this shit is sold. Yet no one is ashamed. It isn’t just that the Pentagon cannot get enough. The likes of Congress and HRH, Donald Trump can’t either. Smedley Butler was right.