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The Military Solution

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Posted on Jul 7, 2012
The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

U.S. troops march in Kuwait.

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 4)

Here’s a 2012 American reality then: as a great power, the U.S. has an increasingly limited toolkit, into which it is reaching far more often for ever more similar tools.  The idea that the globe is a chessboard, that Washington is in control of the game, and that each militarized move it makes will have a reasonably predictable result couldn’t be more dangerous.  The evidence of the last decade is clear enough: there is little less predictable or more likely to go awry than the application of military force and militarized solutions, which are cumulatively incendiary in unexpected ways, and in the end threaten to set whole regions on fire.  None of this, however, seems to register in Washington.

The United States is commonly said to be a great power in decline, but the militarization of American policy—and thinking—at home and abroad is not.  It has Washington, now a capital of perpetual war, in its grip. 

This process began, post-9/11, with the soaring romanticism of the Bush administration about, as the president put it, the power of the “greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known” (a.k.a. the U.S. military) to change the world.  It was a fundamental conviction of Bush and his top officials that the most powerful military on the planet could bring any state in the Greater Middle East to heel in a “cakewalk.”  

Today, in the wake of two failed wars on the Eurasian continent, a de-romanticized version of that conviction has become the deeply embedded, increasingly humdrum way of life of a militarized Washington.  It will remain so. 

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If Barack Obama, the man who got Bin Laden, is reelected, nothing of significance is likely to change in this regard.  If Mitt Romney wins, the process is likely to accelerate, possibly moving from global misfire, failure, and obsession to extreme global fantasy, with consequences—from Iran to Russia to China—difficult now to imagine. 

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Engelhardt discusses drone warfare and the Obama administration, click here or download it to your iPod here.

[Note for TomDispatch readers: Those of you who want some background on the post-Vietnam militarization of this country should get your hands on a copy of Andrew Bacevich’s 2005 book, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War.  It’s a must-read.  Rachel Maddow was clearly strongly influenced by it in her new bestseller, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power.] 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt

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