Here’s a shocker pulled from recent headlines: “Study: Army Stretched to Breaking Point.”
Wow. Who coulda seen that comin’? It seems that maybe this militarily-dominating-the-entire-world thing isn’t turning out for today’s America to be quite the cakewalk it’s historically been for countries past. You know, like it was for, uh…for…um, well, for nobody just yet, exactly, but hey!, there’s still time left for the United States -- that’s right, buddy, that United States, the Greatest Freakin’ Country in the Whole Freakin’ World, gol-durnit -- to be the first one ever.
Well, until the U.S. military reaches its breaking point, that is. Just when that may happen, if it hasn’t already, is in dispute among the “experts,” according to Robert Burns of the Associated Press, author of the article bearing the headline cited above.
Andrew Krepinevich, identified by Burns as “a retired Army officer who wrote the [study] under a Pentagon contract,” claims that if the Army doesn’t make some adjustments quick, it “risk[s] ‘breaking’ the force…”
No, no, that’s too harsh, counters Colonel Lewis Boone, Army Forces Command spokesman, asserting, per Burns, “it would be ‘a very extreme characterization’ to call the Army broken.”
George Joulwan, “a retired four-star Army general and NATO commander,” appears a bit unsure, though, as he gives us his version of the broken breakdown:
“Whether they're broken or not, I think I would say if we don't change the way we're doing business, they're in danger of being fractured and broken, and I would agree with that.”
No such wishy-washiness, however, emanates from the mega-macho Donald Rumsfeld, no sir boy, as he characteristically spurns pesky facts and propounds, Yoda-like (this would be the Bad Yoda from the alternate universe), that “the force is not broken” (per AP’s Nick Wadhams).
In a speech in December, Donald, the undeniable dean of denial, defiantly declared: “The Army is probably as strong and capable as it ever has been in the history of this country. They are more experienced, more capable, better equipped than ever before” (Burns).
End of quote. One wonders if Rummy’s subsequent lines weren’t smothered by the assemblage’s exploding laughter. One also wonders what the American soldiers in Iraq who’re riding in unarmored Humvees or wearing outdated flak jackets would say about Rummy’s rumination.
The American soldiers in Iraq, that is, who haven’t yet been killed while riding in unarmored Humvees or wearing outdated flak jackets.
There’s one saving grace about our army’s ongoing disintegration, though: It’s comforting to know our military is at least being used (up) constitutionally. I refer, of course, to the Constitution’s preamble that guarantees the United States government is to “provide for the common offence.” It would be another story altogether if…uh, just one moment, please. My assistant is tugging at my sleeve. Yes, yes, what is it, Algor? (He just changed his name from “Igor”: he said he wanted one that sounded “more political.”) What?? Really? You don’t say. Well, I’ll be…
Um, dear readers, it appears I may have misread. That should be “common defence.”
Oh, well, what’s the Constitution anyway but a goddamned piece of paper?
But putting aside such trifling technicalities like the basis for all American law (which, come to think of it, exactly mirrors Bush administration policy), there’s another aspect of this military meltdown thing that kind of bothers me: I'm no budget expert, and I realize a billion dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, but still, I'm thinkin' if you can't defend one lousy country (and that’s what we have now: one lousy country) with 400-plus billion dollars a year (which doesn’t even account for those periodic oh-so clever off-budget multi-billion dollar war-fueling “supplemental appropriations” inappropriately passed by a lapdog Congress), then maybe some rethinking needs to occur. (Or thinking, period.)
But that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Our armed forces aren’t consuming ungodly amounts of resources and killing innocent people in droves overseas to defend our interests at all, but rather those of Halliburton and Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and the Carlyle Group and (insert corporation name here)... And when Americans at home do need real help (hello, Katrina* and Rita), the folks who’d normally provide such assistance, members of the National Guard, are nowhere to be found because anymore they’re national in name only since most of them are -- surprise! -- over in Iraq doing corporate America’s bidding, per long-standing plans drawn up and executed (what an appropriate word) by Big Business’ Best Buddies: neoconservatives who infest fascist-grooming stink tanks like the Project for the New American Century.
Some people might view this all as rather, well, un-American, this whole bit of unconstitutionally using the U.S. military solely to pursue personal power and wealth, thereby leaving the armed forces in such bad shape that our own shores are vulnerable to attack by another army. Or army ants. Or even a couple of tipsy guys with Swiss Army knives (watch the corkscrew!).
Plus, just how the hell now are we supposed to invade Venezuela?
And now a study presents us the astonishing news the U.S. Army is stretched to the breaking point. Well, it’s not alone: Millions of Americans are, too.
It won’t be pretty when the whole thing snaps.
* Considering Dick Cheney labeled Katrina an “exercise,” it probably wouldn’t have mattered how many National Guard troops were stateside when the hurricane hit since, by all appearances, the Bushies opportunistically treated devastated New Orleans and environs as a vast laboratory for previously-devised martial law plans.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento, California. His e-mail address is: email@example.com. Copyright © 2006 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.
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