Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Shop the Truthdig Gift Guide 2014
December 21, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!


Loss of Rainforests Is Double Whammy Threat to Climate






Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

The New Obama Doctrine: A Six-Point Plan for Global War

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jun 14, 2012
AN HONORABLE GERMAN (CC BY 2.0)

A U.S. special operations soldier participates in an operation in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province.

By Nick Turse, TomDispatch

(Page 4)

The United States is an imperial power chastened by more than 10 years of failed, heavy-footprint wars.  It is hobbled by a hollowing-out economy, and inundated with hundreds of thousands of recent veterans—a staggering 45% of the troops who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq—suffering from service-related disabilities who will require ever more expensive care.  No wonder the current combination of special ops, drones, spy games, civilian soldiers, cyberwarfare, and proxy fighters sounds like a safer, saner brand of war-fighting.  At first blush, it may even look like a panacea for America’s national security ills.  In reality, it may be anything but. 

The new light-footprint Obama doctrine actually seems to be making war an ever more attractive and seemingly easy option—a point emphasized recently by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace.  “I worry about speed making it too easy to employ force,” said Pace when asked about recent efforts to make it simpler to deploy Special Operations Forces abroad.  “I worry about speed making it too easy to take the easy answer—let’s go whack them with special operations—as opposed to perhaps a more laborious answer for perhaps a better long-term solution.”

As a result, the new American way of war holds great potential for unforeseen entanglements and serial blowback.  Starting or fanning brushfire wars on several continents could lead to raging wildfires that spread unpredictably and prove difficult, if not impossible, to quench. 

By their very nature, small military engagements tend to get larger, and wars tend to spread beyond borders.  By definition, military action tends to have unforeseen consequences.  Those who doubt this need only look back to 2001, when three low-tech attacks on a single day set in motion a decade-plus of war that has spread across the globe.  The response to that one day began with a war in Afghanistan, that spread to Pakistan, detoured to Iraq, popped up in Somalia and Yemen, and so on.  Today, veterans of those Ur-interventions find themselves trying to replicate their dubious successes in places like Mexico and Honduras, the Central Africa Republic and the Congo.   

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
History demonstrates that the U.S. is not very good at winning wars, having gone without victory in any major conflict since 1945.  Smaller interventions have been a mixed bag with modest victories in places like Panama and Grenada and ignominious outcomes in Lebanon (in the 1980s) and Somalia (in the 1990s), to name a few. 

The trouble is, it’s hard to tell what an intervention will grow up to be—until it’s too late.  While they followed different paths, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq all began relatively small, before growing large and ruinous.  Already, the outlook for the new Obama doctrine seems far from rosy, despite the good press it’s getting inside Washington’s Beltway. 

What looks today like a formula for easy power projection that will further U.S. imperial interests on the cheap could soon prove to be an unmitigated disaster—one that likely won’t be apparent until it’s too late. 

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com.  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author/editor of several books, including the just published Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (with Tom Engelhardt).  This piece is the latest article in his new series on the changing face of American empire, which is being underwritten by Lannan Foundation.  You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Copyright 2012 Nick Turse


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

 
Monsters of Our Own Creation? Get tickets for this Truthdig discussion of America's role in the Middle East.
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Zuade Kaufman, Publisher   Robert Scheer, Editor-in-Chief
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.