by Jeff Huber
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen appears to be the most powerful man in the world. Americans elected a president who pledged to get U.S. troops out of Iraq in 16 months. Iraq's parliament, by a substantial majority, has ratified a security agreement that requires all American troops to be out of the country by the end of 2011, a deadline specifically "not governed by circumstances on the ground."
One might think the book is closed on the matter of U.S. occupation of Iraq, but no. Admiral Mullen says it's "theoretically possible" to change the agreement. "Three years is a long time," he says, and we will "continue to have discussions with them [the Iraqis] over time as conditions continue to evolve." In July, Mullen said that a deadline for a U.S. withdrawal would be "dangerous." Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has been asked to hang around for a year or so into the Obama regime, objected to the 16 month plan during the presidential campaign, and incoming National Security Adviser James L. Jones, a retired Marine four-star, said in 2007 that a deadline for our withdrawal from Iraq would be "against our national interest."
What do they call it again, when a country is run by its military?
Great White Junta
Obama won't be the first U.S. president to have his initiative to end a war opposed by an intransigent military establishment. Historian and journalist Gareth Porter reminds us that the warmongery of a previous American Century gave John F. Kennedy migraines over ending the Vietnam conflict. Unlike Obama, Kennedy had his top brass on board with his plan. In 1962, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and JCS chairman Maxwell Taylor both favored a timeline to withdraw all U.S. troops from Vietnam by the end of 1965, but the commanders in Vietnam and the Pacific dug in their heels, and the rest, as they say, is blood down the gutter.
The most persistent symptom of insanity in the New American Century has been military leadership's relentless pursuit of military solutions when it knows good and well that none exist. In his September 2006 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Jones said, "I am convinced that the solution in Afghanistan is not a military one." In 2007, conversely, Jones said, "If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, you're sending a very clear message to the terrorist organizations that the U.S., the U.N. and the 37 countries with troops on the ground can be defeated."
Jones illustrates the crux of the Pavlov's Dogs of War Syndrome. An old warfare adage says that no conflict is over until the loser stops fighting. While Jones and Mullen and Gates and the like understand that they can't win military victories, they can't stand the thought of being called losers, and as long as they keep fighting, they aren't losers. If these guys had their way, we'd still be winning in Vietnam.
Under the Influence
Dwight Eisenhower, the president who first entangled us in the Vietnam goat rope, also gave us the military industrial complex. He at least had the good grace, before he crawled off to the tar pit, to warn of us the "unwarranted influence" his monster would wield, saying in his 1961 presidential farewell speech that its "total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government."
More than 40 years later, the military industrial complex has expanded into an all engulfing confluence of Big War, Big Business, Big Message, Big Energy, Big Jesus, Big Money and Big Brother. Political careers and regional economies are wholly dependent on war, the costliest and least productive sector of the U.S. and world economies.
We spend more on arms than the rest of the world combined. Our nearest conceivable military competitors, Russia and China, spend a tenth or less as much on defense as we do. Our "no greater challenge" nation, Iran, has a defense budget less than one percent the size of ours. The terrorists have a defense budget you could hide under the dirt in a brain surgeon's fingernail.
The universally respected Rand Corporation says the best approach to defeating terrorism involves "a light U.S. military footprint or none at all." Nobody has a big enough fleet or air force to transport enough evildoers to invade and occupy us. Moreover, unnamed senior officials assure me that no one will be able to produce flying carpets in strategically significant numbers before the end of the next century, and that the Vulcans have decided against ever trusting us with their transporter technology. The evil ones can't get from there to here, so there's no need to fight them in either place.
Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons or a program to develop any, or a ballistic missile that can reach the United States, and even if they ever have both the nuclear weapon and the missile to deliver it with, the missile defense system we're developing to counter them will never work. If Iran or any other third world tin pan were to ever use a nuclear armed ballistic missile, the retaliation would amount to the end of that tin pan's existence, and the terrorists will develop suitcase nukes about the time they get their mitts on flying carpets and Vulcan transporters.
Political and military leaders throughout the world agree there are no military solutions to Iraq, or the Bananastans, or terrorism, or Sri Lanka, or the Congo, or Darfur, or Somalia, or South America, or the South Pole for that matter. In fact, there hasn't really been a military solution to the world's challenges since President Eisenhower was General Eisenhower.
And yet, the American warmongery continues to pursue counterproductive wars and newer and costlier means of blowing the smithereens out of Muslim weddings.
Obama says the "vision for change" comes from him. Given the makeup of his national security team, though, I fear there's a good chance he'll be gazing through a distorted lens, and it's a dead certainty that a fistful of neocons are meeting in the basement of some think tank these days cooking up 10,000 ways to pull the wool over the colored guy with the Arab name.
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 Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.