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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World War I Still Haunts America

We are in the middle of remembering World War One…..the war that created the world as we know it today.

The US was Johnny Come Lately to the War, the war began in 1914 and we entered in 1917….

This is an interesting article from the Future of Freedom Foundation, a bit of a Libertarian lean to it…….

This year is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s pulling America into World War I. Many people celebrate this centenary of America’s emergence as a world power. But at a time when the Trump administration is bombing or rattling sabers at half a dozen nations and many Democrats are clamoring to bloody Russia, it is worth reviewing how World War I turned out so much worse than the experts and politicians promised.

Wilson was narrowly reelected in 1916 on the basis of a campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” But Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and money to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914. At the same time, he had no quarrel with the British blockade that was slowly starving the German people. In his April 1917 speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, he hailed the U.S. government as “one of the champions of the rights of mankind” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”

Source: How World War I Still Haunts America – The Future of Freedom Foundation

The study of war is vital these days….the understanding of conflict is a necessity if we are to avoid the carnage of the world wars.

Americans are not as interested in World War One as they are World War Two…..but they should be because it was the harbinger of things to come…..and still is…….

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.

Just Say Your Are Sorry!

Since Ken Burns released his newest documentary about the Vietnam War I have been following it up with some historic perspectives on the war.

I fought my way through 21/2 years in Vietnam and when I returned back to the US I became a staunch anti-war protester.

Over the years I have had many discussions with others about that war….some served others did not…..at one time some older gentleman told me that I need to apologize to the country for my activism.

I was taken aback and asked why should I apologize?

He told me that it was people like me that tore the country apart with all the protests to the point that the country was weakened by all the division.

My first reaction was…..BITE ME!

I said that I had nothing to apologize for and that he, a supporter of the war, should do it more than I.  Support sending in children to fight a bloody war that was NEVER meant to be won.

This event from my past came to m                                                                                                        ind after I read a piece on Common Dreams…..

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, something like this:

It was beyond cruel what was done to Viet Nam vets. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell.

That’s a comment made on my Facebook page when I posted Jerry Lembcke’s very insightful review of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series, The Vietnam War. Lembcke points out that the series promotes the established narrative that for Vietnam vets, the experience of coming home to a “hostile” public was “more traumatic than the war itself.” As I will discuss here, Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran and Associate Professor Emeritus at Holy Cross College, has dedicated much of his life to countering and disproving that narrative.

Now take a close look at the above statement. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell. The implication is, of course, that while this person didn’t do it, others must have “protested the soldiers,” referring to the ubiquitous stories of soldiers and veterans being harassed, hounded, called baby killers and spat on by a variety of protesters and, as the stories usually go, “long haired hippies.” Actually, this particular comment was part of a string of responses to someone who claimed he was “urinated on while in uniform.”

Source: Vietnam War Protesters have NOTHING to Apologize For | By | Common Dreams

In hindsight I still see NO reason for me to apologize…I did what I felt is morally right.

What Options?

We hear all the President’s men when talking about what to do about the situation in North Korea…..”we have options”

For months now, the U.S. has been trying different measures to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program. In recent weeks, many have assumed that an attack on North Korea was no longer on the table – that there would be some sort of diplomatic solution, mainly focused on sanctions, that would force Pyongyang to fall in line.

But it’s dubious to believe that sanctions would cause North Korea to abandon something that it believes is so fundamental to its national security.

That seems to have been confirmed over the weekend by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who said that the U.N. Security Council has exhausted its options in dealing with North Korea and that the matter might have to be handed over to the Pentagon. We are therefore at the point where the possibility of military action must be taken seriously again. But in its attempt to deal with the threat from Pyongyang, the U.S. is facing another obstacle: South Korea.

Source: The US Faces Unsavory Choices in the Korean Peninsula – Geopolitical Futures

Options?  There is always options.  But in this case what the Hell are they talking about?  I do not like vague solutions for pressing problems and “we have options” is as vague as it can get.

As the doomsday rhetoric intensifies between two untested and inexperienced leaders in Pyongyang and Washington, the risk of actual combat is rising.

At the United Nations, President Donald Trump shocked most of the U.N. General Assembly by threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea to end the “suicide mission” of its “Rocket Man” leader. North Korea has threatened to create a “sea of fire” in both South Korea and the United States. On Saturday, U.S. B-1 bombers flew close to North Korea’s east coast on what the Pentagon said was a mission to demonstrate the military options available to Trump. The U.S. president commented that Kim Jong Un and his foreign minister Ri Yong Ho “won’t be around much longer” if they continue their rhetoric.F

So what are the military options that the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military could put in front of the president?

Source: James Stavridis: What are Trump’s military options in North Korea?- Nikkei Asian Review

None of these options are acceptable.

This needs to simmer down before someone says something they cannot walk back and the world becomes more messy than it is today.

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.