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Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan; is there no end?

By       Message michael payne     Permalink
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Has our nation now evolved into a perpetual war machine? Is that what we have now become? Will it ever end? As a matter of fact, it will and here's how. At this time in our history, America stands at the brink of a massive financial collapse, one with many causes, but none of which has contributed more to it than the massive U.S. military empire that now covers the entire world.

Once again, its time to resurrect the famous quote, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." That quote has been truly prophetic. Time and again U.S. presidents have proven it to be true. We are currently witnessing President Barack Obama, as he escalates our involvement in Afghanistan, totally ignoring the well-documented history of warfare in that daunting, mountainous region called "the graveyard of empires."

When world leaders in positions of great power have chosen to totally ignore significant historical events, and have conducted unnecessary wars to further ambitions for empire, it has resulted in very grave consequences for nations and innocent people. After its great success in defeating the Axis powers in World War II, America emerged as the most powerful military force in the world; and from that day to this, our military power has grown non-stop. Along the way, the U.S. has used its military might in distant regions of the world, some in wars that should never have been pursued.

Without a doubt, the Vietnam War was one of the biggest political and military misadventures in U.S. history. This was not an invasion of a sovereign nation started and conducted by one U.S. president but, rather, five. In 1950 the Truman administration was the first to provide monetary aid and to the French. Thereafter, U.S. involvement escalated under presidents, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

After 58,000 American troops and more than 2 million North Vietnamese military personnel and civilians lost their lives in this horrific war of choice, not necessity, it finally ended in 1975. What is very difficult to comprehend about this enormously long, very bloody war was that, at least in the cases of Johnson and Nixon, they took steps that greatly ramped up military actions even when it was becoming more and more clear that our military was being drawn into a massive quagmire.

But did they stop, wind down and consider various strategies by which they could end the war in some honorable way? No, they didn't, at least not until it was too late. It seems that a great many of our presidents have had an obsession with proving themselves not only as strong defenders of America, but went much further by flexing America's military muscle in other parts of the world, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama, who was a strong opponent of the Iraq War, made it very clear that he fully supported the war in Afghanistan and that he was prepared to continue military operations there. He and his advisors had plenty of time during his two years of campaigning and before he took office to study the ramifications of continuing the war in Afghanistan, the potential disastrous effects on that nation, U.S. troop casualties and the massive costs of conducting the war.

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Was the time taken to really analyze the entire situation to determine the exact purpose and mission of our military actions and to decide if this war should be continued or ended? Who knows? It seemed to be more like a relay race in which the Bush administration ended its part of the run, handed the situation off to the Obama administration, which then ran on the very same course. So now the escalation continues while more and more of us are still trying to figure out just what the mission is and if there is an exit plan.

The question is; has President Obama learned anything from our history of recent wars to use in determining the best course for America in Afghanistan? Unfortunately, it appears that he has not. Mr. Obama, after assuming the presidency, wasted no time in making Afghanistan "his war". It wasn't long before he decided to send more than 20 thousand more troops into that nation that has over hundreds of years expelled every invading empire that attempted to conquer it.

I think that it is high time that America develops completely new strategies on how to confront and deal with the dangers posed by those who hate us and wish to harm us. The way that we have conducted military actions in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have not worked and never will work in this current world where the enemy no longer uses large stand up armies, ships, planes and mechanized equipment to fight off invaders. The old ways of conducting warfare are obsolete.

Our invasions and occupations have multiplied our enemies and consistently led us into quagmires. We don't really win but we lose so much and so do those nations. The cost of conducting unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with the massive costs of maintaining our empire of more than 750 military bases and installations around the world, is rapidly fueling economic chaos in America.

What should we do with this empire of bases? First, we need to get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan in two years. We have plenty of other military installations in those regions that will provide all sorts of protection to safeguard our "national interests". It makes no sense to continue a presence where our unwelcome occupation and actions serve as fuel to motivate and energize thousands more new enemies who will die before they will let us dominate them. Stubbornly continuing military actions is a good example of the law of diminishing returns.

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Next, we need to reduce our vast system of bases by 50%. That is not inconceivable if the entire network is totally reworked to strategically locate bases to adequately protect those very important interests. Would that move render our nation defenseless and at the mercy of those who want to harm us? Not hardly. Even with that severe reduction we would be left with more foreign military bases than all of the other major industrial nations combined; actually, more than the all the nations of the world.

If we do not make these critical changes now we will have to, yet again, learn the lessons of history the hard and painful way. If the best military minds in America and the world were to sit down to discuss the probabilities of the U.S. and NATO forces ever pacifying and controlling Afghanistan, I would bet heavily that the probability of military success would be infinitely small and most probably impossible.

This combination of military expenditures in Iraq, Afghanistan and our empire of world bases are becoming so very massive in relation to our GDP that this situation will soon become unsustainable. And then no matter what may be the plans for continuing these worldwide military operations, the empire will begin an involuntary collapse as the funds begin to dry up.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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