b. traven and W.J. Astore
Are America’s foreign policy leaders mad? It’s a serious question. Consider last week’s dispatch of 300 military trainers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Western Ukraine, a country involved in a contentious jousting match with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Or consider this week’s deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group off the coast of Yemen, ostensibly to interdict weapons shipments from Iran, shipments that may not even exist.
These moves have more serious possible repercussions than the usual stupid moves our government makes. They can lead to real war with Russia and Iran. Look at today’s headline in the New York Times: “Putin Bolsters His Forces Near Ukraine.” Putin may be provoked into an invasion of Ukraine because U.S. meddling has been so blatant (he also knows that when it comes to war in Ukraine, NATO is largely a toothless tiger). The Iranians may renege on the nuclear agreement and deliver extensive military support to the Houthis while directly engaging the House of Saud. In both situations, it’s easy to predict what Obama will do. Just what John McCain and the neo-cons want him to do. Bombs away.
It’s a clear case of global reach, global power–and global stupidity. You’d think massive bungling and endemic corruption in never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have taught us something, but the U.S. insists on getting involved in sensitive regional conflicts that could easily spiral out of control.
And when the U.S. chooses to get involved, it’s not with diplomacy. It’s all about military power. Yet as much as America professes to love its military, its power is a blunt (and deadly) instrument. It exacerbates tensions rather than alleviating them. U.S. military meddling in Ukraine and Yemen promises more conflict, not less.
And perhaps that’s by design. Consider the reality of America’s ever-burgeoning military budget. As Dan Froomkin notes, that budget still exceeds the combined defense budgets of the next seven highest spenders (four of those countries—Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, and Germany—are U.S. allies; China and Russia, the only rivals on the list, spend far less than the U.S.). As the U.S. continues to spend hog-wild on its military, small wonder it remains the go-to option for “diplomacy” around the globe.
Democratic or Republican administration, Obama or Bush, the one constant is global war. The U.S. is already waging illegal “low intensity” war with drones and special operations across the globe. (It’s worth pointing out that “low intensity” doesn’t feel low when Hellfire missiles are raining down on your neighborhood or when Special Forces are raiding your village and hauling away your neighbors–or you.) So why not add another serving of war to an already full plate by meddling in Ukraine? Sadly, the faction the U.S. seems to favor the most has its share of outright fascists. But they’re “our” fascists, so who cares if they vote to honor Nazi collaborators and perpetrators of the Holocaust?
Russia, predictably, is antagonized by U.S. meddling. They see it as the decades-old Anglo-British effort to encircle and isolate Russia and cut them off from their access to the Mediterranean by denying them their Black Sea Fleet base in the Crimea. To add insult to injury, the essentially Russian population of Eastern Ukraine will be marginalized by the coup regime the U.S. helped to install. Well, there’s nothing like a new Cold War with Russia to push “defense” spending to even higher levels.
If the U.S. fails to rouse the Soviet bear from slumber, perhaps we can provoke a war with Iran. So let’s continue to send billions of dollars in weaponry to the Saudis so they can continue to bomb and dominate Shia factions in Yemen. Heck, let’s send an aircraft carrier task force to show how serious we are about “peace.” (Let’s hope the U.S. Navy doesn’t blunder and shoot down an Iranian commercial aircraft, as it did in 1988, killing 290 innocent passengers and crew.)
Provocation—that’s when U.S. leaders deploy the military to meddle in Ukraine, in Yemen, and elsewhere across the globe. Yet men like Bush and Obama continue to sell the military, not as provocateurs, but as peace-bringers. As diplomats in uniform. They just happen to carry assault rifles and use Hellfire missiles rather than briefcases and pens.
Saddest of all is that things are only going to get worse. We’ve witnessed how America’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning President morphed into its assassin-in-chief, approving “signature strikes” to snuff out evil-doers everywhere. Now look who’s running to replace him in 2016: Hillary the Hun on the Democratic side, and all those little chickenhawk Republicans clucking that they’re to the right of Hillary.
If you’re reading this and have money, we advise you to invest in “defense” stocks. With all these provocations in the works, the staff here at The Contrary Perspective are bullish on prospects for more weapons–and more war.