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Today’s U.S. Army and Its Ambitions

Posted on Nov 3, 2009
U.S. Marine Corps / Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

By William Pfaff

It is possible that the creation of an all-professional U.S. Army has been Congress’ most dangerous decision. The nation now confronts a political crisis in which the issue has become an undeclared contest between Pentagon power and that of a newly elected president.

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Barack Obama has yet to declare his decision on the war in Afghanistan, and there is every reason to think that he will follow military opinion. Yet he is under immense pressure from his Republican opponents to, in effect, renounce his presidential power and step aside from the fundamental strategic decisions of the nation.

The officer Obama named to command the war in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal, demands a reinforcement of 40,000 soldiers, raising the total U.S. commitment to over 100,000 troops (or more, in the future). McChrystal says that he cannot succeed without them and even then may be unable to win the war within a decade. Yet the American public—most of all, the president’s own liberal electorate—is generally in doubt about this war.

President Obama almost certainly will do as the general requests, or something very close to it. He can read the wartime politics in this situation.

The Vietnam War was opposed by the public by the 1970s, when according to the Pentagon Papers, the government knew that victory was unlikely. Today, the public doubts victory in the war in Afghanistan. However, the version of Vietnam history most Americans (who were not there!) read today says there really was no defeat at all.


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It is argued that there was only a collapse of civilian support for the war, caused by the liberal press, producing popular disaffection both at home and inside the conscript Army, with a breakdown of military discipline, “fraggings” (murders) of aggressive combat leaders and demoralization in the ranks. This is the version most military officers believe today.

It is an American version of the “stab in the back” myth believed in German military and right-wing political circles after World War I. In the U.S. case, the Vietnam defeat was painfully clear at the time, and few believed that either the Congress or the Nixon administration (which signed the peace agreement with North Vietnam) was party to any betrayal of the United States.

Today, the revised interpretation of the Vietnam War, claiming that it actually was a lost victory, has become an important issue because most Pentagon leaders are committed to the “Long War” against “Muslim terrorism.” A presidential order to withdraw from Afghanistan or Iraq (or Pakistan) would be attacked by many in Congress and the media, and by the implicitly insubordinate elements in the military community, as “surrender” by an Obama administration lacking patriotism and unfit to govern.

Conservative politicians are convinced that any policy not rooted in total victory for the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan—and, in coming months, perhaps in Somalia, Yemen, possibly Palestine or sub-Saharan Africa (or even an Iran determined to pursue its nuclear ambitions)—would mean American humiliation and defeat.

After Vietnam, Congress ended conscription, which in that war had become heavily corrupt: The poor and working classes were drafted while many of the privileged had influential families and found complacent doctors or college deans willing to hand over unjustified draft exemptions to those—like future Vice President Richard Cheney—who had “other priorities” than patriotism and national service.

Congress created a new all-volunteer Army. The sociology of the new Army was very different from the old citizens’ Army. The new one was also composed of people who wanted to be soldiers or wanted the college education that an enlistment could earn a soldier. It also often included high school graduates who didn’t have much in the way of career choices. But since 9/11, and the Iraq invasion, the new Army has increasingly relied on immigrants or other young foreigners who can earn permanent U.S. residence by way of an Army enlistment. The U.S. also increasingly has relied on foreign mercenaries hired by private companies.

Its professional character is fundamentally different from the old Army. In the old Army, career West Point officers were during wartime largely outnumbered by war-service-only officers, the graduates of officer candidate schools or Reserve officers trained in universities (where much of the cost of higher education could be earned in exchange for a fixed term of duty as a junior commissioned officer).

Thus the Army from the start of World War II until the end of Vietnam was effectively a democratic Army, with civilian conscripts; and the majority of its non-commissioned and commissioned officers were peacetime civilians, with solid commitments to civilian society, often with families at home—doing their temporary (or “for the war’s duration”) patriotic duty.

