Old, old friend JS sent me this one, I’ve never heard of this commentator before and I think you have to take much of this with a grain, or a whole shaker, of salt. But nonetheless, he makes a very good point about our military being a fantastic tool – of an earlier era:
He doesn´t understand the American military—that it is in the position of one of those toothy late-Cretaceous humongo-lizards, Tyrano-whatsit or something, uneasily eyeing a thin film of ice forming on the home swamp. “Something is happening,” thinks the big fellow. “I wonder what? Will I like it? Can dinosaurs wear sweaters?” …
See, you gotta understand the ice on the swamp, and what it means. When you need a sweater, you need a sweater, and not some other thing. The Pentagon has the wrong things. It is glorious and glitters and has many buttons and screens. It is just the wrong military.
The great Chinese strategist Fred Tzu once said, “Never use a broadsword to fight a swarm of pissed-off hornets.” Exactly. You have to understand the enemy. Otherwise you are in trouble and can´t understand why. If you are a behind-the-times sort of dinosaur, the rats are going to eat your eggs. If you are an American infantry battalion, sneaky little guys behind rocks are gonna blow hell out of your up-armored Humvee with the revolving IR heads. Trust me.
You have to understand the enemy. Another classic military mind, the Prussian genius Carl von Fredwitz, said, “Let the other dumb sumbitch spend hisself into the dirt, and then tear his throat out, or just buy him.” It´s what China is doing. Americans make war, and the Chinese make money. We spend wildly on an outdated military that couldn´t beat a tin drum if it was smoking Gunter´s best grass. …
Multibillion dollar ratpacks of hugely expensive fighter planes are splendid fun, and say “Varoooooom!” Good stuff, that. They really are the best in the world, and nothing can stay in the sky with them.
Ah, but they are fighters with nothing to fight. The Pentagon’s problem is Ahmet the Wiley Wog who hides behind a rock with his RPG and keeps blowing up trucks full of GIs. Ahmet isn´t too flashy. He doesn´t have a conformal phased-array radar and isn´t supersonic. But he has clanking brass balls and wads of determination Oops.
And that´s the story of our whole military shebang: gaudy but mostly irrelevant. North Korea does something that upsets Washington´s digestion, so we send the aircraft carriers. These float fiercely offshore, doing nothing, because there is nothing they can do. They either (a) attack, risking all-out war on the Peninsula, not a particularly bright idea since Pyongyang has all the artillery in the world within range of Seoul, or (b) float in puzzlement and circles while North Korea ignores them. See? Wrong tool. Washington hasn´t figured this out, so it always sends the bathtub toys.
China, he no fight. Sell stuff.
Current Pentagonal thinking, if that is quite the word I want, is to impose Full Speculum Dominance, I believe it´s called, and control the world. A Full Speculum is full of very pricey fighters of little military use, marvelous warships of little military use, and glorious tanks of little military use. They cheifly serve to get us in trouble in places where we shouldn’t be in the first place. (Pesky military historians note that World War Two ended 68 years ago, but apparently the Pentagon thinks it might come back. Perhaps it is in hiding somewhere.)
Our global strategy is to surround Russia with military bases and missiles, and similarly to surround Iran and China. This latter is like an aging bull terrier trying to surround a frisky Rottweiler pup that is reaching puberty. The portents are sub-optimal. Anyway, when you have surrounded China, what does it buy you? Given our sorry record against several thousands of annoyed peasants in the bush world, do we figure to land at Shanghai and take on a billion Han Chinese? What could be a better idea?
Now, they say that money isn´t everything. Oh yes it is. And it is what America doesn´t have so much of any more. All those zoom-wowees and whizz-kerblams cost moolah. The days when the US could afford high wages and fun wars and a vast military all at once, them days is over. Oh. Ver. The jobs went to Asia and Mexico, unemployment runs way high, everybody is on food stamps or welfare, the standard of living falls, infrastructure rots, everybody is getting edgy and hates everybody else, and the military budget grows like kudzu on a Georgia road-cut. Hoo-boy. Think of an aging wrestler with a withered leg and padded jockstrap going into a biker bar and saying, “I can whip any bozo in the joint.”
Well, maybe not as bad as the aging wrestler metaphor. I hope, anyway.
But we saw this dynamic on full display in Iraq, where IEDs tore hell out of our expensive equipment and men/women. Does anyone really want to argue it’d be different anywhere else in the Mideast?
Maybe having all this stuff ensures there’ll be no full-on war with China or Russia. That would be the argument, anyway.
But I’ve always thought having all this stuff is a core reason why we get into wars in the first place. It’s a variation on Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex.” We build all this stuff, which injects money into the economy (an ongoing “stimulus” package). And, sure, the stuff wears out and breaks. But if you have a war – if you use it up – then you’re going to need a lot more stuff. Military budgets can grow, and all bureaucracies want to see their budgets grow. Andit’s more work for the folks back home – when they aren’t burying their dead…
And in any event, when you’ve got the stuff, the temptation to use the stuff is omnipresent. What good is having the world’s most powerful military if you can’t wheel it out of the shed and put it on display every now and then? Let our would-be adversaries quake before our might, so that none shall challenge us for supremacy!
Now pass that sweater. Because it’s getting cold.