imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Military as a Security Risk

by William Pfaff Tuesday, May. 31, 2011 at 11:44 AM
mbatko@yahoo.com

You cannot have both democracy and concentration of wealth, Justice Brandeis warned. 20% of military spending is for defense; the rest is for empire. Endless war is not a future but the denial of a future. To Hitler, the soldier was the only model of courage.

THE MILITARY AS A SECURITY RISK

In the US the power of the Pentagon has become independent.

By William Pfaff

[This article published in: Le Monde diplomatique 2/11/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.monde-diplomatique.de/pm/2011/02/11.mondeText.artikel,a0079.idx,19.

William Pfaff is a journalist in Paris and writes regularly for the “International Herald Tribune” and the “New York Review of Books.” His latest book is “The Irony of Manifest Destiny. The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy,” NY 2010.]

It is time to raise a fundamental question: Is the United States committing a momentous error in building a world-spanning net of military bases? This system was created to guarantee the national security of the US. It actually brought about the exact opposite. It provoked conflicts and produced the threats to national security that people wanted to prevent. [1]

The most compelling objections against such a system of worldwide military presence are political and practical. US bases have led to the United States being feared and hostile. This makes possible senseless, unnecessary and counter-productive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the near future could seduce to more extensive interventions in Pakistan, Yemen and the horn of Africa.

In part the worldwide military presence is the result of an uncontrolled bureaucracy. After 1945 public opinion in the US urged a rapid reduction of the military capacities beyond its borders that were developed in the Second World War. This development did not happen since the Cold War soon began. Rather many US military bases were maintained and more were added in Southeast Asia with the incursion in Vietnam. After the Vietnam disaster, the Pentagon had nothing more to do with fighting rebel movements and concentrated on what was always regarded as a main military task, the organizational preparation for a classical frontal war in Europe in the case of a Soviet invasion.

This potential also made possible the successful “blitzkrieg war” against Iraq 1990/1991. This was waged according to the “Powell doctrine” based on four principles: support for the indigenous people, overwhelming superior force, precisely defined goals and quick withdrawal. The victory in Iraq led to a new worldwide expansion of US military power and its intellectual rationalization that reflected the new self-confidence of the military leadership. The Clinton administration first avoided further military interventions – until the war in former Yugoslavia. This benefited the Pentagon in strengthening its own role and extending its influence in the bureaucracy. The result was an important new military base in the Balkan region in Kosovo.

At that time the press and the public hardly noticed this development of the network of military bases. [2] The president could always fall back on the financially-equipped military while the under-financed diplomatic service and the CIA only proposed stupid or unsuitable strategies for the alleged international crises. In contrast the military offered fast and resolute solutions that could be carried out unilaterally without the approval of others. The armed forces were ready to follow orders without discussions. To their public and to the world public, they communicated the picture of strength and the global leadership of the US.

The logical consequence was the strengthened influence of the military in US foreign policy. The military competence for the restless Middle East passed over to the central command in Tampa, Florida subject to the ambitious General Anthony Zinni. Since then a system of regional headquarters was formed for other parts of the world with their own command structures, planning offices and operative capacities. The result was the establishment of military “proconsuls” and “supreme commanders” outfitted with much money and independent power. This structure could negotiate directly with the military and political authorities of their region and soon had more influence than the respective US ambassadors.

At the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned the new military structure. He was determined to defend the “civilian control over the military” against the inflated and ineffective Pentagon bureaucracy. Rumsfeld saw other enemies of his own regime: “internal” enemies in Congress and the Justice Department who carried out their constitutional role as controllers of the executive.

The 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan that relied on the technologically-supplied special forces, a far superior air force and the ground troops of the Northern Alliance dominated by the Tajiks. This showed how Rumsfeld envisaged the wars of the future. In his office, the Pentagon chief had the famous photograph of a single officer of the US Special Forces who rode a horse at full speed over the Afghan plateau presumably to guide a B52 bomber to a hostile target and thus lead his auxiliary troops to victory over the Taliban.

In Iraq after the chaos following the invasion, the fate of the country and of the reconstruction lay in the hands of the US Defense Department alone. At the end General David Petraeus created the conditions for the national elections in March 2010 with his version of fighting the insurgents. The money that flowed to the tribal leaders as pay for their battle against the rebels and the troop upgrading (the “surge”) contributed to that. Up to today Bagdad has not had a stable government. Nevertheless Petreaus could test his strategy in Afghanistan for a long time without great success.

The global net of US military bases should serve the alleged interests of the US abroad. On one hand, this system aimed at preventing war through deterrence. On the other hand, it offered the instruments, possibilities and incentives for military intervention in other countries.

HISTORY AS A PROCESS OF REDEMPTION

In 1993 the political scientist Samuel Huntington who recently died caused an international sensation with his thesis that the “next world war” would be a battle between cultures, not between states. His thesis was published in the journal “Foreign Affairs.” A war between the “western” and the “Islamic” countries involving global hegemony would be a spectacular example. This prophesy proved to be false like Bush’s argument in 2001 that the main drive of radical Islamists was their hatred of freedom in the western sense. The rise of radical Islam and the growing support for a return to the Scharia with a strict interpretation of the teachings of the Koran were the consequences of a grave inner crisis of the Islamic movement. The goal of the Islamists is to “purify” Islam and the daily conduct of Muslims and drive back the influence of the West to avoid being conquered by the West.

