Thursday, December 10, 2009

#180 Obama/Gates and the New Culture of War II

By far, Obama's most haunting sentence from the AfPac War speech is the first one from the "Stonewall Jackson" paragraph quoted in last post:

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way we end wars and prevent conflict.
"Prevent conflict," though loosely open-ended, would seem to be benign, if our preventive strategy up to this point hadn't been blood-thirsty interventionism. But it's the phrase just prior that really set me to shaking in my Libertarian boots--"THE WAY WE END WARS."

Look to the logical sub-text: wars are a given, and America's involvement in them so inevitable that it's not the conflict itself but rather the OUTCOME that becomes most important. We'll show 'em, you betcha. I guess how we handled the end-game in Iraq can stand as a model for all nations--IF it weren't for the fact that we'll be quagmired in the *&%$# @$#& place for generations to come. A lot more practice would seem to be in order for "future wars."

And that's how Defense Secretary Gates puts it ... almost. Contrary to one of my favorite Boy Scout songs ("Down by the Riverside" based on Isaiah 2:3-4 )--"Gonna put away my sword and shield ... Ain't gonna study war no more"--Bob Gates and his minions are gonna, with a literal vengeance. Study war, that is. (Even though I'm sure he was a Boy Scout, too.) In a 60 Minutes interview (via HuffPost) last May, Gates spoke of how the Pentagon would support Obama's renewed focus on Afghanistan:

I wanted a department that could frankly walk and chew gum at the same time, that could WAGE WAR as we are doing now, at the same time we PLAN AND PREPARE for TOMORROW'S WARS.
"Tomorrow's wars" ... alas. Once again, I say it's long overdue that we return to the original name for what Mr. Gates is Secretary of--Department of War--for so it has ulteriorally been since McNamara. How did this Republican neo-con get into the Obama administration, anyway? But he's not the only one. In a NYT article (rptd. HuffPost July '09), one Michele Flournoy (interesting first name?) was profiled and quoted in her evidently influential capacity as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. So doubtless she was present for the three-month colloquy on Afghanistan. That being the case, her contributions perforce reflected the following mentality:

A major question ... within the Pentagon is how to balance PREPARATIONS for FUTURE counterinsurgency WARS, like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, with PLANS for conventional conflicts against well-equipped potential adversaries like NORTH KOREA, CHINA, OR IRAN. [a breath-stopping "Hoooooly Shit!" is needed here ... sorry]. Another quandary, given that the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted far longer than the American involvement in World war II [a simple "Noooo Shit" will do here], is how to PREPARE for conflicts that could TIE UP AMERICAN FORCES FOR DECADES.
So I suppose we might as well get used to the new culture--nay, "cult"--of war in America. Shouldn't be that hard. Sooner or later, in her dystopian view, becoming accustomed to serial and perpetual warfare would seem to be as easy as sitting down to the family dinner table. For Ms. Flournoy blithely concludes that, since the conflicts of tomorrow are a complex mixture of conventional battles, insurgencies, and cyber-threats,

We're trying to recognize that WARFARE may come in A LOT OF DIFFERENT FLAVORS IN THE FUTURE.

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