Professional armies have often been considered a threat to their own societies. It was one of Frederick the Great’s officers who described Prussia “as an army with a state, in which it was temporarily quartered, so to speak.” The French revolutionary statesman Mirabeau said that “war is Prussia’s national industry.” Considering the portion of the U.S. national budget that is now consumed by the Pentagon, much the same could be said of the United States.

The new Army also has political ambitions. It dominates U.S. foreign relations with hundreds of bases worldwide and regional commanders like imperial proconsuls. Both Gen. McChrystal and his superior, Gen. David H. Petraeus, have been mentioned as future presidential candidates. The last general who became the U.S. president was Dwight Eisenhower. He is the one who warned Americans against “the military-industrial complex.”

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, November 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

A standing army is a standing menace to liberty.

~Voltairine de Clayre

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By Samson, November 5, 2009 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Thomas Jefferson’s comments on the original proposed Constitution (before the Bill of Rights was added):

“I do not like… the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of nations.”—Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:387

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By Samson, November 5, 2009 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

“In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

  * James Madison, Speech, Constitutional Convention (1787-06-29), from Max Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. I [1] (1911), p. 465

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By Carl, November 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

The blog at G2mil has some thoughts on rewriting the Vietnam history.

June 16, 2008 - Lost Battles of the Vietnam War

One theme presented by supporters of the American empire is that the U.S. military is invincible, and that it can never lose unless stabbed in the back by impatient politicians. They claim the U.S. military never lost a battle during the entire Vietnam war. This was disputed by America’s most decorated officer of that war, Col. David Hackworth, in his book “About Face.” The U.S. military had every advantage over the Vietnamese, yet mistakes were made and small battles lost. Most losses were covered-up, but a quick Internet search provides some examples:

The Battle of Kham Duc - this large Special Forces camp was abandoned as it was overrun, despite reinforcement by an American rifle company.

The Battle of the Slopes - a company of American paratroopers was attacked by a large force and fled, leaving behind wounded. It suffered 76 KIA with two platoons wiped out.

The Battle of Dai Do - A Marine Corps infantry battalion was mauled and forced to retreat during a disorganized attempt to dislodge a large North Vietnamese force near the DMZ. Accounts of this action are hidden within reports of operations in region of Dong Ha.

Ignoring these losses does great disservice to all those brave men who fought and died in these battles, as well as those now dying in Iraq for a lost cause.

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By Jim Yell, November 5, 2009 at 8:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those of our founding fathers who bothered to think at all, were not in favor of standing armies, because standing armies have always been controlled by individuals and not the government. It is the reason behind our civilian control of the military.

Our military is now controlled by Corporations and they direct it against the interest of the country. Europe is strong enough to protect itself, so why do we spend immense amounts of money to garrison Europe, so long after WWII? South Korea is strong enough to defend South Korea, why do we garrison South Korea? Why do we hold on to little dots of territory across the world that were once important as Coaling Stations, but no longer are important to us at all, just another expense?

To the question given above in comments section—“better to be controlled by our own army”? As in Rome we are likely to see fewer and fewer Americans born in America serving in the military. This gives those who control the military greater and greater latitude to use the military against the people of America, just as the Roman Emperor could rely on his German Troops, his Balkan troops to kill Romans without any hesitation. That is the future if the Military Industrial Corporation continues to push privitization and enlistment of foreign people into the US Military and subordination of Congress, Presidency and the Courts to Military Corporate control.

Our separation of power was and is our best hope to avoid dictatorship and thanks to the criminal activity of Bush/Cheney we now look at the mechanism of our freedom broken. It is beyond repair? Are we still going to allow Bush and Cheney not to answer for their crimes? Rumsfield? If so history says we are finished, but a giant can take a long time to fall. It is very sad when ignorance takes over in the name of partiotism.

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By Folktruther, November 4, 2009 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

I had exactly the same thought, Anarcissie, and went to exact the same article.  It wasn’t helpful.

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By Anarcissie, November 4, 2009 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—Alfred Adler might be interesting in this regard.

