The United States maintains a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers and rules the seas. Our military can target and kill suspected enemies anywhere on earth. We fund and train proxy armies all across the world. Our military has hundreds of bases throughout the planet. The U.S. has an arsenal of weapons that could destroy several planets the size of Earth. There are more facts of this kind but you get the idea.
However, every significant U.S. military action of late has indicated that, with the application of military force, no matter in what form, special forces to drones, nuclear subs to armored vehicles, it has proven incapable of achieving even the most minimal Washington goals. The bottom line is that even with technology’s wonders installed in U.S. military machines, any final analysis of their effectiveness adds up to marginal at best.
We were supposed to gain, by invading Iraq over those imagined weapons of mass destructdion (WMDs), as promised by the Bush II administration, all the oil we wanted and the enduring love of the Iraqis. Recently, after nine years of throwing borrowed money into that nation and spilling at least a ton of American blood, we asked the government heads if we could garrison our troops there. Loosely translated, their reply was, “No way!” So, we’ve been ignominiously kicked out, leaving behind everything we built there to be looted, stripped away and most likely used elsewhere against U.S. forces.
Then there’s Afghanistan. After 12 years of our military might against a ragtag bunch of insurgents led mainly by tribal leaders, President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security pact and also denounced U.S. military actions in his country. They, too, want us out.
Whether the U.S. military does or doesn’t last much longer in Afghanistan, the brutal truth is that the president of one of the poorest and weakest nations on Earth, himself relatively powerless and under constant threat, is essentially dictating terms to Washington. And it looks very much at present, as was the case in Iraq, that the U.S. will be forced to leave Afghanistan, a lonesome departing with what we can carry out.
Why is it that our military power, the mightiest imaginable, cannot overcome weak powers, those with less than impressive insurgency movements, and the ragged groups of tribal people known as terrorists? How is it that such a military power cannot prevail?
It’s patently clear that, with recent history as a guide, our military might cannot succeed as a policymaking instrument. That is, it can’t alter the world to fit schemes conjured up in Washington, D.C. by war’s-the-only-way politicians. The people of the world appears increasingly resistant to military might and that bold and real fact should take it off the table as an effective superpower instrument of policy.
Washington’s military plans and tactics ultimately gain nothing. U.S. defeats since WWII should have discouraged such blueprints but obviously have not done so. “Surges” have proven worthless. “Nation-building” serves to remind us of arrogantly silly ideas. “Boots on the ground” is now a stupid plan that has produced nothing but destabilizings. Meanwhile, main street Americans are exhausted with warring overseas.
Yet, our “leaders” in D.C. continue to prefer war as their first option among choices. What’s not changing is the idea among them that if we can just get our strategy and tactics readjusted to be effective “this time,” then force will work. Most recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin saved us from another misadventure in Syria, by way of an offhand comment by Secretary of State John Kerry through which Putin proved himself the wiser. Presently, negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapon development are stalled and the U.S. may resort to warring again.
The U.S. military has proven itself very effective only at destabilizing nations while causing millions of refugees and bystander deaths. The American “pay-off” is more hate of us and terrorist acts of revenge. What the U.S. military obviously cannot do, and what should be obvious to that collection of wizards in Washington, is success overseas by armed enforcements.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)