The New Cold War has Begun
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The Chinese are committed to pushing U.S. naval and air forces away from the Western Pacific (the South and East China seas), whereas the U.S. military is determined to stay put. The Chinese commitment makes perfect sense from their point of view. They see the South China Sea the way American strategists saw the Caribbean in the 19th and early 20th centuries: the principal blue water extension of their continental land mass, control of which enables them to thrust their navy and maritime fleet out into the wider Pacific and the Indian Ocean, as well as soften up Taiwan. It is similar to the way dominance over the Caribbean enabled the United States to strategically control the Western Hemisphere and thus affect the balance of forces in the Eastern Hemisphere in two world wars and a cold war. For the United States, world power all began with the Caribbean, and for China, it all begins with the South China Sea.
But the Americans will not budge from the Western Pacific. The U.S. defense establishment, both uniformed and civilian, considers the United States a Pacific power for all time: Witness Commodore Matthew Perry’s opening of Japan to trade in 1853, America’s subjugation and occupation of the Philippines starting in 1899, the bloody Marine landings on a plethora of Pacific islands in World War II, the defeat and rebuilding of Japan following World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and, most important, Washington’s current treaty alliances stretching from Japan south to Australia. This is an emotional as well as a historical commitment: something I have personally experienced as an embed on U.S. military warships in the Western Pacific.
So tired of this “Forever War” I think the suffering people of the world are ready for
October seventh is the seventeen-year anniversary of the War in Afghanistan. The War in Iraq is now over fifteen years old. More than three million U.S. soldiers have so far served in these two wars with over seven thousand U.S. soldiers killed and as many as one hundred thousand Afghanis and over one hundred thousand Iraqis killed. Meanwhile, U.S. politicians rarely question the war’s consequences. Last month, with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, both houses of Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, which allocated another seven hundred and seventeen billion dollars to the U.S. military, which is more than all other countries combined spend on their militaries.
So, what’s going on? There’s a bipartisan consensus among US political elites in favor of war, despite the hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars that they are costing. Joining me to analyze this issue is Lyle Jeremy Rubin. Lyle served in the United States Marine Corps for five years, and nearly a year of that served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He is a member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, and he’s with us to discuss his Nation magazine article, The Forever War’s Cheerleaders.
It’s not clear, however, just where Trump thinks the folly lies — in invading Iraq in the first place or in failing to “keep” Iraq’s oil afterward. It was a criticism he reprised when he introduced Mike Pompeo as his choice to run the CIA. “Mike,” he explained, “if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place.”
Not to worry, however, since as he also suggested to Pompeo, “Maybe we’ll have another chance.” Maybe the wrong people had just fought the wrong Iraq war, and Donald Trump’s version will be bigger, better, and even more full of win!
Perhaps Trump’s objection is simply to wars we don’t win. As February ended, he invited the National Governors Association to share his nostalgia for the good old days when “everybody used to say ‘we haven’t lost a war’ — we never lost a war — you remember.” Now, according to the president, “We never win a war. We never win. And we don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.”
Can even Bernie rein in the MIC so deeply entrenched into our power structure and national gestalt?
Only time will tell…
“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
January 10, 2019 at 1:01 PM #10638ZimInSeattleParticipant
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January 10, 2019 at 4:54 PM #10783jwirrParticipant
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Curious about those other empires that failed due to MIC over stretch. Did they know that they were destroying their own empire? Did they care?
January 11, 2019 at 1:23 AM #11036
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