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By Folktruther, November 4, 2009 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie says:

“I believe this thrust for power is due not to any rational or common-sense view of profit and advantage, but due to the emotional logic of power.”

  This is not the marxist view but I have a feeling that you are right.  That the powerful will pursue power even though it is against their economic and other interests, even to the point of death.  Like people will take addictive drugs even though they know they are being killed by them.

The dynamics of this power drive have never been explained very clearly, espeically considering its importance to humanity, so anything you, or anyone, has to say about it may be valuable.  If power is a drive like sex, than we have to undeerstand it in order to direct it constructively.

  Incidentally, Britain emerged from its world imperialism intact, but only because it handed off to the US, or, more precisely, the empire was wrenched out its hands.

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By empyrius, November 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

And of course in addition to the divide and conquer model we have, as all empire have, used, and giving citizenship to those who betray their own people, with the massive unemployment rate in continental American, people are joining the armed services simply for lack of better. Here is a link to a short synopsis of this tragic phenomenon (makes one alomost think this is planned but I don’t like going all conspiracy-like):

Tis just sad . . .: wish we could stop the madness!

Indeed, war is a racket!


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By Anarcissie, November 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

I think InTheKnow’s error is merely supposing that the top military leaders and the top civilian authorities are somehow different.  They are not.  The essential function of the state is to serve its ruling class, its essential philosophy being that some should rule others.  When a state is powerful enough its ruling class naturally seeks to rule other states or to expand itself into other countries, that is, it engages in imperialism, for which war is necessary.  Those administrators, military or civilian, who do not sign on enthusiastically to this philosophy and program are not promoted or supported in elections.  Thus we observe a strong continuity of policy in the United States government from the 1940s until the present day, even though conditions have changed radically over the decades and although different parties with supposedly different policies have been in power.

I believe this thrust for power is due not to any rational or common-sense view of profit and advantage, but due to the emotional logic of power.  When we observe the actual results of imperial policies and theory they are always disastrous: every modern state which has attempted to achieve imperial power has ruined itself financially, economically, and sometimes morally and culturally as well.  The U.S. ruling class is now on this path.  It is hard to see how it can be diverted or even slowed, although there does seem to be some chance that its mismanagement of the economy may lead to bankruptcy before, rather than after, imperial ruin.

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By Mike Havenar, November 4, 2009 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

And one other thing for In the Know: Read “War Is A Racket,” by Marine General Smedley D. Butler, and consider his experience in war and politics, when you recommend putting the military in charge of our government.

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By David, November 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What the hell, America couldn’t last forever.  Better to be enslaved by your own army than by another.

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By Mike Havenar, November 4, 2009 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

To “In the Know:” You hardly have a clue. What you are promoting is abandonment of the United States Constitution, which clearly puts the executive in complete control of the military. There was a reason our wise Founders arranged it so: military domination of the State has always led to tyranny, despotism, and collapse.
We’ve had plenty of generals as President.Some were wise, some not so wise. Our military is deployed to farflung places primarily to guard our commercial “interests;” meaning the private interests of capitalist corporations; in some places it is there to shore up corrupt governments which make sweetheart deals with corporations that essentially rob their people of resources and quality-of-life; in other cases the military has outposts to check the ambitions of other capitalist competitors, like Russia, China, etc. NATO was originally established to support pre-WWII regimes which had been put back in power against the wishes of Europeans, who were decidely leftist as the end of that terrible war, which the Old Regimes had caused. NATO was not built so much to counter the Soviet Union, as it was to provide employment and give European nations better control over their own populations.
Read history, In the Know; and learn to spell.

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By Mike Havenar, November 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

A mild correction: Although the Pentagon Papers implied that the war was unwinnable, it was the confession of former Defense Secretary Robert Strange McNamara, in his 1990s book “In Retrospect,” that our government knew in 1964 that the Vietnam War could not be won.
A very good article. Our military, as it pointed out, now has many members who are invested only for the sake of citizenship and economics, without true patriotism for the country which hired them. The same thing happened to Rome.

