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American Military Might: A Double-Edged Sword

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Message Michael Payne

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.

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.

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.

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