by Robert Hennelly, Salon.com Feb 22, 2015
As we plan another war, it’s time to ask: Just what kind of real-world results has our war machine produced so far?
President Obama’s new National Security Strategy and his move to extend his war powers to fight ISIL reflect the challenge of keeping alive the image of the United States as a guarantor of global stability as failed states proliferate and refugee populations swell.
While the administration projects the air of “no drama” inner serenity, the 24-7 news cycle streams video of a rising tide of bloody sectarian violence on the march from Africa, through the Mideast and into Eastern Europe. Last week the president’s proposed budget tipped his hand, in that even though he says he has brought home over 90 percent of the ground troops from the Iraq-Afghanistan theater, there was no peace dividend in the proposed FY2016 spending plan.
The president’s freshly minted National Security Strategy is first and foremost self-congratulatory and disconnected from reality. It reads like what could be the introduction to a sequel to the president’s “The Audacity of Hope,” which he could title “I Did My Best Under the Circumstances.”
“Globally, we have moved beyond the large ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that defined so much of American foreign policy over the past decade. Compared to the nearly 180,000 troops we had in Iraq and Afghanistan when I took office we now have fewer than 15,000 deployed in those countries,” the president writes. “We possess a military whose might, technology and geostrategic reach is unrivaled in human history.”
And so, the inference is those ground wars are over because, well, we say they are. Yet now, as the Times reports, the president has a new and improved kind of war he’s selling. Now might be the time to pause and ask just what kind of practical real-world results has our unparalleled military machine produced so far?
All the Beltway reporting about the prospects of new war powers for the president focus on the parlor politics of whether he can get it through Congress, not on the efficacy of his strategy. Funny, how we insist on results-based assessments on everything else but lose all reason when we hear the battle bugles blare…
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