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By Night-Gaunt, November 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

As long as the radical Christian crusaders have sway over our military, along with the corporate $$$ being made to wage it it will not stop short of collapse. If the outer empire reaches the republic and takes over we will be lost. Whether for 20 years or 120 years it will be bad for us and the world. Have you seen the new devices to maim and kill? Adding robots armed to and programmed to kill humans in the mix? Flying, crawling, darting micro-machines to surviel and maybe hurt humans to be deployed first over seas then eventually here? Real terminators in the hands of religious fanatics here to take over the earth an make it safe for their white god to return! Not a good prospect for the Republic.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, November 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Today’s U.S. Army and Its Ambitions

War is the ambition, any war.  Find one or start one and just keep it going indefinitely.  Becoming a general is also the ambition.  And in the end, running the nation is the ambition.

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By Folktruther, November 4, 2009 at 11:26 am Link to this comment


“I’m in favor of removing the military from civilian control. It was only put under civilian control out of fear of a military junta. What this country needs is a new beauracratic structure that places the military squarely in the control of the Commanding General of U.S.Military Forces;”

InThe KNow is a military man and this sentiment is wht happens when you have a professional and mercenary force.  Since the military is losing wars, INTHEKNOW attributes this to rule by the presidnet and congress, not understanding or wanting to know, that the president and congress are ruled by money, and the plutocracy that control it.

  If and when there is another Terrorist incident, and martial law is declared, the military will still be under the control of the ruling plutocracy, which it needs for its supplies and truth manipulation.  But the president and congress would be superdeded.

The simpler political way of doing this is electing a general to be president, which may happen next election.  The Gops may elect a general during war, Potraus,  just as they did Ike during the Korean war, and the way McClellan ran Lincoln during the Civil War. A military man could liquidate the quagmires and increase the military budget in order to confrount Russia or China. This would make the military happy, and the neozionists, but threaten most of the people of the world with nuclear war.  But, don’t worry,  we can be sure that the US militry would try to win it.

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By Orley Allen, November 4, 2009 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The America of the Enlightenment and the founding fathers has been transformed
into a cash cow for a ruling elite that determines plantation policy issues in secret
and enforces those policies with a standing army and a savagely violent hillbilly
cohort. We are not being governed, we are being ruled. The founding fathers were
students of history and empire and left us with their best efforts at avoiding the
tyranny of greed and avarice that was to come. That’s all gone now, destroyed by
the total dominion of military brass and braid and unbridled corporate greed that
now rules over the founder’s long gone dream of freedom. This is the decline.

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By Paul_GA, November 4, 2009 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

As I see it, the problem is the very existence of the American empire; get rid of the empire, and most of this country’s problems will be solved.

And if we Americans can’t strike the imperial tent ourselves, thereby giving us time to revert peacefully to the republic our Founders and Framers wanted us to be, we must expect the twin forces of economic and historical to strike said tent messily. And in that event, our fall will be a lot worse than Russia’s after 1989.

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By InTheKnow, November 4, 2009 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

