STARLESS WARS—THE EMPIRE STRIKES OUT

You may have read some of my previous posts concerning George and Barack’s Not So Excellent Asian Adventures. I’m agin ’em!

I was against them when begun by Bush and I am still against them when perpetuated by Obama. Pretty damned consistent I’d say.

While the Pols back home are debating whether to knock $100 million or so off the bill received yearly from Planned Parenthood or trying to determine how they can hurry the deaths of millions of seniors and poor people by ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know it all while ensuring that the the only true growth industry in the United States is the divide between the wealthy and the rest of us, we still have soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan and to a lesser extent in Iraq while we chance entanglement in Libya.

Folks, all this costs at least $2 billion a week or more in direct costs as well as hidden current costs plus untold future costs because of the damage to our military battle and support equipment and most especially the physical and mental damage done to our troops.

WHY?

These foreign excursions have done nothing to add to our internal security nor accomplished the stated goals of eradicating international terrorism. We have never…I repeat never… faced a threat to our internal security. We have faced isolated criminal attacks but nothing of a nature that can permanently disrupt or overturn our government. And international terrorism is as old as nations. It didn’t just suddenly pop up and destroy the Twin Towers on 9/11.

These are present and near future concerns but do they presage something more insidious and ultimately more dangerous to us as a nation?

Here’s one view I found.

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/04/19/united_states_empire_fall

It’s an opinion piece from Salon.com by Tom Engleheardt titled “Slipping Into The Imperial Dark”. He asserts that essentially America is heading into the twilight of its supremacy. Or, as he begins his piece:

But then, how often do empires end well, really? They live vampirically by feeding off others until, sooner or later, they begin to feed on themselves, to suck their own blood, to hollow themselves out. Sooner or later, they find themselves, as in our case, economically stressed and militarily extended in wars they can’t afford to win or lose.

Historians have certainly written about the dangers of overextended empires and of endless war as a way of life, but there’s something distant and abstract about the patterns of history. It’s quite another thing to take it in when you’re part of it; when, as they used to say in the overheated 1960s, you’re in the belly of the beast.

Engleheardt explains what the basis of his argument is and that is our military excursions and bases around the world are unsustainable and weaken us rather then enhance either our national defense or character. He adds this cogent observation:

Can there be any question that something big is happening here, even if we don’t quite know what it is because, unlike the peoples of past empires, we never took pride in or even were able to think of ourselves as imperial? And if you were indeed in denial that you lived in the belly of a great imperial power, if like most Americans you managed to ignore the fact that we were pouring our treasure into the military or setting up bases in countries that few could have found on a map, then you would naturally experience the empire going down as if through a glass darkly.

Particularly in Afghanistan the United States has ignored hostorical precedence. The experience of the Soviet Union beginning in 1979 should be, but apparently has not been, instructive. That tale lends great credibility to Engleheardt’s premise.

We have been hearing for years that President Ronald Reagan through his talk tough-be tough policies ended the Cold War and brought the USSR to its knees. A better case can be made that it was the disease of Afghanistanitis that proved fatal.

To refresh my memory about that adventure I searched for some info and found this site, Guide to Russia.com. This is an excerpt from its analysis.

Thousands of Afghanistan Muslims joined the Mujahideen – a guerilla force on a holy mission for Allah. They wanted the overthrow of the Amin government. The Mujahideen declared a jihad – a holy war – on the supporters of Amin. This was also extended to the Russians who were now in Afghanistan trying to maintain the power of the Amin government. The Russians claimed that they had been invited in by the Amin government and that they were not invading the country. They claimed that their task was to support a legitimate government and that the Mujahideen were no more than terrorists.

On December 27th, 1979, Amin was shot by the Russians and he was replaced by Babrak Kamal. His position as head of the Afghan government depended entirely on the fact that he needed Russian military support to keep him in power. Many Afghan soldiers had deserted to the Mujahedeen and the Kamal government needed 85,000 Russian soldiers to keep him in power.

The Mujahideen proved to be a formidable opponent. They were equipped with old rifles but had a knowledge of the mountains around Kabal and the weather conditions that would be encountered there. The Russians resorted to using napalm, poison gas and helicopter gun ships against the Mujahedeen – but they experienced exactly the same military scenario the Americans had done in Vietnam.

Sound familiar?
Oh, yeah. Remember one fellow who received our largesse in money and arms. I think the name was Osama bin Laden.

Here’s the link to the site. 
http://www.guidetorussia.com/r…nistan.asp

Here’s more, this time about the U.S. reaction at the time.

America put a ban on the export of grain to Russia, ended the SALT talks taking place then and boycotted the Olympic Games due to be held in Moscow in 1980. Other than that, America did nothing. Why ? They knew that Russia had got itself into their own Vietnam and it also provided American Intelligence with an opportunity to acquire any new Russian military hardware that could be used in Afghanistan. Mujhadeen fighters were given access to American surface-to-air missiles – though not through direct sales by America.

Mikhail Gorbachev took Russia out of the Afghanistan fiasco when he realised what many Russian leaders had been too scared to admit in public – that Russia could not win the war and the cost of maintaining such a vast force in Afghanistan was crippling Russia’s already weak economy.

The USSR fell apart largely due to Afghanistan and didn’t even have Social Security, Medicare , and Medicaid to blame for their budget woes!

I find it difficult to dispute Engleheardt’s conclusion that America is now following exactly the same course. But it is still possible to take a different tack and avoid the perfect storm that otherwise awaits us.

Who will Captain the ship to save us?

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