A Generation at War with No End in Sight
Forever at War
Ever since I was a teenager, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war for so long in so many places that it is now accepted as a given that we will be fighting someone somewhere.
And it will be this way for the foreseeable future.
The United States has been at war or involved in some conflict in some part of the world since its rise to worldwide prominence in the late 19th century. With great power comes an addiction to meddling in others’ affairs, as proven by our interventionist foreign policy of the past handful of decades.
The war in Afghanistan has now lasted longer than Vietnam. And yet, the Taliban are still very much around and al-Qaeda has simply moved into other countries or morphed into other organizations. We are sending American troops back into Iraq, attempting to hold together whatever semblance of a country that remains. As President Obama looks to hand off combat operations to his next successor, he has not changed much in the way of where we are involved, only how.
While Obama has certainly decreased the amount of American soldiers overseas, he has accelerated the drone program and greatly increased the amount of contractors fighting our wars for us. Since 2009, the ratio of contractors to troops in war zones increased from 1 to 1 to about 3 to 1.
Because contractors don’t technically count as “boots on the ground,” Congress and the Pentagon do not count them as troops. As Obama stated earlier this year, we are already increasing our American troop levels in Iraq, where he so famously pulled out of at the end of his first term in office, despite the insistence of his generals that he leave a much larger force behind. By increasing the amount of contractors today, mission creep has set in, yet remains hidden, as the actual number of forces on the ground is greater than reported.
Today, an astonishing 75 percent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan are contractors. Only 10 percent of these people are armed, but this is still an alarming trend, but a profitable one for some companies in the business. In 2014, the Pentagon spent $285 billion on federal contracts, equal to 8 percent of federal spending and about 45 percent of that was for services, including to private military contractors.
Documents recently obtained by The Intercept reveal that our nation’s special operations capacity is expanding too. This is another way for our national security state to expand the battlefield worldwide without the American public knowing. Under the Joint Combined Exchange Training program, U.S. special operations forces carried out approximately one mission every two days in 2014.
Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets were sent out on 176 individual missions, a 13 percent increase from the year before. The number of countries spiked too, from 63 to 87, a 38 percent jump. The Intercept goes on to report that on any given day, “10,000 special operators are deployed or ‘forward stationed,’ conducting missions that vary ‘from behind-the-scenes information-gathering and partner-building to high-end dynamic strike operations,’” according to then-chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, General Joseph Votel.
Since 9/11, our military leaders have gotten more ambitious, but also more secretive in its quest to dominate world affairs. These joint missions with special forces around the globe are one way our country continues to stay atop the world’s stage. But our military leaders claim this is needed in order to keep Americans safe, when in reality, it has the exact opposite effect.
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From Wounded Knee to Afghanistan (and Syria, Iraq, and Libya)
U.S. military interventions are not a new trend by any means. Zoltan Grossman’s ‘A Century of US Military Interventions from Wounded Knee to Afghanistan’ lays out the true enormity of America’s insistence of jumping into other countries’ struggles. America has been addicted to interventionism. From the Marines clashing with nationalist rebels in Chile in 1890 to the airstrikes and special forces in Iraq and Syria today, our interventions have been numerous and regular throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. There are 144 instances of America involving its military outside of the realm of self defense.
This same attitude is apparent today in the mired conflicts from North Africa to Southeast Asia. America’s foreign policy has been impossible to clarify. Yet, the mindless bombing and meddling continue without the American public’s approval.
While Americans were busy taking the weekend off for Labor Day, the U.S. military was busy bombing six countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. On September 3rd and 4th, the U.S. conducted 45 strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. On the 5th, a U.S. drone strike killed six suspected al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. The day after that, the Pentagon struck another group, al-Shabab, in nearby Somalia. Then in Afghanistan, the military was busy beating back the Taliban and an insurgent Islamic State. The nonstop nature of our commitments to these conflicts overseas are puzzling for even the brightest of military scholars to explain.
Obama’s strategy of putting politics over the advice of his generals has come back to bite him. He will now be handing off a world in which we have worse relations with every other country than we did in 2008. Meanwhile, terrorism is as large and looming a threat as it's ever been. Still, the airstrikes rain down on the poor Iraqis.
U.S. warplanes conducted about 20 strikes in Iraq over Labor Day weekend. Obama’s insertion of U.S. troops back into Iraq in 2014 and adding more this year are a sad fact of the unsolved problems facing that forsaken country. The Syria situation has only made matters worse and created a safe haven for terrorist activity to thrive.