Many seem to think that the problem is that the military is not being controlled well enough by the civilian politicians who are Constitutionally charged with that task. I’m here to say, as a soldier, that’s exactly backwards.
  Although the members of the U.S. military train to “win the next war”, they never make the final decision as to deploy or not. Unfortunately, this decision is in the hands of Congress and the President. I can’t speak for all members of the U.S. military, but many I know would not have deployed to foreign countries like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Why? Because at no time did these countries pose a military threat to the United States.
  Our problem in the U.S. is that members of Congress (civilians), and the President (a civilian), have the Constitutional right to make deployment decisions. And what do they do? They deploy our military to foreign countries to achieve political objectives, like democracy, womens’ rights, etc. That’s why, if you notice, years after the deployment began, no one can quite decide if “the war has been won.”  Oftentimes, members of Congress and the President have an added incentive to choose war: to put money in the hands of some of their supporters and cronies; for some businessmen in this country, and elsewhere, supporting a war effort can be lucrative.
  It is foolish to attempt to force people living in foreign countries to adopt our way of life! We have to understand that if democracy is going to arrive in countries around the world, it has to be chosen by a majority of the indigenous populations of these countries! If at some point, they choose democracy for themselves, they must choose their own type and style. If we try to force it militarily, we only end up with colonial governments of “freely elected officials”—these are usually puppet colonial governments for all practical purposes. Upon the withdrawal of U.S. military forces, these governments either collapse, or morph into some type of dictatorial rule.
  I’m in favor of removing the military from civilian control. It was only put under civilian control out of fear of a military junta. What this country needs is a new beauracratic structure that places the military squarely in the control of the Commanding General of U.S.Military Forces; and only allows for troop deployment when this country is facing a real military threat.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, November 4, 2009 at 3:03 am Link to this comment

Unfortunately, it is easier to make war than to find peace.  A good war diverts public attention away from the pressing domestic issues by creating this patriotic drumbeat around supporting our soldiers no matter what they are tasked with doing.  And, of course, I think most of us do support them ... at least the grunts who are dodging bullets and IEDs.  However, my support stops a bit short of supporting the professional warmongers who sit in the Pentagon and the politicians who support them without question.  Those people get my undying contempt and hatred.

That said, I’m not sure I fully understand the distinction between a professional army and one that is conscripted into service.  There is nothing inherently wrong with a professional military organization, as long as they are kept under control.  The failing we have now (as in Vietnam) is a failure of the civilian authorities to exercise effective control over the system.  Commanders are tasked with assessing threats to our country and presenting their finding to the civilian control structure for final action.  McCrystal is a traitor for trying to circumvent that process.  And Obama plus the congressional leadership are cowards for not asserting their authority over him and his comrades.  The military should be reigned in and made to understand that they are servants of the people, not the reverse.

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By empyrius, November 4, 2009 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

I concur throughly with all of the sentiments below that is . . .

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By empyrius, November 4, 2009 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

I concur throughly with all the above sentiments. Our “war is peace” economy, coupled with the incessant message from those who control the major media, that, ‘our individuating selfishness will lead to the greater good’, is paving the way for disaster to overtake all of us who do not profit from the war-making way of life: tis quite scary when really pondered!


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By Sepharad, November 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment

The military’s true (and disregarded) function is merely to preserve and protect American lives, not to squander them, not to chew soldiers up and send them home with horrendous physical and psychological trauma because of what war does to them and what they’ve done to others.

This may sound terribly naive, but preserving and protecting American lives does not include destroying the economy that supports them, making widows and widowers and orphans all over the land, and creating such anger among people affected by wars on their own land that there actually is generated a desire to destroy American lives.

Radical Islam (like radical any-other-religion or ideology) does pose a problem to the modern world, but if we turned the resources devoted to the military machine to a more varied, fine-tuned range of responses to that threat—some of them but not most of them military, and those military deeply trained in the cultures they confront, very good at every aspect of their job which includes persuading other people particularly in the cultures where Radical Islam does exist that there is more for them, for their children, in life than martyring themselves in ghastly amounts of largely innocent blood.  This would save incalculable numbers of lives. It would be harder than retasking a satellite: it would retask a huge number of Americans from military to infrastructure planning and building, green research so that solutions to the energy problem would be developed in and exported from America.

We have to figure out how to do this. There is no good alternative option.

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By ChaoticGood, November 3, 2009 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

We think “our mercenary army” will be different than all the others in the past.  We believe that American exceptionalism will save us from the fate that every other “Empire” in history did not learn from either.  More and more wars that we cannot afford but we have to have them lest the monster we created will turn on us.  Simple lesson, never learned.

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By JimM, November 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Yes, the M.I.C. is indeed a self-perpetuating system. Too bad it has to be based on war and rumor of war instead of positive stuff.

