Sunday, October 9, 2011

The United States: The Half-Hearted Empire

What is the plan-book for the United States' military success in Iraq or Afghanistan or indeed anywhere else?

The only example of successful intervention is the Roman one. Everyone else failed. This includes the British, the Persians, and Russians, all of whom had powerful empires of relatively brief duration.

How does one build an empire that lasts a thousand years? One starts by studying the Romans, whose Republic was the model for the government of the United States. Are you still with me?

The Romans...

  1. Had perfect belief in their power, cultural superiority, and moral rightness
  2. Had sufficient wealth to build a great army and navy
  3. Had sufficient population of men willing and able to fight 
  4. Had outstanding leadership in the army and navy, and ability to promote from within the ranks
  5. Had an army that could dominate populations through its exertion of threat and highly organized professional and technical capability
  6. Had a well established bureaucratic program for subsuming conquered lands into the empire
  7. Had no qualms about meting out the severest punishment in order to promote its agenda of stability and submission to Rome
That, my dears, is how it's done.

Every day, I ask myself, "What the hell is the United States doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? What grand delusions, what gross ignorance has possessed our leadership, to promote these absurd, costly, mediocre, ill-conceived, and half-hearted interventions, whose results are likely to be damaging to our national interests for decades to come?" You do know that our State Department had a plan for dealing with Iraq. Our military leadership, in their self-aggrandizing delusions, threw that out the window, with the expected consequences.

Of course, noone seems to know the real reasons for these military adventures. WMD, you say? That was a cynical ploy foisted upon a gullible and terrified American public by Rumsfeld and Cheney, through the lackey connivance of our corporate media. Capture Osama Bin Laden, you say? When the government of Afghanistan asked for evidence of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks, none was offered — because there was none to offer. We can discuss the facts if you like, but I want to stay more closely to my topic. You say we must have a policy to take down governments that support terrorism? Oh, one must laugh at that: how are these states chosen, if not by whether they appear to be the lowest-hanging fruit, as if by stomping on an ant, we will frighten the lions? North Korean and Chinese internet terrorism and surveillance probably causes far more material damage to the United States' interests —  but these targets are out of reach for military solutions. Neither are we willing to risk a war against the government of Iran, which has done far more to promote terrorism around the world than Bin Laden, who was simply a figurehead, a rhetorician of Jihad, a fund-raiser, and no tactician of any merit. Furthermore, the idea that Al Qaeda is an organized terrorism syndicate owes more to the FBI's expectation that there be an organization, with a recognizable hierarchy and structured funding, just like a business firm — which it is not.

I'm of a Machiavellian bent. I believe, if you want to continue to exert power around the world with your army, then your army needs to practice. There is no army that maintains peace through domination, except by exercise from time to time. So, from time to time, there needs to be exercises.

If the United States wants to pursue military solutions, we need leaders, both political and military, who are educated in the Classical study of battle and policy, so they needn't go off half-cocked on random, ruinous, and foolhardy adventures spawned by patriotic ideologies, which they aren't prepared to see through. 

In fact, we are a half-hearted empire. We have lost the taste for killing, and barely believe our own propaganda about our moral superiority and cultural dominance. This is not a condition for undertaking occupations and renovations of other lands and peoples. Our cynical leadership (I say "cynical" because they do not believe the things they say, things which are intended purely to manipulate emotions) claims that their policies are upholding American honor and respect around the world, and are making the world safer. The truth is exactly the opposite. I don't think anyone except multinational corporations benefit from these military exercises, since that was precisely Rumsfeld's plan, to outsource our military. Most fundamental in all of our policies has been our need to smooth the channels of delivering oil, to sustain our guzzling addiction and fantasy of abundance, to extend our fossil-fuel dream of infinitude. How are we doing?

Having a true citizen army supported by a draft is one of the best controls a country can have against the idiocy of their leaders, and the history of our wars supports that notion.

I say, do it like the Romans, or you will fail. If you're not willing to be the Romans, you can't play the military card: it doesn't work.

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