Recent Wars of the American Empire

This essay is the introduction to Tom Engelhardt’s new book, A Nation Unmade by War

❝ As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s war on terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion including the future costs of caring for our war vets. On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.

Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably — in these years, almost uniquely — bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.”

❝ That’s not, of course, what would make most of us more secure, but what would make them — the denizens of the national security state — ever more secure in Washington and elsewhere. We’re talking about the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. nuclear complex and the rest of that state-within-a-state, including its many intelligence agencies and the warrior corporations that have, by now, been fused into that vast and vastly profitable interlocking structure.

Of course this rape of the national pocketbook – in the course of building a new imperial empire to replace the failed British model – is bipartisan in Congress and throughout our government. When did you expect political standards, history-based ethics, to replace the simple profit motive driving most American politicians?

U.S. Has Special Forces in 149 Countries, Ambassadors in 144

❝ A strong legacy of U.S. leadership and engagement in global politics has been reduced today to what I call kinetic diplomacy – diplomacy by armed force.

As of March 2018, the Trump administration has appointed only 70 of 188 U.S. ambassadors. At the same time, it has increased the deployment of special operations forces to 149 countries – up from 138 during the Obama administration in 2016. So while U.S. ambassadors are operating in one-third of the world’s capitals, special operations forces are active in three-fourths.

❝ The use of military force expanded not only under the Trump administration, but under Barack Obama’s as well. Now the Trump administration and Congress are also cutting back on foreign aid.

As a scholar of international security, I’d like to suggest this raises two related questions: Does kinetic diplomacy advance U.S. interests, and how does kinetic diplomacy affect U.S. leadership abroad?

RTFA and decide. I recall when the American public debated changing the name of our War Department to the Department of Defense. We’ve not yet been invaded. But, the claim of “defense” always seems to justify sending our military abroad.

Mako unmanned wingman “cleared for takeoff” — and lots of sales!


Kratos

❝ Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has been granted approval by the US government to market its UTAP-22 Mako ‘unmanned wingman’ internationally…

The US State Department has permitted the San Diego-based company to promote its Mako jet-powered unmanned aircraft system to certain undisclosed European and Asia-Pacific region countries.

❝ …The Mako offers fighter-like performance and is designed to function as a wingman to manned aircraft, as a force multiplier in contested airspace, or to be deployed independently or in groups of UASs. It is capable of carrying both weapons and sensor systems.

It will obey all orders. No educated, independent thought allowed.

Earlier post: https://eideard.com/2017/06/18/the-u-s-air-force-is-ready-to-try-disposable-drones/

Small nations have learned from the Tet Offensive — while the White House hasn’t

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap had planned the offensive to break the will of the United States and South Vietnam and end a long stalemate in the struggle by the North to reunite with the South under communist rule. And while Giap’s forces were eventually pushed back with huge losses, he did accomplish his wider objective of undermining American and South Vietnamese confidence in the war effort…

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

The lessons of Tet still resonate. “Tet shaped the world within which we live today: In an era when Americans still don’t fully trust government officials to tell them the truth about situations overseas, and don’t have confidence that leaders, for all their bluster, will do the right thing,” writes Princeton historian Julian Zelizer in the current issue of The Atlantic. “Tet is an important reminder that for liberals and conservatives sometimes a little distrust is a good thing. Particularly at a time when we have a president who traffics heavily in falsehoods, Tet showed that blind confidence in leaders can easily lead down dangerous paths.”

Say it again, Julian. Trust in a pathological liar isn’t likely to turn out well.

American War on Terror Sees “The Enemy” in 39% of the Countries on Earth


Click to enlarge

…In the Trump era, the longest war in American history, the one in Afghanistan, is only getting longer. U.S. troop levels are on the rise. Air strikes are ramping up. The Taliban controls significant sections of the country. An Islamic State-branded terror group spreads ever more successfully in its eastern regions. There are, according to the latest report from the Pentagon, “more than 20 terrorist or insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

…So many years later, the war on terror should be seen as an endless exercise in the use of multiplication tables — and not just in Afghanistan either.

More than a decade and a half after an American president spoke of 60 or more countries as potential targets, thanks to the invaluable work of a single dedicated group, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, we finally have a visual representation of the true extent of the war on terror.

Fifteen years of dedicated military intervention – and billion$ of wasted dollars and lives – American military policy, American foreign policy, mostly led by conservatives and hawks, has accomplished diddly-squat.

Trump and the Pentagon still looking for a tidy model to kill civilians


Banned by 102 countries – NOT including the USA

The Pentagon will allow the United States military to once again arm itself with older cluster munitions, a type of weapon that has been banned by 102 countries largely because of concerns that they disproportionately harm civilians.

The change, detailed in a memo released on Friday, reverses a prohibition issued under President George W. Bush, and appears to be a concession by the United States that finding safer variants of the weapons has so far failed…

Though the United States is not a signatory to the international treaty banning the weapons, it pledged in June 2008 to sharply restrict their use and reduce risks to civilians.

None of which means a damned thing to our fake president.