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The Arrival of the Warrior Corporation

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Posted on Feb 25, 2012
ElDave (CC-BY)

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 2)

Desertion rates were rising, as was drug use.  In the field, “search and evade” (a mocking, descriptive accurate replacement for “search and destroy”) operations were becoming commonplace.  “Fraggings”—attacks on unpopular officers or NCOs—had doubled. (“Word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units.”)  And according to Heinl, there were then as many as 144 antiwar “underground newspapers” published by or aimed at soldiers.  At the times when he wrote, in fact, the antiwar movement in the United States was being spearheaded by a rising tide of disaffected Vietnam veterans speaking out against their war and the way they had fought it.

In this fashion, an American citizen’s army, a draft military, had reached its limits and was voting with its feet against an imperial war.  This was democracy in action transferred to the battlefield and the military base.  And it was deeply disturbing to the U.S. high command, which had, by then, lost faith in the future possibilities of a draft army.  In fact, faced with ever more ill-disciplined troops, the military’s top commanders had clearly concluded: never again!

So on the very day the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January 1973, officially signaling the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam (though not quite its actual end), President Richard Nixon also signed a decree ending the draft.  It was an admission of the obvious: War, American-style, as it had been practiced since World War II, had lost its hold on young minds.

There was no question that U.S. military and civilian leaders intended, at that moment, to sever war and war-making from an aroused citizenry.  In that sense, they glimpsed something of the future they meant to shape, but even they couldn’t have guessed just where American war would be heading.  Army Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton Abrams, for instance, actually thought he was curbing the future rashness of civilian leaders by—as Andrew Bacevich explained in his book The New American Militarism—“making the active army operationally dependent on the reserves.”  In this way, no future president could commit the country to a significant war “without first taking the politically sensitive and economically costly step of calling up America’s ‘weekend warriors.’”

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Abrams was wrong, of course, though he ensured that, decades later, the reserves, too, would suffer the pain of disastrous wars once again fought on the Eurasian mainland.  Still, whatever the generals and the civilian leaders didn’t know about the effects of their acts then, the founding of the all-volunteer force (AVF) may have been the single most important decision made by Washington in the post-Vietnam era of the foreshortened American Century.

Today, few enough even remember that moment and far fewer have considered its import.  Yet, historically speaking, that 1973 severing of war from the populace might be said to have ended an almost two-century-old democratic experiment in fusing the mobilized citizen and the mobilized state in wartime.  It had begun with the levée en masse during the French Revolution, which sent roused citizens to the front to save the republic and spread their democratic fervor abroad.  Behind them stood a mobilized population ready to sacrifice anything for the republic (and all too soon, of course, the empire).

It turned out, however, that the drafted citizen had his limits and so, almost 200 years later, another aroused citizenry and its soldiers, home front and war front, were to be pacified, to be put out to pasture, while the empire’s wars were to be left to the professionals.  An era was ending, even if no one noticed.  (As a result, if you’re in the mood to indulge in irony, citizen’s war would be left to the guerrillas of the world, which in our era has largely meant to fundamentalist religious sects.)

Just calling in the professionals and ushering out the amateurs wasn’t enough, though, to make the decision truly momentous.  Another choice had to be married to it.  The debacle that was Vietnam—or what, as the 1970s progressed, began to be called “the Vietnam Syndrome” (as if the American people had been struck by some crippling psychic disease)—could have sent Washington, and so the nation, off on another course entirely.


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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, March 30, 2012 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, if “mentally defective people” weren’t welcomed into the military, there wouldn’t BE a military.

As Kissinger said, “Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

I hate the guy but that’s about right.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, February 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

When was the last time you heard Corporate MSM news talking directly or indirectly about the corporate military forces working for the Pentagon an DoD? Their disposition, their casualties? Interviews from spokesmen? Maps of deployment? The numbers? The cost to us the tax payer? An through robots an armed remotes in operations as a force multiplier an extension force. Where, what types are in use an how much in deaths an cost to us an the country being attacked? So what we have is a de facto secret wars. But on a far wider scale than even the two official world wars.

Vietnam was a piker militarily for US with Cambodia an Laos secret bombing going on. Here they are in over 120 countries today! Our Special Forces have American Nazis in them again. The setting is so low for recruitment that gang bangers, Nazis, an mentally defective people are welcomed in.

With the on going Depression they are getting plenty people of nearly all ages applying since their job prospects are dim. That is a Depression draft in action.

I’m waiting for the Republic to fall.(With shudders.) The empire is just getting started. All they need do now is to take over. An economic disaster could put the billionaire religious an Libertarian fanatics in charge of us. We can still lose this. (Look at Rome when it shifted from a Republic to an Empire inside an out. It was an external empire, like we are, for some time before Caesar took over.)

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By gerard, February 26, 2012 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

You know, it’s strange to me that I am the only one on any comments I have read that complain about the feeling of cowardice that drone-weaponry instantly brings to my mind.  There is something missing in the souls of people who are willing to invent these things, manufacture them, deploy them,, advocate them and tolerate them. Even I who (have nothing to do with them—famous last words!) feel dirty because my country employs them without so much as a shiver! Not that other weapons are any better—just somewhat more overt.
  Another irony while we’re at it: My country spends billions “surveilling” me and my neighbors daily, destroying our precious rights with the same kind of covert activity it seems to suspect we are about to employ against it! Thus the snake eats its own tail—drones creating drones to turn us into drones (worker bees).

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Spot on post by you Cliff.

In 2008, I jumped from Independent to Republican so I could vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primaries here in Maryland. I had seen the writing on the wall then.  He didn’t beat McCain so I voted for Obama.  Obama has proved to be a liability to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in these past 3-1/2 years and his time is up.

