FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Has Just Lost Two More Wars

by JOHN CHUCKMAN

For a country which takes excessive pride in flags, uniforms, and marching bands and spends more than the rest of the planet combined on its military, the record of America’s forces since World War II is depressing. In dozens of quickie invasions against weak opponents, Americans indeed have prevailed, but when faced with tough and determined enemies, they have remarkably often been defeated or stalemated.

The failure of America’s military could be explained by the notion that failure is only what happens when you seek the wrong success. A poorly-governed people, as Americans certainly are, keeps being sent to wars in which they have no vital interest or commitment. Whatever the reason, the record is unmistakable.

It includes Korea after MacArthur’s insane march to the Chinese border.

It includes Vietnam, where, despite the slaughter of millions, the US left in shame, abandoning desperate associates clinging to helicopter undercarriages.

It includes America’s smaller-scale but long and vicious war on Cuba. The US was embarrassed by failure time and again, shamefully resorted to the terror tactics it now claims to despise, and wasted immense resources supporting thousands of hangers-on. Fidel Castro outlived two generations of American presidents and over six hundred assassination plots.

The record of failures includes the American military’s confusing its humanitarian-assistance role in Somalia with Gary Cooper facing down the bad guys in High Noon, an error which gave it an ugly surprise and saw America turn and go home.

The record includes Reagan’s poorly-considered landing of Marines in Lebanon. A base blown up by resisting guerrilla forces, the Marines left with a battleship hurling sixteen-inch shells into the hills, killing who knows how many innocent civilians and having achieved nothing.

Of course, in battles or war generally, victory is not always easy to determine. There were many battles in history where victory was claimed or loss assumed in error.

Higher casualties don’t always mean losing a battle or even a war. The sacrifice of great numbers sometimes improves a strategic or tactical position, as General Grant in America’s Civil War well understood. Vietnam’s General Giap understood this also, for despite a horrific slaughter of his people, America suffered defeat.

It was an early sign of the coming defeat when body counts began to dominate American news. It is easy to kill large numbers of people, especially when you have complete air superiority and high-tech weapons, but constant killing may mean little progress against a serious opponent. Often, as in the Blitz, bombing people is completely counter-productive.

In recent weeks, body counts re-appeared in Afghanistan, much the same way opium poppies re-appeared after America’s claim to victory over the Taleban (who had suppressed opium). The bodies are supposed to be Taleban, but who can tell whether a dead villager is Taleban?

Even when the body is Taleban, how do we regard that as a victory? The Taleban is a loosely-knit organization, a kind of political party and anti-invader guerilla force, bound to conservative traditions in a hardscrabble land of tough mountain people. Death does not intimidate where people typically live to forty-seven.

Except in the bizarre mind of George Bush, the Taleban is not a terrorist organization,. So when one of them is killed, does it really represent a victory? Or is it viewed by many in Afghanistan as murder by unwelcome foreigners? Clearly, this is the view of many because the Taleban is becoming stronger, surprisingly so according to expert observers.

The recent refusal of NATO countries to commit more troops and resources to Afghanistan was telling. Pressure from the US must have been immense, but the response was virtual silence. Of course, most NATO countries are simply looking after their own best interests. Many of them understand terrorism far better than does the US, having lived with it for decades, and none of them are exhibiting death-wishes or dementia.

They know Al Qaeda has been scattered to the four winds–anything but an achievement from a security point of view–and they see little point in trying to occupy Afghanistan for years. They understand the impossibility of significantly changing so ancient and poor a land. They are not taken in by American Potemkin village projects for bettering life there, after having bombed the hell out of the place. NATO countries in general do not accept Bush’s tale about everyone’s security depending upon success in Afghanistan for the very good reason that it is false.

On the other hand, those supporting the US in Afghanistan are following Bush’s interests, whatever those are, for I’m not sure Bush ever has had a clear grasp of what he is doing himself.

The other lost war is, of course, Iraq. American efforts there have done little but kill civilians and destroy the economy and now threaten to destroy the country itself. Even in Washington, the reality of civil war is dawning. America’s real goals in the war are not going to be achieved, the major one of which was to establish a regime friendly to American policy, especially as that policy pertains to Israel. Instead, years of bloody chaos lie ahead. The outcome, who knows? Three separate warring rump states, each willing to do almost anything to gain an advantage, including taking assistance from those most hostile to American policy?

But the American loss in Iraq is far greater than this. The illegal and unjustified invasion has muddied America’s reputation, aroused suspicions of its intentions, and put new geopolitical forces into play only dimly perceived at this time.

When are we going to learn how stupidly unproductive war is? And when is the US going to learn how bad it is at war despite its monstrous expenditures preparing for it?

JOHN CHUCKMAN lives in Ontario.

 

 

 

John Chuckman lives in Canada.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
Margaret Kimberley
Liberal Hate for the Green Party
John Davis
Lost Peoples of the Lake
Alex Richardson-Price
The Fight for a Six Hour Workday
John Wight
Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch
Brian Cloughley
Hillary Clinton’s War Policy
Patrick Cockburn
A Battle to the Death in Syria
David Rosen
The Great Fear: Miscegenation, Race “Pollution” and the 2016 Election
Ben Debney
Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse
David Barouh
Liberal Myths: Would Al Gore Have Invaded Iraq?
Graham Peebles
Democratic Revolution Sweeps Ethiopia
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism
David Swanson
The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail