Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The American War Machine - Is There a Way Out?


This is the first time we have engaged in war, make that two wars, when we have already declared an end date for both wars. In Iraq, the forgotten war, this August President Obama has declared all American troops will be withdrawn from combat and security will rest solely with the Iraq forces. This is the same country that had an election four months ago and there is still no government seated.

How can a government that cannot even agree on a government ever hope to agree on a military policy when the three major factions in Iraq live in fear of each other? The Muslim Shi'ite and Sunni factions continue to undermine peace efforts with their brutal opposition to each other while the Muslims do agree that the Kurds in Northern Iraq remain a threat to stability. Three factions with decades of hatred and fear of each other are expected by Obama to bury the hatchet and make peace.

Perhaps we should review the experience in these wars. In Iraq, where we will give up a combat role in August, there have been over 4,000 American military deaths. The most any one month was 25 in the month of September 2008. During the war estimates on civilian deaths range from over 118,000 to over 1 million, not a good sign for any hope for peace between the competing forces. There are about 85,000 US troops in Iraq now and all other foreign troops in Iraq have been withdrawn.

In Afghanistan Obama has tripled the troop strength since being elected President and there are now over 100,000 in the country. He has pledged to start removing troops-in July 2011, a year from now. However, the deadliest month in terms of American military deaths was just this June 2010 when 60 Americans were killed. Afghanistan also is now the longest war in American history as it enters it's tenth year of combat.

Afghanistan has long been known as the graveyard of empires. The most powerful forces on earth including the Americans and Soviet Empire have all fought in Afghanistan where the Taliban have a long term strategy, just wait until the super powers tire of the combat and leave, then the Taliban can retake the countryside.

Even Pakistan, an emerging nuclear power and ally of America whose cooperation is critical to any success in the Afghan tribal regions, where Osama Bin Laden has been hiding for nearly a decade while waiting for the US to abandon the Afghan people yet again. Our president's declaration that we will begin to withdraw next year looms as a point of confusion for all Afghans and nations of the region in terms of the American commitment to help bring about permanent change.

So in light of these circumstances how can we pull out of both wars when the wars will most likely still be in progress? Or is the threat against Israel so strong that we must keep soldiers in the region for as long as there is a threat of war between the Israeli's and Muslims such as Iran? Perhaps that is the underlying reason why we are still fighting the twin wars.

Redeployment of overseas forces

As I said in an article last June 3:

We have over 2.5 million defense soldiers and civilian employees but only 1.1 million are in the USA. Since about 100,000 are in both Iraq and Afghanistan that leaves 1.2 million DOD employees all over the rest of the world. There are over 735 American military bases outside the USA including 38 large and medium size facilities. At the height of the British Empire in 1898 they had 36 bases spread out around the world and at the height of the Roman Empire in 117 AD they had 37 major bases. Of course they were both trying to conquer the world. We aren't supposed to be conquering the world so get rid of the excess bases.

Maybe the president should stop playing world policeman and close the majority of the overseas bases, leaving only those absolutely needed for national security, and set up a network of domestic bases along the border with Mexico. We already have the troops and are paying to keep them outside the country. Why not set up border bases in Arizona, New Mexico, a couple in Texas and maybe one more in Southern California?

Perhaps the presence of thousands of American troops might help stop the flow of illegal drugs and the human trafficking of illegal immigrants? It might even help Mexico reduce the massive death rate in the border communities, a fact that has cost over 22,000 lives in the past couple of years. This is one of the darkest elements of the border traffic and is a plague to Arizona and the other states.


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