The number one priority for this country has to be the demilitarization of America and its overseas empire,  The taxpayer should not fund groups like Xe, Blackwater and all the other quasi-military groups making problems to Americas foreign policy.

I already pay for an non-drafted supersized military with my ever expanding myriad of taxes, I do not want to pay for more unaccountable mercenaries a second time around.

I do not agree with alot of Ron Pauls domestic policies, however that is why we have a Congress and State Governments and why a Presidential veto can be overridden.

The president is our point guy for foreign policy and that policy has sucked for a long time.

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By Cliff Carson, February 26, 2012 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

On Corporate Armies and Robot Weapons

PatrickHenry,  I agree with your statement. The following is a Commentary I wrote in August 2007 that was published on the Populist Site to be later picked up and ran on a Ron Paul site concerning this very issue.


http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?13276-Private-Mercenary-Armies-A-Looming-Threat-to-Freedom

What I see is a continued decline in our rights as Americans, an increasing re-distribution of the wealth of the average American Citizen to the Elite 1%, the declaration from an Elite managed Supreme Court that Corporations are considered as persons, through the influence of the Republican dominated ALEC group - a management of Corporate written Laws to impose on the people of America (except for the Elite 1% of course), resulting in an increasing drive to a Kleptocracy.

And this Corporate future managed America will have their own Armies and Robot weapons to control the masses.  That’s you and me.

We the people of America need to seriously began to demand and work for a return of our Government to the people of America.

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By balkas, February 26, 2012 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

this piece is illuminating
——
i began to think of the ‘private army’ as the regular US army after US invaded and occupied iraq.
the socalled private army was, to me, just as private as the other US army.
but, then, is there anything of import in US that the ONE PERCENT don’t own?
how about schooling, MSM, banking, MIC, congress, w.h., judges, ‘educators’, sacerdotals, fbi, cia, city police, bounty hunters,
constitution, ‘laws’....?
so, what we have in US is the greatest diktatorship ever developed, but not of the proletariat or serving classes, but of the master
classes; the latter consisting perhaps of just 10% of US pop. 
—-
and it did not require special knowledge to come up with the idea that the best way to get rural, uneducated, unemployed,
unemployable, patriotic americans to go soldiering, would be first to wage poverty to a sufficient degree and then the younguns would
gladly and proudly join the army to defend mom and pop; oops, amerrika, from the uncivilized world.
but what if rural [i am assuming that it is mostly rural boys and girls who have been joining the army since late seventies or later]
would stop joining the army in great numbers? not to worry! there are lots of dirt poor people in s.america, e.europe, asia, and afrika.
what if they’d not come? well, what would be wrong with hunting for them like they did for afrikans some 4 Cs ago?
—-and, of course, there will be always better weapons and better nukes available and then to be used in some disobedient and
defenseless regions, countries.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 26, 2012 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

The day after ‘The Terminator’ came out I’m sure some weapons designers were busy on this.

This type of warfare is taking foreign policy out of the hands of the Government and placing it into a number of boardrooms across America where justified killing and treaty compliance are unknown.

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By Cliff Carson, February 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

The thing about Corporate Armies and War Machines is that the incentive for war is manifested by its affect on the corporate bottom line.

No war, no profit to be made.  And Corporations are in business to make a profit.  A Corporation irrespective of what the Supreme Court says, is nothing more than an unthinking, unfeeling, entity, in essence an entity programmed to seek profit doing any action evil or not without remorse.

As to the Robots machines there is a problem.  They are remote controlled and can in-mass be defeated in at least two ways:

1.  Decode the telemetry and assume control of the robot.  Turn it upon its handlers.

2.  Destroy the communications Link.  Instructions to the robot must go thru a transmission device, in our current time that most likely will be Earth Link Satellites.

These can be blown out of Orbit as some Nations have already demonstrated.  China, one of the Nations, along with America has done just that. Destroy the Transmission link and the Robots go dark.

Either scenario is absolutely dangerous to the citizens of the country possessing robot war machines.  And a reliance on such war machines is the perfect death wish.

The only unhindered use of these methods of war that can be successful is against undeveloped Countries.

The little guys.  Those that have no way of fighting back.  Those that will never be a threat to America.

You know, like those we slap around now.  Those we want to impose Democracy on while we steal their resources.

Seems to me there is a moral issue here.

But as one Senator was overhead saying in those hallowed halls one day.  “War is the most profitable scheme ever invented-that is as long as you win.”

One more thing.  Drones owned by the Corporations may have a use on the future citizens of a once beacon of Freedom -  the United States.

Seems that I recall that Drones have already been approved to be used over American skies.

That sends a chill down my spine - how does it affect you?

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By gerard, February 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

I completely understand Kerryrose here, but alternately, I found this article robust and conclusive concerning the abject immorality and irresponsibility so characteristic of our recent recurring ventures at empire.  Another way of looking at these recent wars is “clean” war versus blood and guts—in that we can’t see the people who die except as “pictures.  “Sleight of mind.
In other words, the more virtual the less virtuous.
  For me the article is a “call to arms” of a very precise kind—that is, a “war” against corporatism
as such, divested as it is from responsibility for the havoc it wreaks—on the environment, on our bodies, on our very genes, thoughts and hopes for a humane future.  Now we simply have no way out except through—in other words, if we cannot find ways to be “through with violence”, then violence will certainly work through us till it disintegrates our brains and our spines and we disappear from the face of the earth. Ironically, the most “developed” nations will be the first to go.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, February 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

‘Of course, it may never happen this way, in part because drones are anything but perfect or wonder weapons, and in part because ....’

It is not fair for a writer to build a plausible scenario, and ask us to follow it with him to it’s logical conclusion—- and then in the last paragraph lose his balls and abandon the whole endeavor—leaving his readers out to dry.

F-you.

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