by Jeff Huber
(This is a rework/update of two previous pieces that I cobbled together for Military.com, Antiwar.com, etc. It also has some new material, so I hope you enjoy it.)
No nation has ever profited from a long war.So we're up to $1.8 trillion to finance the Bush Memorial Bailout, huh? Shoot, that kind of money could bankroll 18 more years of our woebegone war in Iraq. Not to worry, though; we can stay in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve the kind of victory John McCain promises if it takes fifty years, a hundred years, a thousand years or a million years.
The Chinese are a patient people, and they take American Express.
Strategic Reach Around
Folks in the unconscionable right wing media have the serial Bush voters in my neck of Virginia convinced that our economic woes are a direct result of our banks lending money to colored folks. The National Review points the finger at "a bit of legislative arm-twisting much beloved by Sen. Obama and his fellow Democrats" known as the Community Reinvestment Act by which Obama's "celebrated community organizers" forced banks to make bad loans to minorities. National Review doesn't bother to mention that the Community Reinvestment Act was passed in 1977, and the original Act and its subsequent revisions, according to the Federal Reserve, do not "require institutions to make high-risk loans that jeopardize their safety." To the contrary, "the law makes it clear that an institution's CRA activities should be undertaken in a safe and sound manner." National Review also avoided speculating as to how on earth blacks and Hispanics just recently managed to run up $700 billion or more in bad mortgages all by their lonesomes.
What we're actually observing now is an ironic reversal of the strategic equation that led America to the status of global hegemon. Beginning with World War I (and arguably before that), military intervention overseas both enhanced America's position in the balance of global military power and fueled its economic engine. American has essentially maintained a wartime economy since World War II, the conflict that made the United States the powerhouse of the free world. Throughout most of that period we have maintained a full time professional force and augmented it with reservists, militiamen, conscripts and mercenaries. We have also maintained permanent deterrence and first response forces in Europe and Asia as a cornerstone of our Soviet containment strategy.
As a force in being, our post World War II military did a remarkable job of preventing a direct confrontation between the free world and the Soviet Bloc. But when we actually committed forces to combat, most notably in Korea and Vietnam, the results were, to put it kindly, disappointing. I don't say this to disparage the spirit and effectiveness of American troops in battle. Tactically, the U.S. military has been superb, but the manner in which America's political and military leaders (who at this point are virtually indistinguishable) have used it has seldom yielded favorable strategic outcomes.
General Douglas MacArthur squandered the brilliance of his amphibious landing at Inchon when he pressed too far north and goaded China into the Korean conflict. And it's more or less true that American forces were never defeated on the field in Vietnam, but like they say, you can win a thousand battles...
Today, General David Petraeus boasts of "enormous progress" in Iraq because "We have gone from a situation where 14-15 months ago there were 180 attacks a day in Iraq. Now there are on average about 25 attacks a day." Can you for a moment imagine yourself characterizing 25 bombings a day in California as "progress?"
What gains have been made in Iraq came about as a result of Petraeus following the standard operating procedures from his first two tours in that country. As commander in Mosul and later as the officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, "miracle worker" Petraeus achieved short term gains by handing out guns and bribes like bags of Gummi Worms. Then he grabbed his end of tour medal and got out of Dodge before the time bombs he left behind blew off his successors' baby makers. The "reductions" in violence in Iraq came largely thanks to the payola Petraeus gave Sunni militias to fight al-Qaeda. Heh. That "fighting al-Qaeda" business is going well. In July 2008, more than four years after Petraeus supposedly tamed Mosul, Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times trumpeted that, "Al-Qaeda is driven from Mosul bastion after bloody last stand." Two months after the bloody last stand, on September 5, the official Operation Iraqi Freedom proclaimed, "Al-Qaeda networks in Mosul set back." Just over two weeks after that, on September 21, the Associated Press heralded, "US military targets al-Qaida in Iraq." This targeting of al-Qaeda occurred after, among other things, a suicide trucker blew up a police headquarters in Mosul. Not my idea of a miraculous outcome, but what the heck? Medals of Freedom for all my friends!
And oh, yeah, Iraq wants us to pack our kit and leave.
Upon taking command of the Iraq theater from Petraeus, General Ray Odierno cautioned that the gains made in Iraq "are fragile and reversible." And do you know what I say? Ha, ha! Do you hear me? Ha, ha, ha! I imagine Odierno plans to spend a lot of time in his new job sitting on his body armor with his legs crossed.
Our puppets in the Bananastans aren't playing by Marquis of Queensbury guidelines either. The worst army in the world (Pakistan's, which has lost every war it ever fought) apparently kicked the best army in the world (ours) out of its country on Monday September 15. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the closest thing Pakistan has to a genuine head of state, said on Wednesday September 10 that “No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.”
Makes you wonder why we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined if that's all the more good it does us.
Ancient Chinese Open Secret
The Chinese know full well that the Middle East is the traditional graveyard of western superpowers. They have been delighted by our folly in Iraq; they're no doubt approaching Taoist nirvana over the prospect of America digging itself an even deeper hole in the Bananastans, a future that seems set in stone regardless of which political minstrel ingratiates his way into the Oval Office come November.
China watched with amusement for decades as the Soviet Union, with its inferior economic model, tried to compete with us in an arms race. Now, the Chinese spectate from the skybox as we pursue an arms race with ourselves, and pour national treasure down a sand dune, and continue to depend on a form of national power that has become antithetical to our national interest.
You'll listen to the nattering class babble in the infosphere about how our economic woes came about as a result of deregulation, and to some extent they'll be correct.
But what you'll actually be hearing is what it sounds like when your country is losing the kind of war that takes place in the brave new world order it created.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.