War is hell, politics is hell and I’m mad as hell
Commentary: 11 lessons lost in the ‘Fog of War’
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Yes, war is hell. The debt ceiling is hell. Politics is hell. No wonder we’re all mad as hell.
Politicians act like school kids in a food fight. Democracy? Average Americans are sidelined by the Super Rich special interests, conservative ideologues and election-year fanaticism. We’re watching a base reality show from the bleachers, watching both parties make matters worse, digging the hole deeper.
But it’s not just politicians. Americans love war. We’re a warrior nation. We have a warmonger’s soul. But that’s still not why Congress spends over 50% our tax dollars on the Pentagon war machine, why we spend 47% of the total military budgets of all nations worldwide, why the public tolerates such stupidity. No, it’s not national defense.
National defense? Hell no, politicians want jobs, donations, reelection
As a Marine veteran I don’t (and you shouldn’t) trust a Congress with 22% veterans. They want war spending “off the table” in budget and debt negotiations. And yet they just keep making a mess of our debt financing while feeding America’s warmonger image across the world, painting a bulls-eye on our back.
Why? Because national defense is not the real reason politicians keep feeding the insatiable Pentagon War Machine. They keep military bases because that means local jobs. And politicians know military contractors are a lucrative source of reelection campaign donations. So our politicians keep warmongering, feeding the Pentagon War Machine, running up trillions of self-destructive debt, even encouraging new wars in places like Libya.
Politicians lost in the ‘Fog of War,’ clueless till it’s too late
America’s warmongering soul has many origins, going back before the Revolutionary War of 1776. One of the best exposes of our misguided war-machine leadership is “The Fog of War,” a 2003 Oscar-winning film based on former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara 1996 book, “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.” The “Fog of War”’ is military jargon for the unpredictable nature of the battlefield.
Oscar Porter, U.S. Army
Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Jan. 12 , 1961.
Wikipedia’s summary of the “Fog of War” made me realize McNamara was not just confessing America’s sins committed in Vietnam, he was warning future generations that tragically, over the centuries, leaders just keep repeating these same mistakes, learned, then forgotten, over and over. Vietnam is just one example.
The film was released coincidently with Bush/Cheney’s misguided 2003 attack on Iraq, confirming the old adage that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And that’s exactly what happened. In Iraq our leaders repeated the same old mistakes from the Vietnam War.
Why? Our politicians can’t see the elephant. Can’t smell it, smell the toxic debt they’re leaving for future generations to clean up. Our leaders failed us. Ignored the real enemy in Afghanistan. Focused instead on a long, deadly, costly and unnecessary war in Iraq, even made Iran a major new enemy.
Psych profile: 11 traits of America’s warmongering politicians
Much wisdom can be pulled from McNamara’s 11 lessons on our tragic failure in Vietnam. Lessons unfortunately being repeated today by new leaders in both parties.
What can you do? Keep in mind these flaws in the coming elections … in future budget negotiations … in future declarations of war. And ask yourself, how do these 11 traits fit the psych profile of your favorite politicians:
1. Myopic: “We misjudged then,” according to McNamara, and continue to misjudge now “the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries.” Worse, “we exaggerated the dangers to the United States. “ Then we did it again with Secretary of State Colin Powell selling the Iraq nuclear threat to the UN, conned by the lies of our leaders.
2. Egotistical: Americans are arrogant narcissists, viewing our enemies “through our own experience and totally misjudging the political forces within their country.” Mistakes repeated by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the run-up to the Iraq and Afghan Wars.
3. Bad judgments: “We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.” Later underestimated Afghan’s Taliban.
4. Fallible: “Our judgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.” Remember, these admissions were made by McNamara, one of our America’s successful businessmen; here this former Ford Motors president is admitting tragic military failures, lessons later ignored by Bush, Cheney, Powell and Rumsfeld.
5. Obsessed: “We failed then, and have since, to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces and doctrine.” Of course this fascination with the “toys of war” is a perennial obsession of government leaders throughout history, banana republic dictators and messianic fascists, kings and presidents.
6. Narcissistic: “We failed as well to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.” Such as, before the Iraq war we even rejected Iran’s back-channel overtures to be an ally, misjudging Iraq’s nuclear power, behaviors that added new enemies throughout the Arab world.
7. Dogmatic: “We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement … before we initiated the action.” Then repeated the same failed lessons in the Iraq War.
8. Inflexible: When “unanticipated events forced us off our planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening,” lacking an open mind to alternatives. Then we failed to explain even to ourselves “why we were doing what we did.” Instead, we misled the public.
9. Presumptuous: “We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient … what is in another people’s or country’s best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image we choose.” Nor engage in preemptive wars.
10. Arrogant: “We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.” And that was McNamara’s opinion before America dominated our cosmetic “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.
11. Unpredictable: “We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions.” And still we’re constantly searching, demanding solutions where there are none.
Today’s politicians are lost in the “Fog of War,” a setup for attacks, like Rome in 410 AD. Our leaders are making us vulnerable, exposed and weakened.
In four years China’s rapidly growing economy will surpass America’s. Today China is investing heavily in manufacturing, infrastructure, housing, locking up long-term scarce commodity deals in emerging nations worldwide, while we waste trillions on wars and our politicians continue with petty fights over the debt limit.
Historian and former GOP adviser Kevin Phillips warns: “Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant, wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, ultimately burning themselves out.” Our Rome is burning.