Why War Does Not Matter

I spend most of my time trying to get people to pay attention to all the wars that we are engaged in today and the ones waiting for their number to come up…..so far I have been wasting my time (or so it seems)…..

American arr blaise towards war….they appear to not care that their neighbors kids are fighting and dying…….and for what?

After studying war for decades I have found a  list of possible reasons……

Americans don’t attend all that much to ongoing American wars because:

1. U.S. casualty rates are low. By using proxies and contractors, and relying heavily on airpower, America’s war managers have been able to keep a tight lid on the number of U.S. troops being killed and wounded.  In all of 2017, for example, a grand total of 11 American soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan — about equal to the number of shooting deaths in Chicago over the course of a typical week. True, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries where the U.S. is engaged in hostilities, whether directly or indirectly, plenty of people who are not Americans are being killed and maimed.  (The estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed this year alone exceeds 12,000.) But those casualties have next to no political salience as far as the United States is concerned.  As long as they don’t impede U.S. military operations, they literally don’t count (and generally aren’t counted).

2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated.  In a famous speech, dating from early in his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  Dollars spent on weaponry, Ike insisted, translated directly into schools, hospitals, homes, highways, and power plants that would go unbuilt.  “This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense,” he continued.  “[I]t is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” More than six decades later, Americans have long since accommodated themselves to that cross of iron.  Many actually see it as a boon, a source of corporate profits, jobs, and, of course, campaign contributions.  As such, they avert their eyes from the opportunity costs of our never-ending wars.  The dollars expended pursuant to our post-9/11 conflicts will ultimately number in the multi-trillions.  Imagine the benefits of investing such sumsin upgrading the nation’s aging infrastructure.  Yet don’t count on Congressional leaders, other politicians, or just about anyone else to pursue that connection.

3. On matters related to war, American citizens have opted out.  Others have made the point so frequently that it’s the equivalent of hearing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at Christmastime.  Even so, it bears repeating: the American people have defined their obligation to “support the troops” in the narrowest imaginable terms, ensuring above all that such support requires absolutely no sacrifice on their part.  Members of Congress abet this civic apathy, while also taking steps to insulate themselves from responsibility.  In effect, citizens and their elected representatives in Washington agree: supporting the troops means deferring to the commander in chief, without inquiring about whether what he has the troops doing makes the slightest sense.  Yes, we set down our beers long enough to applaud those in uniform and boo those who decline to participate in mandatory rituals of patriotism.  What we don’t do is demand anything remotely approximating actual accountability.

4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some more. While international terrorism isn’t a trivial problem (and wasn’t for decades before 9/11), it comes nowhere close to posing an existential threat to the United States.  Indeed, other threats, notably the impact of climate change, constitute a far greater danger to the well being of Americans.  Worried about the safety of your children or grandchildren?  The opioid epidemic constitutes an infinitely greater danger than “Islamic radicalism.”  Yet having been sold a bill of goods about a “war on terror” that is essential for “keeping America safe,” mere citizens are easily persuaded that scattering U.S. troops throughout the Islamic world while dropping bombs on designated evildoers is helping win the former while guaranteeing the latter.  To question that proposition becomes tantamount to suggesting that God might not have given Moses two stone tablets after all.

5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is — not to put too fine a point on it — vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive.  William Safire of the New York Times once characterized American political rhetoric as BOMFOG, with those running for high office relentlessly touting the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.  Ask a politician, Republican or Democrat, to expound on this country’s role in the world, and then brace yourself for some variant of WOSFAD, as the speaker insists that it is incumbent upon the World’s Only Superpower to spread Freedom and Democracy.  Terms like leadership and indispensable are introduced, along with warnings about the dangers of isolationism and appeasement, embellished with ominous references to Munich.  Such grandiose posturing makes it unnecessary to probe too deeply into the actual origins and purposes of American wars, past or present, or assess the likelihood of ongoing wars ending in some approximation of actual success. Cheerleading displaces serious thought.

6. Besides, we’re too busy.  Think of this as a corollary to point five.  Even if the present-day American political scene included figures like Senators Robert La Follette or J. William Fulbright, who long ago warned against the dangers of militarizing U.S. policy, Americans may not retain a capacity to attend to such critiques.  Responding to the demands of the Information Age is not, it turns out, conducive to deep reflection.  We live in an era (so we are told) when frantic multitasking has become a sort of duty and when being overscheduled is almost obligatory.  Our attention span shrinks and with it our time horizon.  The matters we attend to are those that happened just hours or minutes ago.  Yet like the great solar eclipse of 2017 — hugely significant and instantly forgotten — those matters will, within another few minutes or hours, be superseded by some other development that briefly captures our attention.  As a result, a dwindling number of Americans — those not compulsively checking Facebook pages and Twitter accounts — have the time or inclination to ponder questions like: When will the Afghanistan War end?  Why has it lasted almost 16 years?  Why doesn’t the finest fighting force in history actually win?  Can’t package an answer in 140 characters or a 30-second made-for-TV sound bite?  Well, then, slowpoke, don’t expect anyone to attend to what you have to say.

