Saturday :: Jul 15, 2006

Vietnam & Iraq May Have Been Inevitable, Not Stupid


by paradox

One of the most depressing elements of our daily horror show called the Iraq War is how plain dumb it is—democracy by death in a place we know nothing about, half a world away. Brilliant.

One could classify the Greatest Generation as the most stupid and evil an industrial democracy ever produced for Vietnam, but with that line of thinking the Boomers steal the show with Iraq. They were alive and alert--if not particularly intelligent--during Vietnam, and should have learned. They get the dubious honor of dumbasses of all time.

Madeline Albright once asked Colin Powell (paraphrasing) what the hell $400 billion dollars and a lot of bravado was worth if it couldn’t be used. Aside from the dubious reasoning, the quote may offer a clue as to why Iraq happened.

It wasn’t stupidity at all, just a natural progression of a society lavishing incredible treasures into a huge war machine, capable of two global simultaneous fronts, they used to claim was necessary. This is diametrically opposed to most of the history of the United States, where after conflict the army and navy always stood down after war, the Founders warning about a standing army still ringing very clear.

The world had been erupting in mass industrialized violence for two years, but in 1941 we had an old useless navy of battleships and army recruits training with wooden rifles. There was no air corps, no shipping, no submarine corps, just basically nothing. Ever since the end of world war two the United States has remained armed and ready, in direct defiance to most of its history.

The time and place of Bush and Johnson can be endlessly examined in the context of their personalities yadda yadda yadda, but the disastrous military ventures of both presidents could be simply the plain result of this vast military machine of allegedly great powers, so ready and willing to kick ass any time, any place, don’t ever forget it. In the tiny amount of time allotted to us we progressed to in your face from outer space on an air force base sign.

The thesis gains strength when looked at the generation of officers from Vietnam who swore up and down on the souls of Patrick and Jesus they would never, ever let their precious equipment and men be exploited and expended for nothing but lies in some faraway place.

These guys proclaimed their power and independence from dolts like Johnson and Bush, only to throw it all away for Bush. The Texan delivers hundreds of billions and a real chance to use it, so they backed him with everything and happily left their brains at home. Just 40 years later all the yap from retired generals can’t fire a war criminal SecDef while others are mute, if they’re not being prosecuted or covering for war crimes themselves (see Haditha and Abu Ghraib).

There was even a Powell Doctrine, now sad smelly tatters of lost history and human cognizance. One could suppose the generals thought they knew what they were doing and things just got out of control. Possibly. It’s difficult to be charitable and give the benefit of the doubt to an Army and Marine general officer corps as their men and women continue to die and be maimed this very day for lies.

Every officer going anywhere gets a masters degree now—it’s been this way for 30 years, and the officers are encouraged to stray far and wide to study whatever they want, so often literature, liberal arts and arcane sciences are in their records. Renaissance men, oh yeah, all that learning, rebuilding and living lessons, humans who had lived through Vietnam now serving in the corps could…not…stop a repeat. The war machine just inevitably gets used.

It could be said the United States grew to be a great country because it used all of its treasure in peace to build a country and didn’t leave this incredibly tempting military machine lying around. When it did build one it aptly demonstrated that no matter how stupid, no matter the lessons learned, no matter the cost it was going to get used.

[History also dealt us a far too tempting deal as the proprietor of the world’s currency: unlike everybody else, the US faces no immediate penalty for ringing up amazing debt while building the war machine.]

Not stupidity at all, just the natural state of man succumbing to temptations of glory and power, paid for to cronies with really cool machines and sexy torsos festooned with shiny symbols of bravery.

Perhaps. Even if it’s true it certainly doesn’t console the reality of violence this day, and there isn’t any indication the United States will give up its military machine any time soon.

paradox :: 7:35 AM :: Comments (15) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!