Tag Archives: Bombing

Our Enemy, Ourselves, by William J. Astore

The US has 800 military bases in 172 countries, and 291,000 personnel deployed in 183 countries. Surely each and every one of those bases and personnel are completely necessary for the defense of America. Actually, we’re long past the point when the US military’s mission was confined to defending America. From William J. Astore at tomdispatch.com:

Ten Commonsense Suggestions for Making Peace, Not War

Whether the rationale is the need to wage a war on terror involving 76 countries or renewed preparations for a struggle against peer competitors Russia and China (as Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested recently while introducing America’s new National Defense Strategy), the U.S. military is engaged globally.  A network of 800 military bases spread across 172 countries helps enable its wars and interventions.  By the count of the Pentagon, at the end of the last fiscal year about 291,000 personnel (including reserves and Department of Defense civilians) were deployed in 183 countries worldwide, which is the functional definition of a military uncontained.  Lady Liberty may temporarily close when the U.S. government grinds to a halt, but the country’s foreign military commitments, especially its wars, just keep humming along.

As a student of history, I was warned to avoid the notion of inevitability.  Still, given such data points and others like them, is there anything more predictable in this country’s future than incessant warfare without a true victory in sight?  Indeed, the last clear-cut American victory, the last true “mission accomplished” moment in a war of any significance, came in 1945 with the end of World War II.

Yet the lack of clear victories since then seems to faze no one in Washington.  In this century, presidents have regularly boasted that the U.S. military is the finest fighting force in human history, while no less regularly demanding that the most powerful military in today’s world be “rebuilt” and funded at ever more staggering levels.  Indeed, while on the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised he’d invest so much in the military that it would become “so big and so strong and so great, and it will be so powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it.” 

As soon as he took office, however, he promptly appointed a set of generals to key positions in his government, stored the mothballs, and went back to war.  Here, then, is a brief rundown of the first year of his presidency in war terms.

To continue reading: Our Enemy, Ourselves

 

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Intensified Bombing for Victory in Afghanistan, by Brian Cloughley

Nobody bombs better than the US, but that hasn’t guaranteed US military victories. From Brian Cloughley at antiwar.com:

The TV series, The Vietnam War, is absolutely riveting. The ten discs in the DVD set provide over 17 hours of viewing, and there is hardly a moment wasted. It is evenhanded to the most admirable degree, and presents the points of view of war-supporters in the US and Vietnam as well as doubters, protesters and those who now bitterly regret the years of hellish slaughter. (To declare an interest: I served there in the Australian army in 1970-71 although, as a staff officer, did not see combat.) The producers and presenters of this masterpiece are to be congratulated, as are the US Public Broadcasting Service and those who contributed the 30 million dollars it took to make it.

Being balanced and admirably impartial, there is no leitmotif as such, no recurrent theme that might guide us to move to a particular stand, because, in the words of one reviewer, it “carries with it a sense of trustworthiness; of a project undertaken with humility, but without an agenda beyond the truth.”

Yet there is one particular feature of the war that does recur: the bombing. The ceaseless, pounding, massively destructive, relentlessly thundering bombing, rocketing and napalming in north and south Vietnam – and also in bordering Laos and Cambodia.

In Laos alone the US flew 580,344 bombing missions, dropping 2.5 million tons of munitions, or seven bombs for every man, woman and child in the country, “a planeload of bombs being unloaded every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years.” When President Obama visited Laos in 2016 he acknowledged it as the most heavily bombed nation in history and accepted that “the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal.” I doubt that Mr. Trump will endorse such sentiments about Laos or any other country.

To continue reading: Intensified Bombing for Victory in Afghanistan