7. Anyway, the next president will save us.  At regular intervals, Americans indulge in the fantasy that, if we just install the right person in the White House, all will be well.  Ambitious politicians are quick to exploit this expectation.  Presidential candidates struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but all of them promise in one way or another to wipe the slate clean and Make America Great Again.  Ignoring the historical record of promises broken or unfulfilled, and presidents who turn out not to be deities but flawed human beings, Americans — members of the media above all — pretend to take all this seriously.  Campaigns become longer, more expensive, more circus-like, and ever less substantial.  One might think that the election of Donald Trump would prompt a downward revision in the exalted expectations of presidents putting things right.  Instead, especially in the anti-Trump camp, getting rid of Trump himself (Collusion!  Corruption!  Obstruction!  Impeachment!) has become the overriding imperative, with little attention given to restoring the balance intended by the framers of the Constitution.  The irony of Trump perpetuating wars that he once roundly criticized and then handing the conduct of those wars to generals devoid of ideas for ending them almost entirely escapes notice.

8. Our culturally progressive military has largely immunized itself from criticism.  As recently as the 1990s, the U.S. military establishment aligned itself with the retrograde side of the culture wars.  Who can forget the gays-in-the-military controversy that rocked Bill Clinton’s administration during his first weeks in office, as senior military leaders publicly denounced their commander-in-chief?  Those days are long gone.  Culturally, the armed forces have moved left.  Today, the services go out of their way to project an image of tolerance and a commitment to equality on all matters related to race, gender, and sexuality.  So when President Trump announced his opposition to transgendered persons serving in the armed forces, tweeting that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” senior officers politely but firmly disagreed and pushed back.  Given the ascendency of cultural issues near the top of the U.S. political agenda, the military’s embrace of diversity helps to insulate it from criticism and from being called to account for a less than sterling performance in waging wars.  Put simply, critics who in an earlier day might have blasted military leaders for their inability to bring wars to a successful conclusion hold their fire.  Having women graduate from Ranger School or command Marines in combat more than compensates for not winning.

(commondreams.org)

A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  But don’t expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them — and us — to care.

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The Problem of Collective Indifference

The US is still involved in a war they started 16+ years ago.  And since those days since we have engaged in more and more conflicts and not all are the ones we started…..it is as if if there is a war someplace then the US needs to be there.

In all this time few Americans seem to care that our people are being sent and dying….but yet they are the most “patriotic” population in the world….but in reality is the truth is they do NOT care about our countrymen are having to deal with this situation….the deadly situation.

Can anyone explain this “collective indifference” of the American people……

Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts.  First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven.  Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less.

Nor can it be said that we don’t care because we don’t know. True, government authorities withhold certain aspects of ongoing military operations or release only details that they find convenient. Yet information describing what U.S. forces are doing (and where) is readily available, even if buried in recent months by barrages of presidential tweets.

Source: The Problem of Collective Indifference: Wars Go On and On | Alternet

What will it take for the American people to show some concern over all the war we have taken on?

Look at today……North Korea…..a month ago is all everybody could talk about….today it is the media that all talk….a year ago it was ISIS…..today we are lucky to hear the name mentioned….the American people become indifferent to the prevailing news……especially when it comes to war.

Oops! Got That One Wrong!

The Pentagon has a wealth of data at their finger tips and they use it in many ways….one is to predict the outcome of any military action that the US may engage in.

These days analyst play a role as they did back in the day….but today they rely on computers for their extended predictions.  All the algorithms and such give the leaders a look at what to expect and they can plan thus.

Even as far back as 50 years ago a computer was used to predict the outcome if the Vietnam War…….

At just about the halfway point of Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’s monumental documentary on the Vietnam War, an army advisor tells an anecdote that seems to sum up the relationship between the military and computers during the mid-1960s.

“There’s the old apocryphal story that in 1967, they went to the basement of the Pentagon, when the mainframe computers took up the whole basement, and they put on the old punch cards everything you could quantify. Numbers of ships, numbers of tanks, numbers of helicopters, artillery, machine gun, ammo—everything you could quantify,” says James Willbanks, the chair of military history at U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. “They put it in the hopper and said, ‘When will we win in Vietnam?’ They went away on Friday and the thing ground away all weekend. [They] came back on Monday and there was one card in the output tray. And it said, ‘You won in 1965.’”

Source: The Computer That Predicted U.S. Would Win the Vietnam War – The Atlantic

This illustrates that no matter the amount of info that one has at their disposal…..certainty of a victory in war is a guess….at best.

Moon Base Echo!

Together Into The unknown!

These days there is a lot of push back against Russia…..did they interfere in our elections?  Did they turn any Americans into spies?

So when I read this story I found it interesting that the US and Russia have a joint operation for the Moon…..

