Have you ever noticed how intellectuals remain quiet about the three most significant instances of US military projection: WWII, WWI and its own Civil War? Talk about the freakin' elephant in the freakin' living room. This is more like a mammoth in the hallway cupboard.
If you look at US foreign policy in the last 150 years, two facts stand out: 1) all US wars after the Mexican War, including World War II, were counterproductive for American interests, 2) all the wars occurred because they attracted a broad base of support from people who assumed they were improving the world.
Lately, there is a new trend in which foreign factions backed by US military strength are only backed by one of the two US political factions. Iraq and Vietnam, for instance, are effectively US civil wars by proxy. As al-Qaeda's 2IC Ayman al-Zawahiri told us, the victory of the Democrats in 2008 was due to the efforts of the mujahideen. The lesson is: any shared interest defines an alliance, whether or not the allies intend it.
The American empire is a product of two agencies: State and Defense. Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon. Except in WWII, WWI and its own Civil War, State is Harry Potter (a literary foil) and Defence is Draco Malfoy. DoD's role is to take the fall. When people talk about the "empire" as though DoD is Harry Potter, this is really just State talking (the New England establishment).
The Filipino-American, Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars were all ones in which American political factions supported opposing sides. Only in the first did the "militaristic" side prevail unambiguously, largely because its domestic enemies hadn't really gotten it together yet.
The "antiwar" movement in the US in the 1960s didn’t exist. There was a pro-Saigon faction and a pro-Hanoi faction. The latter won. Its proxy soldiers were considerably more brutal and ruthless than its opponent's. But the final battle was still fought on Capitol Hill.
The reason you never hear intellectuals talk about the three big wars is that in those wars, the military and the establishment – DoD and State – were on the same side. The US establishment actually wanted to win.
As a result: (a) the military won decisively, (b) there was no guerrilla resistance, (c) there was no concern for civilian casualties and collateral damage, (d) diplomacy was abandoned and (e) unconditional surrender was demanded and achieved. As in everything, the strong defeat the weak.
I am all for honest isolationism or neutralism. But the people who want US troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq are not honest isolationists. They are State Department shills. They believe in "soft power," the "international community" and "engagement." In other words, in a world ruled by mafiosi with US aid, whose so-called leaders are appointed and removed by gentle nudges from Foggy Bottom. The world full of thousands of Pakistans.
|The 13 Colonies of the New England establishment|
Despite what the media says about Afghanistan and Iraq, conquering and governing a country – as opposed to "liberating" it and creating "democracy" – is not difficult. A hundred years ago, Britain occupied Egypt, an Arab country of 20 million people, for 20 years. With five thousand soldiers. Funded entirely by the Egyptian taxpayer. That country was such a nice place to live that bohemians lived there as if it was Prague.
The apparent impossibility of conquest in the post-WWII era is artificial incompetence. It is a theatre performance produced for your benefit.
The US military suffers “defeat” in backwards, third rate countries like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan because it is operating under a doctrine designed to fail. It was not soldiers who produced the Puritan Christian vision of the "international community." Soldiers aren’t to blame for being unable to create it out of dust, jungle and camels. They tried damn hard to achieve this impossible dream, but they were on the wrong side – of the Potomac.
If the US was a unified, effective actor which actually intended to conquer and civilise Iraq and Afghanistan, it would abolish the native puppet governments, place all restive areas under martial law, create military formations with US officers and indigenous troops, create civilian governments with US executives and indigenous employees and do what the British did in India, Egypt, Burma, etc.
Yes, the US military should leave Iraq and Afghanistan. But it should leave not because it is impossible for a modern military to defeat a bunch of ill-disciplined tribal warriors. It should leave because it is fighting a US political civil war by proxy. One, this is just sick. And two, the right place to fight a civil war is always at home.
So the war in Afghanistan will end when the US military, shackled by the restrictions imposed by its more powerful political enemies, is defeated by self-detonating Islamist crazies and the progressives seize complete control of Washington.
Bizarrely, State will keep this terrible cycle of incompetence going because it has foreign clients of its own, such as the Palestinians, the Darfuris, Syrian “rebels,” etc. Nor will the progressives find it easy to ignore unwinnable wars which are perceived as bipartisan. And they cannot stay in power forever.
These wars will probably only end when the bond market rebalances and the US suffers the financial consequences of its irresponsibility. Ideally, this will lead to the end of democracy and a period of military rule, during which the purpose and structure of Washington can be re-evaluated from first principles.
If this happens, I am confident those new rulers will realise that "foreign policy" does not serve the interests of anyone but those to whom it provides, and the budget for this bloody project can simply be zeroed and removed.
Everyone’s used to hearing propaganda against DoD, but few people can pick up propaganda from State. That’s a skill everyone needs to learn. When you hear someone talking about "creating social change," it is the progressives and State scheming for power.
People crave power, rationalising it as responsibility. After all, no one can achieve power by promising to enslave his followers. It is always about improving the world, at least from the perspective of likely supporters. The fact that if they obtain this power, it may not have the good effects promised (or increase their personal reproductive success) is quite irrelevant to the genes that instruct them to behave in this way.
But at this point, it must be clear that democracy is to power as a lottery is to money. It is a social mechanism which allows a large number of homo sapiens to feel as if their individual views impact the world, even when the chance of such an effect is negligible.
Years in the future, today’s leaders won’t look nearly as sincere. Insincere leaders are very rare because homo sapiens are finely tuned to detecting insincerity. It is much easier to fool others if at the same time you fool yourself.