When the U.S. military boasts of “global reach, global power,” it’s not kidding. As Nick Turse notes in his latest article at TomDispatch.com, that military’s Special Operations forces deployed in one way or another to 149 countries in 2017, roughly 75% of countries on the globe. Talk about reach! Meanwhile, those forces have more than doubled since 2001, sitting at 70,000 effectives today, the equivalent to five divisions. (Consider it a military within the military.) All of this has come at tremendous cost, with this year’s defense budget sitting at $700 billion–and rising for the foreseeable future.
For all the bucks, what about the bang–what about results? Let’s just say that Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Niger, and other U.S. military interventions haven’t gone well.
Yet there is one country where the U.S. military truly rules; one country which the U.S. military has truly conquered. Where and which? The USA, of course. No matter its losses and frustrations overseas, the U.S. military keeps winning more money and influence here at home. Congress loves it, presidents love it, our culture (mostly) loves it, or at least is urged to “support” it irrespective of results.
It’s not just the trillions of dollars it’s consumed since 9/11 or the extent to which retired generals rule the roost in Washington. Think about popular culture: our sports, our toys, our TV and movies. Kids dress up as soldiers on Halloween. Toys are of the “Call of Duty” variety. In TV shows like “SEAL Team,” Special Forces are all the rage. Hollywood has embraced them too, in movies like “Act of Valor” and the upcoming “12 Strong,” about a small team of American “horse soldiers” in Afghanistan soon after 9/11, riding to the rescue like so many John Waynes.
And one more item, a vitally important one, to consider: there is no talk of peace, anytime, anywhere, in the mainstream media, hence no talk of declining military budgets.
The military has conquered us. Indeed, global military action is a rare area of bipartisan accord in Washington, whether the commander-in-chief is Bush or Obama or Trump.
So, while it’s true the U.S. military is in an astonishing 149 countries, the one that really matters is the USA. It may lose in Afghanistan or Somalia, but it has won here — and that’s all that really matters to the further growth and vitality of America’s national security state.
7 thoughts on “The Most Important Country the U.S. Military Has Conquered”
Our military in a sense is like a sports franchise that has spent a huge amount of money year after year, but never wins the Super Bowl. If they do make it as wild card, they are swept out in the first round. Wait until next year, we will have a new coach or general manager. Same game plan but we will call it something different. Three yards and a cloud of dust, will be three yards and an artificial turf burn.
I have been reading a book – Then the Americans Came -Voices from Vietnam, by Martha Hess. I was a grunt during that war 1970-71 assigned to patrol the rain forest along the Cambodian border. Rarely did we encounter civilians. The book by Hess is a shocking revelation even to someone like me who was there in Vietnam. We sanitized the actual real operations with names like search and destroy (only the enemy was destroyed was the story) or pacification.
I have read many books on the war on the Eastern Front during WW 2. When first person accounts are included I am struck by the similarities between Eastern Front and Vietnam. Substitute Americans for the SS is easy enough. We may not have had in black and white the legal justifications and racial superiority reasons as a policy for wiping out whole villages, but in effect we did the same. We also dusted the country with Agent Orange.
I hesitated to even write the above paragraph as it seems so over the top and harsh. Then I think about the millions of people dead, wounded, missing and refugees from our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and maybe it is an accurate comparison.
I’ve done a lot of reading on the SS, and of course I served in the U.S. military. I’d say distinctions make a difference here.
The SS was a criminal organization with a murderous commitment to Aryan racial supremacy. Whatever the faults and flaws of the U.S. military in Vietnam, it wasn’t this.
But, as I’ve written about here, and as Nick Turse and others have written about, the U.S. military in Vietnam was wanton in its violence, whether from the air with bombing and Agent Orange and all the rest, or on the ground with “free-fire” zones and a mentality of “kill anything that moves.”
War generates atrocity, and the Vietnam War is proof of that, as the U.S. military committed its share.
But I’d say the SS was itself an atrocity. And that’s a distinction with a difference.
Unfortunately such differences and distinctions don’t matter much to the innocents on the receiving end of the bullets, bombs and poison.
“The military has conquered us. Indeed, global military action is a rare area of bipartisan accord in Washington, whether the commander-in-chief is Bush or Obama or Trump.”
As if this was not enough, the occupant of the WH wants to spread “Great Values” of the country and that will also make the country more prosperous!!
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