Monday, August 22, 2011

Perpetual War

Looks like Stephen Glain has written a promising new account of America's "perpetual war,"

The myth of Soviet superiority was barked by the White House, swallowed by the press, cheered by the Pentagon and carried the country through the pitiful collapse of the Soviet Union. However, our “enemy deprivation syndrome” was later filled by the Islamist terrorist threat. Desert Shield and consummate generals such as Colin Powell brought the “romance with the military” to primetime. The momentum of militarization has become unstoppable, Glain writes gloomily. In crisp, authoritative writing, the author sets down some scathing portraits, from MacArthur to Rumsfeld, and in a powerful conclusion, exposes the disequilibrium between the U.S. civilian versus military resources throughout the world and the continued “appeasement” by President Obama to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It seems we will never know when to say, enough is enough.  While our armed forces have been reduced in Iraq, they have been correspondingly increased in Afghanistan.  It also appears that the apparent success of NATO and rebel forces in Libya might lead NATO to contemplate similar actions in Syria.  


  1. Here's an Atlantic article on America's perpetual war,

  2. I read Woodward's Obama's Wars last year and Obama did seem to capitulate to the military over Iraq and Afghanistan. I may have mentioned this here before, but from the way the negotiations played out, it appeared that he was very close to having a "coup" on his hands -- the military bigwigs simply walking away from the table, which would have been catastrophic for his early presidency.

    I'll put Glain on my list. This is what the terrorist project at the extremely liberal University of Chicago has been saying for years -- it's the occupation stupid.

  3. Here's another short but powerful book that I really liked from last year:

  4. Bacevich has developed quite a reputation for his attacks on the "militarization" of America. I've read his pieces in Foreign Affairs and other periodicals.

    Obama had an Afghanistan strategy from the get-go. Remember that picture of him with all the generals during the campaign. The appeasement had already begun before he took office.

  5. I love Bacevich. Nothing like having someone on the right fighting for what's really right.

    Yes, his strategy was to "finish" what was started in Afghanistan, but he wanted a viable option from the beginning to bring it to an end. The military wouldn't give it to him. He had to threaten to end the war right then if they wouldn't cooperate, and ended up writing a legal memo outlining what the military could and couldn't do.

    It really is astounding to read how these men attempted to take charge of military policy (as shown with the McChrystal firing). The book is written in such a he said, she said manner that it does appear to be almost a transcript of the meetings he held.

  6. The interesting thing is that for all the disgruntlement being expressed by neo-conservatives over the current state of the Republican Party, there isn't much support being expressed for the Obama administration, which has catered to them in every way.

  7. My comment above is pretty convoluted and vague, but hopefully you could read it.

    Speaking of "getting it...." I really don't get what is happening in this country anymore -- other than the rich want to get richer.

    Rick Perry is now joining the GOP chorus that the poor have to pay their fair share in taxes. What a country! And Americans are buying it.

  8. I guess I'm not the only one having "what if" thoughts (although I'm pretty sure that one "what if" re Libya would have resulted in another occupation):

  9. "The visions — in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. They’re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth."

    So true!

  10. I thought this was very well done. The only thing I question, based on their performance during the primaries, is the way they operate.

    I still remember the unrest among the loyalists when Obama wouldn't fight back. He had his eye on the long game, and on winning delegates. Very different kind of game plan. Hillary really gave all she had and kept on fighting. That's the core difference of the two I think. (Plus, I remember saying to Rick I think that Obama did seem to be winning not on issues, where he was even then slightly more to the right, but on a cult of personality ... yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.)

    I also think the writer of that piece is right to question, though, whether or not we'd be in Iran and Kuwait right now. I think there would be a very good chance we would be. That's why I voted against Clinton. But I do miss some sort of fighting back, even when it is meaningless in the long game. Optics sometimes matter.

  11. Yes, Clinton presented herself as a hawk. I suppose part of it was to win over conservative electorates in Ohio and Texas, which kept her in the hunt, but it was a badly run campaign, relying more on her name recognition that getting out the vote. This was where Obama excelled. He took virtually every state caucus, including Texas after the primary, which shows how committed his support was at the time. You have to wonder if all those folks will be there for him the second time around.