After 1945 the US made Saudi Arabia and Iraq into client-states and assumed Islam was outdated as a way of life and would inevitably be replaced by the type of modernization prevailing in the West. This conviction was based on the assumption that all cultures aim at one and the same goal and that the US and its allies come nearest that goal. The assumption is that cultures and political systems develop just as inexorably as scientific-technical progress.

However this is an error. The Bible invented the idea of history as a progressive process that steers toward a kind of redemption that first gives the whole preceding development its “historical meaning.” The western salvation expectation developed with and after the Enlightenment – up to the modern totalitarian movements of Marxism-Leninism and National Socialism. The political utopianism that prevailed in US foreign policy since the presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1913 to 1921) ultimately originated from very secular sources: the Puritanism of the American pilgrim fathers of “God’s own country” which still has many followers in political and religious circles. The belief that one rises from the dead to bring democracy to the world is reflected in the 2008 sentence of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it was the task of the US to control the increasing influence of the army and the whole political culture according to its image. The political culture of the country rests in part on this belief.

The historian Andrew Bacevich argues that this hubris went along with the formation of a new militarism. During the Cold War, the political ideology of the US developed into a simplified imitation of the Leninist version of Marxism against which people fought at that time. It started from the notion of Washington’s well-intentioned purposes and democratic ideals… In the course of the Vietnam War, Americans were talked into believing that their own security was best guaranteed “with the sword,” Bacevich writes. Correspondingly the idea of enforcing its military power worldwide became a completely “conventional praxis, a normal state, to which there seems to be no plausible alternative.”

Today the US shows the classical characteristics of a military state, a society that awards the highest priority to military and domestic security needs and is ruled by the political obsession of a powerful future threat.

More and more frequently Washington exercises its international leadership role today so dubious political figures are supported who ultimately develop “other priorities” as the former US vice-president Dick Cheney formulated. Iraq is a good example of this. With rather inappropriate optimism, the country was declared a democracy from which the last US combat troops should be withdrawn in 2010.

THE CONSCRIPTION ARMY AT THE BEGINNING

In Afghanistan the Obama administration seems occupied with withdrawal plans while the Pentagon builds a system of military bases obviously designed for the long term that could serve as a future strategic power center for the whole region. At the same time the Taliban has made clear that the complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops is a precondition for any peace solution. However the Pentagon (because it would amount to a military defeat), republicans and populist Obama opponents presumably would oppose such a withdrawal. The present system of military bases proves to be a principled obstacle for any peace arrangement in the region.

At the beginning of its history, the country with by far the most powerful army today rejected the idea of a standing army. In Article 1 Paragraph 8 of the US Constitution, the power “to raise and deploy armies was given to Congress while money should not be issued for more than two years.” Up to the middle of the 20th century, public opinion in the US was decidedly against a standing army. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the US army numbered 175,000 men. After the end of the war, a speedy demobilization was delayed by the developing Cold War. Afterwards the military remained a conscription army for the first time in peace times – up to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. In this time the US armed forces were a civilian army. In the officer corps, there was an influential group of conscripted reserve officers and new non-commissioned officers taken over from the conscripted army.

The greatest distinction between the civilian army at that time and today’s professional army is that the latter was a national power instrument that no longer owed any direct accounting to the public. Today’s armed forces consists of professional soldiers – supplemented by a nearly equally great number of private enterprise mercenaries who are directly responsible to the Pentagon. This again serves that “military-industrial complex” about whose growing influence Dwight Eisenhower warned in his last speech in January 1961.

Today’s armaments corporations and the so-called security industry are the most important branches of the whole US economy. Their business interests are so strong they can force their will on both the Congress and an inexper5ienced government. What Mirabeau once said about Prussians could be said about the United States. “This is not a state with an army but an army that has a state.” Between the beginning of the Cold War in Europe and the current intervention in Afghanistan, the US waged the following wars: the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the invasion in Cambodia, the interventions in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Dominican Republic, the (indirect) invasion in El Salvador, the intervention in Somalia (in the scope of a UN intervention), the later invasion by Ethiopian troops supported by the US as well as two invasions in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Except for the 1990/91 Gulf War, none of these military operations can be described as a victory.

A non-interventionist foreign policy with two essential points is much better suited to guarantee the security of the US: firstly, a negotiated military withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq without leaving behind military bases and secondly a general renunciation on military intervention in the internal affairs of other countries so they can seek their own solutions for their own problems.

Such a radical reversal of US foreign policy is inevitably bound with high costs in domestic and foreign policy. Still the moment has come to bring the political class and the current leadership of the United States to a new course.

FOOTNOTES

(1) Das gilt sogar für die Anschläge vom 11. September 2001, die Ussama Bin Laden als Antwort auf die "Blasphemie" bezeichnet hat, die für ihn die Existenz von US-Militärbasen in Saudi-Arabien, also im Land der muslimischen heiligen Stätten, darstellt.

(2) Siehe Dana Priest, "The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with Americas's Military", New York (W. W. Norton) 2003.

(3) Condoleezza Rice, "Rethinking the National Interest: American Realism for a New World", in "Foreign Affairs, Juli/August 2008.

RELATED LINKS:

Crome, Erhard, “The End of History is Not Ended”

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2011/05/408599.shtml

www.warcrimestimes.org

www.rethinkafghanistan.com

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Irrémissible, l'inhumanité acquise en héritage S26 6:37AM

Addendum: Benjamin Tucker American Mutualist: Tucker Did Not Advocate Voting in Businesses S25 11:45PM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy