“The responsibility for starting and ending wars, the way wars are fought and the losses we suffer all rest with our elected civilian leadership.” – C H Smith
What have we learned from 24 years of war? Since the First Gulf War in early 1991, the U.S. has had continuous combat operations in one theater or another. After the first war, combat air patrols enforced the No-Fly Zones over Iraq for years, until 9/11 triggered the first phase of the Afghanistan War and President Bush led the nation into the Second Iraqi War in March 2003.
Though this war officially ended with U.S. troop withdrawals in December 2011, the war continues to burn through lives and treasure in Iraq and it continues on in the memories, wounds and lives of veterans and their families.
What have we learned from 24 years of continual warfare? There may be two sets of answers: one set for policy-makers, those we have elected to make the consequential decisions of war and withdrawal, and another set for the citizenry who provide the volunteers who actually fight the wars and the treasure to pay for the wars and their long aftermath.
For policy-makers, Foreign Affairs just published three informed essays on the complex legacy of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. Each is thoughtful and worth reading:
More Small Wars: Counterinsurgency Is Here to Stay? Foreign Affairs by Max Boot
Pick Your Battles: Ending America’s Era of Permanent War? Foreign Affairs by Richard K. Betts
Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit?? Foreign Affairs by Rick Brennan
I also recommend a previous Foreign Affairs article from 2005, just two years into the Second Iraqi War by former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird: Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam Continue reading
“[Hunter Biden] just got outed for being a coke fiend. In addition to the many pre-anointed ones, like the VP’s son, there are also many barns full of eagerly bleating Ivy League graduates who have been groomed for jobs in high places. These are Prof. Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.”” – D Orlov
A year and a half I wrote an essay on how the US chooses to view Russia, titled The Image of the Enemy. I was living in Russia at the time, and, after observing the American anti-Russian rhetoric and the Russian reaction to it, I made some observations that seemed important at the time. It turns out that I managed to spot an important trend, but given the quick pace of developments since then, these observations are now woefully out of date, and so here is an update.
At that time the stakes weren’t very high yet. There was much noise around a fellow named Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer-crook who got caught and died in pretrial custody. He had been holding items for some bigger Western crooks, who were, of course, never apprehended. The Americans chose to treat this as a human rights violation and responded with the so-called “Magnitsky Act” which sanctioned certain Russian individuals who were labeled as human rights violators. Russian legislators responded with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian orphan adopted by Americans who killed him by leaving him in a locked car for nine hours. This bill banned American orphan-killing fiends from adopting any more Russian orphans. It all amounted to a silly bit of melodrama.
But what a difference a year and a half has made! Ukraine, which was at that time collapsing at about the same steady pace as it had been ever since its independence two decades ago, is now truly a defunct state, with its economy in free-fall, one region gone and two more in open rebellion, much of the country terrorized by oligarch-funded death squads, and some American-anointed puppets nominally in charge but quaking in their boots about what’s coming next.
You laugh, but that could be a side-effect. Consider:
The Capitol Police just murdered an unarmed mother fleeing her car on foot, declared her child “unharmed,” and received the longest standing-ovation in Congress since Osama bin Laden’s Muslim sea burial. Try holding your breath until Congress takes the standing ovation back, and you’ll wish you were in the “Holy Land” having your house sprayed with “Skunk” artificial sewage by the Israeli military or in Old Town Alexandria tasting the air of the authentic raw sewage across the river until it’s “treated” and spread on farms in the exurbs for the benefit of we the people.
Why? Because freedom.
Who would give all of this up in exchange for a reduced military costing less than $1 trillion per year? Well, maybe the dude who just cremated himself alive on the National Mall, it’s hard to know. Or possibly me the next time a tourist asks me why they named it the National Mall knowing fully damn well that they’d confuse everyone who arrived expecting department stores and food courts.
This weekend, government programs aimed at slowing the starvation or other premature death of the least well off among us were closed, out of business, gone fishing. But the [f’ing] football game between the Navy and the Air Force was an essential government service proudly played for the honor of “everyone fighting for this country” as one brainwashed midshipman put it. Did you know the top paid people in the U.S. military are all football coaches, and essential public servants?
President after president of countries 8% of us could find on a map are going to the United Nations to compare U.S. “exceptionalism” to Nazi Ubermenschen. Can you imagine the anti-American idiocy involved? But the last living prosecutor at Nuremberg, an American, has been saying the same thing. What’s his problem? And how could he dare if this weren’t all hallucinatory?