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American Military Might: A Double-Edged Sword

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The U.S. military has, over time, steadily evolved into a massive, dominating force on this planet. America's military might towers over the world; it has no peer, it is seemingly invincible and its outreach in the world is limitless. However, this military power is proving to be a double-edged sword that cuts both ways.

How can that possibly be? Well, the phrase double-edged sword refers to something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences; that is, a sword with two edges could solve one problem through the use of force and, by that very action, generate other unwanted problems.

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As a result of our current policies and strategies involving war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, America has arrived at a critical crossroads. This regional war is currently in its ninth year, the longest war in U.S. history. There is no clear resolution in sight. It becomes clearer each day that what we are trying to accomplish is not working, will not work and is destined for total failure; we are involved in an immense quagmire as the NATO and U.S. coalition forces are slowly but surely being neutralized by an enemy that strikes from the shadows with its own deadly form of violence.

War and America are now inextricably intertwined; war has become a part of our culture, our societal fabric. We are a nation that proceeds from one war to the next and, unfortunately, we can't seem to rid ourselves of this obsession; and so we keep fueling the fires of war. America is on a roll but, unfortunately, one going in exactly the wrong direction. If our presidents, our military leaders, our Congress and millions of Americans fully understood the importance of history and what it tells us, this nation would not be in the midst of such turmoil in the world and within our country.

Recent American history tells us much about the relationship between our presidents and the military leaders who are charged with carrying out their orders. This relationship has always been somewhat contentious with the military often chafing at doing the bidding of the civilian authority. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the confrontation between the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the U.S. over the placement of Russian missile sites in Cuba, our military leaders were strongly in favor of using massive military force to end the standoff, and brought immense pressure upon President Kennedy and his civilian advisers for an attack on these sites. However, the president and cooler heads prevailed and a world catastrophe was prevented.

During the Vietnam War, our military leaders once again pressured JFK to escalate that war but with little success. Then, after his tragic death, they were relentless in demanding that President Lyndon Johnson make significant increases to troop levels which he did on numerous occasions. The same relentless pressure continued when Richard Nixon became president as he followed the dictates of the military until the entire Vietnam debacle ended in total humiliation.

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The war in Iraq is a historical tragedy, a bloody reincarnation of the Vietnam War. This blunder has now been compounded as we continue to waste billions of dollars and the lives of our troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are hell bent on using our sword of military power to try to pacify and control populations of people who will never give in to this kind of intimidating force. We are once again witnessing the same process being repeated as the Pentagon tries its best, and seems to be succeeding, to force President Obama to further escalate this war. Mr. Obama seems to be falling under the spell and control of the Pentagon and the generals, a very bad omen for America.

So what have we learned from these historical debacles? From the evidence at hand it appears that we have learned nothing. What we should have learned is this; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. War being the action, the opposite reaction is evidenced by the monumental economic crisis that America faces. This crisis is being exacerbated by this simple fact; for every billion dollars that we appropriate for these senseless, illegal wars in foreign lands, that is a billion dollars that is forever taken from the wealth of our nation.

A second negative reaction to our military actions is that for every innocent civilian that we kill in Afghanistan and Pakistan the result ii the recruitment of numerous other enemy combatants who will take their vengeance on America. Our military actions are recruiting far more new insurgents than U.S. recruiters can possibly enlist for our volunteer army. The more we swing the sword of war the more retaliation we will experience. Can our president and our military be blind to this fact?

We are employing hundreds of thousands and, actually, millions of Americans in the business of conducting war; our fighting forces and supporting elements, private contractors, the Pentagon and numerous other governmental agencies. Perpetual war and the economic stability of a nation are diametrically opposed; we cannot have it both ways if our president and our elected governmental representatives continue pursuing our current policies and strategies then our nation will maintain its rapid downward economic spiral.

This now has become America's normal way of doing business; we have lost the art of using diplomacy, negotiations, contracts and finesse in dealing with the world and have substituted the use of military force to achieve our objectives. That way of conducting business might work for a while as those who resist this kind of intimidation are, initially, unable to offer resistance; but in the long run, this strategy if doomed to utter failure as those under siege find ways to effectively deal with it.

This downward spiral is also evidenced by the crisis in our states' financial systems. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California just ordered about 200,000 state workers to be paid the federal minimum wage because the state legislature has not passed a budget; so far, the state controller is refusing to comply. The governor of Illinois just announced a $1 billion budget cut to programs for education, health care and human services, public safety, and economic development. Wars win again and people continue losing; pure unadulterated madness.

But this on-going obsession with war is soon going to change dramatically. This latest Obama/Patreus counterinsurgency fiasco in Afghanistan is fatally flawed and cannot be sustained. All signs point to the fact that this totally misguided war is in the process of collapsing and, before long, it will come crashing down on this nation.

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Like a two-edged sword that cuts both ways, if our government and leaders in Washington continue to recklessly waste the wealth of America to perpetuate death and destruction in foreign lands, then it will bring about the death and destruction of America's economic foundation.

Michael Payne


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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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