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By gerard, November 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

Tao Walker, I enjoy your comments a lot. Thanks.

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By TAO Walker, November 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

William Pfaff has now offered a series of thoughtful articles about the escalating violence of the U.S. Military occupation in Afghanistan.  Put them altogether, they spell “....deja vu all over again.” 

It has been pretty obvious for some time that entrenched elements within the military/industrial-complex have succeeded in rendering the “civilian control” concept supposedly “enshrined” in the U.S. CONstitution effectively meaningless.  Besides the considerable cohort of religious fundamentalists in key positions, you have also the secular imperialists who, having caught that particularly unforgiving “tiger” by the tail, can’t let go now even if they wanted to.

That is why this old Savage has suggested elsewhere on this site that today’s “professional” military is locked into a Rumsfeldian “metric” from which there is absolutely no egress short of its own destruction.  That iron-clad “mindset” can quite accurately be described as a self-referential rationale impenetrable to anything outside itself that might call into question any feature of the positive feedback loop of assumptions and presumptions out of which it is constructed.  Thus the heterodyne whine from its adherents for more and more and more and more of the same old same old….accompanied by (no longer even very) veiled threats of the “unacceptable” consequences to “the country” should the ‘general population’ fail to “support the troops” at levels deemed sufficient by the command-and-control apparatus in ‘prison administration.’

It is pretty plain to see that the ruling commercio/religio/political cabal has recreated in the AfPak “theater” a conflict-of-choice containing all the essential elements that were so crucial in the huge humiliations it suffered in both Korea and Viet Nam.  So it shouldn’t be at all surprising that virtually all of the present propaganda campaign simply reprises slavishly the same platitudes and prevarications used to initiate and conduct those earlier criminal operations.

Us surviving Turtle Island Natives, however, have placed the onset of this institutional PTSD in the singular events that Day on the Makes Fat Grass River, a few Suns before what theamericanpeople call July 4, 1876, when Col. G. A. Custer lost his own iron ass, most of his command, and his battle flag to a bunch of free wild Indians.  The U.S. Army has never recovered from it, despite another one hundred thirty-three Winters of inflicting atrocities on Indigenous Peoples from Wounded Knee to My Lai to Fallujah to the latest wedding party in the land of the Pashtuns….at least a couple of those also perpetrated by elements of the Seventh Cavalry.

Among the People called by others “Cheyenne,” it is said the allamerican criminal enterprise actually came to its end that Day.  All that’s been happening here since is repeating it over and over and over and….., ad nauseum.  Only the ‘set decorations’ are changed, in the zombie jamborre’s feckless tour of various “theaters of operations,” to give the false impression that “time” is passing, and “....progress is being made.” 

So theamericanpeople are trapped along with their murderous military machine in kind of “bubble universe,” pinched-off from the Natural rythms and flows of the never-ending Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.  The available air, though, is nearly used-up, and the panic accompanying suffocation is setting-in.

Meantime, The Tiyoshpaye Way will be there to walk for any among our tame Sisters and Brothers able to emerge from the wreckage.


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By gerard, November 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

This article gives a scaringly clear picture of the entangled situation.  The war economy supports jobs for millions of civilians and military personnel. To stop wars means to stop those jobs.  And replace them with what?  Civilian infrastructure, education, manufacturing—all of which are in great need of refurbishing, but the transfer would require broad mutual agreements among competing forces—military versus civilian. 
  The military is not an organization that understands power-sharing and civilian goals. Civilians share military goals (and huge costs) only insofar as they believe those goals and costs necessary and possible of achievement—and even then, questions arise. 
  The military finds “command and control” a familiar psychology.  Civilians find it difficult, requiring organization and commitment too-generally beyond their experience. Civilian control also requires political creativity and flexibility,which demands new ways of seeing the world, beyond conquest and exploitation. 
  It will take a major national readjustment of priorities to get this sorted out, but it must be done sooner rather than later because the country is sinking under the weight of both the cost and the immorality of war as a goal.

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