Neighboring Syria suffered over 25 strikes over the same weekend, as the Pentagon looks to focus its efforts on taking back the Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa. The failure of Obama’s hands-off policy in Syria is increasing the neoconservative call for yet another Middle East intervention. Syria can only be put back together by American might, according to the same military leaders that sent us headfirst into Iraq.
The Middle East Morass
Either way you try it in that part of the world, it won’t work. “It’s certainly the case if you look over the last 16 years, there are times when we have gone in way too heavy, and that’s caused problems, and times when we’ve gone in too light, and that has caused problems,” said William F. Wechsler, a former Pentagon official who oversaw U.S. Special Operations activities. “What you’ve seen at the end of the Obama administration is a determination that there is this . . . middle ground that both allows us to meet our counterterrorism objectives but also support our allies who are doing fighting on the ground,” he said. Unfortunately, this middle ground Obama seeks will not come to fruition. And his search for it has likely made the world a more dangerous place over his two tumultuous terms.
As we approach the time when we will choose our next commander in chief, it is important to know what the two main candidates will do. Hillary Clinton should be immediately disqualified from running for President due to her use of classified information on her own unsecured private server, in addition to running the Clinton Foundation like her own personal piggy bank. Besides that, she also would make the world a very dangerous place if she became the next leader of the most powerful military on the planet.
Hillary is not just a puppet of Wall Street and the American political establishment, she is also a neoconservative, beholden the military industrial complex that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us so strongly against. She has received over $300,000 from war contractors in her presidential bid so far, the second highest amount (after Bernie Sanders) out of all the candidates who initially ran for President. She was instrumental in NATO’s 2011 war in Libya, which resulted in a terrorist state that we are, yep, you guessed it, bombing today! She famously remarked after the ousted leader Gaddafi was murdered that “we came, we saw, he died,” then uttering an almost demonic laugh.
With Hillary at the helm, we can almost certainly expect an escalation or perhaps possible full scale invasion of Syria. War with Iran is also a real possibility. And her words for Vladimir Putin suggest she would be open to starting World War III with Russia. In 2014, Hillary compared Putin to Hitler in one of the most ridiculous remarks a Western politician has made in recent years.
A Clinton administration will definitely be staffed with warhawks ready to further the idea of encircling Russia and putting missile facilities in Eastern Europe. With tensions between NATO and Russia already sky high, the last thing the world needs is a Hillary Clinton administration. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has suggested he would be open to working more with Russia in joint counterterrorism measures, something the U.S. is finally starting to pursue in Syria.
A Killary Clinton Administration
Another Clinton administration will be chock-full of neoconservatives and interventionists. Recently meeting with a national security “working group,” Clinton revealed just how much her candidacy represents the continuance of the status quo. The list of advisers she met with includes many in the national security state establishment.
It includes the now somewhat infamous General David Petraeus, architect of the 2007 Iraq War troop surge of over 30,000. Another notable member is Michael Chertoff, former Department of Homeland Security secretary in the Bush administration. According to reporting in The Intercept, in 2010, Chertoff, working for the Chertoff Group, gave dozens of TV interviews touting full-body scanners at airports at a time when his firm was employed by a company producing full-body scanners.
Many others on the list are open to escalating military activities overseas even more. For example, Mike Morell, former CIA director, accused Trump of being an “unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” At the time Morell said these idiotic words, he was in fact employed by a powerful national security consulting firm with strong ties to Clinton. Soon after, Morell told Charlie Rose on PBS that the CIA should actively assassinate Russians and Iranians in Syria.
Another on Clinton’s A-team of national security advisers is Jim Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander of Europe. Back in July, Stavridis told Fox News Radio that “we have got to get more aggressive going into Syria and Iraq and go after ISIS because if we don’t they’re going to come to us. It’s a pretty simple equation.” As if that wasn’t clear enough, he would advise a President Clinton "to take a more aggressive stance against Iran, to increase our military forces in Iraq and Syria, and to confront Vladimir Putin over his moves in Crimea.”
Would the world be able to handle a Hillary Clinton presidency? Perhaps a George W. Bush presidency but on steroids?
A generation at war looks like it will continue to be at war for some time. There is sadly no end in sight for our never ending battle for for world domination. In the end, the rest of the world will continue to hate us if we continue on down this reckless path.
America’s addiction to intervening in other countries’ conflicts has to stop. While we are the lone superpower for now, it will not always be that way. Jumping into other people’s problems actually makes those problems worse and leads to those you are trying to help despising you even more.
Wake up America. We need something else.
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