Bursting the Bubble of American Military Empire
Supremacist Fantasies on Film
Today’s Washington Post tells us:
As fighting in Afghanistan has intensified over the past three months, the U.S. military has conducted 340 airstrikes there, more than twice the 160 carried out in the much higher-profile war in Iraq, according to data from the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East.
But for me, the money quote is here:
The enemy in Afghanistan is "adaptive" and "very smart," Freakley said. One tactic they have used lately to counter U.S. dominance in the air is to withdraw, when fighting, into compounds where civilians are located, which has resulted in civilian deaths in two sets of airstrikes near Kandahar.
That’s asymmetric warfare. Although some asymmetric wars can be won, they cannot be won without the support of local populations. The people of India kicked the British Empire’s asses out, even if the British did win the key battle depicted in the film Gunga Din, notably, through the assistance of a local collaborator (depicted in racist tones as a doggedly loyal turbaned lackey).
The U. S. cannot win its current fight against terrorist cells operating within civilian populations militarily, and yet the entire Bushco foreign policy is staked on the notion that it can. Stock market bubbles burst. The idea that America’s current strategy can win is a bubble. Start selling short. Remember, there is no actual "war on terror."
Karl Rove wants to squeak out one more election cycle victory using the false "War on Terror" before the bubble bursts, but I doubt events will be kind to him. Americans are catching on. Sadly, Democrats as a whole lack the spittle to call this bullshit for what it is, nervously scanning the polls to find the American people are catching on, yet not at all clear about the magnitude of our folly or what to do next. So be it. It’s left to us to lead and tell the truth.
2500 is not just a number. More ominously, our real enemies are growing stronger while we pour away our blood and treasure in Bin Laden’s international recruiting and training program (Iraq, Afghanistan). Osama does not need a new base camp: he can train his people against our sons and daughters while we finance the whole thing. What could be better for Al Qaeda? What’s more, the supremacist, "clash of civilizations" mindset underpinning our policies proves to people around the world we really are at war with Islam. Bush could not have failed more if he had selected Osama to design his foreign policy, instead of Deadeye Dick Cheney.
The mythology of the British Empire, the subject of Rudyard Kipling’s poem "Gunga Din," was founded on racist fantasies of a white man’s burden. So too, the "War on Terror," clash of civilizations crowd believes Western Whitey must subjugate the Barbarian Brown Moslem Horde through force and conversion to (Christianist) democracy (see also American conservative racism on display in the right’s obsession with brown people crossing our southern border).
But Bushco cannot win people over to democracy, because democracy by its nature requires persuasion, not B-1 bombers. Like Gandhi, we in the grass roots know all too well that promoting democracy requires inspiration, not subjugation. The torture-tainted reign of Buscho and the Republican party has forfeited its ability to inspire internationally. There can be no return to true American strength until Democrats take over, call bullshit on our current policy and proceed to set our own moral and economic house in order. The only positive future for America is a progressive future.
The "War on Terror" crowd likes to bring up Japan as an exception, so let’s address that. Japan was a defeated state, a wannabe empire, isolated internationally. There were no Japanese people outside of Japan to come to Japan’s aid. It was surrounded by enemies. We had a huge ratio of conquering forces on the ground relative to total population size, something we cannot begin ever to match in Iraq (we had the same in Germany, which had a history of democracy on which to draw as it rebuilt its society). Japanese society was a homogeneous one accustomed to top-down social and political organization. These conditions made it possible to enact the visionary, Democrat-designed Marshall Plan for rebuilding and recovery, but we have abandoned any rebuilding in Iraq, because the people of Iraq won’t accept anything we attempt to do. They want to build their societies themselves.
Iraq is a heterogeneous, sectarian powder keg formed as a state arbitrarily by colonialist forces. Its ethnic diversity and ethnic and religious allies within the region give each internal faction natural allies uninterested in a unified, diversified Iraqi state. No one in the neighborhood wants Iraq to become a model for democracy or harmonious pluralism. We cannot begin to approach the number of boots on the ground required to sustain order the way we did in Japan.
Every civilian we kill recruits many more enemies. The Japan example is an historical exception, not applicable to Iraq. The better parallel is to India, and India did not survive British rule as a unified state. Iraq is even more riven by sectarian division than India was. The only question about our Iraq policy is how long we will insist on weakening our military before accepting these blunt, expensive, deadly realities.
Make no mistake: the bubble is already bursting, though our establishment media and certainly our government officials are the last ones to accept this truth. There’s a great opening for Democrats to begin to tell the American people the truth, though I understand their reluctance: the first truth tellers will be blamed and savaged for telling us what many people do not want to hear. That work, therefore, falls to us progressive patriots. As ever, citizen patriots must step up to lead, because we love America and the values that have always made us strong.