Monday, July 5, 2010

The Runaway General | Rolling Stone Politics

The Runaway General | Rolling Stone Politics

I can't for the life of me, figure out what all the shouting is about concerning General McChrystal. I understand that insubordination was committed in public for the national press, but what do we expect from our military? Do we really feel that these remarks are exceptional? Do we really think that these types of comments aren't part of the regular reparte of a military that is dedicated to war, destruction, occupation, aggressive pursuit of an enemy?

I think it's a little amusing to read about this kerfuffel, realizing that there is a military establishment that largely runs itself, commanded only haltingly by elected civilians. Sure, policy is made and decisions are made in the White House Situation Room, but the implementation, the budget, the tactical and logistical decisions are for the military alone. The military, of course is most concerned with it's own survival and it's own well-being, ignoring where possible any vested interest of the citizens, both foreign and domestic, it is empowered to protect.

Contradictions abound. The former strategy of aggressive attack on terrorist sites and personnel, putting civilians at risk is SAFER for our soldiers. The new strategy, COIN, has the effect of making it riskier for our soldiers, but safer for the civilians (hearts and minds anyone?) This concern for the Afghan people is a big part of what got General McChrystal in trouble.

"I'm not saying go out and kill everybody, sir," the soldier persists. "You say we've stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don't believe that's true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it's getting."

"I agree with you," McChrystal says. "In this area, we've not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I'm telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?"

It is a perversion of the idea of military force to co-opt their primary mission of attack, kill, and conquer. The whole idea of COIN is a compromise, enabling the military to exist and to be present in a war zone, but only in shackles and restraints. The military is uniquely unsuited for the work that they've been charged to do.

This is the conundrum of a huge military industrial complex pressuring the military to use, consume, and spend in order to continue the lifeline of funding. The mission in Afghanistan is secondary and is purely political in nature. Our national security is not at stake nor are we being well protected by the current mission. Indeed, as this article shows, our National Security becomes more imperiled the longer we maintain the charade of "winning the hearts and minds."

Our national security operation is largely being conducted in secret by the CIA and the "bloodless" use of drone attacks in Pakistan against Al Qaeda, who have largely moved their operations there.

Ideology run amok dictates that any and all monies spent on the military are by definition for the "national defense." This expose' reveals something closer to the truth, that the military exists for itself as an industry focused on destruction and perpetual war, unregulated and sustained by a culture of militarism embedded deep in our culture.

Further, this article shows that the way to end the Afghan War is simply, cut spending, withdraw the troops, and make prudent choices about the very real concerns for our national security. These conservative values reflect the severe budget choices we face in domestic spending. It's time to put the same pressure on the Pentagon budget that has been placed on the domestic budget. It's time to put We the People and our security on the top of the priority list and kick the fat and bloated appetite of the military establishment to the bottom.