Two words: Moon base. AFP reports the US and Russia will work together on a NASA program to build the Deep Space Gateway, a space station in orbit around the moon. NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos signed an agreement to cooperate on the station, which will be “an invaluable pit stop for human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface” and “a staging point for deep space missions” to Mars and Venus, on Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia, according to Motherboard. While the Deep Space Gateway program is being led by NASA, Roscosmos will contribute docking ports and life support systems, and Russian rockets will be used to help with construction, Engadget reports.

NASA wants to start work on the Deep Space Gateway, which will be crewed by four astronauts, in the mid-2020s. It’s one step toward its goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. In statements, Roscosmos and NASA say they share a “common vision for human exploration.” The Deep Space Gateway agreement is important for a number of reasons. It clarifies NASA’s goals and how it will achieve them after years of funding issues. It also makes it less likely Congress will put the kibosh on the Deep Space Gateway at some point. Finally, the agreement will be one more thing keeping the US and Russia from—as Engadget puts it—descending “into outright hostilities.” Space is so far one of the few places where tensions between the two countries haven’t risen recently.

Could this be a new beginning for cooperative work between thew US and Russia?

I do not see this coming to a reality any time soon….too much animosity towards each other right now.

Storm approaches…..

American War Dead

WE Americans continue to die in defense of our country.  We have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and the list goes on.  It is a sad occasion when I have to write another post about more Americans dying in wars of no interests.

Yesterday here on IST we reported of yet another American killed in Iraq and it is out sad duty to report today that 3 more Americans have been killed but this time it is in West Africa……

US officials say three US Army special operations commandos were killed Wednesday and two others were wounded when they came under fire in southwest Niger. The officials say the two wounded were taken to Niamey, the capital, and are in stable condition, the AP reports. The officials say the commandos, who were Green Berets, were likely attacked by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants. In a statement, US Africa Command said the American forces were on a joint patrol with Nigerien Armed Forces troops north of Niamey, near the Mali border, when they came under hostile fire.

Africa Command said the US forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces in their efforts against violent extremists. The White House says President Trump was notified about the attack Wednesday night as he flew aboard Air Force One from Las Vegas to Washington. The military says the two wounded soldiers will soon be transported to Germany for medical treatment, CNN reports.

These deaths made the cable news shows (show me surprised)……

At the time of this writing the names of the dead and wounded have not been released….

Our deepest sympathies go out to the families.

Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War?

I am a devout antiwar supporter….it comes from my time in the mud in the paddies of SE Asia…..I see a lot of the same mistakes being made all over again….and yet NO one will step up and point out the worthless, useless efforts being made to NOT end a war.

For 16 years we have been sending our people to do what needs to be done by the people of the different countries…..someone needs to speak up…..

Christmas, 1914: Nearly a million men are already dead, and the war is barely four months old.  Suddenly, and ultimately in unison, the opposing German and British troops begin singing Christmas carols. At first light, German troops emerge unarmed from their trenches, and walk out into “no-man’s land.” Despite fearing a ruse, the Brits eventually joined their sworn enemies in the churned earth between the trench lines. Carols were sung, gifts of cigarettes exchanged—one man even brought out a decorative tree. It only happened once. Though the bloody, senseless war raged across three more Christmases, the officers on each side quashed future attempts at a holiday truce. And yet, for that brief moment, in the ugliest of circumstances, the common humanity of Brits and Germans triumphed. It must have been beautiful.

Ultimately, nearly ten million men would die in battle. For all that, little was settled. It rarely is.  The ruling classes still ruled, the profiteers profited, and Europe went to war again not twenty years later. So it went, and so it goes.

Source: Where Are the Brave Military Voices Against Forever War? | The American Conservative

Soldiers follow orders….they do not analyze them….they follow them….your loudest voices against war will come from ex-soldiers….not active military.

Closing Thought–03Oct17

Americans Just Keep Dying!

There is usually not much in the MSM these days about American soldiers dying in combat…something I cannot allow to continue.

Another soldier killed in Iraq…..

Details are still emerging, but a US convoy in Iraq hit a roadside bomb on Sunday, according to Pentagon reports. One US soldier was killed and another was wounded in the incident.

Details are still emerging, but a US convoy in Iraq hit a roadside bomb on Sunday, according to Pentagon reports. One US soldier was killed and another was wounded in the incident.

This is the eighth US service member killed in the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria so far in 2017. The Pentagon offered no details about what the troops were doing, or where in Iraq the incident took place.

This is in keeping with the Pentagon’s increasingly secretive policy in both the ISIS and Afghan Wars, offering no details on how many troops are deployed, and keeping specifics about how the wars are being fought secret.

This latest incident underscores that despite the massive territorial losses ISIS has sustained in Iraq, the group continues to be active across most of the nation, and roadside bombs continue to be a concern, as they have throughout the US war.

(antiwar.com)

AS a concerned citizen for our many wars I will not be part of the whitewash….I will continue to write on deaths that our country suffers.

WE here at IST send our deepest sympathies to the family for their loss.  And may his comrade make a full recovery.