US Military Operations
The last and most important battle of any war is
writing its history.
US policymakers might borrow the formula of one of the major twentieth-century of international politics scientist, Hans Morgenthau, and learn to distinguish, first, between what is essential in foreign affairs and what is desirable, and, second, between what is desirable and what is possible.
Patton was fond of saying that wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by soldiers. Patton tirelessly made the rounds to divisional units and staffs — instructing, motivating, and often berating with colorful, if not downright vulgar, language. “As in all my talks," he noted, "I stressed fighting and killing."
Walt Rostow wrote in 1996 that "...every conflict in which Americans have been engaged has involved public controversy. And this is to their credit, for who wants war? In the Revolutionary War, perhaps one-third of the people wanted independence; one third were pro-British; and one-third were simply out to make a fast buck by selling supplies to the Continental Army. In the war of 1812, the New England states, after the Hartford Convention, passed a resolution calling for withdrawal from the union rather than joining in the war against Canada. The Mexican War stirred great controversy in the United States. The Civil War split the nation from top to bottom. The Spanish-American War was followed by the unpopular conflict with the Philippine guerrillas. The First World War, like the Civil War, touched off draft riots. The Korean War left Truman more unpopular than either Nixon at the nadir of his fortunes, or Lyndon Johnson at his lowest point in the polls."
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? No! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with the treasures of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is this approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It can not come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide."
American liberalism is an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way. Those on its right wing bear a likeness to 19th century Christian imperialists, with a God-given duty to convert or co-opt or conquer. In Britain, this is Blairism.
The playwright Harold Pinter turned his December 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech into a furious howl of outrage against American foreign policy. "The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them." He spoke of a breathtaking record of perfidy so mutated in the public mind, that it “never happened … Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. It didn't matter." Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."
Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love." He said that both President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair should be tried before the International Criminal Court of Justice for the invasion of Iraq.
Lucius Accius (also Attius), Latin poet and playwright (170 BCE - c. 86 BCE), was considered by his contemporaries to be the last and the greatest of the tragic poets of Republican Rome. His plays (no less than 45 titles are known and about 700 lines survive) were mostly free translations from Greek tragedy, many from Euripides. Cicero quoted with admiration the famous line from his Atreus, "Oderint, dum metuant! ("Let them hate so long as they fear!'), a motto that is said to have appealed to the tyrant Caligula. Cicero also often quoted him and Virgil imitated him.
Then conquer we must,
for our cause is just,
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust";
And the star-spangled banner
in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US leadership has been unable to find a goal, which would unite Americans and help lead the nation into the future, political commentator and author Patrick J. Buchanan wrote for the American Conservative in October 2015. "When [the Cold War] was over in 1990, America was suddenly at a loss for a new cause to live for, fight for, and, if need be, see its sons die for," he observed. Barack Obama pledged to scale down America's presence in the Middle East. He delivered on the promise and "was rewarded with two terms by a country that has shown minimal enthusiasm for more wars in the Middle East," he observed.
General Joe Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said 29 March 2016 that one of the "most significant challenges" the U.S. military is dealing with is the need for "more effective methods" to deal with Russian behavior in Georgia and Crimea, malign Iranian influence across the Middle East and Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The traditional U.S. military approach, he explained, is to either be at peace or at conflict, but Dunford said that method is "insufficient" to deal with players advancing their interests while avoiding U.S. military strengths.
"The adversary knows exactly what the threshold is for us to take decisive military action, so they operate below that level," Dunford said. "They continue to advance their interest, and we lose the competitive advantage and frankly our interests are adversely affected."
On 07 March 2014 the Department of Defense removed 20 areas from its list of locations that qualify for imminent danger pay starting June 1, in a move that is expected to affect approximately 50,000 Service members. DOD officials announced in January that service members in the 20 areas would no longer receive the additional imminent danger rate of $225 per month. As of June 1, the following areas are no longer eligible for imminent danger pay:
- The nine land areas of East Timor, Haiti, Liberia, Oman, Rwanda, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
- The six land areas and airspace above Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
- The four water areas of the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea.
- The water area and air space above the Arabian Gulf.
Imminent danger pay, or IDP, remained in effect for Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The decision was made after a periodic review and re-certification process. "The re-certification process began in July 2011, and included an in-depth threat assessment from each combatant command for countries within their area of responsibility. Following the review, it was determined that the imminent threat of physical harm to members had been significantly reduced in many areas. As a result, IDP will be discontinued in those areas." A total of 194,189 service members received imminent danger pay in Fiscal Year 2012. The last re-certification process was completed in 2007.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list