FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Has Just Lost Two More Wars

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.

 

 

 

More articles by:

John Chuckman lives in Canada.

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail